Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Good News! Reaching for Wonder ...

Hi Friends,

Some good news today ... I'm signing a contract for my next book, REACHING FOR WONDER, Encountering Christ When Life Hurts (that's the working title so far). I'm very excited to delve deeply into the one-time encounters with Christ in the New Testament and see what it really means to come face to face with Jesus in the hardest, most painful moments of our lives.

Here's a little excerpt from the beginning of chapter one, about one leper and his big "if."  So, for anyone who has ever said "if" to God, you aren't alone ...

EXCERPT:

“If you want, you can make me clean.”
Mark 1:40-45
(also Matthew 8:1-4, Luke 5:12-16)


         If. A tiny word. And yet it holds the world in its hands. If you want. If you are willing. You can make me clean. If ... that single word echoes in my soul, and I know we must start the journey here at if. Not if you can. Not if you have the power. Not even if I do it all right. If you are willing. Lord, are you willing to make me whole?
         I look at the question spoken by this man with a skin disease, a disease that ostracized him from his community, that made him an outcast. I gaze at it long and hard and find there a mirror to my own doubts, my own fears.
         I know God has the strength.
         I know he can do anything.
         But is he willing? Does he want to?
         That’s the question that steals my breath, scratches at my faith.
         So with trembling I begin this journey of encounter. I whisper, “Are you willing, Jesus, to heal me too? Even me, even now. Is your love enough?” Is it enough to conquer my “if”?
         And the leper’s story calls out to me, beckons me closer, whispers of a hope in the storm of doubts, of despair, of disappointments.

         I take one step toward the leper. I take a step toward his fear. In his healing, can I find my own? Will I see that the question is not so much if Christ is willing, but if I am…

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Beauty of Good Friday

Hi Friends,


As I ponder the beauty and wonder of the horror of the God of all the universe hanging on a cross to die for me, I am reminded of something I shared in Wrestling with Wonder ...

EXCERPT:

Can you imagine it? Watching your son arrested, beaten, spat upon, and then nailed to a cross to die? The son you loved, the one you nursed and tickled, the one you cuddled, whose boo-boos you kissed. The one who you gave up all your plans and your former dreams to bear and to raise. The one who was supposed to make all things right again.
            Can you imagine it? What it was like to watch him die?
            Where is mercy? Where is favor? Where is blessedness? Where are all these promises now?
            They are fulfilled.
            Fulfilled!
            In ways Mary never could have dreamed, never would have expected.
            That is the strange dichotomy of the cross, and of our lives. Here, at the cross, in his death, it all comes true. Here, when she is shattered, crushed, broken, is the moment when God is doing something so amazing, so incredible, so wondrous, that she could have never imagined it.  
            In the moment that encapsulates the very epitome of what it means for plans and hopes to go awry, to diein that moment we find the most incredible, wondrous, breathtaking act of God of all time. It is the moment of redemption, of glory, of splendor, of the answer to all the prayers and hopes from the beginning of time until now. It is at that moment that we find the salvation of humankind. The moment that all our dreams came true.
            Jesus cries, “It is finished!” In the Greek, John uses the perfect tense to show that it is completed, for all time, forever, perfectly whole and finished. Christ had finished the work he was sent to do. He had, in that moment, redeemed us all. Forever.
            In the worst moment of her life, when God seemed absent, when all hope had died, God did his most glorious work.
            Commentator R. Kent Hughes relates this story: “A small boy was turning the pages of a book of religious art. When he came to a picture of the Crucifixion he looked at it for a long time, and a sad look came to his face. Finally he said, ‘If God had been there, he wouldn’t have let them do it.’ So the Crucifixion seems—until we understand what it really meant. Then we learn that God was there on the cross. We learn that he willed it. We learn that because of the cross, grace flashed in the lives of Simon the Cyrenian, the daughters of Jerusalem, the crucifying soldiers, the thief, the centurion—and thousands upon thousands since that day.”[1] Because of the cross, grace flashed into the life of Mary herself. Yes, the precise moment when all Mary’s hopes died, when all her plans came to nothing, became the moment of answer. Because of the cross, all generations have called her blessed. At the cross, the Mighty One did the greatest thing he could have done for us. He died for us. Through the cross, his mercy extended to all generations. It was his mighty deed that scattered the proud, lifted the humble, filled the hungry, helped Israel and all the world. In the cross alone do we find ultimate mercy. Just as he promised ... Just as he always promised.
            I think it may often be that way for us as well. That there, at the very place where our dreams don’t come true, where our hopes are shattered, where all we see is deaththat is where God is standing in the greatest power. Those are the moments, the places that change the world, where we find a depth and wonder deeper than we ever dared to dream.



