Not sure there is a point to this post

A few years ago I was not employed as the regular secretary at our church, but I was filling in after our long-term secretary quit without notice. Our pastor, at that time, was extremely organized, very type-A. As we all know I am not at all either one of those. One day in particular stands out among the many of funny happenings.

On this day he buzzed into my office with a wild look in his eyes, zipped behind my desk, looked at me and said, “Is my head on straight?” I looked at him, I tipped my head, I tipped it the other way, wrinkled my brow and finally said, “Yes. But your tie is crooked.”

Because that’s how I roll.

It’s funny what we think of as funny and what makes us laugh. Sometimes we laugh at things that aren’t even really all that funny. Sometimes we laugh because we don’t want anyone to know we didn’t get the joke. Sometimes we laugh because we’re tired, or insecure, surprised, or feel awkward.

Laughter has been called, “jogging for your insides”, it’s good medicine. It’s healthy. And we don’t do enough of it. There is way too much hard in life it seems to really let ourselves throw our heads back in laughter. Not polite laughter, I’m talking loud, let it loose laughter genuine, real. Laugh until tears roll down your cheeks and then laugh some more because tears are cascading down your cheeks.

We are entirely too serious all the time. Yes, life is hard. I get that. But that is why we need laughter. We need the laughter to counter the sad, the bad, the hard. Laughter is like a reset button for our emotions.

We don’t laugh because we feel good, we feel good because we laugh. And we should all laugh a whole lot more. Laugh at ourselves. Laugh with others. Tell funny stories and joke. Look for the silly, the funny, the hilarious. It’s all around us all the time. Every day. We’re surrounded by things to make us laugh.

And we ignore them.

Are we really all that depressed? Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not knocking those who truly suffer with the affliction we call depression. I think though, some of us aren’t depressed we’re just sad. Because just as the little lost boy, from Peter Pan, lost his marbles, we’ve lost our laughter. We’ve lost our funny.

I’ve lost my funny. At least here I have. I’m still the hilarious person I was. But not here. Here it seems I can only write heavy-hearted things. But I want to laugh. I need to laugh and so do you.

Life isn’t hard and then you die. Life is funny and then you laugh. And then you laugh some more. We laugh at inappropriate times, I get that. I’m the queen of inappropriate laughter. But we also don’t laugh at appropriate times. There are so many times life calls for a response of laughter and we don’t have it. We don’t give it. I think we’ve forgotten how. And I want to remember how to laugh.

I want to remember how to laugh and I want to remember to laugh. I want to remember that it’s okay to be silly. It’s okay to do funny things. It’s a good thing to see the humor in life, and life is full of humor.

There are enough hard things in life, enough things to steal our joy, trap our laughter, we need more things that reek of silly.

This is where I wrap it all up with a funny story to make you laugh. Because we need it. But it’s Valentine’s day, and that really has nothing to do with anything. Except I’m tired. Exhausted.  This is all I have.

twitching coffee




Ever-Present Help

I’ve been deeply pondering something often the past few months.  It’s something most people who grew up in the church have believed and shared. We’ve even prayed this way, but something about it just hasn’t been sitting right with me. I don’t want to say that Jesus has been speaking to me about it, but I don’t want to say He hasn’t been either.

“God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

It has been on the subject of help. And God. And God’s help.

That might have been somewhat redundant.

I read somewhere that we should not ask for God’s help. I can’t remember where or the exact quote at this time, of course, but for a few years it has stuck with me. I take it out occasionally to think about but then tuck it safely away. Lately I haven’t been able to tuck it away.  It comes out and dances through my thoughts like a ballerina on the stage. Beautiful, spinning,  and flighty.  They would disappear off stage right, just to spin in again from stage right.

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Each time they swirl out they stay center stage for longer and longer, allowing me to get a good look at them as I examine them from all angles.

Does God help us? Should we ask Him for help? Those and many other similar questions have chased through my thoughts. The more I thought on it the less comfortable I became with asking God for help.

Please listen closely. As I thought about asking God to help me do something I would always feel my heart recoil. I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the thought that God helps me. God doesn’t help. God does. I can’t. He can. He does. As I live submitted to Him and His indwelling life, He does all the doing through me.  He isn’t a helper, or a co-pilot. He is Lord.

“And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” John 14:16

The word translated “helper” here means “advocate, intercessor, or comforter”. We know Jesus is all of these in abundance. We know He is our advocate and as that He lives and loves to intercede for us. He comforts us so we can in turn comfort others. I like this.

What I don’t like is the idea that He helps me. He provides assistance. What I also don’t like is the thought that there is any part of my walk that I can control or do myself. I can do nothing apart from Him and His life in me. We all agree that our salvation is by grace through faith alone. We know we can do nothing to gain it or earn it. We tend to live as though we believe after salvation our walk and our works are all our responsibility. We think we have to pay God back by our own merit and only call on Him when we can’t accomplish a task on our own and in our own strength.

Our walk with Him, just like our salvation, is by grace through faith alone. We are to live continually yielded to Him and His life. He is our Do-er.

When we help someone, we do for them what they cannot do for themselves. A parent helps their young child by doing for them what they cannot do.

