I Will Never Trust Another Hummingbird

hummingbird-1056383_640A tiny hummingbird hovered at the hanging pot of million bells on my porch and I mention it was tiny because it was remarkably small, even for the species. My husband and I watched it dip its proboscis down the throat of the pink flowers, its wings fluttering like a Southern belle’s eyelashes as it darted from bloom to bloom.

After several minutes watching the creature, feeling fortunate it was remaining in sight so long, we both tipped our heads to the right.

“Does that seem off?” my husband asked.

“The shape isn’t quite right, is it?” I responded as I typed in a quick search on my phone for “mini hummingbird.”

“Could it be a baby?” he asked. Continue Reading →

Why Some Christians Enjoy Safety, Health, and Peace

glasses-1004311_640God is never afraid.

He doesn’t fear Somalian warlords, the Zika virus, suicide bombers, desert assassins, inner-city riots, California wildfires, Louisiana floods, lone gunmen, or cancer. The presence of these varying forms of violence, whether manmade, natural, or biological, doesn’t prevent the God of the Universe from being present. It doesn’t chase Him out. He doesn’t exit the building. Even in places where every believer has been shot dead or raped into silence, God can enter in and He often does this on the incense of His people’s prayers. Continue Reading →

Interview with a Giant-Killer: Meet J.J. Johnson

giant-1013693_640Describe the giant in your life and how you overcame:

My story is a simple one. I never tried in school. I just didn’t care. I was busy playing in a punk band and trying to write songs. That was the plan. A record deal, a big tour, signing posters, and t-shirts- I had an epic life all planned out.

When the time for high school graduation came- I walked in the ceremony. I did the entire cap and gown thing. It was the start of something new. Then I discovered the truth. I didn’t graduate. I was a full credit short and my GPA was a joke.

In the few days that followed, I wasn’t sure what to do. I was embarrassed. I felt like a failure. I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide. I started researching how to get my GED. I was certain I would spend the rest of my life working in the Toilet Paper factory. Fortunately, God had different plans. Continue Reading →

The Secret You’ll Hate Me for Telling You

secret-1142327_640I’ve been thinking about the sacrifices of persecuted Christians in other countries you know, in between television shows and restaurant outings.

In wondering about them and what makes them capable of laying down their lives, I’ve also wondered (during breaks from social media and watching the latest Youtube video) what gets in our way that we don’t appear to have the capacity to lay down our daily “to do” list, never mind our lives.

And I was reminded of the seventh degree black belt who owned the karate school where I earned my first degree. One day, he instructed us to do one hundred pushups and several people moaned. (one of them may have been me) Another complained, “Oh sure, one hundred pushups is easy for you. They’ll never be easy for me.” Continue Reading →

When You’re a Total Loser

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Sometimes you think you’re getting somewhere, you know, with this whole growing up in Jesus business.

You’re hitting your Bible regularly and going deep, not just the quick pass over a verse and a thought but digging in and rocking it. Your prayer life is consistent and gets more involved than “Help!” and “Please!” (not that those words don’t feature frequently) They know your face at church and well, you get the point. You’re no soul slouch.

Then, whammo! You hit what is apparently a giant spiritual pothole of what was that? Instead of choruses of praise songs, your mind floods with whispers from the dark side. Continue Reading →

Whiny Baby Sissy-Mary Christians (the call to courage in these times)

pout-1190741_640Outside of this blog, I’m not very brave.

It bothers me when people don’t like me or misunderstand something I’ve said or disapprove of my opinion. I know I have a high tolerance for pain, but if someone made me sit in an uncomfortable chair in a room with nothing to read or do and ignored me, I’d be giving up state secrets in a matter of hours. That’s all to say that what I’m about to write is as challenging for me as it may sound to you.

I believe a time is near when American Christians will endure intensified social persecution but I think we shouldn’t whine about it.

It’s good that there are watchmen and watchwomen who post blogs and news reports about ways that our religious freedoms are being eroded (more quickly every day, it seems) in favor of social agendas and political correctness. I don’t think, though, that we should gather on Facebook or Twitter and bemoan the coming tide or reminisce about the past like a bunch of hand-wringing school marms wondering what to do when the black hats ride into town. Continue Reading →

Our God is an Avenger

sunset-50494_640Dear Yazidi mother,

I cannot imagine your pain.

