When Nobody Is Watching…Pt. 3

I brag on my children all the time. I gave birth to only two, but the number of children I ‘claim’ could easily amount to dozens!! And, to me, each one of them is PERFECT. They are the recipients of the same love I have tried to show to everyone: the unconditional love of one who sees who you are and loves you, faults and all.

I have three sons that actually live under my roof, none of whom do everything exactly as I would wish.  And yet, I insist that they are perfect.  They are (for the most part) transparent and completely disclosed to me.  In their own timing, the tell me just about everything that is going on in their lives.

NOTE: did you see all the ‘out clauses’ I provide them? That is simply because my name is NOT Holy Ghost, Jr.  I don’t NEED to know everything about them.  I need only know how to pray and how to be available to receive them in whatever disclosure they and the Holy Ghost provide me.

The two sons that I bore are relatively guileless.  We three sleep with our doors unlocked and walk in on one another whenever the need arises.  We laugh out loud and talk ‘smack’ with one another in ways that some people looking in from the outside may deem inappropriate. All of this has taken some adjusting to for the son I claim.We have accepted how foreign a concept that kind of disclosure is for him. But, they all know there is never a question that they cannot ask without expectation of the whole truth.  They know if I say, “Because I said so,” it’s because the answer is beyond words and (most times) they trust my gut.  Even when they defy my order of, “Because I said so,” they know that they can come to me and receive correction without condemnation and some prayerful deliberation about how to handle the fallout.

When the sons I bore were small and our lives took on many different versions of ‘a living hell,’ they watched their father and me very closely. The degree of how closely they watched us did not reveal itself until they were both considered, ‘adult.’ I think the most fascinating thing about that is how accurately they assessed those situations, even as children.  Part of that, I imagine is because, while they knew they could always come to me. They also knew they could not come to their father and expect that same amount of candor and disclosure.

They watched how we walked out our ‘faith’ and how we demonstrated our relationships with God.  And, while things have not always gone obviously in my favor, they have seen God sustain me and provide for us in ways that have defied imagination. They have understood my childhood abuse, my divorce, our homeless and unemployed seasons, and viewed them through the lens of the Grace of God. They have taken the lessons they learned and used them to extend that grace to others so that I would never question that they have their own personal relationships with God.

This is not a result of my telling my children what to do, mind you.  It is, more to the point, a result of me telling them WHY I made certain choices when I made them. They saw that I was not living my life as a victim, although many people may have perceived it as such. They saw that I was living my life as a VESSEL for God to work through. I can only say that because they have said as much in some fashion or another.

Some of what has been revealed to me as they have gotten older were the details about things neither I nor their father realized that they had observed as children.  Things they observed only in part as children, that they have inquired after in their maturity, have produced the fruit they supposed it would. These things have confirmed for all of us that, when you walk in integrity, it is alright to be exactly who you are, exactly in the moment that you find yourself, without apology or defense before the God who made you.  Things that have confirmed that the consistency of your integrity will ALWAYS win out, especially in the times that you believe nobody is watching. They have discovered that doing the right thing, the right way, for the right reasons will bring reward in SOME WAY, as much as doing the wrong thing the wrong way for the wrong reasons will bring destruction.

Your best move will always be to forgive quickly, love people anyway and do the right thing, the right way, for the right reason, whether or not you believe nobody is watching. God is ALWAYS watching. And He ALWAYS repays.vlcsnap-2014-10-01-00h50m01s21116c0ee6e9afa31cc4255743146ef4b9a47cb076e05d6246be438505ec2b5945c

When Nobody Is Watching…Pt. 2

Learning to love as God loves, requires that you see yourself as God sees you, flaws and all.  It also affords you the perspective of seeing  others through God’s eyes, to some degree. It gives you an appreciation for the faulty construct of those around you and see them with love, compassion and acceptance.  Very much like the God who made us all, there is an ease in how we can take people as they are and love them unconditionally just that way.  But, in the quest for a deeper relationship with them, just like the God who made us all, we love them too much to let them stay that way.

Knowing full well that we are not the source of change, it is our desire to, at the very least, be that catalyst for the desire to change.

The ‘appearance-minded’ person doesn’t always take this well.  It is upsetting to them that they have been, ‘found out.’  At times, it will cause them to retreat from their relationship with an ‘unconditional lover’. It can cause them to reject the ‘unconditional lover’ for the safety of other ‘appearance minded’ people that won’t challenge them on the deeper things.

This puts the ‘unconditional lover’ in the untenable position of experiencing something, they have most certainly prayed for without completely understanding its depth and danger.

