Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Why is my faith so small?

Almost two years ago I took my first trip to the orphanage in Ukraine. The first two days we were there, this kid named Vlad concerned us a little bit. He was around 13 or 14 and he was very attention driven. He would come up and hug our neck and lick our face and occasionally bite us. No he wasn't mentally ill, just attention starved. He was also hilarious. He knew a little bit of English and would call us "American-ski." By Wednesday, however, we all fell in love with him. He was weird, quirky, scary, and we would have to remind him not to bite or lick us, but he was just Vlad! The kind of kid that would never get adopted. The kind of kid that would scare people off unintentionally because he was trying for your attention. The kind of kid you would hide from because you never knew what he was going to do even though you secretly hoped he would find you because you wanted to see what he would do. One of my favorite times that week was a 3 minute conversation I had with him. It was the only time I saw him serious. I asked him how he became an orphan. He said he didn't know his parents. Somebody found him wandering on the street when he was 18 months old. His mother/parents had put him out at 18 months old! That was all he knew. After he solemnly told me that, he tried to sit on my lap for which he was severely scolded by an adult male Ukrainian for doing so. He was just being Vlad.

Shortly after our trip, we gave each of our children in our church the name of an orphan to pray for. Nia got a girl named Viola. JJ got Vlad. The first night we prayed for them the kids prayed that they would be adopted. After we prayed, I told Nia and JJ that it was more than likely that neither would ever get adopted because of their age and also for Vlad because he was so eccentric. I suggested that we pray for them in ways that they would come to know Jesus, get in ministry with LifeSong at the orphanage, or become part of the transition program. I'll never forget how Nia cried that night at the thought that nobody would want to be a parent to these kids.

Why is my faith so small?

Daniel just got back from his Ukraine trip in February. We take turns going different times of the year (to the same orphanage). I asked him how Vlad was. He said he saw him there and talked to him. He was in a foster home. HE WAS IN A FOSTER HOME!! He comes back to the orphanage to visit. The first thing I thought of was the night in JJ's bedroom when I told Nia and JJ to pray for something else for Vlad and Viola. And then I heard

"Why is your faith so small?"

Because God is not small. Because I should have been praying with Nia and JJ for the past two years that Vlad and Viola would be adopted.
Because I should have faith that He made Vlad the way he is and that nobody is unadoptable--nobody. Because my children have a big God.
Because my children want to ask God for things I don't ever think are possible. Because my children are right.

Maybe my faith is so small because I am too large......

In Matthew 17:14-20 we have the message of the disciples unable to cast out a demon from a boy. The father brought the boy to the disciples and they couldn't do it. The father then brought the boy to Jesus and at His rebuke, the boy was healed. The disciples asked Jesus in private why couldn't they cast out the demon. Jesus replies, "because of your little faith. For truly I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you." (v. 20)

I'm not going to turn this into a self-help "believe in God and you can do anything..." I don't think that is what Jesus was telling the disciples at all. Nor do I believe that the Bible teaches this. In fact I think we place ourselves in the messages of the Bible where we don't belong but only Christ does (another blog, another time). I believe that Christ is all, does all, and says all. I think God taught me all this through Vlad because He wanted to show me that so many times my faith is misplaced on myself and my thoughts of God, instead of who God really is, what God really does, and what God really says.

That makes my faith small.

I am so glad that my children have this awesome, big God! I am so thankful that God is sovereign over Vlad. Praise God that He uses His sovereignty and plans for Vlad to teach me about my smallness. My prayers are only hindered by myself. I need to ask that He increase my faith. Glory to Him for the grace He has for all of us.

Because I once too was unadoptable.

Read Matthew 17:14-20 again. Give thanks to God that He accepts us because Christ makes us acceptable.

