Confession 391: Faith Check

but my righteous one will live by faith,
and my whole being won’t be pleased with anyone who shrinks back.
But we aren’t the sort of people who timidly draw back and end up being destroyed. We’re the sort of people who have faith so that our whole beings are preserved. Hebrews 10:38-39 (CEB)


The other day, I read a powerful editorial written by women’s leader Beth Moore regarding the upcoming Presidential election.  The title of the piece was “The Scandal of Election 2016”.  If you have five or ten minutes, read it.  It is a convicting condemnation on the state of our faith as American Jesus followers, as well as a persuasive call to come back to our faith in the God of Salvation and Resurrection.

Moore states that we, as Christians, have “misplaced our faith.”  She goes on to write that:

“We have become not only like the world but like the world at its social-worst: lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive…ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:2-5 ESV)”

As Christians, we have stopped following Jesus and, instead, have followed the world.  Somewhere along the line, we’ve lost our faith.  We’ve forgotten that God is the creator of the world, Alpha and Omega, the one who reigns victorious over death.  We have allowed the world to strip us of our faith and have replaced that faith with anger, fear, absolutism and cynicism.

I don’t know about you, but I am in real need of a faith-check.  If I’m being honest, on a scale of one to ten my faith level is probably hovering between a three and four.  You have no idea how much it pains me to put that in writing, but it’s true.  I have allowed my knowledge of the world to chip away at my faith in God.

In the crushing weight of the world’s problems, faith seems childishly naive, perhaps even unintelligent.  How can faith restore the lives of the people of Haiti?  How can faith heal the racism in our country?  How can faith bring peace to an increasingly destructive world?

Well, my friends, that’s up to us.  You see, when Jesus commissioned the disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20 CEB) he was calling them to be his hands and feet.


Jesus modeled the work he intended the disciples to do.  He went into poor communities and fed the hungry.  He sat with people who were unwelcome in the church and offered them God’s love and compassion.  He took time to teach those society deemed unworthy of an education–women, children and menial laborers.  He touched those who were sick and unclean and healed them.

In short, Jesus served others.

The Great Commission is not a thing of the past.  Jesus didn’t intend for his work to die with the eleven disciples standing on a Galilean hillside.  Rather, the disciples were to go out and commission others to continue Jesus’ work.  As followers of Jesus, that is our commission, too.

Instead of shrinking back from faith, we are called to embrace it.  Regardless of how we “feel”, what people think of us or whether or not we can quantify our efforts, our job is to go out and serve others in the name of Jesus.


The author of Hebrews goes on to write that faith “is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.”  By faith the men and women of God “conquered kingdoms, brought about justice, realized promises, shut the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped from the edge of the sword, found strength in weakness, were mighty in war, and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead by resurrection.”(Hebrews 11:33-35 CEB)

It seems to me that if I want my faith to be a ten, then I need to stop focusing on everything that is wrong with the world and get myself to where Jesus is working. I need to take stock of those gifts and abilities God has placed within me and find ways to use them for the benefit of others.

The truth is, the more we step out in faith, the more our faith will grow.  Faith leads to faith.

This week, do a faith check within yourself.  Where do you stand right now in your belief?  Are you overwhelmed by the world?  Are you angry, stressed, or fearful?  Do you find that you are cynical of belief?  Does it seem like God has abandoned us?

Look again.  Step away from your anger, your fear, your worry or even your cynicism.  Take a step toward Jesus by reaching outside of yourself to do one thing that brings light, love or peace to someone else.  Then, check your faith again.  Is it growing?

Blessings and Peace,



Confession 390:Completely Saved

…because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:24-25 (NIV)



This is the thought that went through my mind as I turned the page of my Bible and peered down at the next book in my reading: Hebrews.

I will be the first to admit, there are books of the Bible I am not fond of.  Leviticus sits at the top of that list, closely followed by Numbers.  The books of the Chronicles are where I practice my speed reading, but nothing makes me go “bleh”as much as Hebrews.  There’s so much ethereal talk of covenants and priests and roundabout sentences and run-on paragraphs that I get lost trying to find the main point.  No matter how much I pray over the text, it still feels like a dreaded trip to the dentist when I sit down to read it.

