Pull down that monument to Maria!


Others may brag about themselves, but I have more reason to brag than anyone else…… Philippians 3:4 CEV

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8 ESV

I’ve been angsting for almost two years about whether to continue or to give up a YouTube channel that I created to help people acquire English. I started it with the idea of eventually replacing my classroom teacher’s income.  But the Lord worked out a different way to provide enough money when he rapidly moved Mike into a new job that required us to move here to Huntsville, Alabama.  I left my classroom before the school year ended and no longer needed to work.

Thus vanished my initial ‘why’ for the channel. Nevertheless, I continued creating weekly videos to help English language learners, referring to it as my ‘volunteer work’.  But the truth was I NEEDED to feel special about myself, to have an identity that was ‘interesting.’  Having lost the cachet or distinction of teaching French, I found myself clinging to this enterprise of being a content provider. But soon it began to feel like an obligation, not an ‘Oh, yay!  I GET to create another video!’

Over the past few months, I have worked to find out just what is behind this desperate desire to continue if it no longer gives me joy.  Of course, the One whose desire is to make me (and all believers) more holy has been gently but steadily pushing me to see the ugliness underneath this disordered need.

Recently, my personal trainer, the Holy Spirit, showed me that I have been chiseling a monument to Maria by continuing with English without Fear. Ouch! Embarrassing, but true.  

Further reflection along with a glimpse of my ‘ego-based yuck’ prompted this realization.

  • ‘It’s this need to feel special, Maria, that’s causing you to cling tightly to this English learning channel.’

With that insight, I then asked myself, ‘What does special mean? What’s that all about?’

The answer popped quickly into my mind. Feeling special is that craving to be admired as unique and different, all the while doing one’s inner ‘superior dance’.

Oh, my! It wasn’t long before I recalled Paul’s recitation of all the reasons that made him ‘special’.  Writing the Philippians, he rattled off his singular, stellar pedigree.

Oh, I so identify with him. I know he must have taken pride in his credentials and experiences.  For that is me!

But look at how he concluded what appears to be boasting.  In listing each credential, I think Paul is simply presenting the facts. God did privilege him.  But now, Paul has seen something far more satisfying, knowing Christ.  

Having my eyes now open to what has driven me all my life, I thank God for showing me the underlying motivation for much of my life.  I don’t yet desire Jesus’ glory like I long to, but I now know how to pray.

 “Father, give me Paul’s eyes and heart to feel as he does.  All my ‘specialness’ is but rubbish compared to intimacy with you.” 

In line with the wave of dismantling Confederate statues in the US, I am taking the first step toward a right view of God and myself by tearing down this ‘monument to Maria’.

And the YouTube channel?  I sense it’s time to close out that chapter.  It feeds my ego and feels burdensome.  From this point forward, if there is anyone interested in knowing how to acquire a language, I’m going face to face. That can be in person or through Zoom.  But no more just putting out new content week by week on the web.

Life without Christ

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Phil 3:8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (NLT)

My mother-in-law resides in a retirement community in downtown Seattle. Her lifestyle is limited by her modest means, but she lives among some very wealthy couples who, in non-Covid times, travel a lot. It appears that few of the residents are followers of Christ, as measured by attendance at on-site Bible studies or the demand for transportation to local churches on Sundays.

Is there a connection between wealth, travel and the status of one’s soul? Maybe. I’ll echo what a myriad of Christian authors down through the ages have maintained: this fallen world is NOT meant to satisfy the soul.

As a child, teenager or young adult we don’t know this. Life DOES seem exciting – going off to college, diving into a career, finding a mate, starting a family. But as we age and change patterns of work and life, all the possible life experiences, no matter how diverse, lose their lustre, their thrill. Ravi Zacharias has captured this fact by stating:

“The older you get, the more it takes to fill your heart with wonder, and only God is big enough to do that.”

I’m guessing that the wealthy octogenarians who cruise in luxury or fly to lush second homes can’t escape the sense that ‘all this doesn’t satisfy the way it used to!’ (are they even courageous enough to articulate that feeling so explicitly?)

At 63, were it not for the gift of being a Christian, I would be depressed thinking about decreasing pleasures as one ages. In fact, this week I’ve been pondering just what my life would be like if I did NOT know Jesus Christ. Why this topic? Something I read caused me to take a few minutes to write down what I would miss most were I not a follower and disciple of Christ.

