Of Serpents and Doves…

T’is the season for those that, some would consider, “condemnation” Christians, to come out of the woodwork. You know…the ones that put the ‘E’ in C(Christmas) M(Mother’s Day) E(Easter) Christians.

No judgment.  Honestly. I totally get it.  You want to make Momma and Grandma happy, and they will take your attendance to a church service, however they can get it. As a mom, I completely appreciate the desire to see your children attend church in the hopes of receiving more conviction than condemnation.  

Please understand…this is actually dedicated to the ones that make others feel like hot garbage, if they don’t, AT LEAST, go to church on certain holidays.  There is NOTHING saying if you don’t attend a church service regularly, that you will die and go to a burning Hell. The trouble is, the average Joe, that knows anything about the bible knows that…which is why the guilt trip rarely works.

Again, no judgment. Honestly.

So many people avoid church because they don’t want to be ‘preached’ to.  I know that you want to be a witness and share the love of God. And, I KNOW you don’t feel called to a ‘door knocking’ ministry. There has to be a way to share the Gospel with those around you, without beating them over the head with the bible.  Think about the people where you work, or the other parents in the PTA, or the neighbors on your block that you see when you are taking out the trash. Your heart is to give them the good news in a way that actually makes it seem like good news!

The struggle is not that people don’t necessarily know that they need God or a relationship with Him.  It’s more a point that they see Christians that seem unapproachable and their lifestyle unattainable. It’s like someone telling you what you already know: you’re pretty much screwed up and there’s not much you can do about it. It’s depressing knowing that there are people who  aren’t quite as screwed up as you. It’s even MORE depressing when it seems like they are holding their near perfection over YOUR head.  Nobody wants that. And, even when that’s not how we mean for it to look, that’s how it ends up appearing. Our reputations have preceded us.

It is into this kind of scenario that Jesus sent His disciples for, shall we say, “missionary” training. He sent them in as “sheep” to a den of wolves, instructing them to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. It was like giving them a ‘bad news, worse news,’ scenario.  You’re gonna look like sheep – lost, confused, air-headed, even flighty, but you have to be clever, crafty and even attractive, while maintaining an innocent, childlike trust in God and His plan for you…in the face of wolves.

Are you getting it, yet?

It’s as simple as it is complicated. We are not to lord our salvation over people. We are not to glorify our lifestyle by condemning that of another’s.  We have to be an honest representation of Salt and Light and Love.

Salt is tricky business.  In proper measure, it enhances the flavor and preserves what’s good in a thing. Too much can burn, like acid. Too little is perfectly useless.

Light, illumination, creates the same complication.  Too much, too fast can be painful and blinding. But, if presented like the dawn, it’s a gentle joyous revelation of what’s really around you, so that you may govern yourself accordingly, thus garnering an appropriate response.

Love SEEMS to be the easiest…on paper.  It’s in the practical demonstration of it, that people tend to get hurt the most. Part of the problem is that everyone has their own definition of love, based on their life experiences, that doesn’t always look like the biblical definition of it. Love, when properly displayed, can look mean, sometimes hateful. Sometimes, love makes you look stupid or naive.  Like serpents and doves.

It is in combining the forces of salt and light and love, that people become thirsty for what Christ has provided; aware of what the cost is of a life without Him as well of the benefits of a life with Him; and they become open to what true love will do in the life of an ordinary, human existence.

Then, and only then, will we see CME Christians become anchored members of the Family of God, devoted to a part of the Body of Christ and DISCIPLES. I mean, that was the original assignment, right?

Jesus did not say that hanging out with a bunch of people, just for the sake of pleasing our parents, would get us into heaven.  And, that is all a good guilt trip gets us. Reluctant attendees to a Sunrise Service and the subsequent brunch. We were never called to make congregants. We are called to make disciples…people who have active relationships with God, through Jesus Christ, that are supported by other branches who are also connected to the Vine.

