Soap and Shampoo, Elements of Communion

My office is an oasis. It is a place of refreshing for those who think they need money, but who really need a drink. Weary travelers call hoping that we can solve all of their problems. Instead, we are only allowed to provide a sip. Because to allow the parched to gulp only gives them more pain, and they are thirsty for so much more than provision.

We give them soap and shampoo, but then we give them a morsel of genesis life. It is a Eucharist of sorts; a bit of bread and a sip of wine; scripture and prayer.

The Word of God, Jesus, was broken as bread…and we live by this Bread of life. His Words are the sustenance our innermost being survives to hear. These Words spoken heal wounded hearts, souls and bodies….and the wine? His Spirit. Where two or more of you agree touching anything there He is…right there in their midst. There He is, right there in the Personal Care Pantry. Soap cleansing the body, God’s Word cleansing a soul and the intoxicating Presence to wash it all down.

The seed is natural, but the growth is supernatural. Soap grows into spiritual hunger when mixed with prayer and compassion.

Maybe if we can give a sip, the partakers will want more….we hope to whet appetites with soap and shampoo, with Word and prayer, and all in the Name of Christ.

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Kim Sullivan is the Executive Director of Love In The Name of Christ Tinley Park, Illinois. Love In the Name of Christ of Tinley Park is a group of Christian churches and church volunteers reaching across denominational lines to help people in need. People in need often end up on the doorstep of our community churches. But one church alone cannot deal with the complex issue of poverty. Love INC works by mobilizing churches and Christian volunteers to network with existing community resources and develop church ministries to fill the gaps where community services are not available.

If you are interested in donating to this cause or learning more visit our website at loveinctp.org

Sharing with Michelle.

And Emily who is releasing her brand new book, Mom in the Mirror today!

…and playing with Laura…

Picking up where I left off

#303 a robin named Baskin’ caring for her young…
#304 a call to warfare and the courage to answer
#305 a warm day…FINALLY
#306 work day epiphanies that keep me going
#307 a tenth leper phone call
#308 Divine provoked courage
#309 the conspiracy of the Divine

Let us Arise and Rebuild!

Continuing my journey with Nehemiah…This is inspired from the second chapter. Won’t you join my meditations on Nehemiah? If you’d like to start from the beginning, you can go here.

My world wonders why I mourn,
but my nation continues to suffer the consequence
of corporate sin.
We are blind and can not see
That when some suffer, we all suffer.

“What can one girl do?”
they ask.
“You are taking on too much care
over the misery of others.”
But still, I am troubled.

Another asks what bothers me,
and I tell them how my home is in shambles.
A few want to help, some with money
Others want to be my companions
On a long road to recovery.

When the road brings us to our destination
we find
that things are worse than reported…

Because those who have stepped over this mess
for a hundred years
do not see it any longer.
They have resigned themselves that this is life.
Hope has long ago grown wings and taken flight.

But when His Spirit arises, I find myself declaring,
“Let us arise and rebuild!
Arise out of the ashes, the crumbling ruins,
Let us remember who we are,
and Whose we are.
Together we can do this!”

But then, a miracle unfolds!
for those who have lived the zombified lives
of the walking dead
become alive again;
Alive to hope and ready to work.

Poured out. empty.

Poured out.
empty.
my words are spilled out on page
or screen.
whichever two dimensional tablet I choose.

Poured out.
empty.
His insides are spilled out on ground
or me.
whichever lifeless surface I choose.

How do I make my words count?
They are only sounds spelled out
by letters.
I throw them into the air
speak life to them with hot breath.

How do I make His death count?
Blood has fallen on dead flesh
and bones.
He’s splattered it everywhere
and sighed last with death rattle.

My words
in me.
His Life
for me.
and I pour out my words infused with His life.
It was His life for mine.
His Words for mine.

An excellent exchange.
for me,
dontcha think?
What about for Him?
Was the trade good for Him?
aside from obedience?

Make my life count, Jesus
Who lives forever.
Make my words count, Lord
Word-giver.

photo courtesy of Dustin Blay

Counting with dear Ann:
232. Easter brunch with my Bible Study girls!!

