Worship: Part 2 - The War For Worship
 
Worship Part 2.png

We’re made to worship. And worship we must. Everything in us desires, craves, longs to worship God.

And we see a battle, a war in us when it comes to worship.

We place our adoration, attention and praise on people: kids, parents, spouses, friends, heck, even our pets (ok, they aren’t “people” but sometimes we treat them like they are). I don’t know what I’d ever do without you, we think or even say.

We accidentally worship things, too: trees, stars, jewelry, special places, etc. 

We revere them. Our admiration is high.

God built us to find our everything in Him. And He knows we misplace our worship, too. It’s why He set the standard for His people (notice, for HIS people not for everyone), right after He brought the Israelites out of slavery: 

“ No other gods, only me. No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am GOD, your God …”  (Exodus 20:3,4)

That’s the first commandment. Look how it’s reiterated in Deuteronomy:

“Deeply respect GOD, your God. Serve and worship him exclusively… Don’t fool around with other gods, the gods of your neighbors …” (6:13,14)

Then drawing on these passages while rumbling with Satan in the wilderness, Jesus shoots back, 

“Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.” (Luke 4:8)

Now, if you don’t worship the God of the Scriptures (Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit) you may be thinking: God sounds demanding. Insecure even.

Not at all. He knows there’s always a war for worship. And He’s showing us where to find the culmination of our cravings. 

Worship of God is truly life’s climactic experience! 

In Christ,

Nancy

I’m real because God is so real.

 

 

Your Calling For Today

Notice the language you use and longings that rise up in you when you’re around certain people and/or things. Are they potentially warring for your worship?  Just notice. 

 

 
Nancy HicksRelationships
Well, Well, Well
 
Well, Well, Well

Well, Well, Well

[Jesus] told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 

John 4:1-18

I don’t know about you, but most of what I’ve ever heard about the woman at the well involves her sleazy past. Five husbands! And living with a guy now.

It’s often read with inflection that conjures up raised eyebrows, slight head shaking, tsk, tsk, tsk. Who would dispute Jesus’ unearthing her checkered past? If you read beyond verse 18, you’ll notice she changed the subject to the topic of worship, and sort of takes a jab at Jesus.

When I studied performance and sang for years back in Canada, one thing I learned: always read a script or a lyric in loads of different ways. Put emphasis on different words, like 

I have no husband.

I have no husband.

I have no husband.

This is the woman’s response when Jesus brings up her current living arrangement.

Also, consider the context. Does the context allow sadness? Anger? Pride, shame, etc.? Thinking through historical, literary and theological contexts, what makes the most sense? This is one among loads of moments from the Bible, where we wish we could see her face. Hear her tone. But we can’t. So we do our best, and sometimes make assumptions.

Think about this:

This woman at the well has a past, but maybe everything is not as it seems. 

Remember, women weren’t the ones who had power in first century. They were property. They were subject to divorce for any little thing. And when they were divorced, they were destitute. A man could make or break a woman’s reputation.

Perhaps her husbands died. (But five? Probably not.)

Perhaps her sin wasn’t a “love-them-and-leave-them” attitude. Perhaps it was more she had undesirable traits (anger, resentment, who knows?), creating issues in her marriages that caused men to send her away.

The point:

Be very careful to not make assumptions about people based on only raw facts. Be very careful to not make assumptions about the voice of Jesus speaking into these things.


In Christ,

Nancy

I’m real because God is so real.

 

 

Your Calling For Today

Is there someone in your life you’ve made assumptions about? Even if you are correct, is it possible that you could be making assumptions about the way God is speaking into the situation?

 

 
Nancy HicksRelationships
Nice
 
note- nice.jpeg

My boys once worked at Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt Shop. It’s some of the best ice cream in our area! I remember them coming home and telling us tales of their experiences in the scooping business.

“It always amazed me how people order and receive their ice cream. Some just say, ‘I’ll take,’ or ‘give me’ - it’s weird. Then they sometimes take it and don’t say, ‘Thank you.’”

We as a family would talk about the basics of civility. “It’s so basic, boys, but so overlooked,” Cam and I would empathize.

Nice is nice. But as much as I like manners, I’m not interested in helping people be nice.

I think that’s what a lot of modern Christianity has turned into: a bunch of nice people. (Well, actually, there are a bunch of not-so-nice Christians you may have noticed, too.) Be nice. Look nice. Play nice. 