[1] R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word, Luke, Volume 2, That You May Know the Truth (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998),.395.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

In the Midst of Darkness ... Remember This!

Hi Friends,


It's been a hard week. A very hard week. So, as I look forward to preparing my heart for Easter, I am pondering the wonder of the Resurrection. I want to soak in it, live in its beauty not only on April 16th, but everyday. Today. Especially today.

Here's a short excerpt from Wrestling with Wonder that is speaking to my soul. Perhaps it will speak to yours as well:

EXCERPT:
In the silence of a tomb, Jesus comes to life. In the midst of darkness and despair, when hope is dead and buried, glory explodes into our world. Death is defeated, hope reborn.
            The stone is rolled away to reveal a wonder greater, deeper, more wondrous than anyone could have imagined.
            Jesus lives.
            And nothing will ever be the same again.
            Death itself is transformed.
            My heart catches at the thought. Could it be? Could it really be true? Because if it is, then every single hard and horrible thing in my life can also be transformed for his glory. If it is, nothing is impossible. Not anymore.
            A wild hope. A breathtaking beauty.
            In the midst of darkness, on a cold slab, in a death-filled tomb ... Jesus lives.
            In my dark tombs, when all I know is the cold slab of fear, and I can’t imagine anything good coming from this moment ... but Jesus lives.

            Resurrection changes everything.

Easter Activities Booklet for Kids

Hi Friends,

Just a reminder that my little Easter Week Activities Booklet (with lesson and craft ideas for Holy Week) is available for $0.99 on Amazon (or free via Kindle Unlimited). It's just 12 pages and contains the fun activities I often do with my kids during the week prior to Easter.

Here's the link:
http://amzn.to/2mSLxu8

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

On the Murder of Pastor Herb Valero

Hi Friends,
Pastor Herb, from his Facebook page


I’ve just learned of the murder of Victory Outreach Pastor Herb Valdore, who was stabbed in the neck by one of his parishioners when he went outside to pray - TO PRAY - for the man. At first I was horrified by this horrific event. I was rocked by the depravity and evil. But now … now, I’m just mad. Mad! Not so much mad at the man who stabbed Pastor Herb, but mad at evil. Mad at the enemy of our souls who hates every good thing we do, who hates redemption and hope and beauty and wonder and glory. Who hates most of all the hearts that serve our God and King and work to redeem and restore. 

Well, I say, ENOUGH!

I will not let Pastor Herb’s murder cow me into doing any less in my broken community. I refuse to be afraid. Pastor Herb ministered to the most broken of our city. He gave his life for them. We should too.

His life, and his death, stand out like a beacon, declaring that THIS WAR IS REAL. The war against evil, sin, brokenness, hate, and destruction is REAL. The enemy is REAL. And we must NOT let him win. 

Cower in the corner, afraid? I think not! Fear is a tool of the enemy. Time to cinch up our battle gear and pray like we mean it. And not just pray for safety, but pray for the redemption of souls, restoration of lives, and the glory of God in the darkest darkness. Time to get out there and LOVE with more abandon, more fierceness, more joy! Time to fight this battle with the passion of those who know Whose side we’re on and believe the promises of our God.