And may you ask Him to grow your faith as big as a mustard seed.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Two days before Christmas I was in Wal-mart. It was in the evening and I was picking up a few extra things so I wouldn't have to go back out before the Holidays. In front of me checking out was a very young woman and she was by herself as well. All she was buying were bananas. Well a lot of bananas. Like several pounds of bananas. The "southernly" check-out clerk asked her "what are ya doin' with all these bananas?" To which the young woman sweetly replied, "they are for my son. He is 3 years old and he loves bananas. He eats several a day." The check out clerk carried on casual conversation with her about what a good eater he was and then gave her the total. "Six dollars and .36 cents is your total." The young woman pulled a WIC check out of her pocket which was a prepaid amount of six dollars. She said with embarrassment "all I have is six dollars, I guess we will have to put some of the bananas back." "Well wait a minute," the clerk said searching her pockets, "maybe I have some change. No I'm afraid I don't." The young woman started to grab the bananas to have them taken off her total. Of course at this point I am going to buy all the bananas for her so I already have my wallet out. The clerk asks me, "Do you have any change?" Knowing I never have cash, I peer into my change pocket of my wallet hoping to find 2 quarters and I say, "all I have is 3 nickels and a few pennies. It doesn't look like 36 cents." So the clerk holds her hand out and says "Well honey, count it out in my hand and we will see how much you have."

Do you need to ask how much I had? I had exactly 36 cents. Three nickels and 21 pennies. Me, who never has cash, me who thought I only had 3 nickels and a few pennies.

I almost cried as I counted out to number 36. The clerk was counting with me. We were counting out loud too. She folded up her hand, opened her register, dropped the money in, and said to the young woman, "Well that's God for ya." The young woman half smiled, still a little embarrassed, and walked out with $6.36 worth of bananas for her son.

Today is my birthday, I am now 36. I have to say I am much happier turning 36 than turning 35. Last year a very difficult birthday. I didn't want to turn 35. It was like I could no longer be in my early thirties. Daniel was literally out of the country. My Dad was in Wisconsin because his brother had just passed away, and it was my first birthday without the one who birthed me. There was no phone call from her telling me the story of how I was 9 lbs 15 ounces and broke my collar bone being born.
There was no describing how I had a bunch of red, curly hair. There was no telling me how I looked like a line backer with big shoulders. There was no me rolling my eyes at the story I had heard at least 100 times. Oh to hear that story once more......

I think about the 36 cents I had in my wallet that evening. How long had it been in there? How long had it been exactly 36 cents? At what point did I add or subtract for it
to make it the perfect amount for that evening? I do not ever believe in random chance. And it may seem trivial, but I believe 100 percent that the amount was there
for that moment by God to speak to me. I am sure it spoke to that young woman as well. We live so much of our lives in doubt. Doubt of God that is. It is hard to believe
in the "unseen." But the Jewish people had the "seen" and most of them didn't believe as well.

We finished up the Book of John with the kids the other night for Bible time. We were reading about how Jesus appeared to the disciples and in particular to Thomas. Oh doubting Thomas. Thomas who had to see for himself the markings on Jesus' hands and feet. Jesus who waited 8 days to appear to Thomas. Jesus who said to Thomas, "Do not disbelieve, but believe." Oh how I love Thomas' response, "My Lord and my God!" "Lord" translating in Greek to the divine name "Yahweh" and "God" to exclaim
His deity. What sweet worship. Jesus' timing was perfect.

John 21 describes Jesus appearing to some of the disciples as they were fishing one evening, after His resurrection. When the disciples realize it is Jesus on the shore, Peter jumps into the water and swims to where Jesus is standing. What I love is that the Bible says they weren't far from shore. The rest of the disciples boated back in. Peter couldn't wait. Peter who denied who Jesus was. Peter who said he never knew the man. Peter who was afraid. Jesus' timing was perfect.

