The Truth Never Lies

I have a very low tolerance for deception. My best friend coined a phrase that best describes a gift God has developed in me that most people refer to as discernment. She calls it my B.S. Radar. That more accurately hits it for me. It's not that I can catch people in a lie or that I'd be a good detective or anything. I am pretty observant but mostly because I have self-diagnosed A.D.D. Stuff doesn't get by me because it calls me away from what I'm focused on. Distractions are a subtle form of deception, by the way. But spiritual discernment is something deeper. It senses the motives of others.

I used to be very naive about people's intentions. My tendency was to excuse behavior and give people the benefit of any doubt I happened to have. I suppose my philosophy was that people were generally good. I didn't know much about people, obviously. The hard way found me. Time after time I was betrayed and used by the selfish. Even after they were done with me I'd patch up my own wounds and convince myself they were just troubled and broken and the damage caused was mostly my own doing. Then I'd open up to the next opportunist and drink in the lies despite my experience. Casting all cares aside I would take chance after chance with my heart, believing that someone someday would be good enough to save me from the destruction.

No one was. They kept coming, one after another with false promises and selfish ambition. I tried to be like them but my love for the truth wouldn't let me. Plus, I'm just not good enough at thinking several steps ahead like them. I was desperate to be loved and known so I swallowed lies whole like a gambler who believes the jackpot is meant for him. If I just kept spending someday it would all pay off. It never has. Not until I realized where my devotions were meant to lie.

There is someone who deserves my devotion, my heart, and my life. He has watched me ping pong from broken heart to bad choice to burn out time and time again. It took a lot to get me to release my desires for the things I longed to have: acceptance, approval, love.

Thankfully my stubbornness is only rivaled by my insatiable hunger for answers. I could care less about what you've done compared to knowing why you've done it. This is the gift, the radar that has over the years been honed by God Himself. It is something that is a characteristic of God and it can only come from God. He desires authenticity and purity. Anyone can go through motions and persevere out of love for themselves. But only people called by God can love Him in spirit and in truth. Only God can grant the light that illuminates our deepest purposes of heart. Of ourselves we are hopeless worshippers of lesser things. We must serve something or someone. But the only worthy target of our worship is God. So all the answers and found in Him.

I often find myself asking my kids (even my toddler), "Why did you do that?!" I know full well that they were being selfish, thoughtless, immature children. But I want the root motivation to be sought out. There's something deep down I can help them with that is manifesting itself in bad choices. I'm their mom, so there's a chance for me to illuminate that part of them and focus my love there. With adults I don't have that privilege. Stuff has been in the dark for decades and by the time I come along and ask, "Why did you do that?!" they've got a list of deceptions a mile long, some are from their upbringing and some are from how they coped with their upbringing.

I know now that the devil is the father of lies and when he speaks lies he's speaking his native language. As is to be expected by humans, we also speak this language fluently. It comes naturally to us because, naturally, we obeyed the devil in Adam and Eve. Truth is harder for us to understand, no... it's impossible. Without God we are doomed to die in this deception. So I have an aversion to lies now. God's life within me repels them. If it even smells like a lie, I spiritually gag. If the liar doesn't even know they're being deceived, themselves (which is often the case), I ask for God's mercy on them. May He shine His light slowly into their dark corners as He did mine. But I don't buy their words.

The only way I've developed this ability is by saturating myself in Truth. I have very little tolerance for the things of this lying world. The devil is crafty in the traps he sets for people. We are greatly outmatched. But when I seek refuge in God, my Rock, He lifts me up so I can see through all the lies. There's no safer, more real place, than in His arms.


Destroying More Idols

For the past few weeks I've been mourning. It feels wrong to even call it that since I've never been close enough to death to mourn a loved one who is gone from this life. But this mourning and grieving is different. I didn't even know it was happening until I finally got the memo from Heaven. He has revealed to me this death of what I thought was a fundamental part of myself.

The part of myself that is dying is something I use every day. It the something that plans my to-do lists and daily human stuff. It's the preparation and organization part of my imagination. God wants it sanctified and made into His. It's really a hard thing to let go of. It's kind of funny to me because mine has never been all that useful for getting stuff done. It's riddled with lies and misconceptions. It's a very weak part of my soul even though I attempted to use it often. As can be expected, I'm not very organized.

