Monday, July 21, 2008


Well, my cadre of faithful blog readers, you have seen first-hand how far my resolve takes me. I resolved to blog more consistently and so far I have only managed to be consistently inconsistent. This might also help explain my inability to lose weight. Apparently dieting for the better part of the day, or even the better part of an entire week is not sufficient commitment for double digit weight loss. (Long, heavy sigh.)
In my defense, I don't want to write to just be pecking away with no point, and I don't want this blog to turn into a rant, though trust me, there is plenty to rant about. In fact, if I'm not careful, it would be much easier to rant than edify and that would be counterproductive on so many levels.
So....with a few exceptions, I do my best to confine the rants to my prayer closet. With the door tightly closed. And locked. That way God can't get out and no one else can get in. It's better for everybody that way.
That's one thing I really like about God. You can rant, you can even rant at Him occasionally, and He doesn't pout or withdraw or get His feelings hurt or threaten to smite you. He doesn't even roll His eyes. He lets us duke it out. He listens to everything we have to say. He lets us tell Him everything that frustrates and confuses us. Even when we accuse Him of appearing to be absent or slow or distant or uncaring or a procrastinator.
Job did it. And Jacob. And Moses. And David. And Elijah. And Jonah. Heck, the list of who didn't give God a piece of their mind in their brief appearances in Scripture would be shorter than the one of those who did.
In fact, to take a bit of a left turn here, I'm going to put together a talk about all the people in the Bible that begged God to just go ahead and kill them!
Moses, Elijah, Job and Jonah spring immediately to mind. Every one of those guys had some fairly heated conversations with God about what the heck He was doing and why He was doing it. They were essentially saying, "I don't get it; I don't like it; and You've got some serious 'splainin'' to do, Big Guy."
But perhaps the best part, the most essential element, is that God always listens and, if we are also listening and not just ranting or pouting, He eventually answers. And His answers are perfect and brilliant and wise and provide the perspective shift that allows us to reframe our thinking, calm down and put our trust firmly back where it belongs.
When David, having acknowledged the incomprehensibility of God, asks with head-shaking gratitude and awe, "What is man that Thou art mindful of him?" the answer is loud and clear. "You are loved with an everlasting love." Valued. Treasured. Adored.
"Why?" we ask. "How, when I have violated all Your commands in a thousand different ways?"
The answer seems to be the same one our parents told us and we told our children: "Because I said so."
That's all I need to know.

Friday, July 11, 2008


A few months ago, I was driving back from the funeral of a friend's not quite 22 year-old son who had died suddenly and without warning.
He was almost exactly the same age as Jordan had been when he left this mortal life for the one he is enjoying now and will enjoy forever.
Although Jordan was closer in age to this young man's older brother, the boys had grown up together in Sherman, Texas. Our families went to the same church and on Friday nights every one dropped their children off at the church to attend our home fellowship group while the kids enjoyed their own version of "fellowship."
I was one of the first people my friend called from outside her son's apartment. She and her husband were two of many who had walked with us through the nineteen year roller coaster ride that was Jordan's life. They were on my "Dear Ones," newsletter list. They wept with us when Jordan died, and she kept (and still keeps) in frequent e-mail contact with me.
So I had to go to the funeral. And as much as I dreaded it, I wanted to go to the funeral. I needed to offer whatever small comfort I could. I understood her unspeakable grief and I needed to hold her tight and let her sob.
It was a very dignified service. Simple. Sad. Yet full of the assurance he was enjoying the same joys Jordan was experiencing. We even asked each other if Jordan might have been one of the ones who were privileged to usher him into the presence of God and giggled at the thought of these boyhood friends exploring heaven together.
I followed the caravan to the cemetery then started the drive home, but I couldn't get him off my mind. There was no explanation for his death. He had just died. A month or so before his twenty-second birthday his earthly life was unexpectedly over.
I was closing in on a semi and mindlessly gauging when to pull left to pass him when I saw something on the back of his truck I had never seen before. There was a sign with his picture on it which read, "Congratulations Marvin: the 1,000,000 mile club." I realized with a shock that Marvin was being acknowledged for having spent enough time in an 18-wheeler to have driven over a million miles!
I wanted to honk and wave as I passed him, but I was afraid he might get the wrong idea. Still, a million miles! I couldn't help but wonder how long it had taken him, how many days and weeks and months and years of his life he had spent behind the wheel barrelling down some highway. I wondered what he did when he wasn't driving; if he had any hobbies he enjoyed or interests he perused. I wondered about his family and how old he was. I wondered if he acknowledged and served the God who had granted him life and continued to grant it to him.
I kept thinking about the contrast of these two men: One I knew, one I didn't. One young, one older. One taken, one left. One sitting, one soaring.
My mind went to a little Scripture chorus we used to sing in YWAM taken from Psalm 90:12 where it says, "Teach us, dear Lord, to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
I couldn't help but reflect on how well I was doing that. Was I properly applying my heart to wisdom or just barrelling down the highway of life?
We often read those good intentioned slogans that are supposed to help us focus on what's important in life like, "Live each day as if it is your last." That's ridiculous, of course. I mean really, if you knew this were your last day on earth, what would you do? Go to work? Take out the trash? Dust the mini-blinds? Send a frantic e-mail? Pray? Read this blog? Well, okay, I'll grant you that one...
But seriously, there is no way we can realistically live each day as if it were our last. But I know what the people who spout that tripe really mean. We should live fully. We should savor life. We should appreciate all we have. We shouldn't sweat the small stuff. We should worship God and enjoy those He has given us.
We should live as if this life matters. Because it does. And so does what we do with however much of it God allows each of us.
"May you live every day of your life." Jonathan Swift

