Saturday, September 29, 2012

Martha & Mary

Jesus responded "Didn't I tell you that you will see God's glory if you believe?" (John 11: 40).

While many of us learned this story as a child, it was with a different focus than how we discussed it on Friday morning.  As children, we learned that "Jesus wept" (John 11:35) and the miracle He performed by raising Lazarus from the dead just by calling out to him!  Those are 2 really amazing scenes in this scripture. 

As we looked closer, we began to uncover more.  This family, Mary, Martha & Lazarus, were good friends of Jesus and were mentioned several times in the Bible.  Mary & Martha were the sisters in Luke 10 and are often talked about in connection with hospitality.  But did you know that Mary was also the Mary who poured the expensive perfume on the Lord's feet?  It's a flash forward, because it happens 6 days before Passover, in Chapter 12, verses 1-7.  Knowing this give another level of emotion to the scene that unfolds in Chapter 12.

The focus of our discussion was on Jesus' words and actions and what that means for us. 
*Jesus meets Martha and Mary where they are, just as He will do with us.  Even though he is troubled with their disbelief, He doesn't scold them or rebuke them.  He continues to love them. He will love us too, regardless of our level of belief in Him and His promises. 
*Jesus experiences many emotions in these passages: compassion, sympathy, indignation, frustration and sorrow.  We should never hide our emotions from Him.  He has experienced them, He understands them; we should always be honest with Him.  He cares about us and will always come along side us, guiding us through whatever our situation may be, to a place of healing.  
*And what about that scene where Jesus weeps?  There is the possibility that He is weeping for several reasons.  The first being, the reality of the death of His friend, even though He already knows He's going to raise him from the dead.  But He may also be weeping out of frustration: the disbelief of His friends, the misunderstanding of His disciples, the critical whisperings of the crowd, may all just be too much.  So, we too should not be ashamed to weep!  Even when we know our loved ones are with Our Lord, we should not hide our sorrow.  And when life just gets to be too much, we should cry out to the Lord.  He knows what help we need, all we have to do is ask for it! 

What was your reaction to this story?  To Ms. LePeau's questions?  Everyone has their own life-lenses through which they view Scripture.  What was your take and what does it mean for you, in your life, right now?  Your comments may be just what someone else needs to hear!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Believing Jesus

This week's chapter, "Mary and Martha, Facing Death & Grief", looks at the book of John, chapter 11, verses 1 - 44.  To refresh your memory of exactly who Mary and Martha are, take a look at Luke 10:38 - 42, noting the personalities of each sister.

This is the 5th time I've started this blog post!  I haven't been happy with anything I've written so far.  Previous attempts were too long, too wordy, too 'all over the place'.  So, I put some time between me and my blog and will try once more!

So here's the deal: I don't like the subtitle of this chapter, Facing Death & Grief.  Partly because I try to avoid facing death & grief, but mostly because, once I read the story and worked through the study questions, it dawned on me that death & grief have very little to do with the lesson.  They are the catalyst for a greater event: "No, it is for the glory of God. I, the Son of God, will receive glory from this." (John 11:4). 

These words, spoken by Jesus, influence how I viewed the rest of the story.  Jesus knew that his dear friend was dead. Jesus knew what He was going to do once He arrived in Bethany.  Jesus knew there was already a price on His head and that the Jewish leaders trying to kill him were near Bethany.

So, why did He go?  See John 11:4.  Every time I wondered at Jesus' reaction to His friends, I went back to His words in verse 4.  The words echo as He tells His disciples that Lazarus is dead, not sleeping.  I let them roll around in my head as He meets Martha who comes out to blame & praise Him.  I let the words ring in my ear when Mary falls at Jesus' feet, blames Him for her brothers' death, and weeps.  By now, I'm starting to feel why He was "moved with indignation and was deeply troubled" (John 11:33).

On top of all that happens, Jesus is faced with the reality of His friends' death.  He weeps.  And as He does, He can hear the whisperings of those gathered at the grave.  Again, John 11:4 repeats in my head and again Jesus is "deeply troubled" (John 11:38).  His words become short; His response to Martha is a question, not one of gentle reassurance.  Then He speaks out loud to His Father "for the sake of all these people standing here, so they will believe you sent me." (John 11:42). 

