Sunday, December 06, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

Husband, Frank is playing sax on this song. What a fun Christmas memory!

Monday, August 10, 2009

You can be good without God

There's evidently a transit campaign to put this saying on buses in Indiana. There's also evidently some movement to stop it from happening. In the midst of the controversy, I heard a pastor's argument against it saying he felt it was "the left" trying to push God out of the something, the country, the government, the schools and even the mass transit system, evidently.

The fact is however, you CAN be good without God. Of course, every person has there own idea of what "good" is. Whether you adhere to a faith or not, there seems a moral standard to which we hold everyone else. My thought on it is this, though; you don't need God to be "good!" Everyone can be good according to somebody's standard even if it's only our own. You do however, need him to breathe and to say the words to declare that you don't need Him to be good.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

An Easter Story

Alexander’s Song

Psalm 84 “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. Passing through the valley of weeping, they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills it with blessings. They go from strength (increasing in victorious power) til each of them appears before God in Zion.”

Psalm 84 speaks volumes on the journey of this Christian life. Each circumstance and experience of life move us forward, unveiling a new and more powerful understanding of Who Jesus Christ is and Who we are. In other words, the psalmist is talking about those “hallmarks” of our faith, which is almost always something you’d never want to go through again. Yet as you stand on the other side, realizing without a doubt that the very thing you thought would kill you has now left you profoundly changed and more aware of the reality of God’s faithfulness and His intimate, life giving and unconditional love.

Vs 11 says “the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows grace and favor and glory! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

If you’ve been a believer for any length of time, you’ve probably begun to figure out that the “good” that God “doesn’t withhold” from those who trust in Christ is altogether different than our idea of “good.” And like me, you’ve probably learned much of this the hard way. Easter will forever remind of one of those times.

I’d written a play based on the song “Watch the Lamb.” In it, a young boy named Alexander has just come of age to join his dad and brother in their journey to Jerusalem for Passover. He should be excited, but there’s a huge problem. His family had always presented a lamb for the annual Passover Feast, but now…things were personal. The lamb they will be sacrificing is Alexander’s pet, Isaac. He goes through an awful struggle. With the innocent reasoning of a child, he asks the hard questions; “if you own everything…and all the animals come from you anyway, then why my lamb? He is frustrated in his thinking that it all comes down to this; God must need my lamb to prove that I love Him. But doesn’t He know ALL things? “Why, then…” He prays in a song that I’d written specifically for this play. “Do you not already know that?”

Meanwhile, just before rehearsals for the play had begun, something was happening in my own life that had me feeling much like little Alexander. Have you ever had one of those phone calls delivering news that absolutely brings life as you’ve known it to a crashing halt? No need to bore you with details, but let me just say that this news caved in my nice neat little world and I immediately turned to every resource I could think of to “fix” this crisis. Phone calls, trips out of state, legal agencies, letters, begging, crying, groveling shamelessly; then of course, pleading for the prayers of everyone and anyone who’d listen. No one seemed to understand my desperation. “Please,” I cried “Pray for me.” But what was I really asking? Please tell God to make this situation turn out the way I want it to!” I was so sure that enough prayers would make God see this thing my way and everything would come out for “the good” my idea of good.

With Easter only a few weeks away, we prepared for our performance. The little boy rehearsed his song again and again. He was begging for his lamb, I was begging for my own little lamb. A line in the chorus echoed through the auditorium; “Would You give up what You love the most to show that You love me?” Everything was comfortable and life was not in crisis mode when I’d written those words. It was easy to want to show others in song how profound the answer to that question. Yes, of course You would, wouldn’t You God? In fact You did! You gave up Your Son! The Son You adore. To show us that You loved us. When I wrote it, I believed with my whole heart that as human beings it’s really all we need, a powerful recognition of how very much we’re loved. What a clever way to illustrate a profound truth, hopefully the audience would see it. But, now it was personal…and very, very painful. Would I see it myself?