I mean, don’t be a jerk. Say “please” and “thank you,” and for Pete’s sake, don’t slam doors in people’s faces. But don’t think that this - this basic act of being human - makes you a Christian. 

Jesus didn’t die to make us nice. He “died to destroy the devil’s work.” 1 John 3:8. And we join Him in that work! 

“THY KINGDOM COME… ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.” Matthew 6:10

That doesn’t take nice people. It takes all the power of heaven brought down to destroy hell.

In Christ,

- Nancy

 

 

Your Calling For Today

Have you fallen into the trap of being nice? Don’t be unkind or unloving. But do check to see if your brand of Christianity looks like Jesus.

 

 
Nancy HicksRelationships
Let's See Watcha Got
 
pexels-photo-257037.jpeg

You know how you can read certain passages in scripture over and over and then one day, BAM, it hits you in a whole new way? That happened to me with this passage I recently shared with you:

Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.

When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Luke 5:18-20

Last time I zeroed in on the fabulous friends. (I hope you actually did something with what I talked about. :-) )

Now, I want us to imagine Jesus’ face as he looked up and noticed these guys lowering the paralyzed friend down through the roof, crowd watching, and situated him right in front of Jesus.

Jesus’ response tells us a lot. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

I’m not focusing on the “sins are forgiven” part. That’s a topic for another day. However, imagine the look on Jesus’ face as “he saw their faith” that moved him to say what he did.

I believe he was thrilled. Excited. Optimistic. Just look at them. Look at their faith!

Here’s my point: Do something today that stretches your faith. That demonstrates you know God can do more than you typically ask or imagine.

I believe it thrills God’s heart.

Otherwise, it’s “ho-hum” for God and for us.

“Why are you asking me for things you already know I do? Why do you pray for things I’ve already confirmed in scripture will be? “

Example: why do we ask God to be with us when He said, “I will never leave you?” It’s like asking your employer daily to please pay you. Uh, yeah!

Have faith for greater things!

In Christ,

-Nancy

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Ask God for His heart on a matter you’ve got on your plate right now. Don’t tell him what you want. Ask Him how you should pray/what you could do that would excite His heart by your faith in Him!


 
Nancy HicksRelationships
Fabulous Friends
 
pexels-photo-58592 (1).jpeg

Take a look at these friends in the Gospel of Luke:

“Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.

When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.”

Luke 5:18-19

Let’s stop right there.

Couple of things:

1.   Do you have friends that would pick you up and carry you somewhere? Anywhere? Never mind pick you up and take you where you need to be.

2.   These friends are carrying this guy to Jesus and there’s a bump in the road. Not just a bump - gridlock. No way through. I’ve been in areas of the world - some Asian countries, for example - where I’ve been pressed on every side by people. Trust me, getting through the barrier with a small group while carrying someone would have been extremely difficult.

But look at them:

“Not that way guys. We’ll try something else!”

Can you picture them?

“Try the roof! Hold him steady… Steady…OK, we got it!”

One guy’s balancing on the roof while removing roof tiles. Dirt’s falling in on people inside as they look up and wonder, ‘what’s going on up there?’

I’ll tell you what’s going on up there: guts! Friends with great faith who stick together and know where to get what they need…for their friend!

Why all the fuss? Why such tenacity?

“We need to get our friend to Jesus. We’ll do whatever it takes, but we know Jesus has what he needs.”

Get yourself at least one of that kind of friend. They’re gifts. They’re worth their weight in gold. I know, I have a small handful of those closest to me who know me.

We don’t just need a shoulder to cry on. We don’t just need someone to pat us on the back and tell us we’re terrific. We need the kind of friend(s) who’ll pick us up and carry us - drag us if they must  - to the only one who can meet our deepest, impossible, insatiable needs

In Christ,

Nancy

 
 

Your Calling For Today

If you want a friend, be a friend. Don’t be lazy. Don’t be a taker. Get in there and love the friend God has given to you.


 
Nancy HicksRelationships
Benin
 
benin-flag-vector-20280248.jpg

This week’s Note was to be from Benin. But I’m not in Benin.

 (If you saw my video on Facebook or Instagram, you already know that.) 

After over a year of planning, I didn’t. Get. To. Benin. For those who worked with me to prepare and welcome me, again, I’m incredibly sorry that we didn’t share together as we had planned. But, I genuinely trust God’s leading in all things. 

