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Blog – Renita

  • From Professional Missionaries to Missional Professionals

    I had the privilege this past week to spend time in Kansas City with a number of like-minded people who are focused on building capacity with the Church through equipping and unleashing business people to be the Church every day of the week.  Not surprisingly, we were a small group of about 25.  Most people either take the church route or the business route and not very many people are committed to equipping workplace leaders through the church.

    It was nice to be in the company of like-minded people for a few days.  Most of them are focused here in the US, and I heard a lot of stories that reminded me of my times with Restorers in Grand Rapids, and doing community development with a holistic view of working with the community.

    Our purpose in being together was to record 15-minute talks, like Ted Talks but focused on Sustainable and Transformational Missions (SAT talks).  While there, I heard Larry Sharp of IBEC Ventures say, "We need to move from professional missionaries to missional professionals."  As a former missionary himself, I appreciated his words.

    I often cringe a little when I hear people talk with a good amount of disdain towards missionaries and the costs that are spent on relocation for missionaries.  I remember my former pastor said to us before we moved to Liberia that we should rather invest in a national person rather than move ourselves.  I'd like to think that while that may have been a cheaper investment, there was a needed information/technology transfer that needed to happen through these ex-pats called the Reeds.

    I have had a few choice words myself for missionaries over the years, as I have seen missionaries who live in very sheltered communities, living in houses that they likely couldn't afford in the US, with househelp doing a lot of the work at home.  They tend to mix only with other missionaries and often talk down about the people that they are there to love and serve.

    But there are many, many missionaries who do not live and work that way.  Many sacrifice family, friends, comfort, safety, not to mention having to raise support, and have lost a lot, in the process.

    I do agree that the model of missions is changing, however.  There is not as great a need as there was at one time for people to move permanently to a place.  There can be found great capacity in nationals, and it is important for our model of missions to change.

    The SAT talks ( is a great resource for Church mission groups to learn about what others are doing in these changing times.  Significant Matters (the organization behind SAT talks) does workshops called Missions 3.0 to help people adjust their missions model to these changing times.  Take a look at this chart to see the changing population of Christians by continent from the 1900s and through a projection in 2050 (sorry about the poor quality photo).

    But I do love the concept of Missional Professionals.  Every person on mission in their place of work, not just to make disciples (which is important!) but to love their neighbor/co-worker/customer, to do quality work that allows others to flourish, and to be stewards of this earth and its resources as managers, not owners.

    I continue to dream about what that would look like if the 2.3 billion Christians did their work as an act of worship every day, and every church equipped the saints for the work of the ministry, not in the church building but in every corner of the marketplace.

    The times, they are a'changin.  And we need to keep pace.

    Update on travel:  I was supposed to leave this week for Cameroon, but after three weeks and three attempts at a visa, the Cameroon Embassy in Washington DC denied me for reasons that made no sense.  So we had to cancel the Cameroon portion of this next trip, and so next week we will leave for Nigeria for our West African Regional DML meeting, and then on to Burkina Faso after that.
  • "The US is not a Christian nation, and it never has been."

    In recent weeks, I have been spending time with Christian organizations whose goal is church multiplication:  one church for every 1000 people.  This is a lofty goal and it sounds great.  But it
    evoked a deeper question for me.

    What kind of churches are being created?  We can have one church for every 1000 people, but what type of transformation will those churches bring to our communities, cities, and nations?  The authentic mark of the Global Church is transformation in people, who then have an effect on their environment.  However, churches do not necessarily bring transformation.

    Kenya is an example of a people who claim to be 80% Christian, but according to the Transparency International survey of corruption, they are also "80% corrupt."  How can this happen in a country so full of Christians and of churches?  I would argue that more churches are NOT the answer, but the answer lies in churches who disciple and release their people to BE the church every day of the week.

    If churches don't necessarily bring transformation, what does?  Recently in the US, there have been people speaking with longing of a time when we were more of a "Christian nation."
    But can there actually be a Christian nation?

    I believe that "Christian" is more of a noun than an adjective.  Can there actually be a Christian song?  A Christian radio station?  A Christian book? Being a Christian is being a Christ-follower.  An inanimate object cannot do that.  People make the decision to follow Christ.  A song can be sung by a Christian.  A book can be written by a Christian who desires to shed more light on Christ.  A radio station can be owned by Christians who have the heart to share the gospel.

    Last week, our pastor, Joy Bonnema, preached a sermon about nationalism and patriotism.  She said, "The US is not a Christian nation and it never has been."  She stated that faith cannot be legislated by the government.  She cited cases where when religion has been legislated, and it has often been disastrous for "the foreigner," whom we are instructed to love (think crusades, slavery, etc).  We love to think that the US was founded as a Christian nation, but our own constitution at that time did not give rights to women, to Native Americans, and African-Americans were considered to be 3/5ths of a person.  These principles are not Christian.  The Founding Fathers of this country desired separation of church and state, as well as freedom from the religious wars.

    But she said that the US is not a Christian nation NOT because of those things, as terrible as they are, but because no government can declare a nation to be Christian.  It doesn't work that way, because to be Christian means to be "in Christ."

    And then Pastor Joy said words that rang deep in my soul, as it is our tagline for Discipling Marketplace Leaders.  She said, "Jesus' vision was not to establish a Christian nation.  It was unleashing the Church, that is empowered and enlightened by the Spirit, to bear radical witness to the Kingdom of God.

    Therefore, no earthly government can quash the Kingdom of God.  It doesn't matter who the administration or its leaders happen to be.  She said that the greatest threat to our faith and our witness isn't from any government but from our own sin and our failure to live out the witness of God in all areas of our lives.

    The way God ushers in His Kingdom is not through legislation but through living it out our faith every day of the week, in every area of our lives.

    Do I hear an amen?

    A pastor in Kenya, after going through our training, said, "Church begins on Monday.  Sunday is maintenance/garage time."

    If we are planting those kinds of churches, then let's get busy because the transformation of our communities won't be far behind.

    This week I speak at a missions conference in Kansas City and am praying for good dialogue about this!

  • Wave of Death

    A few weeks ago, my car was totaled by what my insurance agency called a "wave of death."  This is what they describe as the behavior of someone who wants to be polite, who happens to have the right of way, and who waves either a pedestrian or another vehicle into traffic.  This driver may believe they are performing a selfless act for a stranger, when in fact, they are putting that person or vehicle in potentially mortal danger.

    This was the case with me.  I was in the righthand lane with no stop sign or stoplight in the vicinity.  A vehicle in the lefthand lane decided, for some unknown reason, to stop to give the wave of death to an oncoming pickup truck who wanted to turn left into a side street.  That driver did not see me coming and I had no idea that this truck was about to turn in front of me, and that was it.   My 18-year-old Subaru, which had 187,000 miles on it, and could have gone for another 100,000 miles, was finished.  His truck was barely damaged and he happened to have no insurance (but still stayed at the scene, which the police said was very unusual!).

    Three weeks prior to this event, I had been released from the hospital after having a number of different infections, viruses, and parasites, and was then told by my doctor a few days later that they suspected that I had multiple myeloma (cancer of the blood). I was referred to a hematology oncologist.  There was a sense of a different kind of "wave of death" that rolled over our family as we weighed this news.  The following week, I ended up in the emergency room again as my heart began to act up, and I ended up with a heart monitor for the next two weeks, and a heart rate that continues to be erratic.

    And then the accident.

    What was going on?  Was it a series of unfortunate events?  Was it a spiritual attack?  Was it testing? All of the above?  None of the above?  There was a lot of speculation.

    Regardless, this past week we met again with the hematology oncologist and he informed us that he does not believe I have cancer.  He believes that I was sick enough that my numbers have been thrown off and continue to be off from that series of illnesses.  There is speculation that my heart issues may also stem from issues surrounding the viruses and may eventually settle down, although this week I will have an echocardiogram yet to ensure that my heart is okay.

    We are very thankful to God for healing and for the ability to continue with work and ministry.  While we experience a "wave of death" which brings potentially mortal danger into our path, it is truly a gift to know that God is close by and is in control, regardless of the outcome.

    I heard a song recently that has been playing in my head over and over again.  It is called "Surrounded" by Michael W. Smith and is quite repetitive, but it needed to be that way for me to finally settle into my brain.  It says, "And I believe you've overcome and I will lift my song of praise for what you've my weapons are praise and thanksgiving.  This is how I fight my battles."  It then goes on to say, "It may look like I'm surrounded, but I'm surrounded by You."

    Whatever "wave of death" that you may sense around you, I pray that you remember who it is that surrounds you.  And continue to fight your battles with the weapons of praise and thanksgiving.

    Oh, and if you drive, resist the urge to be a good samaritan on the road when you can't fully control traffic.  You may be saving a life by denying a goodwill gesture.
  • Don't tell me you're too busy

    I heard a speaker recently who told me the same unfortunate information that my pastor has told me for years:  don't use busyness as an excuse.  I have passed this message on to many of my students over the years.  My pastor would say, "Stop saying you are too busy.  Get control of your schedule."

    I say that is unfortunate information because saying "I'm so busy" is such a nice excuse for not getting something done or for getting sympathy from the listener.  Taking the ability away to use that line means that I have to manage my time and make sure that my "yes means yes."  Think of the number of times we have either heard or used that line.  As the meme states, we can often use that line as a competition with our peers to "one-up" each other in terms of bragging about our work or demand.

    But this speaker that I heard last week went further.  He told his staff that they were not allowed to say that they were too busy to get this or that done.  They were only allowed to say, "I didn't get it done, because it was not a priority to me."


    That will make you pause and think before opening your mouth regarding not getting something done.

    Figuring out our priorities and how to spend our time is important.  Of the three resources that God has given us (time, treasure, and talent), time is the only non-renewable resource of the three.  Losing the ability to say "I was busy" and having to rephrase it to "It wasn't a priority for me" can really help us sort out what we can and can't do in the short amount of time we have.

    May God help us!

  • DML is growing up

    On Thursday, at our DML meet and greet event, we informed our friends and partners that Discipling Marketplace Leaders will be spinning off from International Christian Ministries by the end of 2019.  Discipling Marketplace Leaders started under ICM in 2013 and has received a very gracious growing space from them.

    However, as DML has been growing quite rapidly, we believe it is time that we form our own 501c3 in order to have a Board of Directors that is more directly involved in how this particular ministry grows, especially as the number of partner ministries that we network with also grows.  The DML leadership and the ICM leadership spoke about this growing realization and ICM has given its blessing to DML to spin-off on its own.

    This is both exciting and scary at the same time.  It is exciting to watch the growth of this ministry and how God is using it to build His church.  It is exciting to be told by partners that it is time for a prayerful, thoughtful team to give leadership to DML, who can be more objective than Dr. Walker or myself who are "deep in the forest and often can't see the trees."

    This is the third ministry that I have been involved in starting, and the second time I have gone through the process to get non-profit status.  There is a tremendous amount of safety being under another organization's umbrella as it relates to accounting, audits, and legalities.  Dealing with bureaucracy is not my favorite thing to do, so it is scary as well.  I am the type of person who likes to "set up shop" and not necessarily "keep shop."  So I know that this is the type of thing that drains me of energy rather than gives it, but again the time is right for this to happen.

    So we are going through a rebranding process, looking at DML from all different angles as we prepare for this launch.  One of the things we are looking very seriously at is how our ministry can also fulfill a quadruple bottom line: missionally, socially, environmentally, and economically.  If we preach it, we also need to do it!

    This week I will be in Texas, with the Global Alliance for Church Multiplication forum, looking specifically at how the Marketplace is used to grow the church through a number of other ministries around the world.  These are the types of things that we want to get better at as a ministry - networking and continuing to watch where God is working and join Him in that work.

    More updates to come!

  • News from Discipling Marketplace Leaders

    This week is an exciting week for us.  Both Dr. Walker and Emeline Nde, DML-USA staff, will be coming to Grand Rapids as we will be doing a professional video shoot of our two-day workshop for pastors and church leaders, that can be reproduced for our teams in Africa.  They have been asking for this for a long time, and we have a number of copies of videos that were done on-site but the quality, especially sound, has not been good, so we are going to do the "real deal" this week.

    Additionally, we are having a "Meet and Greet" on Thursday evening for friends of DML to hear the exciting things that God is doing to grow, build and equip His Church in Africa through DML.  If you are in the Grand Rapids area and would like to join us, please email me at for more details.

    The opportunity to share these stories comes on the heels of the DML East Africa Regional Meeting that just took place on the Nile River in Uganda, with our teams from Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya (the teams are in the boat that is pictured).

    Hearing them share their stories, their ideas, and how God is working with them to share this message AND the DML method, was inspiring for the teams.  At this particular meeting, we not only had our five teams from four countries, but we also had key denominational leaders from the four denominations that we are working with join these meetings.  This ended up being a very good investment, as the picture of how to implement this ministry became much clearer during those days together.

    As the Church grows in Africa, and as the population and economy grow in Africa, we believe that Africa has the potential to fulfill the Great Commission IF it can unlock its members from the building, to be the church every day of the week in the Marketplace.

    Enjoy some pictures from our teams, and thank you for praying and supporting this ministry!

    Uganda DML Team, with the Pentecostal Assemblies of God reps.
    Tanzania DML Team, with Full Victory Gospel Ministries reps.
    Kenya DML Team, with Anglican Church of Kenya reps.
    Ethiopia Teams, with reps from Kibir and the Kale Heywet Church
  • A Life Without Despair is a Life Without Hope

    I heard this phrase recently and it made me stop and think for some time.

    Can you wrap your head around this concept?  A life without despair is a life without hope.

    No despair - no hope.

    We like hope.  We don't like despair.

    Can't we have hope without despair?  Not real hope.  Not deep hope.  Maybe superficial hope.  "I hope it doesn't rain today" kind of hope.

    But hope for change...for the world to be a better place...hope for people to understand the real meaning of grace and mercy...hope for healing...hope for relief...the deep hopes that come from pain in the soul.

    What are the longings of your soul?  When was the last time that you differentiated between your superficial human longings and the deeper desires of your soul?

    It makes me think of Ruth Haley Barton's book, Sacred Rhythms, and her description of the conversation that Blind Bartimaeus had with Jesus.  Jesus had a habit of asking people deep questions like, "What are you seeking?" or "What do you want from me?"  He was going after spiritual hunger, reflected in the honest reflection of the person being asked.  This particular story and question comes from Mark 10:46-52:
    46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”  So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.  51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.  The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”  52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.Barton invites us to imagine (just for a few seconds) being Bartimaeus and thinking through how you were going to get the attention of Jesus.  What words would you use?  What emotions would you feel?

    Then imagine that Jesus turns to you, looks you in the eye, and says, "What do you want me to do for you?"  What would you say?  What answer would you give?

    We may need to peel back a number of layers to get to the bottom of what we really want from Him.  It may take some honest reflection and soul searching.

    A life without despair is a life without hope.  What are you hoping for?  What drives it?  Where have you been and what have you seen that drives both the despair and the hope?  And how do you take both the despair and the hope to answer the question Jesus asks, "What do you want from me?"

    That is your story.  That is the uniqueness that is you.  I'm sure many of our answers would be different but in some ways, I would guess that they may point in a similar direction.

    As I wait for news about my health, I consider something a friend said to me this past week.  He said, "I pray for health for you or something better."

    I like that.  Maybe that is what I would say to least for today.

  • Some Not-so-good News and Some Good News

    First the not-so-good news:  since being released from the hospital, I have continued to have one medical issue or another come up, leading me to cancel my trip to Uganda for the East Africa DML regional meeting.  There are some big questions about the underlying causes of my medical issues and I have some upcoming appointments where doctors hope to look closer to see if this continues to be a fall-out from the "perfect storm" of problems I had when hospitalized or something more serious.  We are praying it will all turn out to be nothing in the end.

    I'm disappointed not to be able to meet with our teams from Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya.  This is a once-a-year meeting where we get to share and learn together, pray and encourage each other, break bread and laugh together, and look at best practices and new opportunities for continuing to equip the church to be the church every day of the week.  There were some exciting new components of the ministry that we have been developing that I was hoping to share with the team, and I in turn also get a lot of renewed enthusiasm as I hear stories and the creativity of our partners in the field.  But Dr. Walker will be there and I'm sure that they will have a very productive and God-filled time.  This may even allow for greater ownership of this ministry by our teams with my absence.