When God told me to homeschool it wasn't until this year that I realized that He alone would be the one to do it. I have felt my shortcomings in that department for about three years now. I even put my oldest in first grade because of those feelings. But He paved the way for me to homeschool and has stood by me the whole two months so far! I continue to play tug of war with Him for my imagination, however. Or it's just a stubborn root of my fallen identity that takes a lot of digging to pull out.

Lately I've forgotten so much practical stuff. But God has been reminding me of what matters. If I am obedient and faithful and I act accordingly then things work out wonderfully for God's glory. If I am hesitant and doubtful and I fail to act, a disquiet enters my soul and I am lost in a mental fog or a strange spiritual darkness. Sometimes it's obedient to wait for confirmation. Other times it's rebellion to fail at listening. There's no formula for when to act on faith or when to wait. There is a Person who calls us forward or says to wait on Him.  Know His voice and you'll know His commands.

I've often been the daughter rushing forward trying desperately to please her Father only to find myself knee-deep in failure with consequences going on for miles. That was me for so long. I was never afraid to make a commitment or to start a new quest! My name should have been Sally Forth!  Back in the day, that meant to rush forward in battle. Bravery or stupidity is hard to call out sometimes in some people. But I've been given three kids to care for now and I've learned to be conservative with life-altering decisions. It really wasn't until I was a mother that I mellowed out.

I crave change, variety, and adventure. Boredom is truly a discipline for me. Waiting doesn't put me in danger of stagnating because I tend to stir stuff up while I wait. My problem is finding a place. That's obvious if you look at my clutter piles. I have many containers in my house that hold all the wrong stuff. There is a disconnect between a place for everything and everything in it's place. My obsession with freedom wars with my need for consistency. How does that work? Well, we go with the flow until the banks get tangled with distraction and junk. Soon the proverbial river is so polluted and overgrown that it makes it impossible to move forward with anything.

This must be where God is working. And here I am writing a blog, trying to understand it. I want to document it so I can see it. I want to pull it out so I can fathom it. But this abiding and accepting of God's hand working in my heart is so much grief! I'm watching Him pull out things that I thought were part of who I am. But they are dead already. They were part of my old ways. Well, couldn't I keep them as trinkets, Lord? No. They are dangerous because they were idols. I relied on them, deferred to them, and owned them as part of my identity. They need to be burned up in the all-consuming fire. I am a new creation now. But I'm in a chrysalis or seed pod or pick your favorite metaphorical incubator. As my hull shrivels and peels back, it gives way to a completely new life. The old is passing away.

So I'm mourning the old. The ripping and tearing apart of my soul so that my mingled spirit can take it's perfect place within me is a violent and yet beautiful thing. Jesus didn't take classes on how to walk upon the waters. He wasn't privy to certain information about the future so I doubt He knew about the miracles beforehand. His trust was perfect. God said "jump" and Jesus didn't ask any questions like, "how high?" He obeyed perfectly. It takes a whole lot of death for us to get to that perfection. And that death makes way for Life.


Joy: Five Minute Friday

My first ever Five Minute Friday!

My youngest daughter's middle name is Joy and it couldn't be more appropriate. Her first name is that of a prophet in the bible, so the fact that Joy is her middle name balances out the seriousness of her first.

She is my little rascal. I can make her giggle just by looking at her sideways when she's whining. She's always waiting for me to make her laugh or feel better when she's sad. Laughter is right on the tip of her heart all the time.

Since I've grown closer to the Lord Jesus I realize that laughter is always right around the corner. Rest and trust go hand in hand with laughter and joy. It's a comfortable, secure child that can be changed from tears to giggles so quickly.

God has taught me to be flexible and to roll with it, laugh at it, and then move on to the bigger picture. His picture. I cleaned up barf today probably six times. Just when I thought the cleaning was done and the virus past, she let loose everything since lunchtime all over her bed.

Joy came when my son looked at my face and said, "Sorry Mom, that you did all that work and now you have to start over again." What five-year-old says the exact right thing at just the right moment? When God is here, He provides joy. Supernaturally and unexpectedly. That's the best kind.


Discovering Rest

"Do what you can with what you have," was a friend's advice from several years ago when I was living in North Hollywood and pursuing a film-editing career. It's from a quote by a famous American president. When she counseled me with those words I was buried under overwhelming distraction and defeat. Later I discovered that I'd never had it in me to work in the film industry. I ended up retreating back to familiar territory where I could regroup and start again. It was a pattern for me, that starting over. It wasn't long before each dream pursued became a lesson in accepting failure like a big girl. There comes a time when you just gotta call it. Call it what it is and turn in your badge. That's how I felt, until I had children.