I hate it when people shoot lofty ideals at us when things go wrong. In fact, if some well-intentioned person has said something too soon to you when something shocking and painful has happened - you broke up with the one you loved, got cancer, got divorced, lost a child - I’m so sorry.

They give you a quick Bible verse. A hasty mantra. Anything too soon that’s true, almost “true,” or should be true, to fix it.

“Chin up. Get happy!” as if to say.

(And do remember, you and I have done that, too.)

Even if what’s said is true, for example, “God is in control,” don’t speak too soon! Let the sadness and shock sink in a bit before you try to lift it off by giving truth and hope.

I promise you, if you own the sadness (not wallowing in it, but realizing and owning it), the Truth and Life that God calls you to in the midst of the sadness, and well beyond, will, at surprising times, gush like water breaking through a dam!

It won’t be manufactured and artificial. It’ll come from a deep sense of what truly is, without spiritually bypassing feelings, and the reality that we live in a world that’s muddled and mysterious.

As I sat for a few minutes in the airport in Paris, France, after being told I would not get on the plane because of a clerical error on my visa for Benin, I sensed a deep Peace. 

All my issues were coming up in me: I’d disappointed people, wasted time and money, was embarrassed and far away from home. All of it “tsk tsk-ed” me. 

But I was not overwhelmed. I had Peace.

Right before I’d left for Benin to fly out of Washington’s Dulles International, I’d read John Chapter 1.

And here’s what stood out to me:

“Jesus found Phillip. And said to him, ‘Follow me’.” John 1:43

Jesus found Philip. He found him and called him to Himself, and told him, “stay with me.” 

And he did. He followed Him everywhere.

God was with me all the way to France. Was with me as I stood dumbfounded when things didn’t go as planned.

And God is with you in your murky place and the place that seems so clear. He is always finding. Always calling. Always leading.

I’m unbelievably grateful.

Nancy

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Are you somewhere feeling lost? Feeling disrupted or alone? God is with you. He’s already found you and calls you to Himself.


 
Respondez S’il Vous Plait
 
pexels-photo-900102.jpeg

Ever had a time when you put out an invitation and people didn’t respond?

Some RSVP-ed and then pulled out at the last minute. Some didn’t respond at all. Some said, “I’ll let you know when we get closer to the time,” giving you the impression if they got a better offer, they’d take that instead.

There's also the genuine dilemma of people not even knowing what RSVP means. Let me help you with that: “Respondez s’il vous plait” is French for “Respond If You Please.” Whether you can make it or not, you respond.

Ok, now that that’s cleared up, let’s get back to the real issue - people not accepting the invitation.

Whether it’s a shower, a wedding, a backyard BBQ or girl’s night out, we put out our invitation: “Please come!” And sometimes it’s met with, “meh.”

God gets it.

A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests…But they all began to make excuses.
— Luke 14:16,18

Jesus is telling this parable.

He’s teaching the realities of the kingdom (or reign) of God. God holds out this invitation to a lavish final banquet in heaven, and constant not-to-be-missed cocktail hours and appetizer courses this side of heaven:

Come! Join me. Join the celebration and the feast!

And then, just like today, busy, “important,” in-demand people say, “meh.”

So two thoughts for you today:

  1. If you’ve been dissed by a less-than-favorable response to your kind and generous invitation, know that you are more acquainted with God. You are, therefore, in excellent company and you will know Him in that place.
  2. Don’t delay in your RSVP to His constant invitation to feast with Him - here and now, and oh, yes, later, when the place card has your name on it for the Feast of your Life!

Respond to God with a whole-hearted, “YES!”

IN CHRIST,

-Nancy


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Read Luke 14:15-24. Sit with it. There are always several points in a passage of scripture, but there’s also a main one: say, “yes.”


 
Nancy HicksRelationships
Worth It
 
pexels-photo-225744 (1).jpeg
The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
— Matthew 25:40

I wiped the tears streaming down my cheeks. How could this be? How could I cry over this?

But on the drive to the theater to do matinee and evening shows each Saturday and Sunday, I’d cry.

Crazy! I was doing what I’d always wanted to do. Perform. Sing. Now here I was living it out in the professional theater world, and I was crying like the babies I’d left at home.

