Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Wedding at Cana

After Mary approaches Jesus at the wedding where the wine had run out, Jesus tells her that his time is not yet come. Mary looks toward the servants and instructs them to do what he says. Mary knew Jesus—she knew who he really was. After all, the angel had told her, and she knew she had been a virgin, even if no one else in the world believed her. Since she knew him to be God, she expected a God action from him.
So, instead of responding to his comment, she simply spoke to the servants and then seemingly walked away. There is no indication she stuck around.
Now, if Jesus hadn’t wanted to perform the miracle, he could have made himself scarce. After all, he knew what she wanted, but he and his disciples just happened to be located near six stone water jugs, along with the household servants. (It was an opportune place for Mary to find him.)
I heard a speaker at a senior retreat once say: “Belief is based on intellect; and faith is acting on that belief.” Maybe I have so little faith in Jesus because I see him more like a man loitering around the water pots than God. Maybe I need to focus more like his mother—a woman who knew him for what he really is—God, very God.
I pray to God, but often I act like I pray to a man—a man in Heaven. I wonder how he’d respond if I would expect God actions from him—not that I should have the audacity to tell God what to do, but that I’d simply believe that he would act on my behalf instead of just that he could. If there was doubt in Mary’s mind, it’s not revealed here.
I believe Mary knew Jesus would do something. I’m not sure she knew what that would be, but she believed enough to instruct the servants to do whatever he said. So often we expect so little that our prayers go up as just so much smoke. Yet, even when we’re desperate, during the times of our greatest need, we cry out to God and only hope that in some way he’ll help us—perhaps because we’re in such a habit of expecting so little.
God is always at work, even when we don’t see him. Yet—I wonder—if Mary hadn’t expected Jesus to do something about the situation, would there have been wine for the banquet?
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Col. 4:6

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I was once advised after an observation to not admit my weaknesses to the class because it was “self-depreciating.” Little did the observer know that it was simply the truth—and no secret to the students who’d watched me write on the board for 2 years.
The fact is—I’m a terrible speller. Sometimes I think people’s #1 expectation of an English teacher is that she spells well.  But, it seems silly to pretend that I do.
Yet, we are all great pretenders, and the more significant the role, the greater the temptation to pretend. And what we pretend is as varied and individual as humanity itself. I think we pretend because we’re fearful.
What is it that we fear?
—that we’re unworthy?
—that we aren’t that smart?
—that what we say might prove false or at least inadequate?
—that God Himself might prove to be less than what we profess?

Maybe we fear God—not in the way we ought to fear Him, but in a way we shouldn’t.
It’s hard thinking to heed not putting God to the test and yet to test the spirits as instructed. It’s tricky Christianity to put both those eggs in the same basket. But, I must.
To do otherwise is to pretend I have no fear.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Somehow Shannon and I ended up on a walking team. It came in an email: “You and I are on a walking team with Michael and Shannon… We’ll pick up our pedometers in the HR office….” (Well, at least I got an email.)
Then commenced our 10,000 steps a day. As Shannon and I pass each other in the hall, we check our pedometers—no leaning over the counter to chat when I have a class in the library nowadays. We march around from student to student whether they want our help or not.
Some days are good, and we glide along under a warm, sunny sky. Some days are stinky and some so down right discouraging—like the day I realized my pedometer wasn’t counting all my steps. Some days I’ve been so desperate for those last few steps, I’ve clipped the pedometer to my underwear after I’ve gotten undressed, just not to lose the few steps from the bed to the toilet.
Walking 10,000 steps makes you “moderately active" and less likely to have a host of maladies in the future. (Yay for us.)
I actually like to walk. (I think I liked it better before I started counting.) Walking is kind of like life, and some days just have to be pushed through. One thing is certain—we can’t change the steps we walked yesterday. As much as I might wish I’d done another 1,000, I did what I did.
But today—today is a day I can walk farther along. And to what drum will I step to this day? I pray it’s the beat of Truth.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Reflection

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (Eph. 2:10)

I’ve been thinking about this verse ever since the chapel speaker used it as his text today.
“We are God’s workmanship”
When I think of God’s workmanship, I tend to think of the mountains that flank the west side of the Springs—majestic and awesome, a display of power. Or I’m drawn to the beauty and delicateness of a flower—fragrant, inviting.
I don’t tend to think of myself, really. Maybe I should. And what does that mean if a simple person, such as I, is the very workmanship of God?
“Created in Christ Jesus”
I think that I need to ponder more often that I’m created in Jesus—not of myself, but that His death on the cross has made me new, and I am not what I was or would have been.
“to do good works”
I spend a lot of my time working, but honestly, most of that is not “good works.” It’s just plain work. I think if I were to do good works, they would be things I do for other people.
“which God prepared in advance for us to do”
Think on that…that God planned particular things, good things, for each of us to do. It seems incomprehensible that He planned specific things, good things, for me—for you—for us to do.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (Eph. 2:10)

Monday, March 5, 2012


One of today's vocab words was "bulwark." Though the old hymns aren't as popular as they once were, there were a few kids who knew the second line of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." So, in case you haven't heard it in a while, here it is. (Oh, and "bulwark"? It's like a strong wall of protection.)

A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow'r are great, And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He; Lord Sabaoth is His name,
From age to age the same, And He must win the battle.

And tho' this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim--We tremble not for him; His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure, One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow'rs-- No thanks to them--abideth:
The Spirit and the gifts are ours Thro' Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also; The body they may kill:
God's truth abideth still,  His kingdom is forever.
 (by Martin Luther)

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I don’t attend a church that practices Lent. And, honestly, I don’t know a great deal about it. Last year Melody observed Lent by giving up Facebook, and before Easter rolled around, Stefanie (Chris’ wife) and I both felt like we’d been forced along because there was such a dearth of information coming to us from Texas.
But this year, I’ve given more thought to Lent and what I think its purpose is. It seems to me that the purpose of Lent is similar to fasting—a time to put away something to replace it with more time devoted to prayer and meditation on God’s Word—particularly focusing on Jesus and the sacrifice He made to bring salvation.
So, this year, totally unaware of each other’s decision, Stefanie and I both chose to observe Lent along with Mel. What each of us has decided—I think, by God’s direction—to set aside is mainly significant only to each of us.
To be honest, the weeks leading up to Easter are typically some of my most stressful of all the year, and this year is no different. It has struck me lately that often during seasons that I should make extra effort to practice my spiritual disciplines, I usually don’t. And sometimes, when we need God the most is when we look for Him the least.
I’m actually re-evaluating my nominal American Christianity: Just who is this God that I say I believe in? And if He is as powerful as I say I believe, then why do I often expect so little of Him? What kind of a Creator becomes the created to sacrifice Himself for it?
I think I need to set my course to know such a God better.
I guess that’s the idea behind Lent.