The enemy used evil to take out a light in our community. I say let ten, twenty, a hundred more lights shine bright, fierce, determined, in his place. Let us stand together and fight with the best weapon we have: The powerful, consuming, fierce love of our God!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Patricia's Story ... A Legacy of Wonder

Hi Friends,


I've just returned from the memorial service of a friend who was such a gift from God to me. Her service, just as her life, was a testimony to the grace and wonder of the God she loved. So, as I grieve and bask in the glow of a life well lived, I wanted to share an excerpt from my latest book, Waiting for Wonder, that talks about Patricia and her legacy of Wonder.

This is from the final chapter:
We become who we really are in the wait. And who we are matters.
            I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve seen it while sitting on a couch next to a friend dying of ALS. I’ve seen it in hands, once nimble, trembling as they barely pecked a computer’s keyboard. I’ve heard it in speech, once clear, once sure, now slurred and halting. I’ve witnessed the truth, the beauty, of a woman who knows how to wait, a woman who changes her world.
            I hadn’t seen her in over a month except across the sanctuary at church. But that day, two friends and I stopped by her house to pray with her. When I walked in the door, I saw that she was thinner than before. And her hug was weaker. But her smile was the same. And her countenance glowed.
            We settled on the couch and asked how she was doing. I expected to hear about how hard it is to live with ALS, about the difficulties of not being able to tie a shoe, button a shirt, type an email, or go on the long prayer-walks she used to love. I’d gone on one of those walks with her and experienced the joy she once took in them. Now she could barely shuffle across the room. I knew I would cry, and I did . . . but not for the reason I’d expected.
            Instead of telling us about the progression of her disease, she asked about me. She asked how was I holding up with Jayden’s new diabetes diagnosis, was I finding time to draw close to God in quietness and solitude, was I able to make space for myself to renew my soul? She told me she had been praying for me. I shared and received her love. Then I received a greater blessing.
            She leaned in, her voice lowered. “I’m so glad you came.” She smiled. “I want to tell you what God has done.” She pulled the computer onto her lap and tapped at it with one shaking finger. Pictures flashed on the screen. Sisters, nieces, relatives who had always been hostile to the love of Christ. She had been praying for them for years, decades, without even the tiniest softening of their hearts toward God. And still she prayed, and waited, and prayed some more. Year after year, decade after decade.
            She pointed to a twenty-something girl on the screen. “You remember my niece? A friend of hers died, and then she heard about my disease. She’s going to church now with that friend’s family. She accepted Christ.” Her face glowed with joy. “And that’s not all. My sister is going to church with her. The sister who wouldn’t even let me talk about God. When she was here visiting me because of my ALS, she asked me if we could go to church.” Then she told us about others who were becoming open to God’s love since her diagnosis. A runaway daughter had come home. Another sibling had been able to talk of God to their aunt. Story after story of loved ones who were opening their hearts to her because of her disease, and so were also opening their hearts to Jesus after years and years of waiting.
            Through this horrific disease, God was moving in ways she’d been praying about for decades. Years of praying and waiting and seeing no movement, and now as ALS ravaged her body and threatened her life, she glowed with the joy of seeing God’s work in the long wait. She was filled with a wonder that ALS could not steal.
            And I wept at the sight of that wonder, the wonder of a faithful servant whose soul was formed in the waiting, a woman dying of ALS and yet filled with such hope that even as her body fails, she glows with the faith of one who knows she’s truly loved.
            And I know that the wait was where the work was done. It was in those years of prayers with no answer that she became this beautiful woman of God, a woman who will leave a legacy of love.
            Not one prayer, not one cry, not one moment of all those years was wasted. God used them all. It all mattered.
            And now God was using the disease that would take her life. And in the midst of it all, she had no regrets. Because when she gave her life to Christ, she meant it. She still does.
         That’s Sarah’s kind of faith. That’s Sarah’s kind of legacy. I am blessed to have seen it. The whole world is blessed.
         That is a life that has waited well. That is a life that changes the world, that blesses the world.

         And I am amazed.