If I didn’t know Christ, if I weren’t in union with Him by grace through faith, then I would…….:

  • Lack knowing the meaning and purpose of life. This is SO important to me. It stabilizes and undergirds me. Many people search and search for the meaning of life, intent on knowing why they are here. Understanding the big picture reassures me. I don’t have answers to a lot of my questions, but one thing I am confident in is: WHO God is and WHAT He has done and WHY He created the world and everything in it.
  • Be bereft of constant fellowship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. As a little sister of Christ, I’m constantly chattering to Him as I go through my day. Out loud, I remind myself why I can rely on Him. I know the Lord is WITH me, always.
  • Have no access or right to all the promises that are in the Bible. These promises of supernatural power, provision, wisdom, protection, correction, comfort are mine because of Christ. They are my treasure.
  • Be deprived of hope for the healings and rescues that God CAN give, even though He doesn’t always give them. This kind of relaxed, confident hope allows me to leave the outcome in His hands.
  • Live with Mike in a marriage that was deprived of the freedom to love and be loved in spite of sin and selfishness. Priceless is a husband who is both brother in Christ and true friend.
  • Know that I would never again see loved ones. Now I am certain that I will SEE and be with fellow Christians, like my Mom, who have gone on before.
  • Lack the power-filled intercessory prayers of many brothers and sisters in Christ. Furthermore, I would not have the blessing of my own growing faith as I pray for others and watch God come through for them.
  • Be rocked by my suffering and that of family, friends and world. I don’t know all the reasons for an individual’s suffering. But what I do know is that God is good, that He uses the suffering He ordains/permits to make us, His adopted children, more like Jesus.
  • Have NO confidence that all the injustices in the world will be paid for, justly and perfectly.
  • Have no amazing, joy-filled future awaiting me, but only judgment and a forever future set in ‘outer darkness’, one filled with anguish and despair.
  • Not be able to let go with peace some dreams that probably won’t be fulfilled in this life, on Earth 1.0.
  • Have NO friends with whom I can be really real. Now I have many genuine friends, most whom I have yet to meet! The bond of Christ creates instant connection.
  • Not enjoy reading my Bible and Christian authors every day. I am richly fed.
  • Be deprived of recognizing when I commit sin, so I can repent, ask for forgiveness and be cleansed!

This gift of Christ’s forgiveness and union with Him satisfies me like nothing else. Knowing Him makes all the difference in my life. Without a doubt, I am much happier than when I was younger.

And with Paul, I can say that any created thing, as beautiful as it is, cannot compete with the gift of knowing God personally and intimately.

Finally, I appreciate the fact that I will NEVER run out of things to marvel over. I like it that God is BIG enough to satisfy me forever.

Looking forward to when Jesus comes back and I get a new body to go with forever life on Earth 2.0!

My New Year’s Resolution in 2018

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Moses said, “Please show me your glory. – Exodus 33:18

We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2b

Verses like the above have always startled me and caused me to think that some Christians must be VERY different from me.  I don’t even understand what that hope looks like.  Just what is it about God’s glory that others find compelling?

This theme of God’s glory as being something to be VERY happy about has birthed a growing desire to understand just what this glory is.

What tipped this quest into the ‘gotta know NOW’ category was a recent Pastor John Piper’s meditation on glory. John Piper writes about God’s glory.

Reading that, I knew that the only New Year’s resolution I wanted to set for myself was to keep my eyes open as I journey through the Bible again this year, searching for all the mentions of God’s glory.  I mean to write them down in order to grow my understanding and (I hope!) appreciation of this gift our Father holds out to His adopted sons and daughters.

And if I need a compelling example of someone else on the hunt for this kind of intimacy with God, the apostle Paul comes to mind. Beyond question, this former Pharisee had re-oriented his life toward KNOWING God’s glory.  Just read how he encouraged believers in Philippi  (chapter 3, verse 14):

  • I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  

Just what did this formidable evangelist long for that he willfully embraced hardship to hold out this prize to many?  Nothing else but seeing God face to face and experiencing His essence as much as possible.

So what is God’s glory?  In one sentence, I would say that God’s glory is the visible, physical manifestation of His holiness.  It would be akin to describing patriotism as the love of country made manifest in military service, citizen action, political representation, etc.  We can apprehend something of God’s holiness through this observable and usually physical and emotionally OVERWHELMING experience of His glory.  Beyond that, I cannot say.

What am I hoping for?  That my love for the Triune God will warm up and that I’ll long for Him more, so that I can say with all sincerity, “Come Lord Jesus”.


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