233. Gifts from neighbors…

234. Coloring Eggs with little ones…

235. A surprise in the parking lot, a sponge painted sky…

236. An out of time moment…

237. A day to write to my heart’s content.

238. Beauty in chaos.

239. Standing at the door of my weekly place of grace.

240. Bluebell, cockel shells, Evy, Ivy over!

241. The path to Narnia…

242. A makeshift clothesline.

243. The yeasty smell of bread raising…

244. My children inviting people to Easter brunch…:)

245. Getting to see the batmobile in action!

246. Leftover muffins to give to neighbors as Easter treat!

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

 

shared over at D’Verse Poets

Cotton Candy Christianity

Cotton candy

Isaiah 55 (MSG)
“Hey there! All who are thirsty,
come to the water!
Are you penniless?
Come anyway—buy and eat!
Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.
Buy without money—everything’s free!
Why do you spend your money on junk food,
your hard-earned cash on cotton candy?
Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best,
fill yourself with only the finest.
Pay attention, come close now,
listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words.
I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you,”

Everyone is thirsty. We are all longing for something to fill a void. But sometimes we don’t know it, because we stuff ourselves with a bunch of fluff; things that aren’t nutritious or satisfying. Cotton candy tastes wonderful! But it melts in your mouth immediately, and never gives a satisfied, full feeling. There are so many ways the human race does this. Unbelievers and believers alike try to add meaning to their life by what they “do”. But this Scripture clearly states that we are trying to pay for something that He’s provided free of charge! Or how often have we run to cozy pj’s and an evening of Lifetime movies for the comfort only time spent pursuing the Comforter can give?

Jesus likened Himself to a tall drink of water!

If you read the story of Jesus and the woman at the well, you’ll see that Jesus called Himself Living Water that satisfies forever.

Drinking from the well that satisfies! Jesus didn’t spend time telling this woman how wonderful she was. In order to drink this Living Water, she had to hear some things that were difficult to hear. But she was thirsty, and she recognized the answer when He came to her.

How many of us would stick around for these difficult words? Most of us would run faster than our legs could carry us! But the Son of God made her aware of her thirst, and she wanted to quench this thirst more than she wanted to hear nice things about herself.

Jesus likened Himself to bread!

I happen to be on a fast; fasting sugar, potatoes and wheat flour. That’s everything worth eating, right? My grocery bill has suffered! All of the inexpensive “fillers” are out of my life. Eating right and living a healthy lifestyle comes at a cost. At the very least you will spend more energy pursuing physical health, and more than likely it it will cost more money as well. It is impossible to put a price of soul satisfaction. But the Good News is that the price has been paid! All we need to do is choose the right spiritual food. Sometimes we prefer to hear words that are melt-in-your-mouth morsels rather than a tough piece of meat that requires much chewing and a month to digest. We become offended with our pastors and teachers and ultimately God’s Word, because they are no longer “encouraging” and yummy to our delicate taste buds.

Eating healthy food isn’t easy…especially if you aren’t used to it. It takes hard work and discipline to train your body to desire the right things. Because of my fast, I’ve had bread on the brain, so it struck me hard when I came across this Scripture from John 6 in the Message.

27″Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”

28To that they said, “Well, what do we do then to get in on God’s works?”

29Jesus said, “Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God’s works.”… 35-38Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.

I find it curious that both Isaiah and Jesus, when likening spirituality to food and drink also speak of commitment. The only time that I’ve survived a fast or diet is when I’ve been committed to that decision as a lifestyle.

Another portion of Isaiah 55 states,

6-7Seek God while he’s here to be found,
pray to him while he’s close at hand.
Let the wicked abandon their way of life
and the evil their way of thinking.
Let them come back to God, who is merciful,
come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.

We always assume we can live any old way and come back to Jesus anytime we decide to. But this verse provokes an interesting thought. It insinuates that there are times when God is closer than others, and that we must capitalize on these times.

The woman at the well, recognized one of these times. Jesus was close at hand, and she allowed Him to make the most of this opportunity.

