Older and Wiser

During our annual Christmas gathering, my family threw a surprise birthday party for me, complete with a life-size cutout in a sequined dress with wine in hand, along with handheld ‘Joanie faces’ people waved upon my arrival. You can’t imagine anything more horrifying than seeing a sea of your face when you enter a room. And that life-size cutout seemed to follow me wherever I sat. She now resides in my living room and continues to startle me every time I walk by. Another cutout is from a long-ago Halloween when I dressed up as a.....

A Different Way

This has been a week of resolutions – crowded gyms, increased attendance at Bible Study and plenty of leaf turning as people look toward a new year and a fresh start. Sadly, statistics show that most resolutions don’t last through the end of February. Personally, I think February is being generous, as I’ve never lasted to the end of January. Last year was....

Love Shows Up

At our annual women’s gathering this week, the speaker (Amy Julia Becker*) opened by posing the question “How do you know someone loves you?” Everyone in the audience would probably respond differently depending on their love language. According to Gary Chapman, there are five basic love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and.....

Be the Light

Be the Light

I read a story recently about a church that was built without electricity. When asked why, the pastor explained that each member is assigned a seat with a candle only they can light. When everyone is present, there’s no need for electricity because the church glows from the light of those candles. The pastor said it impressed upon the members the importance of their attendance to the entire congregation. If only a few people came....

God Speaks

God Speaks

The response I received from last week’s post illustrates that people are hungry for God stories – particularly about how He speaks. Therefore, I decided to share another. The reason I chose this one is because, as part of a prayer chain, I am privy to lots of prayer requests on behalf of children of all different ages. Children never age-out of.....

Christmas Presence

Friday was the one-year anniversary of my nephew’s death. You may think that it would be a sad milestone. I am sad that he’s no longer with us, but I was given an incredible gift last Christmas that takes the sting out of his absence. I’ve never shared this story publicly because I feared people would dismiss it, chalking the experience up to....

Divine SWAG

While visiting my parents last weekend, we were discussing my dad’s compelling desire to go to confession on a regular basis. The prior week my sister had agreed to take him to church for confession despite questioning what he could possibly need to confess at 91. She doesn’t know what I know about what goes on at The Farm! Curious, I asked him why he was so insistent. He replied....

Running for the Prize

Running for the Prize

Analogies of marathon running and life have been drawn as far back as St. Paul, and with good reason. Life is a marathon – the only one most of us will ever run. As I watched the New York City marathon last weekend, I was reminded once again of the similarities. The runners came in all shapes and sizes with personalities of all kinds: serious...

Arrested Development

Whatever progress I thought I made on VIP Day evaporated quickly by my mentioning my daughter’s teenage years in last week’s post. Note to self: blogging about your children = embarrassing mom. As long as I’ve been demoted to my former role, I might as well share our text exchange Sunday morning (with her permission this time)...

VIP Day

Last week was VIP day at my daughter’s place of employment, and I was invited. The staff is so youthful, there isn’t enough offspring to warrant a take-your-child-to-work day, so they initiated VIP day as an alternative. I was flattered and astonished by my daughter’s invitation because she turned to the proverbial ‘dark side’ earlier than most tweens. I resigned myself long ago...

Toxic Talk

Choosing joy is easy while celebrating - like during my trip to Texas I discussed last week. However, choosing joy has to be more deliberate when life, and people, seem intent on stealing it. There’s nothing more destructive to joyful living than being surrounded by toxic people. You know the type – those who find....

Taming of the Shrew

Taming of the Shrew

As homework for a course I’m taking on spiritual disciplines, we were asked to pick one discipline (our text lists 75!) to focus on for the week. These exercises are designed to address ‘signature sins.’ It didn’t take me long to identify mine, and if I asked my family I’m sure they’d be happy to point out a few more. The first one I chose to concentrate on was Control of the Tongue, but...

Strength in Weakness

What I failed to mention last week while discussing the gift of the ministry of presence is how close I came to missing it. The issue is, in order to be blessed by it, one has to be open to receiving it. I’m not sure when or where I adopted the misconception that being weak or needy is a negative. Regardless, debunking that fallacy.....