So, at the close of this Good Friday, as we focus on the sacrifice of Jesus that made a way for us to be adopted into the Family of God, let us not get so wrapped up in who makes it to church this weekend.  Let’s start building relationships with the people in our communities that make them thirsty for a relationship with God, enlightened to the benefits of that relationship and fills them with the Love we’ve been given, so that they can freely ‘pay it forward.’

That’s what this weekend is all about, anyway.


The Wonder Years

I have been off the grid this year. It wasn’t intentional. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t MY plan at all! But, that’s how God does things when He’s making something BIG out of your life. I was learning some very big lessons about myself, by spending an awful lot of time in front of a full-sized mirror…the eyes of another person. I have figuratively stood before that mirror like Adam and Eve stood before God after their first act of disobedience…naked, and  thoroughly ashamed.

I met my match.  I met myself. This is someone who had the appearance of everything I have ever been and gone through, standing before me like an unfinished thought. Someone with all the disadvantages of mis-information, as emotionally, socially and spiritually stunted as I was when I first met God. Someone who never had anyone actually believe in them, but feeling like, “I KNOW there is more to me than this!”

Me – knowing all that God has taught me and all that He’s brought me through – meeting the me who, at that time, had no hope, WISHING someone would throw me a lifeline.

I don’t know if you can imagine coming face to face with your own raw potential and having God pose a question to you: How would you treat YOU?,

“What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me?”

I was given the opportunity to confront every negative thing that I have ever been, seen, felt, thought and done. I have seen myself in ways that I would never imagined or even wished I could.  It has resulted in a deep appreciation for the work God has been doing in me all these 48 years. All the patience I required. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought to myself, “It would be so much easier to just…walk away.”

At that point, I would simply cry. And thank God for never giving up on me. Then, I would reach out, again, to my new friend/the old me, and encourage him a little bit further.

But, you can’t really TALK about this kind of thing to anyone while you’re in this kind of process.  People normally cannot handle this sort of pressure on a relationship. It really does require a season of incubation.. Not entirely like the time I spent in my own ‘cocoon’ a while back…it has been more like being pregnant with a fully grown human being. NOBODY knows what THAT is like!

And, then I remembered…God knows…

“For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning”

God had to deal with Jesus pretty much the same way. When Jesus turned twelve, God imposed “radio silence.” And from His big trip to the temple, until His coming into ministry, at age 30, the Bible says not a mumbling word about His comings or goings.

Jesus, being fully God and fully man, had to be a real handful! Honing that power and personality had to be more than a notion.  I imagine that anyone in on that process had to go through some changes!. In a day and age as we live in now, there would have to have been a legal dream team drafting those “Non-disclosure Agreements’ to keep a lid on all the goings on! But, everyone in on such an intimate process would be integral in the development of all the attributes that the Christ required for his 3 year mega ministry. Everyone else was pretty much out of the loop.  

The problem with a major transformations is they usually fall under the category of, “a progressive miracle.” You don’t know it’s really a miracle until you get completely on the other side of it. And so, to protect the imperfections of the perfecting process, God takes all of the attention off of you, while He’s still working on you.

I believe there are times when we feel our lives take on an aura of unimportance.  We can go from day to day, thinking that none of this matters in the least. But, consistencies are developed in these ‘wonder years’ that may lead up to one moment that could change the existence of everyone around us for a lifetime.

I am watching this happen right now.

This process has been, as I mentioned before, more than a notion. It was one thing to be in on my own, personal process. But, to be processed for the sake of another’s process?  It has taken me farther in my faith, than I thought I’d go.  It has cost me more than I thought I’d pay and has kept me longer than I thought I’d stay.  And the silence?  The excruciating silence of this wonder year has very nearly, literally, killed me.But, there is something to be said about dying to live again.

The fact that I have penned this little ditty on Independence Day, has not been lost on me.  I’m certain that means something. I’ll get back to you on that.

