Confession 453: Stone-Rolling: God’s Sport

For those of you who know me, you know I’m not really a sports fan. I love the Olympics, and because I married my husband, I really like Cardinal baseball. Baseball makes sense to me in a way other sports don’t. One of my favorite things about baseball is that it is, at its core, a fundamentally team sport. You can have great players, but great players don’t carry a team. Everyone has to contribute in order for a team to be successful.

In 2011, the Cardinals played the Texas Rangers in the World Series. The Rangers had never won a World Series, and the odds were in their favor. Game 6 was not good. Both teams committed several errors and the players just seemed tired…worn out by the long fight it had taken to get to this moment. The Cardinals were down to their last out. My husband had his finger on the remote, waiting to punch the power button so he didn’t have to see the Rangers celebrate their first-ever World Series win. But then, David Freese came to the plate. The Rangers had already taken care of the top of the Cardinal line-up. The power hitters were out, and this youngling at the bottom of the team roster shouldn’t be a problem. He was a stepping stone to the Rangers’ victory. The win was in the bag…until it wasn’t. Freese hit a ball into the outfield that should have been caught, but for some inexplicable reason what should have been a routine play became a fielding error and the Cardinals tied the ballgame. The game went into extra innings, and the Cardinals were once again down to their last out. The power-hitters were taken care of, and Freese came to the plate again. Could lightning strike twice? Yep! Freese hit a walk-off home run and the stadium erupted. The Cardinals had forced a game 7.

In sports, there are no foregone conclusions. Any team can have a great moment, or a really terrible one. There’s a reason why games are played and awards held under lock and key until the end of the season. You never know what’s going to happen.

This is, of course, completely counter to the message God gives us about how he moves and works in our lives.

With God, there is no question about the outcome–He has the victory–every time.

In Joshua 5, the Israelites are at the beginning of a long journey to conquer the Promised Land. They’ve just witnessed a mighty display of God’s power as the Jordan River dried up before them and they were able to cross on dry ground. Behind them is the wilderness, ahead is the prize. In this moment, God assures His people that he has “rolled away” the shame and disgrace of their slavery in Egypt. No more are they bound by the chains of oppression, injustice, persecution, and fear. The Israelites have been freed and a new life awaits….a life of peace, prosperity, and faithful communion with God.

God has told the Israelites how the story ends…they will be victorious. But, as the Israelites are human, there are lots of bumps along the way as they learn to trust in God’s word. Looking out over a land that is occupied by people and defended by armies, the Israelites wonder if this is truly the best course of action. They are completely unprepared, on their own, to take this land.

The Sport of Stone-Rolling

I think if God has a sport, it has to be stone rolling. He’s an expert at moving those huge boulders out of our way so that we can continue on our path to grace. There is no stone too heavy for God to move, and I think it delights Him to do so. Where we see a roadblock, God sees an opportunity.

Joshua 5:9 is an echo of God’s ultimate victory. In this verse, God is rolling away the shame of slavery. In Luke 24, God is rolling away the finality of death.

I love this sentence. These 9 simple words encompass the entirety of the Gospel message…the entirety of God’s message throughout all of Scripture really…They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. It’s a mic-drop moment. You see, God showed once again that the victory is already won. The stone is rolled away.

The tomb is empty. God wins. Again. Always. Forever.

Honestly, this verse just makes me want to cheer. I can’t read it and not feel the kind of joy Cardinals fans felt when David Freese hit that walk-off home run nearly a decade ago. I want to jump up and down and shred someone’s jersey! That’s how strong the power of God’s sport is! We can’t help but be ridiculously and blissfully joyful when we play on God’s stone rolling team because we KNOW we ALREADY HAVE the victory!

I don’t know about you, but I NEED this reminder right now. The world seems impossible. Life as we knew it has gone (at least for awhile). There are challenges we’re facing that we never thought we’d have to face. Our plans have not just been detoured, some have been completely demolished. Roads are closed. Stones are all around. But know this…we serve a stone rolling champion! Our God rolls away stones. So, whatever circumstance you face…whatever stones have rolled across your path…understand that God has already moved them. You have the victory. So, keep walking. Keep looking forward. Keep celebrating the fact that God has already rolled the stone away.

Blessings and Peace,


Confession 441: Exhale

Today,I choose tobe happy!

