Psalm 131 – I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;

My eyes are not raised too high;

I do not occupy myself with things

Too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,

Like a weaned child with its mother;

Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD

From this time forth and forevermore.

What a short, impactful psalm! I’ve heard of “one point sermons” and how some ridicule them as too simple, and yet their impact can be greater than seven points that vie for attention.

Let’s start first with his condition. His heart was not lifted up. In other words, he was not feeling on top of the world. Maybe he was a little emotionally down. Maybe he was just humbled. He was certainly feeling his humanity. I can relate.

He’s not trying to be a god. He realizes the world with all its complexity is out of his reach. For those of us who are trying to control the world around us, it’s a good thing to remember.

And all those questions beyond our reach about the mercy and judgment of God? Those are ok for us not to know the answer. Why some live and some die? Again, it’s ok for us not to know. Why does God allow evil in our life and in the lives of others?

Instead, we need to calm our soul. Take a deep breath. It’s an act of our will to not be anxious about things beyond our grasp. I’ve certainly had to do this with my cancer. Others have had to do it with their career or relationships. We can’t control life, nature or God.

Then there is a great description — a weaned child with his mother. I’ve been there, seeing the terror in a child’s eyes while being denied the breast, grabbing and trusting with all their body while I prepared something for them to eat.

Life-giving substance is so close. All we need to do is grab a tit. But it feels removed from us, out of reach, denied.

It’s time to quit trusting the tit, and trust the mother who provides for us.

She will continue to provide. She’s not going to let us starve. But we don’t know the ways of the kitchen, or even if there is something out there that will take meet of our needs. All we know is what we used to do is no longer working.

We need to trust. We need to calm our soul. God will provided in ways we know not of.

Being weaned is one of our first experiences with patience, with trust. We learned to calm our soul, the bottle is coming. But every once in a while, we forget how to do it. We get so frantic about the situation we are in, we forget we have a provider who never leaves us, who loves us more than we can comprehend.

Oh soul, be calm. God is here, from this time forth and forevermore.

(Let me know if you are reading this, or did I loose you my time of silence?!?)

I’m Back!

It’s been almost two years since I posted, since Jason, our son-in-law got sick. Going through cancer with him took me off-line with my blogging, and in some ways, with my heart. There was so much to do, so many feelings, I didn’t blog.

And with his passing, I had reasons to delay:

  • We’re still grieving.
  • I got trapped in patterns while care-giving Jason; I’m not sure I want to give them up.
  • Just trying to catch up on life!
  • I’ve wanted to re-design the website.
  • I’ve wanted to complete a book I started. Bottom line: What are my priorities?

I still don’t have answers, but today I decided to start posting again. After all, I have to begin somewhere. It’s not that I haven’t written. I’ve been going through Psalms, rich in emotion and meaning, writing observations.

So what’s my hang-up? It’s my desire to do things “perfectly.” It’s the “expectations” I put on myself. They say you need to post 2-3 times weekly, so I wonder, Will I be faithful? Did anyone miss me? Can I still communicate well, to the heart?

I need encouragement. I’ve gotten a little from family and friends, but nothing made me push the button. But today, I realized I write not because of family and friends. I write because I’m suppose to write. I cannot not write.

When I first started blogging, I didn’t tell anyone my blog address. I wanted my thoughts to be between me and God, not others. I also wanted to develop faithfulness. By blogging, I felt it was “out there” but still private.

Along the way, I realized my thoughts could be helpful to others. In fact, I began to feel it was wrong to not put things in cyberspace so that others could learn or be encouraged by whatever I am going through.

Today, my thoughts are no different. What I write is between me and God. But I’m also aware that others are listening, and it’s a good thing.

So—I’m re-launching my blog. Right now it’s on our ministry site. Later I hope to develop my own site. But this is good enough, even if it’s not “perfect!”

Maggie

I’m No Gardener

IMG_1948_2 copyI’m no gardener.

It’s always been a desire of mine to be able to have a garden. I remember my early years and my mothers patch behind the garage. I was especially impressed by the row of corn, probably because it was so tall while I was so little.

Later, she grew strawberries by the side of the garage. I was fascinated by watching them blossom and then turn bright red and juicy. The rabbits loved them also.

Growing up in the city, I loved the concept of farming, living off the land. I read books about 4-H and fantasized about raising animals. I even pretended my bike was a horse, a blue roan, naming it “Sky Blue.”

I choose a college in the middle of the state, farm country. I listened to crop reports on the news. I remember being at a frat party in a corn field. While others were drinking, I wandered into the field, envisioning the feeling of owning land.

But our vocation was not conducive to gardening. Each summer we had a summer assignment and/or a month-long conference. We visited supporters of the ministry and admired their gardens, even ate their apple pie. In California and Florida I planted fruit trees, but we moved a lot and others enjoyed the fruit.

So in semi-retirement, while fighting cancer, I’ve wanted a garden. It’s difficult to get on hands and knees, so I’ve opted for pots on the railings and a raised bed. What have I learned?

You have to commit to planting seeds.