As much as I missed talking to you, my Kaleidoscope Family, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

In Everything, Give Thanks

Hey, y’all! I missed talking to you!  It feels like it’s been forever, since I’ve been able to put fingers to keyboard to communicate with you!

Just ONCE, after an extended absence, I’d like to NOT say, “I’ve been in the fight of my life…again.” But, yeah…there it is.  I’ve been in an especially challenging scrape…again.

The last time my boys and I were homeless, we were hoping to be covered and guided by the head of our household.  That didn’t really go so well. We’ve been living in the fallout from the series of decisions that put us in that mess, ever since. Living our lives under the radar. Making choices with the end result being mere survival…nothing more. Nothing about that situation and the ones that followed set us up to be established, contributing members of society.

Between us, there was not one survivable income. At one point, we “lived” on my unemployment check of $89.00 a week; first, living in the renovated garage of a wannabe slumlord, then renting and eventually squatting in a foreclosed home until we were discovered and legally asked to remove ourselves. Just trying to maintain on food pantries and grunt work and whatever hustles we could get on at any given time.  Then, with the help of a friend, we rented a house on more (but not quite) official terms. It was still under the radar. And, while it was more formal, it was not entirely the most legitimate situation.

Today, the ‘boys’ are now very grown men. And we have found ourselves in a similar predicament. That ‘almost official’ rental was sold and we told them we would leave in 30 days.  At the end of those 30 days, our situation, while much improved, had not completely manifested in the time we hoped it would. With the cleaning crew of the new property owners at the door, we quickly put our already packed belongings in a truck and waited on God.

And, in my waiting, I went to sing my first solo, in over a year, in our church’s new building, “It is well.”

I was, again, reminded whose I really am.

Almost 4 years ago, when I started this blog, I raved, ad nauseum, about my church and those who were, at the time, my former (and are once again) employers. Once again, Lighthouse Church of All Nations and PASS network for life, lead the charge in the preservation of my household.  They provided my sons and I with places to lay our heads and store our stuff.

That is the present state of my circumstances.

So, when I quote Psalm 37:25 (in my own paraphrased version), “I was young and now I am…MORE; yet I have NEVER seen the righteous forsaken, nor His seed begging bread,” know that I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!

PLEASE KNOW THIS…even though we were homeless, we were not without a roof over our heads.  I don’t know how it feels to live under a bridge or on a corner, or even in a shelter. For that I am grateful. But, I do have a very distinct compassion for those who have had that experience.

Welcome to the weird weekend of the paradigm shift!!

After a month or more of disappointment after disappointment, by this past Saturday afternoon, I was so very nearly about to break. So much so, that I did not trust the thoughts in my head to repeat them aloud.

It’s not that things were so awful.  My boys and I are all gainfully employed for the first time in the history of our family.  We are now legitimately and legally capable of taking care of ourselves financially.  Finally, we are established enough to incur credit and be real contributors to society and the economy.  We just didn’t have a home…yet. But after so many years of doing without, it was really starting to get me down.

When, out of the clear blue, I began to sing, “Up above my head, I hear joybells ringing. Up above my head, I hear angels singing. There must be a God somewhere.”

And things began to break.

By Saturday night, a promise was being kept

Then, Sunday, particularly at the 11am service, the words to the song we sang came alive in a most significant way.

“You called me out of darkness into light. The power of satan is broken. I’m free, I have new life. You’re a great and marvelous God.”

My mind began to rehearse some key moments in my life and God began to speak.

“Do you see? There’s nothing left of who you were. There’s nothing left to go back to. And, this last attempt of the enemy to keep you in the old patterns has now failed…completely. You’re free to be who I called you. Trust that…walk in it…it’s yours now.”

And I wept.

I wept for every person the enemy used to keep me at a substandard existence, and I prayed for God to bless them and show them mercy.

I wept for the strange, wonderful and BEAUTIFUL creature I’ve become (and I make no apologies for admitting my own beauty…you don’t know how long it took for me to see it for myself!).

