Category Archives: faith

The Way to Remembering and Repentance this Lent

On this icy South Carolina morning, I weep. But this weeping feels more like silent sobs with big, fat wet tears that flood my glasses, because it’s too much.

Icy ISIS. It’s overwhelming. I can’t get it off my mind. My heart breaks.

I think of the 21 who gave their hearts and lost their heads. These 21 who are literally our Christian brothers, joined with us in baptismal communion. My brothers suffered. Their blood was shed because of their faith, and it brings me to my knees! I pray that this brings every Christian to our knees.

I weep because we as Christians/the church – myself included – have been hell-bent on becoming, studying, quantifying, and qualifying. We seek relevance from various ages and stages. We pick apart our Body deciding who’s worthy. We develop methodologies to woo believers. We quantify the benefits then qualify our less than perfect results. But we are all in this together. These 21 just lost their lives for the very thing we claim to be protecting when we disparage our own brothers and sisters and their churches because they aren’t doing it our way, the right way.

There is a way. There. Is. The. Way.

Do we remember? I am the way, the truth and the life.

Thank you, Jesus!

When we fear becoming irrelevant, is it because we’ve lost our way?

When we fear our own disharmony, is it because we’ve lost our way?

LORD, I pray we do lose our way, pick up the cross, and follow the way.

Your way.

Yahweh.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD.”—Isaiah 55:8

But we don’t follow all flailing with furrows of worry. I dry my tears and pledge not to forget. Not to let them die in vain.

Those 21 certainly didn’t flail – didn’t seem to flinch. But they did suffer and die. They were punished for carrying in their hearts and minds that Jesus is the way.

But the ones who caused that suffering do not know the One who is love. They only know fear. People call them evil, because they fight like the devil.

The devil knows he can’t go toe-to-toe with God; he’d be obliterated. So he puts aside the big guns and comes at us with the smaller but equally offensive weapons: Distraction. Discouragement. Depression. Discord. The terrorists fight like this, too – they chip away at our resolve little by little. They bomb. They behead. They demoralize and discourage. They use fear to cause us to forget. Have you forgotten how BIG our Lord is?

Remember this – There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. — 1 John 4:18

Stand strong! Don’t fear. Keep praying for peace and reconciliation in this hostile world. And keep loving people in His name. May we stop breaking one another apart in the church but rather join together with ALL Christians for such a time as this!

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:19

Ann Voskamp summed it up well for me: “When the day is done and last of the lights are turned out and my head hits the pillow, all I can think of is the faces of The 21 and their surrendered heads, their heads carrying the full reality of the Cross — and how we’re on the brink of Lent and what would it mean to repent.”

As we enter this season of Lent, may we repent of our many, many sins. And let us remember those 21, others who have fallen along the way, those suffering for the way— and even (especially?) those who don’t know the way yet.

If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.—2 Chronicles 7:14

Pray. Don’t lose hope.

My sincere condolences to the families of these precious 21:

  1. Milad Makeen Zaky
  2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
  3. Maged Solaiman Shehata
  4. Yusuf Shukry Yunan
  5. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
  6. Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
  7. Somaily Astafanus Kamel
  8. Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
  9. Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
  10. Girgis Milad Sinweet
  11. Mina Fayez Aziz
  12. Hany Abdelmesih Salib
  13. Bishoy Adel Khalaf
  14. Samuel Alham Wilson
  15. Worker from Awr village
  16. Ezat Bishri Naseef
  17. Loqa Nagaty
  18. Gaber Munir Adly
  19. Esam Badir Samir
  20. Malak Farag Abram
  21. Sameh Salah Faruq

 

Thanks to Twitter and @maitelsadany for the translations from @Anba_Ermia.

As if He knows that this might very well be a time we find it HARD to pray, this little post fell into my FB feed.

Peace be with you.

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Being Present

Over the holidays I read a letter from me to my parents, apologizing for something I did in college. In it I sounded like a blathering idiot, and I laughed. But I kept reading and soaked up words about what I had thought God’s will was for my life at that time. It had been based on what someone in my life had suggested, and it definitely wasn’t from God! It got me thinking, fascinated, about how all my life I’ve been searching for God’s will. Somehow those words have been etched in my memory from very early childhood. I don’t remember where I first heard that phrase, but I latched onto it.

Fast forward to this year, when I will be thirty-seven. I think I’ve finally gotten an inkling as to what God’s will is all about for life. And I’m ready to explore it.

Over the last few years, I’ve worked too much, yelled too much, eaten too much, drunk too much, and wasted time — too much. When I contemplate it, I realize that I really could have been doing more. Not more for more’s sake…just it’s that I haven’t prioritized time well. The examples of my squandered time seem endless. That little gnawing curiosity draws me to Facebook or Twitter. I fill hours over the week with random interweb surfing, usually for my own knowledge thirst (addiction?). Even when my kiddos are begging me to play or simply look at something they’ve done.

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Yeah.

I’m over it.

There are too many things gnawing at me to change. I have had a feeling in my gut that I’ve blocked for too long. So I’m finally going to let go of the things I know distract me. I think it is the only way for me to focus on what I ought to be doing. In each moment of each hour of each day, to try to be like Him. To look through my eyes and really see the people around me. To savor the moments He has given me. And finally, to share His love, freely.

No change happens until there is a change of perspective. It does not wait and wonder if the the good will happen someday. It’s in the habit of seeing the good happening right now. Life is not an emergency. It’s a gift. Why race past the gift? What else are you trying to get to — the presence of God is in this present moment. -Ann Voskamp

Letting go of personal social media and … all random internet … this year, means letting God teach me … whatever that might be, I’m wide open and yearning for it.

Blessings to you this year, and always.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

 

One Thousand Gifts

I’m reading a book now called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. My older sister gave it to both my younger sister and me with the sidenote that we will understand how she thinks when we read this book. Silly sister, I already understand you! But joking aside, this book has been simply wonderful. And timely. In this very strange time I’ve found myself in this last year, and entering a new stage even now, this book has been such a blessing.

Eucharisteo – the giving of thanks – always precedes the miracle. Jesus broke bread, gave thanks, and then gave himself, the ultimate miracle. Throughout her book we are reminded of the tough action required of us. To be thankful in ALL things in order to receive the miracle — the grace. But then we must also let that grace flow from us. When we are blessed, then so can we bless. Like the river Jordan that ends at the Dead Sea, if there is no outlet for the good that comes in — if we are not sharing that same good/blessing others — then the good flowing to us will stagnate. We must open our hands to receive grace, and our hands must stay open to give that grace to others. The more thanks we give HIM, the more humble we become, and then the more He reveals Himself. It’s that the feelings of joy begin with thanksgiving.

Try it. I’ve been blessed by focusing on being thankful for anything I can think of when James makes a mess or Anna pinches him. When the laundry piles keep multiplying and I’m staring a proposal deadline in the eyes. Give thanks. And wait for the miracle.

Thanks, Claire!