Dee Farrell

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    Do You Hear God's Message to You?

     

    One of the best tips for writers and speakers is to know thy audience. In Luke 5:17 we read that one day when Jesus was teaching, teachers of the law and Pharisees from every town in Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem came to hear him. Jesus knew His audience and had a message just for them.

    Jesus was so popular that He drew crowds wherever He went. Strange happenings followed. Miracles like the lame walking, the blind regaining their sight and lepers being healed were stirring up talk that this teacher might be the Messiah. The news concerned the religious hierarchy, and they came to see for themselves this famed miracle worker and hear what He had to say to their church members. They didn't know that He had a message especially prepared for them.

    The verse states that the home in which Jesus was teaching was packed with people, inside and out, and the Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there listening to Him. When the roof was opened and a paralytic was lowered on his mat through the roof by his friends, it probably caused some excitement. But not as shocking, at least to the religious experts, as Jesus’ next words. He said, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 5:20 CEV)

    The religious professionals were offended, but too politically savvy to say so out loud. "Who does this guy think he is?" they thought. "Only God has the power to forgive sins!"

    But Jesus knew their thoughts, and presented to them the message He wanted them to hear. “Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and walk? But now you will see that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” Jesus then said to the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk home.” (Luke 5:23-24)

    Jesus is able to speak to us at the point of our need in a way packaged just for us. He is a personal God who is able to speak our language, speak through our culture and communicate with us despite our idiosyncrasies. He loves us and takes the time to speak to us in the way we know with the message we need to hear. 

    But do we listen in prideful arrogance? Does the message offend us? It takes courage to accept the truth about ourselves, and it takes humility to be taught. Some of the religious experts let His words sink into their traditions and melt their resistance to His message. Others hardened their stance. The choice was theirs. Today it is ours. Let God speak into your life this moment. It will be a message of love, forgiveness and freedom, and just like the paralytic, you will rise up with a strength you didn’t have before.

    If you would like an opportunity to help others meet God in their language and through their culture, consider donating to Wiconi Living Waters Family Camp. It is a ministry that we support where Native families have the chance to hear the Gospel together in a way that ministers to them. 

     

    Image by Jad Limcaco courtesy of StockSnapi.o

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    How the Weak are Made Strong

    I’ve been traveling recently (which is why this post is late) and have met some incredible people. The thing that struck me in our conversations was not our common relationship with Jesus but how in our struggles and pain that relationship comes alive with greater revelation and knowledge of this Jesus who is our Savior. The experience can deepen our love for Him, it can show us all what He intended by our salvation to help us live this life now, and it binds us, one to another, as Christians. Death, change and uncertainty affect us all, but it is in taking in His words to us, breathing in His promises and breathing them out into the circumstances looming before us, that we begin to glimpse this kingdom He proclaimed is at hand, available, near.

    For example, Kristen, a missionary with three beautiful children and a Hungarian husband with a heart for his homeland. Their lives were in serious transition. They trusted Jesus, surrendering their future to Him. Anxiety comes with uncertainty, but we are commanded not to fear. Why? Because the Jesus who handed us salvation will never leave us without His support. (Hebrews 13:5 Amplified Bible)

    Then there is Linda, a woman grieving the loss of her father, assisting her aging mother with all that entails while worrying over a son facing the consequence of his bad choices in life. Jesus hears her whispered prayers. He sees her tears when she is alone. He comforts in the silence. His heart is for the downtrodden and the fatherless.(Psalm 68:5 and John 14:1)

    There are women like Mary, Joan and Beverly, recently widowed, confused by the multitude of decisions and reeling from the changes forced upon them; overcome by the impact death makes— separation, the tearing away; the end of dreams. But Jesus is there, holding out His hand to take you up.

    This week my children are enduring the anniversary of their father’s death, my husband. There is so much emotion and thoughts packed into that statement that I leave unsaid here. But I want to share a song with you that defines us as a family. I hope it speaks to you in the struggles and pain in your life. Our message to you is that God is faithful and those that sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy. (Psalm 126:5)

     

    Image courtesy of Alyssa, the photographer in the family. Just like her dad.

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    Happy Mother's Day!

    A swan is nesting on the lawn next to my neighbor's overturned canoe. It is a space recently vacated by a family of geese, but I'm not sure the move was intentional because the geese pass by frequently; their loud honking and hissing doesn't sound friendly. They seem to be passing insults like overprotective parents at a sporting event.

    It is spring and nature is visibly at work nurturing the young. No wonder this is the time of year to celebrate those who nurture us. I want to wish every nurturer, mom, aunt, grandmother, sibling, a day of expressed love and thanks for all that you do.

    Mother's Day is celebrated around the world most commonly falling on chosen days in March or May. In the United States it falls on the second Sunday of May. All moms can thank Ann Jarvis for their special recognition as she was the first to honor her mom with a memorial service at St. Andrew's Methodist Church in West Virginia in 1908.

    Ann began working towards honoring moms with a holiday in 1905 after her mother passed away. Strangely it was not an easy task. I say strangely because fathers had been honored in Catholic communities since the Middle Ages. Congress rejected the idea in 1908, lamenting that if they made proclaimed a day to honor mothers then they would have to have a day to celebrate mother's-in-law. They meant it as a joke, but not many saw the humor in it. Ann persevered, and states began recognizing Mother's Day as a local celebration. Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday in 1914.

    Honoring fathers was one thing, but again, here in the United States it was a struggle to make it national day of recognition. Despite the efforts of many women and Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge, Congress again rejected the idea of a national holiday, this time stating that they feared it would be tainted by commercialism. It wasn't until 1966 that Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Richard Nixon proclaimed the holiday permanent in 1972.

    Commercialism did takeover Mother's Day. In fact, Ann Jarvis boycotted her own holiday and protested against the intrusion of candy makers, Hallmark, and those selling carnations into her idealized holiday of handwritten sentiments. It is hard for us to understand her anger as we stand in front of the Hallmark card rack choosing just the right card, picking up the favorite chocolates or buying a bouquet of flowers. But her intention was not that we would "say it with Hallmark" or "say it with flowers" or "say it with Hershey's Kisses."  She wanted us to say it ourselves with a simple heartfelt, "Thank you, Mom. I love you." Just like the Congress full of dads hoped for the personal over the commercial.

    Did you ever wonder why it is not spelled with the plural possessive Mothers' Day instead of the singular Mother's Day? Maybe you've never noticed. Ann Jarvis did not want the holiday to be a collective celebration but an individual family celebration. I don't think times have changed that much. We still desire the personal and the simple. In Ann Jarvis' day there were mother-daughter relationships that were less than perfect, there were abusive moms, those that abandoned their young, and those that had passed, leaving grieving children behind. But she wanted us to focus on finding the good, however small, and being thankful for the nurturers in our lives.

    If you are challenged to find anyone who has nurtured you, God tells you this, " Though your mother and father forsake you, fail you, leave you, I will receive you, gather you and take you up." (paraphrased Psalm 27:10)

    I hope you have a beautiful time celebrating motherhood this weekend. And if you are not worried about commercialism marring your day, Courageous Motherhood Becoming the Mother You Were Meant to Be would make a thoughtful gift to the nurturer in your life or even as a gift to yourself. Also– to my kids, you can say it with Hershey's Kisses if you have to. Love You!

     

    How do you celebrate Mother's Day?

     

     

    Image by Bady Qb courtesy of StockSnapi.o


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