Do you want to be free, or not?

So yesterday morning my cat, Dante, brought  in a full grown chipmunk.

I heard the scrambling and the screeching and I ran to see it just in time as the poor chipmunk leaped from the cat’s mouth as Dante fumbled down the stairs.

(Why the cat felt the need to bring it downstairs is unclear and absurd. Getting in the cat door with a full grown animal is impressive enough, but down the stairs? Anyway…)

Immediately the other cat, Leonardo, and the dog, Lucy, were on high alert, sniffing and running after the poor creature who is also on high alert. The chipmunk is panicking and smelling and trying to find someplace to hide quickly. With a lunge, it ran behind the piano.

I am too am now on high alert. I put one cat in the bedroom and closed the door. I put the other cat upstairs. And closed the door. I put the dog in the crate and closed the door.

For the chipmunk…I opened the basement door. Wide open. Empty room with a open door

It did not budge.

I got a broom and tried to gently push it out from behind the piano so it can see the open door. See the freedom.  But the broom was too short.

And so we stood there. The chipmunk and I.  It was hiding and cowering. I was standing there waiting, hoping it would smell the scents of the freshly rained on morning and peek around the piano and see freedom.

“Okay buddy. It’s all on you. I have done all I can.”

I removed the obstacles. I opened the door. The rest was on the chipmunk.

Freedom is choice.

For the chipmunk. For us.

We can cower in fear all our lives. We can hide in dark places and feel sorry for ourselves.

Or we can peek around the corner and see that God has already bound our tormentors and has opened the door to freedom. Wide open. The rest is up to us.

Choose freedom today. Freedom from anxiety,  anger,  self pity and even sadness. There is a fresh newly rained on morning awaiting. All you have to do is go through the open door.

The chipmunk finally did. So can you.


Photo Credit:



Five Days to a Better Marriage. No, really!


I am going way out on a limb to give a shout out for my sisters.  I have seen way too many women cry and heard way too many stories about good men who look like idiots, for me to stay silent anymore. I am asking you all to Man Up for your woman.  I’m talking about about the Big Five.

Not a football conference (although you could likely name most).
Not your favorite food or workout regimen.
Not even the episodes of your favorite show….
I am talking about the Big Five For Your Wife.

  • Her Birthday
  • Your Wedding Anniversary
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Christmas
  • Mother’s Day (if applicable, of course)

These are days that you get to remind her of why she wants to spend another year picking up your socks and listening to you snore.  These are the days that are similar to holding a newborn baby. The baby is so cute that mom forgets the pangs of labor. You want these five days to be filled with so much affection that your wife will forget the pangs of living with you all the other 360 days of the year.

Really?  Only five out of 365 days? I’d say this is a pretty great deal. Very, shall we say, low maintenance…

Yet some men seem surprised, even caught off guard, that they roll around Every Year. With all our modern devices and widgets and apps to make us smarter, it really makes women dislike their men all the more when their husbands “forget” the days that she has been looking forward to for weeks. Yes, for weeks. For women who are up to their eyebrows in changing diapers, or shuffling work, home or kids, these days pop up like little mini-mental vacations.  She looks forward to these special days with girlish delight that her man is going to spoil her, to treat her, to love on her. Finally, it’s her turn, after pouring out on everybody else all year.

I am not talking about spoiled rotten women.  I am talking about women who need reminders of why you fell in love with her in the first place, reminders that you still love her today. Reminders that she is the number one person in your life amid all the pressures of work, kids, and money.

To be serious, these are the days that you promised to remember when you said “I Do.”  It falls under that love and honor part. When you show up like a loser on these days, she feels like she’s a loser too.

Brothers, I know there are objections. I have heard them first hand.

What the men say:
I don’t have any (enough) money.
She’s never satisfied.
I don’t know how to do that.
What difference does one day make?
She knows I love her, why should I jump through hoops?

But have you heard what the women say?
Its not the money, it’s the effort.
If he would just try to make me feel special, I’d be happy.
I give him lists, ideas, even links, but he won’t do anything.
When he refuses to remember me, I feel like he is saying I’m not worth anything to him.
I feel unloved.

