resources for your journey with jesus
My 91-year-old mom spends the night with us on occasion, and I’m embarrassed to say we’ve made her sleep on a 25-year-old mattress for far too long so a couple of weeks ago I ordered a new one. But then I made the mistake of taking a good look at that guest room and before I knew it, we were in the middle of a messy renovation. I say we because I dragged poor Joe into it when I started stripping wallpaper and realized what I was up against.
In short, under the textured, painted paper that has adorned the walls for at least a couple of decades, lay a layer of white paint, and under that, another coat of vinyl wallpaper, circa 1980s floral. I wish I could blame it on the previous owners, but we are the previous owners.
For days on end Joe and I picked and pulled and sprayed and sanded and scraped and tore those walls up, trying to ready them for a fresh coat of paint. DIY projects bring out the worst in Joe and me, and I’m pretty sure Joe got the bad end of that stick. But in one of my calmer moments, I commented how much easier it would have been had I done it right years ago, adding under my breath, “I feel a blog coming on.” Well, we finally got down to the nubs and after an amateur re-texturing job, were able to paint three walls. I covered up the fourth with bead board—just didn’t have it in me to tackle it.
In the back of my mind I assumed I’d blog about personal transformation and how covering up or plastering over sinful patterns will only make things that much harder—you get the point. But then George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer and our nation started coming apart at the seams. Bedroom remodels felt inanely irrelevant in view of the collective pain and angst that poured out as people took to the streets to protest systemic racism in city after city. Looters and violence aside, there have been tens of thousands of protesters across the land—people like you and me—peacefully calling for change, almost nonstop. I have felt undone.
Bedroom remodels felt inanely irrelevant in view of the collective pain and angst that poured out as people took to the streets to protest systemic racism in city after city.
The thing is, I did not want to write this blog. Words are cheap these days, and as a white, middle-classed evangelical, the last thing I want is to be one more voice in a sea of platitudes that does nothing to facilitate change.
But then there was this wallpaper fiasco and the still, small voice I’ve learned not to ignore, whispering in my heart about a country that has papered over injustice for millennia, and has slathered on short-term fixes like that paint on my wall. Brenda Salter McNeil, a African American, Christian professor and author, writes that catalytic events like the ones we’ve experienced these past several weeks can force needed shifts, but it isn’t easy, and will always first produce distress and chaos (Roadmap to Reconciliation, published by InterVarsity Press).
I came of age during the civil rights movement, but the reality is that we simply haven’t done enough of the hard work of digging through all the layers, of refusing to stop or give up until racial oppression is no longer palatable
I came of age during the civil rights movement, but the reality is that we simply haven’t done enough of the hard work of digging through all the layers, of refusing to stop or give up until racial oppression is no longer palatable—personally, and in our cities, states and indeed, the world. I guess you could say I am writing this blog as a form of accountability—I do not want this to fade away and die down so I can go back to a normal that allows a man like George Floyd to be killed as he pleads for breath.
If you are like me, you find yourself wondering what you can do. This is such a personal decision, but our pastor offered a simple acronym yesterday that I think we can all embrace. It is time for a new ERA:
The lesson of my wallpaper is that there is no quick fix here, that it is going to be painful and difficult and at times it will feel as if we’ll never get the job done. Yet we must press on.
I’ve thought a lot these past few days about the efforts at racial unity I’ve been a part of over the years, particularly within the church. There have been powerful and meaningful experiences, and yet I do wonder what impact they have had. The lesson of my wallpaper is that there is no quick fix here, that it is going to be painful and difficult and at times it will feel as if we’ll never get the job done. Yet we must press on. In all honesty, I am not sure how, or what difference I can make, but I am leaning into prayer like never before, and listening more carefully than ever before, trying to understand what it means to be a broker of God’s kingdom in this moment.
Yesterday, after weeks of rainy weather, the SoCal sun finally decided to shine and I couldn't wait to throw open all the doors. Apparently doves aren't sheltering-in-place or maintaining social distance because soon one flew right into my living room. Joe and I quickly closed the blinds and moved away from the door so it would leave the way it came, but instead the poor thing just kept flying back and forth, banging into this wall and that, occasionally landing as you can see. The traumatized bird finally dropped to the floor so I threw a sheet over it and carried it outside, (a trick my brother taught me years ago).
I've been watching the mama and daddy hanging out in our trees all year, but this was the first time I'd seen a baby. I love these birds with their gentle coos and constant reminder of the Holy Spirit.
Anyway, I laid the the poor dove down on a rock and unwrapped the sheet, thinking it would take off, but it just sat there. Worried that it might be injured, I lightly tapped it's side, and that bird was off in a flash.
As we anticipate TWO OR MORE weeks of this pandemic lock-down, or as it is more politely called "sheltering-in-place," I'm pretty sure God sent me that dove to remind me of a few things.
BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS
I wish I could tell you how deeply spiritual I have felt through this pandemic, or how I've risen above the circumstances daily to dwell in heavenly places, but to be honest, I've often felt like I'm banging around from wall to wall, trying desperately to figure a way out of this mess.
That baby dove reminded me that not only will Jesus do whatever it takes to set me free, but that when I finally stop flailing, He will always be there, waiting to place His presence over me like some sort of security blanket.
How's CLOVID19 going for you?
MY GIFT TO YOU
I've created some resources that I hope will encourage you over these next few weeks. It includes a prayer guide for seniors, a Five-Day devotional on Psalm 134, a couple of memes to share and a youtube video you will love. Just click on the image below.
Joe was supposed to leave for France this Thursday to help strategize for a church plant we are doing there. Last night we decided he better not go, given the outbreak of the corona virus there, and the fact that he is in the at-risk category. I know everyone has an opinion on this pandemic and none of us really know who to trust, but that’s definitely NOT THE POINT OF THIS BLOG.
Before we had decided, I was working on getting him hand sanitizer, but of course, it is sold out everywhere, including Amazon! That’s when I went online and learned how to make my own. I found one with ingredients I had around my house, and I love it so much I’m going to share the link below. Speaking of that, when you see the ingredients you might wonder why I just happened to have a Costco sized bottle of vodka. Seriously, not a drop of the stuff has ever passed the lips of this good old Baptist girl. (Well, there was that time someone in our church served vodka slushes at a party in their home and Joe unwittingly drank a couple of them, talking all the way home about how delicious and unique they were, but that’s another story altogether.) That is also NOT THE POINT OF THIS BLOG.
Sorry for the whiplash here as I move from vodka slushes to my Sunday morning prayer time.
Sorry for the whiplash here as I move from vodka slushes to my Sunday morning prayer time. I was praying about Joe’s trip, and I began to feel God speaking about the whole corona virus scenario. In short, I felt him say that this could be the greatest opportunity we as a church have had in the past century to shine the light of his glory in a world where panic may become the norm. And then I sensed him saying that it could be the precursor to the revival we have longed for, cried out for, pined for, petitioned for and pleaded for over the past two decades. I am not a prophet and am not even suggesting that this a prophetic word, but these are the things my heart was sensing and I feel compelled to share them.
...this could be the greatest opportunity we as a church have had in the past century to shine the light of his glory in a world where panic may become the norm.
You may notice that I used the word “could” in both cases and there is a reason for that. There are things we can and must do as followers of Christ and while God is always ready to pour out his Spirit in fresh ways, he often waits until we are ready. To that end, here are a few thoughts about what to do in the face of this global pandemic:
So much more could be said, but I’ll leave it there. Before I share the link for hand sanitizer, let me say I have no tie to this website—I just liked the recipe. Do your own google search but I’ll forewarn you that most recipes involve rubbing alcohol, which is now also almost impossible to get. Click here for the link. And if you have the Costco vodka hanging around too, now’s the time to use it!
For decades now I have focused on Jesus final hours during the Lenten season, and every year I am astounded at how God reveals new things and takes me to new depths in my grasp of the Cross and what redeeming love looks like.
I hope you are on the journey this year! Here are some resources to guide you:
Words can't describe how excited I am to share about this book by James Choung and Ryan Pfeiffer. Not only does the hope of revival pluck continually at my heartstrings, but I am starting to believe we may be on the verge of an awakening like we have not experienced in decades. I don’t say this glibly. To that end, there couldn’t be a timelier guide than this book. I rarely review books, but I’m doing this for one and only one reason—to convince you to buy it immediately. Find out why below.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I have known Ryan Pfeiffer since the 90’s when my own college son was rocked by Jesus through his influence at UCSD. We have a long family history, and while that might make me biased, it also means I know that Ryan lives what he writes. He is the real deal—I can promise you that! While I don’t know James personally, I have seen his humble ministry, and his heart in the book will make you want to know Jesus more—is there anything better?
So many books on revival are inspiring and challenging, but they often leave us feeling pressured or inadequate. We don’t know how to get holy enough, pray enough, find the right formula or do enough spiritual calisthenics to get the results others have seen. This book will NOT make you feel that way. Ryan and James share truth through the lens of their personal struggles and breakthroughs, and not once will you feel anything but hopeful as you read their stories.
Revivals should create a new normal. They weren't given so that we could go back to the way things were. They were given so that our faith can have capacity for more, to hope for more, to seek more of God's kingdom. (Longing for Revival, p. 25)
Contact Tricia here.
Tricia McCary Rhodes
Author of 7 books and a professor for Fuller Theological Seminary, Tricia specializes in helping others experience God’s presence through practicing soul-care.