This Is Different Than the Others

Posted by on Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 in Blog | 12 comments

If someone had told my wild child teenage self that on August 16th I would stand in a pulpit and preach at a church in my hometown I would have laughed in her face. Me? The girl with four siblings who grew up in Oneonta, New York, working on a farm without a clue about who God was? Never! And yet, on August 16th I will do just that. It’s not the first time I’ve preached in a church but it is the first time I’ve preached at this particular church – and this particular church is different from any other place I’ve preached. Not because it’s liturgical or because it’s Presbyterian (my theological training is more in the vain of Bible/Baptist church world). It isn’t different because it’s small, (30- 50 attendees on a good day) and I am used to preaching to the mega church world in Dallas. It’s different because it was founded by my great-great grandfather, Rev. James Frazier. Back in 1887 he founded the First United Presbyterian Church. But somewhere between the founding of that church and my upbringing – faith was lost. It seems my great great grandfather’s faith skipped my grandfather and didn’t stick on my father either. (Although my dad has come to know Jesus in his later years, yay!) But growing up I wasn’t exposed to faith, Jesus or Church. In fact I don’t recall even knowing any Christians. God was a non entity. Until I went to college where a friend shared Christ. I ended up going to seminary and somehow, and it’s a long story, ended up being a preacher in the conservative evangelical church. I’ve often wondered why my great great grandfather’s faith didn’t stick. Why was there this darkness for decades? Generations later faith seemed lost in our family tree. In the Book of Judges we read where faith can be extinguished in a short period of time – just a generation or two.  “The people served Yahweh throughout the lifetime of Joshua and throughout the lifetime of those elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the great deeds which Yahweh had done for the sake of Israel. … And when that whole generation had been gathered to its ancestors, another generation followed it which knew neither Yahweh nor the deeds which he had done for the sake of Israel.” (Judges 2:7-10) Somewhere between 1887 and my upbringing faith ceased – or so it seemed. But God. On August 16th I’m going to stand in the very same pulpit as my great great grandfather and preach from the Scripture. It gives me hope. Hope that faith may skip a generation or two but it can’t be...

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Pondering The Statement

Posted by on Tuesday, Jun 23, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

I’ve been reading Stephen Boyd’s book, The Men We Long To Be, it’s excellent. One of the statements he made keeps floating around in my head. He said, Our love of God, however, casts out fear and releases us from captivity to sin – that is, the requirement to dominate or be dominated. Our response, our love, then, is not a sentiment; it is not a feeling; it is first a commitment to act on our deepest desire to be connected with others and to act against all those things that get in the way of that connection. (Boyd, 143) I’ve been noodling on this statement and does it fit for how God loves us? If so, what does that look like to have God committed to act on his deepest desire to connect with me and to act against ALL those things that get in the way of that connection? I think Jesus answers my question. He acted on his deepest desire to be connected with us and he was willing to act against ALL that got in the way of that connection – to the point of death. What does it mean for us to be committed to act on our deepest desire to connect with others? Like how would we have to reshape the way we live, where we live, how we live, what we give our time and energy to? I mean this could be demanding. And what about “acting against” all things (systems and structures, materialism, racism, sexism, classism and the self!) that get in the way of that connection? I mean if I took that seriously, if you took that seriously, whoo. Not a light thing. I thought a few of you might also want to ponder it...

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Mothering Out of Fear

Posted by on Friday, Jun 12, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