I have prayed, like many unconditional lovers, for God to, “Break my heart with the things that break Your heart.”  When it first comes out of your heart and mouth to pray that kind of prayer, it almost sounds romantic. It is full of passion to feel God’s heart for the lost and the dying and the displaced.  Your heart is to help anyone that God would send into your path, with a meal or a word of encouragement. You expect to build a house, work in a soup kitchen or serve in a shelter somewhere.

But what happens when you realize the things that really break God’s heart are closer to you than any of those things?

Three times I have loved and lost.  Not because I made mistakes, nor that I even lived so “perfectly.”  But because I saw my loves and loved them, flaws and all, unconditionally.  Because I saw their flaws and forgave them, even though often, they could not forgive me of my flaws or themselves of their own. Because my seeing them for their flaws without judging or condemning them defied their expectation of love. For me to not only acknowledge their mistakes and how much it hurt me but to still choose to be in relationship with them, was completely contrary to what they themselves would have done, had the tables been turned. In a couple of instances, the tables WERE turned and I was summarily condemned, over and over.

The choice to accept the forgiveness and make attempts to be restored gets rejected. Instead of taking their ‘unforgivable’ acts to the Lord together, in a willingness to make more beneficial choices that would glorify the God that made us all, they resorted to maintaining the appearance of rightness. Which meant that they resolved to surround themselves with people who would not ask the hard questions and shine a light on the darkened places.  They chose a life in the virtual shadows. They rejected that unconditional love.

Each time, in the devastation of my broken heart, I cried out to God to ask why I, who by most accounts am a pretty good woman, would be forced to endure such rejection. And, each time, in the softest, kindest, most gentle, loving voice, I heard my Father say, “Because you asked me to.”

It truly shakes one’s foundation when we realize that one of the things that breaks the heart of God like nothing else, is when His forgiveness of our sins and His offer to make us “Again Another” is rejected only for us to be satisfied in our mess and surrounded by people who are willing to keep our secret sins secret, in exchange for not being ‘found out’ themselves.

Oh, how it breaks the heart of God, that we believe it’s better to live the life we think we can get away with, because we think nobody is watching!


When Nobody Is Watching…Pt. 1

No one is ever as good as their best day, nor are they as bad as their worst. We mostly live somewhere in the middle, on a quest to tip the scale in the positive.

There are moments in every day that add to either account and they are moments that everyone has, but nobody (that counts) really sees.

I have loved (and lost) a total of three times in my life.  While I readily admit that I was not a perfect mate, I did my best to be integral.  In the end, that’s what cost me. Each relationship ended with a few prefacing conversations. Revisions on the phrase, “It’s not you…it’s me.” When, in fact, it would have been closer to the truth to say that it was me…every single time.

I learned to love from Love Himself.  God, being Love, also being gracious (as Grace is an attribute of Love), took considerable time to teach me how He loves us.  This is a very painful and challenging thing to experience, even more master.  It compels one to be transparent; without hidden agenda, without excuse, without retreat. It demands that you take an unflinching look at yourself in order to see others clearly.

The real challenge is in seeing yourself as God sees you.  Everyone I have ever had a ‘surface’ conversation about this concept almost always assumes that means that he sees you as you will be in your glorified body; perfect, loving, kind…bearing the fruit of the spirit.  When in fact, it means that He sees you as DIRT: a filthy, plain, unholy mess with all the issues and isms that have been bred into you through the however many generations of curses that have been heaped upon you. BUT, he also sees all of the purpose and potential that all the generations of blessings have lain dormant within you. He sees all of the attempts to overcome along with all the slips and slides of your journey. AND YET, He loves ALL of you…COMPLETELY and WITHOUT CONDITION.  He loves you without reservation, just as you are, in the middle of whatever struggle you may be encountering right now.

Usually, that poses a challenge because most folk work really hard not to see their own mess. It’s really difficult to deal with the broken places and still appear to be the best dressed version of themselves.  Far too often, in my experience, it’s the people that work really hard to put their ‘best face forward,’ are the ones that are likely to judge others for their faults to deflect from the faults they believe everyone sees in them.  This is an unfortunately common occurrence in the world today.

It’s rather difficult to be friends with somebody in that particular predicament when you have spent the better part of your life digging through your own pile to sort and dispose of your own mess.  It becomes a part of your nature to identify issues and behaviors that would prove a hindrance to the future of your relationship with that friend. But, the truth is, it’s not in the nature of ‘appearance-minded’ people to appreciate when you as an ‘unconditional lover’ make note of any challenge that goes deeper than, say, spinach in their teeth, or a fly-away collar.  They might take offense.

This is where things get complicated.