Pouring over chapter 7 (mostly hearing “wah, wha-wha, wha-wha” in my head) I asked the Holy Spirit for some enlightenment.  As I read through the end of the chapter, the phrase “save completely” seemed to call out to me.

Jesus is able to save completely.

Sit with that for a minute. What does the idea of being saved completely mean to you?

On the one hand, it means that we are saved from our sins through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ and are promised an eternal home in heaven.  But, I think it’s more than that.

As I thought about the notion of complete salvation, I recalled this verse from 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. (CEV)

The NIV uses the term new creation to describe those living in Christ.  When we are completely saved, we are made into a new creation.  Jesus didn’t just save us from our sins, he saved us from ourselves.

For me, complete salvation isn’t just about eternity, it’s also about the here and now.  Complete salvation means that God has transformed (and is transforming and will continue to transform) the very essence of who I am.

You see, because of Jesus’ sacrifice–because he is the high priest seated at the right hand of God Almighty–God’s Spirit is able to dwell within us.  When we accept Christ’s invitation to enter into our lives, we allow God’s goodness, mercy, grace, love, hope, peace and forgiveness to enter into our being.  God’s presence completely saves us from our human selfishness, pride, egotism, greed, lust, divisiveness and hate.


images-12More importantly, as we take in the essence of God,  we (ideally) pour God’s goodness, mercy, grace, love, hope, peace and forgiveness out into the world.  In that way, being completely saved takes on a whole new dimension.  We see that salvation isn’t for us alone, but for all of God’s creation.  We are not just beneficiaries of God’s salvation, we are also participants in the salvation process.

Because God dwells within us, we can show others God’s great love.  And that love opens the door for others to accept the great invitation that was sent when Jesus died on the cross.

Let me be clear, we cannot save others on our own.  But, we can show people who God is by how we live.

In a world that seems consumed by hate, bigotry, fear, violence, poverty and oppression, it is good to remember that there is another force at work.

Look at me, Jesus says in the midst of the world’s chaos.  You are completely saved.  Spread the word.

Blessings and Peace,



Confession 389: Because Jesus Called Us to Be Better

Timothy, you belong to God, so keep away from all these evil things. Try your best to please God and to be like him. Be faithful, loving, dependable, and gentle.  Fight a good fight for the faith and claim eternal life. God offered it to you when you clearly told about your faith, while so many people listened. Now I ask you to make a promise. Make it in the presence of God, who gives life to all, and in the presence of Jesus Christ, who openly told Pontius Pilate about his faith. Promise to obey completely and fully all that you have been told until our Lord Jesus Christ returns.  1 Timothy 6:11-14 (CEV)


Last night, like millions of other Americans, I sat and watched the “Presidential” debate.  I don’t like publicly entering into the malai of politics, but I feel compelled today to speak.  I feel compelled to speak because it seems that the people running for the most prestigious office in our land are bringing out the very worst in the American people.

On the one hand you have someone spouting forth a rhetoric of hate and bigotry and nativism that goes against everything we as Americans claim to hold dear.

On the other hand you have someone who is so mired in corruption and self-gain and personal ambition there is no clear sense of truth.

People (and I have been one of them) who claim to be following Jesus are echoing and sharing rhetoric that is mean, divisive, prejudiced and inflammatory all in the name of party politics.  The thing is, if we (and I’m including myself here) are truly following Jesus, there should be no room in our souls for such thoughts and beliefs.

The debates last night were a powerful reminder for me that, as  Jesus girl, I am called to be better than this.  And so are you.

We have allowed the extreme polarization of our two-party political system define our faith when, in reality, it should be the exact opposite.  It is our faith in and relationship with Jesus Christ that should define and shape all of our other beliefs.

I have always felt that God transcends politics.  I think, generally, God’s politics are vastly different than our current Red and Blue guiding principles.  God is interested in

  • justice
  • righteousness
  • peace
  • love
  • truth
  • repentance
  • forgiveness
  • salvation

There are many different ways to bring about these things on both sides of the American political aisle.  I have Christian friends who are conservative and Christian friends who are liberal and, crazily enough, we often find that we want the very same thing.  We want a world where God’s love shines through the darkness.

