"I believe in the love of God, it is an orphan's wildest dream, it is a Narrow Little Road, it is an ever widening desert stream" ~ Red Mountain hymn

"This narrow little road may be filled with both abundant joy and humiliating sorrow; surely, even its promised Divine acceptance cannot assure it's travelers absense of profound rejection. Indeed, this narrow road may be filled with a great many things, but the one thing it truly lacks is regret!" ~Debbie Sue

Saturday, October 18, 2014

simply and purely

Truth always emerges from times of truly seeking God and wise counsel... 
He has never let me down in my searchings and I know with great confidence He never will!  

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but soon we will see Him face to face. Now I know merely in part; but then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

And we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into this same image of Christ from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

I always come back to the truth after seasons of searching with an even stronger assurance that our moral bearings will only be anchored by looking at God. We must begin with Him, always! We are right when and only when we stand in a right position relative to God, and we are wrong so far and so long as we stand in any other position.

I am never afraid to search or ask questions, even if they are seemingly the wrong ones.  For I believe that our greatest difficulties don't stem from our questions or lack of understanding but rather our unwillingness to take God as He is when He chooses to reveal Himself, and adjust our lives accordingly. We so often insist upon trying to modify Him and to bring Him nearer to our own image. Our flesh whimpers against the rigor of God's inexorable sentence and begs like a poor man for a little mercy. 

We can get a right start only by accepting God as He is and learning to love Him for who He declares Himself to be. As we go on to know Him better we shall find it a source of unspeakable joy that God is purely and simply who He is, and that reality is unchanging!

We shall therefor be inspired to live as Christ being simply and purely who we are in light of Him!

O Lord, I have heard Your truth inviting me to look to You alone and be satisfied. My heart longs to respond with such assurance in every moment, but sin has clouded my vision till I see You so dimly. Oh Jesus, be pleased to remind me of my cleansing by Your own precious blood, and make me inwardly pure, so that I may with unveiled eyes gaze upon Your beauty all the days of my earthly pilgrimage. Then I will be prepared to behold You in full splendor in the day when You will appear to be glorified in all your saints and admired in all them that believe. Amen.
"Beloved, we are God's dearly loved children, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as He is pure." (1 John 3:2, 3)

Peace and love to you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

the voices in my head

All throughout the world, we hear this voice calling out for our attention. As more and more pain and atrocity takes over, its cries have become deafening while proclaiming that Love is risky, and grace and truth are costing you your lives. Vulnerability and sacrifice are not proving to be worth it.

Then it begins demanding...

Start putting yourself first! I'm not seeing proof that there's any glory in your sacrifice. Don't lose your voice to chasing justice, or your identity in serving others who hurt you. You should be lifted up, you deserve more... stop giving yourself away to others. Can't you see that it's humiliating you? Why are you being foolish? Just follow your dreams and your passions, embrace your good treasures on this earth, and only sacrifice for true success that results in making a name for yourself.
Oh man, friends, everyday I hear this voice- this voice that knows truth so very well. A voice committed to passion and yet ready to twist the truth even if ever so slightly. This voice is a sneaky liar! Surely, we are not really the big cause to live for. There IS dignity in sacrifice. Worthiness and identity do not have to result in you being a doormat. Suffering for justice is not a sign of weakness. Being silenced for speaking truth or loving boldly when others hurt you is not evidence that you're a fool. It's evidence that you know the One who rules the upside down Kingdom. That you bow your heart and life before the One who is both the sacrificial lamb and the lion of Judah, the Prince of peace, and the Great I am. He is the voice that matters.
And His voice thunders throughout the earth louder than any voice. 

Hear Him say to you, child...

Love IS risky, and it WILL cost you, but I know ALL about that!!

Do not fear what the world fears. For what benefit is it to you if you safely and securely inherit the whole world, but give up your soul or never know my voice? If you look at My life and model it in sacrifice- by loving others as you love yourself, and showing mercy and kindness even to your enemies- sure, your voice may be quieted or even silenced, but mine will burst forth triumphantly on your behalf when the timing is right!

Beloved, your humility IS your glory, just as it is mine! I promise to lift you up with my very own hands. For the sake of My Glory, I will never forsake you! Trust me, for I alone hold your heart and the whole world in My hands. You can find security and identity in who I have made you to be. And you can find peace while entrusting everything you are and all that you have to me. Follow me! And I will fill your life with the good things of God. I will listen to every desire of your heart and shape MY very own dreams and passions inside of you. Your life will be radiant like a city on a hill, and I will bring great glory to my Name through you!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Should all Fathers be honored?

To all the Fathers and Daddys...

On this day we choose to honor and celebrate you...
ALL of you...
neither for your perfection nor for all the physical things you've given us.

We honor you because your presence makes the world more beautifully whole and complete, and your list of imperfections and mistakes make the world a more real, dynamic and diverse place...

yes, YOU- even you- "THE ONE who can't seem to GET IT RIGHT..." the addict, the sperm donor, the adulterer, the overprotective, the uneducated, the passive, the sick, the judgemental, the irresponsible and undependable, the weak and broken... our world would not be the same with out you.

WE would not be the same without you!

Friends, the reality is... our society often crushes men's spirits. We easily alienate them with an impossible standard to live up to. We desperately heap piles of our lists of needs and expectations on them. We look at men and expect the next Jesus incarnate. We often honor them only for how well they meet this standard instead of embracing and learning from who they actually are; namely, broken image-bearers of an incorruptible God who are called to reflect Him in the midst of their hurt and humanity. Let me just encourage us with true and hopeful words...

reflection does not demand perfection.

If your father's life was broken and imperfect- even if he was a wretch to his core...

Do you know that you still learned more than you could ever imagine from him- from his personhood and from both his voluntary and involuntary life lessons of what and what not to do?

We can't forget that the beauty AND the brokenness in those we love shapes who we have become; they do not oppose eachother like light and darkness, at least not in this life. Sure, broken people bear children and breed more brokenness; sin- in all its various forms- brings hurt, deceit, grief, and a perversion of God's best for us... but that doesn't diminish the wonder of this internal freedom we have- the freedom to choose to learn good hard lessons from those who've shaped us (either positively or negatively), AND to decide what traits we value most and want to hold onto or pass on, and which ones we don't.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that men shouldn't step up and live lives of honor and be everything that they believe they are capable of being. It's certainly not evil to imagine who someone could be and treat them according to their (or rather your) ideal potential; however, I must warn you, you will most likely be very disappointed in the end. It's not that our many stories of fatherly grief should be invalidated or minimized; in fact, our emotional health depends deeply on facing these realities with brutal honesty and courage. Indeed, we are right in desiring, encouraging, and celebrating men  who live lives of love, honor, faith, passion, joy, purity, protection, and self-control... but we must acknowledge that we are also wise to honor ALL men in our lives realizing that we too have become any list of virtues through a process of grace and humility that involves experiencing love and acceptance first for who we truly are and not for who we could or should become.

In turn, as we learn to accept this acceptance, it often inspires freedom in our souls.

With this in mind, we can honor those who have taught us who we want to be with their very lives. We won't be able to thank these men once they're gone; for who they were, and what they DID do, and how all of who they were taught us about the world and common threads within humanity, about ourselves, and about who we are capable of becoming- a mix of both their light and darkness.

So, to all the Fathers and Daddys out there...
We honor and celebrate you...
ALL of you...
For who you are or who you were, and for what you've taught us about our beautiful broken world...

And to my earthly father- who eventually lost his life in the fight against his own list of imperfections- you have made a remarkable impact on my soul and who I have become. I love you and value both your beauty and your broken humanity. Yes, I'm even thankful for the hurts, habits and mistakes that we both carried in my childhood- all of which have made me more beautifully broken and imperfectly strong, honest, compassionate, resilient, and full of love, joy and adventure.

Dad, I will always love diverse culture and traveling, sports and recreational activities, certain unhealthy chemicals, and of coarse fine oldies music because of you!

Happy Father's Day  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the "knowing" of relationship

Lately, I've been dreaming about Africa. More specifically, Liberia. I keep wondering what it is about the African lands and people that has captured my affections in such a deep relational way. What is it about Liberia and my time in other African nations that transformed my understanding of relationship with God and humanity while shifting my paradigm in regards to the Gospel of love? After many hours of conversing and pondering and listening to Jesus speak... I hear one word repeat...