I’ve read reports of what you’ve endured and can hardly bear to read another. Your husbands and sons murdered, your daughters ripped from your arms and sold to men who tell them their god gives them permission to rape and to enslave. A world feasting on the lurid details of your daughters’ pain but largely helpless to force their way into those dark rooms and carry them to safety. Words, words, words, and here, I add more. I’ve no combat detail at my command, no special forces, no stealth weaponry to deliver them and bring them home. Even worse, I know where my children are. I can see them, hold them, watch their laughter, and hope for their future. What have I to offer you, dear Yazidi mother, except that I know you are out there in unrelenting pain?

You may or may not have heard of my God. I had never heard of your people before ISIS took your daughters. What little I know now has not been from you but from observers half a world away. Forgive me that I neglected to know more until you became a headline. Your plight has spurred me to understand more about the people where you live and become familiar with cultures that are largely unnoticed until calamity strikes. I know the enemy takes advantage of our ignorance and the scarcity of intercession for these unknown peoples. May your children’s pain bring an end to this lack of knowledge and the dearth of believers’ prayers. Continue Reading →

The Evolution of Dragons (or Sometimes a Story is a Sword)

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Fairy tales have evolved. Have you noticed?

I remember thinking that twenty years back when I read a library book to my children about The Gingerbread Man. Do you remember him? “Run, run, as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man.”

In my childhood, the gingerbread man ran from the childless couple who baked him. He kept running from all pursuers, believing himself smarter and faster than everyone else. Finally, the fox outwitted and devoured him. Lesson learned. Don’t run away from your loving home because dangers await those who think they know better.

In my children’s generation’s version, the gingerbread man gets eaten but on the last page, somehow miraculously escapes the stomach of the fox! He learns a wise lesson about the danger of running away but there are no real consequences for his actions.

What? It even annoyed my kids. “That makes no sense. Why would someone even write that story?” my son asked. I wondered that, too. Continue Reading →

The Job Interview Question I Wasn’t Prepared to Answer (but you should be)

blonde-1296489_640At job interviews, I’m prepared to answer just about anything but I wasn’t prepared for the question I heard recently. Not just once, but in a series of interviews for a job I found intriguing.

Conversation flowed. We connected. It was going well. Smiles. Nods. Quiet laughter. Then, a glance at my resume. A mention of my writing –a skill worth noting on a resume. Communication skills a plus. Writing talent a boon. Publication an achievement that speaks to excellence, perseverance, and determination. But, you know, I write for Jesus.

There’s no hiding the nature of my writing (and why would I?) since two of three of my books mention Jesus right in the title – so, it’s out there. Which for me is a gift. It keeps me from hiding in moments when my old sin nature beckons me to slink back to my old ways, to be less than God designed me to be, tempted to place Him in a box. I see a slight eye flicker as the interviewer looks them over. There’s a brief clarification of the genre. Yes, I write for the Christian market.

Another nod and smile, but then, the question. The tone is casual, but the question is not benign: “How will you keep your faith from interfering with your job?”

I’m sorry, what? Continue Reading →

When Christians Disagree

coffee-beans-1082116_640It’s likely that you and I don’t agree on everything.

Theoretically, we know that. Theoretically, we still love one another, you know, because we’re one family under God. Theoretically, we, in the church, form a beautiful tapestry, our differences of opinion devising the colors and textures that give depth to the work of the kingdom. Theoretically, we’re generous, inclusive, and kind even when we disagree.

Face-to-face, though, or in conversation, when we stumble onto one of these IED’s (isolated entities of disagreement), they detonate. We reel from the flash, dodging shrapnel as we try to recover a sense of equilibrium and find solid footing on which to continue our love relationship. It ain’t easy.

It’s ain’t easy because these places where we disagree aren’t just theories. They are the fabric that make the decisions that create our daily lives. They aren’t just theological places of contention between Christians – they determine whom we’ll choose to marry – or not, how we’ll use our gifts, how we’ll treat the most vulnerable among us, and where we will worship. Continue Reading →