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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Locusts Dipped In Honey

It's a ruffian, this rag-a-muffin thought that jabs all elbows out through a well-mannered crowd of manicured kinds of thoughts that would turn up their noses, if thoughts had noses, and deny entry into the ballroom where the important convene.

They might think to themselves, as important thoughts do, Who is this intruder? But, knowing how thoughts think, I'm thinking that they also might be a tad curious about what the ruff-around-the-edges have to say.

What did people think when they heard about a man who spoke his mind, saying, "Prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight;" and, "Valleys will be filled, mountains will be lowered, crooked places will be straightened, and rough ways smoothed."

I wonder what they were thinking when they heard him for themselves, saying, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance. And don't even begin to say to yourselves, 'It's all good! We've got Abraham!'" It's almost as if John the Baptist knew what the people were thinking, and I imagine they shifted uncomfortably.

"God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now," John continued while the people were deciding what they thought about this wild looking man wearing camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist, snacking on locusts and wild honey, and possibly carrying an ax, "even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree," I imagine how he might have pointed his ax at them to indicate every tree, "which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

The passage continues, "So the people asked him, 'What shall we do then?'"

I don't think that the question was all scrubbed and polished and proper sounding, but rather on the panicky side.

Maybe he had two camel's hair cloaks so that he could wash one while wearing the other. Maybe he had an extra pouch of locusts tucked into his leather belt. "He answered and said to them, 'He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.'"Then maybe, when he heard the soldiers ask what they should do, he lowed his ax before answering, "Do not intimidate anyone."

That's setting things straight.

John the Baptist

Then there was Jesus; intruder before He was yet born. His presence was undeniable as Mary's belly swelled. His intrusion divided Mary's family, Joseph's heart, and the entire town of Nazareth before He was born. It was awkward, painful, ostracizing, and frightening. Those who wanted to believe what Mary said about her pregnancy must have had a crisis of faith. Maybe they thought to themselves, "Mary is either highly favored of God, or is lowest sinner deserving to be stoned to death."

Joseph woke from a dream with holy reassurance and direction.

Elizabeth believed. After all, she carried John the Baptist.I can only imagine what he was like as a boy. "Mamma! Look!" And Elizabeth would gasp as little Johnny dips a locust in honey and pops it into his mouth.

Mary delivered a baby, who was also God incarnate, would save people from hell, raise people from the dead and would, Himself, be raised from the dead. "Mamma! Look!" And Mary would gasp as little boy Jesus holds a fistful of nails in His chubby little palm.

I'm thinking about these things, and about how the tension felt between conviction and confession, hearing what to do and doing it, seeing and believing, and the birth of light into darkness is as the surface film covering the body of water-the skin-that John baptized Jesus in.

I think about how Jesus came into the world-how membrane broke and water gushed-and I wonder aloud to God,  "Are we, as men and women made in Your image and born as flesh from flesh through water, introduced at our birth as even Your own Son was introduced at His birth, to the baptismal announcement that the repentant make to the world regarding their true break the water open, bury me in it and raise me up from it new-birth announcement?"

Maybe the thought is intrusive in some circles, but I do think it. "Is infant baptism a copy of the baptism which John called the repentant to?"

I was baptized as an infant, and I kinda wish I'd thought to ask this question back when I was confused about whether or not I ought to be baptized again.

Maybe the type was set when God decided that babies would be born through broken waters.


He who knew not the confines of skin and bones and flesh, was born and wore it.

He who wore glory, wore skin.

He who wore holiness, wore sin.

He who saved mankind,was Son-of-God kind of Man.

He who tells us to bear our cross, was crucified on His.

He who slept in manger hay, is manger in Whom I stay.

Son of Man, God and flesh,
Son of God, my righteousness!
Was sin, more bitter than rancid gall,
Given so that I would fall?

Is sin's purpose, every hour,
To nurture hatred toward its power?
To drive its point till I distress,
And know my need for righteousness?
Were the nails in each hand
Pounded there by Your command?

You say they were, but ,"Why?" I say,
"Why did You let sin rule that way?"

"How else would you know My love?
What else would get you looking up?"

"You let sin reign so I would see
What sin's devoted to do to me?"