I wept for the gift of communication that I am now about to use to it’s fullest for God’s glory and for the gifts and talents of my mighty men of valor that are being established to turn the world upside down.

I wept for all the wonderful, beautiful people, too many to mention, whom God has placed on our path to aid and guide and support us on this strange (and considerably dramatic) journey.

I wept for the home we are moving into next week.  We will use this opportunity to make the transition to GOD GIVEN SELF SUFFICIENCY.  Understand…our total dependence GOD is the ONLY REASON we are now able to take care of ourselves and not be subject to those who would keep us under their dominion.

And I thanked God for ALL OF IT.

In the conclusion of a most poignant Thanksgiving season, I have much to be thankful for…including YOU.  Thank you KP family, for lending me your ears.  I promise not to abuse the privilege

We’ll talk again soon…

While I Was Away…

Did you miss me?  I missed you!  I know, I know…it has been well over a month since my last post. This has been a most fruitful month, if I do say so myself.

I had pretty much gotten to the end of myself in this past year.  I have been settled into a fantastic career. Far beyond a paycheck, it has been the most rewarding year of my employment since I stopped being a home-maker in 2006.  I am fraught with purpose and destiny.  I am in love with all of my co-workers and all of the volunteers/interns that I have encountered at PASS network for life.

I have you all to thank for a most productive blog life.  I have seen so much love and support…it is almost too much to fathom.  There are lots of things in the works as a result of the conversations we have been having from a Kaleidoscope perspective.  I can’t wait to share with you about what is coming next.  But that may have to wait just another month or so.

A lot of things have happened as a result of my near-death experience in July.  For one, I have a greater gratitude for life. I recognize that time is short and I need to live a life of joy AND happiness; not just to fulfill my purpose, but to surround myself with those who mean me the MOST good, not just those who don’t want to hurt me.  Because of that, I have divorced the love of my youth, only to have the love of my life find me, pursue me and hold me close.  I am a phenomenally blessed human being. Things move pretty quickly when you get out of your own way (I’m just saying).

All of this brought me to a holiday season of very mixed emotions.  I had never been so happy! God is restoring the years that the locust has eaten, and He’s doing it in a QUICK WORK.  I have love in my life like I have never known. When God presents us with an opportunity to love and be loved, we should grab hold with both hands and treat it like the gift that it is!

This season has been a little intimidating as well.  My purpose and destiny are taking shape.  I see my sons walking into their purpose and destiny as well. To God belongs all the glory! I feel that this may be the last Christmas and New Year we have lived under the same roof together. Our living situation is about to change again, and this time, it will look very different. We have emerged from what may be our last year as “all we’ve got.”  We have had to depend on one another through some of the hardest times imaginable. That has forged a mighty bond between us that cannot be severed. But I raised my sons to leave me, as is only right to do, for they were never really mine to claim. I struggle with wondering if I did everything I knew how to do, to prepare them. I am trusting the God who made us all to make up the difference.

I have also never been so keenly aware of the fragility of life and that time should not be wasted. I found out about the passing of a very dear YOUNG woman…Barbara Ann Peeples has left this life and it has hurt my heart tremendously.  I have had other dear friends with loved ones who let go of this life in recent weeks and I have commiserated with many whose hearts feel lonely and low during these festive seasons.  I have watched people suffer around me in ways that only few of us can honestly relate. Top that off with my own personal confrontation with “Old Man Winter,” where I spun out, due to snow, on an overpass and ONLY blew out both of my front tires.  Scary stuff, but I made it out, yet again, alive.

I want to take a moment to just thank God.  It is difficult to understand, from the outset, what God is doing.  But I love to see Him work.  I am always surprised at how things work out in my favor, from such contradictory circumstances.  I have seen the Lord take the foolish things of this world (like my life) and confound the wise too many times to doubt the mightiness of His hand.

And so, my dear friends, I say welcome to a new year!  Welcome to the land of GREATER, where God is showing His magnificence and splendor in ALL of His people. I expect to see it God go BIG this year!


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Rest, Revisited

I spent last weekend doing nothing.


Well, not exactly nothing, but…virtually nothing of any great consequence.  I went to a staff dinner on Friday and a birthday party on Sunday night.  Between those two events, I watched movies and ate sandwiches and slept.  Yep…That was pretty much it.

I have a habit of staying busy to avoid whatever is that is creating difficulty or pain. In the last decade, I have had to stay REALLY  busy.  Sometimes the only way to not collapse in a heap is to keep moving and be as productive as possible.

And that’s where I’ve been.  Keeping my family afloat; ministering to anyone whose need crossed my path; finding work, working like it’s not going to last; looking for more work when it didn’t last; singing and serving…doing everything I could so that I didn’t have to deal with the lonliness and the sadness that creeps in anytime I slow down too much.

And then it dawned on me.  Now is a pretty good time to just be still for a minute.  I have a job I LOVE.  My kids aren’t working (for pay), but they are being productive and service minded and not doing anything to be ashamed of.There are good things on the horizon and I need to have a clear mind and a rested body if I’m going to have the energy for the next level.  I need to take my rest.

Three weeks prior, I let everyone know I would not be available for anything Friday, Saturday or Sunday, with the two exceptions of  parties on Friday night and Sunday night. Everything between was done from the comfort of my bed or my living room couch.  I watched animés with the boys and chick flicks by myself. It was GREAT!!!

But I must admit, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to go through with it.

I was concerned that I would not be able to deal with quiet moments.  I was too afraid of the thoughts I would have to contend with; all the things I was drowning out with sound of hustle and bustle.

Then I was given a catalyst. My peaceful household was violated with news from my blood relatives.  And I was instantly transported to my own words in, “The Trouble With Jonah.”


I know I am like a lot of people. I’m not seeking external drama, but it does come.  I am doing my best to quell the internal drama, but sometimes I lose a battle or two on my way to winning the war.

With news that was set to distract and upset me, I set off into my weekend of rest.  It actually propelled me into my rest.  I became too emotionally exhausted to entertain ANY thoughts.  It was time to make like a couch potato.

Sometimes you have to shut down.

I could not have survived the week I just experienced had I not shut down for that 42 hour period.  When the stress became the least bit overwhelming this week, Where a restless heart would have snapped, I had the wherewithal to reach out to people who knew how to pray or give a word of wisdom or comfort.  When my worry woke me up in the middle of the night,where a restless heart would have fought to go back to sleep,  I turned it on the devil and began to pray for my enemies as well as my friends, Where a restless heart would have complained about the present situation, I exercised my gratitude, making sure that the people that needed me the most as well as the people I need the most knew that I loved them and appreciated them.

Did it stop the fear and worry?  A little bit.  I still want this to be over.  But until it is, I will look back on that small little respite and be grateful.  God knows what you need. It’s important to let Him lead you into rest of your body as well as your spirit. It may not always look like you expect, but take it when it comes.

At the close of this Father’s Day, I want to thank THE FATHER for looking after His children and giving divine direction worthy of undivided attention and immediate obedience.   Father knows best.

The Trouble With Jonah

Ok, so…you may have noticed that I did not make any effort to mention Mother’s Day in any way recently.  That’s because I have an unnatural aversion to the holiday.  Unlike with Father’s Day where I could pull together familial references to create an image of what might have been, I don’t have to wonder with my women folk.  While I can count the positive matriarchal references in my family on one hand, I have LOTS of negative ones.  The killing part is they are some of my most immediate kin.  There are visions I can scarce escape of indentured and unappreciated servitude, prophetic words of encouragement coupled with justified reasons why I will never see those prophecies come to pass, tools and tricks of their power wielded equally against those most loved and loathed.  I have been victorious over such influence, by the Gracious hand of God. But the second Sunday in May is the one day where their presence still overwhelms me. I’m always so grateful to be on the other side of it.