The most scary responses are from women who say, “I don’t need that kind of stuff. Anymore.”

Usually these women have given up.  Their husbands have let them down so many times that these women quit hoping just to protect themselves from the disappointment.  They love to call it maturity.  But the dark side of this reality is many times these women have shut down a part of their hearts too.  And men, this is never a good thing for you.

The male and female worlds may indeed be strange and gloriously different. We may seem like foreign creatures to you. Yet there is an inherent design and desire for oneness in our friendship and sexuality.  For the couples who call on Jesus, this desire for oneness is even greater because it embraces the  spiritual connection as well as the physical and emotional ones.

For far too many couples, the design is there but the oneness is not.

I see woman after woman who says her husband refuses to acknowledge her year after year. Don’t be that guy. Men are amazing problem solvers. Men can, and do, accomplish incredible things.  We know you have the ability. We just need to see you have the heart. For us. In action.

Brothers.  It’s only five days. Stop making excuses. Mark your calendars.  Remind your woman why she is lucky to be with you.  Trust me. You will be glad you did.

For The Wounded Ones in the Abortion Battle

Because I know you are out there…

I know that every time you even hear the words “pro life” or “abortion” or “pro choice” you get a pit in your stomach, or lump in your throat, or rush of fear, anger or regret in your heart.

Your worst fear is to be found out. Your deepest desire is to be forgiven, finally. You wrestle with what your parents, pastor, boyfriend, husband, friends said before and after your decision. Or what they would say if they only knew…

You replay the day. Over and over.

You flinch at babies. Or you long for a baby.

You can’t stop crying. Or you can’t stop raging.

You can’t stop hating yourself. Or the father, or person who pressured you, even if that person was you.

You can’t even think about heaven. Because what on earth will you say to your child?

And then there is God…how could he love you now?

Even churches act like your choice is too bad, too big for God’s mercy. Will God punish you forever?

Do Christians even care about the scared, trapped pregnant woman or just the baby?

Sisters (brothers), God’s grace is greater than all our sin. It truly does wash us white as snow. When we sing “Jesus paid it all” it means He paid for that day in the clinic as well.  Not partially, or conditionally, but it is completely covered by His redeeming love.

I pray you will have the courage to begin the journey to freedom.  One of the steps to my own healing was to talk about it. I had to open the door to let the shame and fear out but also to let His breath of cleansing freedom in. God led me to a grace-filled believers who really, really understood the Power of the cross. They spoke truth over me that Jesus came to save the world not to condemn it. (Thank you Nan Sprouse and Pat Gilley.) They cried with me. They grieved with me. They loved me with the eternal Love of Jesus.

Look at John 3:16-18 with fresh eyes:IMG_1318
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

The gospel of Jesus, His desire to make the world whole applies to  you. You are not disqualified. You are not cast out. You are not unlovable or unforgivable.

Truly, as the song says, “God renders miracles of our sin.”

For the wounded ones of the abortion battle…Your child is with God but you are still here with us. I pray that God will lead you to people that will love you into freedom.

Your Daddy’s Joy Over You

Our friend Patrick is a first time dad.  It is a magical thing to witness a parent’s affection and delight for their newborn. Truly it is nothing short of a miracle when God opens up unknown chambers of our hearts for children, and then floods those chambers with a love that is gripping, shocking, mysterious…heavenly.

Chuck shared this story about Patrick and his baby girl.  IMG_1015

Maeve Love was learning to giggle. So Patrick would hold her over his head and tickle her and she would giggle with delight.  The more she giggled the more daddy wiggled and tickled his little darling.  And so they carried on for several minutes.

Suddenly Patrick realized there were tears on his face. His own tears. He was so overcome with love and delight, so enamored with his child’s response that he was moved to tears of joy.

“Isn’t that beautiful?” Chuck said, his own eyes full of tears in the retelling.

“That’s how God feels about us.” I whispered.

We sat in a silent moment of wonder together, letting the truth of God’s affection soak deep in our bones. Every dream, hope, and desire we have for our children only mirrors what is in our Father’s heart.

Daddy is crazy about you, about us. He rejoices over us with singing, he delights in us. And when we really let go and enjoy his presence, really just get lost in his love- giggling, squealing even- it moves His heart too.