The thought is rough to realize,
But Love will not be compromised.
Love once gave Himself to flesh,
That I might hate unrighteousness,
Yet, hating sin is not repentance,
Does not lead to true confession.

"I love You more," I say to Him,
"I love You  more than I hate my sin."

Just thinking.

Seems the greatest purpose for sin is that I get to a point in life when I hate it.

Yet, that's not enough.

It's not enough to hate sin so much that I want nothing to do with it. That's not what John the Baptist said. He said nothing about hating sin, but about repenting. And aren't the two as relatives who don't keep the same company? Hate sin all I want, but nothing changes, not really, till I tell the truth about sin. That's what confession is, after all. It's just telling the truth.

"Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another," I hear this holy whisper bustling about the books in the Holy Scriptures.

"Where is that coming from, exactly?" I ask the Way, the Truth, and the Light-the Lord.

"James." He rustles my memory.

I turn to James; and holy thoughts written there are the radical kinds which jab their elbows into the ribs of some well-mannered souls, if thoughts have elbows and if souls have ribs.

"And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (James 5:15). I read it, and whisper it in italics back to the One who said it first.

"There's more," He whispers back to me.

I read on, "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed."

"Lord!" My excited whisper is the child-like kind that gets hushed in quiet churches. "The things You say! They're outlandish!" If I wore white gloves, I'd be pulling them off right about now.

He flicks a glance at my dirty fingernails. I've been keeping company with John the Baptist. "Woman," He's not whispering anymore. A whisper's too small to hold His emotion. He knows my thoughts and empathizes and no one dares hush Him.

Elbows Out

He knows I'm thinking about my friends.

The woman in a wheelchair, consumed by Lupus, which is Latin for the wolf.

The young woman running marathons sponsoring Multiple Sclerosis patients, because she's recently been diagnosed as a patient, too.

The woman I grew up with whose crippled side is intruding more than ever before in her life.

The young woman whose mind hasn't been well, and the mother with emotional paralysis and heart muscles torn to shreds.

These are my friends. We stand as those who stood at river-side, listened to John the Baptist, and asked, "What shall we do?" not because we aren't repentant and baptized, but because his message about how to prepare the way of the Lord-by making the crooked straight and the jagged level-is as Christ's message about how to live it.

There's faith that saves the sick and confession that heals the sinner. I read it in James.

There's tension in these words. I feel it because I've heard them scrambled up and delivered something like, "If the sick have enough faith, then they'll be healed; and if sinners confess, then they'll be saved."

That's not what I read, but I've heard it so many times that it can be as confusing as baptism to those who are born again, after they were baptized as infants.

I don't like to intrude. It's tense, for me.

Yet, I am ragamuffin who wants to live the unscrambled truth.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Rest Is Not A Waste Of Time

Shadows play on the the ground.

Breeze rides the tire swing.

I hear my neighbor across the alley empty discarded kitchen scraps, the contents of her white trash can, into the large one at the end of her driveway; and a baby grasshopper no larger than a shred of lime rind lands on my finger and stares at me with red eyes too large for it's body. I encourage her onto half an old pecan shell. Some squirrel cracked it open last fall, consumed the pecan, and discarded the scrap.

Pecan Recipe Book

I take a picture of the grasshopper to paint later.

It's a Sabbath morning in my backyard, and everything is as it always is. busy ants haul bits of I don't know what, insects float on light and it seems one of them has fallen into my coffee. I rescue it from an untimely death.

"Lord of the Sabbath?" I pick up from our conversation last night. He was reminding me of His day-the day He owns. "I am The Lord of the Sabbath" He says so in Matthew 12:8.

"Hmm?" He's mellow on His day today, back here in the yard with me.

"How would You like me to spend Your day?" I'm certain I know what His answer won't be. It won't be something like, "Don't lift a finger today, don't rescue an insect from drowning in your coffee, and certainly don't take out your trash!"

I close my eyes to better hear what His answer will be.

Bird song, wind song, and the swish of leafy skirts dancing in the boughs that hold them tight to themselves lest they fall. This-all this-is His answer.

Grasshopper and Pecan Shell

Doesn't He own everyday? Didn't He do the same things on the Sabbath Day as on every other day? Weren't those who sacrificed doing all things-including things merciful-those who received a tongue lashing from The Lord of this manor called Today!

