Faith

Money Changers in the Temple

Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in Faith, Married Life, Money | 18 comments

cindee 11

 

Mornings in the Baer house are fairly predictable most days. The smell of fresh brewed coffee usually lures this sleep-worshiper downstairs to join my early rising husband. I typically find him reading or studying, at least one cup ahead of me.

This week he’s been preparing a lesson for his Men’s group on the second chapter of John which includes the story of Jesus’ reaction to the money changers in the temple.

As always, our current reading material generates a lot of discussion while the sun slowly creeps up over the mountain outside.

Brendon tends to enjoy and retain facts. I usually fan out to the personal application of the topic we’re haggling over. The balance is good. One without the other can lead to the same misguided thinking highlighted in the story of the money changers.

As you might recall, Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and was joined with throngs of other pilgrims converging on the temple. When he arrived he found commerce barricading communion.

The scene of greed within the walls of a place designed for worship caused a reaction that stunned many observers. The tables were overturned spilling their profits to the floor as the unassuming teacher took his rightful place in his Father’s house.

I can’t help but wonder how far we’ve deviated from the practices we were instructed to follow in worship.

I wonder if Jesus physically attended our gatherings if he would be pleased and comfortable with what he saw.

Up until Jesus arrived, people who attended the feast knew what to expect. They knew their money would be exchanged for another currency that included an unfair tax. They knew and accepted the fact they would probably be asked to purchase a “more acceptable” animal to sacrifice at an unreasonable price. But they did it anyway because they loved God and wanted to follow the expected ordinances.

Like helpless sheep they adhered to what was customary. Do we do that?

Henri Nouwen writes this: “Jesus, the Son of God, hungers and thirsts for uprightness. He abhors injustice. He resists those who try to gather wealth and influence by oppression and exploitation. With fervor he proclaims that the way to the Kingdom is not in offering many sacrifices but in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and the prisoners, Matt 25:31-46. He longs for a just world.”

As I sip my coffee, mulling over facts, I’m challenged to consider my personal practices. Am I able to overturn the money changer’s table in the sanctuary of my own heart? I wonder.

Do I overtax my soul, breeding resentment and thus offering shallow sacrifices?

Do I mindlessly adhere to practices I know are wrong simply because they are customary?

What furniture do I need to rearrange so Christ can take his rightful place in my temple?

 

I wonder about these things as sun rays seep through the trees outside on another ordinary morning.

 

(Many thanks to Cindee Snider Re for sharing her photo)

Linking up with #GiveMeGrace

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Courageous Faith

Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Courage, Extraordinary Everyday People, Faith | 24 comments

 

#41 courageous faith

 

Courageous faith stands taller than, wider than, and deeper than any faith I’ve experienced. Although I don’t fully understand it, I recognize it when I see it. Courageous faith seems to emerge out of the darkest places. It rises up above wild angry seas. it surfaces from tumultuous rapids and within the flames of fire.

People who demonstrate courageous faith rarely realize they have it. It seems to come with a soft garment of humility. It grows in adversity and it cannot be tamed.

No one wants the circumstances that accompany courageous faith. No one relishes storms, rapids or consuming fires. For courageous faith lives within adverse circumstance. It doesn’t tell the circumstance what to do or try to predict its outcome. Like outcome, it’s beauty and power cannot be captured.

When circumstances squeeze in around the strong shoulders of such faith, arms reach down to lift observers up top. I’ve seen the broad shoulders grow big enough to carry whole communities, families and the faithless.

Storms and fires want to overpower courageous faith – but they can’t. Our powerlessness and dependence are its energy boosters, growth-generating enhancers. The higher the waves, the greater its resistance. The deeper the waters, the more buoyant it is. The hotter the furnace, the more brilliant it becomes.

Courageous faith is not of this world. We can’t learn it, earn it or reproduce it. We can’t even properly describe it, but when we see it, we know it.

Whether from the top of someone’s shoulders or within a storm ourselves, if we look long enough, we will see the face of God. He is the lifeblood of courageous faith – he is the anchor, the author. He is the breath, the depth and the width.

Strength, valor, grit, and perseverance can be found in the middle of any circumstance.

Today is the day to fill our own cup of trust. We do it by consuming the Word of God and spending time with him. Our cup is filled one spoonful at a time by dependence and brokenness.

Believe. Trust. Grab hold – so when the waters rise, when the seas try to overtake us or fires rage – we will be ready for the miracle of courageous faith. He promises to be there. With us. Our overcomer. Our strong defender. Our God. Our courage and our strength.

 

 

 

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I LOVE YOU, MOM – guest post by Leah Crook

Posted by on Dec 8, 2013 in Faith, Life, Love, Remembrance | 12 comments

flickr alan dow #2

 

Four words. I love you, Mom. I hold on to each one as all twenty-five years of him slip through the airport doors. My adventurous son. Capable and kind. How I love him.
Before heading home, I sit behind the wheel of my car, trying to see him at his destination – it’s impossible, it’s unknown, it’s not a place I understand. I hope for rain, turn the key and take the road ahead of me.
I choose grace. I choose faith.
It’s true what they say, you’ll wonder where the time went. It was just yesterday when…
And time turns around until he’s twelve, ten, eight, six, four…
I trace his footprint back to when it fit in the palm of my hand. In the middle of October, a storm rages – pouring down. The streets flood with anticipation, he takes cover beneath my heart for just a few more hours.
Early morning opens up with quiet moments – giving way to fierce anxiety. The strain of giving birth begins. Truly unprepared. Indescribable. With each excruciating pain of labor, my heart pounds to the beat of a completely new day – the day my son is born.
He brings me out of shallow places. In the very last hour, I name him Michael, and a million I love you’s are on the way.
The wheels on the highway turn with my thoughts…
I watch from white sand as he braves the waves at three… and delights over snow-cone flavors at six. Peppermint candy passes his lips as he carries a fish home from the lake in a bucket.
I let go of his hand as he enters a classroom for the first time… I feel my head press against the door, and I hear him cry on the other side. I see my hand where the blue paint is chipping… I hold on, and I let go.
I’ll do that countless times.
Motherhood is sweet – even when it’s terrifying.
Seasons pass and bring a brother to cherish, friends to meet, ties to tie, girls to love, and cars to drive. There are dreams to chase and planes to catch…
Motherhood is a whole lot of holding on… and letting go.
A few drops fall from the hot summer sky. I press play on a favorite song – I feel my shoulders drop, let go of my breath and take in the lyrics.

 

Let your heart sweetheart, be your compass when you’re lost
And you should follow it wherever it may go
When it’s all said and done, you can walk instead of run
‘Cause no matter what you’ll never be alone
Never be alone
Lady Antebellum – Compass

My mood shifts, from heavy to light. Because some words do that – they take you from one place to another.
I love you, Mom.
At twelve, ten, eight, six, four…
This morning, while the sun waits to rise, I drive. Through the known and the unknown. Through fear, anxiety, happiness, joy, freedom, failure, and victory.
I move back, I move forward, I move over.
I hold on… and I let go.
I imagine all the mothers in the world. New mothers, scared mothers, old mothers, brave mothers. Navigating roads – with kids in their cars, kids in their arms, kids in their hearts. Loving children, big and small.
Some of us are still learning when to hold on, and when to let go.
It’s an incredible journey – I’m honored to take.
Let go of fear, hold on to faith.

 

 

Leah Crook has graciously contributed to this space twice before. You can read her last post HERE . Please join me in thanking Leah for sharing her tender heart with us today.

Visit Leah at leahcrook.com

 photo credit

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