Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hard Questions

(photo mine)
Someone I love recently asked me a hard question about something they’d read in the Bible. The things we read in the Bible can bring up a lot of hard questions, there’s just so much we don’t understand. I thank God for the men and women among us that study the Bible (perhaps the way we all should) that have taken the time to learn both Greek and Hebrew, who are schooled in the cultures of biblical times and can expound on what we’re reading. We need to avail ourselves of the books and/or perhaps blogs they’ve written, websites they’ve created and teachings they provide.

Many things in the Bible are hard to digest. We ask, ‘why did God do that?’ – or, ‘why is this even recorded here?’ We ponder and pray, but oftentimes come away with no viable answers. Does that mean we should just throw our hands up in the air and conclude that we weren’t meant to understand?

Now, more than ever, answers are at our fingertips. We pull up an internet browser, type in a question and voila – we have more answers than we know what to do with. Of course, we can’t believe everything we read or hear, we need to pray for discernment and keep our nose in the Word of God ourselves and listen for when God speaks directly to us. He does still do that, you know. But if we’ve convinced ourselves that we’ll never hear from God in a personal way, we may well miss out on that experience.

(photo mine)
When we open our hearts to what God’s sharing with us, our whole world opens up, too. We see things in a new light; we experience things we never knew were possible, we find answers more easily than we find our car keys. We discover a depth to our existence that wasn’t there before. We connect with those around us, and with nature itself on a brand new level. Life holds greater value and physical death takes on deeper meaning. Relationships unfold and purpose is revealed.

Will we ever have all the answers? I’m thinking that won’t happen until we completely let go of this world and take hold of the next. Anticipation mounts when we begin to accept things we can’t see with our eyes or hear with our ears. Lack of tangible evidence shouldn’t limit our imagination or lock us into tiny paradigms with no room to explore. Discovery is the treasure of discovering treasures.

What if God is communicating things to us that we’re refusing to acknowledge? It’s not only our loss, but a loss to ours and future generations.
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” – 1 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for that that love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9 (KJV)

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18 (KJV)

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
Dig deeper? Walk a few steps further? Look outside the box you're sitting in? Let go of the ties that bind you? 

Answers come. Freedom happens. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Open Heart

(Picture from

God sees my heart! He sees me struggle, He sees me fall. But, praise His Name, He doesn’t base my future on the mistakes of my past. Yes, He sees my heart!

God sees beyond the occasional bad word that slips through my lips when I indulge in fits of anger. He sees past the selfishness of my taste buds when I just have to have a piece of chocolate that’s not on my diet. He looks through the fears that sometime prompts less than proper or acceptable behavior; and He gazes on my heart.

And what does my heart look like? Is it black with sin? Is it ugly and angry and filled with hate that motivates inexcusable temper tantrums?

No, because I’ve yielded to the power of His Holy Spirit. In me, He sees a heart that is hungry for more of Him; hungry for more of His Word and for more of His power.

Does that make my mistakes okay? No. But, they are forgivable. And He freely forgives. The only hang-up is when we refuse to accept His forgiveness; when we’re too proud to acknowledge that we need it, and we choose not to receive it.

More than thirty years ago I gave my heart to Him. It was a night of divine revelation, when He broke through my fears and my pain and revealed to me His great and mighty and powerful and jealous love for me. Though the choice was mine, how could I refuse Him?

It wasn’t just the most overwhelming feeling in the world; it was the most incredible knowledge in the world! And I now possess that knowledge! I can deny it; I can hide it or try to ignore it, and can discard it as if it were a lie. It’s mine to do with as I please.

I choose to live in this knowledge; to walk in it daily. I choose to embrace it, to engage with it, to prosper in it, to explore it and to find eternal salvation in it.

I choose life!

When you watch a love story unfold before you on the silver screen, what happens to your heart as you see the star lovers miss each other? Why is our heart in our hands when the man and the woman seem destined to meet on that rooftop or on that subway ride or in that park – and something comes up to keep one from making it? The other is left, alone, believing the lie that the other had no intention of showing up.

But, God always shows up.    Right on time.    Always.

What holds you back?

“For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. – 1 John 3:20 (KJV)

Saturday, March 22, 2014


(Picture from
Sometimes the most profoundly lonely moments follow time spent with someone you care about.

Perhaps their sudden absence makes you realize the importance of their presence.

Perhaps it’s the recognition that the world is phenomenally bigger when they’re not around.

Perhaps it’s because you realize the world keeps turning whether you’re with them or not, and you’re not sure that’s a good thing.

All at once, the sound of their voice is missing as silence surrounds you.
At that same instance, the beauty of their face is only in your mind.
Within moments, their touch is a million miles away.

Right about now, the word ‘alone’ takes on new meaning; and the only purpose your tears serve is to create a wealth of snot in your nose and there’s not a tissue to be found.

Allowing your mind to insist they return to you only prolongs the aching feeling in your chest.

Explore what else occupies your heart; there in the shadows, being crushed by the emptiness you’re allowing to overwhelm and smother you. What’s there? Look closer.

Ah yes, a smile returns to your face now. Absence may increase longing, but can’t overpower love.

Now, your heart can return to its normal size, and grow even larger. There’s room for absence. The heart has the capacity to hold so much and never be filled; there’s always room for more. It stretches, you know.

Absence can’t shut you out if you invite it in; welcome it; allow it to teach you all about being present.

Loneliness fades.

Joy wakes up.

Exploring our heart becomes an adventure that pushes fear out completely; or changes the look on its face till it’s no longer a frightening thing.

Dare to look at the very things you’ve been hiding from for so long. No, you don’t have to do it all at once. Baby steps will still accomplish the journey.

“For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” -  1 John 3:20  (KJV)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I Don't See What You See

(My own photo.)
At 7:00 in the evening, I sit in front of my open bedroom window enjoying a delicate breeze as streaks of pink light up the pale blue sky. A freshly made salad with sweet strawberries delights my mouth as I ponder the walk that just challenged me. (Not an hour before I left the house, a friend informed me that the day after tomorrow we’re expecting a few inches of snow. Really?)

My camera is temporarily out of commission, it’s in a bowl of rice, since it’s built into the cell phone I dropped in the toilet earlier today, so I don’t have pictures of my walk to share with the world via social media, or even here on this blog post. (I used an old photo.) But, it was a beautiful evening walk, complete with plenty of points to ponder, like, how quiet it was without my phone.

One of those points was perspective, which is something I ponder with relative frequency.

I live on top of a hill and look out my back window over the east side of our city. The view is one of the reasons we bought this house. In the forefront are the houses and rooftops descending the hill beneath us. Always enjoying the view, I never considered it from the vantage point of those who live down there. On this evening’s walk, I noticed, for the first time, the view between the houses that looks up to where our home sits. Our road creates a horseshoe-like loop around other little side streets. I found this view of the backs of tall houses looming over the lower houses to be fascinating, but intimidating; almost creating an “us” and “them” situation in my mind. I noticed, too, that there’s more sound down there; the neighborly noises seem to travel better. The shadows were falling more quickly. Though it felt cozy and protected, instead of the openness of the hilltop, I prefer my world.

But then, I create my own world with my views and my vantage points, just as those below me do. We find security where it presents itself and beauty where it displays itself. I got to wondering how differently I see things than other people. I’ve always been accused of being peculiar, so I guessed a long time ago that I see things slightly askew of what others see, but, what do others see?

Health must look completely different to one who’s never been terribly ill versus one who is currently facing a life-threatening illness, versus one who’s experienced a miraculous healing. I cannot expect to know what anyone else is seeing, even if I myself have been terribly ill, experienced that healing and now walk in health. Their view of what they’re going through is created on the inside of their mind. Yes, bits and pieces of what they see come from tangible things around them, but so much more comes from the impressions those tangible things make on them, unique to them.

So, even if I walk a mile in your shoes, I still can’t begin to imagine how that mile looked to you.

I don’t see what you see. You don’t see what I see. The neighbors beneath me and I see the same sunrise, but, I’ll bet, our descriptions would deceive you. Ponder the ramifications here…

Matthew 7:1-5 reads with an interesting twist in the Message Bible. More commonly we hear, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” But, here we read, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Oh The Shame...

(picture from
Let’s face it, we have all felt shame.

Some of us have endured it many times. Whether for an instant or it’s clung to us for a lifetime, the anguish can be crippling.

People dream about being naked in a public place. You may have even had that dream yourself. You may have awakened feeling shame, as if it had really happened. Even in a dream, shame is suffocating.

Whether the shame was brought on by foolishness or a mistake on our part, or imparted to us by a thoughtless and perhaps cruel person, its weight can be crushing.

Even when attention is diverted from you and the shameful spotlight is turned off; the feeling can linger and hide in the back of your mind, waiting to present itself again unexpectedly.

Shame is more than mere embarrassment. Its first entry at reads: the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc, done by oneself or another. Another entry reads: disgrace, ignominy. If we probe deeper, disgrace is defined: the loss of respect, honor or esteem; ignominy; shame. Yes, I had to look up that funny sounding word, too. Ignominy means: disgrace; dishonor; shameful.

Scripture has a lot to say about shame; the Psalmist himself uses the word quite a bit as he pens what his heart pours out. In the NIV Bible we can find the word shame at least 147 times, and at least 112 times in the KJV. We are definitely not alone in this experience.

The first time I see shame noted is when Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden of Eden, they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:25) Why is this pointed out to us?

Before sin, there was no shame. Sin disgraced man, stripping him of righteousness, and brought shame into the world, along with a host of other consequences. Although we can feel shame without committing a sin, it didn’t exist when Adam and Eve were one with God. Sin and rebellion separated them from God; and in that separation, even their nakedness became something they sought to hide. When shame comes upon us, we want to hide.

If sin (therefore, separation from God) brought shame, how better to get rid of it than by being reunited with God? Nothing we do in and of ourselves can bridge that gap. But, God provided a means of redemption, through His Son Jesus, the Christ. By accepting that Jesus took our sin, and all the shame that goes with it, to the grave, exchanging His death for our lives, we are redeemed. That act of grace (unmerited favor) provides the remedy for our dis-grace. We are reunited with the Father, taking on His robes of righteousness to clothe our exposed, vulnerable nakedness. This nakedness is more than the absence of clothing; sin disrobes us of righteousness, a covering in which there is no shame.

When we give ourselves to God, He doesn’t only want the good things He created in us, He wants it all; the good, the bad and the ugly. He takes our sin and shame and separates it from us as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12 KJV)

God won’t force us into a life of freedom, but He offers it to us, generously.

“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” Romans 10:10-11 NIV