Monday, October 27, 2014

What Were You Thinking??

Our thoughts, words, and deeds are like seeds we sow. And although we may be able to outwardly control many of our words and deeds, it can be our thoughts and imagination that need work. An unleashed thought life will, sooner or later, play out in our words and deeds.
2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take our thoughts captive because this part of our lives can lead us into trouble or triumph!
What are you thinking about? It may seem a strange thing to do, but become super conscious and vigilant about your thought life. It can reveal your strengths and weaknesses, how you view your world and the people in it, and the kind of harvest you may be expecting.
Whenever you need to, take those unproductive, negative, angry, dark, fear-filled, thoughts captive, replacing them with that which is positive, beautiful, and in line with Philippians 4:8!
Luke 6:35, Eph. 4:32, Prov 11:17, Col 3:12, 1 Cor 13:4-7, 2 Cor 10:5

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Pharisees vs. Jesus

This Morning's Musing:
To the Family of Faith:

The Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus's day knew the letter of the Law but had little ability to implement the unconditional love of God to the lost, hurt, and broken.
Jesus WAS the letter of the Law and came specifically to pour out unconditional love to the lost, hurt, and broken. This Jesus sat and ate with those the religious avoided, disparaged, and despised. By doing so, many were changed, healed, and set free.
We are either modeling one or the other, and our lives, our words and actions, and our Facebook statuses reveal which one it is.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Anger Management 101

from this Morning’s Musings

Anger. It’s just one letter away from DANGER. This is no coincidence! We leave people wounded in the wake of our resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness because we are angry. And most of us have been wounded by the actions or words of someone else’s anger toward us. Let’s face it. We can be mean. We can say and do some pretty mean things. One day we call someone our best friend, and the next, we want nothing to do with them. We get married and vow a lifelong partnership through thick and thin, and when things get rough, instead of working through those times, we want out. How many siblings do you know who haven’t spoken to one another in years or decades? And don’t get me started about churches and church people!

When we perceive someone has crossed lines that offend and wound us, our human nature sets up what we unconsciously believe are self-protective behaviors. 
But the Bible tells us to be angry and sin not. (Eph 4:26) What in the world does that really mean and how do we really live that way? We must learn to control ourselves even in the face of anger. It’s really okay to be angry. But there’s a way to be angry that protects others and ourselves from the ugly aftermath of unrestrained anger and from the kind of wounding anger that destroys relationships. Remember, there is one that comes to kill, steal, and destroy. (John 10:10) We need to learn some things so he is rendered incapable of putting his foot in the door of those relationships that should be so precious to us.

To simplify, here are some anger management do’s and don’t.

Do confront the person you’re angry with. In person is best, but if that’s not possible, Skype or call on the phone. 
Don’t text! Texts are a major player in misunderstandings as it is. This isn’t the time to chance a further issue.

Do confront the person soon after the incident. "Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph 4:26) is solid biblical advice that’s meant to help us deal with situations before our flaky minds make them worse than they really are.
Don’t wait and let your anger turn into bitterness and resentment. (Eph 4:31)

Do get the counsel of a good accountable, mature friend who will help you work through your anger without taking sides.
Don’t call everyone who you think will side with you against the person you’re angry with and tell them your version of the truth.

Do wait until you’re calm. Wait until you can control your outward reactions and your inner responses.
Don’t confront them while you’re seething and your head is reeling. Take a walk. Walking reduces stress and gives you a chance to think more clearly. 

Do use “I” statements. “I was hurt when…” “I felt angry when…” or even, “I’m angry that…” 
Do not use statements like “You always…” or “You never…”

Do be assertive, yet respecting the feelings of the other person. Confront in love, and be open to understanding how the other person sees the situation.
Don’t be defensive, aggressive, cynical, critical, or hostile, demanding the other person see things your way. Even if they don’t, your responsibility is to keep your head about you. 

Do keep your voice as calm as possible. 
Don’t yell or talk over the other person when they are talking. If you don’t like what they’re saying or how they’re saying it, allow them to speak and then give your rebuttal as calmly as you can.

