We All Need to Prepare for What’s Coming this Weekend

butterfly-1518060_640Thinking about phoning it in at church this weekend? I’ve done that.

Hey, it’s just a regular worship day. Nothing special happening, right? Lots of people don’t even go to church. Not expecting much to happen. Is anyone? It’s not like it’s revival week or Easter.

There is One who’s expecting something to happen. Every week when His people gather, on whatever day they gather, He arrives with expectation. He has that perspective because He has the view of what’s truly going on.

It’s more than us progressing through the order of worship. If we had His eyes, we’d show up expecting something to happen, too, because something IS happening.

Sure, people come seeking God. Many churches are seeker-friendly, motivated by love for those who have yet to know Jesus. It’s good to reduce barriers and make it welcoming. Church should be a place we encourage questions, where the lost can come as they are, as we all have, to discover Christ’s truth, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and the love that leads to repentance. Amen?

But, when the people of God meet to worship, it’s a more than a place for seekers. Much more. On any given day of worship, church is a gathering of warriors, of poets and priests, of God-explorers, of seed-sowers and harvesters, of kingdom pioneers staking outposts of glory, of the royal family seeking face-time with their father-king. Did you think you were just going to church? Oh no, loved ones, that’s a pale title for a rich and powerful convocation. Continue Reading →

The One Tradition All Christians Should Observe

footballGod asks us to do the impossible.

In these days, these days of abusers, users, addicts, enablers, entitled mindsets, terrorists, and anti-Christian worldviews, in these days He refuses to release us from the command to love.

How are we supposed to do that? Seriously, most days we look like chumps. Smart money in 2016 is not on people who love. The point spread of this generation falls to those who keep up their guard, hold their love close to their vests, invest love prudently in a chosen few who prove themselves capable of receiving love responsibly, and reciprocating by changing then loving in return.

We cannot love like God (although that is the call). God loves lavishly, extravagantly, with no thought to return. He loves with patience, kindness, humility, without demand, without irritability or resentment. His love is never rude. Continue Reading →

Why Don’t You Just Give Up, Old Woman?

writer-1342524_640

The old woman lived in a village filled with people. She loved them all (well, she tried to love them all. She succeeded with some more than the others; but then, she was a woman who needed Jesus every day. And, she never did stop trying.)

So, every day, she studied the Book of truth about Jesus and every day she spoke with Him in prayer and then listened very hard for His still, small voice. Through reading the Book and listening to Him, she understood that His powerful truth wasn’t just her truth; it was a truth for everyone in the village (because after all, if a thing is true, it is The Truth, even a little child can know this). Someone had once told her the truth and now she had the wondrous adventure of knowing Jesus. She knew what Jesus wanted was for her to tell the truth to the people of the village.

So, she did. Continue Reading →

The Art of Hard Conversations

dee-1206892_640Do you avoid hard conversations? Do you have an aversion to speaking the truth when it’s unpleasant? That’s not uncommon.

Me, I have an aversion to yeast. I think it’s creepy when you add the warm water to a packet of yeast and it bubbles as it begins to activate. Totally creeps me out.

Here’s the thing. Within the forces of darkness, there are expert political operatives. These operatives aren’t concerned with the election of presidents but with the election of lies to the office of truth. They then promote these lies, like yeast, throughout the body of Christ.

Humans can take anything good and twist it to where it isn’t. That’s no secret. We can hijack the simplest commands of Christ and make a mess of them. As the family of God, we live within a framework of grace and redemption so when we create a mess, we can receive correction and try again. Of course, there’s fall out, but there’s also restoration. That is truth. Continue Reading →

What Responsibility Do Christians Bear for ISIS?

child-1154951_640I faced a hard question this week. It came to me on my knees.

So much conversation is in the air about who is responsible for ISIS. What president is most to blame for their existence? Which candidate is most likely to eradicate them? What nation should be addressing them? How does our culture contribute to their recruitment of some Americans and other Westerners?