Kvetch As Kvetch Can

People have often asked (as I’ve asked others) how God speaks to me. In lots of different ways, but one came up this week that taught me a valuable lesson. I’ve been struggling with something for the better part of a year and was whining to God the other day during my ‘prayer’ time about how hard it is and how angry I was that it wasn’t getting better. Prayer is in quotes because I’m sure plenty of you are questioning whether whining and complaining...

the Bible Guy

Joanie Butman

istock_000002114287small.jpg

As summer fades into fall, I’m eager to resume daily routines that get neglected June through September. Exercise and healthy eating are the most obvious, as my seasonal blueberry pie and lobsta diet has taken its toll. My cravings these days are not for rich foods but for the sweet, nourishing Christian fellowship I enjoy back home. As close as I feel to God by the ocean, camaraderie with other Christians is the one ingredient my Peace of the Rock lacks – or so I thought.

fullsizeoutput_16c1.jpeg

This year I discovered precious morsels of Christian fellowship that God sprinkled along my path, whether it was a litany of bumper stickers while driving, a message on the hand dryer at a rest stop, or a visit with my sweet, elderly neighbor who lives out her faith so beautifully.

The most pleasant surprise was meeting “The Bible Guy.” Wendell arrived in the most unexpected manner. We were doing some home improvements and hired an electrician to update the antiquated wiring in my in-laws’ cottage. Little did I know I was going to get a different kind of home improvement and new wiring. Wendell began work while I busied myself with another project in the next room. I quickly realized I wasn’t going to get much accomplished. Instead, I was about to receive a much-needed bible lesson.

beingtheword.jpg

As this was the first time I’d met him, I was a little surprised at how boldly he shared his faith. He was a wealth of wisdom and experience and certainly not short on words. Cynic that I am, though, I kept checking the clock calculating my per hour cost for his biblical tutelage!!! Eventually, I surrendered my own agenda for the day, realizing that God had other plans for me. True to form, when I surrender to His will, it’s always an adventure. By the end of the day, I found myself at Wendell’s house giving him advice on paint colors and admiring his koi pond while continuing our conversation.

maxresdefault.jpg

After a number of these encounters, I wondered how his other clients react to his spiritual tutorials. Was there something I said that indicated I needed a fresh infusion of spiritual wisdom? Come to think of it, who doesn’t? The odd thing was that Wendell chose one of the most difficult scriptures for the modern woman to swallow. It’s about wives submitting to their husbands – not your typical opener with a new acquaintance and definitely not a wise conversion strategy. It was effective in piquing my interest though. I was curious to hear his perspective on Ephesians 5:22-33, and he didn’t disappoint. I now have a new understanding and appreciation for that passage.

fullsizeoutput_16be.jpeg

Curious, I asked Wendell if he was always so candid about sharing his faith. He replied, “No not always so openly, but always ready. This is my vocation, and to encourage others to know Jesus is my avocation. He is the best news of the day! I'm known as the Bible Guy with the other guys around town.”

fullsizeoutput_16bf.jpeg

Free Dictionary defines avocation as a “hobby. Something you do when you’re not working.” Spiritually, hobby sounds too frivolous in nature because sharing God’s love is something we live regardless of what we do. There’s nothing secondary about it. Witnessing for Christ is more than doing photography or woodworking (though He was a carpenter). Sharing one’s testimony is part of our job description. As Rick Warren describes in a devotion I received shortly after I met my new spiritual advisor, “This is how God wants you to do your job: Go quickly into every part of the world, tell people about God’s invitation to salvation, invite them into the family of God, and do it with urgency. If you’re in the family of God, that’s your job description for the rest of your life while you’re here on earth.” I forwarded to Wendell with thanks for taking his ‘job’ so seriously.

Dont-Lose-the-Mission-1024x576.jpg

As Christians, we’re all called to participate in Christ’s Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations (Mat 28:16-20). But how many of us actually heed this call to action literally like Wendell? In our uber politically-correct society, it’s more common to adopt a more quiet, reserved faith in fear of offending someone. It was refreshing to meet someone who was eager to share their faith and felt no need to apologize for it. Sharing our love for Jesus doesn’t have to be wordy. In fact, more often it doesn’t require words at all because how you live speaks volumes.

bible-plug.jpg

Don’t think I missed the irony of God employing an electrician to satisfy my longing to ‘plug’ into some Christian fellowship. In hindsight, my decision to go with the flow and listen to what God had to teach me through Wendell was well worth the hourly cost. In fact, I got double the value, having been updated electrically and spiritually. What a deal!! As I head home today, I am recharged – choosing to make Christ an avocation, not a “hobby.”

 
FullSizeRender.jpg

God Strong

Surveying the wake of destruction Hurricane Harvey created is yet another reminder of the tenuous nature of life. We’re all just one storm away from devastation, whether it’s a literal flood or the more common deluges that befall us – torrents of disappointment and loss; broken dreams, homes, families, relationships of all kinds. They are rarely of the....

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Across the nation people flocked to prime viewing areas Monday to witness a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Wouldn’t it be nice if God’s creation got that kind of awe and attention every day? Despite the dichotomy that often exists between science and spirituality, I’ve always felt that studying science is merely discovering HOW God works. Rather than disproving the existence of a Divine Creator...