At first, there was confidence – faith – that this thing was going to go the way I wanted it to. After all, don’t “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord?” Clinging to that promise, I just waited for the miracle. My miraculous “yes” from God! However, it soon became sickeningly clear that things were not going to go my way. Just like little Alexander, I’d begged and pleaded for my own little lamb and couldn’t quite reconcile the fact that One Who loved me and owned all things and could do all things would allow something so painful to come into my life. After all, my only desire was to serve Him, so why would He want me to suffer? My neat little Christian world with its human perceptions of love were about to be smashed to pieces.

I’d written words that I hoped and prayed would illustrate a truth about God that I said I believed. The real, life-giving knowledge in the very depths of our heart and soul and mind that we’re unconditionally loved and that is all a human being needs. Period! Jesus and nothing else! Nothing! Nothing! Nothing! Yet, I was holding God Almighty, the Creator up to my old perceptions of love…a very conditional perception of love. What is a conditional perception of love? I could only feel loved only when things are right and comfortable. I could only feel “blessed” when things were smooth and going well.

Hurt can distort and confuse to the degree that you don’t see the hypocrisy, at least not at first. Actually, without the Holy Spirit, we’d never see it. Some of us will still refuse to see it, and go down kicking and screaming and manipulating, but some of us will not only see it, but right there begins a pivotal and crucial point of our relationship with God. Its here we begin to see what our Father already knows about us. Something we would be shocked to discover; there’s a new level of love and trust that hadn’t even begun to develop. The pain of this situation was so great that not another human being with all their well-meaning advice could make go away and I began to tire of trying to get them to understand. Frustrated at some who even seemed indifferent in my agony, only brought me to a fresh realization there was no one who could help me. No one could ease this pain. After exhausting every resource I could think of; I had to concede that I was helpless. Helpless and so tired. “Good,” I could almost hear God say. “Come to me” rest your weary head. It is I, alone Who gives you rest. You’ll find it no where else! No where!

The little boy sang the song and reasoned with God for his lamb, I was left with only a whimper for mine. Of course, in the end Alexander didn’t have to sacrifice Isaac, because God had provided His own Lamb. THE LAMB.

The LAMB, Who came from God, Who was God, took on a human body (flesh) with all its limitations. The Creator came inside His own creation and He KNOWS! He knows hunger, thirst, exhaustion, betrayal, loneliness, abandonment, and fear. He knows anxiety and the struggle of facing the horror and pain of what humanity could and would do to Him. In a few of the gospels account of that struggle it says that He despaired to the point of death with the stress of this agonizing choice producing “drops of blood that fell in clots to the ground” Why did He have to suffer like that? Experiencing every single thing a human being experiences, we have One Who is not unfamiliar with suffering, and yet chose freely within the suffering to believe that God is good and He loves…even if everything around Him is screaming “it’s a LIE!”

The first man made a deliberate choice of his own free will for all of mankind; that we would be independent of God. Only it was a delusion…a LIE. For there is no other life outside the very source of life. This MAN, the LAMB OF GOD made a deliberate choice of His own free will as well…for all of mankind. From inside the delusion, He took the most horrific things humanity could dish out, even death…death on a cross (a death assigned to criminals) He experienced death, to join us back to life. Death wasn’t God’s punishment because we ate an apple. Death is a natural consequence of walking away from Life.
Jeremiah 31 is one of many, many prophecies foretelling of what God would do through Jesus. In that day, I will put My Law within them, and on their hearts will I write it; and I will be their God and they will be My people. …For I will forgive their iniquity and I will seriously remember their sin no more.
He’s done it! By His stripes we are healed and made whole! There’s nothing we can do but say “thank you” and realize we’ve been trusting in so many other things…another person, our own “rightness”…even our own independence and demands to have life go our way. God will never let you go and holds us up and loves us as we come to an exhaustive end of putting our trust in anything or anyone else. He wants us free!

It doesn’t make sense in human logic and like Alexander’s song, we say it’s just not fair! We ask “why?” We drown in self-pity and question what we did to deserve this punishment. Can we manipulate and force and demand our own way? Sure we can and we do. Do we grab at the familiar, the tangible, the things we can see and touch to ease the pain of life? Of course we do, because we’ve tried them and they bring a sense of comfort…for a little while. But in the end, they don’t work! Because there is nothing else! Really, no one else!