Monday, July 7, 2008


I had an interesting e-mail exchange with a friend of mine the other day. It made me think about the different gifts God has given each of us.
Some have what could commonly be called the more "visible" gifts of apostles, prophets, pastors evangelists, and teachers. Others have what might be considered the "invisible" or "behind the scenes" gifts of administration, organization, hospitality or intercessory prayer.
Every gift is necessary. But I think we are all guilty at times of putting more value on the gifts that get attention than on the ones that don't. It makes sense, on a certain level. After all, we see these people operating in their gifts! Therefore, we often slip into assuming they are somehow more important than others, including ourselves. It can also lead to putting them on a pedestal. It's a real human tendency, but not necessarily a good or accurate one.
During the years we were going back and forth to the "Children's Hospital" in St. Louis on a regular basis for Jordan's pre-transplant check-ups, and certainly in the days and weeks following his surgery, I saw firsthand a marvelous picture of how the church should work.
A hospital might not be the first place you would think to look to find a picture of the body of Christ in action, but I have never forgotten the startling insight it afforded me, and that's what I was explaining to my friend.
Every single person who was employed by the hospital had a job to do. From the custodial staff to the technicians to the nurses to the residents to the surgeons. And although in that secular setting there was a very real pecking order, it occurred to me there shouldn't be.
After all, if the people who were responsible for creating a germ-free operating room and sterilizing the equipment didn't do their job, the surgeon's skills would be wasted because the patients would invariably die.
If those responsible for making and delivering the meals didn't do their job, the patients would have a difficult time getting the nutrition they needed to recover.
If the nurses didn't tend to the patients after the surgeon brought all the years of his schooling, training and skill to bear, the outcome might be quite different than if they received the post- surgery care and attention they needed.
If the technician didn't perform the necessary tests, there isn't a single doctor who wouldn't be at a severe disadvantage in treating the patients.
Likewise, if the surgeon wasn't highly educated and rigorously trained for years, a lot of the other jobs I just mentioned might not be necessary.
So whose job, in this unique community of joint effort for a specific purpose is most important? Which is more valuable?
I think the correct answer is: None of them. Or all of them equally. The truth is, it takes all of them performing their individual responsibilities to the best of their ability to create a successful outcome.
And so it is with the church.
Paul makes the point quite clear in 1 Corinthians 12:14-27, where we read: "For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, 'because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,' it is not for this reason any less part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,' it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, as He desired. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you;' or again, the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and on our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness, whereas our seemly members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, but that the members should have the same care for one another."
So there you have it. We each have a job to do that has been graciously bestowed on us by our loving heavenly Father according to His unsurpassed wisdom.
None of us are more important than the other. And God makes the paradoxical statement that the weaker parts are really very important and the ones we think aren't worth much are the ones we are to give the most care to. Remarkable.
If you don't know your place in the body of Christ, I hope you will pray and ask the Lord to show you where and how He would have you serve.
If you already know, I hope you will pray that the Lord will keep you from comparing yourself to another and thinking your part is less important than someone else's.
And when you have a chance, you might give a hearty pat on the back to someone whom you know is listening to their "Head" and exercising their gift and contributing to the body.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Well boys and girls, it been a busy, productive day. Lots going on that's probably too boring to tell. But in keeping with my new commitment to write every day....okay, that probably won't happen... but more regularly, at least, let me leave you with a prayer.
But not just any prayer, mind you. A Puritan prayer. I'm tellin' ya the truth, those Puritans had it going on! They had a different understanding than some of us do of sin and grace and contrition and our spiritually poverty stricken state and desperate need for Christ.
So, from "The Valley of Vision," I quote you a beautiful prayer and hope you will make it your own.
"Thou art the blessed God,
happy in Thyself,
source of happiness in Thy creatures,
my Maker, Benefactor, Proprietor, Upholder.
Thou hast produced and sustained me,
supported and indulged me,
saved and kept me;
Thou art in every situation able to meet my needs and my miseries.
May I live by Thee,
live for Thee,
never be satisfied with my Christian progress
but as I resemble Christ;
and may conformity to His principles, temper, and conduct
grow hourly in my life.
Let Thy unexampled love constrain me into holy obedience,
and render my duty my delight.
If others deem my faith folly,
my meekness infirmity,
my zeal madness,
my hope delusion,
my actions hypocrisy,
may I rejoice to suffer for Thy name.
Keep me walking steadfastly towards the country
of everlasting delights,
that paradise-land which is my true inheritance.
Support me by the strength of heaven,
that I may never turn back,
or desire false pleasures
that wilt and disappear into nothing.
As I pursue my heavenly journey by Thy grace
let me be known as a person with no aim
but that of a burning desire for Thee,
and the good and salvation of my fellow human being."