    The good news is that Dr. Walker was able to have a successful time in Malawi doing a two day
    DML workshop with the World Renew Southern Africa team, with members from Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique.  It seems there may be invitations coming DML's way to work further with the synods of various denominations in Zambia as well as Malawi.  We thank God for these seeds that have been planted and look forward to seeing what He will do in the next weeks and months as the seeds look to take root.

    Please pray with us for these seeds, as well as for the upcoming regional meeting in Uganda.  Not only will our implementing partners from each country be in attendance, but key leaders from three denominations who are implementing DML throughout their denomination will also be in attendance.  We desire to see continued ownership at a denominational level and we pray that this time together may allow the Holy Spirit to continue to encourage us to find the tools necessary to reclaim the Marketplace for Christ.!
  • DML Testimonies from Uganda and Ethiopia

    Every quarter, our implementing partners send us reports of the work that has gone on relating to Discipling Marketplace Leaders in their specific region or country.  Some of those numbers tell us that in the first half of 2019, more than 1100 pastors in eight countries were taken through the DML workshop and more than 500 businesses were trained to do their work as an act of worship, as well as other basic business skills.

    Included in the report that we receive quarterly is a testimony or two from either a church pastor or a businessperson about how this ministry is impacting their life.

    I would like to share two stories with you this week:  one from Uganda and one from Ethiopia.

    From Uganda, this story comes from Pastor Henry Obondo:

    After the Business as Mission class taught at the Africa Theological Seminary in Tororo, Pastor
    Henry organized a training in his church (Divine Destiny Church).  According to Pastor Henry, learning that Jesus was a businessman and that work was a holy calling had a great impact on the church.  The congregation had a change of perspective and are now challenging themselves to invite God in their daily routines, as well as carrying out their work in a godly way.

    Pastor Henry recounts the story of a widow in his church who used to beg for money to take care of her children.  After learning that work is a good and holy thing, she became more committed and zealous in her business, selling traditional pots, because she saw it as partnering with God.  Today she can buy school supplies for her children and is in a better position to even financially support the work of God in her church.

    SilverfishAnother testimony from this church relates to two women, whose husbands were drunks.  These women had quit their jobs because of criticisms that the work they were doing was "carnal" rather than serving God.  After attending the DML training, these women took back their jobs selling "silverfish."  Today they are sharing the gospel at their jobs, supporting their families without stress and they are even able to contribute to the church.

    Pastor Henry also expressed his excitement at the way DML is empowering his members.  He testified of how he had always given money to his church members for business investment, but they just kept experiencing losses.  Now, with the training DML is providing, these members are being empowered to do business profitably, for the glory of God.

    Ethiopia - How good customer service and setting the right boundaries are impacting businesses.

    Taju Lila is a businessman who lives in a town called Mizan Tepi, which is about 700 km from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.  He is one of the DML trainers in that town.  He has given this testimony:
    "Before this DML training, I had been providing services to many people daily.  And because my business was in the capital city of that administrative zone, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people.  At first, I had more customers than any other businessperson in that area.  But the way I handled fellow Christians and people with good behavior versus the way I dealt with others, was completely different.  I did favors for the people I loved and ignored those I did not love. "My competitor was a Muslim merchant whose shop was close to mine.  He did not have as much capital as me, and when he started he had very few customers.  But he treated all of his customers with great courtesy and always had a smile for them.  After five years, his business had grown five times bigger than my own.  Today he is a wealthy and well-respected businessman in the city.  In the meantime, my business was declining."When I began taking the DML training, I began to compare myself to that Muslim man.  All of a sudden, I realized that my problem was in customer handling.  My weak customer service approach made me unsuccessful in business.  People even told me that I used to discriminate between Christian and non-Christian customers.  Of course, I didn't consider myself a servant of all customers.  But after attending this training, my attitude on customer relations was absolutely challenged and changed.  I started to see every customer with a different perspective - as equal and deserving of the same excellent service.  This has made me competent, successful, and created an opportunity to meet many customers and share Christ with them.  Also, this training helped me to teach, challenge, and help other Christian businesspeople to have better business practices.  I am grateful to God for DML and I want to thank God for providing me with this golden chance."Our goal is that we do our work as unto the Lord, with the purpose of helping people flourish - all people, not just the ones we like.  I love that this businessperson caught on to that and is realizing the fruit of "loving his neighbor" in terms of being able to build relationships and share his faith.  May we all do our work as an act of worship this week and help people to flourish wherever we serve!