I couldn't care how my actions affected the people around me before I had kids. Everyone who was surprised or misled by my choices were adults and would have to just learn to deal with my unpredictability. I had come face to face time and again with the brick walls of self-doubt and crippling emotional roadblocks so that in order to survive I had to relocate. I'd make plans and begin my journey of taking risks and giving it everything I had. It cost me so much, but I gained so much wisdom through each experience. For some reason I could never get past a certain point to find success.

Then I stumbled into parenthood with my eyes wide open and heart bursting with hope. Almost eight years and three children later I still hold onto the dream of loving and protecting these young humans with everything I have to offer. Only this time I'm not holding them by the threads of fragile self-sufficiency or even my own ingenuity. I have a fresh new place of confidence and bravery. I've finally embraced my weakness and become intimate with my inadequacy. Instead of denying my foolish tendencies and reasoning away my sloppy track record, I've owned them. Gone are the days when I talked myself into risky decisions in the name of success. I have a new dream that holds every other dream I've ever had.

Rest. Stillness. How is that even possible in this culture? The fast-paced life of L.A. and the entertainment machine calls out for dreamers like me. It was dizzying and disorienting how fast and hard everything was there. People could rarely be trusted to be real, ambitions reigned, and relationships were disposable. If you couldn't keep up then you'd be trampled under. I escaped with my life. But it wasn't until about ten years later that I'd find peace.

God knew that children would mellow me out. Not because they are boring, no way! But because they slow us down if we let them. I keep asking the Lord if I should jump back into the fray and do something other than just parent. But I have a feeling that I won't be permitted to do anything but be with the kids until I learn to be as the kids. Rest. Stillness. Like a little child who has no choice but to trust, I must let go. Flop into the arms of my Heavenly Father.

What do I have? If I am to do what I can with it, I should know what it is. I have proof of God's hand in my life. I have His provision for all that I need. I have protection from anything that would prevent me from growing closer to Him. I have purpose as I live His plan for me. What can I do with all that? It sounds pretty cozy to me. It seems as though I have a very sweet place to get some rest. Lord knows I need it.


Entertaining Traps

I often wonder what is going on in the minds of my children. Sometimes I'll be in the depths of personal spiritual discovery and they'll suddenly yank me to the surface with comments like, "Mom? When I get older I'm going to use the science you'll teach me to make Pokémon creatures come to life." While I'm an advocate of keeping kids sheltered from the really difficult truths of this existence, I want so much more for them than Pokémon. So I explain that while they can't bring cartoons to life, they can create their own cartoon art. They can also make it a life's goal to find a pet that reminds them of Pikachu (without lightning powers, of course), and take excellent care of it. But they may not ever pay money to see small animals duke it out... in a ring... underground or anywhere. That's just wrong, but Pokémon reminds me of that a little.

This is the consumer's time of year; the harvest. We are getting our guts ready for the gorge. Money is being stored now because we have modern ways of eating and storing food through the winter. We have places to house funds for Thanksgiving dinner and Black Friday sales. Excess is approaching, and so is the emptiness that follows. The stomach-stretching makes you feel hungrier in the morning, have you noticed that? When all the leftover turkey has been eaten and the lights taken down, we ring in the new year and promise to be less gluttonous. We once again bought the dud that gift-giving and gift-receiving and a family dinner were all satisfying enough to rationalize over-indulgence. A couple of antacids later, we still don't feel full. The body has been pacified for while, but the appetite has just gone up a level. New Year's Day proves that we are no match for our own urges. We vow to start again, but even if we manage to survive another year, one day death will win this body as it's prize. The only thing it had to do was wait. Death will have our bodies, I try to never forget that.

Traditions, entertainment, and indulgences all feel good to this mortal body. They pacify unmet needs in a way that's predictable, pleasurable, and convenient. When we were babies we were clay crying out to be shaped and hungers crying out to be fed. We made such a racket that the larger people around us needed to respond in some way, in any way... just make it stop! If our needs were met we moved on to the next stage of emotional development. If our needs were not met, we learned to cope in other ways but we can't develop or grow if we're not nourished. The ways we learn to cope are largely based on the parents we had. Did they follow the patterns of generations of tradition? Did they entertain us into distraction from our needs? Did they treat the need like a power struggle and bow to it as an idol or overthrow it as an enemy? The ways we coped as children are the ways we want to cope now. The pathways in our brain are deeply carved from infancy. It takes a miracle to avoid engrained tendencies even as our bodies and minds grow. It takes a God-ordained turn of events that work gently and consistently to fill in the old ruts and begin choosing a new path instead.