If you have spent a considerable amount of time in the presence of an all knowing, all loving, all forgiving God, Who is capable of taking even the worst, most tattered fabric and making it beautiful and whole, as if it were brand new, you see yourself and everyone around you from the perspective of being the perfect candidate to be made over.  You are eager to know and understand everything about the people you wish to befriend.  You wouldn’t care about how messy or murky their deepest, darkest secrets are. As a matter of fact, after spending that quality time in God’s presence, you are able to identify certain flaws and snags in other people with some degree of ease.  Not to place blame or condemn, mind you. You recognize the shortcomings only as opportunities to see the hand of God at work in their lives.

But, remember…they are only concerned about the ‘appearance’ of perfection, not in being made perfect. It is disconcerting, to this kind of person, that you even ‘see’ the flaws they have been working so hard to mask. It is even considered tacky that you would bother to bring it up!! And, God forbid you actually offer to go through the recovery process with them and be their support system as God does for them what He’s doing for you! They will, quite often, hear nothing of it.

Which brings me back to those lost loves…
vlcsnap-2014-10-01-00h50m01s211Perfect people quote

Turn Around to Say Goodbye…

Have you ever loved someone who’s stuck in a rut?

From the outside looking in, you can see what’s going on.  You may have even told them as much.  You have prayed and cried and encouraged and listened…yet there they go, just like the Israelites. Only steps away from the promised land, but NO…one more trip around the same, dumb mountain.

Or maybe it’s YOU?  You can’t seem to figure out why you are repeating the same patterns.  You remove people from your life to avoid making the same mistakes.  But, you end up surrounded with different people tripping over the same old log.

I’ve been the friend of that one.  But, I’ve been that one, too…at least, until I began to recognize the origin of the problem.

It all goes back to an original set of choices.  Perhaps, stemming from a misplaced hope. Sometimes, the root is an internal promise that has been long suppressed. Anyway you slice it, it comes down to taking a look into your past and correcting your course to the future.

Now, this comes at a premium cost…It’s the cost of looking back.

I have heard too many (including myself) declare defiantly, “Why do you always have to go and bring up the past? I don’t even think about things from back then!”

The more ‘religious’ turn of phrase would be, “It’s under the Blood of Jesus.  I don’t see why we need to discuss it anymore.”

Yes, it’s a dead issue and yes, it’s under the blood…but just as if you’ve entered the Zombie Apocalypse, unless you take it’s head clean off, it will just keep getting up on it’s own, attempting to devour you whole.

No, your past mistakes don’t have to dictate your future…but they will do just that, if you do not take the desperately important step to turn around, face them, see them for what they are and CHANGE THE BEHAVIOR that brought you to that point. ONLY THEN will you be able to face your future and walk away from what was, into what should be.

It is vitally important to see your past to leave it. Not just see it…take a little time to pick it apart.  Find that root of unforgiveness.  Search out that original fracture in your heart that you constantly try to protect, by keeping your guard up, instead of exposing it to the healing light of the Holy Spirit.

I’ve spoken many times about my upbringing.  I’ve talked about how I continued to bring drama into my life time and time again, no matter where in the world I was.  It’s not about external geography.  This is about navigating the geography of your heartbreaks…Bridging the divides of your soul. That’s what helps you to get beyond your past into your promised land.

I had to go all the way back into the choices that were made for me that created a sense of abandonment in me.  They kept me from letting people leave my life on a good note.  And they kept me clinging to people that I knew would not leave me, even though the only reason they stayed was because I was a willing host to their parasitic behavior. They were destroying my soul and keeping me from real love, lasting peace and healthy relationships.

Once I confronted the heartbreak, I was able to make a stand against my own foul behavior.  I was able to repent to God for the messes I kept making again and again.  I apologized, when I was able, to those whom I could find.  And, I forgave myself for the time it took to get to this place of peace. (We are usually hardest on ourselves once we begin to see clearly.)

It was only then that I was able to lay all of it at the foot of the Cross of Christ, to be covered by the Blood of Jesus once and for all. And only then was I able to remove the predators and parasites from my life for good, to make room for people who could truly celebrate and encourage me and allow me to return the favor.

Now, I have to be completely honest.  This liberty is a mixed bag. I rejoice in my own freedom. But, when I see people I love that find themselves in the same predicament, it’s frustrating and painful.  It makes me really sad, because I know the cost they are about to pay.  And I can’t pay it for them.  I have to pray and stay out of the way.  When they’re ready, I can help.  Sometimes, I have to wait on the Lord to send someone who is not so close, to provide a different sense of perspective for them.  But once they’ve taken the time to say those last goodbyes, I’ll still be there when they’re finally ready to face their future and move forward.  That’s all a real friend can do.


Scars and Souvenirs

“Here’s to the twilight
here’s to the memories
these are my souvenirs
my mental pictures of everything
Here’s to the late nights
here’s to the firelight
these are my souvenirs
my souvenirs.