We tend to think that we can eat junk food until we’re in our 40’s and 50’s and still enjoy optimum health. But that’s not true! And so it is in our spiritual lives. There is a time table of health, and consequences to pay for how we’ve treated our bodies. The longer we sow junk into our lives, the harder it is to abandon our old way of life.

Let me encourage you today. Throw in your lot with Jesus! Stop trying to satisfy yourself with sugary air! Come to the well of Living Waters…and have the discipline to hear and do hard things. He is the Bread of Life, and just like a great loaf of bread, He fills and satisfies. Check your spiritual “diet”. Are you trying to survive on cotton candy?

Perhaps taking private communion this week would be a good reminder of ensuring proper spiritual food. Will you join me in doing so?

Big News!! I’m Expecting!!!

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.
Isaiah 40:30-31

I know, I know it sounded like I was expecting a baby, but in a way I am. I am pregnant with expectations! Remember Narnia? Aslan is on the move? The Holy Spirit is on the move and He hovers over my life just like He hovered over the face of the deep.

What will He do today? Will He show me a hidden treasure? Will He whisper sweet somethings in my ear? Will He caress my cheek with a breeze? I’m expecting Simple Pleasures and Hidden Treasures with Him today. What an adventure!

As I’ve written previously EXPECT is my word for the year….Are you interested in finding out more about the one word movement? Check it out here.

Grace Like A Snowflake… Day 11 Photo Scavenger Hunt

Snowflake 1

full of grace. Hail Mary full of grace.

i feel grace-depleted. what little i had left
has melted on my nose tip like a lone snowflake
this warm winter season.

my husband needs grace. i have none.
my children need grace. i’m empty.
no. more. grace.

an angel came to Mary.
with a proposition and a plan.
she said yes.

God’s Word comes to me
with a proposition and a plan.
i say no.

Mary said yes.
she was full of grace.

i say no
i am replete of it.

awake. repent.
say yes.

graceful.

1. The Journey Advent photo comes to us from Dana at DRGT/Just Wondering. Her beautiful calendar comes from Ann Voskamp’s 15 year old son, who made these beauties so that he’d have money to donate to Compassion.

2. The Jesse Tree Advent photo comes to us from Blue Cotton Memory. She writes of raising Boys to Men.

3. The Traditional Advent photo comes from Christina at To Show Them Jesus. She writes about her experiences as a home schooling mom.

4. The German Advent calendar photo comes from me. 🙂

Thanks everyone for your participation!

I know that this week will be busy for all of us, so I’ve decided to post the week’s photo prompts:

Wednesday – Advent Calendar
Thursday – Snowflake
Friday – Nativity

The linkup will be through Friday. I will go through the posts and gather the pics for the correct days. Thanks so much for your participation, this has been fun! Link up your post featuring a photo with a theme listed above. Include my blog button, and visit other “hunt” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “gift” picture. Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!

Linking with my dear Emily:

and with the amazing poets at dverse

Faith: God’s Gift to Man

Icebreaker:  What do you consider a great reward?

Text:  Genesis 15:1-6

1)  Even though Lot and Abram parted ways, Abram comes to Lot’s rescue when he and his family are kidnapped.  There was still the covenant of blood between the two.   Q:  Have you ever had to help someone that you’ve decided to back away from?

2)  In doing so, Abram came against several kings and armies, and won.  However, he may have created many enemies for himself.  The king of Sodom expected Abram to keep the spoil from this skirmish, but Abram refuses.  This next chapter begins with God telling Abram not to fear, but that He is Abram’s shield, AND that He is Abram’s reward.  Perhaps Abram was afraid that by protecting Lot, he had opened a can of worms politically for Himself.  Perhaps He was second guessing his decision not to take any of the spoil, but here God tells him that He is his reward.

3)  Abram responds with “What will you give me?”  He understands that God means to bless him.  He sounds like he’s reminding God of His former promise.  Q:  Have you ever had a child remind you of something that you’ve promised them?