All the years I put into performing and preparing for a career in music, I never really factored in children. Sure, I wanted a family, but I didn’t think really hard about the particulars. But how can you really?

Then those little ones came along…I just found it too hard to do both as well as I’d like.  And I really didn’t want to miss out on them! So I stepped aside from aggressively pursuing performing. I traded in costumes for jeans and cute shoes.

Over the years, I remember telling my boys, when the topic my dreams and my career came up, “You were so worth it. It wasn’t easy, but I’d do it again.”

And I meant it.

To you mom of little ones, I have three thoughts:

  1. If God’s called you to motherhood, give it your all.
  2. While parenting those young ones, make sure you also do something that pours into who you are as a woman apart from being their mom. Trust me. Everyone involved needs it more than you know.
  3. God will take all that you do during this time - as a wife, a mother, a woman - and raise you to more of who He’s called you to be.

I’d trade in what I believed I was giving up to gain what I now have: the evolution of my calling, and two grown sons who are the delight of their dad’s and my life.

Totally worth it.

In Christ,

-Nancy

I'm real because God is so real

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Think about the one thing you do to honor the woman God’s created you to be while you raise your children. If you’re going to honor their worth, you need to experience your own..


 
Nancy HicksRelationships
Women and Church
 
accomplished-achievement-adults-1124065 (1).jpg

What if I told you that women today are finding it increasingly tough to fit in in their local church?

Maybe you’re one of these women, and you’re like, “Yes! That’s me.”

One reason is that for many women, what they do in the home or workplace (running a business, setting broken bones, annually accumulating ridiculous air miles, or managing a household and Lord knows all that entails) calls for them to reach into the deepest parts of who they are, and by the power of God in them, do the thing!

It demands that we live out the Scriptures real time:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
— Colossians 3:23,24

If you’re like me, I take that verse, and a heap of other passages like it, very seriously.

These places and experiences beyond “church” buildings afford women opportunities to spread our wings and do our thing. They call us to dig deep. To build. To lead. To be creative and work with other like-minded people to get the best out of us.

I wonder - do a large number of women today feel like racehorses in the marketplace, who are then confined in the church to a small, fenced-in yard? “Walk around here, little filly.”

This should not be!

Dear women, look at your gifts, your skills and expertise.  As soon as you’re able, go to someone in leadership at your local church and offer who you are to the service of God.  I know it can be frustrating, but do it anyway.

The blood, sweat and tears we pour into other areas of our lives, God is reclaiming for His Church to build His kingdom!

 

In Christ, 

Nancy

I’m real because God is so real.

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Ask God to make a way for you to use all that you are in your church. Maybe you’ve tried. I know. Try again. First, offer your heart and all to God. Then with a humble, tender, but strong posture, make known what you hold for use in His Church.


 
Nancy HicksRelationships
Letting Kids Really Go
 
bare-feet-child-climb-1271816.jpg

David’s almost home!  After two-and-half years of living in Shanghai, China, our guy’s coming back!

When David, our first-born son, sat down with us over three years ago to express his thoughts on heading to China, Cam and I were surprised.

“Tell us more, honey.”

He did.

God has much in store for your life. Go! As long as you’re moving towards something and not away from it, David.”

Next thing you know, he’s cracking the Mandarin language and buying a one-way ticket to China.

Many people have asked me how I could be ok with this. “Don’t you find it hard? Don’t you miss him? I could never do that,” they say. Of course it’s hard. But since when does, “it’s hard” mean you shouldn’t do it?

So here are a few thoughts I have for those of you who are preparing as your child heads off to their next milestone, be it college, study-abroad, marriage, missions, or first grade:

1. Your job and honor is to discover who they are and call them out. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6

This verse is all about discovery. You get to discover your unique child’s way. It’s not cookie-cutter.

2. Get out of God’s way. God has called your son or daughter. They’re on a journey with Him regardless of whether you know it, see it or like the way it’s shaping up.

3. Resist fear. Look that kid in the eye and tell them, “With God, all things are possible. Go with God.” Don’t let your fear hold them back.

4. Don’t control them. That’s about your fear. Love them. Cheer them on. Speak words of life and truth over them. Side coach. Bless, and don’t control.

5. Pray. Pray. Pray some more.

Are you going to cry? Maybe.

Will it hurt to say “good-bye?” Of course. But, do it anyway.