“I close my eyes and go back in time
I can see you’re smiling, you’re so alive
we were so young, we had no fear
we were so young, we had no idea
that life was just happening
life was just happening…

“We were so young, we had no fear
We were so young, we had no idea
That nothing lasts forever
That nothing lasts forever

“Nothing lasts, nothing lasts
You and me together
Were always now or never…”     ~  Jon Foreman, Switchfoot, “Souvenirs”

I cannot count the times I’ve heard it asked, “If you could go back in time to your best day as a child/teenager/young adult, would you?”

I have heard people say on many occasions that they would love to relive being eight, or twelve, or seventeen. They recount these lovely stories or tragic tales of a lost loved one that they wish they’d had more time with, or recount the perfect day.

“If only I could have that day/moment/season/year back.”

I think to myself, is there any measure of time I genuinely wish I could retrieve? And the answer is, inevitably, a resounding no.

My childhood essentially sucked. For every one of the wonderful, awe-inspiring and magical moments that were sprinkled throughout my youth (and I must add…there were MANY), there were whole landscapes of crud and mold and yuck that consumed my everyday, inhabited with slimy, creeping, crawling critters of the two-legged variety, far more often than the four, six, or eight-legged ones.

The memories of positive and negative experiences share the same space in my mind.  They are all very valuable to me…now.  It’s kind of like comparing scars and souvenirs.

By virtue of the length of their definitions, scars seem to carry a more significant weight, but souvenirs imply a greater sense of value. A souvenir is something that serves as a reminder; a thing that would cause to one to recall or bring to mind, usually referring to something good or worthy of recollection. While scars do the same thing – serve as a reminder – they evoke a more negative response. Scars tend to be the things we would rather forget.

A scar is indicative of something lost, removed, worn or injured.  It implies violence, aggression and, often times, some form of violation against that which has been scarred. Scars serve as a reminder of pain…until they don’t.

“Nothing lasts forever…” Even the worst days of your life eventually end.

Too often, we spend too much time with the scars.  We pick at them prematurely and cause them to aggravate us. We do that…to ourselves. We expose ourselves to the people and things that inflicted the injury before there has been ample time for healing. We let people and things that have no business interacting with those wounded places poke, prod and pick at the wounds that have not completely scarred over, creating unnecessary irritation and infection, adding time and additional pain and suffering to the recovery process.

But, when the wounds heal and the scars don’t hurt anymore…

It means that the injury has has time to be infused with strength…more strength than it had to begin with. It means that the sensitivity has lessened, so much so that we no longer feel the need to be overly protective of exposing the once-injured place. It means that we have learned how to be proactively preventative to avoid experiencing another injury like that one.  We can now, not only relate to others with similar injuries, we can help others avoid being injured in a similar way.

…Not only are we better for that injury, others around us now benefit from the experience of it.

I think about Joseph.  His childhood dreams nearly cost him his life, several times.  For a season, they cost him his freedom. He found himself in one precarious situation after another. But, when you look at it from the end of the adventure of his life, had he not paid the cost, he may have never seen his dreams fulfilled. “We were so young…we had no idea that life was just happening…”

Joseph told his brothers that what they meant for evil, God meant to do good.  God’s good prevailed, not in spite of the evil, but because of it.

In the end, even the experiences that nearly killed us; the ones we thought we would never get through; the pain we thought we could never endure became something for which we could be grateful.  And in that, our scars became souvenirs.

“Can you hear me?
Can you hear me?
…I wouldn’t trade it for anything…my souvenirs.”

EGR: Extra Grace Required

I think I’m a pretty cool person.  I am smart and kind.  I am comical, but I’m not very funny, even though I laugh a lot with my friends. I’m actually quite literal…I don’t get sarcasm quickly, so smart remarks and deadpan jokes get lost on me. I don’t consider myself a classic beauty, but I am not an ugly woman, by any means. I am a faithful friend…loyal to a fault. It takes an awful lot for me to decide I’ve had enough of someone. I have been very busy these last few years, but when I am being a homebody, I love to cook.  I am an excellent cook; mac and cheese, roast beef and potatoes, turkey tacos, spaghetti, sour cream pound cake, pistachio delight, chocolate chip cookies…and my favorite cake to make is vanilla wafer cake.  And, I cook with love in every bite.

You might say I am the total package.

But what kind of package would I be if I weren’t at least vaguely acquainted with my flaws?

(Aha…betcha didn’t see THAT coming?)

There is tremendous liberty in knowing one’s own boundaries and limitations.  It is of utmost importance if you expect to witness your own greatest success. It is vital to know, not only what you are capable of, but what tendencies you possess that could trip you up or slow you down if you don’t keep them in check.