The conversation isn’t about who’s right or who’s wrong.  Rather, the conversation is about what we, as Jesus followers, can do to better show God’s love.  And filling the airwaves with hate-mongering is not a viable option.

Look at the instructions Paul gives to Timothy about engaging in ministry:

  • be faithful
  • be loving
  • be dependable
  • be gentle

And, above all else, Paul encourages Timothy to fully and completely obey all of the commands he has been taught through Jesus Christ.

In short, Paul is reminding Timothy that he is called to better things than pride, conceit, slander, divisiveness, quarrelsomeness and unkindness. (See 1 Timothy 6:2-10)

As Jesus followers, we need to change the nature of our political conversations.  We need to show that we are faithful to God, loving toward others, dependable and gentle.

practice-kindnessThis week, I am going to take a step back from the side show that has become our “Presidential” race.  Rather than engaging the candidates, I am going to prayerfully seek out opportunities to engage the issues.  And I will work to speak in ways that are gentle and kind.

I invite you to join me in an effort to reframe the conversation.  Let’s put aside hate, malice and slander to embrace a language of love, kindness and compassion.

Blessings and Peace,




Confession 382: The Most Important Thing…

Run away from adolescent cravings. Instead, pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace together with those who confess the Lord with a clean heart. Avoid foolish and thoughtless discussions, since you know that they produce conflicts. God’s slave shouldn’t be argumentative but should be kind toward all people, able to teach, patient, and should correct opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will change their mind and give them a knowledge of the truth. They may come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap that holds them captive to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:22-26 (CEB)

Confession 254: Why Wait?

As I was scrolling through some news articles this morning, a headline in the NYT caught my eye: “A Rabbis Enduring Sermon on Living Your Last Five Minutes“.  The article reflected on Rabbi Kenneth Berger’s Yom Kippur sermon thirty years ago regarding the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle.  In this sermon, Rabbi Berger focused on the five minutes the Challenger crew lived between the explosion of the shuttle and the crash into the Atlantic ocean.  Berger states:

“That scene still haunts me…The explosion and then five minutes. If only I… If only I… And then the capsule hits the water, it’s all over. Then you realize it’s all the same — five minutes, five days, 50 years. It’s all the same, for it’s over before we realize.

“‘If only I knew’ — yes, my friends, it may be the last time. ‘If only I realized’ — yes, stop, appreciate the blessings you have. ‘If only I could’ — you still can, you’ve got today.”

Less than three years later, Rabbi Berger and his wife were killed in a plane crash.  Two of their three children were traveling with them, and both survived.  They recalled, in those final moments, their father taking their hands and offering words of reassurance.

The book of 2 Timothy records one of Paul’s final letters to his adopted son. Paul is imprisoned in Rome.  His trial is over, and he is awaiting his execution. Paul knows his earthly journey is coming to an end.  He tells Timothy that he is being “poured out like a drink offering”.  Alone, chained, facing the end…Paul longs to see Timothy once more.

You see, even though Paul knows the end is near, he understands that there is still work to do. Paul not only intends to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ until his final breath, he wants to make sure that after he is gone the gospel continues to be spread.

And so, Paul calls on Timothy.  This letter is not a memoir, a reflection of a life lived in ministry.  Rather, it is a commission.  It is a sending forth of Timothy to continue the race. Paul reminds Timothy of the gospel message and charges him with the task of both sharing that message and training up new leaders.  Paul understands that the church’s foundation is not built on him, but on Jesus Christ.

To that end, Paul gives Timothy some words of advice on Christian living.

  1. Don’t get caught up in things that pull you away from Christ.
  2. Focus on doing the right thing, sharing God’s love and living peacefully with others.
  3. Be part of a community of true believers.
  4. Don’t get into arguments and conflicts that result in divisions rather than strengthening the unity of the church.
  5. Instruct others with kindness and patience.
  6. Be humble and don’t judge others; rather, try and lead them to the truth in Jesus Christ.

In our current “selfie” culture driven by consumerism, competition and the need to be right, Paul’s final words to Timothy are a salient reminder of who we, as Jesus followers, are called to be.

No one knows the number of their days here on earth.  But I think, if we take Paul’s final instructions to heart, we too can leave a legacy of faith.

Blessings and Peace,


Confession 381:When God Uses Spending Too Much at the Gap to Tell You You’re a Snob

“Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye?” Matthew 7:1-3 (CEB)


It all started with the coupons.  You know the ones–spend fifty dollars and get twenty-five dollars off.  It sounds like a good deal.  I mean, who doesn’t like a bargain?  I had two of these coupons.  And, lo and behold, it was the last day to use them.  My boys had outgrown all of their fall and winter clothes from last year, and their sizes are such that passing down pants from one to the other is no longer an option.  They needed some new duds, and I had the coupons.

Thirty minutes later at the Gap Factory Store, I was standing in line with a pile of clothes that would make a Black Friday  maven blush.  A sinking feeling began to grow in my gut.  My boys bolted from the store–fearful that their notoriously cheap mother was going to implode when the “total” button was hit.  I took a deep breath, clutched my coupons to my chest, and smiled at the cashier.

Two hundred dollars later, I sat in the van as waves of guilt washed over me.  What had I done?  How could I be so irresponsible?  Think of all the children in the world who are under-clothed!  Think of the food that money could buy for a family in need!  My kids don’t wear name-brand clothes.  Why didn’t I go to Old Navy instead?

The guilt lasted awhile.  My husband was very nice about the ridiculous expenditure, but I couldn’t let it go.  What was wrong with me?

I decided to ask God the answer to this question.  I think he laughed and said, “Where do I start?”

The truth of the matter is, I’m not adverse to spending money.  In fact, my husband and I just returned from a week in London where I spent a ridiculous amount of money on a cashmere red and tartan cloak.

The real issue, God reminded me, was not the money (although I should probably work on being more intentional with that).  Had I walked into an off-brand store and spent the same amount of money on the same amount of clothes, I wouldn’t have felt bad at all.  It was the Gap that was the issue, and my complete and total disdain for what I perceive to be capitalistic elitism.


In short, God told me I’m a snob.  And, he’s right.  I do look down my nose at name-brand wearing, nice car driving, professionally coiffed people.  I somehow think that my bargain-brand t-shirts and ugly cheap shorts make me a better person.  In essence, I judge people on their outward expenditures rather than understanding their hearts.

I condescend to call others condescending.  And that, my friends, is irony.

It is no coincidence that I find myself reading these words written by the apostle Paul today:

This saying is reliable and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I’m the biggest sinner of all.” 1 Timothy 1:15

The truth is, we’re all guilty of something.  I’m guilty of judging others.  I’m also guilty of neglecting the needy, being self-centered, pride and laziness.  The list most likely could go on and on.  However, in spite of all of my failures as a person, God continually shows me mercy and offers up his grace.

He does the same for you.  You just need to accept it.


Tomorrow morning, when my youngest zips up his Gap sweater jacket, I will remember my judgmental nature.  I will give a wry smile and nod my head in acceptance of the lesson God is teaching me.  And then, I will accept his grace that allows me to go forth and proclaim his Word despite my overwhelming human nature.

Blessings and Peace,


Confession 380: Embracing the “Other”

Each of you is now a new person. You are becoming more and more like your Creator, and you will understand him better.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Greek or a Jew, or if you are circumcised or not. You may even be a barbarian or a Scythian, and you may be a slave or a free person. Yet Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Colossians 3:10-11 (CEV)

My husband and I just returned from a week in London.  It was our first time in London, and I have to say londonit is an absolutely fabulous city.  There is a perfect balance between the historic and contemporary within the city.  You can walk along the Thames and see a 3,000 year old stone obelisk juxtaposed with a glass-covered tower reaching into the sky.
The diversity of the architecture is reflected in the diversity of the people.  Walk down any city street and you will hear several different languages spoken and encounter a plethora of different English-speaking dialects.  Women shrouded in burkhas walked side by side with women in sundresses.  Men in business suits mingled with men wearing African tribal shirts and pants.

In a society that is becoming increasingly self-focused and xenophobic, this mingling of “others” was refreshing.  London reminded me that though we are many, we are one; though we are different, we are same.

westminster-abbeyThis was driven home to me in a very profound way during the communion service at Westminster Abbey.  Sitting in chairs under the great domed ceiling where worshipers have been sharing the sacraments for over one thousand years, I realized how wonderfully diverse the body of Christ truly is.  To my left was a family from France.  To my right, a family from Great Britain.  In front of me were two older women from Italy.  And behind me, a man from the Netherlands.  Spread out across the chapel were others from around the world.  And yet, we were all there to participate in the Great Thanksgiving.  We were all there to praise, worship and honor God.