I can hear you groaning, “Duh?” and I confess, it seems obvious. Desire alone doesn’t get you there. Buying equipment doesn’t get you there.

I’ve been pretty much a failure in planting the seeds. I bought a fail-proof table-top greenhouse but they never made it from seedlings to full-grown plants. It’s been hard to figure out seasons in Florida, with winter being summer and summer just being hot. I bought potted plants and they died. The only plant I’ve had success is peppers — and I don’t like hot food. But they have gone crazy!

I’m sure there are some lessons in all this. I’d love to hear what you think…and would be glad to take some advice. (Please comment)

Introverts Unite

2011-5-22 Great WallI recently read an article from The Huffington Post 11/07/2014 entitled: 10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With The World. It reminded me that so much of what I do is perfectly normal for an introvert, while it doesn’t feel normal when I’m out in the world. I thought others might relate…and the rest might understand introverts a little bit better.

1 – They withdraw in crowds. First, a definition is helpful: “Shyness is about fear of social judgment…Introversion is more about how do you respond to stimulation.” I’m not sure I am as shy as I am introverted. Social situation can overstimulate me rather than make me feel comfortable.

2 – Small talk stresses them out, while deeper conversations make them feel alive. So true for me! And if I don’t think it’s going to get deeper, I move on.

3 – They succeed on stage — just not in the chit-chat afterwards. “At least half of people who speak for a living are introverted in nature,” according to Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D.” Interesting…

 4 – They get distracted easily, but rarely feel bored. Again, so true for me! If there is a lot going on, it’s hard to focus, but if it’s quiet, I can achieve much.

 5 – They are naturally drawn to more creative, detail-oriented and solitary careers. So how does me as a part of an evangelistic organization that talks to strangers fit? It’s all about deeper conversations.

 6 – When surrounded by people, they locate themselves close to an exit. How do they know me so well? I hate to feel trapped and will even retreat to a bathroom if necessary just to feel alone in my own space!

 7 – They think before they speak. Sometimes it’s hard for me to contribute to a conversation with 2 or more extroverts. By the time I think of what is worthy to say, the extraverts have moved on to the next topic!

8 – They don’t take on the mood of their environment like extraverts do. I can be sad when others are happy and visa versa. At times, that is socially awkward.

 9 – They physically can’t stand talking on the phone. Roger, do you hear that one? Do they know your wife or not!?!

 10 – They literally shut down when it’s time to be alone. “Solitude matters, and for some people, it is the air that they breathe.” – Susan Cain

Additional thoughts? What’s true for you?

Could It Be True?

IMG_1905I remember as clearly as yesterday the Easter I came face to face with the resurrection story. My sister and I sometimes did plays to commemorate holidays, and I can remember singing “The Old Rugged Cross” for my parents when I was younger – cute but with little knowledge of what I was singing.

But when I was in high school, I remember being in my bedroom and reading the resurrection story. All of a sudden the ridiculousness of the story hit me.

Did I really believe that Jesus came alive from the dead?

It is an unbelievable story, and I don’t fault others for not believing it. I don’t know of anyone else who did it. Medically it’s not possible, at least not after those circumstances.

At the same time, I knew the historical evidence — that a man named Jesus lived and died. Afterwards a huge number, more than what followed him in life, believed in his life, death and resurrection. That group grew in spite of extreme persecution (like being fed to lions) and yet continues, even to this day. Our brothers and sisters in Kenya prove the strength of conviction.

The story around his resurrection is plausible from what I know about the nature of men. I can imagine one out of twelve betraying him. I can imagine them running away, hiding, even denying under pressure that they knew him. I can imagine the fear of the Romans that his body might be stolen and placing a guard. I can imagine weeping women coming to a tomb after all the men ran away. I can imagine seeing visions of their friend.

What I can’t imagine is these cowards stealing a body. I can’tt imagine Roman guards falling asleep at the job, with an impending judgement of death. I can’t imagine the disciples willingness to never express doubt, to be bold in the midst of pressure, to go to the cross themselves, over a hallucination. I can’t imagine that someone, Jew or Roman, never proved the resurrection a hoax. The movement was not silenced. Something happened in the lives of the eleven, and in the lives of the next generation of believers, to turn their lives around.

So, even though, thousands of years later, I can not prove the resurrection, I believed it could have happened. And, if it could have happened, I believed it did happen.

Not because of what believing did in their lives, but because of what it did in my life.

What a Difference a Week Makes

IMG_1905Jason is responding to the chemo! If this keeps up, he’ll qualify for the bone marrow transplant. We have much to be excited about!

I can help but think about what a difference a week makes.

A week ago we had little good news, little hope. Today it is totally different.

It seems as if I have crashed headlong into Easter week. We were suppose to be in Naples, with Roger’s brother, this weekend, relaxing on the beach. We cancelled the trip in light of all that is going on (a wise decision) but as a result, Easter snuck up on us.

Today is Good Friday, the day the people called for his death, the day he suffered and died.

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday, the day the people called him “King.”

What a difference a week made — to being received to rejected, from being followed to abandoned, from loyalty to betrayal.