Maybe all of this is why it breaks my heart to know that my kids' minds are on cartoons when they are idling. Somewhere a need wasn't fulfilled. I am definitely guilty of using entertainment to distract them from whatever it was they needed. There's nothing inherently wrong with being entertained; we are made to enjoy the creativity of others. But maybe it's the isolated culture we live in that needs to use an electronic babysitter in order to maintain the habitat. Seriously, it takes a village and I have only reluctant neighbors and overburdened mom-friends to call on. If cartoons have become my help, I must be desperate! I never meant to create an insatiable monster, but... it's alive! My kids honestly believe that if they aren't entertained constantly then it is the end of the world. We are all like spoiled royalty, clapping our hands for more dancing girls and jesters to enter the court, lest we die! And all mommy needed was a chance to make dinner or do dishes, or sweep, or you name it. First colorful and musical toys babysat, now iPads and Netflix babysit. God help them, they might think being entertained is all there is to do on planet Earth!

If life was only eat, drink, and be entertained because tomorrow we die, it wouldn't bother me so much. As wonderful as these bodies are, they are just instruments. They are environments in which we can become who we are, but they are NOT us. What if we really needed something for our spirit? Let's bypass the body and the soul and go straight to the spirit. Would we even know how to recognize our spiritual need?

The human spiritual need is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, no where else. Every other so-called "spirituality" applies to the soul only. The human spirit is lifeless and dormant without the Spirit of God residing with it. The more obsessed we become with entertaining the body, the more it becomes all we consist of. If it takes detoxing ourselves from entertainment to fulfill the needs of our spirit, let's do that. If it takes a drastic lifestyle change to detox the kids from screen time, let's do that. Maybe if we tell the body to shut up about it's engrained habits for a while, we'll be able to hear the cry of our spirit for Life.


He Lets me Know

Normally I like to know what's going on. When I enter an unfamiliar situation or one is thrust upon me, I prefer to gather quick information to make the right decision. But when I'm walking in the Spirit it's different. I need less information and there is less pressure to choose wisely. When it's just me I get overwhelmed by all the variables. My imagination starts creating apparent possibilities and once that train begins chugging, it's very hard to make it stop.

Without abiding in Christ, I pine and worry about the possible affect my actions will have on others. That might seem like a healthy and compassionate quality. It is, so thoughtful. But I know now that we never truly know what impact our actions have on others, even if we think it's good. We have an intention and an expectation but we really don't know where each person is or what associations they will relate to your "good" actions. We have no idea the significance of our choices and how one tiny variation in timing or content can alter the course of a whole life. There are some great movies that illustrate this phenomenon (Sliding Doors, Run Lola Run, Groundhog Day, etc).

A person can go absolutely catatonic trying to protect themselves or others from so many calculated possibilities. The self-consciousness of that level of worry is enough to paralyze anyone in front of the proverbial mirror. I'm sure a lot of mental illness starts with a heightened awareness of those kind of hard truths, or a desperate denial of them. Like, for example, we really don't have control over much. Most "sane" people can function because they ignore that fact. They believe we can participate in life of our own power, self-sustaining and need-fulfilling. But they breathe air, too. They didn't create that air or build the brain that lets us breathe it during sleep.

The practice of letting go of my misconceptions has taken me years to learn how to do. Gut-reaction, instinct, and long-engrained habits would have me thinking thoughts and making choices out of the limited resource of my finite existence. Releasing my death-grip on this illusion has led to more freedom for me. Now the possibilities are as endless as an infinite God! His perspective is inconceivably higher than mine. From His vantage point He can see everyone and everything in any given time. He already knows what my choices will do or not do to the world around me.

Sometimes I don't understand His guidance... and that understandable! But just knowing, humbly, that I am weak, ignorant, and powerless compared to Him allows me to be available. This humility was His gift to me as well, so I won't take credit. By His grace I didn't get very far without Him. Frustrated at every turn is more like it! If I ever doubt that, all He has to suggest is, "Remember when you made a similar choice without Me? Are you now ready to trust?" Oh yeah, duh, thanks Lord.

