Writer, teacher and Public Speaker

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

If God had a Scrapbook

I was scheduled to speak at a scrapbooking retreat here in New England. These were my thoughts for opening night.

If God had a scrapbook an image of your face would be on each page. Sometimes we think that is impossible, as if everything else in the world takes priority over us, but let me tell you that if God takes notice when even the smallest sparrow falls to the earth and dies, then he is very attentive to those who he created in his own image.

If God had a scrapbook he would have memories of your birth and your earliest years. My friends little girl once saw prisms of light dancing on the wall. With wonder she looked up to her mom and pointed, “look Mommy Dod … Dod.”

God heard your child’s heart, and heard the prayers you whispered when you began to grow. He saw the faith in your heart – the faith of a child: pure and simple before life and doubt came and clouded belief.

If God had a scrapbook he would have kept scraps of your prayers. The ones that no one knows of; the times you slipped into an empty church or a hospital chapel. The times you were awestruck by the beauty of creation and praise spilled out of your heart. He took note of those moments.

Like a doting father or a heartsick lover: God has a kept a scrapbook that is dedicated to you. He is crazy about you! He longs to be in relationship with you.

If God had a scrapbook, he would have pages of the times you felt your heart would burst with joy, and other times when you thought it would break from grief. He saw you when you passed through the darkest valleys, and walked alone through the shadows of fear.

If God had a scrapbook it would be filled with memories of you. Open up your heart and give Him a chance to reveal His endless love.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

God's Kids


I set her free from that dark little box of shame that she has carried for eighty years.
I set her free by telling her story – the story of dark heavy figures standing over frightened little girls in the middle of the night.

Children don't know how to speak of such things - moments that leave shameful shadows that last a lifetime. 

But now as the sunsets on these many years, the little girl knows she was not to blame.

The story is out now, she is free: Eighty years a prisoner of that filthy little box!

“But who will keep the child, we can't put her in the woods to be raised by the wolves- so we put her in homes with predators of another kind.”

Lord God – arise through us!

Psalm 10:12-18

Arise, O Lord! Punish the wicked, O God!
 Do not ignore the helpless! 
Why do the wicked get away with despising God? They think, “God will never call us to account.”

But you see the trouble and grief they cause. You take note of it and punish them. The helpless put their trust in you. You defend the orphans.

Break the arms of these wicked, evil people! Go after them until the last one is destroyed.

The Lord is king forever and ever!  The godless nations will vanish from the land.

Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless.  Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.

You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed,  so mere people can no longer terrify them.”

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Ugly Savior

My Ugly Savior

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:2)

In a world where we have christian celebrities and dynamic, attractive preachers, I think this verse becomes significant. What draws people to our message? Is it our attractiveness, or are we attractive because of his presence in us? It reminds me of a story from the Brush Arbor meetings in Kentucky - one Methodist preacher became famous for the powerful sermons and manifestations that followed his preaching, but the other extraordinary feature about this preacher was that he was, "just about the ugliest man you had ever laid eyes on."

Not to say we shouldn't be well groomed or present ourselves as best as we can, but the question is what do we put our confidence in? Are we confident because we look good: or do we lack confidence because we feel we don't look good enough? In the end what does it matter? It's the anointing of God and his presence in our lives that makes us the most attractive.

It's difficult to imagine that Jesus may not have been attractive. The more I know of him the more lovely he becomes. When artists paint him or when visions are seen he is always beautiful. But what else could he be? To know him is to love him. To love him is to be attracted to him in such a powerful way that we cannot help but portray him as beautiful.

Isn't it just like God to come to earth as an average (even below average?) looking man? God rarely works within the systems that our world has created. God always turns our systems upside-down. There was nothing in the natural that would attract us to him. It was his divinity and supernatural anointing that drew the world to him. How awesome that as he walked the earth people were drawn to him because of what poured out of him. He was the resurrection and the life, the bright and beautiful morning star. Those who were religious were repelled by him, but those who recognized their need for a savior couldn't stay away. 

One day I shall see him face to face - I will know as I am known. On that day I shall see him as he is, and I have no doubt that when I see him he will be beautiful. From this side of the cross he could be nothing but beautiful. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Easter -

Consider this my two cents regarding the latest Internet phenomenon that says Easter is really based upon a Babylonian goddess named "Ishtar" - the goddess of fertility whose symbols are eggs and bunnies. 

Since turning my life over to Christ in 1990, I've witnessed many bans and boycotts. From Disney, Halloween, to Santa Claus and Christmas and then Easter (the first campaign, not the most recent.) I use to jump on some of these “ban” wagons, I felt duped, I had long been ignorant of too many pagan/worldly agendas. But then I noticed that many Christians who led and participated in these campaigns felt more passionate about their causes than they did about the cause of Christ to save a lost and dying world. It seemed like a bit of a double standard. I backed away and came to terms in my own heart. Many Christian campaigns put a wall between me, and the people in the world that God loves.

That year I started deliberately giving candy to the kids who came to my porch on Halloween, I bought a Mickey Mouse watch, I helped my Mother build her Santa Claus collection and I celebrate Christmas (even though I know Jesus wasn't born on December 25th.) I try and put Christ in the center of everything in hopes that the world might see Christ in me. I left all the info-maniacs to fend for them selves. When Christ becomes the center he easily trumps all other pagan symbols and gods.  
Easter falls near Passover ... Christ was crucified on Passover. This year, 2013, Passover began March 25th and Ends April 2nd. All throughout history we can trace Easter and find it occurs on or around Passover. Coincidently In the northern hemisphere Easter is celebrated in early spring. I like the fact that Easter falls in the spring because the whole earth is resurrecting from a wintery grave. Even the animals know it is time to reproduce. Spring is a time of new life and fruitfulness. The resurrection power of Christ made my life new and fruitful.
I used the Daily Beast as my source to do some research. I purposely chose a non-Christian source because I didn’t want to be subjected to the biases that unconsciously occur when articles are written. This is a segment from Megan Mcardle’s article.