Let God love on you today. It will do you both good.

The Oil of Intimacy

Oswald Chambers once wrote that some things revealed in the spirit are difficult to convey in words. As I write this sentence this morning, I see now I why God told me to create a picture.  The revelation He gave is a rich reality not intended to be easily digested, or dismissed. It is so profound that He wanted me to experience the supernatural moment, but also to fully appreciate the sensation in the natural. And, he wanted me to take a picture so that I could remember it, and share it. Why?  Because this truth is for us all.  So allow me to create the backdrop of the Masterpiece.

I was lost in worship at church. It was one of those surreal moments when His presence was so strong that people responded by singing, crying, sitting or standing with outstretched arms. It was heavy, soaking, glorious. In a word, we were undone. As I sang, I realized that I kept rubbing my fingers across my forehead. Suddenly aware of how foolish it seemed, I asked the Lord, “Why am I doing this?”

The verse out of Revelation came to my spirit about his name being written on our foreheads. I laughed in my heart and told Him I was rubbing in the name that he had written on my forehead so it wouldn’t fade away.  “What would it say anyway? Jeee-sus?” I asked in a silly sort of way.

“No, that’s my name. That’s not my name for you.” His penetrating response shook off my childishness in an instant.

Now I have a long history with God about names. All through scripture, and today, we see God changing people’s names. He gives us new names, even pet names, to show us our destiny or to strengthen our confidence in Him. It is a huge jump in affection when we faith Him to tell us our names, we receive that name and eventually agree with His new name — his idea of who we are becoming, not what we currently see.

That being said, I asked Him if it was my “new name” written on my forehead?

“No, today it’s different,” He said. So I waited in worship.

Then I saw myself standing in front of Him, my head bowed, a smile on my face, and the word “Beloved” written on my forehead.

“Your name is Beloved,” He whispered so tenderly and then He kissed my forehead.IMG_3499

Tears rolled down my cheek in the natural as I experienced this holy picture in my spirit. I am, we are, Beloved.  Known intimately and received completely by Jesus. Not collectively, but individually.  He holds nothing back from us. He calls each one of us, writes on each of our foreheads His distinctive declaration.  Not a number. But a name, a lovely, awe-inspiring, worship-invoking name.  Beloved. His Beloved.

And then. Then came the oil. After the kiss, I saw the Lord pour oil on my head and I heard, “I anoint your head with oil. The oil of gladness.”


To say I was wiped out would be an understatement.  I could hardly speak the rest of the night. The next day I could think of little else as I thanked the Lord for his beauty, nearness, and desire. But He wasn’t done with me yet. He kept reminding me that He wanted me to create a picture. I wanted to protest, but how could I refuse Him?

So I asked the girls to help me follow through on something the Lord had told me to do, even though it sounded crazy! Salem wrote on my forehead and Charis poured oil while Salem took pictures. Can you even imagine the expressions on their faces? But we did it all together. And as I relived in the physical world what I had experienced in the heavenly one, even more love exploded in my heart and spirit.

Can you see this word on your forehead? It is there. Written by Jesus himself.

Now let me show you the verses in their fullness and colorful beauty.

The River of Life
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life,
bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God
and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city;
also, on either side of the river, the tree of life
with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month.
The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
No longer will there be anything accursed,
but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,
and his servants will worship him.
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun,
for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Revelation 22: 1-5

To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. Is 61:3

God has used both of these passages in my own life to reveal hope and healing and destiny. But He has also purposefully planted these promises in me so I can give them to others.  It is His heart is for His people. He gives us these truths so that we can walk, no run, no DANCE in the joy of Being His.

After this all happened I was reading a new book and saw the phrase, the Oil of Intimacy. I had to put the book down.

That was it. Precisely.  He pours on me, you, us, the oil of intimacy.

Oil. Produced by crushing and refining. A product for softening, nourishing and healing. A product for burning, lighting, or scenting — anointing.

Intimacy. A result of two hearts connecting in deepest places. The two becoming one flesh. In-to-me-you-see. To know and be known, to love and be loved. Be loved. Beloved.