It gets easier every time I come to Him. He lets me know when I need to stop the direction I'm headed and consult His Spirit within me. It's subtle and unimposing, but it has the power of eighteen years of personal experience behind it. Eighteen years ago I admitted my need for Jesus. It came from a desperate terror of the future and of the impending death of my body. I pray everyone can have that kind of sobering revelation that leads them into His waiting arms. Now He tells me everything I need to know and nothing more. The rest of life is filled with wonders, joys, challenges, and supernatural sightings of His unavoidable influence on this world.


Notice the Masks

God's creation is being scorched by the hot summer sun where I live. Grass that was once soft and emerald green is now tan, dry and pokes my kids' bare feet. Heat is evaporating the water faster than it can be replenished. We're expecting another heatwave this week. I've gotten used to sweating again but I know I'll get used to bundling up when the chilled winds come.

These bodies adapt to the seasons slowly but soon they stop noticing the layer of discomfort that is present in the hottest parts of summer and the coldest times of winter. We adapt to this stuff here on earth. The nightly news sprays images and words of the most detestable sins across our screens and we grow tired of all the negativity. But it doesn't shock us anymore. We are used to hearing about it.

I heard a sermon today about Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) and I truly never thought I'd hear that sermon. It was refreshing to hear the brave and experienced speaker unpack that portion of scripture to us. God used that unfortunate married couple as an example of what He hates. In Proverbs 6:16 it gives the list of what God hates. It isn't greed or lack of generosity, although the selfish couple was guilty of that, too. It's a lying tongue and a false witness, among other things. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to look dedicated and trusting without actually paying the same price as the truly dedicated and trusting of the lot. They held back a portion of their earnings when they sold their land (of their own volition and initiative; doing that was not a requirement of the early church, but supposed to be a result of faith) and yet wanted the same trust and appreciation as the ones who truly gave it all.

Hypocrites. The pastor went on to speak about authenticity and it's value among believers who gather.  Actors don't really experience the stuff in the movies. They are interacting with CGI, head back to their trailer for a massage, and get to do several takes before they get it just right. This isn't the real, dirty truth. They take off their "mask" and go back to their lives where they live out their own part of the story. Don't buy the lie, right? It's only entertainment.

Faith and trust can be just for show, also. Any virtue can be performed for a little while. But when the cameras are off and the audience has gone home, the actors have to face themselves again. They have to face the fact that they aren't the character they portrayed. No amount of money, admiration, or power can make them all that special effects or a masterful script let them pretend to be for a while. Some want the illusion so badly that they start to believe they are actually owed the same recognition as the people they portrayed. Marvelous performance! It's almost like you became that person. Method acting at it's finest.

God knows the truth and He is Light. Everything will be revealed and all the masks will come off. We cannot steal another person's story and make it our own, we must pay the cost they paid. We can try to leach off of another's person's virtue by imitating them and emulating their goodness but it doesn't take. The devil tries to imitate a holy God all the time.

And we humans most definitely can't act like Jesus, the perfect and sinless Jesus! He has to do it from within us. We must sell all that we are back to Him and give what we get for it to each other. Then we will know complete dependence and satisfaction in a holy God. You can't fake that for long.

Everything is so cheap nowadays. Knock-offs and scams and dollar store toys. It all falls apart the minute you trust it. But we've grown accustomed to it as the way things are. We just don't trust anyone, then. The only person we trust is ourselves. That's what got us into this mess to begin with. Trust takes bravery and courage. God help us be brave enough to trust You with everything we have.


Becoming Meek

Don't resist an evil person. (Matthew 5:29) This scripture hasn't made sense to me for so long. Coupled with Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7), it can be even more confusing! Mostly it irritates my personality because I'm an extrovert and I want to loudly stand on my soapbox for what is right. But why did Jesus say not to resist an evil person?

The important difference is the word "person". We can resist the devil without resisting the person the devil is using. Mankind can come after us and strip us of dignity, comfort, and even our bodies. But the devil cannot take our lives because they are hidden in Christ.

