Embracing the Father

My children are coming to the age where they are realizing that they have power: power to debate, to move others and to stand their ground.  Often times, the fertile soil for testing these powers is in their relationship with one another.  So today after the third stand-off, I believe over who was to start the dishwasher or something of that do or die sort, I decided it was time we had a little talk.  A talk about what it means to lead - as Jesus leads.

The idea of leadership has been an area of thought for me lately, because I've been blessed with both a boss and a pastor that each lead with grace.  I've been amazed at what a difference it makes in my ability to be creative, excited, free and energized in what I do.  Being under life-giving leadership has really caused me to step back and reevaluate what it means to lead.  Because, if you know me well, I like to lead.  Leading by clearing the path and bringing people through, even if I have to drag them through.  But learning to lead, by grace, first, with patience, hope and belief in those that follow, that is a new one for me; in fact it is a challenge.

So back to our little talk this morning, it led us to Mark 9:33-37 in The Message.  The beauty embedded in these verses caught me by surprise:

 They came to Capernaum.
When he was safe at home, he asked them,
 “What were you discussing on the road?”
This totally made me smile, especially since I was talking to my kids. Of course He knew what they were talking about.
34 The silence was deafening
(Um, yeah, they knew they had been caught.)
—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.
35 He sat down and summoned the Twelve.
(Do you see the grace in His approach...)
“So you want first place?
Then take the last place.
Be the servant of all.”
36-37 He put a child in the middle of the room.
Then, cradling the little one in his arms (...and the tenderness?),
he said,
“Whoever embraces one of these children
as I do embraces me,
 and far more than me—God who sent me.”
Here's the thing.  My kids are black and white, solid, logical thinkers.  Why in the world would they want to be a servant to their sibling? (These words finding echoing friends in the chambers of my own thoughts).  But the images Jesus creates - they take us out of our paradigm and He changes the whole conversation.  I saw things in a whole new way during this discussion:
Jesus wants us to view the others with the same gentleness, tenderness and care that we would a baby.  This means they are precious to Him and should be precious to us.  And then, then He takes it one step further, this act of tenderness and compassion becomes a place of blessing for us.  By embracing (holding tenderly in our arms with care and compassion) we are embracing Jesus and not only Him, but God as well.
Personally, I had never seen these verses this way before.  Be a servant. Suck it up. Do the right thing because you have to! That's what I always saw before.
But this, this has shaken me, awakened me, excited me.  Perhaps it will do the same for you.
In Christ,


 cascading off of marble walls.
incased in beauty.
Structures of success,
left empty inside.
today is measured
by what we create
But what do we do when
we've reached the epitome of success
and look around to see that we are standing there
Those are the modern day images I think of when I reflect on 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Often times, I feel that we are taught to measure our lives based solely upon our successes, yet rarely are we taught to love, challenged to love.  It is easier, much easier to achieve than to turn the other cheek and to love.
Yet the way we see God explain how He weaves Himself into our lives is in the dailyness of it all.
Love it is patient.                                                                                                                fails.
  Love it is kind.                                                                                                            it never
        It does not envy.                                                                                              Love
            It does not boast. It is not proud.                                                       It always perseveres.
                It is not self-seeking.                                                                 It always hopes.
                     It keeps no record of wrong.                                         It always trusts.
                                                     Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders fail.
My heart aches when I see brokenness.  Broken lives. Broken marriages. This wasn't the design. This wasn't the intention. It wasn't how we were built to be.  I pray that my heart never becomes callous to the pain I feel when I encounter this brokenness. 
Yet, I see, know and understand that He hasn't abandoned us. Nor has He ignored us. 
May we understand that the little decisions we make everyday.  The choices to love and forgive. To choose to trust, to choose to hope, to choose to persevere - those are the things that truly matter.  Those are the foundational truths upon which our homes are built.
Let us learn how to incorporate Christ into our daily lives, our daily decisions, our daily choices. This is where He belongs.
In Christ,

