A few months ago my oldest daughter was injured at work and needed surgery. Although, she fiercely assured her mother that it wasn’t a big deal and would be fine without me I couldn’t stand it. As soon as I could, I threw together a bag and started out on my trip to the big city. This is where I need to tell you that I hate driving especially long distances at night by myself.
Getting on the interstate in my little town wasn’t that big of a deal but as I got closer to the end of the several hour trip, I started getting a little anxious. Big trucks and fast cars were flying by. A couple times a car would swerve all over the road and I would pass to see the driver on their phone.
Every time I got off one ramp and merged on to another, I would ask God to clear my lanes. And he did. I didn’t have to worry about merging into that crazy traffic because there was always a space that I could easily glide into. I’ve since driven in different parts of the country and have no problem asking God to clear my lanes and he never fails to make a way.
And then the other day happened. I got some news that I’m still reeling from. Unsure of what to do and how to proceed I sat down and grasped for words. The only thing I could think of was to ask God to clear my lanes. Remove the obstacles of fear, doubt and anxiety and help me to see that regardless of what happens, he will work everything out for his good. It may not be in the way I would expect. It may not be the decision I would make. It may even hurt a little but I know that he’s got this and everything is going to be ok regardless of the speed bumps and traps of life.
The Proverb writer also told us about God clearing lanes but he said it in another way:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
I have a feeling that you’re going through something right now, too, that is shaking you up a bit. Something that you’re not sure how to handle or how you’ll get through. Something foreign and messy. Something that hurts. Maybe you’re upset with God. Maybe you don’t even know what to say or do. I’m right there with you. Still trying to figure it out. Still asking God to clear my lanes. Spend a little time in Proverbs and if you’re still unsure what to say, try asking him to clear your lanes.
Posted in Uncategorized June 3, 2016
The following status is based on actual events. Names have been withheld to protect the guilty & please feel free to add your own in the comments. We’re all in this together:
If you’ve ever accidentally left kids at the church building, you might be a mother.
If you’ve ever choked down food prepared by young children, you might be a mother.
If you’ve ever cleaned the house only to find it destroyed within 2 minutes, you might be a mother.
If you’ve ever had to tell a soaking wet individual that the next time they jump into the baptistery better be when they’re getting baptized, you might be a mother.
If your favorite cat has ever been shaved to look like a ridiculous lion, you might be a mother.
If you’ve ever hid in a locked pantry to eat Hostess cupcakes or chocolate of any kind, you might be a mother.
If you’ve ever worn clothes that are mismatched, stained with spit up or completely out of style but just glad you had time to actually get dressed, you might be a mother.
If you’ve ever spied on or tracked down a child so well the CIA would be impressed, you might be a mother.
If you’ve forgotten what it’s like to sleep all night, you might be a mother.
If you’ve ever taught teenagers to drive and were pretty sure you were going to eat a guardrail, you might be a mother.
If you’ve ever had flowers brought to you while you were standing in line at a funeral visitation, you might be a mother.
If you’ve ever had to explain why we don’t pick flowers at a funeral home, you might be a mother.
If you’ve ever dug Legos out of a stopped up toilet, you might be a dad (seriously, that’s too disgusting, people).
If your new vacuum has ever been used to clean up beef stew, you might be a mother.
If mattresses have been used to surf down stairs in your house, you might be a mother.
If you’re amazed at how much you love the people who have made you crazy (but sane is boring & overrated, right?) you might be a mother.
Go have a great, wonderful, happy Mother’s Day!
Posted in Uncategorized May 7, 2016
Don’t judge Christ by those of us who so imperfectly wear
his name. -Yancey summarizing a quote by Tolstoy
I have fond memories of the church where my father served as minister before his death. They were very good to dad before and after he was diagnosed with ALS. They supported my mother when she became a young widow and loved spending Sunday afternoons with her two small children. They encouraged and rescued us in so many beautiful ways. Regardless of how often I think of them, I can’t shake the memory of the one person who flippantly tossed a few dollars toward my father and told him to get a haircut before he preached again.
Sometimes church hurts. The place that should be the safest sometimes isn’t. Those who should be filled with grace, understanding and support sometimes aren’t. Although we would like to tell the world that we’ve got our act together we don’t. Church isn’t perfect. Thankfully for all of us, Jesus is.
