Friday, August 18, 2017

I can't rest until I get this stuff said. So here goes. 

Why is it that, if I disagree with someone, I "hate," but if they disagree with me, they are "open-minded?" When did this happen? Why did it happen? When did it become the norm for people to judge others by their own set of standards? And more to the point: what are we going to do next?

We are a nation in turmoil and we have no real voice of reason ringing through the wind. No one to calm us reassure us, and even discipline us when we are out of line. But wait, we do. 

We ALL need to take a step back and evaluate the way we are treating each other. As a Christian, my example is Jesus. How would He respond? Many are quick to jump to the example of righteous anger (Matthew 21:12) when Jesus cleansed the temple. But wait, there's more! Jesus also called out the men condemning the adulterous woman (John 8:6), warned us about where our true treasures are (Luke 12:34), and scolded Peter when he took up a sword defending Jesus and His captors (John 18:10). Just a few surprising examples of God in flesh making radical decisions that affected the world and the way we are supposed to treat each other. 

Are these statues worth discussing? Yes. Are they worth fighting over, I don't think so. Are they worth dying for? Never. Too many people died when we fought each other the first time. As much as I love history, especially American history, I love people more. I want to see the best in each of us- I want us to be at home with each other in our skin and in our community. So here's what I think:

  • I think Jesus is the most important belief/issue/thing/person we should ever be concerned about. 
  • I think we should be considerate of our families next, and then everyone else. 
  • I think, if you have a problem with some statues, you should speak up. 
  • I think if you don't have a problem with them, you should speak up. 
  • I think all forms of extreme, violent hate groups are wrong. 
  • I think you should both be mature enough to address the issues calmly. 
  • I think violence is not the answer. 
  • I think the police need to prevent us from harming each other and from defacing property. 
  • I think city/state leaders should consider the issues on an individual basis.
  • I think if the decision is in favor of the people with the problem with the statues, by all means relocate them to the nearest Civil War battlefield or cemetery. 
  • I think they are a part of history and we should not demolish them. Instead, add a plaque or an info board that will aid in educating the public about the facts surrounding our nation's greatest mistake. 
  • I think considering any kind of action (other than protection) regarding the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, and any other battlefields and parks is absolutely ludicrous. 
  • I think we need to remember where we are: this is the South. If someone were to erect a Lee statue in Kansas tomorrow, that would be weird. Some of these statues remind us of various campaigns and skirmishes that were fought nearby. You may walk or drive on ground that was once soaked in blood. These people- all of them- had families. They all had souls. They all bled the same. ALL of them. 
  • I think erasing history is never the answer. 

I know I have readers  who will be on either side of my opinions. I pray that those who know me will reach out if they disagree and our friendships will not be in jeopardy. But I can no longer remain silent, because I am tired of going to bed and becoming totally overwhelmed by the thought of future generations being silenced for fear of offending someone. I don't want to offend anyone, but I have a right to my opinion as much as anyone else. 




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Reunion


Last week I did something I have wanted to do for years: I reunited with some of my dearest high school friends. Women I have known for over forty years. Women whom, at least some of them, I haven't seen in almost forty years. 

It was beautiful. 

As each friend arrived, the anticipation grew. Smiles, tears, and laughter filled the room like the sweet aroma of summer in Coastal Virginia. For about three hours that Sunday afternoon, the clock may have kept ticking for you, but for us, time stood still. 

We caught up on everything from the bitterness of divorce to the blessing of grandchildren. Whispers of the pain of seeing parents age and change along with our own fickle bodies. We were hungry, not as much for the food on the table, but for the details of each others’ lives that we had missed. We were all so close. What had happened? Why did we lose touch with each other? Where had the time gone? We devoured each bite of information with all the compassion and love that comes with forty years of friendship. 

We passed around a yearbook, laughing over grainy photos and regrettable hair styles. We mourned the loss of friends and teachers. We reminisced about the fun we had and the choices we made- both bad and good. 