“ ... Easter is an English word.  The Greeks and Romans called it Pascha, which is why Easter is Pasqua in Italian, Pascua in Spanish, and Paques in French.  How exactly did the name of a Canaanite fertility goddess skip all the way to England from the Middle East without stopping in Rome or Byzantium? Ishtar was the goddess of love, war and sex… 

Ishtar was associated with fertility and sex. However, her symbols were the lion, the gate and the eight-pointed star; I can't find any evidence of eggs or rabbits symbolically belonging to her. And Easter has nothing to do with her.

Most scholars believe that Easter gets its name from Eostre or Ostara, a Germanic pagan goddess. English and German are two of the very few languages that use some variation of the word Easter (or in German, Ostern)... Most other European languages use one form or another of the Latin name for Easter, Pascha, ... derived from the Hebrew Pesach, meaning Passover."

Which is it? A Babylonian pagan goddess or a Germanic one? And what about the word in other languages, the ones that don't use a derivation of 'Ishtar?' Does anyone get why this bugs me yet? The true gospel message is consistent in every culture and every language. It is consistent in every hemisphere whether it is springtime, or not. These other “ban” wagons are distractions from the true message.

The bottom line for me is that we must resist being sidetracked from the true focus of the Christian message. I am Christian because Jesus Christ the Passover lamb died for my sins and ransomed my life from the grave. There is no greater message in the world than the redeeming message of God’s Love. “He loved me (and the rest of the world) while we were still sinners." Pagans - Hedonist - Communist. 

May the Spirit of Jesus Christ Rise up in his church!

Happy Easter!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Stump Growth

I recently watched a news story about a project that endeavors to save the amazing Redwood and Sequoia trees for the future. If you've ever driven through the national parks that are home to these trees you cannot help but appreciate the vision of the founder, David Milarch.

In the NBC news clip, the reporter stood in front of a stump that was thirty feet across. The one hundred and thirty year old stump had once been the foundation to a tree that was 'forty stories tall'. Today around the base of the seemingly dead stump, fresh green sprigs grow. The "stump growth" is harvested and taken to the lab, and from this they (clone) and plant new trees.

I know nothing of the man behind the science, or the organization, Archangel, Ancient Tree Archive. But I appreciate their futuristic vision. Long after this generation is gone, another generation will appreciate the fruits of their labor.

In the kingdom of God much of what we are called to do is for the next generation. For them to benefit from the fruit of our vision, we must have hope for the future. We cannot allow the dark clouds of information to obscure our vision. We must hold tightly to 'the substance of things hoped for.' These fast growing Redwood seedlings are the substance of things hoped for.

Life can cut us down and all that is left of our dreams are stumps, but that does not have to be the end. Because God can bring life back to that which has died.

Even in the ancient book of Job we find the same wisdom:

"For there is hope for a tree,
When it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And its shoots will not fail.
"Though its roots grow old in the ground
And its stump dies in the dry soil,
At the scent of water it will flourish
And put forth sprigs like a plant (14:7-9)

At the very scent of water there will be new growth. Have your dreams died? Do you feel as though everything has been cut down, and all that is left is a stump? Lift up your head, look to the One who is the living water.

He is the one who repairs, restores and resurrects. "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice..." (Isaiah 42:3) 

Imagine! The One who conceived of the Redwood and the Sequoia tree; the God of the universe and endless galaxies desires to breathe new life into us. He makes all things new. May His fountains flow over those who have lost hope - may what seems as a lifeless stump flourish into new growth! For the sake of the earth and the next generation. For the sake of His Glory, or as Bach might write, "Soli Deo gloria."

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Beauty of the Desert

There is a Psalm that is well marked on the pages of my Bible. Each time I read it, I mark it for emphasis. The ink has begun to bleed through to the other side. 

It reveals the despair and hopelessness of a worshiper. One who had known the joy of His Presence as worshippers were led into the house of the Lord. It is a Psalm of desperation, and yet it shows hope ... I will not give up! I will praise Him! 

I will put on a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. The oil of joy instead of mourning, and a crown of beauty instead of ashes. (Isaiah 61)

The success of a blog is dependent upon the consistency of the blogger. Though the last four months have uncovered a storm of words. It seems none have made it beyond the pages of my journal or the margins of my Bible. 

My Soul longs for God - the Living God. May he rain down on me ... may he reign in me.

As a deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for You, God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night,
while all day long people say to me,
"Where is your God?"

I remember this as I pour out my heart:

how I walked with many,
leading the festive processions to the house of God,
with joyful and thankful shouts.

Why am I depressed?
Why this turmoil within me?
Put your hope in God, I will still praise Him,
My savior and my God.  Psalm 42:1-5 (HCSB)

It is in the dry places that we grow thirsty. Our heavenly bridegroom allures and leads us to the desert. And it is in the desert where he speaks tenderly to us. He restores our vineyards, and causes the places of defeat to become a door of hope. It is in the desert that our songs are restored. (Hosea 2:14-17)
"...joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

A Harvest of Joy: 
a mother/daughter memoir 
Due out March 2013