Incarnation? Why that word? What is that anyway and what does it really mean? Traditionally in Christian doctrine, it's a word often used seasonally to describe when God came to Earth in the flesh and dwelt among us in the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. Or it might be described as the time God entered into our mess through the womb of a virgin, experiencing temptation, and submitting Himself to human death on a cross. I've also heard it spoken as the period when God came and dwelt with us in bodily form- when Christ the baby, the Jewish Messiah, came as fully-God and fully-human and loved and bled and died as a perfect man, sacrificial lamb for sin, and as the untainted exact reflection of His loving Father in Heaven.

In many contexts, incarnation has become synonymous with Emmanuel .. essentially a word and message proclaimed near Christmas meaning "God with us."

Unfortunately, it's often discussed as if it is an event, a one time thing, like the day Christ was born or a short season of time like the holidays or even Christ's 33 years on earth. Basically, if this is true, then the incarnation as an event came to a screeching halt at the cross, and that was the end of the story of God dwelling with man.

I don't necessarily disagree with the doctrinal ideas of incarnation but they had never really resonated with me in any kind of profound way. How else can I say this?

I guess, I've struggled because it's hard to touch or breathe or taste these concepts in real life. I didn't know how to apply or understand them in real time; they sounded like Greek or words on a page.

As I've been reading through the Gospel of John lately with new eyes, I can still see why all of these explanations were acceptable to me before, even though they didn't strike me in the deeper parts of my heart. I believed them because they were fundamental to the faith that I claim. Even though I don't want to be known as the fundamentally idealistic naive girl who believes everything she hears blindly, I still choose to accept certain doctrines (or truths) even though I am aware that I know them dimly.

It's like gravity, chemistry or physics... Try to explain to me how it works and my eyes might cross, but I get the fact that I'm able to stand on the ground and not fly into space because gravity is real, and that's enough for me, at least for now.

I wholeheartedly trust that the God I serve is kind enough to teach me as my heart is ready to receive.

The last few years I have felt Him preparing the soil of my heart to understand the incarnation in a new way; every time He prepares to take me deeper, I get an overwhelming sense that the intellectual understanding I've had of the certain truth (incarnation) is no longer enough.

I need the truth of the season that is ready to grow down deep into my soil to actually move me; move me to know Him and love Him in a deeper and more relational way or... or I feel like I might explode. yeah, I'm sure by now I probably sound coo-coo for cocoa puffs.

Nonetheless, it's like a piece of the incarnation puzzle was missing for me, and I didn't know where to find it, but I knew I had to... it was time.

Recently, I have been stumbling over the Scriptures in many new ways. Particularly, I have found myself grappling with passages being highlighted in a class I'm taking on the book of John (taught by a prof I missed in previous college and am really excited to be taking for free now).

John MacMurray asked us this really good question in class before we read the passage below: How did/does Jesus save you relationally?

Here, before answering, read this... "this is eternal life that they know You the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." ~John 17:3

Here, read it again... "THIS is ETERNAL LIFE that they KNOW You...!"

Ok, one more time... "This IS Eternal Life that they KNOW YOU...!"

Sooo... Eternal life is... knowing God, knowing Jesus... in the realest face to face sense.

See, Jesus didn't come only to save our personal private sins, cleanse our minds from unrighteousness, and heal our broken hearts and bodies;

He also came to save and heal us in a relational way.

He came to mend the relationships between God and humanity as well as the relationships we've broken among ourselves. Meaning, He came to remove the veil that keeps us from seeing Him and knowing him in a real and relational way; and He came as the relational Creator (known as the Trinity)- the truest context for all relationship- allowing us to truly know and be known, to heal and be healed, both by Him and by Him through others.

So by now we have established that Eternal life IS knowing God. Notice that it does NOT say, Eternal life IS knowing ABOUT God.

If it did, me and the Pharisees would have experienced a greater depth of relational freedom because we have seen Him at work in other people's lives, read and memorized Scriptural writings, and done our absolute best to follow as many rules as possible to be good and right before God. But knowing about God, and following rules, and being a good person around Jesus was not the purpose of the incarnation- of Him coming to dwell with mankind- was it?

So, back to dreaming about Africa. Halfway through my time of living in Liberia, I moved out of the bush and into the city of Monrovia. Years before I even moved to Liberia, I had taken four short 1-5 week trips to Haiti and/or West Africa over a span of ten years. All those years I had read many stories and books, watched dozens of movies and documentaries, and had hundreds of conversations with people who had lived in Africa before. Needless to say, I had deliberately done my research to "know" these people well.