There were some who were not there with us- distance having won over sentiment. We longed to see them, but totally understood. There was, however, one person there who I hadn't expected to see. I had almost totally forgotten about her. She was almost - almost a stranger; and when I looked at her photo, I was shaken to the core. 

It was me. 

As my friends talked and passed around pictures, their laughter rising and falling like the waves we used to play in, I was in a world all my own. I was meeting myself for the first time in many, many years. 

I stared at the photo, remembering the very outfit I was wearing. I looked at how tan I was, and how slender and healthy I looked. I was smiling and happy and…confident. I think that’s what got me the most. Seeing myself through my fifty-eight year-old eyes, knowing everything I had lived through up until that time, and still seeing the poised assurance of someone who had indeed, come through her own private hell. 

There was no trace of the pain of having lost a mother way too early or having had a less-than-stellar example of a father. There was nothing that would have told you that some forty years later she would come to realize that she had actually been neglected and abused, and would finally come to terms with putting that in print. The pain was there, she just didn’t allow it to control her life. Instead, she chose grace. She chose to let God take care of the hurt, the doubt, the confusion, the fear, and the anger. 

And she lived. 

She thrived, in fact. Why give negativity the opportunity to rule your life? We are not defined by our past- we are refined by it. Jesus didn’t die so that we would wallow in our pain; He sacrificed Himself so that we could and would overcome. Life is both too short and too long to spend it feeling sorry for yourself. His love. His mercy. His courage. That’s what kept her going then, and that’s what fuels her today. 

As the afternoon drew to a close, there were promises of future meetings. Promises of doing our best to keep each other close and to not lose touch. Promises that I intend to keep- with all of my friends, including myself. I'm so glad we both came to the reunion. 


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I Am Never in Danger of Becoming Boastful

I am never in danger of becoming boastful. Because there are always days like today. It started normally enough, getting ready for a church meeting. I was wearing a blue top and I suddenly remembered that I had a chunky blue necklace that would match really well. I managed to find the necklace and, while putting it on, I looked in the mirror. Checking out my new haircut, I noticed I had a big bunch of bent hair on one side of my head. Now, I am a symmetrical girl, and big bunches of bent hair bother me. I quickly grabbed the can of hair spray and gave it a shot like I was zapping a bug. Down the stairs and off I go!

Of course, the March winds have hung around into April, so my hair blew all over as soon as I stepped out of the door. A quick check in the car mirror to fix my hair again, but this time I got cold chills: I was badly bruised and it looked really scary! After having suffered a TIA a few years ago, I am super-sensitive to unexpected bruising, especially on my neck. My neck. 

Oh, wait.

My necklace-- the hair spray acted as a paint thinner! My cute blue chunky necklace was...melting all over my neck!

Already having everything I needed in the car, and not wanting to fight the hot wind (I have mentioned before how I am not a fan of the wind, but it bears repeating), I decided to remove the necklace and "wash" my neck with hand sanitizer and tissue, silently nodding to myself how the Girl Scoults really missed out when I quit because we never would really go camping, only make "sit-upons" and talk about camping. They could've used my resourcefulness. And I say that not to boast-- oh no-- I say that admitting that I have had to get myself out of situations like this so often, it really is the norm.

I left the necklace off as I drove to the meeting. We both needed to calm down and allow ourselves to...dry off.

I thought about how many other times I have spilled, tripped, broken, sprained, and torn. I thought about the silliness of ego-- we are nothing apart from Christ. I thought about the dear ladies who, just hours ago, asked me, ME, to speak at their church. Me, the one with the blue neck. The one with scars from deep wounds. The one with forgiven sins and brokenness. 

The one who needs a Savior every day of her life. 

I called one of my sisters to share a laugh and to revel in humility-- and to adore the only one Who deserves to be boasted upon. 

As God continues to bless me and as He allows me the honor of serving Him in so many different ways, I know I will always stay humble and totally emptied of myself. Because I will always be one step away from a blue neck.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Dear Christian Millennial Sister (aka, Jesus Girl),

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I know that time is a concern for you and, with no pictures and more than 140 characters, I appreciate the investment you're making. I also respect you enough to know that you have a sense of humor. I mean, I saw your snap with the poodle ears and big tongue-- girl you're hilarious!

