Thursday, May 19, 2011


I have to wonder,
as I shrug off stale, bitter attitudes, convincing little white lies and loose excuses, covering my eyes to things that root deep, that, almost invisible, masquerade as amiable justifications,

what causes this dulling lack of awareness to my own true spiritual condition?

I wonder long.

Yes, there are obvious reasons (excuses) for sure. I'm not the same person I used to be and sometimes my thoughts hover over blatant distractions that tend to feed my blind destructive pride.

I'm living much better than these.

Wicked murderers
Adulterous politicians
Vial music lyrics
And celebrity addictions
Unrestrained morals
Obscene media graphics

God haters.

Their status stands out like an infected sore thumb, (or worse), in my peaceful Philippians 4:8 Christian world.

"All who fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech." Proverbs 8:13 nlt.

Today, I ventured out to the place where I get my fitness fix. With cold water bottle, Pandora and headphones in tow, I found myself impulsively distracted.

Eyes gaze up, taking quick inventory of each TV screen as I step onto the machine that plans to wipe me out in ten minutes flat. 6 "talk boxes" side by side, showing 6 separate illicit scenes of the world's harsh reality living out loud, invade my steadfast thoughts with enormous power.

I immediately fix on the young woman, mouthing words of perverted disillusion, moving careless with face all made up, she steps out shamelessly, led by her buyers, as she now leads the crowd.

I shift to the leader, one of past social esteem, who has given up his wife, lost in a Hollywood dream.

The next picture tells of captured killers and drugs; though many claim victory, victims suffer in his sludge.

I see culture celebrities on lofty pedestals,
glorified athletes,
idolized movie stars.

Even acting addicts behind bars.

What has it come to, have we truly digressed, from choosing high moral virtue, which no longer remains our quest? How is it that what was bad is now called good, and the good who stand upright are misunderstood? I see a world where delete and censorship are more often used for God, then the things we are called to hate--exploitation, murder, and fraud.  I find it quite disturbing, His judgement is someday coming, so much effort to erase His Name, to bash His Son, the Christ, the King, because it's more about technology, cheap fame and "Look at what I've done.."

I wonder...

If the foul sin of the terrorist,
the cheater,
the blasphemous singer,
the led astray activist,
and the convoluted finger

that points to a place where evil is birthed deep, under layers of delusion, hardened hearts and deceit, also points to my own heart where pride seed root may grow, and if left to it's own bad self surely reaps what it sows.

"Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else:  “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’" Luke 18:9-12 nlt.

O God, please save me from myself, my pride, the little roots I've permitted to live, I ask that You kill them so that I might know how to holy forgive.

"But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’" Luke 18:13 nlt

Help me to pray for the "tax collectors" in the world, help me to pray for myself.

a repentant tax collector

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Happy to be persecuted?

I really love the Beatitudes.

In Latin, the word "Beatitude" means
beatus, which is translated as "happy".
Who doesn't like "happy"?

Found in the fifth chapter of the book of Matthew, Jesus taught the way to walk the talk.

The happy walk of a follower.
His follower.
His Way.

The only way.

With compelling wisdom and authority, the multitudes gathered around the seated Lord as He spoke of eight distinctions that mark a true disciple.

                                                          photo credit                                                                                                                                                             

On the surface His words seem simplistic.

Blessed are...

          ...the poor in spirit...
...those who mourn...
...the gentle...
...those who hunger and thirst for righteousness....
...the merciful...
...the pure in heart...
...the peacemakers...
...those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness... when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you
    because of Me.

With all hopeful commendation, Jesus encourages the people onto wild promises.

The kingdom of heaven.
The earth.
Eyes to see God.
A great reward in heaven.

These divine benefits obviously lead me to pursue His way, to follow after poverty, mourning, gentleness, hunger and thirst, mercy, purity and peace. Even persecution seems to be an appealing investment to purpose in my heart.

Yet, I question my motive to cultivate these spiritual qualities and I wonder whether my initial perception might very well be ignorant, loosely desiring grace gifts from poverty to persecution, or just plain clueless to what Jesus is talking about.

Let's be honest.

Who really wants to be poor and brokenhearted? Or hungry and thirsty? Let alone persecuted. From a distance, it seems far more comfortable to seek after meekness and mercy, purity and peace. These "appear to be" more attractive and non-threatening.