For example, I hate to disappoint people when I know they are counting on me.  As a consequence, I tend to try too hard.  I try to know what I’m supposed to know and probably everybody else is supposed to know.  I suppose it’s  in an effort to be indispensable.

And, I chase squirrels.

I cannot recall any conversation I’ve ever had, any assignment I’ve ever completed (any blog I’ve ever posted) that did not take longer than it should have for all the detours I’ve taken.

These are only some of my own frailties that I am aware of.  I have more that I know about. There are scads that about which I have no clue, I’m sure. But the nice thing about knowing what your flaws are is, it doesn’t bother you so much when people are bothered by you.  You can understand, even appreciate their irritation, frustration and angst that you produce.  You can even empathize with the emotion you provoke.

It makes it easier to apologize, too.  Which makes it easier for others to forgive you, even if you cannot completely provide for them a remedy.

But, the BEST THING about knowing the best and the worst things about myself is that I am comforted by the fact that I am JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.

**JUST FOR CLARITY* Everyone is UNIQUE with a particular set of gifts and talents whose sole purpose is to build up the body of Christ, to glorify God. WITH THAT BEING SAID…**

I am just like everybody else in that I am blessed with assets and liabilities built into my personality.  Knowing that makes it easier when other people exhibit areas where extra grace is required.

The fact is this: Everybody has occasion to get on everybody else’s nerves.  This is the great flaw in humans being.  It is not at all that difficult for us to annoy each other.  We enjoy our individuality …sometimes too much.

That is what makes it so difficult when folks don’t do things the way they think it should be done.  somewhere in our selfish hearts, we complain and turn up our noses, thinking, “That isn’t the way I would have done it.”


And while you were pulling a ‘Frank Sinatra,’ doing it, “Your way,” you’re keeping someone else from discovering a gift that would make them a greater contribution to the common purpose of building up the Body for God’s glory.

But, you got the job done.

Okay, so…maybe NEXT time, before you decide that if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself, how about you give someone the space to find their place; to recognize an ounce of their potential and see, first hand, what a little extra grace given can do to remove a spot or wrinkle in the fabric of the Body?

Let’s never forget to give a little extra grace, to see others reach their potential.  We will never know when a little extra grace will be required for us.

It’s Only Well Water…

You’ve heard it said that you never miss your water until the well runs dry.

People say that all the time.  Usually, that phrase is associated with the loss of a good relationship.  And that is true.  Some people don’t seem to appreciate what they HAD until they see how much someone ELSE is enjoying it AFTER they’ve thrown it away.

But what about gifts and talents?  Everyone is given abilities and skills that just seem to come naturally to them.  They are given to us with specific design and purpose for God’s glory.  They also require honing through consistency, diligence and obedience to God’s instruction.


When God calls us to do a thing, sometimes He graciously gives us the big picture.  Then, He instructs us to start on a particular spot.  From that particular position, we can only see our spot…the big picture is no longer anything but a vague recollection. So we begin a good work.

Somewhere in the tedium of the honing process, many of us get distracted by the monotony of the never changing scenery. We begin to complain.  I mean, what does this have to do with accomplishing the big picture?

We work…but we become impatient.  We don’t work as well as we used to with the others on assignment in our little corner of the world. They begin to get irritated with us and we begin to  resent them for it. We get salty.  And then we fester.  And that festering becomes acidic. We begin a subconscious sabotage of the work you had once begun in earnest.  Then, one of two things happen: the others, still working in earnest, ask us to leave that work or we decide that “it’s time to move on,” without being asked.

We figure that there is better work out there…somewhere else.  There is still this sense of purpose in our hearts, but it’s been convoluted.  It’s been tainted and tampered with by our desire to do the will of God “our way.”

Some might say that looks like a prodigal child.  Perhaps…but, if it’s  prodigal behavior, then it’s a prodigal who has not yet “come to himself.”  The problem with that is the pigpen is visible, the way out is not. This is a very critical time of decision making. This is where a heart either becomes opened or hardened.

But, what happens when the heart gets hardened?  We make really faulty decisions.  That’s when we decide to walk away from ministry or try to branch out on our own, apart from the expressed will of God to accomplish that thing that we only have a faint recollection of the “Big Picture.”

That’s when we think God is taking too long and take matters into our own hands, like Sarah using her handmaid to produce a child.. Or, we think our plan is better, like Absalom trying to steal an entire kingdom one person at a time.  Or we just like doing things the way they’ve always done and the new way is just too foreign, like Moses when God told him to speak to a rock. Or, the servant with the one talent who hid it for the ‘greater good.’

Each one of those examples were disastrous. And each negative result could have been avoided.

