The Sweetest Promise of All

At some point in our spiritual journey we will be required to hold fast and take God at his word when circumstances give cause for doubt and room for disappointment and angst. People hold this silly notion that a life of faith means it becomes easy, plans fall into place, doors fly open, everything we touch turns to gold, people will accept and understand us and that love will come waltzing in to save the day – every single time.

We cannot fall prey to the idea that tangible, material blessing is the primary evidence of God’s blessing. Yes, on occasion he shows up in a grand way and it takes our breath away. But like it or not, we cannot say there is substance to our faith and proven commitment to the Lord until we’ve walked through the silence, the darkness, the desert, wilderness or any extended season of what seems like unanswered prayer wherein our dependence upon the Lord alone grew and our fleshly aspirations and desires took a back seat to our desire to draw near and remain faithful, come-what-may. Continue reading

And, the Enemy Snickers With Delight

There is no special skill required to criticize people. You don’t need education to be a fault finder. There are no spiritual gifts that qualify people to condemn others nor wisdom in expecting them to fail.

While some of us are worse than others – we all do it to some degree or another. Pretty much every single one of us does. We may hold it in except for rare occasions or keep it between us and the people (person) we are closest with or it could be our natural bent and every conversations manages to turn into people bashing.

It’s part of our unredeemed nature. In some cases it may be part of what we need to do in order to process through hurt.

Although we obviously get some degree of satisfaction when we’ve exposed someone or release from pain because a hurt has been poisoning our ability to love people – I’m certain the Lord chooses not to participate in such conversations. Continue reading

Face it Full On!

An easy life is not an indication of God’s blessing. In fact, it may be an indicator that we’re keeping God at a comfortable distance behind a protective bubble of “this far but no further”.

The Holy Spirit, who expresses the life of God in and through us, is a gentleman and never forces his will or his presence. We must desire and seek his influence in our days. If we long to know the heart of the Father there will be times the reflection in the spiritual mirror will be ugly and unbecoming – even as we are swallowed by mercy and reminded of the true beauty that comes only through redemption.

We are naturally bent toward self-satisfaction, pride, lust, greed, judgment, indulging physical appetites, fear, criticism, dishonest and life provides ample situations and moments to exposes these hidden thorns rooted in a heart that belongs to him. Recognizing this is one of the keys to growth and transformation. If we are satisfied with who we are (or at least the image we project) we will never look close enough to see. Continue reading

Inspiration vs. Revival

There are so many things that inspire us. Inspiration can revive us from all sorts of apathy – the kind that leads to chaos in the home, debt, weight gain, faded romance, isolation, frustration, discontent, excuse making and settling. The kind that stirs us to pick up what we’ve let go of, stop what’s out of control, alter or focus and direction, reach for our longings we’ve kept at bay and find the strength to make the changes that lead to a better life.

I trip over this regularly. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Or is it?

External inspiration pales in comparison to the internal revival that comes from heaven and rises from within. Inspiration is not the same and renewed passion ignited by a spark that flying off of a heart inflamed with eternity. I am desperate for people like that in my life and to be that person for others.

This is the life we are called to. The life in conflict with the ambitions of pride and flesh; the life that stands in contrast to what is pleasing to man; the life we continually allow to be doused by the cares and distractions of the world. Continue reading

My Wish and My Prayer

I wish that I could wrap you in my arms, hold you close and protect you from injustice and deception in the world. I wish that I could kiss your sweet face and prevent every tear from spilling over. I wish that I could always keep you safe from hurt and storms and scars. I wish that I could carry you in the sun and expose you only to the beauty of love, sunsets, friendship and laughter, never allowing your eyes to look upon evil, devastation or death. I wish that I could promise you will only know friends who never betray, lover who never leave, hope that never diminishes, faith that never questions and certainty that never wavers. I wish that I could shield you from frightening news, disappointment, loneliness, fear, the struggle to find purpose and pain that occasionally rips through our stories.

We are powerless to stand against every wave that collides with the shores of humanity. They will come crashing over us when we least expect.