He owns Today.

I live in Today.

I rephrase my question to Him. Instead of asking how He'd like me to spend His day, I ask, "What are You doing in Your manor?"

He laughs. I hear it right after I ask the question. "That's funny!"

"Ha! I get it! What're You doing in Your manor-in Your manner!" He and I, we share the corny pun and maybe He laughed so with His disciples at puns in the grain field.

Laughter song.

It's not new or un-ordinary. Birds sing everyday. Wind does too. I catch song and laughter in chimes. Leaves twirl, happy giggle in the strong limbs of tree everyday.  "So what makes today, one day out of seven, different?" I ask.

I know the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath, and I know God rested on the seventh day. His rest makes it holy. I know these things about the Sabbath, but there's a lot more that I don't know about it.

How, for instance, is the Sabbath a day set apart when Jesus seems to have done the same things on the Sabbath Day that He did every other day? It wasn't only on the Sabbath that He desired mercy over sacrifice.

I wonder, too, what it looked like for God to rest on the seventh day. I wonder if what He means by rest hasn't been misinterpreted.

Isn't God always at work?

Didn't Jesus, after He healed the man too sick to get himself into the pool when the water was stirred up, answer the Jews who sought to kill Him for doing this on the Sabbath, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working"? He did. And when the Jews sought all the more to kill Him for this, He said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner." The conversations are written in John 5:1-19.

"There's that word, manner, again!" It leaps from the page."There's Your answer to my question!"

"What I do in Today, do it in like manner." He instructs me to do what I see Him do, just as what He does is nothing other than what He sees His Father do.

"Where's the rest in all this doing?" Something holy niggles at the back-side of my spirit. "Bring it to the front," I pray.

"I'm here." The answer is standing right in front of me. He, the Lord of the Sabbath, He is the rest. 

"I do not desire sacrifice, but mercy." He prefaces His declaration that He is  Lord of the Sabbath, and I hear Him to say it, "You are relieved from the requirements of the law. I  have fulfilled them. I provided the sacrifice and I provide the mercy."

Jesus and the Lame Man

My brain is hurting, but I persist as one hungry in a wheat field on a Sabbath Day.  "Feed me the grain of the bread of life! Feed it to me raw!"

He does. He feeds me Colossians 3:16-17. "Be filled with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and sing with grace in your heart to others and to Me. And whatever you do in word or in deed, do all in My name, giving thanks to God the Father through Me."

"So, whether I work, or whether I rest from all the work which I have been doing," I piece His words together and they sound familiar. "Where have I heard this before, Lord?"

"You've read it many times," He hints and then His Spirit whispers it into mine.

He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 
Then He blessed the seventh day. 
He called it more than good. 
He called it holy.

Holy. It's the essence of His character. His whole character is holy. His works are good; His rest from His works is holy; His Son is my entrance into His rest.

A yellow bee buzzes around my knees. Yellow dog nudges me for her biscuit. I stand up slowly, a tad stiff from sitting here so long.

"So," I stretch out a few kinks, "what are You doing in Today?"

"Redeeming time."

Of course. That's what He does. He hangs out, redeeming time, and doing a bunch of mercy because that's what's left to do.

He's already done the sacrifice.

He's already fulfilled all the requirements of the law, including the do's and do not's of the Sabbath laws.

Mercy is what's left.

"Oh, and I'm also speaking to others in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in My heart to My Lord." He's reading Ephesians 5:16-21 to me. He's telling me what wastes time and what saves time.

Isn't eternity the ultimate redemption of time?

I want to redeem time in His manner, and in Today. "I'll speak to others in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in my heart to You, my Lord."

There's more. He speaks it to me and I follow along in the next verses, "I'm also giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in My name, and submitting to others in the fear of God."

"Submitting to others?"  Holy sacrificed once for all; holy submits always in the fear of God. It's what He's done, is doing still,  and will do eternally. Well, it's crazy humble, but yeah, the Holy Servant submits holy.

It's part of redeeming time in these evil days, in His manner, and in Today. "I'll give thanks always for all things to God the Father in Your name, and submit to others in the fear of God." I may not know all of what that means, but He'll show me what I don't know. For now, whether it's Monday or Sabbathday, my rest is in Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath.