4) God decides to give him a point of contact…the stars in heaven, so that whenever he sees these stars, his faith can be encouraged.  I  have a friend whose husband had to go out of the country for three weeks.  His two year old daughter was starting to lose sight of how long it would be before daddy would be home.  So, she made her daughter a chart.

My friend gave her little girl a picture of faith…something that she could look at when she started to believe that Daddy would never come home.  Q:  Has God ever given you a visual so that you were able to keep the faith?

5)  Richard Foster says:  “Faith in the promise itself is also a gift of the Promise Maker.  Even our faith is a gift from God!  We can ask God for more faith.  He will encourage us when we feel weak in faith.

6)  Now, God says that Abraham believed, and He counted it as righteousness to Abraham.  There still was no proof that God would do what He said, but Abraham believed nonetheless.  He trusted God at His Word.  Hebrews 11:1-2 and 6 says, 1Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see. 2God accepted our ancestors because of their faith…6No one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Here we see again reward and faith spoken of together.  a)  We must believe in God.  b) We must believe that God is a rewarder.

7)  Hebrews 11:8 says, “Faith led Abraham to obey when God called him to go to a place that he would receive as an inheritance. Abraham left his own country without knowing where he was going. ”  Faith causes obedience to God’s instructions.  God’s instructions lead to an inheritance (or reward).  Faith leads you to the unknown.  Q:  Tell of a time faith has led you to the unknown.

8)  By faith Abraham stayed and waited for the promise  according to Hebrews 11:9-10.  I am sure there were many times Abraham looked up at the stars for encouragement.  Q:  What can we look to for encouragement in our faith?  Romans 10:17

9)  Q:  How can we increase our faith?  In Luke 17, the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith.

10)  Jude 20 says that praying builds up our faith.  Let’s pray and ask God to build our faith the way He did for Abram.  Remember:  Faith in the promise itself is also, a gift of the Promise Maker.  Richard Foster

The Blueprint of Your Life.

The lights are dim in the room. Dark walls accentuate the bright lights in the small chapel provided for the Saturday evening Contemporary Service. Leaders assemble an hour before starting time to be encouraged about their role in this dark world, and the young man speaks. He speaks to them about the name of this leadership meeting, Blueprint. He shares with them the process of making a blueprint, and their perspective changes. My “old heart” changes, because of these young ones.


He tell us that it all starts with a master planner. This architect or draftsman draws the plans he has for his project onto tracing paper. The final product is only a dream at that point, but he plans nonetheless, knowing that an action with no plan often causes more problems than no action at all.

He then takes a special white paper that has been treated with an inorganic chemical and places the tracing paper over the tainted paper.

Next, he shines a light onto the the tracing paper. Although a chemical process happens, it is invisible to the human eye until he chemically treats the paper a second time. This causes the light exposed areas to turn blue, while his plans remain white.

Isn’t this how it is in our lives dear friend? Our Master Planner has made a blueprint for our lives. He’s promised us each a plan of our own. (Jeremiah 29:11) He has drawn it out before we were born. But sin entered our lives, just like the inorganic or unnatural chemical on the “blank” paper. When we allow the plan of God (the tracing paper) to cover our sin, and His Word (the light), to penetrate our lives, it leaves a mark. Even if you can’t see it at first, it makes an lasting imprint. Eventually, after we’ve been continually washed in his Word, the light exposes our sin, but it exposes His plans for us as well.

So I have one question for you…Will you allow His plan to cover the sin drenched paper of your life? Will you allow him to make a beautiful sanctuary out of your life? Will you expose yourself to the light of His Word, even if it may be painful?

What kind of building results from an unplanned plan? Is it built on sand? A wise man counts the cost before he begins to build. God your Father and Master Planner has counted the cost for your life. He’s made a plan. The plan He made for you cost Him everything, so that you could become His beautiful treasure here on earth, His masterpiece, His work of art.

For more information on the process of a blueprint, click here.

Giving thanks with Ann today:

#41 – I am thankful for the most beautiful autumn I’ve ever experienced. It demands my attention.

#42 – So grateful for shorter days suggesting more rest and cozy nights of reading at home.