In Missouri, you never know what September might bring. It’s that weird transition period between seasons; warm days gradually give way to cooler nights. This year, however, September brought a heatwave. Just as people were turning their sights and activities toward Fall, near-record highs brought sweltering, sweaty, stifling summer right back into their faces. I must admit, the heatwave made me miserable. I was cranky, snappish, tired, and unmotivated. I wanted to be outside, hiking and walking and just enjoying Fall. Instead, I was holed up inside our house which, in spite of air conditioning, was warm and humid, too. I could have gone outside. I could have gone hiking and walking. But, I chose not to because, quite frankly, I was tired of being hot.

Hot dry winds blew all day yesterday, banging our back screen door open and shut, open and shut. A cold front was pushing the winds, and overnight the cold front forced the heat south and ushered in some truly Fall-inspired temperatures. Standing outside as I waited with my boys for their school bus, I closed my eyes and turned my face to the cool breeze. And then, I exhaled.

As I stood basking in the glory of Fall, a weight seemed to lift from my spirit. Summer (fingers crossed) had gone. The Earth exhaled, and beauty and peace fell upon us.

Lately, I’ve been talking to a lot of people who are struggling to exhale. Many of us are in places in our lives where we just hold our breath. We hold our breath as we push through our overextended schedules. Get the kids to school, go to work, get the kids to an activity, go to the grocery store, get the kids to bed, go do laundry…The litany of busyness leaves no time to exhale.

Others hold their breath waiting for healing. An unexpected diagnosis leads to doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, medicine regimens, and uncertainty about the future. The pain and unknown path ahead leaves no time to exhale.

Still others hold their breath through emotional upheaval. Changing relationships, anxiety over loved ones, loss, and sometimes betrayal cause us to hold onto worry, doubt, and anger. Juggling these emotions leaves no time to exhale.

I think our nation is in a state of holding its breath, too. Healthcare costs are rising. Violence seems to be increasing. The gap between rich and poor is widening. Ineffective national leaders offer nothing but divisiveness, bringing out the worst in our human nature. We go from one national disaster to the next: fires, volcanoes, hurricanes, and floods. The constant state of chaos leaves no time to exhale.

The problem with holding our breath is that we keep all of the negativity within. We internalize the sorrow, the fear, the anger, and the frustration until it becomes our entire world. We become trapped within ourselves, within the negativity of our own emotions. We become hardened and cynical, unable to see or experience the beauty of life around us.

My friends, this is not the life God wants for us. God doesn’t want us to just hold our breaths. Rather, he wants us to exhale, for when we exhale, we push out all of the negative and leave room for his life-giving Spirit.

Today,I choose tobe happy!-2

God wants to cleanse us with his Spirit, but we can’t experience that cleansing of the soul if we’re holding our breath. We need to exhale. We need to exhale the constant need to go, go, go. We need to exhale the fear of the unknown. We need to exhale the worst case scenarios of our lives. We need to exhale our fear of failure. We need to exhale all of the hurt that’s been heaped upon us. We need to exhale our sorrow and despair. We need to exhale the anger and resentment we’ve nurtured by holding on too long. We need to exhale mistrust and cynicism. We need to exhale self-doubt and self-consciousness. We need to exhale the desire for more, more, more. We need to exhale.

We each exhale in different ways using different methods. The key to exhaling is to be mindful of the practice. Find a quiet place and still your mind. Focus on your spirit. Invite God to show you the places inside yourself where you’re holding your breath. Then, ask God to help you exhale. Some people find it helpful to utter a meditative chant. As you exhale, say “I release _____”.

After you exhale, consciously fill your lungs to mass capacity and imagine yourself breathing in the Holy Spirit. Picture God’s Spirit moving from your lungs throughout your body–into your limbs, your fingers, your toes, your head. Again, some find a meditative chant useful. As you breathe in, you might say, “I breathe in _____”.

Take some time to exhale this week. Slow down, be conscious of your breath, and make room for the Holy Spirit.

Blessings and Peace,



Confession 410: Love Goes Where Passion Cannot

Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 (CEB)

fire in jar

One of the things I loved about living in a rural community was watching the dance of life take place across the acres of fields cultivated by local farmers.  I watched, in awe, as bright green shoots pushed their way out of the seemingly lifeless dark, brown dirt.  As spring gave way to summer, it was a joy seeing the shoots grow into tall ears of corn or thick, lush soybeans that brought so much color to the landscape.  During harvest, the green turned once more to shades of brown and the land was still.  But then, out of the darkness of winter, there was light; deep oranges and yellows that would send plumes of black smoke into the sky.

It is not uncommon for farmers to burn off their fields before spring planting to get rid of the remnants of last year’s crop.  The fire not only removes the old, but it prepares the soil to receive new life.  In the process of burning new chemicals are produced in the ashes which then get folded into the fields to make the earth richer and stronger.  The burn is carefully orchestrated, monitored and controlled.  And this controlled burn leads to life.

heart on wood

In day 24 of 40 Days of Decrease, Chole asks two questions.

