Selah: What do these stones mean?


I love walking. I love walking in Arizona when I’m visiting my mom. Feeling blessed to be able to do that this week.

As we travel closer to Palm Sunday and Easter, I have been thinking a lot about rocks.

There are a lot of rocks in Arizona. I took the picture of the rocks on my walk the other day.

I wonder who put them there. I wonder why.

In the Bible, a pile of stones marked a special moment—a sign to remember. In the old hymn, Come Thou Fount, we sing: “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’m come.”

Do you know what that means? We aren’t singing about Scrooge. The verse is a thanks to God for his care in bringing us through or to something.

What has he brought you to…or through lately?

The stack of stones stand as a reminder to you, and a testimony to others that we have a God who goes with us (through whatever we’re facing) and brings us to where he needs and wants us to be.

Prayer: God, some of the things we’re facing seem difficult, confusing…okay—downright impossible. We can only get through with you. Help us. Sustain us. And we will give you thanks…and a testimony.


Sermon Seeds (Way in advance): Stones

I was enjoying a long walk in the coolness of an Arizona morning, when all of a sudden I noticed a sharp pain in my left heel. Somehow my shoe picked up a hitch-hiker:

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I limped over to a railing and extricated the little freeloader. I laughed to think that something so small could stop me dead in my tracks. The pointy edges on this pebble shot pain through my entire body.

Rocks know how to get our attention.


When Jesus came into Jerusalem on the day we celebrate as Palm Sunday, the people lauded him. Their praise concerned the Pharisees. They told the people to be quiet. Jesus’ response: “If they get quiet, the rocks will cry out.”

Are there those in your sphere of influence who seek to silence your testimony? Will you let them?

God will be praised.

Ain’t gonna let no rock steal my praise!

Selah: Reminder

For most of my 20’s and 30’s I couldn’t sit still. I was a doing machine. Those were the days of attempting to balance mothering, working, and being a wife and keeping a house.  Somehow through that period we also spent time with friends—doing things.

Then a shift began to take place. I became able to sit for long periods of time: reading, watching TV, or more recently trolling and scrolling on the internet. One must create a social presence.

Almost two years ago, I got a FitBit. And I started to move. My wrist companion even reminds me to move every hour. Many complain about that feature, but I love it! If I sit for too long I get stiff and have difficulty moving when I need to. The result has been a renewed dedication to moving, and setting goals for quantity and quality of movement. I have become disciplined—and it feels good.

I wonder if I could set a reminder to think about God.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him (Psalm 62:5, NLT).



Wednesday’s Word: Jubilant


Today’s word is one that isn’t used very often today. We might know what it feels like. When the test comes back positive and you’ve been trying to get pregnant for years. You’re exuberant. Your team wins the national championship. You feel triumphant. You complete your final round of  chemo and ring the bell. You’re celebrating.

These are jubilant moments.

But can we live that way?

We are much more familiar with the opposite of today’s word: unethusiastic, discouraged, unexcited, and sorrowful.

Jesus saw a lot of the downside of today’s word. The people were oppressed by the Roman government from without, and by the religious leaders from within. One day he looked out at the crowd, and was moved to compassion. I imagine that happened more than once during his ministry.

That day he invited them to learn a new way from him. On another occasion he assured his followers with these words: I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (John 15:11, NIV).

Complete joy? That’s jubilant. That’s what Jesus offers.

Message Meme: Content or Covet


Contentment…satisfaction. These are the opposites of what leads us to coveting—being consumed with desiring what others have, not being happy or satisfied with ours.

We live in a world that celebrates striving over thriving. Work hard. Play harder. Have the best and the newest. We are no longer fulfilled by merely keeping up with the Jones, we have to exceed them at every turn, and who cares if the get trampled?

God does.

Back in the garden, the serpent spoke to Eve’s innate desire for more: eat from the forbidden tree and you’ll be as wise as God. To get ahead you can’t trust that God has your best at heart. She coveted what God had.

Dissatisfaction played a role in the murder of Able, and the birth rite theft of Esau. And who can forget how coveting his neighbor’s wife was nearly the demise of David.

The Apostle Paul’s comment to young Timothy must have been a jolt, even back then: “A godly life brings huge profits to people who are content with what they have (1 Timothy 6:6, God’s World Translation).”

I wonder what those profits might be?


Hopefully Devoted: Hard Pressed


Every Sunday morning during worship, we do a kids’ focus time called, Sermon in the Sack. Well, that’s what I call it. I’ve heard rumors others refer to it as “Stump the Pastor.”

Each week someone provides me with an item carefully hidden in a paper bag that I am given a few minutes to ponder before I present a spiritual/biblical lesson about to the children.

Yesterday I opened the bag as I was calling the children to the front.

Now let me preface what comes next by saying I’m not a cook. I love cooking shows. Dream of being able to make meals that amaze my family and friends. But they all know better: I’m a kitchen dunce and disaster.

So I opened the bag and found a garlic press. I’m not going to lie: I was impressed I even knew what it was. I knew immediately what direction I was going to go.

The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4, seeks to encourage the people who are going through persecution. He uses his own series of trials and times in prison as an example for them. He tells them:

8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body (NIV).

And it occurred to me that I’m a little like garlic. I’m not useful if I remain in the bulb. I only make a difference when my outer shell is peeled away and I’m pulverized. The lessons I learn through life’s crushing experiences become the moments when grace and mercy shine through.

It’s not difficult to follow God and trust in his provision when things are sunny and going well—what about the times of shadow and storm? What about the times when pain is great and confusing, and the future is terrifying with its uncertainty?

Hold on weary one. No matter what happens, no matter how dark the night, no matter how crushing the thing is you’re going through: you are not abandoned, nor will you be destroyed.


Sermon Seeds: Build Them Up

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ (Colossians 2:2, NIV).

Way back when I first began my journey in ministry I felt led to this verse in Colossians. Without consciously deciding, I made it the purpose statement for my life: encouraged in heart and united in love, so that the folks I am connected to will be moved to deeper (complete) understanding of the mystery of God, Jesus the Christ.

My life has been spent encouraging others, and working toward unity.

Truth be told: it can be pretty exhausting. Some days I feel like a cheerleader who never gets to rest. And who isn’t always appreciated. I’m sure if you’ve ever been to a sporting event you’ve been trying to carry on a conversation while those responsible for morale and keeping you focused on the game keep yelling louder and louder to try and engage you. They can be enormously annoying.

And don’t get me started on the up-hill battle for unity these days. Everyone has an opinion, and it’s the only one that matters. People would rather be right than in relationship.

Being right. Even if it means putting someone down. Even if that process involves untruth. Even if it means trashing their character.  Even if.

Jesus knew this. The Pharisees and leaders of the day had to be right. And Jesus stood between them and control. So they trumped up false charges. Had people lie about what Jesus did and said. They forced people to break the ninth commandment by paying them to perjur themselves.

And he died, a horrible, cruel death.

They didn’t realize then…and we forget today:


Prayer thoughts: God help to be more concerned about building each other up. Help us build bridges that result in better relationships and deeper understanding of who you are and how you want us to be. Amen.