Lead me, this Good Friday, to the Cross

For forty-plus years, I’d heard the Scripture. I’ve seen movie portrayals of the Passion of Jesus, but several years ago it became real in a way that I neither anticipated nor prepared for. I sat in a meeting and we discussed how powerful it would be to have a cross made that was as close to the one Jesus would have been crucified on. “Can you do it?” “I think so.” We researched the facts and that is what they were, mere facts. Facts about the execution tool used by the Romans in the time of Jesus. We studied the dimensions and I set out to replicate the cross. Replicate the cross that my Savior was hung upon. It was simply a project, until the transformation of plain railroad ties began. The staining, the weathering. The distressing of the wood.  The distressing from being dropped and dragged. The deep imprints from the pounding of nails. The addition of red paint where the stains of blood would have been. It became real.  In all of its gruesomeness and brutality, it became beautiful. When the cross was assembled in the sanctuary it all came so overwhelmingly close. The reality of Jesus broken for me. Jesus broken so that my sins would be forgiven. Standing in front of this rugged cross I had a intimacy with the Lord that I had never had before. I sat with Him in the upper room, prayed with Him in the Garden of Gesthemene. I stood there with Him the day Pilate authorized His death. I walked alongside Him as He carried that cross.  I watched...

Solid

I’m not really fussy at all. Except when it comes to chocolate. I don’t require much. All I want is my chocolate, milk or dark, to be solid. No mystery filling, not a hollow shell. Solid. Simple enough. Mystery chocolate.  Those “mystery chocolates,” the ones that you are afraid to bite into for fear of what you’ll get. Sometimes it’s a nice chocolate cream filling and other times it’s some foreign jelly like substance or worse yet, a toothpaste like filling. In any event, it’s simply not fit to be paired with chocolate.  Hollow.  But perhaps worse than a mystery chocolate, in my mind,  is a HOLLOW chocolate. Ever gotten one of those? The anticipation of a SOLID chocolate egg only to be shattered, completely shattered, by the hollowness of nothing.  Our faith and walk with Jesus really is kind of like a box of chocolates.  Am I a mystery to those I meet? I admit, my heart isn’t always aligned with Jesus and there are times when it’s easy, in the rush, distractedness and circumstances of life to give off the, “you really don’t know what you’re going to get vibe.” And, there are times when it all looks good on the surface, but go beneath only to reveal some pretty disgusting inside filling. Pride, jealously, bitterness, idolatry. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 OR Am I hollow? The faith and walk that LOOKS solid but when tested crumbles and disappoints. The shell is lovely and enticing, but cracked,...

Momentary Message

More than once, the Lord has had to convict me to MOVE and GO. Convict me to move out of my comfort zone. Convict me that Jesus really doesn’t care about MY comfort. It’s been in these convictions, my lens has shifted, my perspective changed and my life, as I knew it, would not, could not ever be the same. **** Imagine if you will, a Saturday afternoon several years ago where the weather was making what seemed to be a venture into autumn. The boys were engaged in several college football games and the afternoon was ours to do some “fall” shopping. As the girls and I turned into the plaza, chatting away at what fall accessory was a “must have,” I spotted a man. It seemed odd to see a man holding a sign on the corner of this particular plaza. This wasn’t the typical “Cash for Gold” sign, no, he was holding an “Out of Work, Need Money” sign.  I thought for a moment how sad, whispered a prayer and turned the corner only to reveal that I recognized the man holding the sign. That man holding the sign was the father of a boy on my son’s football team. I’ve never “known” the person holding the sign. Regardless of the circumstances that brought him to that place, it’s safe to say that it’s not an ideal way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Now, I’ve been in church ALL my life. I’ve heard many, many, many sermons. I’ve heard good sermons, I’ve heard poor sermons. I’ve heard brilliant speakers and I’ve heard speakers who, if we’re honest, should...

Happy New Year – Two Thousand Seventeen

Maybe this year it can be different. Maybe we can do away with resolutions and embrace something radical. Perhaps if we do, we could actually end 2017 better than we arrived. If we let the light shine just a bit brighter each day, maybe they would WANT to be in relationship with us, conversations could happen, we could listen to each other, perhaps even walk with each other. Then perhaps, they could SEE…they could see Jesus, the Jesus of the gospel who often acted VERY differently than we do in the name of love. Maybe they could see who Jesus really was, in us. Imagine that. Twenty • Seventeen would then be a year of real transformation and not empty resolutions. It begins. Let us embrace this new year. Let us embrace the light that we have an opportunity to shine…Lord knows this weary world and her people need...