Can I get an Amen?

I can hardly contain all this as it is…but this morning He reveals two more pieces.  First, this revelation comes on the heels of an encounter that had come the week before where I was left with a hard question of “who will you become?”  He had shown me three different pictures going from devotion to distraction. I have wrangled over the answer and He himself answered His question. I am His Beloved. I am His.

And second, as incredible as it sounds, my friend Chelsi sends me a link to a song this morning. It’s name?  “Healing Oil” by Kim Walker.  Think He is wanting me, wanting us, to soak in His goodness?

So what to do with all this?  Maybe you should have someone write the word Beloved on your forehead and take your picture.  It is very sobering.

Maybe you should pour oil over your hands, or head if you dare. Feel the sensation of the richness, let your spirit and your body agree…His has anointed us with the oil of gladness. It is ours for the taking.

Maybe you should sit in quiet or worship and eagerly desire the presence of God.  He inhabits the praises of His people. So He is eager to be with you as well.

Maybe you should just thank Him. Thank Him for calling you Beloved.

We are His beloved.  Let Him write on you. Let Him pour oil on you. Let Him love you.

Awakened by the God of the Ocean

Years ago, I remember reading a profound little book called Gifts from the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh.  I was a new Christian, a wanna-be writer and a newlywed. Her book was so deep and so grown up, I missed much of her wisdIMG_1107om the first time I read it.

It seemed surreal that she would leave her family, or could leave it, just to go to a beach to unwind and write. And yet, here I am — waiting, seeking  what the ocean might bring to my distracted soul; here I am yearning for the presence of God. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Like my sister from generations passed, I am disentangling myself from the daily demands of family, work, ministry, and life. They are beautiful  cords that weave through and decorate my life. Yet I confess the tautness and pull of them sometimes knot up my mind. (I suspect I am not alone.) Ann Morrow described a woman’s life being the hub of a wheel with responsibilities and relationships emanating outwards in constant motion. That said, it required so much trust and courage to step out of the circle of motion and to take the time to unknot myself. Oddly, I find it is the very lack of pace that leaves me uncomfortable.

What do I do with my time? Now that I have removed all excuses and counterfeits, what is best done with my sabbathed energies and emotions?

I listen.

Yesterday the word was affection.  We talked about hearts. But not sea shell hearts, although I have found many. He showed me hearts in the sand, hearts outside crab holes, hearts in sea foam, in the clouds, in tree leaves.

The message?

His love is everywhere. Will I simply see it and receive it?

His love is everywhere. Is there anything more present or powerful? 

His love is everywhere. Am I walking in the boldness of a well loved woman?

As I look back on my God journey, I realize my soul was awakened by the ocean. From a child who giggled at first sight, to a twenty-something who stood by the sea and cursed my life for its bitterness and loneliness, to a young married consumed with “what would be one day”, to a wonder-filled diver who explored the glorious underwaters, to a forty-something who realized that I was not alone as I picked through the trinkets of the sea — God had been there, was there, would be there. He is here. Now.

My conversations have changed over the years and the beach trips. This time together, we dream and enjoy and ponder. The conversations are as diverse as the tides that roll in differently every day. One day it is fierce and windy, leaving me breathless and slightly off center;  another day is warm with gentle waves urging me closer.

Every day there are different lessons and perspectives. But always, always is the “voice of many waters”. Always is the rushing energy, the pounding roar, the blue visual feast that stretches out beyond my comprehension. Every day is the welling up in my spirit, in my deepest heart that often goes overlooked or undernourished when I am in the “hub mode.” God is for sure the center of my life, but life itself is draining as “the wheels on the bus go round and round.”

So to pull away, to hear him, to laugh and muse, to tease and argue, to deeply intercede for others in a focused way…it replenishes me in the same way the dry sand hungrily soaks up every drop as the waves wash ashore.

What do I do with so much time with the God of the ocean?
Soak Him in.

Find your place, your beach, your sabbath. Find your spirit again.