Being honest and confronting the situation may not resolve the rift between you and the other person, especially if they are not able to implement some of these ideas. Remember, you are only responsible for you and your reactions and responses. If you’ve done all you know to do and there’s no resolution, you may need a mediator to help. Sometimes the date on a relationship has expired, and it’s time to move on. Do all you can to do so without bitterness and resentment. Those things will not effect the other person half as much as they’ll effect you. Forgiveness is a must. But that’s another blog and this one’s long enough.

If you know that you have a continual issue with anger, you may need to seek the guidance of a godly, professional counselor who will help you deal with this issue in your life. That being said, there are things all of us can do to help manage our own anger.

First, know your triggers. What things do you find that specifically bring your anger temperature from normal to boiling in a flash of a second? For me, if someone lies about me or someone I care about, that could set me off very quickly. What is it for you?

Second, what are three things that can help you to immediately take control of your anger? For me, a long walk in a park, listening to good worship music, or vigorous cleaning helps. Some other ideas may be exercising, calling someone who you can speak about your emotions but will remain impartial, deep breathing, reading a book, window shopping, or taking a drive. Insert your own ideas here…

Learning to deal with anger is a part of life. Unresolved, anger can cause an open, festering wound that never heals, or it can actually become beneficial, helping us to mature as we learn to deal with it in more healthy ways.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Contest Winner! Yeah Me!

In September 2014, the Wildlife Conservation Society held a photography contest called "Color in Nature." Winning depended on votes cast for five photos the Society chose to be the finalists.

My baby robin photo was among those finalists, and I'm honored to tell you, it won the contest!

Please check out the blog at the link below.  It was edited (deeply!) from my longer one. You know I'm much wordier than this!

If you voted, thank you!!!

(If anyone can help me put up a direct link, that would be so kind of you!!! Until then, cut and paste the link below.)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Victoria Osteen? What About Her? What About Us?

*This post has already become one of my most popular since it was written.  If the post has been a blessing or of interest to you, would you kindly bless me with a comment and a blog following? Thanks in advance!

Imagine you were human. Imagine you make a mistake and publicly say something that is incorrect or highly controversial. Imagine your brothers and sisters all over the world begin to mock you, disparage you, and even call you demonic. Imagine that you and your family are barraged by social media with every kind of foul and vicious attack. Imagine how you would feel, being persecuted by the very people who should love you and pray for you. 

Jesus himself told a group of religious men who were ready to stone a woman caught in adultery that the one who was sinless should cast the first stone. Even these pompous men dropped their rocks. Yet this is a lesson we apparently have not learned. 

We love to throw our rocks from the comfort of our computers, never considering the repercussions of our actions to those we stone with our words. We even love when others pick up stones and throw with us- sharing our disparaging words, meme, or video. We call it "going viral." 

Yeah, it's viral. Like a contagious disease spreading it's poison. We do exactly opposite of what Jesus taught us by His words and actions. And then we condone our behavior saying we must judge one another lest others be deceived by the one we disparage. 

I can hear someone saying, "But that one has a higher accountability.." That if we care about the body of Christ, we must be watchmen...My Bible tells me to examine MYSELF. To take the log out of my eye before trying to remove the splinter from someone else's. As imperfect as I am, I have enough work to do right here in this heart before passing judgment on others. 

And the spirit of our stones thrown is not one of love. There is little or no love anywhere recognizable- at least in most of the posts I've seen.

I'm writing to myself first and then sharing with you! IMHO- it's time for those who call themselves believers in Jesus Christ to repent of this sin. We need to stop falling prey to what I call the Internet Cesspool. Stop making excuses for gossip and slander. God is not pleased and the world looks on and laughs at us. 

Now imagine again you are a human who makes a mistake. Imagine swimming in a sea of prayer, love, and forgiveness, encouragement and godly exhortation. Imagine thousands of hands lifting you to your feet after you've fallen. Imagine having your biological family being covered and protected by your spiritual family. Imagine what that would look like to a watching world!

If you are called by His name, then seek His face, turn from your wicked ways, humble yourself and pray. And let's start looking a little more like the One who loves us by being a little more like Him. 