And in most cases, it’s not like they’re moving to China!

Much love in Christ,

Nancy

I'm real because God is so real

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Prepare your words of en-courage-ment to that son or daughter. You have the opportunity to be a part of what God’s doing in their life.


 
Nancy HicksRelationships
Disappointment
 
pexels-photo-256658.jpeg
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
— 1 Peter 5:6-7

I remember watching a movie several years ago where the nastiest trick was played on a girl turning sixteen.

A bunch of “popular” teenage girls said they’d come to her party. The single mom - with little resources but all the love and anticipation of celebrating her daughter’s sweet sixteen - had gone all out. She’d arranged the guest list and invites. She decorated their little, unimpressive house, made all the food, and like a giddy teen herself, pranced around nervously, awaiting party time!

7:00 came and went. 7:15 - still no partiers. 7:30. 8:00. No one showed.

Heartbreaking. 

No friends. No gifts. No “Happy Birthdays,” no “thanks for the great party.”

Nothing. Nothing but the realization that people can be so cruel, and life is full of disappointments.

Maybe you relate.

  • Maybe you’ve made a plan this summer that didn’t quite pan out.
  • Maybe you hoped to take time with family, but couldn’t get the schedules pulled together. 

  • Maybe an unexpected expense crashed in.   

  • Maybe it rained

  • Maybe the hotel you booked didn’t look at all like the website.

  • Maybe something broke, like an arm or a relationship.

It wasn’t as you’d expected.

And expectations can be demands.

So make the plan. Hold it lightly. Watch it happen - now or later, or not as you thought it was to be. Then when you’re disappointed, because of course you will be, communicate with grace and love.

IN CHRIST,

-Nancy


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Tell God about your disappointments. If it’s a “someone,” go gently and prayerfully to the one who has disappointed you. Share your heart, but make no demands.


 
3 Most Important Things in Growing in God
 
art-backlit-beach-256807 (1).jpg

You’ve heard it over and over, I’m sure: when you buy a house, the three most important things are:

  1. Location
  2. Location
  3. Location

OK. Seems pretty important.

The same is true for growing in God. The three most important things are:

  1. Relationship
  2. Relationship
  3. Relationship

There’s no getting around it.

You may say, “Wait a minute, Nancy! What about love? What about Scripture? What about prayer and church?”

Oh, no, I’m not forgetting. All of these serve to nurture the relationship that God called us into when He dreamed of us. Crafted us. Breathed His life-giving breath into us.

“Look at you. Just look at you. Let me love you and lead your life, dear child,” He tenderly says to each of us.

Relationship is central to God. He’s not interested in your rules and religion. He’s not impressed or warmed by them. He also knows how twisted and screwed up you’ve been. How wayward and nasty you can be.

None of that scares Him away.

He’s interested in you turning to Him and letting Him love you to wholeness. How incredibly kind of Him.

 

IN CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Think about the healthiest human relationship you have. What’s it like? Now apply the good things you’ve learned about that to God.

  • Talk and listen
  • Laugh
  • Tell Him everything
  • Go for a hike together

You get the picture.


 
Forgive Your Kid
 
Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 10.39.18 PM.png
Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good.
— Psalm 25:7

Have you ever thought about forgiving your kids? If you don’t have kids, think about other kids in your world who haven’t made life easy at times for you or the people you love.

I was driving along yesterday, noodling and praying about speaking on bitterness and its antidote - forgiveness - when all of a sudden, the Lord took me back to some things with my own children. Wait! I don’t think I’d forgiven them.

Of course, when my boys said they were sorry for something they’d done, I said, “I forgive you,” to them, but I don’t think I’d ever really forgiven them for all the other things we adults bear. There is pain that’s caused and comes on a regular basis that doesn’t necessarily get confronted. We adults (especially parents) carry a lot for these sinful, rebellious kids.

There’s a reason the Psalmist wrote, “Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways.”

When it comes to my own junk, I can easily look back and cringe at the sins and rebellion of my youth. “Oh, God thank you for forgiving me of my jealousy, envy, judgmentalism, haughtiness, anger, lying, disrespect, sexual impurity…” The list goes on.

Then I think about what it was like raising my two sons, David and Aaron. The sons I love with all my heart. The ones I poured my sweat, blood, and whole life into. Those guys.