ReImagining Church

I am a Christian mutt.
What do I mean by this?
After being in the church for 29 years, I've had the opportunity to delve my feet into many versions of "church." I've gone to Bible-believing churches, Evangelical Free churches, I've had my doses of charismatic church, I've been in non-denominational church and
I have been immersed in liturgy.
I find the life and beauty of Christ in all these forms of worship.
If you've been around this thing long enough, I'm sure you've encountered the We vs Them conversations.  I know I've heard it and I know I've proclaimed it: Why we are right by our version of worship and why they are wrong.  When we entered our current church, my pastor counseled us with the wisest information I have ever heard about "denominations":
We are on a spiritual journey.  Simply find the place that helps you to transform spiritually.
After being in the church for years, I had never heard that one, but it was freeing, especially being a mutt, such as me.  I loved all the places I had been. I would never change a spot in my journey, but at that point in my journey, I also needed the freedom to find something different than I had experienced before to heal the wounds of my heart. I no longer wanted to enter into the us vs them church battle anymore.  I wanted to be free to engage in my spiritual worship without feeling like I was saying my way was better than where I had come from or how my friends and family were worshipping.

So I love The Church.  I've been hurt by The Church. I've hurt others by being in The Church.  I've recognized that The Church is a beautiful, mystery that is larger than my imagination and it is needed.  So as a lay person, I would like to share some things I've learned about The Church.  This isn't meant to be a comprehensive, theological, finger-pointing or convicting post.  It is simply to be a reminder of some of the beautiful purposes of The Church, as the body of Christ.
So here's what I've learned along the way:
  • Church is not meant to be a spectator sport: Church is not simply a Sunday morning checking in and out of the "Christianity work card."  Whether you attend a Sunday service or not, if you profess Christ you are part of His body and you are needed. 
  • We is needed, not just you: As Paul describes, the Church is made up of a body.  A body has to interact with one another.  We are meant to encourage and uplift each other in this journey.  While of course there is an element to your spiritual journey that is between you and God there is also an element that connects us all together.
  • There is power in The Church: That power has been seen throughout the ages in both good and bad ways.  Let our generation be known for the good ways.
    • Matthew 16:18-19 And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
      • This is the mode that Christ has chosen to operate and move on this earth.  He hasn't given up on The Church, have you?
  • The Church is a family:
    • Raising children helps me appreciate this truth so much more.  My kids are night and day different from each other in personality.  It means conflict arises.  It means conflict needs to be worked through and they need to learn how to love each other through their differences. When my kids are in conflict I always point them to LOVE first, RELATIONSHIP second, the issue at hand last.  This flips the situation upside down and instead of trying to fix the situation, they are learning to love first and why do they love because relationship is of upmost importance.  If you are part of the church, you will get hurt and you will hurt.  Why? Because the church is made up of human beings. 
    • As a family, we are also meant to be the family that sometimes this broken world incompletely provides:
      • Mark 10: 29-30 No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.
        • Along my journey, I have met many people whose biological family lives are broken in so many ways.  However, our hearts were designed to receive proper love from our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers.  When this doesn't happen biologically, the church is designed to do it.  If there is one take away from this entire post, this would be the one I would want everyone to get.  It is a sacred privilege to be a part of the family of God: to be the loving arms, the shoulder to cry on, the hands to heal, the ears to listen. To be the family, the place of refuge for the brokenhearted, the orphans, the widows in their distress. This is our beautiful privilege.
  • The Church is meant to be a BLESSING:
    • Do you remember God's promise to Abraham? That all people would be blessed because of him?  The church is the current lived out moving, breathing action of this.  As this truth struck me, I've had to stop and consciously think about this.  As I go out to the stores I get to be a blessing to the checkout person, to the restaurant server... I also get to be a blessing to my family as well.  So often my eyes and time are me-focused, first.  Recognizing that part of my role in bringing His Kingdom come, His Will be done is simply to bless others changes my tune and perspective in life. 
So my prayer for this post is that it sparks your reImagination for the Church.  It  is so much more than I've listed here but I think there is value in stepping back and reevaluating our perspective on it.  Some things you may know, some thoughts may be new and there may be other things that I didn't even touch on.  But I'd encourage you to revitalize your heart, love and understanding for The Church.
In Christ,

Finding Rhythm in the Chaos

I've been a Christ-follower for 29 years now (Yikes! I must be getting old.).  About 6 years ago, my husband and I were in a de-churched phase (a Todd Hunter term) of our Christian journey.  This just means, we were burned out on "church," busy asking what is the purpose of church, what is the point of church, is there a point to it, etc.  In the midst of that season, through quite a beautiful and divine story, we discovered Todd Hunter.  In the discovery, we both allowed his ministry to pastor our hearts.  Through a slow melting of our hearts, we decided to indeed give Church a Second Chance and found a local body to plug into again.  But even though we've connected with a local body, we still allow Todd Hunter to pastor our hearts on a weekly basis.

So this week, he gave another incredible sermon:

Discipleship 2015 (9/27/2015)

It was in celebration of their church body being 6 years old.  I realized that even though I had never met these people or Todd, my heart was there and it was in celebration with them.  So anyway, this sermon gives a beautiful summary of my heart's journey during the last 6 years: from the disillusionment with church to finding a rhythm and a reason to gather with other believers on a weekly basis. 

I know that not everyone has experienced what we have or may not understand this part of my journey.  But I also know that our story isn't unique and there are some of you who have felt a need to understand the purpose of church again.  I know that during my de-churched phase, I needed a renewal in my understanding of the purpose of gathering with other believers.  While there are lots of ways for that to be done, I feel that Todd does a great job laying out my story and then speaking to the needs of our heart.  I have lived what he is teaching for the last 5 years and it does make a difference.  It wasn't a dramatic moment of change, but more like the movement of a river, it has been a consistent, healing, life-changing, life-giving movement within my heart.  It has calmed me and allowed me to be at peace before God, myself, my family, my friends and my ministries.  These truths have allowed my heart to be sustained in the midst of a world that is often chaotic, discouraging and hard.  I know that I am different because of living out these truths.

So if you are curious to understand my heart, or if you have some disillusionment within your soul, I would encourage you to take time to listen to his sermon.  After listening to the sermon, I would encourage you to listen to the song, Song for Someone by U2

I think this song is a beautiful, artistic expression of the same ideas.  My prayer for those who let me speak into their lives (on a periodic basis) is that their hearts do not whither under the heaviness of this life but that they allow themselves to love and be loved in the midst of it all.
In Christ,

Conflicting Kingdoms

Dark Halo Image Quest Britannica.com

When I woke up this morning, the first email I read in my comfortable bed was discussing ISIS and the people trying to escape cruelty for a better life.  My mind started spinning as I went from these large world issues, to remembering/praying for the life issues that those around me are currently carrying and then moving from there I went into an even smaller arena - to my personal issues that I bring before the Lord.  As I went from there into quiet time, I prayed these thoughts:

Lord, these life issues seem larger than I am.  While I don't want to be callous to what is going on, worldwide, I also need to see your hand in our personal individual lives.  I know that you love us and you are up to something larger than we can imagine but I need You personally, my loved ones need You and our world at large need You.

After doing my quiet time, I went for a run and decided to listen to a sermon instead of music.  It was Todd Hunter's sermon:

Kingdoms In Conflict - September 6, 2015

If you listen to the first five minutes of this sermon you will see that it ends up being a direct conversation with my prayer this morning.  It was also a reminder that my prayer, isn't a new prayer nor will it be an old prayer.  Because of this we do not need to lose heart.  If your heart resonates with this prayer I would encourage you to listen to the whole sermon as Todd reminds us of who God is in the midst of world and personal chaos, the need for the church and finally for personal devotion to God.

In Christ,

Daily Prayer

Disqus for For His Glory Alone


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