This has made all the difference. I still firmly believe that God is not my helper, I am still very convinced that He is the Do-er of our relationship. I know, deep inside, that I am to live totally submitted to Him and allow His life to flow in and through me. I know that any plan He has for me will only be accomplished by Him and His life. I am completely powerless to do the right thing and I cannot obey Him without Him. I can do nothing apart from Him.


So when I read Psalm 46:1

“God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present Help in trouble”

I still know He is the Do-er, He does what I can’t. And in that He is a Helper. He is my Helper.

I also know when I stop submitting to Him, He stops helping. He never stops loving or living in me or drawing me back to Himself. His help, His doing for and through me, is His blessing. And He never blesses sin.

But He always blesses obedience and submission. And He is so faithful to show us truth. To bring to light the hidden thoughts and motives. He is also faithful to reveal more of Himself to us. He begins slowly conforming us into His image, renewing our minds and then speaking to our soul He truth. Each step shows us more of His character and draws us closer and deeper.

I’m all for going closer and deeper.




“Behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

In the space of a week I had four painful confrontations with friends. I had feelings of anger, despair; I felt misunderstood, maligned, abandoned, rejected, uninvited, and a host of other uns. I questioned who my friends really were and who I could trust. I would often think and pray, “Lord, everyone on the planet could drop dead right now and I would not care. Just You and me, Lord, just You and me. I’m happy with that. Let everyone else leave me alone.”


I might have a flair for the dramatic. Might. I am 97% extroverted and praying for everyone to fall off the face of the earth. I might also be a walking oxymoron. Might.

One of the friendships took a bigger hit than the other ones. This is one I have prayed over and wept over. I’ve also stood in amazed wonder at what Jesus was doing in me. Instead of hotly placing blame I’ve prayed for my eyes to be open to my own complicity in the conflict. I went into the conflict believing I was being obedient, I had prayed and had asked friends around the nation to pray for me. Because I want to minister Jesus and His grace, His love, His life.


Even through this painful confrontation and it’s ensuing (temporary) fallout, Jesus has taught me so much. He has been so faithful to show Himself and reveal His character in ways I hadn’t seen before.

This morning He brought home to my heart how much He desires unity for us, in us, and from us. We are commanded to live unified with our brothers and sisters in Him.

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18

We have a choice in our dealings with all men but even more so when dealing within our own friendships. Peace is always a choice and does not necessarily mean there is no conflict. And it isn’t a head in the sand obliviousness either. We are also told that we will have trouble (conflict) in this world but He came to bring peace within the conflict.

“make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” Philippians 2:2

Our unity makes joy complete. Unity does not equal passivity or to senselessly acquiesce. It means we are real with ourselves and others. We are free to speak up. We are free to disagree. And we are free to

“do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

Unity also means we are free with our sincere apologies and we are quick to both offer and seek forgiveness. We know how to make a true apology, an apology that accepts responsibility for our wrong actions. We don’t blame the other person for the conflict. We realize it takes two to have a conflict and we are just as guilty as they are.


Storms of conflict are inevitable. Our response to them does not have crush us or define us. It can and should teach us. We should view it as a welcome friend, embrace it, and see Jesus in it. It’s not easy but it reflects the life of Jesus in us and shows the world the difference of a life fully committed to Him.

No, we won’t always get it right. There is grace for that. And mercy. And forgiveness.

Of Being Full and Being Empty

Our pastor is beginning a sermon series through the book of Ruth and in anticipation I have been reading through the book. If I were to be honest, and since this is my blog I can be or can not be as my mood fits. but I’m choosing honesty, I haven’t made it out of the first chapter yet. Jesus is opening these eyes to see things I hadn’t seen before and things I’ve seen before I am seeing in a whole new light.

Most everyone who grew up in the church knows that the book of Ruth is a love story. It’s the love story of Ruth and Boaz. But it is also a story of great loss and death. Those two items litter the whole first chapter.

I’m not going to get in to it all here right now, maybe at some point I will but now is not that point.

Lately I’ve felt that I’m in a season of great loss. If I were to be completely honest, and again it’s my blog so I can be, I’d have to admit my whole life has been a season of great loss, I’ve lived through my share of famines and death. I’ve suffered loss at the hands of others and some losses, to be sure, have come at my own hands, or at the very least my own choices.

This morning I read Ruth 1:21:

I went out full but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?

I pondered going out full. Elimelech and Naomi left Bethlehem in a famine. Fullness and famine do not go together in my mind. They are opposites.

It is so easy to see fullness in famine when we’re living in a different kind of famine. When life hurts and we’re facing yet another loss (family member, child, spouse, job, friendship) or we have a fresh one in the rearview mirror, we don’t see life clearly. We remember the “good ol’ days” as being well, the good ol’ days. We don’t remember them as the hard days full of just as much hurt, pain,  and bitterness as today is.

So what if we did something really crazy? I mean, really, really crazy? What if we turned that verse around and saw our present situation differently?

“I went in empty, but the LORD has brought me out full…”

When our eyes are focused on our needs, wants, and desires we tend to look to other people to meet and fulfill these. We make them responsible for our lack and then when they don’t meet our needs as we think they should we quickly begin to believe that our needs don’t matter. Our wants don’t matter.