Whether it's Monday or Sabbathday, mercy everyday is my work and rest.

Today I've asked the Lord of the Sabbath, "What are You doing this day?"

He's invited me to join Him in it.

We, He and I, are singing, giving thanks, and submitting to God and others in His name.

Whether it's Monday or Sabbathday, rest in Jesus redeems time.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Monday, May 16, 2016

All Creation Praises His Name

Flowerful fields,
Powerful skies,

Colorful praises,
Wonderful cries-

"Light of the world,
Bright Morning Star,

High, lifted up, 
Shine in my heart!


                              "Burn a hole through  

Worry and frown,
Churn them away,
Turn them around!

"O, Gift of my soul,

Lift up my eyes,
Sift through my cares,
Shift my desires.

"Wake up, my heart,
Break into life,
Thank God above,
Praise Jesus Christ!"

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Friday, May 6, 2016

INSIDE PEEK! Where Jesus Enters My World

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Where Jesus Enters My World

Green bell peppers. Fire roasted tomatoes burnt red. Ground beef all mesquite sputters against wooden spatula. Spaghetti splatter spots apron bib. And I’m crying onion.
Sleeve swipes at tears and eye make-up smears. I lean toward the candle burning on cutting board. Chop. I hold a chunk of bread between my teeth and try not to drool. Chop. I squint glare at the vegetable and I’ve tried every wives tale trick to keep from crying onion but they don’t work.
It’s all flavor color blurry in skillet. Onion tears run all green into red and mesquite at spatula and stinging eyes. I grope for jar of spaghetti sauce.
My kitchen smells like mesquite and my cutting board like onion strong. Oh and how!
Empty plates, full compliments and dishes stack at sink. And that ox of an onion! Powerful. I scrub board hard and sudsy. Give up, and stable it in the dishwasher. Close door. Press “start.” And I wish it was that easy. Just close the door on everything smelly and offensive and on whatever makes me cry because it’s too strong for me.
The warmth of the dishwasher behind me  soothes rough thoughts that this onion seems to have pulled out. Well, that’s another wives tale. Or perhaps true remedy. Put onion on an infection and it will pull the infection out. I tried that too, a few times, when the boys were young and had ear infections. Stuck an onion in their ear.
And, my thoughts wander from here down a road to Bethlehem. To a stable, no doubt smelly, where infant Savior cried because He was new born, yes; but did He cry also because of what infects the world? Because He is the Savor for us sinners and His blood, offensive to many, would draw out of Him and pull the infection out of us? I lean here against dishwasher and pray, “Wash me, Jesus, in Your blood ‘til the infection is gone. Wash my sin away.”
This is the road my thoughts travel, as steam escapes dishwasher door and warms my back. It’s the prayer I pray as my soul warms and while I wait. Because I have daughter with driving permit and destination. And I need energy at day’s end to be driving instructor and to direct her down the right roads to get there. Jack in the Box down Main Street. They have the best Christmas season milkshakes.
Driving permit and peppermint milkshakes with chocolate shavings that are worth waiting a year for. We’ve waited since last December. Daughter stands expectant with permit in hand and by now I ought to be a seasoned instructor. This is my fourth time. My fourth driver. I have a hundred and twenty hours under my belt. In the passenger seat.
I hand her the keys. Ask her if she sees well at night because I don’t. Blind as an onion. I put driving glasses on and wish I had lens for jumpy nerve blur. I stable it behind seatbelt click.
“Curb.” I keep voice low and professional.
            “Gooood,” I purr steady.
“Now, when you are able, change lanes.” She’s more able than I am.
We pull up to drive-through. We are a long arms reach from the window. Server and daughter half-body lean across window to window distance and exchange peppermint milkshakes and payment.
The lid comes off mine and peppermint shake overflows sticky down  Styrofoam cup and fingers. Sticky drips onto console and soaks drive-time record sheet. It’s all sticky mess that can’t be helped because we’re leaving the lot and entering lane.
“Now, change over three lanes. All the way over to the left turn lane. See it? Now.” I fumble for paper towel in door pocket. Eyes on road.
“Now. Now! Now!! Curb!!” and I wish I could stick my nerves in that cup holder. Peppermint stable. Stick.
            “Let’s just breath. Now! I mean, now-w; bre-e-athe,” I sound like my yoga instructor.
We leave the tension in the turn lane. And I can’t help it. Laughter starts in belly. Rises to shoulder. Valiant effort to keep it stabled behind twitching lips. But it is ox, too. Laughter. And it kicks harder that I can hold.
Permit girl keeps one eye on road and other quizzical on me.
“It’s a good thing,” Laughter kicks out, “I’m not an instructor,” Laughter breaks stable. “at your driving schooool!” Ox is out and tears stream laughter.
Permit girl laughs polite.
“I don’t know who’d be more frazzled.” I’m doubled over seat belt and sticky. “Me or the students!” Sticky fingers wipe laughter tears peppermint.
And permit girl laughs real.
“They’d request me, though,” Our laughter in unbelted. “Just for the entertainment!”
Unseated laughter gets us home.
Permit girl clicks headlights off. Pulls peppermint shake cautious from cup holder. Opens door.
“Umm. You may want to turn the car off,” I say all instructor voice.
“Oh, Yeah.” She gets out.
Alone in passenger seat I yank Lysol sheets from canister. I keep one in my car because, well,  I clean the sticky away and the cup holders and consol haven’t been this clean in months.
“Where no oxen are, the trough is clean.” I think to myself. It’s a Proverb. Chapter fourteen and verse four. It’s true. And the oxen in my stable today smelled like onion, healing, forgiveness, peppermint, anxiety, and laughter.
My stable is not empty. And it’s not clean. Not without disorder and surprise. But today laughter cleaned anxiety. Lysol wipes cleaned peppermint stick. Dishwasher cleaned onion board. And Jesus cleanses sin ‘til the infection is gone and there are no more tears. And at two-o’clock in the morning big German arms cleaned panic attack away and stabled me ‘til I slept.
Today was mess. It was laughter run all onion and it was spaghetti spatter on apron bib and eye make-up smear and peppermint sticky. And it was the disordered beat of panic mess. It was ox and stable. And it seems to me that God is partial to oxen and stable mess. Wasn’t this where He chose for Jesus to enter this world? Isn’t this still where Jesus enters my world?
It is.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