I sincerely hope I am not violating any copyright infringement laws. It's a beautiful prayer, but I'm not sure it's worth going to prison over...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I was with two different groups of women today. Both groups are comprised of awesome, godly women it is my privilege to know. I deeply love and admire every single one of them, and I treasure how God made them.
The morning group is doing a weekly abbreviated "Celebrate Recovery" version of the program over the summer. I have the distinct honor of facilitating the group, but the goal is to help with a ministry one of the women in the group is starting. The name is, "Hope Restored," and it is designed to be a house where women who are trying to get their lives put back together after prison, drug abuse, etc., can come to heal, let go of shame, learn practical life skills and be restored to a place of dignity in society. Lives will be changes and that's awesome!
One of the requirements for acceptance in the house is that they be actively involved in "Celebrate Recovery," a Christ centered 12-step program.
I told the woman starting "Hope Restored," that it didn't seem fair to ask the women who would be coming into the house to do something the women who would be working with, and hoping to minister to them, hadn't done. Not only was I concerned that we wouldn't be speaking the same "language," I was afraid there would be not a real point of contact. A lot of the women who have volunteered to help have the appearance of having all the blessings and none of the heartaches of life. It's not true, though. We are finding out first-hand, as we are open and honest and candid with one another, that we all have, "Hurts, habits and hang-ups," that God needs and wants to address in each of us. He is graciously doing a work in us so that we can aid Him in doing a work in the women He brings to the house. I think we have all been surprised, sometimes painfully, sometimes pleasantly, by all He is doing in us so he can work through us.
The second group of women were my "core group" in the weekly Bible study I attend. Every year the groups are mixed up again with no more than 15 in each group. But for some reason, that year, God did something unexpected and marvelous. We bonded to such a degree that we didn't want to stop meeting. So we didn't!
We met all through that first summer, throughout this past year and now into the second summer. We call ourselves the "Yadas" and not after the book. We are a prayer group and supposedly Yada means something spiritual. I've forgotten what, so until I remember, just take my word for it.
At first I thought the name was really corny, but I have come to love it. We meet once a month. and we can't wait to be with each other! It's one of the biggest highest highlights of our collective month. We talk and share and laugh and eat, of course, but we also pray.
In both of these groups, we are open and honest and real. Warts and all. Because we all have warts so there's no sense pretending we don't.
Pretense always breeds isolation because you think you can't afford to let anyone really know you. These women are the antithesis of what is all too common in our churches these days and I love them for it almost as much as I need them.
I also have a small prayer group of four women that meet in my home to pray for our families every other Tuesday, as well as my almost weekly meetings with my favorite 30-somethings, Tara and Kristen.
Then there is the other group of three women who are determined to see, "The Rhyme and Reason Series" published.
My gosh! As I type this, I realize how incredibly blessed I am! God has given me not one, not two, but an entire bevy of solid, get-to-the-point committed Christian friends who love and pray for each other. I feel rich beyond measure in the things that matter most. I don't wear a diamond on my finger. Mainly because I don't have one. Instead, the Lord has sprinkled sparkling diamonds of greater and eternal value all around me. And I cherish them with more passion than I could ever value compacted coal.
My heart is overflowing with gratitude, but here is my point: Twice in Scripture (and I know I've said this many times before because it's one of my favorite themes...) God tells us He has named all the stars!
We all know that if God says something once, He means it. If He says it twice, He's making a point of making a point.
Isaiah 40:25-26 says, "To whom will you liken Me that I should be his equal? says the Holy One. Lift your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing." Wow. That should be enough right there. But Psalm 147:4 confirms this incredible statement: "He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to them all."
I personally don't think this is hyperbole. I think He said exactly what He meant. With the same care and thought with which we name our children, God has named the incalculable stars in the incalculable galaxies of which we can't even find the end.
And if it's true that the universe is ever-expanding, that means He is giving birth and naming star babies all the time.
And yet. Oh! And yet! We are His priority! He loves us with an everlasting love! I am convinced the stars are just a hobby. It's us He adores! It's us! What a worship inspiring thought!
And if we love and serve a God who can name more stars than we have a number to count, doesn't it make sense that the "hurts, habits and hang-ups" that seem so monumental and confusing and trying to us are nothing at all to Him? Nothing! Besides, He promises that, "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
I'm afraid in my case even that won't be long enough, but what a marvelous, comforting, hopeful thought!
Not only that, He's grace-gifted me with all of these women I can just be myself with, whom I know will pray for me as I pray for them. And I do.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