“But it’s only well water.  Surely there is something better to work with.  Surely God has other resources for me to utilize! I’m sure He would reward me for doing it another way, as long as the job gets done.”

So, off you go to do it ‘another way.’  In the meantime, God has given someone else the assignment that you were meant to fulfill.  And they are FLOURISHING.  And you are getting DRY, searching for another source of water.

My pastor, Dan Willis, has said something very often over the almost 20 years that I’ve known him: “God will NEVER allow His Kingdom or the work of the Kingdom to suffer for your lack of obedience.  And the person He uses to fill in the void you left will take that position higher than anyone could have imagined.”

God honors diligence. God honors consistency. God honors WILLING OBEDIENCE. Don’t be discouraged because things don’t move at a pace that pleases YOU. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…”

God has a plan for your life, your gifts, your abilities, that will exceed even YOUR imagination. Stay at that well, my friend, and take pleasure in your assignment.  God may use you and that little well to water nations.

Meanwhile, Down In Pleasantville…

I love the Body of Christ!  I love the children of God in all of their many forms, fashions and facets!  I love the quiet worshipers and silent prayers. I love the loud, boisterous and demonstrative saints. I love the serious, thinking, diligent servants. I love the inconsistent, inattentive, forgetful children, who haven’t quite yet figured out where they fit in, so they hop from ministry to ministry.  I love the artisans: the painters and actors; the dancers and singers, whether they serve in secular venues or serve the church proper. I love how we are all so different and yet it is the same Love of God that saves us all and enables us to love each other and the dying world we were sent to serve.

Yet, there are whole groups of Christians who seem to have no identity of their own.  They are going through the motions of their faith, doing as they were instructed, not living up to the call of God on their lives and living in quiet desperation.  These are the sleepwalkers in the body.

You have some in almost every church.  They received salvation and want to do what pleases God, but they don’t really know what it is.  Oh, they know to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. They just don’t know what that looks like for their individual life. So, they walk out their faith like the next person…after all, it’s working for them.  But, what is working for one is not suitable for another, it just lulls you into a false sense of righteousness and basically sings you to sleep.

The problem with that is we will all be judged on whether or not we have fulfilled the call on our own lives as individuals.  We will not be rewarded for how well we fulfilled their assignment…God’s going to check us on what we did with what HE assigned us to do. For some of us, that will be a pretty scary prospect. What do you do, when you have lived your entire life for Jesus, but you felt personally unfulfilled and never took the opportunity to do the things that God placed on YOUR heart to do? Do you keep living life according to the status quo?  Maybe…if you want to get to heaven and, instead of hearing, “Well Done, good and faithful servant,”  you just end up hearing, “Well…?”

Some churches are comprised almost entirely of this kind of Christian. It’s pretty sad, really.  People going through the motions of ministry..sleepwalking for Jesus.  Greeting you at the door.  Reading the scripture. Singing the hymns. Raising the offering.  All, sound asleep. And when someone who is walking in the liberty of their assignment walks into a church like that, it takes a move of God AND Congress to keep you awake!

Makes me think of the movie, Pleasantville.  This modern-day brother and sister get sucked into the rerun marathon of a television show that was filmed in black and white, based in the 1950’s. They have to blend in and hide out until they can figure out how to get back home.  Problem is, the sister is a wild child and refuses to play along and she throws a monkey-wrench into the storyline by letting the boyfriend of one of the main characters take her to “make out point.”  That’s where the story goes totally lop-sided.  This wild child turns this boy out (we are allowed to draw our own conclusions about the fine details), and when she is finished, the boy is in color while the rest of the scenes and people remain in black and white.  You can see the snowball effect of that.  Now, some people go about doing things that deviate from the script and find themselves in color, too!  But for some reason, the modern-day siblings don’t come into color, until they become and behave like their authentic selves instead of following the storyline.

You can imagine the resistance that takes place in the movie from the people who want things to stay the same.  They want the world that is familiar.  They like the routine; they;re used to it. Why would anyone not want their lives to remain “pleasant’?

I am saddened by people, groups, churches, denominations that get stuck in a script.  They do what they know and what they are told, without finding out exactly who God meant for them to be. It’s a scary thing to question why we can only sing hymns. Or to feel the strong urge to waive your hands and say, “HALLELUJAH,” at the top of your lungs, knowing that if you do you will be frowned upon or asked to leave.  Or to want to express your worship by painting some abstract art, knowing that everyone around you will reject your worship, but feeling in your SOUL that God is pleading for you to show Him how much you love Him through the gifts that He’s given you.

WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS, THERE IS LIBERTY.  Isn’t it amazing how many people miss that scripture? Wouldn’t that be the best criteria to determine where you want to worship, when given the opportunity? Shouldn’t this be the standard to which everyone in the body of Christ strive to measure up?  Am I in a place where I am free to be the person God designed me to be?  Are there others around me who are, in the spirit of their authentic selves, encouraging me to discover who God is calling me to be?

There is a FEAR OF LIBERTY that has permeated the church.  So many people equate liberty with rebellion.  It does not necessarily follow that, if you give the people the freedom to be themselves, they will all be drawn away by lust, or become inconsistent, or leave the church high and dry so that the work of the Lord cannot move forward. ON THE CONTRARY…each person that serves the Kingdom in the spirit of liberty in Christ is more passionate about the services they perform in the church and more joyful about their relationship with God and with His people, which makes them a more convincing witness.  If the joy of the Lord is your strength, and walking in liberty brings you joy, then it stands to reason that those who walk in that liberty are stronger Christians whose light shines brighter and draws more attention from the world, “that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven,” on a much greater level.

What is God calling you to do?  What demonstration of your love for Him have you suppressed for fear of another’s response? Have you been given some talent that other people say should not be expressed, because it is too secular?

What are you going to do…hide your light under a bushel so that you don’t attract any attention? Or are you going to walk in the Liberty of the Holy Spirit and express your gifts and talents like a drink offering, poured out before the Lord?

Maya Angelou recently passed away.  She was not the least bit diminished in her mental or spiritual health.  To her very last, she was tweeting and speaking to people and giving of herself.  Her son posted on her Facebook page that the family was, “…extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension.” I am convinced that this is a direct result of her living her life in living color, full of the Liberty of the Spirit of the Lord.  This woman poured everything out…she was finally light enough to ascend from her last earthly Glory into the fullness of the Glory of the Lord, to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant: Enter now into the joy of the Lord.”

Isn’t that what we all want to hear? Then I recommend you run the risk of feeling foolish and dance, sing, act, paint, speak, pray, love, dream and do ALL that God has placed in your heart to do. Be faithful over those few things…those gifts and talents He has trusted you with. Cause them to grow and multiply.

Meanwhile, down in Pleasantville…another one has come into full and living color. How about you?


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War of the Words, Pt. 2

Our actions add value to the words we speak.

God’s word carries the kind of weight that is does because God will ALWAYS produce an action that corresponds or agrees with His word. Worlds are framed by His simple declaration of, “Let there be…”

What gives weight to God’s word? His willingness to honor it above all else.

If God says a thing, it must be so.  It doesn’t matter if every circumstance surrounding the matter contradicts God’s word. Those circumstances must and will realign themselves to make full proof of the weight of God’s word.

It almost makes sense that so many people have such a hard time taking the Bible as the infallible, inspired  Word of God. They look at the Bible and think, “This can’t possibly be true.  Nothing like THAT could ever happen in MY life!”

And then, there are people like ME.

It’s usually the ones who have nothing left to lose that take the chance to see that God’s word is REAL.  It’s the person who has looked like a fool their whole lives that is not afraid to take God at His impossible, unbelievable word.  And it’s that person that sees the victory of God’s word being manifest to its fullest potential.

The promise is this: His word will not return void.  It will always accomplish what pleases the Father. That promise has only one contingency; we must know the word and live it and speak it IN FAITH.

THE WORD OF GOD IS THE WILL OF GOD.  It is the language God speaks. In order to have God’s best possible outcome for our lives, we have to know His will, do His will and declare His will.  And it is the Father’s “good pleasure” to bring His will to pass, no matter how much circumstances contradict it.

Jesus came to do all that He did, so that we could have whatever God’s will is for us.  But even He could not have done that if someone had not been willing to do the will of God. It is because there were generations of people, determined to do the will of God, before the NAME could even be spoken in the earth, that gave the name of Jesus the power that it possesses.

I think it’s very telling when people will pray for things, “in Jesus’ name,” that just don’t line up with the will of God. A lot of those prayers include phrases like: “Give me,” or, “let me,” or, “fix this, or that, or them…” You get the point.  I am equally guilty of this quite often, myself. And we think that the prayer must come to pass because we have asked these things in “the name.”

“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” ~ James 4:3

Sound familiar?  What I have come to discover is that the one thing that trumps the Name of God is the Word of God. Any time we use the name of God in a way that does not line up with the Word of God; we have missed the will of God, making the name ineffective. In Psalm 138:2, David honors God for magnifying His word above His name.  In essence, David honors God for KEEPING HIS WORD.  That demands that you be a direct reflection of your Father by KEEPING YOUR WORD.  And that’s not talking just about telling the truth. Don’t waste time and energy saying things you don’t mean. Don’t say things just because it’s in your ‘nature’ to say it.  Check your old habits against the word of God. If it agrees with God’s word SAY IT. If it supports what God’s word says DO IT.