#43 – My husband, who always finds a silver lining

#44 – For my new doctor who encouraged me with, “You must live each day as a gift.” Wow!

#45 – That I get to be a servant to my sweet family.

#46 – For Dr. Renner sharing so freely with our congregation

#47 – For the 21 pieces of missing luggage being found for our Haiti missions team.

Linking with dear Michelle and Jen and Laura and Shanda:

Settling Strife and Deciphering God Purposed Relationships – Blogger’s Bible Study

Icebreaker:  Tell of a time when a sibling or your children had a disagreement over an item?

Text:  Genesis Chapter 13

Looking back to the end of the last chapter

1)  After God told Abram which land belonged to him, he traveled there to find that the land was occupied and then there was a famine.

2) Abram went to  Egypt (even farther from his “Promised Land”) with his family to escape the famine.

3)  Abram became very rich there.

4)  Abram returned to the place where he celebrated God’s goodness…to the altar where he acknowledged what God had done in his life.  Genesis 13:4  Q:  What kind of “place” can we return to after hardship, and circumstance make things look as though God’s promise will not come through?

5)  Abram sought to end the strife between Lot’s workers and Abram’s workers.  In his desire to put an end to the strife, he offered Lot his choice of land.  When seeking to end strife, it is important to keep the other person’s best interest in mind.  Q:  What kind of strife do you find yourself in?  How can this be resolved?

6)  So Lot chose the best for himself.  From the beginning, Lot has not been a blessing to Abram.  Perhaps this is because Abram was told to leave his family, and Lot came along.  Now he chooses not to honor Abram with the kindness of giving him the best of the land. He also chose the cities and the cultures that were existing rather than the plains.  This choice plays into Lot’s life later, because he seems to never have left the culture of his past.  He moved as close as he could to the most evil city around, and according to verse 13 surrounded himself by sinners.  Q:  What happens when we surround ourselves by an evil culture and sinners?

7) Dr. Robb Thompson says, “If God wants to bless you, He brings a person into your life, if Satan wants to curse you, he brings a person into your life.”  Q:  Tell of a time when either of these things has happened in your own life.

8) The Lord reaffirms His promise to Abram after the strife, and Lot are away from his life.  It is possible that Lot was keeping Abram from all God had for him in some way.  Q:  What are some circumstances that you’ve witnessed either in your own life or the lives of others where a person has held someone back?

9)  Dr. Robb Thompson also says, “There are rules both to enter into and remain in relationship.”  Q:  How does the story of Abram and Lot exemplify this? QWhat does this story teach us about changing the proximity of a relationship?

10)  The people we allow access into our lives make a difference.  This week, inventory your relationships and decide which relationships are there as a blessing, which are there for you to be a blessing, and which are there to distract you from His purposes.

Taking Courage When Leaving the Comfortable – Blogger’s Bible Study

Icebreaker:  Tell about a time that you moved from one place to another.

Read:  Genesis 12:1-8

1.  Abram left his country, and his patriarchal family.  There would be different language, culture, geography and gods.  Everything Abram had known would be left behind.  

2.  God was asking Abram to go to a land he had never been to before.  He could have been moved by the fear of the unknown.

3.  “God cares more about your character than your comfort.”  John Bevere  Q:  How does this relate to Abram’s story?

4.  God promised a blessing with obedience.  Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.  This was definitely an IF/THEN situation.  God didn’t make any promises to Abram in his place of comfort.  Abram would have left a permanent home in order to become a nomad.  Once he got there, other people were occupying this land…and there was a famine.  Q:  Have you ever obeyed a leading God has given you only to have the promise delayed?

5.  Abram built an altar.  As an act of faith and a reminder of God’s promise Abram built an altar in the place God had given him.  Q:   What are some ways that we can build an altar on a promise God has given us?

6.  Share something that you feel God is asking you to do in faith.  Matthew 16: 24Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

26For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

27For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

7.  Prayer:

God, thank you for speaking to me about this instruction you are leading me to fulfill.  Give me the faith of my father, Abraham, so that I can please you.  Help me to obey you with willingness.  Make me more interested in the building of my character than in my comfort.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen