Do I Look CRAZY to you?

Being a Christian means having accepted what Jesus Christ did in paying the price for our sins.   It also implies a certain standard of behavior:  Modest, generous, practical, kind, thrifty, brave and true – all of the things we are to set our thoughts on according to Philippians 4:8.  In a world where everything goes, declaring one’s faith in Christ sets a person up to be perceived by a strange and stringent standard. 

So, what happens when we make a mistake?  What do we do when we sin?  The Apostle John encourages us that if we confess those sins to God, He will faithfully and justly forgive us and cleanse us.  It would be just fine if the consequences of our sin ended here, but the truth of the matter is, when we sin and miss the mark, it affects the ‘un-churched’ around us and how they see Christianity. 

What happens when we continually ask forgiveness for the same sin over and over again?  People see us going to church and reading our Bibles at lunch.  They then witness our driving erratically, honking frantically and waiving the universal sign for, ‘the light is green, you can drive now,’ on the very same day.  It’s not always pretty, walking the line between our spirituality and our humanity. Some of our un-churched friends and co-workers dismiss us as ‘crazy.’ Admittedly, it can feel a little schizophrenic inside the skin of a Christian sometimes.  I remember being newly born again and thinking to myself, “What good is this salvation business if it doesn’t keep me from doing the same stupid stuff I was doing when I wasn’t saved?”

Even the Apostle Paul felt that way a time or two.  To the Roman church, he wrote “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”

That sounds kind of crazy to me.  Can you imagine what that looks like to someone who doesn’t ‘get’ Christians?  Cheer up…here comes the good news.

A bad day is a great time to let your light shine.  God resists the proud but give grace to the humble (Peter 5:5), so pull that friend, co-worker aside and apologize for ‘losing it.’  That will get their attention.  Acknowledge that, even as a Christian, you still struggle with doing the right thing, just like anybody else.  The difference is, every time you mess up you have Someone to go to that will give you a clean slate and help you do it better the next time.  Then ask them for a clean slate and let them know it’s not always easy, but you’re trying and thank them for their patience while you work this out.  You’ve just gained their respect and an accountability partner, and sown Kingdom seed toward their salvation!

And in one fell swoop, the Christian life makes sense again.   


Somewhere on the Road Between…

There is a lot going on right now.  Tumult all around us.  All around me.  So much instability and confusion.  Lately, I feel like I’m surrounded and surrender is the only course of action.  But that was not what I was instructed to do.  I was told to wait…wait for help to come.

I and many of the people in my circle are feeling that same sense of frustration.  Wondering, not whether or not God is there, but, when He’s going to send us a word of deliverance that will catapult us to our next level of faith. 

As it happened this week, I was sitting at my desk, only moments away from my next big pity party, when, in walks a good friend on the phone…fussing.  He’s talking to someone, just remarking about how rough things have been.

After I give him a warm hug hello, I ask him, “You going through it, too?”

“Yeah.  There’s a lot of that going around.”

“Everyone I know is feeling it right now.  I know God is up to something…I just can’t figure out what!”  I give an exasperated shake of my head.  He nods in agreement and then…

He looks at me sideways. “But, you know where we are, don’t you?”

“Not a clue.”

“We’re somewhere right between Passover and Pentecost. I think that’s why we’re having such a time of resistance.” 

And then, it all made sense to me. 

It was a very dark time in the lives of our faithful disciples. They had just been through the emotional rollercoaster of Jesus’s adoration and crucifixion and all that had meant, for them.  Jesus had ascended, triumphantly conquering the grave and had instructed them to wait on the Power. They were left behind to fend off interrogation.  Questions needed to be answered, but nobody knew exactly how.  Everyone was in town for the feasts and the talk was all about how to squash this movement that no one could explain. Good thing Jesus told them to hole up in the upper room and wait.  I can only imagine that the safest place to be was tucked away in some upper room. Safe…but not comfortable.

Smooshed in with a bunch of people devoid of certain ‘luxuries,’ like…bathing. Listening to the goings on outside that they would normally be party to, knowing that if they were to join, it would create a huge commotion. Had to be the longest 50 days anybody ever spent on the planet! 

But when the power came… and they became “These who have turned the world upside down.” (Acts 17:6)

So, yeah.  God has delivered you from the sting of death, hell and the grave.  You made it out alive! But what are you gonna do with this new-found deliverance?  If you’re like me (and apparently a BUNCH of people I know), you’ve been told to wait, because help is on the way. In the meantime, things are going on all around you – things you want to be a part of – but your present state of illumination requires too much explanation that you cannot provide.  So you wait…In that stinky, crowded, clustered, flustered state of limbo, with so many people feeling just like you.

Just like in the days of the early church, I would imagine that, despite all the things they had to complain about, you could still hear them reminiscing. 

“But, did you see His face when He ascended?”

“Oh, yeah! And after how horrible it was with Him on that cross!”

“I know, right? I didn’t think He had any blood left! I honestly thought it was over for all of us when they put Him in the grave.  Then He just…shows up.  Just like He said He would!”

“So you know if He said to wait here, Jesus has a plan for us.  This is gonna be really BIG!”

“I love Jesus so much! He said He’d send a ‘comforter.’  And we’d receive POWER…I can’t wait!”

Somewhere on the road between Passover and Pentecost, we must realize the victory is already done.  We need this time to process the crucifixion and the resurrection.  We have no way to explain what we’ve just been through. To move too soon would create unnecessary commotion that we couldn’t possibly handle on our own.

While waiting on the power, being of one mind and one accord is of primary importance.  Encourage your friends .Encourage YOURSELF. Take the time to remember what God has just done to you, through you and for you.  We really are in this together. And we’re all coming out with POWER!  Just wait and, WATCH OUT!  Once the power comes, we’re about to turn the world upside down!

Buddy, This Stuff Will KILL You!

Have you ever met anyone who was generous to a fault?  You know the type…always has a smile for everyone, tips big, laughs hard…and often.   They have the patience of Job, the kindness of saints, and give even when they themselves appear to have very little.  You might believe it takes more than you have in you to be that kind of person.  And you’d be correct.  It’s the difference between giving ‘til it hurts and giving ‘til it kills you.

The general consensus is that giving is a good thing.  Most people don’t have a problem with the concept.   When kindness is shown to others, it makes everyone feel good.  The hope is that somewhere along the course of life those acts of kindness will be returned.  Some spiritual practices call this karma.   For Christians, it is commonly known as the law of sowing and reaping – the golden rule.  Be nice to people, people will be nice to you.   It’s a ‘nice’ idea.

This notion of ‘giving ‘til it hurts’ acknowledges that giving doesn’t always feel nice, and that not all who receive are those that we would consider deserving.  Sometimes it’s inconvenient, like putting spare change in the Salvation Army can at Christmas.  That could have paid for a ride to work on the toll road, but it’s really no big deal – no real sacrifice.   That kind of giving stings a little, but we can still walk away self-satisfied because we did something ‘nice’.  Observations like this made me ask, “Is this concept biblical?” As it turns out, it’s not.  But, giving ‘til it kills you…THAT’s in the Book!

Throughout the Bible there are examples prophets, kings and plain old hard working men and women who gave all in word, deed and substance. These are folks that have suffered everything from the death of their own desires and ideas; to the death of convenient living; to the actual physical death to advance the Kingdom of God.    Then, there is the ultimate act of giving.  Jesus Christ considered it a JOY set before Him to give His life to benefit all mankind, some of whom discard this awesome love offering like so much junk mail.

This type of giving and kindness is love beyond our natural capabilities.  It requires a true relationship with the Giver of all good and perfect gifts.  By walking with God and taking on His nature, we begin to activate that life-sharing, generous spirit that’s in us.  Trusting God, as we die to all that we think we understand about life and the worth of ‘stuff,’ makes it easier to let go of things we hold precious.  As we really get to know God, we discover that if He desires that we give something away, it is usually to bring something of far greater value into our lives, or to protect us from far greater peril.

When we give til it hurts, there is still a fleshly pay off, and we tend to relish in knowing that. When we give til it kills us, we’re dead…the payoff doesn’t even matter.  No one may ever know what you did or for whom you did it.  It’s just another pebble in the pond…all we ever really notice are the ripples.  But God gets the Glory and that’s all that matters.

It’s time that we as Christians determine to give until it kills us. That way, others may actually see God living in us.  Now, wouldn’t that be nice?


So many times, my life has run head-long into a brick wall that I could not have possibly seen coming.  More times than I can recall, I have closed myself into a corner and cried until my entire body reverberated from the bowel shaking agony that poured from my heart.  I have been abused, neglected, berated, betrayed and have done the same to others with equal amounts of regret and revenge in my heart.

Each time I have laid myself bare before God demanding sympathy, requiring His understanding and compassion, I have heard one simple word… “And?”

“And, what?” I would retort.

In His infinite wisdom God would come back, “And WHAT…did you expect?”

“I expected FAVOR!  I expected GRACE!  I EXPECTED to see the hand of God move on my behalf!!!” (I got really indignant, and then…) “I would have settled for a hug.  Some sympathy.  Some COMPASSION!”

So, He says to me again, “…AND????”

Now, I’m a big, old puddle of slobbery mush.  “…And what?”

God never raises His voice. “And WHAT did you see?”

“I didn’t see what I was looking for!”

“Yeah, you did.”

I get a little sarcastic.  “REALLY?”

“Yup,” He says, all nonchalant.

“Well, where was it?”  See, by now, I am completely exhausted, bleary eyed and totally tired of myself. I just want to feel some relief and God is being FUNNY.

“I showed grace THROUGH you, when I let you walk away with your dignity even after it seemed like everyone was spitting in your face.  My hand was upon you to protect you when they thought they were going to run roughshod over you, but I said, ‘this far…no farther.’ And my favor surrounded you when I opened the eyes of all the people you thought were in the enemies’ camp and they acknowledged how poorly you were treated to the detriment of your abusers’ reputation.  AND FURTHERMORE…”

I am completely quiet now, leaning in as if on the edge of my seat. “Go on…”

I can feel Him smiling.

“Furthermore, My favor is paving the way for you to be everything that everyone said that you COULDN’T be, because you have remained faithful, just like I knew you would.”

Now, I’m smiling.

At that point, one of my sons walks into the room, pokes me on the tip of my nose and says, “What’s up, duckie!Wanna hug? C’m’ere!”

Sometimes, it’s not that God’s not there.  It’s just that our perspective is off.  God loves us. Even when we don’t feel loved. He is always with us and is always working it out for our good.

So, the next time you see the enemy really showing his shorts, just smile at him and say, “…And?”

To Love Him is to Know

I am not what some would call an educated woman. I love learning but, all my childhood, school was too much work.  I was certain I would not survive having a go at deeper knowledge.  I managed, by the Grace of God, to graduate from High School, and I was not interested in pursuing a higher education until I was much older. In the eyes of some, that made my observations on life dismissible.  How could I possibly be qualified to respond to the deeper questions without having certain credentials to support what I had to say?

God knew the plans He had for me, according to Jeremiah 29:11. But, from my perspective, there wasn’t a lot about my life that was ‘planned.’ However, since I was twelve years old, I wanted to please God more than I’ve wanted to do anything else in my entire life. Like Jesus talked about in Matthew 5: 6, I hungered and thirsted to know how to do that.  My desire dictated the course of my existence.

I left the United States Navy to become a stay-at-home mom.  That meant lots of time without grown up conversations.  I hated daytime television and I needed to be relatively stationary, due to physical illness, so what did I find to do?  I watched Christian television, read the Bible and read books about the Bible.  I hated how many things from my childhood did not make for a productive marriage or successful parenting.  So I read books about behavior patterns and communication.  I had one child with an infant heart condition and one diagnosed with asperger’s syndrome at three years old.  So I read up on nutrients that impact circulation and stimulated brain activity.  I watched medical programs and news shows and talk shows with guests that shared my struggle.

You see, I did want to learn.  I wanted to learn the truth about God, and then I wanted to learn how to take that truth and make my everyday life and the lives of those around me better.  My knowledge came from asking the questions that were in my heart.  I took those questions to the One who made my heart and He began to direct my search for the answers.  Because of my hunger and thirst to know, I was filled to overflowing.  And because I stay hungry and thirsty I keep going to God to know.   I’ve become a fount of knowledge.  And, boy has that come in handy.

Not having gone to school didn’t mean I wasn’t learning.  It didn’t mean it wasn’t reading, watching or seeking.  As a matter of fact, I can say quite confidently that I’m much smarter than I look on paper.  It is because of what, or rather, Who I was pursuing that I have the education I needed.  And, believe me, it was far more extensive and reaching than the education I thought I wanted.

Become a reliable resource and a beacon that points the way to Christ to those around you.  Seek God FIRST. Learn to love Him.  Learn to love the things He loves.  Ask Him to show you what HE wants for you.  Psalm 119: 99-100 (paraphrased) says,” I know more than my teachers because I think about what You say.  I understand more than my elders because I keep Your law.”  The best resource stays connected to the Source.  To know Him is to love Him: to love Him is to know.

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