What Do You See?

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Here is a peak inside! Enjoy!

What Do You See?
 Faith, trust and always hope. Always. Hope.  Because a sometimes hope isn’t enough for all the time life. It’s an always thing.  And I must have an always hope for it. Hope must be all through if I am to have any hope at all when all that should be, isn’t.
I press the thought where soul is wounded. It’s gauze and I press it all urgent, “Must have. Always hope.” Because my soul sometimes lies barely breathing on makeshift gurney somewhere on the battle field and, “Always. Hope.” is hale in and hale out and hearty strong when breath is shallow and heart is sick.
“You Yourself said,” I gasp inhale, “hope deferred,” weak breath in, “makes the heart sick.”
“Look up. “ It’s all He says because words are few among the wounded.
Up is the one direction those strapped flat to gurney can look. I am but, “I can’t see!” Windows to my soul leak out.
“Open your eyes.”
“Oh.” I trust Him enough to open my eyes.
“What do you see?” It’s question asking for more than trust. It’s asking, “What are you hoping for?”
I press gauze firm where soul wound bleeds.
 “What was that again?” Battles are confusing. What is and what isn’t and where is hope when I can’t see anything past the hurt? Where is hope when the hurt is the only evidence I can feel?
“I hurt, God. What hope is there for that?”  I ask it true.
“I hurt, too.”
My soul blinks wince. “I forgot. Oh! I forgot!” Pain does that. “You hurt for me.” I awe it out like this. “And because of me.”
He nods gentle. “What do you see now?”
“I see You. And my hope is in You all day long.” It’s Psalm. It’s “all day long and always” hope.
And gauze sticks to wound because that’s where “always hope” heals. I press it there. I press Jesus there. My hope. There.
And hope soaks up soul bleed.
That’s hope all through.
It’s powerful. And mystery to be found out. It’s gravity holding everything together as I trust I won’t wake on the ceiling and my life and earth won’t fall apart upside down and escape directionless. I have the evidence. Hard evidence of what I can’t see. I can’t see gravity and I can’t see hope. But I trust both. Faith and hope. I have to. Because trust comes from truth. Hope is my life gravity. Even my every day gravity. My whole world is in His hands, and I learned that when I was five in Sunday school song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

