Filling a Need … Finding Peace: A Story

Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) was a leader among tax collectors. He could afford great jewelry and fine clothes. His position allowed him to charge the people of Jericho more than they owed. Everyone knew he skimmed off the top. They feared this little man.

But this little man had a secret—he wanted more. He had a need. A nagging in his heart that rubies or fine spices couldn’t satisfy. When he heard that this man Jesus was coming to town, he knew he had to talk to him. See him.

Zacchaeus left his tax collecting table for the place where he thought he’d have his chance to see him.

Drat. He’d already passed. He needed to guess … which road would he take? To see Jesus he’d have to take a gamble and run ahead. Hopefully he’d guess right and get there before Jesus arrived. But where to go?

He had an idea. By the Sycamore tree. That’s where he’d wait. He’d have an opportunity to talk with him, for sure.

But when Zacchaeus got to the Sycamore tree, other people were waiting there for Jesus, too. Double drat. What could he do now? He wanted—needed—to see this Man of God for himself.

Zacchaeus looked back down the road and saw a crowd walking his way. Was Jesus surrounded by all those people? How could Zacchaeus make his way through so many people? He was so short … he’d be lost in the crowd for sure.

He looked around. There—the tree! He could climb the Sycamore tree and at least have a look at him … this man who heals. Zacchaeus wasn’t sure what he’d gain by just seeing him, but it had to be enough.

The crowd came closer and Zacchaeus could hear their voices. Begging for Jesus’ attention. All coming at him with requests. Needs. Everyone had a need.

He had a need.

Zacchaeus sighed. What’s the use? He had been fooling himself. He may be rich, but his wealth cost him more than he planned. He had treated people terribly. And now he was going to miss his chance to ask this Jesus for what he wanted most: peace. He needed peace. But it wasn’t to be.

The crowd milled then stopped under the branches of the Sycamore tree. Jesus hushed the crowd with his hands. They waited, anticipating divine wisdom from Jesus. Instead, He looked up.

“Good day, Zacchaeus.”

Zacchaeus caught his breath. “Um … good day to you, teacher.”

Jesus smiled. “Why are you in the tree?”

He felt foolish. “I wanted to see you. I’m so small.” He cleared his throat. “I really wanted to talk with you … I thought maybe you could help me. But you’re busy. Everyone wants to ask you for something.”

Jesus continued to smile as he held out his hand. “Zacchaeus. Come down. I’m coming to your house today. I’m going to stay with you. We can talk about your lack of peace then.”

Is this how it began? I put a bit of flesh to the story, but it could have happened that way.

How diligent are you chasing after Jesus? What are you willing to do to find peace?

Learning to Bloom Again is Finally Here!

Finally! Learning to Bloom Again: Walking through Forgiveness After Divorce is available. Not only is it available, but for May 8th, it’s free.

Check it out, and see there are promises waiting for you.

Let me know what you think. I’d be tickled pink if you’d write a short review.

The Focus is Off

I’ve always enjoyed the story of the Prodigal Son. But its focus challenged me. My heart went to the son who stayed behind … the one who could not forgive his younger brother.  Brandon Adams writes about that in his latest blog, It’s Never Too Late to Come Back.

It’s important to remember that God loves us all … and offers forgiveness to all who seek it.

A new morning awaits … for all of us.

The Samaritan Woman and Seventh Man

It happened a long time ago. It started when a Samaritan woman met a guy and got married.

We don’t know much more than that. All we know is that they were married … and that marriage ended. Did her husband die or did he divorce her? Was she so hard to live with that this husband couldn’t take it any longer? We can only guess. But she was single again, then married. Again. And again. And again until she had five husbands.

Life went on for this Samaritan lady when she moved in with another man. Had he refused to marry her because of her reputation or was her character so difficult to be around he wouldn’t commit himself? Was she an old woman by now, bitter and worn? At least he allowed her to live there, cook for him and tend to his needs. Continue reading

“Secrets” – A Book Review

Are you setting goals for the new year? Ready to get “that monkey” off your back?

If you’re in ministry, or if you need to be ministered, I have the perfect book for you.

Secrets: A True Story of Addiction, Infidelity, and Second Chances, by Jonathan Daugherty is a must. You will read how a man kept a secret—a secret that shaped his view of life and relationships—for over ten years and how that secret almost ruined his life. It’s a dark story—yet illuminated with the power found in God’s love and grace. Secrets offers an example of no matter how far you are from your purpose, Jesus will reach down—into the depths of hell if need be—and redeem you.

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God Calls Shenanigans

Last Thursday was supposed to be the season where families got together; celebrated their special closeness.

How’d you do?

Know it wasn’t an accident you were placed with your family. God’s plan put you there. With that in mind, let me ask again. How’d you do?

Did you hang on to your old mantra:

“I don’t want to be hurt anymore.”  “You don’t know what they did to me.”  “We have nothing in common; it’s best we just keep our distance and live our lives apart.”

Sorry, I think God calls shenanigans.

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Don’t Forget to be Thankful

Turkey and stuffing. Mashed potatoes and gravy. And don’t forget the pumpkin pie!

If you’re spending time with friends and family this Thanksgiving, enjoy your feast. Enjoy the company surrounding you. Maybe even watch a football game or two.

But remember to be thankful.

Thankful for wins as well as losses. Planned events as well as shocking surprises. And always thankful that God sees you. Celebrates you. Loves you.
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A Week of Political Tension

Tomorrow’s the day many of us have been waiting for—waiting for the end of political commercials and the tension that seems to engulf campaigning.

It doesn’t matter if you lean right or left … or live straight down the middle. Tuesday’s choices are enormous, but Wednesday’s actions can have the power to impact heaven. Let our response to Tuesday’s election speak louder than any words we could ever say.

Thanks, Brandon,  for reminding us to remember who we are—sons and daughters of The King. And thanks for putting in front of us the challenge to act like we are.

Still struggling? Visit scripture … Isaiah 40 offers a powerful picture of who we worship. It reads, in part (verses 21-24):

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood since the earth was founded?

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
    and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
    and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

He brings princes to naught
    and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.

No sooner are they planted,
    no sooner are they sown,
    no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
    and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

Scars are Reminders of God’s Faithfulness

I’ve seen been reminded twice today that we need to appreciate our scars.

I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Maybe you may need to hear that, too. Check out Sheila Walsh’s post. Don’t lose hope.

You may feel like you’re done. Like you want to give up. But please know, Jesus is working on your behalf–right now–pleading your case. And remember … your scars are reminders of God’s faithfulness.

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34 NIV

Overcoming Depression after a Writers Conference

You just returned from a writer’s conference. You met people who poured their wisdom into your life and you will never be the same again. Life as a writer has taken on legs and you’re confident you’re on the right course.

Then you curl up into a ball, sit in your favorite chair, and stare at the television.

What just happened to you? Read my latest post on the Blue Ridge Conference.