Is It Bad to Be an Emotional Christian?

There are people who believe there is a flaw in God’s design. I was once one of them.

I remember the first time a spiritual leader accused me of being emotional. I was a teen so, in his defense, it wasn’t a huge leap. Also, I was crying and distraught when I arrived in his office with questions of a theological nature.

What had moved me to tears? It was the week leading up to Easter and I’d been considering what Jesus endured in the final week of his life.

Betrayal. Arrest. Abandonment by His followers – His friends. Rigged trials. Humiliation. Beatings. Rejection by His own people. Flogging nearly to death. The long walk to Calvary. Crucifixion. This was the Jesus I’d loved since I was a child and as I considered all He’d endured to pay the price for my sins, it moved me to tears. Continue Reading →

The Best Way to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

united-states-1195790_640“Before I was humiliated I was like a stone that lies in deep mud, and he who is mighty came
and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high and placed me on the top of the wall.” – St. Patrick
To celebrate St. Patrick is to celebrate the power of the One True God who continues to work in those of us stones that lie in modern mud.
Irish raiders stole Patrick from his family, enslaving him for six years until he escaped back to his family in Britain.  After entering the church, Patrick returned to Ireland – to the people who had held him in slavery  – serving them as a missionary and spreading the truth of Jesus Christ.
Today, before you don the green, cook up the corned beef, or raise a pint, consider those who have committed wrongs against you – those who perhaps held your spirit captive  – and choose, like St. Patrick, to forgive them, even to reach out to them, serve them, in the power of the name of Jesus Christ.
People harmed many of us in our youth. Like St. Patrick who was taken captive or Joseph, the dreamer, sold by his brothers into slavery,
we experienced harm and a certain type of bondage that interrupted our direct track to growing as we thought we should. St. Patrick and Joseph both found the power of God to be stronger than the power of those who had done them wrong.
They overcame through the spirit of Jesus Christ and not only broke free but forgave those who wronged them. Rather than being crippled by their captors, they translated their experiences into the language of God’s love and wove it into a greater story. 
To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is to celebrate a kind of freedom that many still have not experienced. The freedom to forgive those who have harmed us and to live our lives defined – not by them – but by our devotion to the truth and to Jesus Christ.
It isn’t an easy path. But it is possible path. Jesus. Jesus is the Way. 
Ask Patrick. He found the road. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. A celebration of those, freed by Christ, who spent their freedom serving others.
You long to be effective in your faith. You want to slay the giants in your life. You’ll want to read this book. Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life).

The Secret Fear Many of You are Tired of Hiding

Many of you harbor a secret fear. I know, because I harbor it, too. This fear keeps us silent when we would speak. It holds us back from a more verbal witness of our faith, a firmer explanation of our beliefs about people’s sinful behavior, or approaching a sensitive topic with loved ones.

The fear stifles our voices, muzzles our testimonies, and leaves us feeling less than authentic during public (and often private) conversations. We desperately want to overcome this fear for many reasons, but mostly because of love.

Touchy subjects come up in conversation at school, work, family events, church meetings, over coffee with friends, or on social media. Our immediate reflex is to retreat. We’re like conversational turtles. Continue Reading →

Christians Sentenced to Death – What Difference Does It Make to Us?

**Warning: This post may make you feel bad. ***Warning: That feeling may be appropriate.

There are moments in life that feel like a swift slap in the face.

No one courts that. No one wants to feel that pain. But, if it’s a slap that rearranges your priorities to align with God’s heart, then you will thank God even for that bracing offense.

I received that slap in 2014 when I read a report that Kim Jong-un had ordered the execution of thirty-three Christians reported to have been planting over 500 underground churches in North Korea. I receive the same slap when I read of the struggles of Syrian, Nigerian, Pakistani, Chinese, and Indian believers. Many struggle to literally hold onto life because they’ve chosen to follow Jesus. Continue Reading →

Sometimes Sin is a Sign

Sometimes we lose it with people.

It takes a lot. We’re not quick to anger. We’re the ones called to patient endurance, long-suffering, and persistence. We’re the people tasked with teaching, counseling, shepherding, discipling, and leading. We usually like people, even the challenging ones.

We’re realistic. We anticipate slow growth. We expect setbacks. We’re prepared for barriers, excuses, and restarts. All day. Every day. Continue Reading →

When You Have to Do What’s Impossible to Do

“I could never do what you’re doing.”

I’ve heard that line many times over the past six years.

My reply is always the same. “Neither can I.”

Many of you face unexpected circumstances, tragedies, or trials you wouldn’t choose for yourself in the great box store of life choices. You’ve also likely heard the comment from others. “I could never do what you’re doing.”

One of the more public tests I’ve endured began in 2011 when my husband “surprised” me with the purchase of his “dream.” We’re in our seventh year living inside this century-old dream he’s restoring with his own hands. For most of this time, I’ve lived without benefit of walls, floors or ceilings (you know, the frame is there but not the nifty coverings like wall board or flooring.) Continue Reading →

The Problem with You Christians Is . . .

There were times Jesus drew people to Himself, and times when He drove them away. Truths He told that inspired people to love Him, and truths He told that incited them to kill Him.

While Jesus certainly listened to people and we know by His actions that He loved them, I don’t get the impression He checked in with them frequently to ask how He was doing. He didn’t have the disciples hand out response cards or run polls with certain demographics to see if He should tell more stories this week or hit harder on the love thing, but pull back a bit on hell.

Jesus wasn’t one to check His reflection in every mirror. He was the image of only One – God the Father – and that’s the only mirror that mattered. Continue Reading →

Let’s Not Pretend – Not Even for a Moment

Let’s not pretend, even for a minute, that God’s Word isn’t powerful, dangerous, and newsworthy.

Let’s not be shocked at the headlines, the Twitter feeds, or the backlash.

Let’s not, even for a minute, act as though reciting God’s Word in public should be greeted with the same response as quoting famous poetry or prophets or politicians. It won’t be, because it’s not just words. It is the Word of God.

Conventional news and social media is abuzz that Melania Trump opened the president’s Florida rally by reciting the Lord’s Prayer, based on Jesus’ instructions on prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.

Critics pounced on her with complaints ranging from the predictable charge that it violated the separation of church and state to the ridiculous claim that the fact she had to read it rather than recite it from memory indicates she’s not a good Christian. Continue Reading →

Why Christians Must Be Relentless about This One Thing

There are plenty of debatable issues among Christians. Valid topics on which reasonable believers disagree. The life of a Jesus-follower is marked by freedom from judgment and condemnation because of the work of Jesus on the cross, so we should give one another a wide berth.

There’s one subject, however, on which the Bible is clear: the Jesus-follower’s relationship with hate.

Hatred can find no quarter in the body of Christ and we must be relentless on this front. The Bible warns that there will come a time when the love of many will grow cold and that people will fall away, betray, and hate one another. (Matthew 24:10-13) Jesus is describing a time of spiritual and interpersonal ugliness that permeates even the visible church. Anyone who’s had a taste of it already cringes at the recollection. Continue Reading →