God is biased

Posted: April 4th, 2016 | Filed under: God | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments »

Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer. – Isaiah 30:19 MSG

I heard a story about Herbie Hancock recently. For those of you who know his name from Tommy Boy, he’s actually an amazing pianist. He started his career playing for Miles Davis. In 1963, a Miles Davis concert was taking place in Stuggart, Germany. The band was playing the song, “So What”, when 22-year-old Herbie accidentally played the wrong chord. It threw the entire song and band off. He sat there cringing because he knew he was making himself and the band look foolish. But, Miles immediately changed his own solo and played a series of notes that made the sour chord sound right and make musical sense.

Not only does this illustrate the genius of Miles Davis, to take a mistake and make it sound like a Miles Davis song, but it also illustrates the humbling generosity of that genius. As someone who has played albums of sour chords, I can’t help but see the parallel between what Miles did for Herbie’s mistake and what God does for mine.

God will provide rain for the seeds you sow. The grain that grows will be abundant. – Isaiah 30:23 MSG

Miles didn’t let Herbie drown in shame and God doesn’t let us, either.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. – Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG

If you’re flailing in your own mess and wondering how God could redeem the situation and you, don’t let your faith fail. He makes art out of disarray. No matter where you go, He is there, making your path straight and urging you on.

Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: “This is the right road. Walk down this road.” – Isaiah 30:21 MSG

God is before us, preparing the way. He follows behind us, making it right. We think we’re messing it all up, but He’s playing music. Anyone who knows what it’s like to be rescued from their own shame knows how biased he is toward us. Anyone who has walked through the blood of Jesus into the open spaces of grace knows how thoroughly he showers us with undeserving purpose as he waters our choices and produces life from our certain death. Anyone who knows, sings. He plays his solo and we sing the song he’s made of our lives.

But you will sing, sing through an all-night holy feast! Your hearts will burst with song, make music like the sound of flutes on parade, en route to the mountain of Godon the way to the Rock of Israel. – Isaiah 30:29 MSG

God is biased.


making noise

Posted: January 11th, 2016 | Filed under: God | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. “ – 1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV

We produce a lot of noise. Much of it is lies. Fear, hate, pride, ignorance, jealousy, gossip, bigotry… It’s a crash of sounds that make no sense and bring no life. It’s the smog that clouds out the sun. We’re pale and deficient and have no idea.

Fear steals your breath. It shallows you and keeps you faint. Hate is an excuse. It keeps you from grabbing the responsibility to learn what you’ve yet to learn. Pride is the greatest shortcoming of all. It’s a branch that won’t fuse; a light hidden from the dark. Ignorance is the most frustrating noise. It talks endlessly about what it does not understand. It doesn’t learn because it doesn’t know what to ask. Jealousy is the smashed mirror. It diminishes your beauty, your accomplishments, and it taunts your soul. Gossip is not a bandaid for your wounds. It twists the truth and wrings the beauty of grace and hope out of other people’s stories. Bigotry is a lice infested top hat. It fills the void where self-worth should be.

What if we only spoke of love in the language of love and left all of the ugliness to find someone else to do its bidding? Would the gong soften and the cymbal sing? If the music of love replaced the nonsense of pride, would our lives organize in harmony? I think so.

love wins


when hate shows up in your facebook feed

Posted: December 17th, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I don’t love facebook. It’s fine in small doses, but it’s not where I spend my time or share much about my life. I know that people have different relationships with their social media outlets than I do, and this isn’t about that. It’s about keeping a healthy perspective when you’re scrolling down the life-snapshots that people put out there. The potential for negative emotion is too high to not consider a few things.

Branding isn’t just for brands.

People are creating an image for themselves. It’s common to struggle with feelings of inadequacy when you’re looking at someone else’s feed. They’re showing you what they want to show you and they’re spending a lot of their time to do it. Something that a cognitive therapist will know that the average human won’t is that you will give yourself excuses for your own behavior, but will not give the same excuses to another in the same situation. This means that you are aware of what went into your own social media feed and you can see everything that no one else can, but you only see the finished product of someone else’s and believe the facade.

For example, you may freshen your makeup, mess with your hair, and take about eight selfies before posting the picture, but when you see a picture of your friend, you don’t put him or her through the same routine. You assume that things are as they appear and it has the potential to make you feel less satisfied with your own situation. The remedy for that is to look at your own feed. Spend time looking at your own “brand” and you’ll buy what you’re selling, too. It’ll make you feel better …if you’re selling “happiness”.

Be a creator, not a consumer.

You’re a leader in your own space. Someone somewhere is actually paying attention to what you’re saying. If you spend all of your time reacting to the garbage in your feed, then you’re contributing to the garbage. A tell-tale sign that you’re contributing to the garbage is if you’re post starts with, “I don’t usually post things like this, but…” or “In light of all of the negativity, I just want to say…”. It’s social media consumerism and even if you don’t instigate the negativity, you’re contributing by reacting to it.

It seems like a lot of hate and fear is circulating out there, but it’s all the same old chew. Someone picks up what someone else spits out and everybody takes turns chewing on this nasty bit of garbage like it holds answers. Move to a different, less trampled, part of the human pasture. Have you ever seen a field after a herd of cattle graze and laze for too long? It’s littered with waste and has nothing life-giving to offer. It’s needs to air out and regenerate.

Your outlook is your choice.