Carrying the Light of the World

I believe! My life, my world, is pisteuo full and nailed down in the nail pierced hands that hold it all together. The Word has it said, “All things live and move and have their being in Him” And again, “Faith is grounded and steady. Don’t move away from hope (Colossians 1:23, my paraphrase).
And trust ties the two together in the middle of pisteuo order. It’s just smack in the middle. It’s trust and the “T” is cross. That’s how I see it. The order goes, “Faith. Trust. Hope.” There it is. Trust reaches both left and right like flesh and blood arms of Truth Himself for the sake of “Believe in the One you can see; and hope in the One you can’t see but who sent Me.”
And here is my pisteuo prayer. Faith and hope hang onto truth. And I place my trust there because Truth hung there. And God’s hands hold my world together in the hang. I will look for this always. I do. For Truth evidence, scarred, earthy and heaven bound.
I saw it in morning mist and budding veils all opaque green and red and pink on backyard trees and peach blossoms at kitchen window. I saw it in little squirrels romping the passages over my head. And saw it, too, when they were conceived on lowest branch of that peach tree before it blossomed open. Just trustworthy belief that peaches and babies hoped for will be, simply because that‘s how it happens. Truth links faith and hope.
 I saw it in happy dog doing what she did the first day I brought her home. Buried something in backyard. It was hard dried raw-hide strip when buried and very ripe expanded and floppy shoe leather-ish in mouth yesterday. Is it what she hoped for when she buried it all faith? Because the truth in the burial and the resurrection is the ripening. The softening. The expanding, And there it was. Pisteuo in dog mouth and  happy wag and “Yes, I’m happy for you!” I congratulate. “But, no, I have my own ripe. You can keep yours,” I pat her head at her happy offer.
I see it in my German, too. Pisteuo trust living truth out all alive steps on flesh and blood feet and in big feeling hands and from heart to tongue speech. His pisteuo trust is holding faith and hope together. And his trust ripens. He is expanded.


Truth is, we can’t always control what life digs up for us. What we find ourselves chewing on. What dreams get buried or where we may find ourselves living a little buried. But that’s okay. I dare say it because, truth is, sometimes doors are closed up and my heart knocks about bleeding with every beat, “Prove Yourself to be who You say You are!”  Because, truth is, unless He proves Himself faithful to Himself then I have nothing more to believe in.
And sometimes the ground beneath foot has opened up wide and swallowed and my heart claws at door to holy all desperate, “What is this all about!” It’s the door for the desperate follower. And I am one. And the door is blood marked exit into Life. He bled on it. Earth opened wide and swallowed Him whole. And He proved Himself.  Kicked hell’s gate open and blasted dragon fire and took keys and I dare say it because I am pursuing faith, trust and hope all through. And finding  it. And it’s changing my life, chewed up bit by soggy bit.
He has proved Himself. Is proving Himself. And that is surer every time I search all pisteuo and find it truer than the last time I looked, no matter what’s come at us so far. At my German. At me. It’s only what comes at. That’s all it is. Not in. Or out.
What comes in or goes out is between me and God and He’s been in me since I turned thirteen. He pulled up front in the cul-de-sac of my heart. Must have been in a Salvation Army truck. Knocked there, because my heart has a door just as true as my soul has windows. My windows are hazel-brown and my door is constantly knocking at chest reminding me that I am alive every time I stop to listen to it. But there’s another knock. I heard it different. Not the familiar “Bum-bu-bu—bum-pum—pum, pum,” but the knock of an excited, even playful, friend. That “Bu, bu, bu, bum-pum—pum, pum.”
I heard it and cracked heart open and peeked out. He had a big smile and big hands and He asked for what I don’t want anymore.
“I don’t want my sin anymore. I tried to box it up for You, but I don’t have a big enough box.” And I show Him this roll of packing tape called Will Power.
“You might as well have this tape, too. It’s not strong enough.” I opened door and, yeah, life comes at, but He came in. And that changes everything. 