And that is true. They do not. They don’t matter to anyone except Jesus.

And we feel empty. “I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty…”

Our needs do matter to Jesus and He alone is the One who can meet and fill them. He takes the empty and fills it, not with what we think we need or want but with Himself. When we look to Him to meet our basic heart needs and wants, He frees us to see that they are filled and we are full. This frees other people from having to be our god.

Yeah, because there is that. When we look to anyone or anything else to fill us we are committing adultery and idolatry.

So let’s choose to change our focus and our heart attitude.

“I entered empty, but I’m being brought out full.”

“Ask Jesus to crumble your goals.”

We all have goals and dreams. Those things that keep us up at night and keep us going, keep us putting one foot in front of the other, that drives us forward. Some are serious, some are life-changing.

We all, also, have those friends who are allowed to get all up in our business. We give them permission to point out things in our life that aren’t quite what they should be, they’re given carte blanche to our lives, nothing is held back. The best kinds of friends are those who take this responsibility, see it for the gift that it is and use it, not to wound us but to grow us. They willingly wound us to weed out the good for the best. They wound to weed out self and give us a clearer vision of Jesus.

Sometimes, at the best of times, these two mesh. Our friends and our goals. The best kind of friend is one who says “check your goals because they aren’t what they should be.” We are always wise to listen to that advice and offer no excuses.

I have one such a friend. This dear soul willingly risks the loss of friendship to speak the Truth. The old saying goes, “the truth hurts”, yes yes it does. But think of the value of one willing to speak it to your heart to point your focus back to Jesus?

Faithful are the wounds of a friend…Proverbs 27:6

Recently this friend encouraged me with these words, “Tonight you need to get on your face before Jesus and ask Him to crumble your goals.” I can count on one hand the number of people I allow to speak like that to me. I listen to everyone of them as I listened to this friend.

That very night I was face-down in the carpet praying for Jesus to crumble my goals. I asked Him to take the very things I was hotly pursuing in place of a hot pursuit of Him.

He has been faithful to answer that prayer. It has been immeasurably difficult to watch my goals crumble under His hand, in my years on planet earth I’ve had the pain of watching my dreams die rather than the joy of facing their fulfillment.

I’m walking a path of crumbled goals, dreams like shards of glass strew my way. When I look to the left or to the right my eyes only see death, dying and loss. But that isn’t where the focus is supposed to be.

The very One who crumbles goals grants freedom. He grants life. He fills and He fulfills. I don’t know what this will look like as I walk out this path He has marked for me. I only know it is a path I must walk with Him in Him because He is worth more. He loves more.

This is living out the truth of Matthew 10:34-38. Not that I am setting myself up as an example, follow the Truth. When we live amidst the rubble of crumbled goals and broken dreams we live out the reality of grace for this moment, the Truth of denying ourselves, taking up our own cross and finding His burden is light.

Of Lost Things

20140422_120109I recently had the opportunity to reconnect with an old friend. This friend is one I hadn’t seen in nearly 30 years. I had high hopes for our reunion. I planned my outfits carefully, and around our common interests. I wanted to look good. I wanted to act good. I wanted to be good. I wanted to be seen as different than I was 28 years ago.

During one of our conversations my friend looked me in the eye and said, “You and I, we’ve lost so much.” And it is a very true statement. Abuse, neglect, rejection litters our pasts and tempts to take over our present at times.

When my mind is allowed to look back over the things I’ve lost, my focus changes. It moves from “Man! I’m blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3)!” to “How much more do I have to lose? I’ve nearly lost everything as it is!”

And the voice of Jesus softly whispers, “You haven’t lost your life yet.”  I would listen and think, “You’re right. I haven’t lost what You lost for me.”

In reading Psalm 103 this morning, Jesus spoke again, “Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit…” I prayed those words and He spoke again, “You haven’t lost your life yet.”  He moved the focus from His death, which is important, to teach me a reality that I had been denying.

I was hanging on to my life, clutching it with both hands in a death grip all in a vain effort to not lose it, to hold on to one thing that no one could take away.

“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who lost his life for My sake shall find it.” Matthew 10:38-39

This was His message. “You haven’t lost your life yet because you’re hanging on so tightly to it.” 

In the Old Testament book of Ruth, chapter 1 we see the beginning of the story of Ruth and Naomi. Naomi lost a lot. She lost her country, family, what was familiar, husband, and children. Naomi chose the pit. She chose bitterness.

Ruth also lost. Ruth lost her country, what was familiar, her family, and her husband. But she chose the path.  She chose grace.

The question for us today is, which will we chose? When we’re faced with yet another lose, another loss, another thing we feel being ripped from us and leaving us empty, will we chose the pit of bitterness or the path of grace?

I’ve chosen the pit of bitterness and it isn’t fun, it is where ministry dreams go to die. But in the pit of bitterness we can chose differently. We can in that pit, when we’re buried in the scum on the bottom of the pit, we can chose the path of grace. When we make that choice, even in the pit, He lifts us out of the pit and places us on the Rock, that is Himself.

Let’s chose the path.