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

Left for Dead

The rain in the night brought rough waves and ocean gifts the next morning.  As the tide rolled out it left a trail of treasures like opened toys on Christmas morning. The large lump on the beach drew special attention.  Walkers swerved to look at it and continued on their clipped pace. Children, held firm by watchful mothers, stopped to gaze from a safe distance. Even ever-hungry seagulls took a tentative peck at it. For more than an hour it was a topic of wonder and sadness— another jellyfish washed ashore. -1

It was my friend, Heather, who kept going back to it over and over. Finally she leaned close —observing, waiting, watching and then she bee-lined it back to our lounge chairs.

“I think that jellyfish is still alive,” she said, slightly out of breath. In a moment I was sitting there processing data:
It may have been alive, but its now been out of water too long.
Do we care if a jellyfish is alive? After all, that is one less potential sting in the gray Atlantic water.  
How does one rescue a jellyfish?

She looked at our non-response, perplexed. “I see things moving on it,” she insisted, as if we had not heard her or believed her. “Its gill things are flapping.”

“It’s trying to breathe, I guess.” I said out loud. Something about that statement shocked me into action. A flurry of activity followed. With a float, a small umbrella, and smaller courage, we marched back down the beach to see our potential patient or corpse. It was a cannonball jellyfish but its normally dome head was flattened on one side like a ball that had lost its air. Still its wavy fringes remained a deep red. I slid the jelly onto the float with the umbrella, walked knee deep into the water, and slung the gellish blob back into its salty home. And we waited.

It bobbed in the water on its side the same way it had landed in the water. A wave rushed over it and then we only saw the dome head. I expected it to come back toward me in the tide so I stepped back out to ankle deep water. But instead of coming toward me, it went deep and was gone.

I stood there in a holy moment. Why had I just let that creature lie there for so long suffering? Why had I assumed its condition instead of investigating? Why had I been so slow to respond to my friend’s urgent face and plea for help?

It was just one stupid jellyfish. Who cares? But it wasn’t. It was me, and my friends, and all of us lying on the beach. Someone had taken the time to stop and look at us. Instead of leaving us for dead, or looking at our misery out of curiosity or warning, or trying feed off our helplessness, someone took the time to lean down, get close, and look for signs of life. Someone bothered to bring us back to the Living Water.

After high-fives for our heroic rescue, Heather told us that the brain is in the jelly’s dome. “You could see things working and moving in there.” she said with wonder.  The true wonder is that she had to get close enough to see that. She had to risk herself to rescue it.

Rescue. God’s heart beats with a desire for rescue. Take time today to look at people around you. Who lies helpless on the beach in need of someone to get him or her back in the water of life? Don’t assume you already know the diagnosis. Look for signs of life.

You don’t have to take them home to raise. Just give them a push back in the right direction so they can breathe again.

Be the person that makes a difference. Be the person who responds to a cry for help. You never know whose life will be saved. It might be your own.

Photo by Heather Terflinger

The More of Marriage: a mini series, part 3

Marriage is a  relational Rubik’s cube

I love this mind-tester.  You keep moving the squares trying to get one color lined up and then the other side is jacked up.  So you spend time trying to get that color matching and… well.. you know the rest. One silly square out of place. Is this frustrating or fun, or both? Am I crazy? stupid? And  of course there are always the “smart ones” who  slam it down completed in 12 seconds or less.  Yeah.  We hate those people.

Marriage can look a lot like this. It’s heart- tester if you will. You work on this part of your relationship and then something (or someone) else gets out of whack. So you adjust hoping to “get it all together” at one time.  Sigh.  And much like the toy, there are the couples who say, “We have never had a fight.”  Yeah we hate those people too.  (Just kidding. Sort of. )

But hope rises with practice. As with the  Rubik’s cube, it takes skill to master the myriad of relationships.  I really thought in our marriage it was just me and Chuck, two sides, two colors.  No problem. In fact, our families were not in our equation of marriage, or so we thought.  However, idea of “just the two of us” got pretty crowded pretty quickly. Turns out  you can’t get rid of your roots. It  was me and Chuck and my family and his family. My friends and his friends. My teachers, enemies, old lovers, and role models, 600px-Rubiks_cube_by_keqsand his as well.  Then you add children. The colored squares just multiplied. Again.