  1. Has passion ever led you somewhere that love would not have gone?  
  2. Has love ever led you somewhere that passion could not have gone?

I confess, I had to sit on that for a minute.  I had to think about passion and love beyond our physical relationships with others.  And when I delved deep within my being, here’s the truth that I came to.

Has passion ever led you somewhere that love would not have gone?  Absolutely.  Passion has led me to anger, to bitterness, to harsh words and vengeful actions.  Passion has led me to draft sweeping generalizations about people–to categorize others into “good” and “bad”.  Passion has led me to be mean and spiteful.

Has love ever led you somewhere that passion could not go?  Thank God for grace.  Love has led me to forgiveness.  Love has led me to hold my tongue.  Love has led me to patience, which has led me to understand others rather than to judge others.  Love has opened my eyes to things that I need to change.  Love has taught me kindness, and shown me how to be kind.

This, I think, is the difference between a controlled burn and a raging wildfire. Wildfires consume with no orchestration.  They leap up, burn tall and wreck everything in their path.  Wildfires leave behind destruction, barrenness and devastation.

Look again at Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:

Love is kind and patient,
never jealous, boastful,
    proud, or rude.
Love isn’t selfish
    or quick tempered.
It doesn’t keep a record
    of wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth,
    but not in evil.
Love is always supportive,
loyal, hopeful,
    and trusting.
Love never fails!

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 (CEV)

Notice the fruit that love produces: kindness, patience, humility, forgiveness, grace, mercy, truth, encouragement, loyalty, hope, trust and strength.

Where our passions consume, love renews.  Love, I think, is a controlled burn orchestrated by God through Christ and the Holy Spirit to make our hearts ripe and fertile fields in which life will blossom.

heart on path

Love leads us to look beyond ourselves and our own desires to engage in the world with God’s eyes, hands, feet and heart.  Love leads us to do crazy things,like:

  • quitting a corporate job to go into ministry
  • downsizing a home or car to support the work of God
  • spending vacation time and money on a mission trip
  • becoming a foster parent
  • volunteering at a local school, retirement home, hospital, animal shelter, etc…
  • coaching youth sports and activities
  • building homes and schools in both local communities and developing countries
  • teaching Sunday school

The list goes on and on…

Love leads us where passion cannot go.

This week, I would challenge each of us to consider if we are acting out of passion or love.  And then to ask the question, “Where can love lead us that passion cannot go?”

Blessings and Peace,


Note: This is an updated version of a post originally published in March 15, 2016.

Confession 339: Be the Light

 You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

Confession 278: When You Face an "Epic Fail"I hate our world.  I know, hate is a strong term, but I do.  I hate the strife and the suffering.  I hate the lack of effective leadership and problem-solving.  I hate the stupidity of our culture and our focus on consumerism.  I hardly ever watch the news because it just makes me angry and sad.  Why are people so hurtful?  Why are our leaders so incompetent?    Why do we, as a society, ignore the really pressing issues of poverty, injustice, and violence?  Why are we more passionate about football than starving children?

I know what you’re thinking–this woman should be medicated.  I have my “happy pills”…it’s okay.  I just get fed up with us, as a people.  And sometimes, if I’m being really honest, I get a little fed up with God, too.  I go to him indignant– full hands-on-hip-mom-voice-mode–

Where are you?  What are you doing about this?  Why are you letting this happen?  Can’t you just hurry back and fix this?  Where’s your light, anyway?

And there it is…that still, small voice inside of me that, when I quit ranting and raving, is patiently waiting to respond…

You have my light, the Spirit speaks.  Where are you carrying it?

Pop–righteous indignation immediately deflated.

It’s on me.  Well, not all of it.  It’s on you, too, if you profess to following Christ.  Because Christ was the lighcandle 10t, and he gave us his light, which is God’s light, and he told us–the Jesus people–to share that light with others.  In Matthew 5: 14-16 Jesus is telling the people listening to him to go–to do something–to show God’s light to others.  Do good works and others will see God’s light.

I like the way Paul puts it in Ephesians 2: We are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things.  God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.

The truth is, God could fix all of the world’s problems in the blink of an eye.  But that’s not the point, is it?  The point is that God called us, his children, to share the light.  We are to live our lives in a way that reflects and magnifies the light of Christ by loving others and serving others.  I may hate the world, but that is precisely where God has called me (and you) to be.

Do you want to see God working in the world?  Then you’d better get moving.

Blessings and Peace,