The Act of Worship We Must Commit to Impact Charlottesville and Beyond

When the news is full of rumors of war, protests in the streets, senseless deaths on bright summer days, and hatred spewing from every corner, hatemongers sometimes even invoking the name of our Lord to falsely justify their actions, it can be hard to hold on.

But, this is exactly the time not to hide. This is precisely the moment for which we were created and why we were assigned to these times, loved ones. He designed us and chose us to live here and now to represent Him, to inhale His truth and exhale His Words, to stand against the tsunami of deception rising up and threatening to swallow those who deny the existence of a holy and loving God who is coming again. Continue Reading →

The Empire’s New Clothes

skyline-600001_640I’m no prophet but it doesn’t take one to know we’re witnessing a cataclysmic shift in culture.

Terrorists and hostile governments target Christians for regulation, oppression, harassment, arrest, persecution, torture, imprisonment, and death in countries around the world. Anti-Christian rhetoric fuels hateful sentiment here on our own shores. The American church, divinely appointed to love, to serve, to represent Christ stateside wrestles to determine the response that is both loving to our enemies, engaging with the uninformed, and still protective of the most vulnerable of our sheep.

This calls for truth telling both pure and guileless. This is a job for children.

In the famous fairy tale, an emperor rules who loves new clothes. His image is more important to him than his armies, his people, or his lands. What he cares about is what others think of him and how he appears to all.

We, too, are a people obsessed with image. A country of selfie-takers, spin-doctors, makeover channels, image advisors, branding firms, and logo creators all keenly aware of first impressions, photo ops, and curb appeal. Like the emperor, we dwell in an empire whose people have made themselves vulnerable to deceivers through obsessive mirror gazing, self-reflection, and poll taking. Continue Reading →

The Most Arrogant Girl in the Room

Lori 2016She was arrogant, this girl.
I know this because arrogance recognizes its own.
Those of us who wrestle with pride
are immediately irked when there’s another prideful person in the room
because we assume that if we,
of all people,
need to practice humility, certainly
THIS person has no reason for arrogance.
But perhaps I’m being too transparent.
Anyway, she was arrogant and she was in the women’s Bible class I was teaching on spiritual gifts.

Most of the other women were tentative.

When I asked what gift or gifts they thought they had, they demurred, mentioning one,
or perhaps that they were torn between one of two possibilities
 or, perhaps God had overlooked them in the distribution of gifts.
Not this girl.
She ticked hers off on the fingers of one hand and then started on the other.
She explained to us, with heavy sighs, the incredible burden of being a multi-gifted disciple.
The burden being, of course, that there were SOOOOO many things that she COULD do, she was often paralyzed trying to figure out what she should do, torn in a dozen worthy directions.
I felt that I was looking in a mirror and I shuddered at the reflection, humility creeping up on me like a blush.
Inwardly, I prayed for wisdom (and a fresh surge of grace and patience).
He answered.
I asked the class to hold up their hands.
Consider your hand. I instructed them.
Ahh, the multi-gifted hand. Capable of many different skills. Talent upon talent. Gift upon gift. The hand.
The hand can do many different things. What a body part of obvious value!
The women studied their hands.
Some, I could see, felt immediately inferior to their own multi-gifted hands,
she, however, identified with the hand and prepared to receive suitable admiration, worthy of a multi-gifted body part.
Instead, I asked the class to take their multi-gifted hands and place them over their beating hearts.
Ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump.
Consider the singularly gifted, simple, hidden organ – the human heart.
Ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump.
Poor heart. It has only one gift, one function – to pump blood to the other parts.
But if it fails to exercise its one gift,
the results are devastating to the entire body and
the hand falls impotent, becoming good for nothing but burial in the soil from which it was formed.
She was not enlightened by my illustration but bewildered, confused,
wondering, perhaps, if I was not worthy to be her teacher.
The rest of the women, however, smiled like a group portrait of the Mona Lisa,
reassured that God has a vital place for each of them in the Body of Christ.
And in that lesson, the MOST arrogant person in the room learned something, too.
I didn’t like the reflection in the mirror so I decided to take a lesson from the humble heart.

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! God’s Truth Appears in Some Strange Places

Have you ever noticed how beautifully summer competition shows on TV illustrate Biblical truth?

For example, the power of self-delusion is clearly illustrated by the number of whackos who come before the panels of judges with full confidence in a talent they clearly do not possess.

This phenomenon illustrates Psalm 4:2a “How long will you people turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?”

I’ve always wondered at the notion that people could be completely deluded and deceived but now I’ve seen enough nutcases walk out before an audience of millions proclaiming themselves worthy of a million dollar award only to proceed to play their armpits that I am thoroughly convinced.

Friends should not let friends perform deluded.

Another example of Biblical truth demonstrated by award shows is the dramatic power of watching a person step into the spotlight who appears with no bravado, no special attractiveness, no obvious promise of greatness only to have them begin to dance or to sing and become mesmerized with a million other people at the beauty they have hidden away behind their humility.

Those moments are rare but I recall nearly every one I’ve seen. It’s as if everything stops for the brief performance and the collective human spirit of all who watch with mouths agape is elevated to a place of forgotten hope, of surprising beauty, of a glimpse into the art of God.

Similarly, it’s as painful and repulsive as a car wreck to watch someone swagger onto the stage, proclaim him or herself great and then deliver a performance that inspires mockery and jeering from the audience. This, not surprisingly, is a more common occurrence and illustrative of a society that is big on bravado but short on the ability to “bring it” when it counts.

Jesus told this story to a table full of religious hotshots: “When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:7-11

Cultivating humility is the ultimate act of faith. Notice in this parable that the person who chooses humility is completely dependent on the host of the gathering to be noticed or exalted. It’s not easy for modern humans to depend on someone else or to wait for recognition.

When early humans combined forces in Babylon to build a city and a great tower, they did it to “make a name for themselves.” God frustrated their efforts by confusing their language and dividing humanity to put an end to such prideful foolishness.

But when He chose Abraham, a man of humility and faith, to be the father of His people, He promised Abraham that He, God, would “make Abraham’s name great.” We continue to have that choice – to make a name for ourselves or to trust God to sort out our opportunity for greatness.

Living with humility takes incredible faith (at least, I assume it does since I haven’t tried it yet) because by living this way we surrender our independence and become completely dependent on God to put us forward at the right time.

No wonder it is such a rare sight to behold.

As seen on TV’s across America, prideful fools ready for a fall abound and humble artists quietly trusting their turn to shine are rare.

But when it happens, the moment is startling, inspiring, and whispers to us that God is right, after all.

Funny, isn’t it, wisdom does cry aloud in the the streets – and from stages telecast to millions – “God is right, after all. Find His way and walk in it!”

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