Update: Here's a link to a great video by Clayton Jennings regarding the same issue. It's worth the time to watch.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why I Won't Do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Believe me when I tell you that my heart is tender toward those who battle ALS. As a nurse, I had patients who suffered tremendously and their end was more than difficult. I’m glad the challenge has brought light to Lou Gehrig’s Disease and has raised so many millions to combat it. I’m really happy to see so many Hollywood and sports celebrities taking part. I hope and pray the money raised will go directly to helping those who are struggling daily with ALS, and I pray even more that better treatment and a cure is found.

But now I need to explain why I won’t participate. For the past three years, I’ve been working on growing an organization to help young ladies who have been the victims of domestic sex trafficking. (That means American girls trafficked in our backyards by American perpetrators.) In brief, part one of our vision is to build a short-term transition house to assist young adult survivors with independent living and leadership skills so that they can become healthy, productive leaders in their spheres. 

Part two of the vision is a long-term safe house for minor victims that will help them become victorious overcomers. We will be the first not for profit organization to accomplish these goals in a faith-based setting in the state of NY where thousands of girls and young women are trafficked annually. Currently, there are very few places that have direct services for this overwhelming number of trafficking survivors. Many end up in jail, detention centers, or large residential treatment centers simply because authorities have few options for them.

The great news is that we just received our tax exempt status! Now we can finally write grants and raise funds so that we can do what we must to help these girls. Until recently, anything we needed to do with and for the girls we currently work with came out of my pocket. Legal fees for incorporation and the non profit status included. To fulfill the vision, we will need several million dollars just to get started. 

So while ALS is a wonderful cause and this challenge has brought so much good to the fight against it, my passion and fight must stay focused. With that, I will take the $100 for not pouring ice cold water on my head (Those who know me know that I HATE being cold!!!) and put it into Sparrow’s Hope for Girls’ bank account. And for the very first time, it will be tax deductible! 

Thanks for understanding. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

André Rieu - And The Waltz Goes On (composed by: Anthony Hopkins)

If you've not heard this stunning work by Sir Anthony Hopkins, please do yourself a favor and take the time. It really is just ... okay. I'm speechless at the beauty of this piece and had to share it with you!

May it bring a smile to your day!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Debate: The Art of Passionate Listening

I bet you’ve never thought of debate as passionate listening before. In fact, the first thing we think of when we hear “debate” is two sides voicing their own convictions and opinions. Yet, if we are really debating well, we are also listening to our “opponent.” 

Most of us have deep passions stemming from our experiences in this life. And I hate to break this to you, no matter what we’ve lived through, neither you or I know everything about anything! We should all be learning and growing as long as we have breath. Sometimes I think we forget that we have much to learn from one another. 

I enjoy when someone challenges me on something I think I know. Going back and forth with our given understanding, if we are willing, we both learn something important, new, or a different perspective than the one we’ve come to perceive as the sole truth. And if I’m being honest, my first reaction is usually that I’m right, and you’re not necessarily wrong. I want my opinion validated, because unless I consider what you’re saying is dead wrong, I will validate yours. And even if my strong convictions decree that you are, in fact, dead wrong, I will still do my earnest best to validate your experiences and what you’re saying.

The bottom line is that I want to hear you. We should want to hear one another. As humans, we should validate each other by passionately listening to one another and considering well what is being said. It broadens our thinking, helps us understand our own limitations, and helps us strengthen our convictions. 

With social media, it seems that we are too quick to judge, too stubborn to listen, and too adamant to lend understanding and validation to each other. We demand that we are the only voice of reason, and any and all other opinions are unsound and foolish. It’s seems that this is a plague brought on by the ability to hide behind a keyboard and spew our opinions unthinkingly. We don’t face one another and engage in conversation much anymore. I’m pretty sure that the way we “behave” on the internet would be different if we were looking into one another’s eyes. 

I challenge myself and each of us to learn to listen. Before responding to that person whose post or comment you so vehemently disagree with, take a breath. Think about what they’re saying. Ask yourself or even ask them why they see it the way they do and listen. Don’t REACT to their opinion. Respond to it by thoughtfully proposing your viewpoint, if you must. But first, take care to clarify that you at least hear what they are saying.

If we all did this, we could actually learn something. About one another. About ourselves. 

Try it now. With the man in this video. Can you listen and judge not? I know I would have loved to spend a few minutes talking with Mr. Knight! Now, I'll just have to wait! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Willie Myrick: Every Praise is to Our God!