I say all this to bring encouragement. I don't know if you are doubting, disbelieving, or struggling with something in your life or faith. I know that I cannot live without my faith. I know I am not suppose to live without my faith. I know I do not want to live without my faith. I struggle with various things in life like we all do, but I can explain the comfort I have had from the day I knew my Mom was going to die, because of my faith in Christ. Life is difficult. Believing in the "unseen" is hard. But He has shown us His hands and His feet. He has said "Do not disbelieve, but believe." And He gives us 36 cents all the time to show us that He is our Lord and our God.

May you believe Jesus is the Christ and jump into the water. The only thing we have to deny is ourselves.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Who is ever satisfied with their weight? Even if you lose weight there is always that possibility that you could lose more right? Every where we look there is something that reminds us of our weight. No matter how much we exercise, eat right, or suck it in, we still want to change our weight. There are times when I know my weight is fine but I still feel heavy. I have this opinion about myself based on a scale. What a travesty. Maybe I'm just speaking for myself, but I have a feeling that you are reading this thinking about your weight right now.......

So I have a weight problem. Well we all do.

Time and again we hear about how people have to find a balance in life. You must balance your family with your work. Your free time. Your sports. Your homework. Your finances. Your computer time. Your phone time. Your TV time. Your church time. Your diet. We must balance it all. To balance it means that you have to equal it out. Equal out what you do one moment with what you do with another moment. That is only fair right? If we feel like we are able to balance things, then everything is kosher?

Well I have a balance problem too. Well we all do.

I was listening to a sermon a couple of weeks ago by David Platt. He is pastor of Brook Hills which is in Birmingham. He was talking about the glory of God. Glory is used some 400 times in the Bible. That's a lot of glory. That's a lot of God. We learn that God is glory. We learn that the glory of God is so immense that we cannot be in His presence. We learn that the glory of God was so tremendous that Moses had to veil his face because it was glowing from being in God's presence. The people couldn't handle it. It scared them. How pure, majestic, perfect, beautiful, fearful is the glory of God.

What about giving glory to God? We learn about that too. It is something we can't handle. It is something that should scare us.

When you look up the word "glory" in Hebrew it is "kabowd" or "kabod" which means to be heavy or to give weight to. In Greek the word "glory" is "doxa" which means common belief or opinion. So I have been thinking about my weight and balance problem in terms of kabod and doxa. If I am to truly glorify God, then I am to give all weight to Him. All my beliefs, all my attention, all my focus should be on God and not trying to balance anything. If I throw my whole weight to God, and I'm talking spiritually, emotionally, physically, then that is how I glorify Him. God is my life and the most important relationship I have. God is heavy. God is weighty. He does more than tip the scale, He breaks it. There is no balancing God.

No matter how much we try to do it all, we can't. Stop trying to balance. God doesn't want an equal part of you. He wants it all. The only way to glorify God as an image bearer is to look like Him. The only way to look like Him is to know Him. The only way to know Him is to communicate with Him. The only way to communicate with Him is through His Word, through prayer, and through the Holy Spirit. David Platt said we will look like the God we worship. It's too hard to look like too many things. That's the beginning of our weight problem. The only heaviness we should ever feel is the glory of God, His heaviness. His glory is pure. His work is majestic. His Son is perfect. His light is beautiful.

Every minute, every thought, every action, should be in the weight of God. We can't handle it. It is scary. That is why we have Jesus. God knows that our every minute, every thought, and every action isn't done in His weight. That is why He gave us Jesus, to remove the veil so we can be in God's presence. So we can be acceptable to Him.

So it sounds easy right? I actually am just like the Israelites. I know that I am not adequate or worthy to be in the glory. It scares me sometimes to think I may be lukewarm. But I just do the only thing that I know to do. Throw my weight at Him. Look at Him. Know Him. Communicate with Him. Then maybe, just maybe I will look like the image bearer He created me to be in spite of my sin, but because of my Christ.

I am so thankful for Jesus Christ. I am so thankful that He is my righteousness. Because my own righteousness, my own weight, is a travesty.

May you look like the God you worship.

Love is Christ.