The man sat on the park bench staring. No joy from the children in the park. No interest in the chess tournament at the tables to the left.
Jesus settled beside him and elbowed him in the ribs. “What gives, John? Why the long face?”
John shrugged. “I just thought I was building something, you know.”
“What did you think you were building?” Continue Reading →
We aren’t the first people to be angry about what’s become of their society. We aren’t the first to sense a cultural shift we foresee as cataclysmic. We aren’t the first to wrestle with how to respond.
In the days of Herod, King of Judah, God’s people suffered under Roman rule. They lived in the shadow of an oppressive political climate, a stifling religious atmosphere, and a culture teetering between martial law and moral license. There were impossible standards set for some and hedonistic abandon allowed for others. Even within their own ranks, God’s people disagreed about how to respond.
Zealots plotted. Rulers compromised. Tax collectors cooperated. Some quietly resisted. While still others kept their heads down and their hearts guarded hoping no one would notice as they humbly practiced their faith and waited for Messiah to come. Continue Reading →
We live like twitchy rodents raised in a labyrinthine minefield, constantly fearful of setting off a social or cultural IED.
A reader emailed me a link to an article about new curriculum mandated for public schools in California. Curriculum which has the potential to create a hostile atmosphere for families with a biblical worldview. She asked if I could write something about how Christians can navigate and be salt and light in our public schools. It’s not just schools. In workplaces, employees are required to take specialized training covering a myriad of social concerns. Transgender sensitivity training, LGBT education, gender spectrum orientation, cultural awareness and hate speech warnings have become standard.
I confess I’m pretty lame at working my way through this cornfield. I’m as twitchy as the next Christian. Maybe more. I work in social service in Rhode Island. When I explained to one state social worker that a family were evangelical Christians, the worker replied, “What kind of whacko fringe group is that?” At the time, I laughed it off but that happened over four years ago and the escalating atmosphere is making it harder to laugh. Some meetings open with a round of applause when legislation I don’t support passes into law and I’m the only one not clapping. State trainings on cultural sensitivity where the only culture it’s okay to mock is mine. Discussions of community resources where people exchange glances at my mention of one or two churches that may be helpful. Yeah, it’s getting weird out here. Continue Reading →
**So privileged to bring you my friend, Robin Luftig’s interview. She is truly a giant-slayer of the first order and I’m honored to have her friendship in my life. The title of her website (https://robinluftig.com/) says it all: Not only Surviving, but Thriving. Her testimony is proof that we can not only defeat the giants in our lives, we can thrive in the midst of the battle. God can use us when we’re prepared for the fight and also when we’ve been knocked down. Here is this week’s interview with a giant-slayer”
Describe the giant in your life and how you overcame:
My life was a good one. Wonderful children. Loving husband. Not a care in the world. I had spent years of making bad decisions but I knew I had turned a corner and my relationship with Christ had given me a new direction, a new purpose. But on the night of April 1, 2011, my life was held in the balance. Continue Reading →
You felt it, didn’t you?
When meteorologists began predicting the size and path of Hurricane Matthew and we could all see Haiti was going to take a devastating hit. I felt so weary. I knew without any doubt that I could not care about this tragedy or feel it as much as I did the earthquake.
I wanted to close my eyes and ears to pretend I didn’t know that so many people would lose every inch of ground they’ve recovered since 2010. I also knew I wouldn’t be alone in my weariness. Of the millions of Americans stirred in 2010, only a portion will likely rally to support the aid they’ll require once they assess the damage done by Matthew.
And I could do that, too – switch the channel, turn off the radio, refuse to read the news, ignore the cries of a nation. In all honesty, I want to do that. I have my hands full. I meet with American poor every day. My husband and I have problems. There are people in my own family, my church, my community who need my support. I could just stick with them. I may actually help solve some of their problems and I like the feeling of being a problem solver. I don’t like the feeling that all my effort and resources are a drop in the bucket, often futile, feeling ineffective and useless, a drink offering.
But, I represent Jesus. And that makes all the difference. Continue Reading →
People these days seem to imagine that Jesus would be laid back and cool.
We appropriate a twisted version of grace that says Jesus came to say “It’s okay, man. You’re fine. I love you. Follow me and don’t change a thing about you.” Because of this, we’re drawn to the preacher with skinny jeans, mussed hair, excellent graphics, and sermons that make us laugh but we shun the uptight church lady who’s always harping about obedience and knowing the Bible.
If we had a deck of Christian flashcards and their photos were placed in front of us asking, “point to the Pharisee,” most of us would pick the uptight church lady and we would not necessarily be right. On the other side, God will reveal the Pharisaical robes of some of those cool preachers and He’ll reveal the heart of love exuding from some of those uptight church ladies. Continue Reading →
My friend and your sister in Christ, Kate Hinke, entered hospice care this week. She has lived for Jesus, passionate about furthering God’s kingdom on earth and representing Him well in every aspect of her life. I wrote this post earlier this summer when she let me know the cancer treatments weren’t working. It’s here again today because others facing similar trials have found it touched them, It’s here because school children were shot in South Carolina. It’s here to ask you to pray for Kate and her family in the weeks to come. – mercy and grace, Lori
We don’t all get the miracle.
We know this. We know, because we’ve lived on this planet, that not every prayer is answered the way we want, that not every Christian lives a rosy existence this side of glory, that some of us die young despite every intercession.
It doesn’t sit well, though, does it?
When God’s faithful ones endure relentless trial, when they suffer, when they don’t receive the check in the mail or deliverance from the sword or cure from the disease or rescue at the last minute, we don’t handle it well. We weep, we plead, we rail, we protest, we agonize, we go silent, we grieve, and we ask questions. Why, God? Why Holy Father? Where were you for this daughter? Why did you not protect this son? Continue Reading →
There are Christians who are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and then there are touchy religious people who take offense at every turn. Which we are, is largely up to us.
I once met with a group of writers who love writing but don’t follow Jesus. I learned from them and we enjoyed one another’s work. One night, we discussed a scene from one of my novels. An older writer asked why I didn’t have the veteran detective swear. I summarized the standards of Christian publishers for fiction. When I concluded, she looked at me with honest concern and asked, “Wow, exactly how fragile are you people?” Continue Reading →
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 →
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 →