You can see the light or the dark. You can find the fault or the truth. You are in charge of your attitude and perspective. Your situation is not in control. Every time fear creeps in, rewrite it with gratitude. Every time hate knocks at your heart, cancel it with love.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. -Philippians 4:8-9 MSG

be positive


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half full

Posted: March 20th, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God. – 1 Peter 2:2-3 MSG

It’s so easy to find fault in anything. Focus gravitates to the shortcomings of others because it offers an excuse for our own shortcomings. It’s an unconscious tool to cope with the disappointments we have with ourselves. But what about the lives we affect? Are there others pointing out our faults to find an excuse for theirs? People who lack point out the lack in others. It’s a cycle of negativity that sucks the joy out of life and uses shame to obscure the view of the lesson.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. -Galatians 5:22-23 MSG

There is good and bad in everything. You can choose where you spend your energy by choosing where you put your focus. You’ll find what you’re looking for. So, instead of looking for why something isn’t working, look for what will make it better. Finding the flaws gives you an excuse to fail. Finding the opportunities gives you something productive to do. The glass is either half empty or half full. Your focus is entirely your choice.

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings… into our lives… a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.” There is no escaping the interconnectedness of life. We are all parts of the whole. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the “whole” and we are His parts (Romans 12:4-6, 1 Corinthians 12).  There is a larger narrative that includes the redemption of all on a much larger scale than we are used to including in our day-to-day perspective. We have lots of little things to keep us from finding peace in the larger story. It takes practice to change the habit of our focus. We have to look for Jesus, The Bigger Picture, in one another… His Parts.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.– Phillipians 4:8-9 MSG



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ugly children

Posted: April 16th, 2014 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

With all of this name calling and finger pointing and scripture touting, this is how you can tell the difference: One accuses their brothers and sisters and the other loves them. One demands righteousness and the other reminds them of it. One flares up against and the other stoops down to support.

I read something in my facebook feed that made me freeze up. I’m very selective with my facebook friends, so I actually know or, at least, really respect those on my “friends” list. I’m telling you this because I’m about to quote someone that I know and respect, then I’ll tell you why I think they’re wrong. I could have just commented on the status update, but I haven’t written to you in a while and I want to start a conversation.

Here is the status update:

There is a new movement toward transparency about sin in many circles of the church. While this can be good, it is also leading to a tendency to hold up our sin as a badge of honor, never even trying to overcome it – becoming identified by it in fact.

It has gotten to the point that those with open unrepentant sin believe they are the future of the church while those without it are viewed as Pharisees. While we all have sin, none of us are excused from attempting to overcome.

Unrighteousness has become the new (self)righteousness.

Beware Isaiah 5:20

I can appreciate personal opinions, and sharing fears or observations. Knowing this friend, it may even be a founded issue to take up. I am, though, extremely protective of the one who messed up. I can’t stay quiet where they are concerned even if the words were not meant for them. I can’t help but feel reprimanded, even if the words were not meant for me.

The comments got more explicit as one commenter put it, “wallowing in our brokenness.” Another commenter said, “Self-pitying group therapy. VOMIT!” They get uglier and more shrill as the comments go on.

I don’t support picking a fight where the people at the center are too fragile to survive any more hits. Clueless remarks that could literally scream condemnation into the core of another person’s eternal existence need a response.

The original post used a scripture, so I’ll use that scripture to support my argument.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!– Isaiah 5:20 ESV

This scripture, within the context of the facebook post, is a death blow to the one who is working through his or her sin and trying to find Jesus through the chaos. Being able to state your sin in an actual church is only a temporary spot, like a toddler finding his legs. It’s a way to take the power away from the spiritual accuser as the person becomes desensitized to the accusation.

The reason that it’s important to become desensitized is because all of hell is trying to convince the person that she is done for. That what they did has caused God to withdraw the sacrifice and condemn them to eternal damnation. If they can call their own failures into the light, they lose their power. These people are in transition. Calling a “special needs class” a “retard class” would make you a monster. Calling a recovery group, of any kind, a group for “self-pity” or “brokenness wallowing” makes you a mouthpiece for the accuser.

The scripture within the context of the rest of the Bible is a literal God-send to the one who is working through his or her sin and trying to find Jesus in the chaos.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…” What is evil? (Use the cross reference scriptures to trace the contextual meaning.) It is turning justice to “bitter fruit” and “casting righteousness down to earth” (Amos 5:7; 6:12). “Bitter fruit” is “poison” (Deut 29:18). “Casting righteousness down to earth” is trying to turn it into something “man-made”.

Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit…-Deuteronomy 29:18 ESV

Who is a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit?? (All I’m doing is using the cross reference scriptures.)

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…– Hebrews 12:15 ESV

Do you see it yet? I’ll continue….

What does it mean to “fail to obtain the grace of God”?

You fail to believe that “it is finished” and you fail to rest (Hebrews 4:1). You receive the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1).

You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.-Galatians 5;4 ESV

“…who put darkenss for light and light for darkness…” This part is talking about your eyes, or your “lamps” (Matthew 6:22… keep following the cross reference scriptures. That’s where I’m getting this.). It is taking something that is good and making it bad (Matthew 20: 15). It’s taking a gift and turning it into something to withhold to someone weaker than you. Like grace. That’s what we’re talking about here. Deutoronomy 15:9 (another cross reference scripture) talks about praising God for the release and then sneering at the one next to you who needs what you have and not sharing with him. Yeah… we’re still talking about grace.

You make someone’s agony your justice and shove your receipt for grace in their face. “…bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

Beware Isaiah 5:20.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!– Isaiah 5:20 ESV

Get it right and stop hurting people while they’re trying to heal.