Who is in changes what comes out when life comes at. And that’s the way pisteuo is. And love. It gets surer and bigger. It just does!  

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Having Done All, This Warrior Will Stand

I war against what I can't see;
The weapons I have can't be held,
Yet head to toe, salvation to peace,
The armor of God can be felt!

It's price is great, it's power unmatched,
Though warriors may faint-

This warrior will stand.

Kitchen Sink Warrior
My strength  wears thin, like armor of thread,
Chain-mail righteousness I need instead.
My feet can get tired in combat boots
Belief gets  mired-too many half-truths.

But God gives me His spirit and sword,
Prayer, perseverance, and His holy word,
His wisdom, His ardor, His command ,
Having done all-

This warrior will stand.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fearless Compassion

The grain they plucked from the stalks in the grainfield, they rubbed it between their hands, shucked the chaff, and ate. Yeah, it was the Sabbath and illegal, but Jesus said it was okay. He knew Andrew and Bartholomew, the two James', John, and even Judas, Thaddeus, Matthew, Peter, Philip, Simon, and Thomas were hungry and He was, after all, the Lord of the Sabbath and the fulfillment of the law. Who can argue with that?

The Pharisees, that's who. They tried, anyway.

I take a step back and it's almost funny. Actually, it is funny. I wonder if Jesus'  twelve "Manwich" men, nibbling on raw grain but hungry enough to eat a bear, sorta' smirked a tad because they saw the Pharisees watching. Did they kinda' rub the grain in Pharisee faces and chew a little louder than they needed to? And did Jesus shrug His shoulders and roll His eyes up toward heaven as if to say, "They're Your boys, Dad; I'm just the older Brother!"

So, I'm in this room all by myself swallowing a giggle that wants to win, and does win the instant I remind myself that I'm not alone. God is present, and I just shrug my shoulders, "You're the One who named me Joyful Song-Set Apart for the Lord!"

In that grainfield there were The Zealot, The Rock, The Man, and The Savior of the World. Maybe I've been too influenced by Hollywood, but I picture the Pharisees a little whiny, "Wh-hy are you
do-ing what's not lawful to do on the Sa-abba-ath?" Those were their words. Read it in Luke 6:2.

Jesus answered, and I can't help but hear a bit of holy sass, "Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him...."

Did the twelve munching men adjust their shoulders till their arms angled out, and then stand extra tall? Maybe. They were those who were with Jesus.

Jesus continued, " he (David) went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?" Then He said to them, "The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath" (Luke 6:3-5).

I don't know about Judas, but those men must have busted a gut once the Pharisees left.


Somehow grace disarms whatever powers take up arms-whiny or not. Somehow, too, when grace is in charge then the outcome-whatever it is-is never less than grace filled. Sometimes it looks like it, sometimes it doesn't; but none of that changes the surety of grace.

Grace can be trusted because it won't buckle.

Grace manages to bring levity without making light of the serious.

Grace filled, David did for his men what they couldn't do. They couldn't-wouldn't dare-enter the house of God and eat the bread which was only for the priests. Better to be hungry than hung! And grace filled, Jesus defended David and his men, and His own men.

Grace discerns.

I'd like to be as sure as David in iffy situations, the thought replaces the laughter from moments ago. I think about the compassion David showed his men, and that Jesus showed His men. "Fearless compassion, Lord. That's what I'd like."

"Grace is full of compassion for the hungry," He begins. I think I know what His next words are going to be, because of previous conversations we've been having here in Luke 6.

He continues, "Grace is full of compassion for those whose hands are withered."

"You healed a man whose right hand was withered." I read about it and what's note-worthy is that He did it on the Sabbath in the synagogue. I might say that healing is note-worthy, and it is, but this-this on yet another Sabbath and not in some grainfield but in the synagogue-this is fearless compassion. 

"This man I healed, he," the Lord's voice quiets and I get it.

I pick up where He left off; not that He needs me to, but because I want to be touched by this man's plight-to feel it-for the sake of nurturing the compassion I ask the Lord for.

"This man," I visit the feelings I've had toward the homeless people I've passed by on the sidewalks before. I let discomfort touch me, and continue, "he would have been unemployable." I stop and feel-just feel.