I’d been taught that in my head. I could even teach it as a principle, which is what I wanted to do through that song. But, really all that we learn is simply head knowledge…until God, through the Holy Spirit reveals it in experience and that which was in only our head begins to penetrate the deep places of the heart. That’s where the rubber meets the road. We suffer, our world crashes in and yet, we are victorious and understand that in Christ, we have great joy right in the middle of the sorrow of life. We experience peace in the midst of chaos. What happened in my life that Easter was one of the most difficult things I have ever faced. Yet, I wouldn’t trade it, for in it there is unchanging life-giving truth. “There is None in Heaven but YOU, Lord. Whom have I on earth but YOU?”

May this Easter not be simply a “religious” holiday, but a celebration of new life in the death and resurrection of the Messiah, our precious God in the flesh. We who live on this side of the cross have assurance of God’s intentions toward us. It is LOVE. That is the answer to Alexander’s question; “Would You give up what You love the most, to show that You love me?” In Christ, God’s answer is “Yes!Yes! Yes!” For as many as the promises of God, they all find their yes in Christ.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Naked & Unashamed!

Our pastor has a theme for this year and it’s this; will you let go? Will you really let go of all those things that keep you all tangled up in guilt, shame, fear, doubt? Let go from those things that keep you from embracing true freedom and peace and embrace the truth that you are passionately and unconditionally known and loved? Ahhh…doesn’t that sound wonderful? Now how in the world do we begin? How do we really let go of old perceptions, behaviors and systems of thought embedded so deeply, we have no idea they exist. No matter how you look at it…or how much you know and how desperately you want it, it’s not easy. The Bible says “…the truth will set you free,” however there is only one truth; God joining his own creation and taking their judgment upon Himself, in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is truth! And an incredible truth it is! In that one event is wrapped up the answer to the longing in every single human heart desperate to know they matter, they have value, are fiercely loved and that life ultimately has meaning. Unfortunately, even as we, who believe this with all our hearts, and know that we know we’ve been given that new life which only comes through Jesus Christ; we also bring along some deeply rooted perceptions of God, our selves, others and the world around us that are, well…not true at all. You know that’s true! How many of us look back on early Christian years and think “I can’t believe I did this or thought that?” only to realize at this point, our ideas about Christianity were much different than we once thought. As life, in its sudden twists and unexpected turns happens, we’re left reeling in amazement that God is much bigger, wiser, and more inconceivable than we’d ever settled for in our shockingly limited human thinking. Not only though, are our silly preconceptions of Almighty God all upside down, but just when we confidently think we’ve got our self or anything for that matter, figured out…we don’t! In fact, the circumstances of life sometimes crash in like a tsunami, and only living life, facing those circumstances, feeling their pain, sometimes failing, and yes, even at times falling into the pit of despair do we ever break free from our old misconceptions about God and our self. Some of us have discovered in our most agonizing moments the real truth; that we weren’t responding from truth at all, but our own perceptions of it.

Are you confused? Let me explain from something personal, something that’s happened recently. Honestly, after uncurling from the fetal position, I’m just now peeking out from behind the wall I’ve been hiding. Why was I hiding? Long story short, determined to help out (or possibly take over) in a financial crisis, I answered an ad in the paper for a job as a flight attendant for a small regional airline. After getting through the initial interview, the company provided 3 weeks of training in upstate NY. I traveled there, worked hard, passed the final, got my “wings,” and was shipped directly to begin my new career. However, before the third flight of my first day of on-the-job training, I decided it was not for me (that’s actually putting it mildly. I hated it) and asked to be let off when we landed in a city within a few hours of home. (No exaggeration!) It’s even flakier than I’ve revealed, but another time, another place. After a short-lived relief of being home with all the sights and sounds of Christmas, the realization of my anxiously and recklessly made decision began to set in. To my utter dismay, all the reality of the hopeless financial situation we were in even before I left flooded in. Talk about feeling like a dufus! So humiliated at my lame attempt to “save the family” from financial ruin with an important airline career and then my perceived utter failure that I wouldn’t answer any of the countless calls and emails of people who love me, care and sincerely wished me well. Instead of receiving the many, many offers of love and encouragement, it just seemed easier and maybe a bit more humanly natural to focus on character flaws pointed out “lovingly” along life’s journey. My tendency to be inconsistent, uncommitted and a bit compulsive was confirmed and echoed louder than any voice of unconditional love.