This is Jesus in his divinity wrapped in His humanity.  It is in these last few passages, where I picture Jesus, biting His tongue, as those gathered to mourn, doubt who He is and what He can do.  It is here where I want to shout, "Don't you get it!?!  Jesus is God.  Why do you doubt Him?  Why do you blame Him?  He's come to help, to show you first hand His promises and you blame him!"  It makes me want to cry and scream and shout with joy at the amazing scene unfolding before my eyes.  And yet, I know that I have been all of these characters, doubting, questioning, blaming God.  So sad or lost that I cannot believe Him, even though I believe in Him.

It is this realization that brings me to my knees, asking for forgiveness.  Forgiveness for those times of doubt, forgiveness for the times that I judged others in their doubt. 

So, my final thought is this: in times of sadness, loneliness, grief, doubt, questioning, or frustration, I need to come back to Jesus' words: "No, it is for the glory of God. I, the Son of God, will receive glory from this." (John 11:4).   He will meet me where I am, just as He met Martha & Mary, with the promise, "Didn't I tell you that you will see God's glory if you believe?" (John 11:40)! 

Your Partner In Ministry,

Friday, September 21, 2012

I'm So Excited...

about our next study, starting in October!!

Curious about what promises God has for His people? In Galatians 6, we are told He will produce fruit in us! Wondering what that could mean? Come join us and find out!
On Friday, October 12th, Re: Small Group will be starting a new study on "Fruit of the Spirit" a LifeGuide Bible Study by Hazel Offner. Whether you attend our Friday morning gatherings or are following along here on the blog, a study guide is required.
If you would like to purchase a study guide, please contact me by Thurs. Sept 27th by commenting below; they are usually about $7.  If you are a friend, member of or attend Redeemer Lutheran church, I can order a book for you and make sure you get it before the start of the study.  If you are not local or would like to purchase your own study guide, you can find it on or, you may even be able to find a gently used book at a discounted price.   
All women are welcome and encouraged to attend and bring a friend! Or join the online blog to study on your own time, with the support and encouragement of the whole Re: community!
Your Partner In Ministry,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Women In Conflict

Or Building Unity or How to Resolve Conflicts

Read Philippians 2:1-8 and 3:20 - 4:9 and Chapter 9 in Women of the New Testament by Phyllis J. LePeau

The story of Euodia(Eu-oh'-dee-a) and Syntyche (Sin'-tyke-e) is about all of these things!

I urge you to live with these passages and the study questions this week.  It is a short reading, but there is much to consider and learn.  Writing down your answers in your study guide or a journal will help you delve deeper into applying the lessons to your own life. 

In Philippians 4:2-3 we hear that there is a conflict between these two women, how important they are to the church and to Paul, and the good work that they have done in the past.  Does this sound like a familiar situation?  It's one that has probably been repeated many times since those early years in Philipi, all the way down to the 21st Century.  Perhaps you have been a witness to or involved in a similar situation.  Paul doesn't go into the details of their conflict, but instead urges them to settle their disagreement.  And he doesn't just tell them to stop fighting, but gives them (and us) ways to resolve conflicts and build unity.

When I first read this story I wanted to know: why are these women fighting, were they friends to begin with, was one of them wrong, did they ever resolve their conflict?  I'm a detail oriented person, so the lack of information can be a hang-up for me.  However, I also recognize that the nature of their conflict is not important.  Paul urges both of them to settle the disagreement and asks that others help these women (Phil 4:3).  The who, what, why, when, and how are wholly unimportant.  The lack of detail makes this a universal case study of conflict resolution.  Regardless of why I'm fighting with someone or who it is, I can take Paul's advice to not be selfish, to be humble, to pray about everything.

The important message is the resolution - the settlement - the building of unity!  This isn't about pointing fingers or 'who was right and who was wrong', it's about living with Christ's attitude (Phil 2:5).  As you read through the passages, notice all the ways Paul tells the church to live in unity, using Jesus as our model.  It's not an easy model to follow; I know I struggle with it daily!  But I think the reward is worth it,  "If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand." (Phil 4:7).