    Morning Dedication
    In all I do this day, In all I think and sayFather, be with me all the way.
    In all my work and all my deeds,In all I learn,In all my needs,Christ, go before me,The One who leads.
    In all my work as I do my best,In all that puts me to the test, Spirit, help, and grant me rest.
    (David Adam, "Power Lines")
  • Jesus, First-born Son and Second Father

    August 9 would have been the 65th birthday of my late husband, Bob Reed.  It's been almost ten years since his death, and it's difficult to not wonder what life would have been like for me, for Hannah, for Noah, and for many others, had he not left so soon.  But lately, I've been thinking about his death in light of the life of Jesus and the death of his own earthly father.

    Mark 6:3 says, "He's just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon.  And his sisters live here among us."

    Joseph is not mentioned in this verse.  The last we hear of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, was when Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem at the age of twelve.  After that, Scripture is silent about what happened to him.  Many speculate that Joseph died shortly after he is last mentioned.

    I wonder how old Jesus was when he lost his father.  I think of Hannah and Noah who lost their father at the tender ages of 15 and 14.  Was Jesus around the same age as them?

    He was the oldest son with quite a number of siblings.  In North America, that doesn't have much meaning, but the rest of the world still understands what that means.  It means you are responsible for your mother and siblings.  In Nigeria, the oldest son is called the "second father."  If Jesus was the oldest, and let's guess he might have been 15 by the time of Joseph's death, there were at least four brothers and maybe an equal number of sisters younger than him.  That is quite a number of mouths to feed, and I'm sure he shared that responsibility with his mother.

    The way that he was likely to do raise the money to care for the family would have been through the family business, the carpentry shop. By the time Joseph died, I would speculate that Jesus was well-versed in the family business.  He would have understood the craft, having grown in "wisdom and stature."  He would have probably learned how to not hit his thumb with a hammer and how to pull splinters from his hands.  He would have learned the art of supply and demand.  He would have learned customer service.  He would have learned how to deal with the competition. He would have understood sales.  He may have had to repossess a table or two from those who didn't complete payment.  As "second father," he would have had to teach his younger brothers the trade as well.

    I've wondered why Jesus waited to start his ministry at the age of 30.  Could it be that he was waiting until his younger siblings were all independent and cared for? Is it possible that the wedding of Cana (where his mother played the role of the host) was possibly his last sister and the turning of water into wine a celebration of the successful launching of all his siblings, freeing him to launch his ministry?

    With all this wondering, I then understand better the significance of Jesus on the cross, looking down on his mother.  In one of his final acts, he cares for his mother by asking for John to carry on for him, as a son.  What a close relationship Jesus must have had with his mother - losing Joseph, raising the other children, struggling with a family business...the relationship with the oldest son in this context must have been very close indeed.

    It makes me think of the day after Bob died with new wonder.  I will never forget that day, as Noah told me, "Mom, I think it's time we move on."  I've chuckled at this comment over the years, asking if it would be okay if I at least had 48 hours.  But as I've considered Jesus and the relationship he had with his mother, this comment from Noah has taken on much more significance to me. This was not a statement of insensitivity - rather it showed his desire to step in to be a caretaker and help his mom -  to try to get her to stop crying.  I had to fight to NOT let him take care of me.  I wanted him to still be a "normal" teenager (whatever that means).  But that instinct was there in him and showed up consistently over the years.

    When I think of Noah's instinct, it makes me even more keenly aware of the emotions at the cross between Jesus and Mary.  It makes me choke up if I let it.

    But more than anything, it makes the passage from Hebrews 4 all the more significant.  We have a High Priest who understands our troubles.  He understands what my children went through in losing a father.  He understands having to raise and provide for children - his siblings.  He understands working with his hands and running a small business.  He understands the depth of relationships between a parent and child.

    So we can come boldly to His throne.  Hallelujah!  What a Savior!
    Hebrews 4: 14-16 (NLT)   So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.