I realize that Jesus was teaching on things far more profound than His simple words conveyed.  He spoke simply, but His words were anything but simple. So, deeper I dig because I want to understand what it is to be poor "in spirit" and so on.

I find His necessary applications to be a holy recipe of divine sanctification.

I've also discovered that the Beatitudes are broken into four defining attitudes.

Attitude toward self, sin, God, and world.

So I contemplate these questions:

"How do I see myself?"
Do I have the correct estimate of my own spiritual poverty; do I see myself as absolutely destitute? Do I realize I am and have and can do nothing apart from Jesus?

"How do I see my sin?"
Do I mourn over the sin in my life? Do I despise it? Do I have eyes to see sin the way God sees it? Or, am I comfortable in the "little" sins? Am I willing to gently hand over my unsatisfied fleshly cravings into the holy hand of Christ, with humility and gratitude, in exchange for a righteous hunger and thirst?

"How do I see my God?"
Do I truly understand what it means to be forgiven? Do I trust it? Have I really tasted grace; the mercy cup poured out on me, blood covered, washed white, His sacrifice for my purity, my daily cleansing to walk close to Him where I find God peace? Do I recognize that to truly know these is to give them?

"What is my attitude toward this world?"
Do I desire more, the friendship of my society or fellowship with my Master? Do I really understand and accept the conflict between this world and me? As difficult as it may be at times, am I willing to accept that the world hates me?

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:10-12

This passage had encouraged me to persevere in boldly walking in my faith, but it hasn't always necessarily made me feel blessed. Or glad.

On the radio, a pastor gave a profound address to persecution in his message.  In a nut shell, he encouraged believers to not fear or "avoid at all costs" this casting, but to see it for what it is: a powerful tool God uses not only to prove the true believer verses the false (the wheat from the chaff; Matthew 3:12), but also to grow the faith of the true disciple.

I ask myself another question. A revealing question.

"Am I more concerned with my own comfort and keeping peace in the here and now over the Truth Jesus came to testify to?"

I am learning that if I am to walk my talk (His talk, His walk), I must be willing to get burned, even die for the sake of true "happiness".

"The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." John 12:25

The multitudes still come to Jesus wanting His blessings, the wild promises He offers, but few are interested in the fire, the heart transplant of the Holy Spirit.

Where is your interest?

Is it in the things Jesus offers in following Him, or is it in the blessedness of Him alone?

"He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear his threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire." Matthew 3:9-12

Monday, May 9, 2011


A photo of my dad sits on the fireplace mantle in our family room. Its black and white image reflects a man in his early thirties. Dark shades of coolness cover his wandering, hungry eyes. I was young when this picture was taken, maybe twelve or thirteen or so. I remember too well, those days, and many after that, the longing in my heart, for my father's attention, for his unconditional affection, most of which he spent on life's fleeting amusements and unattainable diversions.

These stole his heart from me.

As a young woman, I learned to despise the things that ripped me off. I learned to despise him. A hardened heart full of broken rotted the depths of my soul. I suffered deep and long in the bleeding sin pit, fourteen plus years of estrangement and torture, imprisoned by the devil himself.

I was 36 when God stepped in to reveal His masterpiece.

Two hearts prepared over decades of fire's refinement work shone bright reflections of mercy gentle, abounding grace poured out. A new love longing to recover molten damage of wicked wreckage, now past.

The hole in my gut, eaten away by cancer hate, at once dissolved, God-surgery performed.

Shiny new metal now frames his distant look, so far away, unknowing of his limited days. God creature, of dust, written in the Lamb's book of life, Sovereign destiny before he was born. I smile deep as my eyes fix on His victory, the prize of love conquers all; God's trophy, I cherish, so much more than a man, it rests upon the mantle of my heart. It's placard speaks rich words of unfailing love, reconciled forevermore.

We were given little over a year, just enough to redeem the time lost in fallen ways, enough time to learn to believe. What joy was made complete that day, yet saved for father's last year, the unveiling of true love for daughter etched real on my heart, never to be stolen again, written by God.

So, daily I honor this divine award, God finished, bitter sweet adored, of a father who saw through layers of pointless deeds, the superficial markers of an empty world.