I want to take this opportunity to explain a little about myself (and my generation) to you; after all, there are many "open letters" circulating from "you" to "me," so it's only fair that I am accurately represented. Remember- there are no losers here-- we are all winners. (Again, playing on that sharp wit of yours)

Number One:  I am a Boomer (short for Baby Boomer). Our generation is named that because we were born between 1946 and 1964. That era was know as the "Baby Boom," and the world population increased by over 76,000,000 during that span. I know this sounds like a boring statistic, but pretend it's you and read it again. SEVENTY SIX MILLION PEOPLE. There are a lot of us and current health care is good. We're sticking around for a while so you may want to understand us. Plus, you'll be wiping our drool when we're really old, and we want you to get to know us while we're still coherent. 

Number Two: Mine is the first generation to survive/be part of/be subjected to the temptations of mind-altering drugs, the sexual revolution, modern news media, satellite communications, and modern technology. My generation, unlike our parents', understands many of the dangers and challenges you face on a daily basis. What's more, I'm here to help. I just don't know how to let you know that without making you think of me as a drugged-up, sex-crazed, techno-weirdo. And what you think about me matters. A lot. I want to love you. In fact, I really don't want there to be a label on either of us. Growing up, our parents (and the people on our color tv) drilled into us that we were to "bridge the Generation Gap" and that we were all the same- "Do NOT Discriminate!" Now what do we have? Labels: Boomer, Millennial, Gen X, etc. Please do not mistake our confusion with disorientation. I still remember my address, so you can relax and let go of my elbow. 

Number Three: In all honesty, we, the Boomers, are a little in awe of you. You have come so far in your walk- much further than many of us when we were your age- and also you wear cute layers of denim and lace. And don't even get us started on the blue hair. You're so stinkin' young and you prepare a pretty good devo (and by the way, when we hear "devo" we think of the punk band with flowerpots on their heads, so pardon us if we seem confused. Again, you can let go of my elbow).  Just- please don't get too far ahead of yourself. Even with all of the Bible tools at your disposal, you still need some Life under your boho stretch belt. I mean, I'm glad you're having the conversations about marriage and babies and clean food. I'm thankful you have a good Foundation- you'll use it when you're riding out the storm. 

Number Four: I promise never to say "adorbs" if you promise not to call me "cute." When you call a middle-aged or older person "cute," you may think you are being nice. Some of us may like it- or maybe we just can't hear as well as we used to. But it also can be interpreted as belittling and disrespectful. Puppies are cute. My generation survived witnessing multiple assassinations, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, Watergate, Sept 11, and the Gulf Wars. Not to forget, polyester and Alf. We are a lot of things, but we are not "cute." 

Number Five: Finally, I would love nothing more than to spend time with you. Honest, quality time discussing anything and everything that is on you heart and in your mind. My friends and I don't have all the answers, but we know Who does, and we are eager to both lead you and learn from you. But we don't want to "butt in." So, if you want to talk, we're here to listen. I'm here to listen. Just let me know. You can IM, text, tweet, or find me over on Insta. 

Because we're not as boring as you think. 

Love,
Dolly

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The house I grew up in had a huge picture window in the front room. It was a Cape Cod, built in the 50s; why wouldn't you have a picture window in the 50s? Life was great! Communism was defeated, there were great big cars in the driveway, and everyone played in the street. So naturally, Mom would need a big, shiny glass picture window to dress in tie-back sheers. One that would frame the picture of her man coming home at the end of the day. 

I used to love to look out of that window at the plum tree, the front gate, our dogs. But didn't take me long to know that there wouldn't always be a dad pulling into the driveway and coming up the walk. And, when he did, it wasn't all that great. 

So I learned not to look too far past the glass. 

Even though I loved to play outside, I never minded rainy days. Living near the coast, rain drenched our windows. Strong gusts of wind blew in quickly.  When I could see the underside of the silver maple trees, I knew a storm was on its way. Our soft, circular sofa was just the right height for me.  On my knees, face close to the window, I watched as the storm moved in. Once the rain began slapping against the glass, I would find a droplet and trace it all the way to the bottom. It may seem like that would be boring- it was anything but! 