How absurd it is to think that because of our nationality, race, socio-economic status or gender we are the be all and end all of humanity.  How arrogant it is to think that how we live and the traditions we hold dear are the only ones that matter.  How dangerous it is to think that we should fear and shun the “other”.

The truth is, we are all the “other”.  And, in the eyes of God who created all people of all races and who is the supreme authority over all people and all nations, we are all his beloved children.  As we draw closer to the one who created us, those differences between people become less important.  We see the oneness of all humanity.

So, as Paul writes in Colossians 3:8-9, we must “quit being angry, hateful, and evil. [We] must no longer say insulting or cruel things about others. And stop lying to each other. [We] have given up [our] old way of life with its habits.”

This week, I would challenge you to think about the habits you have developed in regard sustaining and maintaining your own way of life.  Consider ways in which you can give up some of these habits in order to embrace those who are different from you, and to see the love of God in the face of another.

Blessings and Peace,


Confession 379:Finding Your Mission Field

They realized that God had sent me with the good news for Gentiles, and that he had sent Peter with the same message for Jews.  God, who had sent Peter on a mission to the Jews, was now using me to preach to the Gentiles. Galatians 2:7-8 (CEV)

I read an article in Good Housekeeping the other day about the most inspiring women of 2016.  These women ran the gamet in age, lifestyle, income and occupation.  From celebrity activists to stay at home moms; creating beauty products and giving micro loans to women in developing countries, each woman in the article is contributing something meaningful to the world and making a big impact.


When I read inspiring stories about women making a difference in a big way, I can’t help but think, “Man…I am so lazy!”

There’s a part of me that feels like I should be making more of a difference.  I should be establishing start-up corporations in developing nations, working with farmers to grow fresh produce in the heart of concrete jungles, starting an institute to study the effects of immigration laws on the children of illegal immigrants.

The problem is, I have no business sense, do not live in an urban area or have agricultural experience and have no money to start an institute.

It’s easy to compare ourselves to those who are shooting for the stars.  We see their success and think we should be doing the same.  Galatians 2 is a good reminder to me that we are not all called to the same mission field (Thank goodness!  Can you imagine how crowded that would be?).  For most of us, our mission opportunities occur within the confines of our own communities.  Many of Jesus’ disciples stayed within the surrounding areas of Jerusalem as they worked to share the knowledge of Christ.  Paul, in his letters, writes of individuals in communities like Philippi and Colossus who heard the gospel message and then brought it back to their hometowns.

No one likely thought Epaphras was a person of great note, but it is because of him that we have Paul’s letter to the Colossians.  (See Colossians 1)

missions-harvestPaul was aware of the fact that his mission field was decidedly different than those of the other apostles.  God called Paul to preach to the Gentiles.  Peter, James and John had no interest in that work, as they felt led to preach to the Jews.  God called and equipped each of these men to a specific field of work.  And, God continues to call and equip each of us to different fields of work.

God does indeed call some of us to work that includes significant investment capital, political savvy and personal influence.  You’re not going to build a medical clinic in rural Nicaragua without those things.  However, others of us (most of us) are called to make a difference in  smaller, but equally impactful, ways.

  • Being a mentor to an at-risk youth
  • Volunteering at a local food bank
  • Preparing meals for a shelter or hospital
  • Rescuing abandoned pets
  • Helping to build a Habitat for Humanity house
  • Participating in Operation Shoebox
  • Collecting school supplies/clothes/toys/shoes for local or international organizations
  • Delivering Meals on Wheels
  • Opening your home to foster children

The list goes on and on.  The key is to identify what your mission field is and then to get working!  Over the past few years, I’ve found the following steps to be helpful in identifying where I need to be working.

  1. Assess the needs of your community.
  2. Make a list of all the things you enjoy doing.
  3. Find the point where the needs and your talents intersect.

rainbownetwork074Finally, look for organizations that are already working in the field you feel called to.  For example, I am passionate about education.  The Rainbow Network is an organization that provides educational opportunity for youth in Nicaragua.  Supporting that organization is a way for me to engage in a field I feel called to serve.

Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Maybe you’ve been hesitant about answering the call to missions because you feel like your work can’t compare to others who are doing big and bold things.  The truth is, God needs us all to be an active part of his work.  You don’t need to go big or go home.  You just need to go.

Blessings and Peace,



Confession 378: Skate Night (Or, How I Learned to Embrace the Future)

You know the Lord is God! He created us, and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep in his pasture. Psalm 100:3 (CEV)

Lately, I have been wrestling with those demons of insecurity.  If you’re a woman, you probably know what I’m talking about–those voices inside your head that tell you you’re not thin enough, hip enough, smart enough, outgoing enough, blah, blah, blah.

At a week away from 40 (yikes!) I thought I would be past all of that.  However, our recent move has brought it all back with a vengeance.  I’m struggling to fit into this new community.  I don’t walk into the grocery store and know people by name.  I don’t have friends to hang out with. I don’t have a coffee shop.


roller skates 3

All of this came to a head at our new school’s PTA skate night.  Standing in the middle of a crowded room, unsteady on feet that were wearing wheels for shoes, I found myself thinking, “I miss our old community.  I miss having friends.”  In our old community, I knew a lot of people.  PTA events were fun because I was part of the group.  I knew lots of other parents, I knew the teachers and school staff.  I had friends I could laugh with as I attempted to skate.  Now, I look around and recognize no one.  I feel out of place in my graphic t’s and Converse sneaks.  I wonder if I should wear make-up and shop at the Gap.  I might need to upgrade my mini-van.

Before going too far down this dark and windy self-pity road, I decided to pull off the skates (really, I was just a danger to myself and others) and help my oldest move past the wall to the middle of the rink.  As we skated around the rink, something incredible happened.  A classmate of my son’s came over and started skating with us.  I looked across the rink toward my husband and our youngest son.  Miracle of miracles, he had a classmate skating with him, too!  I suddenly realized, our boys have friends!  And, the best part of all, they didn’t feel the need to change themselves to make that happen!!

Both of our boys march to the beat of their own drums.  Our oldest will proudly proclaim, “I’m weird!”  And our youngest, well, he just doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.


roller skates 2

Seeing our boys thrive in the midst of this new situation opened my eyes to the idea that, maybe, I don’t have to change either to fit in.  Maybe being me is okay.

I’d love to tell you that all of my insecurities vanished overnight after skate night, but that’s just not true.  However, I am being more open with God about how I’m feeling.  And, I’m respecting the fact that God loves me regardless of whether or not I coordinate my outfits.  God has work that he’s created me to do, and if I do that, I’m fitting in just where I need to be.

Blessings and Peace,


Confession 377: Being Christ’s Body


God put everything under Christ’s feet and made him head of everything in the church,  which is his body. His body, the church, is the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:22-23 (CEB)

When I was a kid, there was a little rhyme we learned to act out with our hands.  Maybe you’ve heard it:

church and steeple

Here’s the church

Here’s the steeple

Open the doors

Here’s the people

This rhyme demonstrates the fact that people are the church.  But, what is the church?

Scripturally, the church is the body of Christ.  In Ephesians, Paul writes that the church is the fullness of Christ.

Stop here for a moment.  This is one of those phrases many people are accustomed to hearing and therefore stop considering.  Read this sentence again, out loud.  Fully take it in.

The church is the fullness of Christ.

When I read Ephesians 1:22-23, I was absolutely convicted.  The church is the fullness of Christ?  The church is the fullness of CHRIST!

The American church is struggling.  Mainstream denominations are in decline.  Younger generations find church to be an irrelevant pastime that usually includes some sort of Confession 284: Why We Go To Churchjudginess or bigotry.  Churches are scrambling to figure out how to draw people back in.  We try to put on a really good show, full of digital spectacle and pageantry.  We want church to be hip, fun and cool.  It’s especially great when it doesn’t last more than 45 minutes and includes free coffee and snacks.