If we claim Christ as our Lord it is imperative to respond to tragedy, death, politics, anything that threatens our life or liberty in a way that is different from those who don’t. What we post on the Internet, how we treat our spouse, how we act and, more importantly, react to life’s problems is crucial to the Kingdom. Most of the time, we’re great at that. Other times, not so much.
So what do you do when you’ve been hurt by the one place that claims to be a sanctuary? First, realize that you’re standing on a land mine. Scripture tells us that Satan is constantly looking for a way to invade our hearts and attack (1 Peter 5:8). Peter warns us to be on guard, alert and ready for the devil’s advances. Our enemy will see this coming long before we do and will use it to damage the Kingdom. Don’t let him.
Accept the fact that we are all family. If you believe God is creator than you must accept those around you as your brothers and sisters. Especially those who don’t yet know they belong to God. Your treatment of them will either lead them closer to or farther from the Kingdom.
And maybe you’ve walked away from God because someone who claimed to follow Jesus said something hurtful. Maybe it needed to be said but the tone and attitude left you thinking and feeling that Jesus was an arrogant tyrant. Or maybe it never needed to be said at all. Maybe they were wrong.
Maybe they cared more about their doctrine than they did about your soul.
Maybe they didn’t understand that church is a family of the broken and not a country club for the rich.
Maybe they had bad theology or just bad manners.
Maybe their traditions were more important than truth.
Maybe they didn’t take the time to sit down and get to know you.
Maybe they acted like they had all the answers instead of introducing you to the One who does.
Maybe they took one look at your brokenness and instead of offering comfort, offered a religious checklist.
Maybe instead of being preached at, you just needed to be loved on.
Maybe all you needed was to be shown Jesus but instead you got the church. Wounded, imperfect, flawed followers marred by tradition. Well-meaning stumblers of grace who have been known to have a hard time showing the love of Christ. I promise that we’re trying but we get it wrong occasionally. Thankfully the Bible gives us several examples of others who left Jesus shaking his head.
When the people in Samaria refused to accept Christ, James and John were ready to torch the entire city (Luke 9:54-55).
When Bartimaeus called out in faith for Jesus to heal him, some demanded his silence (Mark 10:46-49).
When others were performing miracles in the name of Jesus, the apostles wanted them stopped (Mark 9:39).
When the disciples tried to keep the children away from the busy Messiah it was the adults who got in trouble (Matthew 19:13).
If harsh words have been spoken to you, if you’ve been treated in a way that is mean and unfair, if you’ve wandered away from God because his people were a bit rough around the edges, I want to take this moment to apologize and ask you to give Jesus another chance. Don’t blame him for our failings. We’re working on this loving others lifestyle but we have a tendency to mess it up. We’re not perfect. Forgive us for claiming to be. Give Christ another chance. Give us another chance.
Church, be nice. Remember that you’re not the director or star of this Kingdom adventure. You’re an usher. Lead others in.
Originally published at Marshall Daily.
Posted in Uncategorized April 16, 2016
Today may not mean anything special to you, other than another year is passing too quickly, but it holds a great deal of significance to me. My father passed away on this day in 1980. The date also marks the anniversary of my mother’s death in 1990.The end of each year can be rather somber if I allow the grief to become too strong. Instead, I try to focus on the good memories and the beautiful way God has led me from there to here.
As we venture into another year, we’re going to witness wonderful moments and heartbreaking disappointments. There will be new babies to kiss and old friends to bid farewell. We’ll see evil in this world but we will be encouraged by those who aren’t afraid to proclaim Christ as our Lord.
Many will give their lives to Jesus this coming year and sadly, some will walk away from him. There will be those who begin their futures together in beautiful weddings and those who will end theirs in bitter divorces.
Love, faith, and hope will be readily available to drown out the failures, difficult moments, and tragedies that we might experience.
As those around us are making grand resolutions for the entire year, let’s resolve to live life one day at a time, starting with this day.
Today, be a servant.
Today, encourage God’s people.
Today, refuse to let your past, your pain, or your problems keep you from your Savior.
Today, meditate on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable (Philippians 4:8).
