Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I remember when I was in elementary school and asked my teacher how to spell something. Invariably she'd tell me to "look it up" in the dictionary. Now for a word like hospital, that was an easy find. But a word like gnat or seemed impossible!

I would reply, "Well I can't find it in the dictionary, it must not be a real word!"

These days dictionary publishers are always adding and subtracting words to their heavy tomes. An interesting editing job came to light the other day as I was reading my Discipleship Journal regarding the Oxford Junior Dictionary.

It read,
"Citing space constraints and the need to reflect Britain's modern, multicultural, and multi-faith society, the editorial team cut a number of religious and historical words and added others deemed more culturally relevant. Bishop, coronation, empire, monarch, nun and sin disappeared, replaced by words such as blog, broadband, celebrity, MP3 player, and voicemail."
Now isn't that interesting? I can see some young Brit sitting in their classroom realizing one of these words was gone from their dictionary and piping up, "If I can't find it in the dictionary, it must not be a real word!" Blimey.

Let's look at those edited words from the Webster's American Family Dictionary.

Bishop: a person who supervises a number of local churches or a diocese, being in the Greek, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and other churches a member of the highest order of the ministry.

Coronation: the act or ceremony of crowning a king, queen, or other sovereign.

Empire: a group of nations, states, or peoples ruled over by an emperor, empress or other powerful sovereign, as the former British Empire.

Monarch: a hereditary sovereign, as a king, queen, or emperor.

Nun: a woman who is a member of a religious order, esp. one bound by vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Sin: transgression of divine law, any act regarded as such a transgression, esp. a willful violation of some religious or moral principle.

Isn't it interesting what words were chosen as obsolete? (If I were the Queen of England, I would be a tad nervous.)

Could it be that those children from my era had a plan all along? Do they think that if they removed a few words from the dictionary, they could remove it from society?

Did you know that snake of a devil has a way with words? He is ready to question what God really said at every moment.

Remember he was in the garden with Eve, asking her if God really said she'd die if she ate that apple. (Genesis 3:1)

He loves to work doubt into our brain and twist scripture. He did that with Jesus in the dessert. (Matthew 4:1-11)

So why not remove a few words from a dictionary?

Take a closer look at the smallest word that was removed: sin.

Why not reduce the vocabulary a bit by taking out a three letter word? It's a very narrow word...narrow in size and narrow in it's meaning. It's an electric fence, a scarlet letter, a chasm between man and God. It's such a negative word, heavy with guilt and judgment.

Who even uses that word outside of church anyway? Sadly, even churches are removing that intolerant word from their speech.

Be assured, sin will always be with us. You can take it out of every dictionary, thesaurus and sermon, but you cannot remove it from man's heart. There is only one way to do that.

You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.
1 John 3:5

Jesus is the only One who can really remove sin from our lives. No dictionary editor has that power. Jesus is the "white out" and "delete" button for our sin. All we have to do is ask Him to edit our heart. And He will do it gladly, because that tiny three letter word is the only thing that separates us from God.

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29

Friday, April 17, 2009

Miracle Grow

A curious thing happened with a bouquet of roses at my Dad's house. These roses were given by my Mom's brother for her memorial service. I was cleaning up the wilting flowers and noticed that several of the long stems had sprouts of new growth on them. I had never seen that before. We saved some of those long stems to see if they would root. Sadly, they did not take so they were discarded. It was amazing to see the new shoots grow to over an inch long.

When you read about caring for roses, you find out that they are actually two plants in one. One half is the sturdy rootstock. This has been chosen to resist disease, handle cold and heat, as well as survive pretty well in questionable soil.

The other half is the branches that are grafted into the rootstock. These are chosen for the number and size of blooms, color and fragrance. A horticulturist will spend years developing a special hybrid. And once he is satisfied with it's uniqueness, beauty and fragrance, he gives it a name.

Once grafted, it is a relationship between two plants that is a delight to experience.

In my ladies' Bible study this week, we studied John 15. It's all about roots and grafting and I was loving the word picture Jesus painted.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. John 15:4

We had the stems in a vase of water with a root hormone and Miracle Grow...but this was not enough. These new shoots could not produce more blossoms because it was not grafted into a rootstock.