Breath of Heaven

It was almost 22 years to the day. I was 9 months pregnant and due on January 8th. That’s what THEY SAID; SHE had different plans. When the doctor finished his examination, he calmly stated that I would be having a baby, “TODAY.” “TODAY, as in TO-DAY?” “Yes, and we’ll need you to head to the hospital – NOW.” “What? That is NOT the plan.” “It is now and if you can’t assure us that you’ll head straight for the hospital, we can arrange for an ambulance.” I went out to my car,  a baby blue Ford Escort, on an absolutely frigid day in Chicago, ice and snow covering the ground. That little car needed time to warm up, so I sat reluctantly patient for a moment and waited, all alone. I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that I WAS GOING TO HAVE A BABY! The journey had been a long one. I had prayed for years, endured fertility treatments for years and I knew the magnitude of this event. The day had arrived and it looked NOTHING like I had planned. My husband was downtown in a pre cell phone age, and I needed to get word to him. Travel plans needed to be changed. I still had Christmas shopping to do. I was told that I could not even PACK my own bag; I needed to get to the hospital immediately. As I sat there in the car, overwhelmed in the moment, a song came on the radio. Now, it wasn’t the first time I’d heard it, but the first time I HEARD it… ”...

Happy Thanksgiving

  Together we pray, that as we come together with family and friends, may be ever aware of those for whom these holidays are hard. Perhaps if we, the reflections of Jesus on earth, reached out, in some tangible way to the lonely, broken, needy and exhausted among us this holiday season, we could truly be a light in the darkness. “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.” Thomas Merton May gratitude to God in our lives NEVER be unresponsive. May that gratitude propel us to LOVE those around us in ways that would never be possible without the understanding of the graces given to...

A Simultaneous God

  HONEST confession alert: I would, apart from Jesus, choose COMFORTABLE every day of the week. I would chose to be COMFORTABLE. Comfortable relationships. Comfortable circumstances. Comfortable conversations. Comfortable ministries. Comfortable community. Comfortable media. Comfortable biases. Comfortable, comfortable, comfortable. But God simply will not have it. HE has heard my honest and sincere heart cries. HE has heard the burdens on my heart. HE knows the people in my life that I care deeply for and love, and HE cares more. HE could care less about COMFORTABLE. We have all the evidence we need in people who have gone before us. People like Daniel, Moses, Abraham, Esther, Ruth, Naomi, Peter, Paul, Jonah, Martha, David and Jesus. “Then God said, Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Genesis 22:2 •••••••• “And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah 1:17 •••••••• “And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey, except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in their belts.” Mark 6:7-8 HE. COULD. CARE. LESS. ABOUT. OUR. COMFORT. As I’ve grown in my walk, I’ve learned to see things more and more through HIS lens. That’s grace friends, and all part of this walk as we move towards home. Recently, I’ve found myself...

A Tale of Two Women and the Rest of Us In•between

She wore her issues like a coat. She entered my life one Christmas season. It was apparent upon meeting her that the road had been a rough one for her and her children. Her brokenness was visible. As we came into relationship and I learned more of her story, it was apparent how rough it actually had been. Circumstances led to poor choice after poor choice, but her heart longed for different, she just didn’t know what different could be. As we all know, the broken road is a hard one to walk and unlike the 30 minute television drama, life doesn’t always wrap up in an hour, or in a season for that matter. It was the night that I received the call that I realized just how shattered she was. She called from the back of the police car. She and her boyfriend were being taken to jail for physical abuse against her son. She called to ask if I could come get him. I met him at the hospital and my heart was ripped in two. The issues that led to her brokenness continue to this day. BROKEN.  She was the picture of perfection. Her life looked perfect from the outside. It screamed perfect. In all honesty, I avoided her for some time because the perfect-ness was intimidating and a bit off-putting. Perfect hair. Perfect kids. Perfect marriage. Perfect life. Perfect seasonal porch decor. PERFECT. Our lives eventually intersected and we came into relationship and I was given a peek behind the perfect curtain. As we all know, there is no REAL life that resembles perfect in...

We Remember September 11, 2001

Fifteen Years. Fifteen years ago, everything changed. Today, we remember and pray for those whose lives were forever changed that day. We pray for this broken, broken world and we simply, humbly ask, Jesus be near.  Recently I heard that if you read or listen to something new, then the next piece that you should read or listen to should be something old. It’s in the old that we find ourselves, where we’ve been and where we may be going. Today as we reflect on the events of September 11, 2001, may we pause to pray for those who lost their lives that day and in the days beyond protecting our freedom, and those they left behind. We pray too for those whom life changed that day. For those first responders who still today feel the effects of those acts of bravery. We pray God’s mercy and grace be ever theirs. Thoughts today reflect the words of wise men of old. The nonviolent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had. Finally it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality. Martin Luther King, Jr. And one that pierces the heart. Today, Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light,...