Yesterday I had coffee with a lovely young woman who is about to give birth to her third child. Three kids four and under. I’ve been there. As we chatted she asked a question that took me back to my young mom years. “Why did Steve and I decide to move from downtown Dallas to the suburbs?” What she wanted to know was how we, these radical Christian thinkers, ended up in a white, upper-middle class suburban bubble? I had to be honest. Twenty- four years ago we moved from New York to Dallas to attend Dallas Theological Seminary. I was a brand new Christian and a new mother. I was clueless. When Hunter was four we started thinking about school options, and I freaked. I started to ask Jesus if he would make a way for my kids to go to Christian school. His answer was clear. NO. He whispered to the recesses of my soul, “Jackie you want your kids to go to Christian school because you are afraid you will fail them in their understanding of faith. If you want your kids to walk closely with me you will have to show them what it looks like.” No. We moved to the suburbs because I was afraid. Afraid of so many things but mostly that I would mess up my kids. I had baggage from growing up under an abusive father. I had no idea how to be a Christian, and being a godly mother? Ugh, forget it! So I wanted to put as many walls around my kids as possible to make sure they had all these other means of knowing God—in case I sucked at it. God said no. He insisted I learn to lean into him and let him teach me how to mother. And since my kids’ lives depended on it, that’s exactly what I did. I share some of that story in my new book, Lime Green. I hope that when women read it, they find their own story in mine and learn to relax and lean into God in their mothering. Too often I sit with young moms and hear the fear in which they are operating. Which school? When should I put my kids in soccer? How much planned activity is too much or too little? Will they be deprived if I work outside the home? … and on and on we go. My kids are now grown, young adults figuring out their own way. Looking back, I can now say to young moms, just love like Jesus, unconditionally, and let Jesus speak about how to parent each child. To put it more simply, “Stop parenting out of fear,...

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Keep It Real

Posted by on Tuesday, Jun 2, 2015 in Blog | 7 comments

It’s been a few years since we’ve hung out so we had a lot to catch up on. As we sat on the back patio Jenny shared how she’d been teaching her daughter, Annie (age 5), about the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) Jenny taught Annie a song to help her remember. (Not surprising since Jenny is a musician). “The fruit of the Spirit is not a coconut, the fruit of the Spirit is not a coconut, cause the fruit of the spirit is Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self – control.” (Repeat) Although I can’t carry a tune, I too used to teach my kids songs about Jesus. Songs like “The B- I –B-L-E that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God, the B. I. B. L. E. “ Or “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, let it shine. Hide it under a bushel basket? NO! I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine all the time.” We parents sing these little tunes in hopes that they will help our children grow in their knowledge and faith. But have you ever noticed how selective we are? It’s kind of like what we do on Facebook. We only share part of the story, selective parts, “the fun, victorious, hey look at my amazing life parts.” We  all know that what we see on Facebook isn’t the “whole” story and yet we compare. We are left with a sense that somehow our life is less. The other day Annie came home from kindergarten upset. It seems another child told her the story in Exodus 12. You know the story – the one where an animal is killed and its blood is put over the doorposts so when death passes over it will only kill the Egyptian firstborn sons. Annie wanted to know why God would do this? Jenny said, “I didn’t want to tell her that story. In fact I didn’t know what to tell her. I just wanted her to learn about the fruit of the Spirit.” Ever been there? Have you ever wondered what happens to our faith when we learn only part of the story? How does what we’ve learned about Jesus in the Bible set us up for dealing with real life? Particularly the hard stuff.  Unwanted and unanswered stuff? Perhaps it leaves us like Facebook does, disappointed and disillusioned with our real life. When my son Hunter was 15 he sat in a truck with a dead baby between him and his friend Bill. He was in South Sudan and the mother of the baby died...

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Pondering From Luke 8: 4-15

Posted by on Monday, Oct 27, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Pondering From Luke 8:4-15 This parable is a familiar one. I didn’t even want to write about it. But Jesus spoke, and so I write. In this parable there’s seed, which is God’s Word. And there are four kinds of soil (or ways people respond to Jesus and his message). We have seeds on a path, on the rock, among thorns, and in good soil. Jesus explains … 11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest. Obstacles to our walk with God clearly exist. They not only exist but pull hard, trying to loosen our grip. While we cling to God’s hope and promises, they pull … trying to loosen our grip. Satan. Worry. Riches. Pleasure. And trials. It wasn’t but a few  years ago that I almost lost my grip. A tsunami hit. I wasn’t even aware it was coming, and my faith was rocked. For the first time, I wondered if living for Jesus was worth it. I considered leaving the ministry. I struggled believing his Word. I felt abandoned, betrayed, and lost. Pain can cause the heart to harden. I tried to move towards him even in my pain. I couldn’t read his Word, so I listened to it online: http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/. And slowly, ever so slowly, Jesus started warming my heart again. He does that. Makes our hearts soft. I’m so grateful that when I was about to let go, he didn’t. This passage reminded me that there are obstacles, and they are pulling – hard. If we are going to cling to God’s hope and promises, we must go to Jesus. And listen. Jesus said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (Luke...

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