Once a week I find myself at a stoplight where homeless are allowed to panhandle. I feel it now, and inch forward, "This man would have been at the mercy of those who, like me, might help him, but not fearlessly."

My compassion needs what only God's grace can give-strength that won't fold, appropriate levity, discernment to name a few. Really, fearless compassion. Isn't that akin to the caliber of love that casts out all fear?

Ginger and Tommy

He speaks on, and the conversation deepens. He tells how He went to the mountain to pray. He tells how He and His Father had an all-night conversation, and this gets my attention.

"Lord?" I'm thinking that if Jesus needed to stay up all night praying to God, then how much more do I need to spend every day, and pull some all-nighter's, praying to God? I don't know exactly what they talked about, but afterward He called His disciples to Himself, and it sounds like they made up a multitude, then chose a team of twelve and called them His apostles.

He hears my thoughts, but I need to hear them, too. So I start again, "Lord, may I remain with You as the disciples remained in the grainfield. May I partake from what You give me, and ask what I need. And may I not fear Pharisaical power which would take what You give to me and then shame us both for it."

Maybe, after these Sabbath run-ins with teams of law-enforcers, it was time to build His own team. A team of law-fulfillers, unlawfully filled with unflinching grace and fearless compassion. A team that would do what the law couldn't.

"I came down the mountain with them, My apostles." He recounts the Scriptures to me. "We stood on a level place with a crowd of My disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Me and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed" (Luke 6:17-19).

Ginger and Tommy, a married couple, lived in the park and loved Jesus there. I don't remember how we met them, but I do remember that they had sores on their faces, hands and arms, and that they'd been robbed of their tent-their home-and that they smiled and talked of little other than Jesus. We gave them sleeping bags and food money, and pulled the family van to the side of the road whenever we saw them. The last time we saw them, they were going to the train yard. They hoped to go south.

I read the next verse in Luke and, "Lord, it says right here that You lifted Your eyes toward Your disciples." I'm thinking there must have been something exceedingly note-worthy about the look Jesus gave His disciples for Luke to describe it. "Was there something in Your eyes that Luke recognized?"

He answers my question with His question, "What do you think he saw?"

"When You lifted Your eyes toward Your disciples?" I know that's what He's asking, but the question helps clarity.

"Mm-hmm," He waits while I find my answer.

I read the Scripture. I run the conversation through my head. I know I'll find my answer here.

I think of Ginger and Tommy.

Jesus pays close attention to everything that goes on.

I picture the man with a withered hand. He would have needed help to rub raw heads of grain in his hands. The scribes and Pharisees would have called him a thief and then stolen the grain from his hands. Oh, they likely would have done far more than that, but the withered ones live in a world that claims what they have, uses them up, then shames them for it.

I read about the diseased and those tormented by unclean spirits.

I hear and smell the great multitude of people that Jesus lifted His eyes toward.

Fearless Compassion

Surely, Jesus had on His mind every person, plight and poverty-on the Ginger's and Tommy's whose homes are taken but who talk more about the the kingdom of God than the home they lost because they just used that one-when He spoke His next words.

"Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."

Surely, He remembered the previous day in the grainfield when He said, "Blessed are you  who hunger now, for you shall be filled."

Maybe He lifted His eyes toward those crying, because disease is painful, shuns and is lonely, when He said, "Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh."

Then maybe His shifted His eyes toward those tormented with unclean spirits who were reviled and hated, and then thought about His own plight when God would make Him,who had no sin, to be sin for us, and said, "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake,

I picture Him pausing; loving the multitudes with that look-what did Luke read in His eyes when He lifted them toward the crowds? Was it note-worthy grace? Fearless compassion? Then I hear Him say, "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets."

Did the crowd collectively gasp when He mentioned their reward in the same breath as He mentioned the prophets'?

His blessings may seems a little confusing. "I am blessed in my poverty, hunger, weeping," You say, "for I will be filled and I will laugh, and the kingdom of God is mine." I guess that all the tenses just run together in one past-present-future tense when the One who was, and is, and is to come speaks blessing. It's note-worthy, I think. It's recognized by those who see what Jesus sees-unrestrained by tenses.

"You asked me what I think Luke saw in Your eyes when You lifted them toward the multitudes," I venture.

He waits.

"Fearless compassion."

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig