Friday, October 2, 2015

Just Cause or Just 'Cause

Pilate answered them, saying 'Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?' For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead. (Mark 15:9-11 NASB, emphasis mine)

I wondered to myself, as I read this passage of Scripture a few mornings ago, "What were these people thinking?" "How could they let themselves be so easily manipulated into such incredible injustice?" I wonder even now how the voices in this crowd felt as they laid down that evening and the reality that he/she championed the release of a murderer over the release of a man who had healed their neighbors. Of course, then I turn on the tv or glance into the media and realize very little has changed. Human beings have a God-given desire for justice. We were made in God's image and He is a just God so certainly we long for a world where all people are valued and treated with the dignity that comes with being divinely created.  We long for a world where faithfulness and respect are the norm. We long for a world where the right to speak our mind is no excuse from the consequences of lies, ignorance, and hate. We long for a world without sin.

Because we intrinsically recognize the basic principles of right and wrong we are easily motivated to passionately involve ourselves in the battle for "the oppressed," "the forgotten," and "the abused." But what happens when the noise settles, the drama subsides, the headlines move on to something else and we realize we got played. The cause in fact was a ruse and the the pot stirrers are the only ones who walk away having benefited. We certainly are not true followers of Christ if we turn a blind eye to the social injustices that are flaunted before us. After all, that is where the gospel sings. However, we need to be propelled from our knees and not from our high horse to move forward with His name. 

Living an un-offended life is neither a constitutional right nor is it a God-given one. Let us not waste our voice on causes whipped and fluffed by those who seek only to draw attention to that which has no lasting impact and instead to focus on the Truth that brings freedom and peace and justice from the One who created and named them in the eternity of His being. 

Before you post your fourth opinion on Facebook, before you sign the petition, before you buy your t-shirt, hammer your yard sign, or debate in the grocery store with the poor guy who dared ask you about your day; let us ask ourselves this question: Is it a just cause in which I have invested or is it just because I like a good fight? A fight that truly only serves to keep us from dealing with the pain within ourselves and hearing the hurt that plagues our neighbor.

Be rooted in truth, be passionate about justice, be zealous for the grace and hope that Jesus came to give to an already condemned world; but do not fall prey to the vanity of pot stirrers who produce little more than a good reason for people to stop hearing your voice.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Subterfuge and Blessings

      I awoke this morning with one task on my agenda - a marathon day of writing. I have a lot to do in half the time I need, so I have to double-time for the next few days. Head down; knees bent. I began my day confessing to the Lord how much I love Him and want to please Him. I reminded Him, and myself, of my total dependence and devotion to Him and that my chief end is to do the work that pleases Him most, even if it’s not in my calendar. I spent time in God’s Word on my porch and enjoyed the warm breeze that often accompanies His voice, and delighted in hearing Him on such a beautiful day.
I stood to retrieve my computer which apparently signaled to my dog that I was willing to take her outside for what was, by her reaction, an emergency walk. I stepped outside flips flopping and sun on my face. The day is remarkably beautiful and comfortable for a summer Saturday in the south. The thought skimmed over me, “It’s too perfect not to be outside.” Suddenly the Lord grabbed that train of thought and derailed it before it got to my heart. I was being played. Not steps away from the physical space where my heart was bowed in dedication to the work of the day, the devil cleverly tried to scheme me, not by distracting me from God’s blessings, but by shoving them in my face. 
Of course, the devil’s methods are certainly crafty, but they are not terribly creative and this particular tactic is as old as Eve. In Genesis 3, we see Satan using the guise of one of God’s good creations, pointing out God’s abundant provision in Eden, and focusing Eve’s attention on how good God’s creation truly was: “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6)
Satan did not attack God directly, certainly Eve would have seen through that, rather he moved her attention to the creation rather than the Creator. We have been given many blessings and provisions so that we might know and be known by God: beautiful landscapes, horizons, and creatures; wonderful families and friends; the ability to enjoy simple moments and the ability to relive them forever through the gift of our memory. We have been given the Word of God which gives understanding, guidance, and appreciation to all of these things and more. However, these good gifts are to be constant reminders to keep our eyes and hearts on our Lord Jesus and not to set Him in line behind them.
Certainly, God desires for us to explore and delight in all that He has made, how else will we really realize His unmatched creativity and genius. Certainly, he wants us to invest in the inexpressible wonder that are the relationships in our lives. Certainly, He loves a pajama day, a long coffee break, and a day at the ballpark smelling of sunscreen and popcorn. He desires our delight in Him. We however, must realize that these things are tools for His glory and not glory in and of themselves. 

Today, He has planned for me to write. So, I will thank Him for the blessing of the sun through the windows and the breaks to walk my dog. I will pray for His delight as He watches His other children play outside, because there is a gorgeous day just begging for it. A day that would be perfect spent grilling and laughing and making a memory; but I will find my delight at my kitchen table with my computer and with the God I love more than all good things, smiling at a little secret from Him about this particular, spectacular, sunny day.................................. He can make another.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


     A recent trend has found its way to social media by which various groups are demonstrating support by declaring that their lives matter. Supporters and "bandwagoners" alike have taken to posting about his/her political/social/racial/occupational groups with #(insert group)LivesMatter. A quick search on my newsfeed just today can pull up at least three of these declarations for three different groups.  Harmless, right? Innocent, right?
     I believe there are two lies implicit in these posts, whether intentional or not; and lies are never innocent or harmless. First, to declare one life matters is to imply that there is another which does not. All lives matter. All human life was created in the image of holy and good God (Genesis 1:27). All lives are recipients of a portion of His generous grace that gives warmth to the sun, bloom to the flower, and power to a nourishing rain. All lives are cared for under His watchful eye, and all lives are held in specific and intimate knowledge that only God could inventory. He knows every hurt, struggle, joy, pain, dream, temptation, and tear that ebb and flow to make up our calendar of life. He knows. He cares. All lives matter.
     Second, the truth that all lives matter is not a license for all choices and behavior. The "Lives Matter" informal campaign that has developed implies that because these lives matter their choices should not only be supported, but lauded. All lives matter, but all persons do not live those lives well. All lives matter, but some lives are lived selfishly, and some even maliciously. All lives matter, but not all choices are to be respected nor all decisions granted permission.
     I believe in and serve a loving God who has loved me in spite of my sinful choices born from a sinful nature (Romans 3:23. I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who gave His life for those sins (Romans 5:19). I believe that He offers total forgiveness and complete redemption to those who commit their lives to Him, regardless of what those lives may have previously entailed (Romans 10:8-11).  Because I believe in these things, I believe it is the cruelest of people who bedazzle the ugliness of sin with political correctness and tolerance and let lives that matter die in a lie.

All. Lives. Matter. Speak the truth.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Good News, Princess

     On the edge of my seat I sat in a dark theatre watching the latest rendering of Cinderella. My three year old niece stood between my knees with her arms draped over my legs watching intently. The rubber bottoms of her shoes rubbing the skin off the tops of my feet was my price for using her as an excuse to go see this movie. (Totally worthy it I might add.) Beautiful music, exquisite colors, stunning costumes, and, of course, a story that puts me both in a far away palace as well as right back in my footie-pajamas on the couch with my mom. I was taken.
     "Real life is not a fairy tale," I scolded myself as I realized I was being swept away with all the dreaminess of magic, royals, and happy endings.  I have read far too many Christian relationship books to be taken in by the nonsense, right? How will I ever be happily married if I let myself love a fairy tale, right? This is reality and in reality only children fancy themselves in a story.  I glanced down at the top of Maddie's head, a little embarrassed at the childish joy of imagining life as a princess that was welling up in me. When suddenly and unexpectedly there He was; in a dark theatre, in a private moment of my heart He appeared, the King of Glory and the Lifter of my head. As near and intimate as my face in His hands He whispered "Good News, Princess". I did not literally see the face of my Lord, yet I know without a doubt that with a gentle, tilted head, He smiled as He reminded me of the place the gospel of Jesus Christ had placed me.
    Am I not the King's daughter? As a part of the body of Christ, His beloved church, am I not betrothed to the Prince of Peace? Am I not joint heir of a kingdom that has no end? I am a princess; not in an imaginative and allegorical way, but in the reality of the blood of Christ and because the Bible tells me so. We are often so fearful of being thought prideful or immodest that we functionally deny the truth that God has sang over us with rejoicing (Zephaniah 3:17).
     One day He will come for me in rapture or in death and I will be escorted, uninhibited by this world's sin, into the presence of our King. The Son of God will present me perfected by His blood and suitable to bring my praise. I will stand in His presence which is more splendid and glorious than any set designer or cinematographer could ever dream. I will behold Him and be held by Him not as dust, but as daughter.
     This hope, this unwavering certainty, of the future He died for is what He delights for us to enjoy today. Good news, Princess, your King knows what you are going through. Good news, Princess, your Prince's righteous right hand holds your frail and tired one. Good News, Princess, be lifted, be encouraged Christ has come. Life is in fact not a fairy tale, who would want to settle for that; for loving Christ and knowing God are more wonderful and more remarkably breathtaking than any legend I've ever known.

Good News, Princess, very good news.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Life Threatening

My 33 year relationship is over.  Love abounded, but when you threaten the life of someone I love then I have no choice but to end what had been a wonderful life together. That is right, for those of you who did not know, Peanut Butter and I have parted ways. (insert single glistening tear)

A few short months ago, we found out that my oldest niece, who is only five years old has a life threatening allergy to peanuts. I am not telling you that she will break out in hives; I am not saying that her tummy will be upset. I am saying plainly that jelly's best friend and a baseball fan favorite can take the life of this sweet baby. My sister would have to give you the exact numbers and all the medical jargon, but what I know is that it would only take a nearly invisible amount of peanut residue to bring on this reaction. It is serious. So, what did this aunt do? I ditched it all. No peanuts, no peanut butter, nothing "processed in a plant" with it, nothing that "may contain it". Gone. My pantry is clean. Why? Because I would never do anything to risk endangering her life. I live three hours away from her, but my home is peanut safe so that her mom never has to worry about giving notice before she visits and so I don't worry about having to hide something when she comes. It's dangerous and I would not and will not risk her life no matter how much I used to like it.

The same is true of sin. A fraction is life threatening.  We know that the Bible says plainly "The wages of sin is death," yet we continue to store it in the pantry of our lives and hide a morsel or two in the bottom of a drawer. Why do we risk it? Do we not understand how serious it is? Life-threatening. Yes, I am aware of the fact that the rest of the previously quoted verse is "but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord." However, we need to remember that Jesus did not come to change the nature of sin. Sin remains damaging and dangerous. Jesus came to rescue those who choose to follow Him and to save them from the penalty and power of sin. Nevertheless, we are still warned of the potential harm that sin, in any form or shape brings. Proverbs 14:9 begins by saying, "Fools mock at sin". Yet, we giggle at it on tv and whisper about it among our friends not at all realizing that we declare ourselves foolish.

Unbelievers, sin not only has your life been threatened but condemned already (John 3:16-21). Believers, sin still threatens your life. No, not your eternal one, but the one you live daily while still away from home. Sin robs our joy, sin robs our health, sin robs our opportunities, but most of all sin robs us of the intimate fellowship by which a life lived in the Light of God should be characterized. Let us open up all we have before the Lord and invite the Holy Spirit into every crevice that, in every moment, our lives might be inviting and pleasing to the King of Glory.

It is serious. It is dangerous. Let's not risk it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Rough Patches

      I am a day dreamer. I enjoy scrolling through the future memories of my mental scrapbook as much as I enjoy flipping through the camera roll on my phone. A day, a month, an age ahead I will fantasize about everything from the food I am going to eat tonight to the food I am going to cook for my future man. When the trailer for the latest kid movie pops on TV I imagine and anticipate my lap full of popcorn and nieces and nephews; and the moment the commercial switches to yogurt I dream about a far off vacation to Greece that I will never afford. I am a thinker, a planner and a dreamer. It's fun for me and it saves a ton of money on XM radio.
     The best part about day dreams, however, is the absence of difficulty. In the moving pictures of my mind the popcorn never burns, kids don't need to go to the bathroom a thousand times during the movie, and my new husband thinks I could stand to gain a few pounds. No one imagines a life filled with pot holes. No one fantasizes rough patches. For that very reason, I am so grateful for the rough patches I experience with the Lord. If God were not real; if Jesus had not truly saved me and this was all just the work of an active imagination to cope with the difficulties of life (as Christians are often accused) then I assure you as an avid imagineer I would refrain from including rough patches. The awkwardness in my relationship with Him and the struggles I feel in my communication with Him are one of the many affirmations of His existence and His desire for real relationship with me, and with all of His children.

      I know He is real; I know He speaks; I am certain of it, because sometimes I do not like what He has to say. Sometimes I want to talk about things that He has moved on from, sometimes He wants to talk about things that I do not want to move to, and sometimes I do not want to talk to Him at all. I am not proud of those moments and I am grateful for His compassion and grace because certainly it is always true that the rough patches in my relationship with the Sovereign God lay squarely at the feet of this fallen, but redeemed daughter.

     I am so enamored with the life I dream, and those dreams give me ambition and goals. Those dreams give me contentment in where I am and drive to not stay here; but I am in love with the life I have, and this Thanksgiving I am most delighted for the rough patches and for the God who loves me enough to stick with me through them and patiently guide me through stumbling blocks of my own design. I love Him and He loves me - in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, always, as death will never part us.

"But in all things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39 (NASB - emphasis mine)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Bowl of Bananas

       Somewhere in the world today our Creator God, Father of those who trust in Him, watches over the birth of a new baby while at the very same moment comforting a family who has received dreadful news. He presides over a blissful couple's new steps as husband and wife; and He aches as a marriage feels the pangs of distress. He is Mighty Warrior in the midst of a war zone as men and women call out in desperation for safety and refuge. He comforts a child who feels unloved and afraid. He celebrates the next year of a princess in training as she blows out little pink birthday candles on her favorite cake.
     Today, He peeks into the depths of the ocean and delights in a funny little fish you and I will never even see. He quickens a driver's reflexes to avoid an accident and adjusts the twinkle of a star. He stands far above time and space and eternity and sits near and intimately in hospital waiting rooms and living room couches. He walks the rows of classroom desks and the halls of Capitol Hill.  He directs warm sun and cool shade on the faces of men, women, and children who have no home and soaks the soil of a farmer on His knees.
      He is everywhere; He is always; And He is with me - right now, in this moment - sitting at my table staring at a bowl of bananas. If that isn't awesome, I don't know what is.

Great and Worthy and Wonderful is our God!