The thing is, the fullness of Christ isn’t necessarily represented by a fully stocked coffee bar.  The fullness of Christ is represented when fully committed followers of Jesus come together to praise, worship, pray and grow together.  The fullness of Christ is represented when fully committed followers of Christ open their hearts (and doors) to those who don’t know Jesus–embracing them and leading them into the light of grace and love.  The fullness of Christ is represented when the powers and authorities on earth look to the church as a beacon of light and wisdom and peace.

Those who are seeking purpose and meaning in their lives are looking for an authentic relationship–not a show.  If the church is going to represent the fullness of Christ, then all of its members need to commit to growing in their relationship with Jesus.  We need to put aside differences of theology, denomination, politics and even worship styles to focus again on being the body of Christ.


When Jesus walked on this earth, his hands brought healing to those who had been written off as hopeless causes.  His feet brought news of hope and life to those who were living under oppression and fear.  His lips challenged the status quo and tore apart the hypocrisy of the religious elite.  His very blood was offered as a sacrifice for all of humankind.

What a powerful message!  And how might our communities be transformed if we, the church, fully became the body of Christ.

This week, my challenge is to think about what it means to be the body of Christ.  Are you representing God’s fullness?  Is your church acting as the body of Christ?  What can you do to better show God’s love, mercy and forgiveness?

The church is the fullness of Christ.

Blessings and Peace,




Confession 376:Some Thoughts on Grief

In the same way, you have sorrow now; but I will see you again, and you will be overjoyed. No one takes away your joy. John 16:22 (CEB)

About a week ago, I received word that a childhood friend had passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly.  She left behind a husband, two middle school aged daughters, a twin sister and a younger brother.  And then there were copious friends and extended family who loved her much.


This week, hundreds of memories have been flying through my head.  I remember playing hide and seek at church on Wednesday nights.  I remember birthday parties and sleepovers; laughter and silliness.  I remember summer nights laying in a driveway looking for shooting stars.  I remember road trips and vast hours of uninterrupted time to talk, laugh and sing.

Like many working moms, the past couple of years have brought about less talking and time together and more “liking” on Facebook or the occasional quick comment.  The demands of children, church and career called to me, and I always thought there would be time…time after the kids were older…time after the work slowed down…time…later.  But then, there wasn’t.

I’m not much of a crier.  It’s part ridiculous Midwestern stoicism, I think and part vanity because I’m an ugly crier.  Rather, grief tends to settle on my heart like a weighted blanket.  It’s a heaviness I carry with me.

This summer, beautiful and amazing with new adventures and roads to travel, has also been punctuated by grief.  We left our community of six years–the longest my husband and I have lived in any one place since leaving our childhood homes.  We lost my grandmother–the last of the “greatest generation” in our family.  And now, we’re saying goodbye to a friend.

Confession 271: Making Meaning

I’ve been thinking a lot about grief, and I’ve come to the conclusion that despite what our “happy at all costs” society says, grief is good.  Grief helps us to see how much we’ve loved.  When we feel loss, it is because we are letting go of someone or someplace we deeply love and, most likely, someone (or a whole community of people) who loved us, too.  Grief helps us keep this life in perspective, giving us the opportunity to remember that our current present is temporal and that there is a bigger journey beyond this lifetime.

I love Jesus’ words to his disciples in the upper room.  The disciples are grieving. They don’t like this unexpected turn in the conversation.  Jesus is leaving?  Jesus is going to die?  This wasn’t part of the plan!  But look at what Jesus says…

You have sorrow now, but I will see you again…

Jesus gets it.  This world is full of grief.  But, and here is the crux on which we Jesus people stand rooted, but I will see you again.

This is punctuated by even more good news.

In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.

What an amazing promise!  Jesus wasn’t abandoning his disciples when he left them, nor does he abandon us in our time of grief.  Jesus gives us the everlasting promise of his presence.  I will see you again…I have conquered the world.

Grief comes to us all.  Maybe you’re not grieving now, but I’m sure you have at some point.  And, I know with certainty that grief is something we will feel again.  But, it’s okay.  Grief is something God has wired us to feel.  It is a sign of love.  If you’re feeling grief, don’t push it aside.  Don’t add things to your to-do list so you can push it away.  Instead, let the sorrow sit with you, and remember the love that brought it.  Remember, too, the wonderful promise of Jesus…I will see you again.  I have conquered the world.

Blessings and Peace,