This particular holiday was further complicated by an intrusive call by one of those women.  There was a message left on my pastor’s phone.  It made sense, as there is no other way for her to contact me (good fences make good neighbors)…I still didn’t appreciate it.  The timing, however, was questionable at best. Wanting nothing more than to find out why it was so imperative that I be contacted, I returned the call as soon as possible. While ascertaining that there was absolutely NO real purpose for communication, the call lasted all of about 45 seconds.  I spent the better part of the afternoon seething.  That is, until I got home from church where I had waiting for me a pot of home-made chili that was accompanied by an extra large chocolate ice cream float.(Did I tell you how FANTASTIC my sons are?)  I went to bed as soon as I was able.

Spending an entire day under the influence of 150 proof rage leaves one with a MASSIVE hangover! I woke up Monday desperate to go back to bed, knowing that it was not an option.

This is why I LOVE working at a ministry like PASS network for life!  I got compassion and friendship from women that get God and get me.  I got unsolicited words of kindness and kinship from men in that same frame of mind.  It was better than aspirin or any other hangover remedy. Somewhere in the middle of my 12 hour day, I realize…I’m okay. I actually had a FUN day at work that ended with a few answered prayers and everything.

Still, it wasn’t until Tuesday that I got my resolution; the consolation and challenge that gave me rest that I will take with me from this Mother’s Day into every holiday or challenging ‘relative’ encounter from this day forward.

The nice thing about looking for God everywhere is you’re not surprised when He shows up…you’re just tickled.

God showed up on Tuesday in the form of a volunteer-in-training by the name of Mary.  Sweetest young lady you ever want to meet! And it wasn’t anything she said that day.  It was her presence that reminded me of a conversation we were having a week before.

We were manning the phones at the front desk, talking about something… (What I love about people with whom I enjoy chatting…we talk in random and varied trains of thought.  Nobody gets offended if the other goes off and jumps a track.  If we get back to the original conversation, it’s cool.  If we don’t, that’s cool, too!) and for some reason, we got on the subject of a bible study she had just been a part of.

Mary sits back in her chair and announces in this matter-of-fact voice, “You know, the trouble with Jonah is that Jonah thought the story of Jonah was all about Jonah.”

I fell out laughing.

That was something that had never occurred to me!  The thing that infuriated Jonah about the prophetic assignment he had been given is that He KNEW God’s intention was to correct and forgive the people of Nineveh. Jonah wanted Nineveh to FRY.  And when they didn’t, he got so hacked off (Pastor Andrew J. Willis, I borrowed your phrase) at God that he threw one temper tantrum after another. God still didn’t let Him off the hook. He even gave Jonah shade, so he wouldn’t stroke out while he was acting like a new fool. Even THEN the point was not about Jonah!  To the very last chapter of HIS book, He was merely a force, NOT A FACTOR!!!

So, that is how I shall perceive the women in my immediate family (along with a few other people), from this point on.  They were merely a force, a catalyst if you will, to push me to a place where God would get the glory and enable me to make a difference in the lives of many others. And I will not become like Jonah and demand some sense of justice or vengeance for self-satisfaction.  They are God’s children, just like me.  My fences are secure…they cannot cross them without my permission.  IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, ANYWAY! Whatever God does to them or for them is His business.  I’m gonna bless Him by blessing them (from a safe distance) and move on with my life.

Declaration of Interdependence

Tomorrow is called America’s birthday. And, all the talk is of our nation’s independence.  I don’t know if that was exactly what God had in mind.  While I understand the significance of divesting ourselves from the British Monarchy for all the reasons deemed necessary, I think that God’s heart on days like this is to encourage our state of interdependence. We cannot live in this life, or the next, without living together. As my pastor says (quite often as of late), “We are much stronger together than we are unique alone.” God made us to be unique individuals that work well together for a common cause.


How in the world are we, as Christians…Believers in God, to become a unified body, without a spot or wrinkle if we do not know how to come together…to bring together these beautifully unique, independent features that make up the Kaleidoscope Kingdom that God is waiting to return for?

Rather than take this time to pontificate on what I believe the Lord is saying to the church right now, I would rather let Him speak for Himself. In my declaration of interdependence as delivered to you by the Message Bible, I present to you the WORD OF GOD.

Philippians 2:1-16…If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

 What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

Do everything readily and cheerfullyno bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

I Thessalonians 5:8-18Since we’re creatures of Day, let’s act like it. Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation.

God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.

And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!

Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.


The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

With Regard to Father’s Day

BUILD THE KINGDOMI have a pretty hard time with all the familial holidays. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day…take your son/daughter to work day… big brother/sister day…hug your second cousin day. When you come from a family as ambiguously bound together as mine, the true importance of celebrating family members gets contorted and totally lost.

This holds particularly true for Father’s Day as I come from a matriarchal family where men were relegated to either coming home from work and sitting in a chair to watch TV with no intelligible conversation, or drinking themselves into a giddy stupor only to wake up angry at the world, or just coming around to be entertained only to disappear when the real work of being a dad was required. Entertaining a relationship with the fathers in my life proved to be a masochistic exercise in futility.

And (I suppose) that is where my perception of fatherhood would have remained had I not had an experience with God at the age of 12.
God took the time to gently reveal to me that my experience with fathers was not His desire for me and that He was not that kind of father. He patiently showed me that I should be grateful for all of the men in my life…even if all they served to show me was what a man and a father was NOT. (Sometimes it’s more important to be clear on what a thing is NOT to firmly define what a thing should be, am I right?)

He even took the time to show me poor examples of fatherhood in the Bible so that I was comforted in knowing that this was far from a modern phenomenon. And then He taught me about real love with 1 Corinthians 13 and how one of the best indicators of a good father is how a man accepts the role of “coverer”. Not just to cover a woman, but to cover his business or place of employ; how he covers his friends; how he covers his family…HIS mother and father and siblings. If a man is willing to cover ONE WOMAN and those with whom he surrounds himself properly in the exercise of COVENANT…not to stamp them into submission but to encourage them into God’s vision of FAMILY and PURPOSE, that man will be a GOOD FATHER.

My relationship with God as my Father has been the thing that redeemed my hope in the institution of Fatherhood. My hope for fathers been grounded and now flourishes because of the men of my church.

I am privileged to worship with a church heavily populated by REAL MEN. Men of a variety of races, denominations, backgrounds and financial statuses come together several times a week to pray and fellowship and worship with their families and each other. Fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, cousins, mentors and friends…they are all over the Lighthouse Church of All Nations in Alsip, IL. I have never known the kind of unconditional love and support that I have experienced there. I take immense pride in the relationships I have with these wonderful, imperfect-yet-always-striving COVERERS!

Now, I have fathers: Like my Senior Pastor, Dan Willis, who corrects and reproves me and tells me he loves me and encourages me in my calling, like Daddy Walt Otto, who comes into church in a white 10-gallon hat kisses me on my cheek and calls me “Young’un”. Like Rick Lett and Frank Cruz who encourage and pray for me.

I have brothers: like Jerome Lockett, whom I’ve known since I was a teen-ager and was the first man EVER in my life to say, “She knows what she’s doing, leave her alone and let her work!” Like Asanti Socrates, Cory Dortch and Gregory Johnson, whom I’ve known since they were teen-agers, sitting on my living-room floor, eating chili and watching movies. Like Chris Duffin and Ethan Noyes, with whom I can laugh and toast, who hear my tears and will sit with me without words until the tears dry. I have a host of sons beyond the two I bore…too many to count or name. All of them the products of ONE GOOD FATHER and they take His example and perpetuate it in our congregation and everywhere they go.

The bottom line, I have discovered is, if fatherhood was easy, every man would do it and the crime rate would be miniscule. But it CAN BE DONE…WELL.

And to those of you who understand what that means and are not afraid to go at it with the dedication and determination to really be fathers, I wish you a warm and grateful HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

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