This blog was written by my friend, Sean Wrench and reposted here by his permission. Read his wisdom and insight after being inspired by one very wise,  brave little boy!
Meet 10 year old Willie Myrick. 
Last week Willie was kidnapped right in his own front yard.
Willie did something that many of us would probably think is a little crazy.
He started worshipping. In fact he kept singing for 3 hours and finally the kidnapper let him go.
I’m going to speculate a little here if you don’t mind. Something tells me Willie went to Sunday school. I wonder if Willie was drawn in with amazement as the teacher told stories of impossible situations that God delivered people from.
I wonder if Willie heard about Jehoshophat.  In 2 Chronicles 20 Jehoshophat who was King of Judah was about to go into the biggest battle of his life. Scripture says that a ‘vast army’ was coming against him. 
Jehoshophat was outnumbered and outmatched. I don’t know about you but I can relate to this. There are so many battles in life I’ve fought that were just bigger than me. I felt overwhelmed.
But Jehoshophat did something that for the leader of a great army just didn’t make sense. As they went into battle he put the worshippers on the FRONT LINE. Can you imagine this? 
They went into the biggest battle of their life singing “Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever”
I just wonder if Willie Myrick heard this story.
I wonder if he heard about Gideon. In Judge 7 Gideon faced a similar battle as Jehoshophat. Scripture tells us that just their camels numbered more than the grains of sand on the seashore.
Gideon led only 300 men into a battle that was likely against hundreds of thousands of men if not millions. With trumpets and clay pots they charged into battle shouting “For the Lord and for Gideon”and if you study the Old Testament you’ll see that the most common use of Trumpets were in worship cermonies. 
I wonder if Willie heard about King David. David went into more battles than we could count. In fact David fearlessly led many a battle. I don’t think it’s by chance that David was a worshipper. 
But here’s the thing. It’s easy to stand in church and lift our hands and sing songs when life is good. It’s easy to sing those worship songs on the top of our lungs when we are driving in our car when everything in life is comfortable.
That’s the easy part. But when we worship before the battle and during the battle. Oh man that’s where the powerful stuff happens.
You see King David knew something about this. In fact in 2 Samuel 22 he said “I called to the Lord who is worthy of praise and then I was saved from my enemies” 
David didn’t just praise after the victory. David knew that praise preceded the victory. 
I wonder if Willie Myrick heard the famous story about the Israelites marching around the walls of Jericho. In Joshua 6 as they marched around the walls Joshua ordered them to shout unto the Lord and sound the trumpets. And I think most of us know what happened next. The walls came down. 
Abraham. He faced one of the most impossible situations recorded in the Bible. I’m no doctor but I don’t know anyone in recent history that became a Dad at the age of 100. I mean let’s be honest ‘stuff’ just stops working at that age. Sarah was 90. But scripture tell us that Abraham didn’t stop praising and giving glory to God.
Here’s what I want us to understand. 10 year old Willie Myrick has just taught the world a very powerful lesson. Praise wins the battle.
Listen, I am going through some tough stuff in life right now, you are going through some tough stuff, we ALL are facing battles in our life.
So I dare you. I dare you to worship in the battle. I dare you to sing on the top of your lungs when you absolutely least feel like it. I dare you in the midst of what seems like an impossible situation to lift up your hands wherever you are and just start praising God. 
Why is worship so powerful? Because scripture is crystal clear that God is moved by our faith. Worship energizes our faith. Do you know that there are 42 times in the Bible where God actually changed his mind? This is really a whole different blog post but let me briefly say this. God’s character never changes. But prayer and worship move the heart of God. God will change his mind when we pray and worship when it lines up with his character. And it’s not always about us asking God to change his mind about our situation. Jesus was clear that prayer brings heaven to earth. When we pray we bring God’s will that is in heaven down to earth. Sometimes we simply have not because we ask not. Or we gave up asking. I’m so tempted to start talking about prayer but I’ll save that for another blog post. 
If we could just understand how deeply God loves us and is longing to move on our behalf we would start praying like crazy and worshipping our lungs out ! 
Because prayer and worship MOVE GOD ! I don’t know Willie Myrick personally but I’ll bet at some point in his 10 years someone taught him that. 
And when faced with possibly the most fearful situation a 10 year old could ever face Willie started to worship.
Here’s the song Willie sang.
Sean is the Founder&CEO of Alive Marketing Group. He also leads a team of incredibly passionate entrepreneurs as a Brand Partner with Nerium International. 
As the former director of Forsaken Generation he has spoken around the country about the issue of Human Trafficking.
He was also a part of 2 church plants and continues to be passionate about sharing his faith with others. 
Please take a moment to leave a comment on this post and share the post! For more from Sean you can find him here: 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Musings from My Hyper-active Morning Brain 2. I Need Something

I need something. I want something. I want something more than the status quo, predictable Sunday church service. I want more than sitting in and doing my due diligence to what we now refer to as “church.” I deeply desire the kind of gathering, an Acts 2 kind of life where we regularly come together, break bread, and open our hearts to one another about what God is teaching us, how He is leading and directing us, and encourage one another as we follow Him. Where we continually hold one another accountable, living iron sharpening iron, laughing, crying, and loving on each other, spurring each other on in the things of God in this life.

I don’t want a pizza party or bowling night. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things. And I believe God’s true church is more than a group of people facing forward in a room. Not that there’s anything wrong with that either. But I crave a New Testament experience with other believers who are hungry for something perhaps less appealing to most. I’ve been with folks who shy away from conversations about God, saying that we could be so “heavenly minded that we are no earthly good…” I beg to differ. The more heavenly minded we are, the more we have the mind of Christ, the more we look like Him, act like Him, love like Him, the more equipped will we be to do His will and work in the earth and be part of His Kingdom come. 

In John 17:20-23, Jesus prayed, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one, I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me."

Jesus understood that as we are in complete unity with Him and with one another, the world will believe in Him! How will they know? By the love we have for one another. (John 13:35) When the world sees the love of Jesus shed abroad in our hearts FOR ONE ANOTHER, then they can trust the Jesus we proclaim. And honestly, we can’t learn to truly love one another, forgive one another, be family with one another (with all that “family” implies) by just doing our due diligence performances on Sundays. There’s got to be so much more!

We must have the kind of fellowship believers had in Acts 4:32 where the “multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.” And I can hear the rumblings. Well, that’s just not practical today. If you are a Christian, you already know there’s nothing practical about following Christ! 

I really didn’t mean for this to get into a bible study. I’m just passionately seeking answers for myself. Because I need something. I want something more than the status quo, predictable Sunday church service. I want family. In reality, not just in a musing. I’m desperately hungry for true, bible fellowship. What about you?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Morning Musings from My Hyper-brain. 1

My brain is often hyper-active in the morning. Thoughts pour in and out of my head as I ready myself for work. Brushing my teeth seems to really bring on the flow. So here's the first of my hyper-morning brain musings.

What if Jesus and the disciples acted like some of us do? What if they went to the woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery with signs that said, "GOD HATES ADULTERERS" or what if they just behaved as though he hated them? On the other hand, what if we behaved like Jesus did and loved all kinds of people, showing them that God really does love them in spite of themselves, just like he does us?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Conductor and the Viola Player


Even in his diminutive stature, the conductor stands above the rest; his long, wild, curly hair tossing every which way as he gracefully and intentionally flails his arms to and fro. He seems strangely connected and yet separate, and to those not trained, he appears off the beat from the rest of the orchestra, or they lagging behind. Yet in reality, he stays ever so slightly ahead of the beat so the orchestra can follow well.

But how fascinating it is to study the members of the orchestra! The conductor passionately cuts the atmosphere with his hands or baton, pointing, cueing, guiding, and directing each note and each section with precision. And yet, the musicians almost never look up at him. There may be an infrequent glance, but almost never from the concertmaster or first violinist. The whole of them are concentrated on the written score. Having been diligently trained and highly disciplined, the score is enough to keep them in perfect sync. Their focus remains intent with those infrequent gazes to their incomparable leader.

Still, he remains fixed and steady at his post, dancing and swaying, directing each individual musician, each section of instruments, and the whole orchestral body. He understands that in his absence, even the most gifted and seasoned musician may fall astray and lead the others with him. The conductor’s faithful presence is a source of security even for those who never have to lift their eyes-their faith is rewarded by his sure presence, and they fulfill their mission in notes and chords and measures and scores, both individually and as a magnificent whole.
But wait! Did I neglect to tell you about the viola player? She sits next to the concertmaster; a clear indication of her expertise. Yet, she looks at the conductor with great frequency while she plays. It isn’t because she needs him to direct her more than the others do--she knows her score and its timing well. On the occasion when her instrument isn’t being played in a piece, she moves slightly to the music, or she looks at the other musicians and smiles--although this gesture is never returned. Or she watches the conductor with that sweet, gentle smile. It is clear, she enjoys him! She enjoys her fellow musicians, and she relishes being a part of something so wonderful.
The unity of the orchestra is the conductor’s great achievement. Without the use of a single word, the strings and the woodwinds, the percussion and brass, although so obviously different from one another, work meticulously as one to evoke emotion from hearers and move them deeply.
After each masterfully executed piece, the audience shares their high praise. The conductor steps down from his podium and bows slightly. Then with great enthusiasm, he turns and points to each section, directing them to rise and receive recognition. And they never do so without the conductor’s direction! When the concert has ended, the audience rises to their feet in a show of gratitude. After once again taking his bows, the conductor goes into the sections and personally greets the musicians, shaking their hands and congratulating them on a job well done!

(This allegory was inspired by Jeffrey Kahane, the conductor and pianist in the photo, and the NY Philharmonic Orchestra at Lincoln Center, NY.)

Friday, February 28, 2014

I Hate Facebook

I hate Facebook. In fact, I hate all public forums of social networking. They seem to be the gathering places for individuals who sit before their computers enthroned on their moral self-righteousness and who feel the urgency to disparage anyone who is not like-minded. Quite frankly, it’s been heavy on my heart for the past few days, and my spirit is really disturbed.

As for the Christian community, we are not immune or guiltless. We rant in vitriolic diatribes about those holding positions of authority in government or the latest struggling famous young person. We openly condemn those we do not know and in whose shoes we have not walked. We call groups of people evil and sinners, and in effect have deemed them hopelessly condemned to death.

Last week, one of the men in our church led us to enter into biblical accounts as though we were there. Seeing, as if frozen, the expressions on faces, the physical positions, the clothes, shoes and attitudes of those in the scenarios, and us walking around them-investigating the accounts like a detective. 

For the past few days, I’ve pictured one particular scene as religious accusers grab large, heavy stones to throw at a woman caught in adultery. She cowers as they surround her. Her clothing falls off one shoulder and she grabs at it to set it back to her neck and holds it there, face downward, eyes full of fear as she anticipates the first rock to pound her flesh, thrown from the men who shout their accusations at her. And just as one of the men extends his arm back in preparation to hurl that stone, Jesus stands between him and the woman, and looks directly into his eyes. 

Emboldened by his self-righteousness, the man says to Jesus, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery! You know what the Law says! She is to be stoned! So what do you say?” Others begin to question him as well, and he quietly stoops down, still positioned between the first accuser and the woman whose head remains down, but she has lifted her eyes to the back of Jesus’ head, wondering what he will say. 

For a moment, there is silence as Jesus, with his finger, writes something in the dirt. She cannot see what is written, and the looks on the men’s faces begins to reveal a surprised indignation. “So, Rabbi. What do you say should be done with her?” 

Jesus rises to once again to look them in the eyes and says, “He who is without sin among you cast the first stone at her.” With that, he stoops down again and writes in the dirt once more. For what seems like an eternity to the woman, nothing happens. No one moves or says a word.

“Thud.” A large stone falls from the oldest man’s hand to the ground. “Thud. Thud.” Two more fall. Then another. And another. And with each thud, a man walks away from the scene, convicted. After the last of many thuds, silence. 

Jesus stands, and the woman, still stooped to the ground looks up into his eyes. “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” 

“No, my Lord. No one!” she barely whispers in awe.

“Then I don’t condemn you either.” Jesus tells her. “Go. Sin no more.” Jesus reaches out with his right hand to help her rise, and she takes it with her left, her eyes full of wonder. Still clutching her garment, she walks away and turns to look back at him, knowing she has been saved from her sin and her wounded and broken heart has been healed. 