Nobody said it would be easy. And, for a while, it’s going to feel a little awkward. We live in a world that is totally contrary to God’s word in every imaginable aspect. That is the very reason it is such a challenge to take the Bible for absolute truth.  BUT IT CAN BE DONE.  It just takes practice…day by day, moment by moment practice.

And THAT is the thing that takes you from being waist deep in water to walking through a living aquarium on dry ground.  When you take God at his Word, and live like His word is true, and speak His word back to Him, He is OBLIGATED to bring it to pass.  It is upon His authority that His word MUST come to pass. And when we pray “the word,” in “the name” after living and speaking “the word” in “the name,” it makes us victorious in the war of our words and  that results in the life changing miracles that others can only read about.

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The Going Rate…

I flatter myself in believing that I am a brilliant mind. I know a little bit about turning a phrase or two. There’s a line in the movie, “Blazing Saddles,” where Slim Pickens was talking to Harvey Korman. Pickens told Korman, “You use your mouth prettier than a twenty dollar whore.”

YES, I know…rude, crude and socially unacceptable.  But it is a great line from a great movie classic. Any time I feel sheepish about being complimented on my oratory shills or my writing ability, that’s the line that comes to mind.  Partly because of how much I love that movie; partly because I appreciate a really cool, back-handed compliment.

Words have been my lifelong friends. It’s because of my affinity and adoration of them that they come to me and ingratiate themselves to me.  I love words…they love me back. And as much as I want to keep an humble perspective on the product of that relationship, I take great pride in what comes of it.

So, when someone reads my work, or listens to me speak and responds by saying something like, “Yeah…that was alright. But, maybe you could be more honest.  I don’t think you’re being REAL enough.”

I might say, “Oh, okay. Well, thanks for your input.” But what I REALLY want to say is, “Are you freaking KIDDING ME??? That was some of my BEST WORK!!! Those words and I had a delightful exchange and I was honored to share them with you.  Guess I won’t be doing THAT again!” I then have to decide what is true: the criticism or the work borne of a beloved relationship.

The relationship I have with words is an internal one.  When I share the fruit of that relationship with you, it is considered, ‘Intellectual Property.’ Very much like the conceptualization of a painting or a sculpture or a musical composition.  There ‘appears’ to be no actual value to it until it is shared and produces a favorable response. This transaction is usually concluded by someone being willing to attach a monetary value to the product.

There are other internal relationships upon which, if we are not careful, we will let external forces place a dollar value. There is a significant worth to the characteristics of our personality; the things that determine how we love. What about our adoration and affection? Think about the loyalty and empathy that forge our friendships? How about our wit and sense of humor? Consider what we determine to be honorable and ethical.

The God who made us made those things into us, just like the makers of a luxury car built in those leather bucket seats and that ferocious, high quality sound system. There are details in that vehicle that mean nothing to the common driver.  They are designed to excite the car aficionado. To God, those traits and characteristics that were built into you were meant to add to your ‘face value.’

What happens when you let someone who is not an aficionado of, “YOU” tell you what your worth is? What does it look like when you expose yourself to people who place their general expectations on you and then determine that you don’t fit the bill. Yet you insist that they are right and adjust yourself tot fit their expectations of what you are designed to be.  You have just let God’s highest desire and most priceless treasure go at the equivalent price of a bargain bin DVD.

Can you imagine what that does to the heart of God?  He – the King and Creator of all thins INTERNAL and ETERNAL; the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE inside you.  He valued you enough to desire to dwell in you, and share the space with all of your intellectual property.  And yet, there you set…determined to be undersold.

I have heard it said, and I am just now coming to understand the immense value of this statement: Go where you are celebrated, not where you are tolerated. The way that you are designed is meant to excite the people who truly know your worth. When you allow the gift of “you” to be reduced to the worth of something that is common and disposable, that means you have accepted that you are who THEY say you are.

This is not to imply your perfection; only to infer that you are EXACTLY who God made you and that the only one that is capable telling you what needs to be perfected or corrected is THE CREATOR.  He alone knows the purpose for your design. He alone would be the one to send people along your path to sharpen your corners or smooth out the rough spots.  And when God sends someone to do the correction, He will send some kind of cues to your inner man to confirm that the work being done is from Him. That’s just the kind of God He is.

Friends, NEVER forget who you are.  It’s not just who God is making you into; not just who you are becoming that’s important.  YOU are a priceless treasure JUST AS YOU ARE.  Refuse to be undersold by those who do not understand your worth. Don’t be caught selling yourself for the going rate.

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