This what happens when a Christian only practices being a Christian on Sundays. Yes, you get a sermon, you worship a bit and you leave your offering. By Tuesday you've forgotten the message and wish you had that offering back for an unexpected bill. Jesus says "Abide in me..." That means dwell, remain, be grafted in and grow in Him...every day.

What happens when we "abide"? Think about yourself as that lovely rose sprout that is grafted into the rootstock.

You were thought of in the beginning, God knew exactly what He was doing when He created you. And when everything was just right, He called you by name. You were chosen because of your unique qualities that nobody else has...your talents, your life experiences, your demeanor.

When you become a Christian, you are grafted in to the sturdy rootstock of Jesus Christ. You experience a growth like never before seen--even in questionable soil. Without the "Root of Jesse", you are like these stems in will only see a little growth. When you abide, you don't have to grow by your own strength, you draw it from your rootstock--Jesus Christ.

I want you to take time today to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the "rose" inside of you, waiting to bloom. Abide, dwell, remain in Him by reading His Word, praying at all times and sharing that fragrance and beauty that He found special in you. Believe me, it is a relationship that is a delight to experience.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Being Mary

It was Easter Sunday in our little church several years ago. We had decided to launch the Easter festivities in a different way. We decided to have a woman run up the center aisle of this tiny church, dressed in Biblical garb and carrying a basket of spices. It was to be a reenactment of Mary's telling the disciples that Jesus was alive.

I stood outside the church door, waiting for my cue. It was chilly outside, and my toes where cold in my sandals. The basket of spices smelled good. I waited, and rehersed my lines. I wasn't sure if I was shivering from excitement or the cold snap. There was my cue so I opened the door and ran up the center aisle of this tiny church.

The faces in the congregation were so shocked...I bet they were wondering who this crazy woman was. Their faces did not recognize me at first. I spoke to the pastor, and it went something like this:

"Brother! I have just come from the is empty!"

"What has happened?" he asked, "Did someone take him away?"

"No, I saw Jesus, He spoke to me-He is alive!"

"You must be mistaken, you saw a gardener."

"No, I thought He was at first, until He called my name. Then I knew it was Jesus, and He is alive!"

As our conversation grew in excitement, I could feel the congregation understanding what was going on. The emotion caught on with a few and I saw smiling faces, some with some tears.

As I exited the building I stopped to tell a few more on my way out, "He is alive!" It was a great feeling, one that I won't ever forget.

I thought, what would've Mary Magdalene felt like? (John 20:1-31) It was the darkest day for her. She was going to prepare Jesus' body with spices. It had been the Passover, so they had placed him in a tomb very quickly--no preparation. She wanted to make sure he was taken care of, even in death.

But to her surprise, he was not there. Just his burial clothes. She ran to get the nearest disciples, maybe they knew what had happened. They ran to the tomb and found it empty as well. They left Mary weeping at the tomb. She was crying so much she didn't realize two angels were speaking to her from inside the tomb. When they asked her why she was weeping, she told them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." John 20:13

When she turned, Jesus was standing there, but she thought he was the gardener. She only recognized Him when He called her name. Then she knew. He told her to go tell his disciples, and she did-she told them of the whole experience.

When I think about this wonderful thing that Mary experienced, I realize two things. That Jesus revealed His resurrected self to a woman first, and that she was the first evangelist.

She makes it look very easy, and it is. It's that pride thing that gets in the way. What if I say something wrong? What if they ask me questions I don't know the answer to? Did Mary argue theology with the disciples? Did she embellish the story? No, she told them everything that happened to her in the garden--from "He called my name" to "He told me to tell you."

It's that easy. When did you meet Christ, when did He call your name? How did He change your life? Just tell of your experience with the Risen Christ. Some will think you've "got religion" and will avoid you. But those who have been searching like you, will realize you have something real and will listen.

It can be a little scary because you don't know how people will receive you. Like that tiny congregation who witnessed my attempt at recreating Mary's experience, some will "get it" and some will jot it down as another disruption to their day.

But once you realize that it is not you they are rejecting, something in your gut goes that extra mile to talk to them. The pride will melt and so will the fear.

Who do you know that needs to hear that Jesus is Risen? Who needs to hear that He is as alive as He was that very first Resurrection Day? Take the name that came to mind just now, pray about it, then seek them out and share the Good News.

I wrote about "being Mary" because I could relate. I didn't really know Jesus until He called my name one day. And you know what? He told me to tell you about it.

And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15