For some of you, this is obvious: Raising your son or daughter is no picnic. You’ve spent many a day and night forgiving them.

For others, what could this forgiveness look like?

Perhaps:

A) God, first of all, I remember the sins of my own youth (be specific) and ask your forgiveness. If you’ve already done this, then just be reminded: Wow! He forgave me ALL those and every other last one in Christ Jesus. Thank you, God. Then,

B) God, I now think about my children. I pray this verse over their lives.

It’s akin to Jesus on the cross praying for those who spit, mocked and nailed Him there in the first place: 

Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.
— Luke 23:34

If you’re looking for a graduation gift, an additional one that’s not in an envelope or a Bed, Bath and Beyond box, go to God and invest in some time with Him on forgiving your (or somebody else’s) kid.

 

IN CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Don’t go to the son or daughter, but do work this verse through with God. Kids will be home this summer. Kids will be graduating and moving on.

Invest in your souls and relationship this way.


 
Stacey Wei
I Remember Mom
 
Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 10.39.37 PM.png
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.
— Philippians 1:3

Dear Mom,

For eighty years, you lived, and countless times you’d say, “Do you remember when we….?”. Then we’d tell stories and belly laugh ‘til we cried (or vice versa), I just want you to know: yes, I still remember.

  • Yes, I remember your great big smile.
  • Yes, I remember you being my biggest cheerleader.
  • Yes, I remember you playing baseball and jump rope with us kids.
  • Yes, I remember the story of you standing in the cold Canadian winter waiting for dad to pick us up after Dumbo and he never showed up.
  • Yes, I remember you selling the contents of our farm (saddles, horses), and then the farm itself, to make ends meet when Dad left us that day.
  • Yes, I remember how much you loved game shows, and later, cooking shows.
  • Yes, I remember you working full-time.
  • Yes, I remember every bit of time outside work being dedicated to your three girls.
  • Yes, I remember the clicking sound of your high-heels.
  • Yes, I remember standing at the bus stop in Toronto on Sunday mornings to get to church before we even owned a car. (I remember you making me wear pants with my nice dresses to stay warm. NOT my favorite memory.)
  • Yes, I remember us not being able to go to McDonald’s when all the other kids got to go because you were saving the money to take us to nicer restaurants where you could teach us etiquette.
  • Yes, I remember you pouring over your Bible and commentaries to keep learning about God.
  • Yes, I remember you teaching us to always, always bring our gifts - money included - to the Lord and that He would be faithful and multiply them all.
  • Yes, I remember you telling me: “Nancy, soften your voice. No red lipstick.” (Sorry these never took.)

So many memories, Mom!

I’m glad I got to be your daughter. I’m glad you’re joyfully in His presence.

But I miss your voice and your face.

Love,

~ Nan

I'm real because God is so real


 

Your Calling For Today

If your mom’s still living, book a date (one-on-one) with her. Play, “remember when….” And tell the good stories. Or pick up your phone, sit with cups of your favorite things and do it long-distance.


 
Stacey Wei
If You Had Been Here
 
Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 10.39.46 PM.png

Living for God can be tough, especially when you know He has the power to do all things. He knows all things and is over all things and then … hard stuff like death happens. I have a friend who died just a couple of days ago, so allow me.

I was meditating on the death of Lazarus in the scriptures and this jumped out at me:

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. John 11:20
— John 11:20

I paused as I read this. Why? Why did Mary stay back? The scriptures don’t say.

But the next verse, reads:

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Vs. 21

I believe this gives a strong indication of what the conversation might have looked like between Mary and Martha after they sent word of Lazarus' illness to Jesus:

“Now that Jesus knows, He’ll get here and do something.”

“He heals people he doesn’t even know. Of course he’ll heal Lazarus. We’re his close friends!”

“I hope he gets here soon. Time’s running out.”

“He’ll get here. It’s Jesus. He loves us.”

But he didn’t. And Lazarus died. (Not the end of the story.)

A few verses later, Mary finally goes out to meet Jesus and says the same thing her sister said, “Lord, if you had been here…” Vs. 32

Mary - sensitive, trusting, and deeply in love with Jesus - must have felt so hurt by his lack of action on their behalf. Sensitive, trusting people are like that.

Dear friend, if you have an open, trusting heart, and you know God - what He’s able to do, what He’s done for others – if you’re struggling to express disappointment and hurt over God’s seeming inaction, (“Lord, if you had been here…”), believe and know this:

He is here. And He has been here in every sense of its meaning.