I love you so much and I miss you.
I will see you soon.
Your daughter


I believe in the God of miracles, I've seen Him with my very own eyes; I've felt Him move inside me, I have sensed His eye from above. I believe in the God of new mercies, each day He wraps me in grace, He leads me beside stillness of waters, His Son forever sits beside me.

The LORD says, "I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you." Joel 2:25

Friday, May 6, 2011


I made my way down stairs for my ritual cup of coffee this morning. As I approached the kitchen I was greeted with disheveled dishes piled high on the countertop, remnants of last night's dinner. Clean, no less, they sparkled in the dawn's first sun. As I slowly removed a plastic cup that balanced atop the disfigured display, it's heavier counterparts, a metal spoon rest and stainless steel pot, slid abruptly, loudly crashing into the sink.

I hoped the blatant racket hadn't disturbed the tranquility that still rested in our home.

I continued on, carefully, methodically removing each dish and utensil, like figuring out a puzzle, until every last piece was returned to its proper place ready for use again.

In the moment, I recall a fleeting notion, surely a wise warning, however, quickly dismissed last night.

This is not gonna hold.

"Na," I say to the quiet prediction. "I built it well, supported safe."

Ya, until the time arrived this morning, to disassemble my domestic piece of art.

A new thought passes through my mind...

...Who does this? Who stacks dishes piled high, with no   organization, but with perfect strategy, building weightier ceramic cake plate atop flimsy, plastic throw-away container, while forks protrude every which way like an abstract bouquet of assorted crockery?...

Of course, I had to own up.

I do this.

I admit, in a weird way it's a challenge. I freely wonder how clever I can get as I skillfully pile one dish upon another, allowing just enough space for air to invade tight places. I even stand back and admire my accomplished, yet temporary, faulty work.

This makes me think about my life as a Christian.

Is it possible that I might, at times, build my religion in this very same fashion?

I regretfully recognize that I have.

God warns us in Matthew 7:24-27 to build our houses on solid ground. 

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (NLT).

I confess, I have not always listened in this case. I have not always built my house according to Jesus's insightful advice.

Just like last night. I ignored the warning of disaster to come.
I wanted to do it my way because it seemed easier.
Because I thought I could.

Should I have piled high still dripping dishes instead of taking the time to be orderly, of drying and putting away, following convention of first-things-first and finish what you start?

I believe so.
A practical practice of follow through.

I see how this reflects in my life as a Believer at times. It reveals the issue that I am drawn to doing a lot of things at one time. I do tend to pile high [priorities], with the balancing act of a clever disciple only to find my efforts crash around me as I crash and burn (out).

I need discipline to be basic, to diligently take care of the basics first. All the added "piled high" extras can and do become heavy and ultimately collapse the whole sand castle.

I want not my prayer life or my Bible time to mirror that of a plastic throw-away container, but to lay secure my house like a cast iron skillet.

May I be given the grace to learn to be obedient, to take the time to build the basics of my faith with order, diligence and passion. Everything else is frosting.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Am I Willing To Commit?

The room was filled with eager listeners soaking up profound wisdom and encouragement from the seasoned editor.
Her words provoked hearts to dig deeper, 
to go for it, 
to trust. 

Her persuasive words settled firm in mid air as if placed right before me... 

Claim your gift, then commit to it.

The real question became clear. 

Am I willing to commit? 

Until that moment I wandered confused in my thoughts.  She continued on with details of how to recognize a gift. I felt hopeful, even confident. 

Passion, joy, and acknowledgement from others were a few key points. These things I could not deny. 

I love to write. I especially love to write about things that stir my heart, putting words to the deep things in deep places. 
In the past, my unbelief rejected kindly commendation for fear its value might have little or no weight. Yet, in that moment I was given permission to accept my gift.  I had something and I was finally willing to claim it. 

Then came the harder hurdle. The true challenge that had followed me long was now calling me out- 

Am I willing to commit? 

I found myself face to face with a deeper, far more important question; the real issue;  Am I willing to do whatever it might take-to learn, to labor, to sacrifice-all for the gift?

This challenged me to get serious. To decide. 

So today, I admit out loud I want to be a writer. 
I want to do this. 
No, I will do this.   

This place of decision to commit to being a writer made me think about Salvation.

The parallels of the two are quite evident and compelling to me. However, the ability to acknowledge the gift of Salvation is very different. In either case, whether to be a writer, a God-given talent and desire to pursue, or to be a Christian, a God-given, God-sacrificed atonement that pursues me, I must claim it. 

Nothing becomes mine if I fail to claim it. But, I must also commit to it.

It seems to make no sense at all to recognize and receive either or both and stop there. The hand and heart exchange of receiving these does no good if I don't then, act, if I don't commit. 

To be anything worthy, to do anything well I must be dedicated to learning and to keep learning. And I must be willing to labor, to work it out, and to sacrifice for the name of the call. 

To be a writer far too easily and far to often becomes about others. 
The acknowledgement, 
the approval, 
the need for acceptance. 

It's only joy can sadly become about what others think.  
As much as I might try to protect myself from these lusts of the flesh, I discover how difficult it is. 

I can easily fall into this same trap as a Christian. The Bible is clear that the foundation of being a Christian should never be about what others think. It's defining value rides on what God thinks. Committing to God should never be about gaining the acknowledgement of others or their approval and acceptance. 

Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant. Galatians 1:10

Commitment to my Salvation must always be about Jesus.

If my goal turns into people pleasing, which seems to be a sacrificial way of pleasing myself, while trying to please God, I will fail.  

and disappointment 
will be my way. 

To learn God's ways, His ways of loving, His ways of living, laboring in prayer, sacrificing of my own way, giving up approval of others, risking rejection, even persecution, comes with the territory.

This can be hard stuff. But, this is what it takes. 
This is commitment. 

I see how God illustrates His way. Isn't it always the opposite of the world's ways? 
As the world calls us to want, to need, to crave approval, God says no. Your approval comes from Me alone.

Yes, I have committed to writing, but I risk greatly. 
Not for fear of disapproval, but that my passion for writing might turn into a passion to please.

This has always been my heart, my reason to write: 
My passion for Jesus, He beckons me to write. 
My love for Him that seeks His attention. 

My joy is to find myself smack dab in the middle of both my gifts-writing for Him, with Him and about Him. 

May I never lose sight of this sacred motive.

"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other."  Matthew 6:24a


I am a mother of two precious young women. Here is a reflection of God's redemption and transformation, me and them - the two in one.


I remember like it was yesterday, love's hand caressing gentle the crown of her soft bald head, meeting bright eyes that smile tight. As her precious little grip held onto the newness of each rising day, I held on tighter still, with my own feeble strength, to a vow to do things right.

From the outside it seemed I was mothering a daughter--just like me.

In dim mirror she reflects my familiar image; i
n her heart and her mind, promised deep, she will grow to reflect His.

For she did not choose Him, but He chose her, and she will be His daughter and God Himself will be her Father. (John 15:16, Revelation 21:3)

My own imperfect hands cradle breath from heaven and my desire, a craving for something sacred, something real, and I long for all things good to be hers. But, as I looked away in the moment, days flooded quickly into years of heart strings ripped raw, brokenness leaving its remains.

Her sorrow eyes wept--just like me.

But His mercies are new everyday, and today I give ear to her sweet grown whispers of benevolence and favor. 
Sin hardness forgiven, melted away by divine goodness, love abounds. Redemption moves and He grows deep within her and fruit blossoms. I awe at heaven's grace given to me. Indeed undeserved. Her authentic beauty speaks of His loveliness, uninhibited confidence, gratitude for each blessing and breath. I ponder the depths of this gift of mercy. Humility floods my heart.

If only soft lullabies and warm bubble baths of a young mother's ways could lay firm foundations of compassion and forgiveness. But, these are not enough. Her 
soul windows beam light of a different builder, a holy builder, pure and bright. 

Upon Him she was cast from birth, He has been her God from my womb. He makes His face shine upon her, saving her with His unfailing love. (Psalm 22:10, 31:16)

Wisdom drapes her head like a rich, gentle silk scarf. Virtue and courage, her fragrant perfume. Blessedness and delight dance together, intertwined fingers of joy and gladness encircle my heart. Songs of worship flow heaven's rivers, love's original intent perseveres forth.

And, the broken past remains only as stepping stones, hurts and failings, her strong bridge to faith.

Faith prayers laid firm daily for her tomorrows are plenty,
mothering a daughter, 

daughtering a mother,
breath of heaven breathes through her on me.

Behold, [daughters] are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3