What makes it all worse is that I’ve created an entire website about coming clean! is built on the most exciting News in the universe and boldly proclaims the one Truth that affects every single one of us; that in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we’ve been forgiven and restored spiritually. We’re made whole and freed from living up to others expectations by the assurance that the ONE Who knows us better than we know our very selves says essentially; I know your thoughts before you even think them. I know your choices before you even choose them. In other words; I’ve seen you naked and there is no need to be ashamed! One look at the cross tells us His intentions towards us; we’re loved, we’ve been forgiven, there’s no need to hide! We’ve been bought with an inconceivable price that says to us, “You, child, are valuable!” I believe wholeheartedly that this is the absolute truth and have even learned to some degree to react and respond from the core of that truth…when all is well. However, I hate being naked…or vulnerable, when I’ve made a flaky choice and fall flat on my face; short of my own expectations of what a “Christian” is supposed to be like.

Ok, so you can’t hide forever, hopefully, at some point you have to think it through…and not according to your own perceptions and ideas…but according to The Truth! Don’t you think that’s what God intends all along?? For you to think it through and perhaps come to a different conclusion than you once settled for? This is huge because when we get to the “bottom” or “let go” of anything and stop trying to manipulate God to change this circumstance, that situation or see it our way…we begin to see it His way; the real way; in the truth; that we’re not on some journey to super human moral spiritual perfection, but instead to another level of child-like trust in the One Who is never compulsive and always consistent and even when we fail, we CANNOT disappoint HIM because He’s outside of time. I can’t say I understand what that means, except if One is outside of time, then He knows everything I will do or am capable of doing before He gave me His gift of new Life…HIS Life…and He gave it anyway.

I tell you, I’ve read 2Cor 4:16-18 so many times, and each time it becomes deeper…and less in the “spiritual clouds” if you know what I mean. We’re so ingrained with inherited expectations, thoughts, behaviors and perceptions, muddled with a million ‘experts’ and changing standards of what a Christian….or simply a human being on this planet is “supposed” to live like and be like, we can easily find ourselves very discouraged or even despairing in a second. You know what that verse tells me? It’s ok. It’s ok to be human. That’s why He came. God became “flesh” and in Him we have One Who knows what that feels like and says come here, come to me when you’re feeling frail and a disappointment, when the world is chasing you and seems to be closing in. Come here, here without the thousand other voices telling you about Me where you will find the burden lifted and peace beyond what makes any possible human sense. It’s hard for you to see, I know…but come to me when you need to know who you are rather than what you “should” be; Mine!

2Corinthians 4:15-18
“Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day. For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!], Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.”

Monday, April 07, 2008

Indescribable - Caleb's Response

We showed the DVD "Indescribable' below to my friend's son. I thought 7 year old Caleb's response was worth sharing. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. As you can tell, he was pretty amazed, but I think he caught the awesomeness (?) of it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Like I mentioned in the post below, seems these days my view of God and life, myself, others...everything has turned upside down. Check this video out, yours may just change as well. Our God, Who is LOVE, is beyond anything we can comprehend, understand or imagine. In fact, He's Indescribable.

Indescribable - Louis Giglio

Just thinking, and rethinking..

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Because He Lives!

This is from worship practice the other night. Just trying out this cool little "flip" video recorder I just got. "Because He Lives" is a beautiful old hymn by the Gaithers. We don't play too many hymns for worship...mainly because most of us don't know them. I love the words in this one though, "because He lives, I can face tomorrow....and life is worth the living, just because He lives! And the truth!