Thursday, January 19, 2012


Camps often advertise as "the best week of your life." Although I am sure that is usually the case, my first - and last - camp experience was the worst 2 weeks of my life. I was 8 years old - read  that as not ready to leave mom - I went to Honeyrock. It is a camp about a million hours of drive time north of Chicago and is run by my Alma Mater - Wheaton College. I did know 2 others at camp - my brothers - but they were with the "older kids" and really wanted nothing to do with me. Bottom line - I was deathly homesick through the entire experience. They had a special "quiet hour" during which you were supposed to write home - I never finished a letter because I just cried the whole time. There was one highlight. The entire camp  - from something in the food - got a severe 1 day stomach illness and they were running to the bathrooms all day. I was the only one unaffected simply because I was too homesick to eat!

The heart of homesickness is this deep longing for someplace or someone. It runs so deep that it dominates one's thoughts and attention. Psalm 73:25-26 states

            "Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
                      My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever."

Whenever I read that I think - REALLY? Can I have that kind of single-heartedness - that kind of desire for God. It is what John Piper calls a "homesickness for God." It is interesting that the Psalmist declares this when his flesh is failing. The truth is, I sometimes do have that hunger and heart for the Lord. It is also true that sometimes my heart is dulled to Him, "used" to His presence, unappreciative of His gifts. In Piper's outstanding book  on fasting - "A Hunger for God" - he suggests that our longing and homesickness for God is because we nibble so much at the table of the world - we are not hungry for the Lord anymore. In Deuteronomy 8, the Lord tells the people that He let them be hungry to show what was in their hearts and to lead them to understand that "man does not live on bread alone." He uses hunger to enliven their hearts to Himself. Later in the chapter - after telling them to enjoy the food and fatness of the land - He warns that those same good delights can cause dullness and a loss of hunger for God.

It seems we go through cycles of being alive to the Lord - desiring Him above all things - and then we get filled up on other things - even good things - and our hunger for the Lord is stilled. So what is the solution. There are perhaps many... I think the regularity of Sabbath (ceasing and resting) is one practice that reorients our heart. Another practice is fasting - to come before the Lord for one meal or for days - and say - "a renewed hunger for You, Lord is more important than food - more important than life!" Somehow - in fasting - we are reshaped, awakened to His good gifts, filled with gratitude and prepared for His callings. I am reminded in fasting how good all of God's great gifts taste.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


People make a difference. We make a difference in the lives of others. It is such an obvious truth but in actuality I often enter the lives of others not intentionally but as an afterthought of the many other things of my day. In the meantime there are dear brothers and sisters in my path needing a note, a hug, a voice, an encouragement, a smile.

Last week was not the norm for me - perhaps I was just more in touch with myself - I was burdened, weighted,  a bit overwhelmed and disheartened... disheartened would be a good word. I needed some insight or words of hope - perhaps a visit of something really good.  Sunday morning I got that visit! Completely unlooked for, my brother arrived at church here in Tucson having driven all the way from Chicago. He arrived with a gift and he arrived bringing himself! I cannot describe the depth of joy and delight and surprise and wonder that I felt. He only had a couple hours and then was flying back home but I was left moved, encouraged, revived and refreshed!! My whole family was lifted up for the day.

Proverbs 25:25  "Like cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a distant land." Even better is when that good news arrives in person. We are called to be that 'cold water' to weary souls. They are all around - I've touched shoulders with them already today - people needing a visit of encouragement, a visit of listening, a visit of hope. It has been a calling that I have too often ignored and neglected. It seems as though that is mostly what Jesus did - He visited needy people. After a miracle in Luke 7:16, the people shouted out "God has visited His people!" As imitators of God, we should do the same.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


It is always a joy to get an invitation. Not like in Elementary school, where Birthday invitations went to every kid because that was the rule - but personal invitations. An invitation to breakfast or lunch, a cup of coffee, a hike in the desert, an evening gathering. We are strengthened and encouraged when someone reaches out and extends an invitation - it is great to be welcomed!

One of my favorite stories is when Jesus - following the resurrection - is on the beach cooking fish and bread. The disciples are back to their fishing and getting nothing. Jesus calls out to them and following another miracle catch they realize it is Jesus and rush to the beach dragging their catch. He says, "Come and have breakfast." Implied in the invitation is "come and be with Me." What an awesome invitation. We hear similar invitations in other places. "Come unto Me." (Matt. 11:28) "Lord if it is You, command me to come to You ... And He said, Come!" (Matt. 14:28) "Come away." (Mark 6:31) "Come up here!" (Rev. 4:1)

Invitations to come and be with Jesus, to walk, listen, talk, play, rest and even eat.We often ask Jesus to come and be with us - He is always with us - He said He would never leave us... Rather, we should be paying attention to His always open invitation to "come." The invitation sits open before us - no RSVP is required - I just get to show up.

"Jesus stood and cried out, saying,
"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink."
John 7:37