How does the world protect Christians living in their shadow? Furthermore, how does the world protect Christians living under North Korean persecution or Chinese oppression? We should be addressing all these questions but for Christians, there is a more important question to ask: Continue Reading →

Twin Giants (Interview with a Giant-Slayer #4)

Jesus-and-Beanstalk-Meme-4Sometimes giants come in pairs. In order to face and forgive the giant who abused her, Pam had to face down the inner giant of fear. God didn’t leave her alone with either one. I’m grateful to Pam Halter for her willingness to be transparent and brave in sharing the story of the day she faced down twin giants – one external and one internal.

Describe the giant in your life and how you overcame:

Twenty years ago, I was a fairly new Christian. I had grown up in church, but until then, hadn’t understood about the relationship a believer needs to have with the Lord. That year, I learned the photographer for my daughter, Anna’s, special needs preschool was the ex-husband who had abused me physically, verbally, emotionally, and sexually. I still lived in fear of him. Continue Reading →

How to Survive a Pharisee Apocalypse

hands-984032_640Do you know how to survive a zombie apocalypse? Within the church, we’re at much higher risk for a more dangerous contagion. Let me start with a little story.

Once, I worked with a mother who requested help. She’s on her own with no extended family and was struggling to know how best to manage her children. So, she did the right thing and reached out for support.

The problem being that support arrived like the invasion of Normandy on D-Day.

One program arrived bringing its staff and they decided she’d benefit from a second program with their staff who referred her to programs three and four with their staffs. Finally, everyone received messages from the frantic mother: “I know you all meant well but please stop helping now! Two weeks ago, I was only overwhelmed with my children. Now, I’m overwhelmed with all of you, too!” Continue Reading →

I Invite You to Desolation, RSVP (or God’s Own Area 51)

decay-1209997_640Desolate.

Deserted of people, and in a state of bleak and dismal emptiness.

Do you know the place of desolation? Have you spent time there?

Geographically, I’ve encountered some extremely desolate places. Spiritually, I can testify that Desolation is also a spot on the map of my soul’s geography. Many of you have sojourned there, too. People are familiar with desolation that occurs when one is rejected but we can visit desolation even at times when others surround us and their accolades fall on our ears.

I read an article that didn’t surprise me about an actress who felt winning an Oscar only served to show her the emptiness of her life as she was facing the desolation of divorce. I’m reading a book now but a Christian brother who was highly successful in a Christian field but found his soul deep in desolation even as he accomplished much for the kingdom of God.  Continue Reading →

When You Become a Medical Mystery (Interview with a Giant-Killer #3)

I am rereading the Gospel of Mark as I frequently do, and have been impressed with Jesus’ show of authority over all things during His ministry on earth. Now, in these interviews with giant-killers, we are reading testimonies that He continues to exercise that authority. Interview #1 demonstrated His authority over sin. Interview #2 demonstrated His authority over violent abuse. In this week’s interview, we read of His authority over illness. Aaron Gansky is a dear friend – one of those people I instantly knew was a kindred spirit and would be my friend for life. I read his short novel, The Bargain, three years ago and I still think about at least once a month. It was that powerful. Here is Aaron’s giant story:

doctor-1149149_640Describe the giant in your life and how you overcame:

It came spinning, setting the whole world in unceasing motion. This was more than simple dizziness or vertigo. It was a nauseating momentum that put me at the center of a spinning galaxy. Here I was, shortly after our youth group meeting, and I couldn’t stand up, couldn’t even sit up without falling over. I lay down, hoping the spinning would stop, but it didn’t. It intensified.

That’s when I lost my strength. Once the spinning subsided, I couldn’t walk on my own power. I had to lean against walls, have people support me, as if I’d run three consecutive marathons. I’d never experienced a weakness, a fatigue of this sort, and I was only twenty at the time. Continue Reading →

Will I Be Alone at the Lunch Table? (Thank You, Tosca Lee)

education-662458_640Will I be alone at the lunch table?

Remember wondering that? As the photos of children returning to school or jumping on the bus for the first time flit across my Facebook feed, the memories flood back.

I loved school. Learning was a joyful and effortless pursuit for me. Books were my haven, writing my gift, and I understood math at least long enough to pass a test. New school shoes, paper bag book covers, and shiny unblemished notebooks were like Christmas stockings and Easter egg baskets.

But also, through those years, I was alone all the time. Even surrounded by classmates. Even on a busy playground. Even in a cafeteria full of peers. I was always alone. Continue Reading →