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Timeless truth in a changing world

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Faith

What We Can Learn from a Mustard Seed

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When I was a girl, I had a bracelet with a mustard seed in it. The mustard seed was enclosed within a clear ball, like a marble. The seed itself was tiny, a visual reminder of Jesus’ mention of the mustard seed. Indeed, the mustard seed has become symbolic of faith. Yesterday was LWML Sunday, and the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League is known, among other things, for their “Mustard Seed” devotionals. Many times we think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 17:20, where He says, “‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” Oftentimes the implied question is this: do you have that kind of faith? But there’s another mustard seed reference in the Gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record the parable of the mustard seed, which has a completely different nuance. Instead of likening one’s faith to a mustard seed, this time Jesus is talking about the kingdom of heaven, a far broader scope that places the action solely upon Him.

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Who Do You Think Jesus Is?

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Who do you think Jesus is?

The question was addressed to my sixth grader in an email from a friend and classmate. “Mom, what should I write?” he asked me. Half a dozen responses popped into my head, but I bit my tongue. “What do you think you should write?” I asked instead. I wanted to see what he would come up with on his own. After all, it’s a fairly basic question for a Christian; one that any of us could be asked at any time. So how would you answer?

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Wrestling with God

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Have you ever wrestled with God? Jacob did. Literally. He wrestled with God all night long the night before he met Esau again after years away. In the morning, the man (God) touched Jacob’s hip socket and put it out of joint, showing how powerful He really was. He could easily have disabled Jacob from the beginning, yet He chose to engage the patriarch in a familiar and personal way. We see that God’s ultimate purpose of struggling with Jacob was not to defeat him, but to bless him. Now, I doubt you’ve wrestled with God quite like that, but perhaps you’ve wrestled with Him in a different way—in prayer.

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Growing Out of Faith

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This morning I dropped my daughters off at school and they both walked in without looking back. This is quite a change from the beginning of the year, when my kindergartner would cling to me for dear life before I left. I had to walk her down to her classroom, help her put her backpack in her cubby, and give her a dozen hugs before leaving. After a few days of that routine, we shortened it so that her big sister walked her to the classroom, so long as I stood in the entryway where she could see me until she got to her classroom. Then when she got more comfortable with school and more self-reliant, I was able to wave at her from the doorway when she turned the corner to go to her classroom. And now she doesn’t even bother to look back. She’s on her own.

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No Big Deal

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I did the dishes in my kitchen sink yesterday. I know, big deal, right? But in fact it was a big deal. I was grinning ear to ear as I did those dishes. We had been without a kitchen faucet for four and a half days, due to a comedy of errors. I’d never realized how much I used the kitchen sink until I was without one. Washing hands, rinsing fruits and veggies, filling a pot of water, cleaning off plates before loading them in the dishwasher––simple tasks I take for granted suddenly weren’t so simple, and it wasn’t until I didn’t have the luxury of a kitchen sink that I realized how blessed I was to have a working faucet.

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Predictable

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I started a new book the other day. By the end of the first chapter, I knew who would end up with whom and what seemingly insurmountable obstacle would be overcome in the course of the story. It was completely predictable. And yet I continued reading nonetheless, and thoroughly enjoyed the book. A number of books are like this (my own included, one might argue). We know pretty much from the get-go what’s going to happen. And this knowledge helps us through the conflicts and tensions that arise in the middle of the story. We read on, through painful setbacks and embarrassing scenes, knowing that things are going to turn out okay in the end. We trust that the author has the characters’ best interests in mind and will see them to a satisfying conclusion.

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Why I Want My Kids to Fight

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(Author’s note: I originally wrote this article for the website Raising Godly Children, where it was published on March 19,2017. To read the article in its entirety, click the link here.)

My seventh grade son has a unique set of friends. A few “kind of” believe in a generic god out there, a few flat out don’t believe in God at all, a few aren’t sure what they believe, and then there’s my son. He’s grown up in the church, attended parochial schools until 5th grade, goes regularly to Sunday School, midweek (church) school, and confirmation class, and hears Bible stories and devotions at home as well. And thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit, he believes those biblical accounts. He has faith in Jesus and isn’t afraid to say so, even when all his friends are arguing against him. And argue they do. Religion is a regular topic of discussion at their lunch table. Yet despite the wide variety of views among them, they have a close bond and manage to stay friends even after a lively discussion. And to be honest, I couldn’t be happier that he’s fighting in school, because it’s already preparing him for life as an adult. (Continue reading.)

Photo is Fighting by Frederic C81

Courageous

It’s hard to be brave sometimes. As I post this, our family is on the road in the midst of a move.  Across the country.  Site unseen by all but my husband. I won’t even lay eyes on the house until we pull up to it to move in. We still aren’t sure where the kids will go to school, I’m 6 ½ months pregnant and have no doctor lined up, and we’ll be spending Christmas amongst people we’ve only known for a couple of weeks.  It’s a bit daunting, and I’m not feeling all that brave as I look ahead.

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The Measure of Success

What does success look like to you?  Perhaps you think of a great career, one that pays well and has a lot of room for improvement.  Maybe you think of a confident, self-assured person who carries himself well and can speak eloquently in front of crowds.  Perhaps you think of someone popular, like a famous athlete or movie actor.  Maybe you think of a person who earns enough to buy a lake home and a boat, who wears name brand clothes and can afford the latest technology.  Most of us, whether we like to admit it or not, associate “success” with wealth.  After all, we’ve been programmed to believe that “He who dies with the most toys, wins.”  So let me pose another scenario:  Would you consider someone a success who goes about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated, wandering in deserts and mountains, in caves and in holes in the ground?  Does that sound like any definition of success?  Honestly, no.  That sure doesn’t sound like something I’d aspire to in order to be “successful.”  But the answer may surprise you.

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