As I walk through this scene, I fall so in love with Jesus. He is everything I long to be. Full of wisdom. Merciful, kind, loving, gentle, and yet exacting justice in a way that cannot be escaped. And those who came in contact with him had a choice. Their hearts could be changed and made more like his, or they would become hardened, seeking self-justification. Nothing has changed. 

It’s no different today. We still accuse others, ready to hurl rocks of condemnation at them. Isn’t it time to drop our rocks? We really need to let the rocks fall from our hands. We need to walk away from the foolishness of thinking we are better than those we judge. All of us have fallen short of God’s glory. All of us deserve condemnation and death, and yet, we’ve been given the gift of mercy and grace. We are called not to judge but to be repairers of the breach, healers of the broken-hearted, those who proclaim liberty to the captives, and who open prison doors to set the captive free, to undo heavy burdens and break yokes of bondage, to share bread with the hungry and care for the poor. 

So, the next time you want to lash out at that politician because you firmly believe his decisions don’t measure up, or the next time you look on that young starlet who has fallen from your standards, instead of disparaging them in public, privately intercede for them with a heart not of condemnation with a rock in your hand, but with a heart filled with compassion. Kind of like Jesus. Right?

So What

So what would the world we live in see
And what would the world look like 
If when they looked at you and me
We looked more like You?

So what if instead of pointing out
Where we think that others fail
We did what we should and went about
Pointing them to You?

And so what if we truly understood
Our own great need for You?
That in ourselves there is no good
Except what we have in You?

Because Lord, in reality
The only difference between “them” and “me”
Is You!

The only grace that I’ve received 
That redeems me from my own deficiency
Is You!

(post script: If it were not for Facebook, I would never have had the honor and privilege to have met some of the finest humans on the planet. If you just read this and smiled, one of them is probably YOU!)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Arizona's Anti-Gay Bill Debacle

I think often about those with whom Jesus sat and ate. They were NOT the religious of the day-the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. They were those who the religious scoffed at, hated, and disparaged. He corrected them with mercy, grace, and love, and led them into truth. And he treated the religious with a righteous indignation and contempt saying they were going to hell and taking their followers with them. 

Aren't we to be like our Savior? Aren't we to love those who others consider "unlovely," offer lovingkindness to those who others scoff at, and lead them into truth with mercy, grace, and love? That being said, I must confess I am conflicted with this whole thing. Firstly, there's far too much government in everything. That which is meant to protect citizens has become an ever present bane, IMO. Our government which was established by the people, for the people, is becoming tyrannical and instead of a Republic, we are becoming a Democracy. 

But I digress. The issue I'm conflicted about is this. If I own a bakery and believe in God's definition of marriage, must I be forced by law to make a cake for a gay marriage or be sued and lose my business? If we say YES, then my beliefs are law, and then where is my freedom? If we say NO, then where do we draw the line? If I own a bed and breakfast, must I, by law, take in gay couples? Unmarried couples? The same YES and NO scenario applies. If I own a gym, a restaurant, or any other establishment, can I, as a sincere Christian, turn away anyone? And then how do I know these folks are good friends or a gay couple? 

My dear friends own a sign shop. They are Christians who stand for justice and righteousness. They are some of the most uncompromised people I’ve ever met. They have a sign in their shop saying they have a right to refuse anyone. But do they really have that right by law and by conscience? If someone comes in wanting to have signs made for a Satanic church, what should they do?

I'm not asking these questions to debate, to condemn, or to state emphatically which is right and which is wrong. I’m just asking because they can be hard questions and I’m trying to understand. And I want us to think about this together. Should Arizona have the right to say that any business can refuse any service to a gay person for religious reasons? Not to be cliche, but is this what Jesus would do if he were walking on the planet? And are we not his representatives?

Remember the Colorado family that lost their bakery business because they refused to make a cake for a gay couple? Is that justice or injustice? I have lots of questions like this, and I don't know if there are any clear answers. However, I do know this. God is love. He is truth. He is justice. And no law can regulate that. We must love individuals, no matter who they are. We must be able to show them Christ by the love shed abroad in our hearts. If we claim to be Christians and do not do so, we are no better than that church in Westboro that declares our God as a god of hate. And we know better than that. Don't we?