As I go through the emotions of the last couple of weeks, I can only image how Jesus and his followers felt. It’s a whirlwind. No wonder his disciples went back to fishing. I know how comforting cleaning house and making meals has been for me. It’s doing something stable, something I know, while internally processing fears about all I don’t know.

Thank you for your prayers. I know I’m not the only one in a whirlwind. Many enter this season with their lives turned upside-down. Pray for them also.

What a difference the next three days made!

Thank you for your prayers for Jason

IMG_1926Thank you for your prayers for Jason and our family. We are truly touched by all the emails and messages. He is over the pneuminia and began chemo late Monday night. You can tell he’s excited!

If you want to continue to pray, we have set up a Caring Bridge site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jasoncosper/journal where you can access the most current information and receive emails when updates are posted. There is also more backdrop information if you are interested. We refreshed his 2009 site so there are journal entries from his amazing battle with lymphoma where we saw God do miracles. We’re praying for His presence again.

Please Pray

becky and jasonPlease Pray! Jason (oldest daughter Becky’s husband) almost died Thursday afternoon. He went to the hospital with back pain but caught a virus and has been in ICU. In the process, they found AML (leukemia). He battled lymphoma a little over 6 years ago. This may be a result of damaged cells from the chemo.
 
Odds are not good but we know we have a God that defies odds. He will spend the next month in the hospital. Thanks for your love and prayers —
 
Maggie & Roger 

Forward – Fixed Point

2011-5-22 Great Wall“Forward to where?” has been my question as I’ve been thinking through my word for the year. January and February was more about not staying still, but I’m too much of a deliberate person to randomly move.

That’s where faith came in. The first challenge was to break inertia.

Yesterday, our teaching pastor talked about Jesus’ last days and his upper room discussion. Everything Jesus did and said was focused on his “fixed point” – going to the cross. He was preparing his friends.

I paused and asked myself, what is my fixed point?

It came quickly and spontaneously. I’ve labored over purpose statements before, but this time it was easy:

To be salt and light.

I’ve never been a screaming evangelist, although I’ve shared my faith. I’ve never been a theologian, although I’ve taught many Bible studies. I’ve never been an orator, although I have spoken in public. I’ve never been a famous author, although I love to write.

More than anything, I want to be a friend and to have an opportunity to be with someone in a way that they see Jesus in a new light and are thirsty for more.

So…forward means to me moving in the direction of where I can be salt and light. Salt makes me thirsty so that I want to drink more. Light illumines my way so that I see things I haven’t seen before. I want to live my life in a way that others don’t squint and run away or spit out the salt.

It’s not total clarity, but it’s a direction. It’s my “fixed point” as I move forward today, and in the days to come.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

What is your “fixed point?” I’d love to hear your comments.

March 2015 Letter from Roger and Maggie Bruehl

                                                                                                                                                                March 6, 2015

Dear friends,

What do you think of when you hear the term “auditor?” Do you think “evangelist?”

I have the privilege of leading the Cru audit team of four auditors. They audit all of our ministry leaders yearly and ministry accounts every 3 years on a rotating basis.

One of the auditors is Larry Kent; someone you might guess is an auditor. As I got to know him, I discovered his real passion — Sharing the gospel.

Larry has developed a tract called, “Smiles.” It has been translated into over 100 languages. He gives it out freely from his website, http://www.on-tract.com , to anyone who wants to print it.

“Smiles” has had amazing result. Every time I see Larry, he’s bubbling over with a new story of how it has been used. One email came from Kenya:

It is my pleasure to inform you that the Lord is doing miracles over here through the tracts we’ve 2015-03 Pl pictrue 1been giving out in Streets, Bus Park, Market & Schools. I was surprised yesterday when 32 students searched for me. They found me in the church compound & they said, as they were going through the tract on Sunday when they were in studies, that they felt something like a land breeze hovering around their gathering of over 80 students. So out of them 32 took an initiative of looking for me & I led them to salvation.

Secondly brother, today in the evening have received a strange phone call from a man called Tobias. This man said, he has been a Muslim for 18 yrs since 1996 but when he read the tract which his son came home with, he got to know JESUS & I led them to salvation together with his family of 6 people over the phone. I will visit him soon. There are more & more testimonies that I cannot all explain brother.

2015-03 Pl pictrue 2Vijay from Nepal wrote: I am very excited to knowing your ministry. Here I would like to share my interest to you that if it could be possible to print your tracts into Napali, it would be great.

From Pastor Buckya in Banledesh: We are printing 60,000 of your tracts in 3 languages (Banjara, Teluga and Koya). They will change many people lives from darkness to holiness. Please pray for our team. We need strength, wisdom and good health to reach many unreached villages.

What a privilege to work with someone like Larry!  It reminds me how God wants to use us in our own unique ways. The world has gotten smaller with the web. While Satan may be using it for evil, people like Larry are using it to “let the whole world know.” Thank you for your prayers and support which allows me to work with someone like Larry.

 

Roger Bruehl

P.S.  If you want to see a video of how Larry starts a spiritual conversation, check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H35CyLmfIzQ&feature=youtu.be