Sometimes the drops would start off strong, only to dissolve completely before they ever got close to the bottom. Others would begin their trip down the glass alone and then join forces with another drop, and maybe another, until they were consuming the water on the glass and flooding themselves toward the end. But some droplets- looking no different from any others, would travel slowly down the pane, dodging, stopping, and navigating until they reached their destination. 

These drops originated over 6 miles up and they made it all the way to my front window. Fighting their way to their destination, nothing, I mean nothing, was going to stop them. Deter them, yes; stop them, not a chance. Rarely did a drop ever go straight down. It was normal, even expected, to be detoured. 

And there we have the life-lesson. You knew it was coming, didn't you?

We are all created individually, and specifically, for a purpose. Our lives are fleeting, compared to the eternity that awaits. We may choose to navigate with a partner, we may travel this journey without one. But we can count on life's journey never being straight and predictable. And, once we invite Him into our lives, we can count on our Creator's presence forever and that He will never, ever leave us totally alone. (Hebrews 13:5) 

The rain that ran down my front window dripped off the wooden frame directly into the flowerbed. It wet the shredded newspaper, clean crushed eggshells, and coffee grounds that my mom put behind the most beautiful azaleas I have ever seen. My mom knew that the ground needed to be prepared and it had to be fertile. Our house was near a lake; it would do no good for the rain to hit the hard, thick clay that made up the lake bed. But combined with the organic material that Mama so faithfully supplied, our azaleas had a color I have never seen anywhere else. A cross between purple and fuchsia that celebrated the uniqueness of our Creator. They were thick and healthy and they provided a shelter for our sweet dogs, tiny sparrows, and a fleet of Tonka trucks and Hot Wheels. 

As I write this, the Sun is coming out after a Sunday that included a dynamic presentation of the Gospel at 8am, hard, cold rain, and even snow (on the last day of Winter)! It's been a full and wonderful day. And I know that, as great as that sermon was, it would do no good if I didn't prepare my heart to receive the message that was presented. Our lessons in this life do no good if we do not receive them into an open heart. And, once received, if we don't share the knowledge that has come our way, what good are they?

So as the Lord sends us a shower of messages, pray that your heart will be the fertile soil necessary for them to flourish and bloom. And prepare to be astounded at the blessings yet to come! 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but so far for me, 2017 has been a great year! 

I woke up. Seriously. I know, as a believer, the options are win/win. But still, the Lord saw fit to give me another day on the planet to serve Him and to tell others about Him and His unchanging, unconditional love. So that's a plus in my book. 

I woke up alongside the man I have loved for almost 33 years. Again, a win!

In addition, I woke up after a good night's rest under a roof of our own, safe, warm, and loved. Not everyone is able to make that statement. People in our own neighborhoods go to bed hungry, fearful, and lonely. 

After morning devotions, (a freedom we should never take for granted) I chose what I would wear from many options. A luxury, for sure.  I showered, changed, and we left for church. Praise God! We belong to a church comprised of an amazing congregation of people, led by healthy, God-honoring, humble leaders. Again, not everyone is blessed with a strong body of believers and healthy church leadership. 

Following church we came home in our own vehicle, prayed together, and left to take lunch to my sweet, 90 year-old mother-in-law. God is so good! We laughed and fellowshipped together, and then, on the way home, my husband and I took a little drive just to detour and have some time together. 

Now that I'm home, the dishwasher is loaded, dinner is warming, and I am relaxing. I'm tired, but praise God in heaven that I am; it means I am able to walk on my own- another blessing I NEVER take for granted, after my foot surgeries!

So yeah, this new year's off to a great start. Maybe, just maybe, this year we could just stop now with 2017 and go ahead to 2018. Who's gonna stop us? The "Calendar Police?" People, lets just quit while we're ahead. We have no idea what kind of stuff awaits us this year. Seriously. Cash it in and run for the hills!I saw 2016- it wasn't pretty!

Obviously we can't do that. We have to march through this year, head held high and shoulder-to-shoulder. But I know this: God is in control and He will continue to be. So let's rest in the knowledge that tomorrow, January 2, holds as much promise and hope as January 1 did. Pray, worship, seek Him, and reach others. For the next 364 days. 

See you tomorrow! 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Well, here we are: the end of 2016. Folks, I have written about some years being more difficult than others, but I think we are all in agreement that none, at least none in recent memory, can be looked on as more surreal. 

How do you summarize a year like 2016? A year that held many public and personal changes and challenges- many mountaintops and a few very low valleys. While we publicly watched our country's leaders (and potential leaders) behave like characters in a bad movie, our own local leaders were no better. We watched in horror as babies were torn apart and their tiny body parts were sorted for sale, yet we sat idly when the videographers were criticized for the undercover methods used to get the information. Is it right that we stopped for a moment of silence for the death of a celebrity we never met, but not for innocent children killed in genocide? 

Surreal. Ungodly. Appalling. 

On a personal level, 2016 was no less odd. My husband and I were led to leave the only church home we had known in our married life (and for him, his entire life) and seek to worship and fellowship at a new church home. Praise God for deliverance and rescue! And as thankful as we are, it's still hard. And strange at times. 

I was made aware of a series of betrayals and rumors that left me both angry and deeply concerned about the sanity - and the very walk - of people I thought of as friends and Christian brothers and sisters. 

God held my hand as I walked with Him through some very difficult emotionally and spiritually-challenging moments this year. I have come through them stronger, more refined, wiser, and as focused as a laser beam on Him and Him alone. 

Because of these trials and His provision, my faith has never been stronger. I will go into 2017 boldly and with the confident hope that only we as children of God can understand. I am free in Christ and therefore free to look ahead with joyful anticipation of the blessings to come. I KNOW that my Savior goes before me. I KNOW He will fight my battles. And I KNOW that if God is for me, no one can stand against me and succeed. No one. God is still in control and He is still spending every moment loving us and being our God. 

At first I had visions of limping across the finish line known as 2016. 
No more. 
I am running hard into 2017, my friends. Charging ahead toward all God has for me - I don't want to miss a single thing! I am, as I voiced in prayer this morning, praying big prayers because we serve a big God! I am claiming all the goodness He has for me, all the grace, all the mercy, and all the love. Join me as I dance across the finish line and start on the new path ahead. It's filled with promise and abundance for all of us. Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

If I had time, I'd tell you that it's going to be ok. I'd tell you that the gifts will get wrapped, the cookies will get baked. the burnt ones will fall to the bottom of the dish, and everyone will still be happy. 

If I had time I'd tell you that the kids will still finally fall asleep, even though you forgot to get the matching Christmas pjs. I'd let you know that the corner of the package that was torn is still going to light up a sweet face tomorrow morning. 

If I could I try to make you understand that, as you're rolling dough around in colored sugar, crying because people are dying in Syria, and you can't get to them- He still loves you and honors what you are doing-- because it's for the family He gave you. He know you're tired. He knows you love Him more than your next breath and He loves you more than you are capable of comprehending. 

I'd tell you all of that and more-- but I have to get ready for church and I have wrapping and baking yet to do. 

So know this: you are loved. Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

For years I participated in a church Thanksgiving meal donation. Bags and bags of groceries were collected, sorted, and distributed and many area families benefited and counted on those donations to make ends meet. I loved the privilege of helping to provide the meals and I always, always felt like I was the one who was the most grateful at the end of the pickup night. 

But now I am in a new church home and am serving and blessing in a different way. No less beneficial to the community, no less God-honoring, but different. And this year I felt just a twinge of greed as I assembled two kinds of potatoes, two kinds of stuffing, and gazed on an entire table devoted to breads, pies, and cakes. Our dining room table groaned under plates filled to overflowing and murmurs of "pass the butter" and "did you miss the green beans?" went around the perimeter like the aroma of the turkey. 