I had also lived with white missionaries in the bush of Liberia for 4 months and interacted with many different Liberians for small amounts of time day to day. Did I know them? Sure, at least in part. Did I think I knew them well? Absolutely. But I was wrong.

December 2010 is when I moved out of the bush and in with 4 Liberian families in the heart of the Capital city. During this season of "with-ness", I slept with the children, we ate together, showered and shopped, traveled and walked together, learned and heard each other, saw the world through one another's lenses, and even embraced and sought to understand each other's struggles as a way of life. Heck, I even tried to die from Malaria ;) Ok, not funny, but true.

In a very true and authentic sense, I knew them. They knew me. We were mutually seen, heard, and known. We believed, trusted, and learned from each other. We lived "with" and "among" and "alongside," and we truly and deeply loved one another. It was different and beautiful. It was transformational. It was... incarnational (if that's even a word).

And the beauty and the life that I experienced in those moments was in knowing deeply and personally, not just knowing about them.

As I grew to know many Liberians personally and intimately, I truly fell in love with them. Here I am still dreaming and speaking about our shared experiences together nearly everyday 3 years later. It was a joy to share life with and to see our reflections in one another; to know each other in the truest sense and to delight in both our similarities and differences, and the same image of God that we equally bear. Our threads intertwined to create a new masterpiece, and it's hung on the wall of my heart!

And now, the way that I view the world and relationships has changed; changed beautifully for the better because of our relationship.

For when you truly and intimately know, love and trust someone, you allow yourselves to be shaped and formed by them out of a complete mutual covenant; you no longer focus on the expectations, the differences and similarities or the balance between the giving or the getting, you simply focus on the person, on the relationship, and it changes everything.

These experiences in daily life of knowing and loving and being transformed through relationship are nothing short of a miracle... they are the evidence of the miracle of the incarnation of Christ and when you experience them, you are experiencing Him, and it is appropriate to praise and thank Him for it in real time.

Yesterday, I was so thankful thinking of these things I started singing at the top of my lungs in my car... I know love because You came... I know peace because You came... I know joy because You came, Oh lord... I know relationship cuz you came...

Then I remembered this oldie but goodie...
I want to know You,
I want to hear Your voice,
I want to know You more,
I want to touch You,
 I want to see Your face,
I want to know You more!

Everything I learned from my Liberian friends about truly knowing and loving each other, I have found that the same process is needed to know, love and trust Jesus. It's not some crazy formula that a set of good-girl rules or a stack of information about God or love will solve.

Knowing about Him will never be enough.

He is LOVE, Beloved! That's His Name.

Knowing about Love will never be enough. We have to be "with" Love. Intimately with Him!

Living among Him, hearing the truth daily over and over, and watching other people truly know Him and get free and healed will simply never be enough for any of us.

I'm honestly and profoundly desperate to know Him for real and that will appear nothing short of crazy to many. It's worth it. Knowing someone intimately is always hard work. He may be the great and perfect Initiator, but I've also had to respond and believe by receiving His invitation to know Him. And we have to do the same with those we love- we have to initiate and we have to receive.

I've had to search and follow and I've also had to allow myself to be found by Him.

I've had to meet Him in some very dark places where He was waiting, when I was begging Him to meet me somewhere in the light. I've knelt with Him in the garden pleading for my suffering to be removed while placing full trust and acceptance in the Father's Will. I've eaten with Him, cried with Him, climbed to the High Places and laughed and rejoiced with Him. I've spent much time in His Presence and I'm telling you, it's as real as the bench I'm sitting on.

As I have known Him, I have believed Him, and in the truest sense, I have fallen in love with Him.

He does still live among us, my friends. His very Spirit was sent after His death to dwell with us and among us on earth until all is restored on earth as it is in Heaven; and when all is redeemed, we will physically dwell with Him, and finally meet all our deepest longings face to face. For the Promised One that we've always wanted and loved will be clearly seen. We will see Him as He is (and not as we would have Him be), and we'll no longer fight chains that bind and blind us from knowing Him fully.

Until that day, believe and receive with confidence that we have the opportunity to truly get to know Him and relate to Him now- because He came, and because He IS. He is love and He is relationship in His very essence. He will set all things right, make all things new, and He's already started! WE can KNOW how this all ends for sure, and it should compel us today to know and be with Him.

Like all relationships, it begins with a conversation, and something to share in common...

He is ready to meet with us!