In the comments below, share some specific ways you see yourself growing more like Jesus and / or steps you want to take to live out being a person of Christlike unity.

Your Faithful Partner in Ministry,

Saturday, September 15, 2012


My hope is that you are all enjoying this beautiful Autumn day! 

We had a wonderful turn out for our first Re: group this fall.  We talked about Priscilla, her role in the early church and how she can inspire us today. 

*  She was supportive in very real, material ways.  We can provide material goods and services to support each other and the leadership in our churches and communities.
*  She provided hospitality to Paul & Appolos.  We should look for ways to extend Biblical hospitality to those around us.  Whether  it's opening our homes or taking our hospitality to those who are in need.
*  Priscilla was both a student and a teacher.  She listened to Paul, learned about the Messiah and passed on her knowledge.   Spending time in the Word of God is one of the best ways to learn from Him.  Who can you teach?  Start at home and go from there!
*  She did everything in partnership.  She partnered with her husband in business.  Paul calls Priscilla and Aquila "co-workers in my ministry for Christ Jesus." (Romans 16:3).  It's not necessary to do-it-all-by-yourself!  Partnerships can be wonderful!
*  Priscilla was courageous!  She went against the normal role of women by teaching men and Paul mentions that she and Aquila risked their lives for him.  We each have our own fears or nagging negative thoughts that hold us back.  Be courageous!  As the Lord told Paul in a vision "Don't be afraid!  Speak out!  Don't be silent!  For I am with you, and no one will harm you..." (Acts 18: 9-10).

So, take your cue from Priscilla:  be a  partner in leadership!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Partners in Leadership

"When Priscilla and Aquila heard him (Apollos) they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately."  Acts 18:26

(Readings for the week: Acts 18:1-4, 18-28; Romans 16:3-5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19.  Chapter 10 of Women of the New Testament by Phyllis J. LePeau)

Partnerships can work in many ways and take many forms.  In our readings this week, we are given a glimpse into an inspiring couple, Priscilla and Aquila.  They were Jews who had been kicked out of Rome and ran into Paul in Corinth.  They happened to be in the same business as Paul, tent makers or leather workers (depending on your translation), and so offered him a place to live & work, and spread The Word.

Since our readings give only a few details about Priscilla and Aquila, we have to extrapolate a little bit about the depth of their passion for the Gospel based on the facts that we have and the knowledge of the 1st Century Christian church and the world into which is was born. 

Some things to make note of:
* In Corinth, a bustling harbor town, there were many competing religions and philosophies (not unlike 21st Century America). 
* Priscilla is often mentioned before her husband, a literary device signaling her importance in the relationship of marriage, mission, and how Paul viewed her.
* The husband and wife team is mentioned 5 times, including Paul's last letter before his death (2 Timothy 4:19, which is not part of the study, but I think it is important).
* Priscilla (along with her husband) taught Apollos, an act outside the normal role of women in ancient Rome and still debated with great fervor in some Christian churches.

When Priscilla and Aquila meet Paul, the Christian church is just getting started.  Paul is often attacked for his teachings and even thrown in jail.  His life is threatened and the Christian church is like a tiny baby out in the big, bad world.  Without the encouragement, support, shelter, hospitality, and stability of this couple, Christianity would not be where it is today. 

Priscilla and Aquila have inspired many to work in partnership to further the Christian Faith.  There is the Church of Saints Aquila & Priscilla in Rome, Italy; The Priscilla & Aquila centre at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia; and the Priscilla and Aquila House, a Mission outreach center in Colorado Springs, just to name a few!

One thing that strikes me about all the characters in this story (Paul, Priscilla, Aquila, Apollos) is that they were involved.  They were not "consumers" of The Word, but active participants in the church.  They listened and learned and then took action.  They taught, they preached, they offered hospitality, opened their homes for worship services, and even risked their lives (Romans 16:3-5).  Where they served, they built strong relationships and the Christian church grew!

I would love to hear how the story of Priscilla and Aquila inspires you!  And thoughts on how we can support and encourage the leaders in the church and the community!

Faithfully Yours,

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." ~ Proverbs 16:24

9/11 - We Shall Never Forget

Friday, September 7, 2012

Devotions | Proverbs 31 Ministries

What a week...