Today, remember that you are chosen, holy, and deeply loved.
Today, walk with the Lord.
Making plans for the entire year is futile. We don’t know what tomorrow will hold. We may find ourself in the pit. We may stand on the mountain.
What we do know is that today brings us one day closer to seeing Jesus. So chose this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15). Use it to glorify him, and remember, the same God who loved us so much that he sent his only son (John 3:16), can get us through any day we face.
Posted in Uncategorized December 30, 2015
Nearly three months into a school year and halfway into a class period that she has had every week; this sweet little first grader raised her hand and said, “Mrs. Art, could you help me?’ I could and did and still smile every time I think about Mrs. Art.
I thought about that the other day when this song started to play. Aren’t you glad the world doesn’t call us by what they think- Mrs. Stressed Out, Mrs. Failed at the Important Things, Mrs. Looking for a Fight, Mrs. Change Agent, Mrs. Broken & Needing to Be Healed, Mrs. Unwanted and Unworthy?
God has set a new name upon us. A name truer and greater than anything the world could place upon us. He calls us child. He calls us holy, chosen and dearly loved. Before you took your first breath, he loved you. Before you took your first steps, he loved you. Before you made your first mistake, he loved you. He will always love even if you choose not to love and follow him.
This life is too short and too difficult to do it alone. You weren’t created to. So choose God. Choose life. Choose joy, peace and hope in a miserable, war-torn and desperate world. Choose life because the one who created life knows your name.
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine.” Isaiah 43:1
Posted in Uncategorized October 11, 2014
Posted in Uncategorized October 7, 2014
Posted in Uncategorized October 5, 2014
I love to fly Delta. I’m always checking their site first but not because they have the best rates or service. I’m sure they’re great because I continue to use them, but honestly, I haven’t really noticed. I use Delta because nearly 40 years ago, my grandfather came to visit me (I’m sure he probably wanted to see the rest of my family, too) and he flew in on Delta.
We met him at the gate because back then you could and he gave me a small, white, plastic toy Delta plane. Grandpa Penny was a giant of a man. A retired police officer by the time I met him; he was kind and gentle and always wore a smile. I deeply loved him and think of him every time I fly. I kept that plane for years and I’ll never forget that visit.
I used to treat God like I do my airline. I had a connection with him but if something else came up, I didn’t have a problem being negligent. If he became inconvenient, I’d go elsewhere. If he desired too much out of me, I went in the opposite direction. I sought him when I needed that dose of religion. I went to him when I collided with life. We talked a lot, but I wasn’t listening. I choose God, basically because my parents and grandparents did.
Kyle Idleman in his book, Not a Fan, talks about the time in a relationship when you have to DTR or define the relationship. Where do you really stand? Is this exclusive? Are you totally committed? It’s not an easy discussion because you have to be completely honest with yourself and with the one staring back at you and you always run the risk that the other person doesn’t feel the way you do but every relationship needs this moment.
God was good when I was a part time Christian. He always smiled on me. He held me when I asked. He ran to meet me every time but I never stayed long. I kept taking the wheel out of his hands and assuring him that I had everything under control and I would for awhile. I could manage on my own for a span but I always came limping back. Life is difficult anyway but split the running of your life with God and life becomes unbearable.
I finally took the time to sit down and define my relationship. I was broken, worn and finally tired of wavering. I was exhausted from being in on Sundays and out on Mondays. I was done with doing church because my family did. No more pew warming. It was time to get serious. It was time to put it all on the line and make the decision that would influence every thought, action and reaction. It was time to stop pretending I could do this on my own.
Isn’t it time that you had a good sit down discussion with the one who knew your name when he created the world? Be advised, when you get serious about God some will think you’ve lost it. You might get called radical, liberal or a religious nut. People may tell you that you’ve gone off the deep end. When and if that time comes, just smile and love them because God will know that you’ve finally come home and that’s all that matters.
Let this be the day you resign from your position of piloting your own journey and realize that God is in control. Life is too short to do it alone. Go all in with God. He’s already committed to you.