If the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions, I am well on my way. But now I have a new intention. A good one, of course, because they always are, aren't they? Where is the road going, I wonder, that is paved with bad intentions? Hell, of course. I'm sure of it. It just doesn't seem fair, does it?
My newest intention is actually an old one: to blog more regularly. I want to. I try to. I mean to. But then I get busy or can't think of anything earth-shattering to write about. Besides, I have never liked the clunky, abrupt, vomiting sound of the word "blog." Who came up with that, anyway? Where's an untraceable gun when you really need one?
But so many of you have come out of the woodwork after yesterdays blog that I feel compelled to use the gift God has given me more regularly. I'm pretty sure that in Ephesians 4:11, right after "apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers" is "blogger." I'll double check.
Besides, even if no one actually reads our stuff, it is essential that we writers actually write. Preferably on a daily basis. Words are to us what crack is to an addict. We have to do it! I can't tell you how satisfying it is to find out that people actually read what I write on purpose! It feels a bit like Sally Field accepting that Oscar.
By the way, if you want to check out my favorite writer and blogger who is also a personal friend, go to She writes almost every day, but usually just a paragraph or so. Not only is she a brilliant, gifted writer, she's hilariously funny.
Now here is my thought for the day, courtesy of Zig Ziglar. "You can start anywhere and get where you want to go. Life is a great teacher. Failure is only an event. And regardless of what happens to you along the way, you will eventually come to understand that everything that occurs teaches and prepares you for the next stage of life."
Well, I certainly hope so, or else it's just a crap shoot!
Thanks to all of you for your kind words and encouraging responses. You motivate me!