It was a week of "First Day of School" in our home!  The youngest went first (on Tuesday), the first day of her last year of preschool; my oldest started her Junior year of high school on Wednesday; and finally, on Thursday, my middle child took his place as "top dog" as an 8th grader, his last year of middle school.  It's not been an easy week getting these children out of summer mode and into school mode.  We are usually better prepared, but this year our summer was short and busy, fall activities seemed to sneak up on us, and we just were not as prepared as usual for back-to-school.  It was "one of those weeks!", you know what I'm talking about.  But, even as I vented some frustrations, a friend reminded me that,
 "... things could be so much worse. We are blessed to have healthy kids with some quirks....".  That made me smile and brought me back from the "crazies".  I am truly blessed to have 3 healthy, quirky kids who challenge me and help me to remember what is really important in life.  It's at these times especially, when I think I'm going to lose my mind, that I go to God's Word looking for answers, support, wisdom, advice, anything to remind me of His Grace.  And I always find it!  It's there - God has children, he knows my frustrations, and more.  He gives great advice and sends people into our lives to remind us of it. 
For the second time this week, He spoke to me today about my busy life through others.  Click on this link to read some great advice from Lysa TerKeurst at Proverbs 31 Ministries, about staying sane when life is pulling you in so many directions.  It's perfect for this time of year, when school, sports, & activities are starting anew.
Devotions | Proverbs 31 Ministries

Speaking of starting anew... next Friday Re:A Small Group Experience for Women picks up where we left off last May in Women of the New Testament, by Phyllis J. LePeau, published by LifeGuide.  I am so excited to get started!! I can't wait to see everyone on Friday morning.  And for those of you following along on the blog: Welcome!  I can't wait to hear from you!  If you don't yet have a study guide, you can usually find it in your local Christian book store or order it on-line from Amazon,, or many other sites.  Each lesson stands on it's own, so don't worry if this is your first time - you haven't missed anything!   If you are new to our group, Bible study, or are just starting your faith journey - start where you are - God will meet you there through the study of His Word.

In the book, we will start with chapter 10, "Priscilla: A Partner in Leadership".  I realize this is the last chapter of the book, but I think it's a good place to start.  The lesson is based on Acts 18:1-4, 18-28. 

So, grab your favorite Bible, or borrow one, and get ready to curl up with a good book this week!

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  ~Proverbs 16:24

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A little history...

Last September a beautiful group of women gathered at Redeemer Lutheran Church to explore a Bible study called Women of the Old Testament, by Gladys Hunt.   We were young & old, had children spanning all ages, some were veteran 'Bible study girls' while others had never really studied the Bible.  We gathered around hot tea, a pot of coffee, and a morning snack with the promise that the readings would be short and the conversation lively & meaningful.  Each woman had her own reason for attending Re:, but we all wondered what in the world we could possibly have in common with women from the Old Testament of the Bible!

As it turns out, we have much in common with each other and those amazing ladies from old!  We learned about Eve, Sarah & Hagar, Miriam, Rahab, Ruth, Naomi, Hannah, Abigail, the Shunammite woman, Esther, and the Proverbs 31 Woman.  These women faced deception, difficult choices, loss, infertility, being stuck in a bad marriage, having a critical spirit and many other situations that we could relate to.  While times change, it seems people and their emotions are basically the same!  We learned lessons of Grace, forgiveness, patience, Joy, and courage!  We laughed, we cried, we shared, and we prayed.  We also contributed to our larger community along the way.

In April and May we moved forward in time to the Women of the New Testament, by Phyllis J. LePeau.  We saw how God met Elizabeth in her suffering, how Mary believed the impossible, the result of Herodias' bitterness, how Jesus forgave a sinful woman, the result of perseverance in prayer, and several lessons from Lydia, a leader and business woman who was the first European convert.

Every week there was something to be learned from these women and applied to our 21st Century lives!  Proving that the trials we face, the emotions we deal with, the situations we find ourselves in are not new - we are not alone in our suffering.  And the wisdom found in the Word of God is ageless.

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." ~Proverbs 16:24