"Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

...but I have prayed for you...

In my Bible study today I read the familiar words of Jesus to Peter at the Passover meal before Jesus' death.  "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, so that your faith may not fail."  (Luke 22:31,32a)

The first thought that popped into my head was, "Wow.  What would it be like to have Jesus pray for me?  To have Him sit next to me, take my hands in His, and gently offer His petitions for me?"  I know there are people who pray regularly for me.  It's a humbling thought...people interceding on my behalf before the throne of God.  But how amazing to think of Christ Jesus Himself kneeling before the Father, talking to God specifically about me!  So when I read those words this morning I just sat there awhile and let the Spirit speak His truth to my heart.  "Bev, Jesus does pray for you.  He is praying for you.  Believe it!"

I know this truth in my head.  I've read it many times in His Word (i.e. "He (Jesus) lives forever to intercede with God on their (believers) behalf."  Heb. 7:25b)  But what an awesome reminder, what beautiful freedom, what an amazing source of comfort and strength, to hear Jesus say, "But I have prayed for you, Bev, so that your faith may not fail."  Thank You, Jesus.  I so needed that reminder today!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Okay, so I really did plan to blog more faithfully!  I guess you can tell it's summer...it's harder to gather my thoughts when the silence is missing!  But this afternoon I find myself home alone (WONDERFUL!), so I thought I'd spend some time putting thoughts into words.

Two summers ago I went to a small group conference in Chicago and was moved by the testimony of one of the speakers.  Joyce Rees spoke about her ministry to those living in poverty and how we are all called to love and take care of those in our society who are marginalized.  My spirit connected with what she was saying and ever since then I've been struggling with the questions, "Who are the marginalized in my life?"  and "Who around me is living in poverty?".  One thing I've been learning is that poverty is a much broader term than I once thought.  It not only encompasses physical poverty, but it includes spiritual poverty, as well.

I recently got to know a beautiful young couple who bought a house in inner-city Kansas City and literally moved into the neighborhood.  They love the Lord and are serving Him daily by serving those who live in physical and spiritual poverty.  My heart was moved when I thought of all they've given up (including physical safety) to answer God's call to the inner city.  What an incredible example of being willing to give our all to serve!

So I struggle...and I listen.  Am I hearing God...am I heeding His call?  I know He wants His children to love and serve those living in poverty.  But how -- who?  For now, I don't hear God calling me and Steve to move to another community.  But I do hear Him (quite clearly, actually) asking me to open my eyes to the marginalized He's placed in my life.  So I keep my (spiritual) antenna up as I go through my day, listening for Him to say, "This is one that needs to be loved in My name".   One thing I'm coming to realize is that those living in poverty might not look much different than I do.  And they are right here in my safe little community.

I'm currently reading No Greater Love, by Mother Teresa.  What an excellent book -- full of beautiful wisdom.  At first glance our worlds look nothing alike.  Mother Teresa was a nun called to live among and serve the poorest of the poor.  I am a 50 year old middle-upper class American mom living in a small, wealthy community.  Nothing in my life or my experiences can compare with hers.  But listen to these words of truth that she penned.

"People are hungry for God.  People are hungry for love.  Are we aware of that?...  Do we have eyes to see?... We are all just passing through this world.  We need to open our eyes and see.

"Since we cannot see Christ, we cannot express our love to Him.  But we do see our neighbor, and we can do for him what we would do for Christ if He were visible.  Let us be open to God, so that He can use us.  Let us put love into action.  Let us begin with our family, with our closest neighbors.  It is difficult, but that is where our work begins.  We are collaborators with Christ, fertile branches on the vine...  Remember, it is the individual that is important to us. ... To me, every person in the world is unique."  (p. 56, 57)

Who, in your life, is still living in poverty?  Who is hungering and thirsting for the Good News?  Who needs you to be the hands and feet of Jesus loving them in His name?  If you're not sure, ask God.  He would love to open your eyes to those who desperately need to experience His love.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Yesterday I attended the funeral of my brother-in-law Marty's brother, Tony Overweg.  Tony was only 36 years old when he died.  He left behind a devoted mother, 3 sisters, 1 brother, and lots of nieces and nephews.  Tony didn't have a wife or children -- Tony was profoundly autistic.

I never met Tony, but my heart was so moved at his funeral.   It was evident that his family loved him so very much.  It was a joy to hear about Tony's life from those knew him best.  My heart broke when I heard of the struggles his parents endured during the early years of Tony's life.  And I was happy to hear how this past year was one of peace and joy for Tony.  He loved where he was currently living and was well-acclimated to his new home and community.  It was fun to hear Marty and his sisters tell us about Tony's interests as well as his little quirks.  It's obvious that even though Tony wasn't able to live at home for the past 31 years of his life, he was dearly loved by his family and their friends.

Tony's sister, Carmen, gave a touching and beautiful tribute of his life at the funeral yesterday.  I loved that she ended it by saying Tony was welcomed into heaven with a resounding, "Well done, my good and faithful servant!".

I've been thinking about that ever since.  I agree wholeheartedly that God welcomed Tony with those beautiful words.  What makes it so precious is that Tony truly didn't "do" anything to earn those words!  He never served as an elder or a deacon; never led a Bible study; never went to Promise Keepers; never gave his testimony (verbally, at least); never intentionally led someone to Christ; never planted a church; never served on a church committee; never went to Cadets or youth group; never read the Bible through in one year; never taught a Sunday School class...never, never, never...never did all those things that we tend to think will earn our way into heaven.  We run ourselves ragged trying to earn our way into the good graces of God.  How futile.  How sad.  And how totally blind to the ways of God's love.

So if Tony didn't do anything, then what compelled his Abba Father to throw open His arms to Tony and welcome him with excitement and joy into heaven??  The same thing that compels Him to embrace all of His children close to His heart.  It's because of HIS love and HIS actions!  God's love for us is astounding.  His love and His grace paves the way for us to enter into His presence, on both sides of heaven!  It's not what we do that makes Him love us so...He loves us so much because of what Jesus has done.  His very essence is love!

Yesterday's funeral was such a good reminder that God doesn't expect us to earn our way into heaven (nor, in fact, can we).  At the very foundation of our relationship with God is His acceptance of us based on who He is and what He has sacrificed for us.  When we, in humility accept His love and allow God to pour His Spirit into us, we can serve Him in whatever capacity He calls us to.  But we serve out of love and thankfulness, not to earn our spot in heaven.  Some of us are given more abilities than others.  Some are given more responsibilities.  But God looks at the heart, not the actions.  Tony served God with the abilities entrusted to Him.  And it was pleasing and acceptable to His Father.

Tony is no longer trapped in body and mind.  Now he's finally free to love and serve and worship and praise the One who loves and adores him!  Someday we'll all be set free from these earthly bodies and minds to do the same thing!  What a day that will be!!