No matter what circumstances arise that challenge you during your journey (yesterday, today or tomorrow) – the prayer always echoing through my soul for you with those moments, times and seasons is:

For a heart overflowing with compassion, eyes that see yourself through his, grace to forgive and live forgiven, lips that delight to praise, a soul confident in the knowledge of God, a spirit strong in the faith, strength that endures in service, a mind set on eternity, a will content to obey, passion to live unashamed of the gospel, integrity that refuses to compromise, joy that sustains through every season, a voice that speaks life, a face set like flint toward higher purposes, ears that recognize the call, a determination to act justly, light that envelopes the darkness night, hope that overcomes every fear, dreams to carry you through, wisdom to guide you, peace to restore you, comfort that guards your heart, love that makes you whole, assurance when doubt interferes and devotion that pours itself out as a fragrant and pleasing offering.

This is my greater wish – for you.

How Faith Says Goodbye

Who drives 5 hours to “crash” a memorial service for someone they came to know through a transparent, heartfelt blog their husband had been writing for 20 months whose wife (and entire family) were walking through the valley of incurable brain cancer? That would be me. I was utterly compelled. Read Blog Here

It was a profoundly spiritual gathering. Time stood still as I drank in what was shared and the emotion that swelled in unison in waves across the mass of people gathered. I found myself catching my breath repeatedly and wiping away tears as if the loss were mine.

Can death be beautiful? Can someone’s life withering away to a ravaging disease like cancer create delight and glory and worship? Can an untimely death provide the opportunity for a brave woman and her loving family to exemplify the desire to “decrease” and the power of God and love of Jesus to “increase” spilling out to everyone they knew? Yes and amen.

Jenny was adamant that this gathering not be an about her, even though everyone there gathered to celebrate her life. She lived well, loved abundantly, fought cancer vigilantly and surrendered ultimately to her savior’s embrace with grace, dignity, thankfulness and hope that never wavered. Her entire life pointed everyone she knew to Jesus, to her final days.

She did not want to be spoken of and insisted that her pastor, 2 of her 5 children and her sister (who biked cross-country in her honor to raise money for a cure for brain cancer) focused on the redeeming work of God through her and not any “good” in her. She was a humble woman who knew the best in her was him.

2014-06-22 20.11.17Ironic what we so vigorously pursue and what remains when the sands of time run through the sieve of death are profoundly opposed to one another. Her physical beauty was mentioned only briefly, in light of the eternal beauty that increased as her body failed and physical appearance faded with the side effects of cancer and chemo. No one ever mentioned the size of her home, the fitness of her body, the style of her clothing, her level of education, what career she pursued, her extent of travel or any of her talents (like cooking or sewing or painting).

Every word shared pointed exclusively toward her love for God, her faith in his goodness, her love for others, her natural ability to disciple and mentor others through relationship, her appetite for scripture and her passion for expressing her relentless, unwavering confidence and trust in God. No one ever brought up denomination, church attendance or any church activity she was involved in.

Although I have never experienced this kind of traumatic loss and she would never have chosen to leave the love of her life of 26 years nor her 5 beautiful, adult children knowing she would never see them marry or become parents, she longed for Jesus, yearned to be in his company face to face and worship unhindered by time, flesh and death or dying. She committed her family to Jesus and let go leaving ripples of joy and peace and comfort.

I wish I had known this woman. I wish we had been friends. But, in her passing even I gained from the light that shone through her life, illness and passing.

I walked away deeply moved, spiritually inspired and emotionally encouraged that making the one thing – the one thing is the only way to live without regret.

Thread Pickers

Very broadly speaking there are two types of people – those who are bent toward pulling the loose threads further unraveling a weakness or elements of insecurity in others and those who recognize the beautiful vulnerability of such flaws and serve to weave them back into the other person’s story helping them find their way to strength and courage.

Our voice, influence and impact in each others lives is the greatest resource we have been given.

I’m not saying everyone must accept every bizarre oddity and quirky trait about everyone else. There will always be people we don’t mesh well with and those with whom, try as we may, we simply clash. That’s human nature even among believers. It’s about motive and the ultimate goal for our words and actions as instruments of redemption or tools of destruction. It cannot be both.

I was offended by someone recently. I own my childish response; I recognize the toxic emotion that I allowed to fester. I accept the fantasy of an expectation from someone not based on first-hand experience. I admit to giving this individual‘s response to my reach (or in this case lack of response) more power than warranted and I gave into disappointment…. To be honest, I stewed about it all day.

2013-07-06 11.52.07Eventually a “word picture” came to me. I saw a loose thread hanging off my soul and immediately I recognized this person as a “thread picker”. I’m sure he isn’t that with everyone, few people are. But he was with me and he used an opportunity to make a difference or be an influence to send a very clear message of indifference. Continue reading