I cringed when I went back for seconds. I felt so greedy. "Lord, am I selfish with my blessings? " I asked myself. 

And then I looked around. 

On one end of the table an infant snuggled in the safety of her mother's arms. 
Young men made sure everyone was able to navigate the crowded room.  
Sisters shared a look of satisfaction, knowing everything looked as good as it tasted. 
And a son made sure his mother knew just how special her cornbread dressing was to him. 

Yes, we had plenty to eat for Thanksgiving. But we also had plenty of love. Plenty of joy. And plenty of gratitude. 

Don't be afraid to make memories with your family and with those who seem like family. Time spent around the table is fleeting- but the memories last forever. Invest. Unite. Bless. It's worth the effort. 

Happy Thanksgiving. 


Monday, November 14, 2016

Strength in Your Role

I like a good object lesson. I like to observe something and then allow my over-active imagination and my sometimes-silly brain to interpret a message about it. I'm not one who believes there is a lesson in everything, but I do know that sometimes I see things that make me think. 
It happened in the bathroom the other day. 
Yes, the bathroom. 

Toilet paper. Everyone knows about it. Uses it. Needs it. It's one of the items we purchase on a regular basis yet we hope it will not require an announced price check at the register. The first TV ads for toilet paper that I remember were of Mr Whiffle and "Please don't squeeze the Charmin." Those ads were a huge hit and one of the phrases that was added to our household lexicon. There are tons of brands and types. When I was a kid, toilet paper came in all kinds of colors to match your bathroom decor. Remember that? You'd go to someone's house and, if you needed to..."go," there would be the bathroom done in seahorses and lo and behold, their paper would be blue. Growing up my mom's best friend and neighbor had her bathroom all in pink-- complete with pink paper. (And, on the back of the toilet, sat a little plastic doll with a crocheted skirt and under it was, you guessed it, a spare roll of pink toilet paper) For a while it was also scented, but I think that proved to be a bad idea. Now we're all white but with lots of claims of being the softest and the most...comfortable and efficient. 

Another claim that the manufacturers of toilet paper make is that it's strong. All of them say that their's is the best-  the strongest, the most on a roll, the one that works better than all of the others. They've used all kinds of examples in showing us the power of this paper, this tissue, and it's all kind of ridiculous.

So recently I had an experience with a roll of tp that left me thinking. You see, it was in a public restroom. The company obviously didn't want to have to change rolls very often so they were using the giant-sized roll; I mean this roll of paper had to be over a foot in diameter. I'm sure, in theory, that was a great idea - fewer employee hours spent changing rolls equals more time doing other important tasks. Except for one flaw: cheap paper. The paper was so thin and weak that it would tear off in tiny bits and wasn't anywhere near effective. Paper was all over the floor and someone was going to have to come in and clean it all up. It simply wasn't strong enough to support moving the roll along. Had the paper been thicker, and the seams between the squares a little closer, the roll would turn efficiently and the problem would be solved. As it was, I needed to help it along and that defeated the purpose of their attempt at saving paper. 

In contrast, (I know a few of you are cringing by now. Stay with me.) I was pleasantly surprised while on a trip a few weeks ago. A visit to a rest area impressed me by the strong, efficient paper in their toilet. That paper was just the right size and strength for the roll. You didn't get any waste or any little pieces of it tearing randomly from the rest of the paper. Harmony.

By now you're either seeing how I am applying this to life or you are getting very uncomfortable. Either way, at least you're still reading. Here's my point:

Are you strong enough for your roll (role)? Are you ready for the role that you play in life? In service? Because it isn't playing-- it's work. And because it's going to take some strength for the Big Role. If you are so weak that all people are getting are the bits, then you are not ready to be effective and you need to be made stronger. How do we do that? Just like the paper on the roll, we need more substance. We need, in our case. more of Jesus. We must spend time investing in ourselves by reading God's Word and praying for Him to grow and mature us. We need to study and to be still and listen to Him as He speaks. We need to surround ourselves with godly women who will speak Truth to us on a regular basis. All these things develop who we are spiritually. In addition to our inward work, we must also grow outwardly. We have to develop healthy friendships and bonds that will strengthen us and provide us with the accountability that we require. 