These ghosts of past, present, and future really impacted our ability to connect, trust, and listen to each other.  The way our respective parents would fight, make up, handle money, do God — all that was sitting at the dining room table with us when we were trying to fight, make up, handle money, and do God.

One day in the early years,  this came into full view.  Chuck and I were fighting (for you couples who “don’t” that means the two of you disagree loudly) and he looked at me and said, “I am not your dad. I am not your ex. I am not your brothers. I am not your professor. I am not any of those guys…”
What courage and insight it was for him to lay it out for me so plainly.  I wasn’t  even listening to what Chuck was saying. I had gone into auto-pilot reaction as if I was confronting one of them.

This is true whether you had a great life history or not.  We have been relationally trained by others, for better or for worse. And we have to learn how to relate in a loving way to our mates.  Here is a newsflash.

It takes time to learn to be truly present and listening.

Not recalling old wounds, offenses or disappointments. Not thinking of your to do list or rebuttal. Not letting old triggers cause you to react instead of engage. But instead, really listening to the present need or issue of the moment. Really lending your heart and spirit to the moving parts of the relational Rubik’s cube”— it’s called relationship.  Friendship. Companionship.  It’s not easy but worth it.

Honesty, patience, safety, hope.  These four qualities totally change the condition of most marriages.  They are not something you demand from your mate, but something you cultivate with God and then pour it out on your mate.  It takes time. It takes practice. It takes God.

“I never thought marriage would be this much work.” How many times have I heard this?  Ever tried to work a Rubik’s cube?  That’s a toy. This is for life.

The More of Marriage: a mini-series, part 1

IMG_1052Here a few Ah-has about the journey of becoming one.  In light of all the chaos and brokenness surrounding marriage today and in celebration of my anniversary on April 13th of 22 years of marriage to Chuck, I thought this holy experiment warranted a few words.

Marriage helps me become my true self.

Chuck and I were looking through our wedding pictures last night. I wanted to laugh out loud and cry out loud. We had this delusion of change on the horizon.  We talked about how our “love is here to stay” and marriage was forever. We promised we would never change our commitment and passion and drive. We talked a lot about “all we would become” in those early years. Somehow we thought we “knew what we were getting” in each other, but we were woefully unprepared for real life.  “Change” was coming at us like a freight train.

First came the total spiritual overhaul as we became believers the first year of our marriage.  That is enough change to wreck the average couple who is confident of their marital choice. Our entire world system— beliefs, hobbies, friends, work, even politics—was turned on its ear. But this was only the beginning. Then came the awareness of all the addictions, coping, hiding, lying and blaming we had brought into our marriage. Our ideas of relationship were turned to dust.  Change came crashing in as  our selfish  ideas of love could not survive the reality of day to day life with another human being. We  didn’t truly understand our counterfeit selves until we began living with someone who could see who we really were.  Really see. I mean like in Avatar, “I see you.”   God’s presence gave us a supernatural peek into who was really living inside the shells we called husband and wife.  Not only was there more dysfunction than we could imagine, or handle, there  was far more God potential than either of us dared to believe. Twenty two years later,  we stand amazed. How did God do that?  We have a whole new definition of love, worth, and honor.

Another shock was the roller coaster of physical changes.  Looking at my skinny self was hard on my heart. Over the years, I  have gone through a lot of physical changes— pregnancies, weight gain and loss, sickness, etc.  I am grateful that Jesus has given me such freedom and acceptance of myself now.  But looking at our own marriage journey, and those newlyweds around us,  I don’t think people ever talk about the physical changes in marriage.  We dreamed, planned, projected, hoped, and guessed. But all the while we were doing that, our bodies kept pacing forward…toward the grave.  Not to be morbid, but  it is important that young women or couples know,  best they can, that they are agreeing to get old together.  That is a big commitment indeed. Talk about change…

Is it just me? Did anyone else think this wonderful life of change and growth was going to happen and you were going to stay young and lovely at the same time?  Forgive my sarcasm. But.  Marriage leaves no stone unturned. From attitudes to habits, from preferences to insecurities, from needs to longings,  this journey of two becoming one is ever refining. We have learned to change our idea of acceptance, truly receiving each other: for better, for worse.