What you see is never the whole story.

 

IN CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real


 
 

Your Calling For Today

When have you wondered or openly expressed, “Lord, if you had been here…”?

For many of us, we wouldn’t necessarily utter the words, but we can begin to stand back like Mary did, withholding our hurt hearts from Jesus. He wants to hear and heal you where it hurts, dear one. Don’t pull away.


 
Stacey Wei
Room For All
 
Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 10.39.56 PM.png

Have you ever had the experience of walking into a place where you didn't feel like you belonged? Whether you belonged or not, it felt like you didn't.

Wrong room. Wrong place or time? Why are you here? Wrong! Move on.

(True confession: I'm feeling this way now as I head to Dallas for a conference this week.)

Once when I was on faculty of a national conference, I had to walk into a cafeteria of four hundred people attending the conference. I wasn't new to this week-long event - people knew me. And we were already halfway through the week. But that morning, I was feeling a little shaky and alone.

Here's what happened:

I walked into the cafeteria for breakfast balancing my eight-month-old, David, our tray of food, and the emotions that rose up in me (and are rising up in me now, even as I write this today):

Where do I sit? Swallow. Find an open place and put down your stuff. Find a place!

Feeling the nerves and insecurity, I moved toward a table and did just that. I put down the tray, hauled over a high chair and proceeded to set up.

Along came a woman who said, "Oh, someone's sitting in our seat."

Now, there was no trace of someone setting up before me in that particular seat.

"Your seat?" I questioned with a bit of punch.

"Well, we've been sitting here all week. It's our table." (No, we were not assigned tables.)

"Well," I said, "by all means, have your table."

I picked up my tray, moved my baby and his high chair, feeling really annoyed. OK, angry. And hurt. I felt I didn't belong. And actually, she made it clear that I didn't.

Couple thoughts:

  1. When this happens, acknowledge the feeling and turn to God. "Ugh. God, I feel like an outsider. I feel alone and small."
  2. Know what is true: There's always room for you at God's table. He accepts you. In fact, you get to humbly know Him better in this place.
  3. When you've found your place - because most do at some point - look around and now, you welcome in. Make Christ-like room for others.
They love the places of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called, ‘Rabbi’ by others …”
The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves.
— Matthew 23:6-8, 11,12

 

IN CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

If you're the kind of person who needs to "own" something like a seat, a pew, a friendship group, a position, whatever, practice moving beyond it. Mix it up. Change seats. Invite others to join you. We're not in grade school anymore!


 
Stacey Wei
The Gospel, Culture, and Women
 

I love lofty ideas. I’m a visionary and not particularly practical. I like to think broader and bigger, then surround myself with people who know more than I do and have strengths I don’t have to make it happen.

When I say I want to spend the rest of my days, “raising up women around the globe”, I mean it. And by God’s grace we will. (Doesn’t that sound terrific?)

Then you begin.

You head out and into different cultures, and you discover through people’s words and works that women are low on the totem pole. I’m talking about people who say they’re Christians. The new pattern (the gospel) is laid over an old pattern (the culture).

You face the reality of cultural norms, moorings and strongholds that fly in the face of the gospel.

What do you do with that?

First of all, if the Good News – that God loves us and wants to be in a life-giving relationship with us, so sent Jesus to remove all barriers to that relationship - is true, it’s true everywhere. It’s true for all. It supersedes culture.

For example, when I hear of believers beating or belittling their wives and I have the opportunity to speak into that, I’m not telling them to stop just because it goes against my American cultural norms or laws or democratic justice system. It goes against JESUS. It goes against the gospel!

But oh, it’s tough.

What do you do when beating your wife or hating your enemy is so entrenched in a culture?

The gospel must transform culture.

The apostle Paul was up against this in the first century: “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2.

But how?

Cultural transformation begins with personal transformation. You, dear one, must be transformed. Especially if you’re a leader. Especially if you’re a male leader. Those who study organization and cultural change state that nations don’t transform. People do.

 

IN CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Read one of the gospels. Take as much time as you need. Then take note of every encounter Jesus has with women. What do you notice?


 
Stacey Wei
Dei Volente
 
Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 10.40.20 PM.png

God willing. I remember my mom saying this so often, “We’re going to Florida this summer ... God willing.” Or, “If the Lord wills, we’ll be there!”

