Kneeling at the Manger (with Job) | Job 38-42

Welcome to Real Life. It’s Christmastime. So, I took Job with me to the manger.

Where are you, God?
Why are you punishing me when I did nothing wrong?

Why won't you answer me?
I just finished reading the book of Job. Through most of it, he questions God. With good reason, for God allowed Job to lose everything—children, wealth, health, respect.

Finally, in chapter thirty-eight, God speaks. He doesn't directly answer Job's queries. Instead, he throws down a few questions of his own.
Where were you when I laid earth’s foundation?Who kept the sea in its boundaries and said, “This far and no farther will you come”?Have you ever commanded morning to appear and dawn to rise in the east?Have you visited the storehouses of snow?Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind?Would you condemn me to justify yourself? “I am nothing. I cover my mouth with my hand. I repent in dust and ashes,” Job replies.

My own response mirrored Job's. “I stand in awe. I am almost nothi…

Ministry Spotlight: Kamila Burgess, Building Hope in the City

Welcome to Real Life.  Today's post is the first in a new Ministry Spotlight Series. Join my conversation with . . .

Kamila Burgess, Refugee Program Assistant
Building Hope in the City

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.  The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33–34 NIV)
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your position at Building Hope in the City.

I work with refugees and immigrants. I manage The Hope Center, coordinate volunteers, and direct the Refugee Mentoring Program.

The Hope Center is a community center where we provide three levels of free ESL Classes (English as a Second Language) taught by Tri C. We also offer tutoring to those applying for U.S. citizenship. The Center is the only place that provides free childcare (nursery and preschool) so mothers can attend classes. These children have never experienced an…

Autumn in the Neighborhood | November 2017

Welcome to Real Life. It's autumn in my neighborhood. Chilly. Dark at suppertime. Winter is on its way. Before creation naps in blankets white and grey, the leaves wave their vibrant farewell!
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)

One of Those Days | Colossians 3:15-16

Welcome to Real Life. I awoke this morning tired, sad, and mean.
“I've had the sort of day that would make St. Francis of Assisi kick babies.”
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul I'm having one of those days. Actually, two of those days. Yesterday, wasn’t great either. I made some stupid mistakes at work. Then, last night, I offended my husband. He went to bed without speaking to me.

If I felt brave enough to face the mirror, I’m pretty sure I'd find an “F” for failure scrawled in permanent marker across my forehead. I'm ready to quit everything and hide in a corner of my attic.

Instead, I grab a cup of coffee, sit at my desk, and open my Bible. (Thank God for deeply ingrained routines.) The first verse I read is,

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
(Colossians 3:15 NIV) “How can I let your peace rule when I feel so unpeaceful?” I ask my God. As I'm writing the question …

Imagine Jesus | Gospel of John

Welcome to Real Life. What’s God like? My late friend Bob pictured him as the bald “Mr. Clean” from the detergent bottle.

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. –A.W. Tozer
Jesus Christ. He’s my savior, my friend, my God. I know him. But not well enough. I want to know him better. Though I’ve never seen his face, I will one day.

John saw his face. As apostle and intimate friend, he knew Christ as well as a person could. In his Gospel, John uses imagery to help us know Jesus too.
WORD In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:1, 14 NIV) Words express reason and thought. Our words reveal who we are, what we’re like. We think in words; our essence is the sum of our thoughts. As a writer, words are my medium. Words holds power to infor…

Unwelcome Guest | Nehemiah 13

Welcome to Real Life. Not every guest is welcome.

Perched on death-defying cliffs. Walls three-feet-thick. Moats lined with razor-sharp objects meant to maim. I toured five castles in Slovakia last month.  Unlike Disney's Cinderella castle, these fortresses were designed to repel enemy invaders.

Jerusalem's city wall provided such fortification. Empowered by God, Nehemiah and the remnant Israelites rebuilt it in a mere fifty-two days. (See previous post, Ask Boldly). However, upon his return from reporting to King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah received disturbing news.
"I learned about Eliashib’s evil deed in providing Tobiah with a room in the courtyards of the Temple of God. I became very upset and threw all of Tobiah’s belongings out of the room. Then I demanded that the rooms be purified, and I brought back the articles for God’s Temple, the grain offerings, and the frankincense" (Nehemiah 13:7-9 NIV). Eliashib welcomed in the very enemy Israel built a wall to keep out. T…

Ask Boldly | Nehemiah 1-2

Welcome to Real Life. I’m amazed by those who ask boldly.

“Buď tak dobre . . .” my mother would begin in Slovak and then pause with a mischievous grin. We knew what was coming. Translation: Be so good as to . . . Mom was about to beg a favor. She wasn’t shy about asking. Anita told me this anecdote at her funeral.
“Once I called for your sister. Your mom told me she wasn’t home. But then she asked me to come over and drive her to Bingo. Of course, I couldn’t refuse your mom.” I thought of Mom as I read Nehemiah. He, too, made bold requests, though a bit more serious than a ride to Bingo. His story begins with sad news. A group just returned from Jerusalem. Nehemiah asks for an update. They give this report.
“Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”[1] Stunned, Nehemiah sits and weeps. For days, he mourns, fasts, and prays.

Nehemiah is cupbearer to Artaxe…