How did He heal so much? How did He reveal so much? Looking at our wedding photo, I thought to myself, “who are those people?” We are so, so different.  And yet I have never felt more at home in my own skin.  Going through the battles and the victories, the drama and the outcomes  has stripped off so much sin and weakness and has deposited so much grace and mercy.  We are indeed thankful for the God who has let us share in the “unveiling” of a man and a woman He knew was in there all along.




To save, not to condemn

IMG_0475The intersection of our social upheavals with Easter could not be more pertinent—more unsettling or perhaps even more hopeful?  I have considered both sides. I have listened to the barbs thrown at human beings from both political stances. And I keep coming back to some simple truths. Jesus came to save the world, not condemn it. There is no condemnation because of Christ. But—we are also not in charge.

Jesus came to restore us to the original intent of the Master Designer. He came that we would have true intimate fullness with God.  And in the same way that He came that Crucifixion day long ago, people rejected Him. They scorned His way, His blood, His promise. But He died and was raised again — anyway. Despite their protests to defend their sin, He shed His blood and was raised again to make them new creations, to give them more than they dreamed possible.

The same is true today. Despite our arrogant attempts at determining the “way things should be” and doing “what is right in our own eyes” there is a Holy Agenda being fulfilled.  It is hope and life open to all. There is just one hitch – we are not in charge. We can choose ultimate love, or not. We can have mercy and peace, or not. We can have all His provision and true satisfaction, or not. He always lets us choose life or death.

Yet it remains that God himself is the one who creates definition, truth and identity. The law doesn’t. The lobbyist with money doesn’t. The person with the most vehement Facebook posts doesn’t (regardless of the mathematical symbol). “In his image he created them male and female.”

I have had, and do have, homosexual friends. I also have friends who are addicts, liars, and gossips, and who cheat on their heterosexual spouses.  I love them all.  More importantly, God loves them all.

But this is not the sum total of who they are—or who they could be.  And He has a better plan than each of these counterfeit identities.  We don’t concede to our personal preferences, or even our supposed rights. We begin and end with God’s image. I used to think that sleeping with a guy to get love was “the way things work.” But then I met Real Love, and my preferences changed, my idea of Truth changed. My political stances changed. Mercy does that. Resurrection power does that.

Years ago, with the emergence of gay rights, the buzz from the medical field was not positive. They would say (and still do say) that anal sex is one of the most high risk sexual encounters ever. Why? Because this body part, the original intent of its design, is being distorted.
This is not brain surgery. Talk to a child about our great political issues: abortion, slavery, homosexuality. Killing babies, owning other humans and same sex couples do not add up to them. You don’t have to persuade them. It is simple math. I have taught thousands of middle and high schools students. I’ve seen the results over and over.

Tell them the bare facts: how abortion is performed, how slaves are forced by threat of death to trade their bodies for sex or labor, and how the human body is wired for sex, male and female, and they can come to simple revelations—

I was once a baby, I needed someone to allow me to be born.
Humans don’t own other humans, regardless of skin color, or value as a commodity.
Simple biological plumbing suggests that male and female coupling is in our DNA.

Is any of this popular? accepted? comfortable? No.
But I don’t make the rules. I also don’t set the standard for life to the full.

Just like the Roman empire did not, could not, dictate Jesus’s mission of love, neither can Apple, Amazon, or Starbucks defer ours. I heard two men from opposing sides use the phrase “embrace without endorsing.”  I can live with that. I can live with disagreement. What I can’t live with is trying to legalize same sex marriage to make it socially normal or right. The law of God is written on our hearts. The supreme court isn’t. There is a higher law we are to governed by.

How then shall we live?  With a heart of Christ that seeks to save, from a heart that loves the world without condemnation but with absolute resolve to stand with Him. There is a great line from the movie Mulan. The enemy Hun invader demanded the Emperor bow before him.  His response?  “No matter how much the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow.”

God is still on the throne, whether we like it or not. His heart is still for restoration and salvation, whether we receive it or not. The choice is ours, but the earth is His. We are His children, His creation after all. When it is all said and done, mercy triumphs over judgement.  We wait for the sons and daughers of God to be revealed.