Sounds so uber-spiritual, doesn’t it? Especially if you say it in the Latin - Dei volente - ‘cause it just sounds so elevated, classical and spiritual.

Well, Latin may be out of date, but Dei volente is not. It’s needed now, maybe more than ever.

We’ve officially come to a time in our lives when we’re “like” God. Thanks to phenomenal advancements in technology and science, we’re:

  • Omnipresent - I can be visually connected with my son, David who lives in Shanghai in a New York minute.
  • Omnipotent (all powerful) - We can nuke people or at least shut them off or down with the flick of a switch.
  • Omniscient (all knowing) - A friend of mine and ministry leader, Pamela Snyder, once said, “One little girl was asked in her Sunday school class, ‘Where do we go to find anything we need in this life?’ Her answer? “Google.”

Yeah, we got it all goin’ on. We have the world by the tail. Everything’s at our fingertips.

Then I remember:

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow...

Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’
— (James 4:13-15)

Does this mean you should say, “Lord willing” every time you turn around? No. Though it doesn’t hurt now and again. But with the assertion of every plan you make - Thanksgiving gatherings, travel, moving, job change - your attitude must reflect that you’re really not in charge. And this takes practice. Your plan needs to be in submission to God’s plan.

Spend a day, just practicing at every turn, “Dei volente.” See where that may lead you.

IN CHRIST,

NancySig200x200.png


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

The next time you're moving quickly, connecting yourself and finding answers at the tap of a button, reflect on James 4:13-15 and ask God to help you practice "Dei volente."


 
Stacey Wei
Waiting
 
Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 10.40.32 PM.png

Are you in a state of waiting?

What exactly are you waiting for? For those of us who celebrate the resurrection, waiting is the name of the game. After all, this was only Jesus’ first coming.

Mark 16:1-7 tells of the women who, in their desperation and grief, wait for “the Sabbath to pass.” They then head out early on the third day with spices to anoint Jesus in the tomb.

Huddled together, other disciples would have been waiting to experience the fallout of the crucifixion.

“What’s to become of us?” “Where do we go from here?” “What was that?”

They’d have known it was only a matter of time before those who knew they’d followed Christ came plowing down their doors.

Waiting.

Sure, today we have to wait for the big day too. But we can head to Costco in preparation or go to the movies. Oh, sure we’re waiting for the family to arrive and the meat to marinate, but doesn’t quite compare, does it? All our waiting is on this side of the resurrection.

But waiting can also, like for the first century church, be brutal. We’re all waiting for something.

  • The phone to ring.
  • The text to come.
  • The “yes” to come.
  • The weather to change.
  • The spouse to arrive.

So, like the women who followed Jesus all the way to the cross, then to the tomb, remember this:

In their waiting, they moved out.

Actively wait. In prayer. In hope. In expectation. In Christ.

IN CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

While you wait for what you wait for, lean into Christ. Love Him. Trust Him. Worship and watch for Him.

And move.


 
Stacey Wei
The Woman
 
Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 10.40.42 PM.png

Holy Week - the most beautiful week in all of history. It’s a week where scheming, self-serving, power-hungry souls serve to highlight stunning love.

We catch this contrast in a scene from Mark. During Holy Week (Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread) two thousand years ago, along came … a woman.

She entered the home where Jesus was reclining at a table. She brought with her an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

That’s it. That’s what she did.

The exchange between Jesus and the woman is a striking contrast to the dark backdrop of the powerful religious leaders who were plotting to kill Him, and the “who’s who” reclining at the table who were indignant at the women's behavior.

Jesus defends her multiple times, saying:

  • “Leave her alone.”
  • “She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
  • “She did what she could.”

And the centerpiece:

Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.
— Mark 14:9

Who is this woman? What’s her name?

We don’t know.

Is she wealthy? Poor? Did that year’s wage-worth of fine fragrance use up all she had, or did it come out of her family fortune?

We don’t know.

But we do know her loving act was in response to having been so loved. Apparently, that was identity enough.

I pray it is for you, too.

IN CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

If you’re reading this and don’t know Jesus as the forgiver of your sins and the leader of your life, if you don’t know Him as the One who outrageously loves you, tell Him you receive all He offers you today. I’d love to hear from you, dear one.


 
Stacey Wei