We all have roles in this life. We all need to be strong in the Lord and strong for each other. This kingdom work isn't easy and the enemy is just waiting for us to allow him into our lives and into our work. We need to be thick enough that he cannot pierce us. We need to have our arms locked so that when we are needed, we're strong enough to support our role. Get me? I hope you do, because you don't even want me to get started about 1-ply versus 2! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Whom do you serve? Simple question, really. Not necessarily one with the simplest of answers. For those of us who have called out the Name of Jesus as Savior, it's a question that carries a lot of weight. I'd better get it right-- not for fear of punishment -- but fear that I may miss glorifying the only One Who deserves my love and devotion. 

So I ask again, "Whom are you serving?" Are you waking up in the morning with a desire to fulfill God's calling on your life? Are you ready to do whatever He asks of you at any given time and in any circumstance? Are you totally and unashamedly His?


Are you? 


Or are you someone else's? Family, kids, work, church (yes, I said church) all compete for first place in our lives. Where does Jesus fit in? 


No amount of money, no amount of fame, no amount of love, however sincere it may seem, is worth more than a right relationship with God. 


I am going to be very honest and very real for the rest of this blog. Get some coffee, some leftover Halloween candy, a tissue-- whatever you need to settle in with. (I like to think of someone holding a puppy or a kitty- that makes me happy) Here we go.


Your husband does not come before your relationship with God. 



Your children do not come before your relationship with God. 



Your pastor does not come before your relationship with God.



Your job does not come before your relationship with God. 


The altar decorations, the small group snacks, the shoe boxes, the committee position, the church council, the choir, the preschool schedule, the keys to the supply closet, the color of paint in the bathroom and the kind of soap in the dispensers, the kitchen-- yes, the KITCHEN and everything in it -- where they put the ladles, the serving platters, the leftover desserts from the last fellowship do not matter more than your relationship with the living God of the Universe. 


Nothing, nothing, NOTHING is worth more than the Savior who thought of you and me when He was being brutalized, humiliated, tortured, and nailed to a cross. 


At some point we have wandered astray and we have allowed social agendas, micro-managing leaders, and pathetic power-positions to get in our heads and go to our heads and turn us so far away from the Truth that we are willing to sacrifice not ourselves for His kingdom but His kingdom for our pleasure. We would rather debate the placement of a fake flower arrangement than speak Truth to a lost soul. We pass up opportunities to minister to our community because we may have to actually be in the community. We shy away from the difficult questions and say the words people want to hear instead of what they need to hear. 


We allow leaders to have more influence on us than Jesus Christ and His Word. I have said this before in this blog (and face-to-face with many of the people I love): No one will be standing with you when you stand before God. You choose whom you serve and you choose whom you follow. Friends, we not only need to hear what words our leaders (Bible teachers, speakers, pastors) are speaking; we must look at their actions. And if we don't see both align with Scripture, we must reject them. 


We hide behind those who say they know more than we do about Biblical doctrine because they have done their own "research" and they've talked with famous people who obviously know best. They understand words better than we do, I guess, especially when it makes people happy and doesn't exclude anyone. They treat us as though we're all unable to ask for wisdom, no matter how much James said we are.  So we shift like sand in the desert and move to whatever direction the wind is blowing. And all the time God is grieving because we have accepted everything else as gospel. And we have totally ignored Him. 


Take a minute, please. Take several, actually. Get alone and quiet with your God. Tell Him how much you love Him. Thank Him for His Son and for His Word and for the Holy Spirit. Confess your sin of allowing so many others to cut in line ahead of Him. Ask Him for forgiveness and for wisdom and discernment for your life-- ask for the power to see through the enemy's trick of making things sound so right and feel so...inclusive.  Commit to reading His Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal its treasures to you. And then answer the question, "Whom do you serve?" 

I can't rest until I get this stuff said. So here goes.  Why is it that, if I disagree with someone, I "hate," but if they ...