(And somebody tell Delta I love them so maybe I’ll get discounts 🙂
Posted in Uncategorized September 19, 2014
I was parked in a crowded lot at a Paducah, Kentucky Lowe’s store and couldn’t stop wiping tears away. Before moving my Kindle into the backseat, I had opened it for a second and the first few lines of Michael Whitworth’s latest book, The Bethlehem Road, had captured my attention.
In a matter of minutes, I was engulfed in a story that I had known for years but never had I seen it so clearly that it brought me to tears. I forgot about my shopping list as I quickly swiped the screen taking me to the next page of the newest commentary on the book of Ruth.
Whitworth’s style of writing is refreshing and many times I forgot that I was reading an actual commentary. He transports you into the story while explaining culture and word origins. He includes events from his own life as he relates, explains and offers you every chance to see your own life in the beautiful story of Ruth and Naomi.
Whitworth begins the book by asking that life altering question many of us have uttered in a dark and disparaging time, “What do you do when your dreams are shattered?” And then he tells us what he did. Sharing the story of his father’s life and death brought the water works as I thought about my own father and his battle with ALS.
As you begin the study of Ruth, you will learn the beauty of the word hesed and what it means to your life. You will smile as you remember how God has and will continue to turn your own “heartbreak into Hallelujahs” and you will be blessed by the way our Father watched over and cared for his two beautiful daughters in a time not too long ago from ours.
I’m thankful for a God who works behind the scenes and refuses to give up on any of his children. And I’m thankful for Michael Whitworth and his writing abilities. If you are looking for a great commentary on Ruth or just looking for an encouraging book for yourself or your Bible study group, pick up this book. You’ll be glad you did.
Posted in Uncategorized September 4, 2014
The Compadres blog tour is making a quick stop here and I’m glad you stopped by.
The topic is “The Glory of the Son” and when asked what I would like to focus on, I immediately thought of Mark 9:14-29 and invite you to join me there for the next few minutes.
Why does a story that seems to highlight doubt more than divine grab my attention so quickly? Because too often, I’m the one needing help. The one standing in the middle of stress and negativity begging truth to rebuke my feelings of doom and hopelessness. The one who knows that joy is out there but blinded by the injustice, pain and despair that seem to have taken up residence in front of me.
The father in Mark 9 was forlorn. The son tormented by demons since childhood. Some of us know the misery of having a sick child. Letting the fear of what might happen steal our hopes and dreams for the future. The boy’s father had exhausted the doctors in town. No one could help. Not even those closest to the Rabbi from Galilee. And when all hope seemed lost, enter the Christ with the compassion to stop and ask about this man’s story. And the desire to get involved even when chaos swirled around him.
“If You Can?
Verse 21 offers a glimpse into our own lives. Too often we approach Jesus with reservations.
If you can offer peace?
If you can get me through this?
If you can work this out?
If you can calm my fears?
If you can heal my child? My parent? My marriage?
“If I can?”
Jesus answered initially with a question. And then I wonder if he smiled. Or sighed. Or rolled his eyes. Or all three.
“Everything is Possible for the One who Believes.”
If believing is the epitome of the Christian faith, then it would be so simple. But there is more. Jesus wants belief but he also requires us to follow. And there’s the catch. That’s the part that will change this world. Do it like I did. Love, forgive, teach, help. Get involved in your community. Change lives because I changed yours. Believing is the start but following necessitates more than my mind. It requires my heart, my actions and worse, my reactions.
“I believe. Help my unbelief!”
And here is where I am. With more questions than answers. Believing but not understanding. But praise the Lord above that our doubts don’t diminish his glory.
“Jesus Took him by the Hand and Lifted him Up”
Jesus didn’t tell him to believe more. He didn’t ask if he was a church member. He didn’t ask his views on doctrinal issues. He didn’t schedule a Bible study or have him recite the Sinner’s prayer. He didn’t sign him up for a Bible correspondence course or point him in the direction of the nearest synagogue. He didn’t ask the church to vote or pray. He didn’t call for a committee meeting. He didn’t consult the Greek text to make sure he really said what he just said. He just stopped what he was doing, listened to someone who was hurting and got involved in their lives. And he calls us to do the same thing. Even if we don’t have all the answers. Even if we face days of doubt. Even if we’re broken and hurting and tired. Even if all seems lost. Believe. Follow. Make a difference.
Posted in Uncategorized August 5, 2014