I've been baited by evil people. There was a time when I took the bait, hook, line, and sinker. I'd fall prey to the devil's plan to break me down and destroy my faith in God. I was giving in to the devil's schemes by resisting the people he used against me. It caused raging fights that burned and created painful scars on our hearts. I just wanted the anger and confusion to stop! So I'd go to war against the person in front of me. Little did I know that in fighting against them in this way, I was taking the bait of Satan. One can almost feel his sick happiness when people are at war against each other. But we are still unable to resist him alone.

It takes invincible strength to resist the devil. Jesus had a couple of His most challenging earthly moments when the devil was tempting Him. If ever the Lord was physically vulnerable it was after not eating for over a month. And yet this same powerful Lord submitted to crucifixion on a cross at the hands of mankind. By not resisting them, His perfect plan was played out. He subtly and quietly won the war. The enemy was defeated by Jesus's dying breath.

Meekness and gentleness. They respond to an approaching army by kneeling down and praying. Meekness looks anger in the face and answers with loving silence. Gentleness waits patiently for her rescuer because the damsel in distress knows she is no match for the dragon. We are lowly in heart when we recognize our need for a savior and we submit to His protection first.

So how can we resist the devil and not resist the evil person at the same time? We do both things by doing one thing: believing in Jesus. We believe that He is strong enough to fight the angelic forces for us and we believe that against mankind He protects what matters most about us: our eternal selves. If by submitting to the evil person we find our bodies tortured and maimed, we can still consider ourselves victorious in Christ. Because the evil person can't torture us into submitting to the devil. God's Holy Spirit dwells within us and He is in control. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. (Job 13:15)

I no longer fear what man can do to the body (Matthew 10:28). If I am going to fear anyone it will be He who can throw my body and soul into Hell. By His grace He tells me, "Fear not" and all that's left is the perfect balance of trusting Jesus Christ.


Don't Eat the Stew

Movies about the end of the world.
Media manslaughter of the sick and famous.
When opinion is considered more precious than conscience.
Imaginations that protect mankind's illusion from the reality of the true God's existence.
The attempt to scrub off God's fingerprint by equating our value to that of mere animals.
Super Models and Super Heroes. The worship of genetic anomalies.
Sweetly putrid longing for physical gratification.
Obeying the basest instincts on the basis that we're merely instinctual.
Trading our eternal inheritance for earthly satisfaction.

The world is selling mankind a bowl of stew in exchange for their life. People are so dissatisfied with every day that they feel starved. We cry out in hunger, wishing to be filled with all that's dangled in front of us. The smell of instant gratification comes wafting out. Humanity says, "I am about to die, what good is a spiritual inheritance to me now?" Don't eat the stew. But we do anyway.

Soundtracks swell and people's faces sell the emotions we should be feeling.
It's not discomfort at the devaluing of humanity you feel, it's comedy! Laugh it up!
It's only entertainment... until it takes up residence in your mind and you can't evict it.
In silence it multiplies like gremlins, especially when we attempt to sleep.
Alone, knowing we're not alone, but deceiving ourselves further into believing we're alone.
Until we can't escape the isolation. So we bow in surrender to it.
The fear becomes the god. Anything that distracts from that fear becomes love.
Distraction upon distraction, we don't know how we got here.
At some point we can't help ourselves. Somebody needs to pull us out... Help?
But nobody cares because they are too busy distracting themselves from the evil demigod of fear.
Too bad.

But a whimper, a muffled cry, even the tiniest croak of desperation is heard.
We can't help ourselves, we don't know the way.
The Way finds us.
He lifts our eyes to look into His and what we see...
is too much to bear.
We run.
He follows. His pace is steady and patient. Knowing.
As we run we think, what was that we saw or felt or heard?
It smelled like satisfaction but it tasted like the death of something. Of everything I've known.
We can't get the taste off our tongue.
It's like a hope that hurts.

He meets us over and over again. It's as if we never left.
He teaches us to breathe His breath.
He feeds us Himself and gives us the living water until we have the strength to stand.
His gentle ways are so unlike this pushy, manipulative con of a world.
We find out that we've taken all these humans way too seriously.
As if they had the answer to my hunger in their deceptive bowl of stew.
All I need now is His Bread and Water.


Works Without Faith are Dead

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26

I've heard the "faith without works is dead" speech so many times that I forgot completely about the first half of the verse. The part that says, "For as the body without the spirit is dead..." A body is a conduit of a person's spirit. Our spirits would have no expression in this world if it weren't for our bodies. Once our bodies die, our spirit has it's only manifestation in eternity. We are no longer represented here in the timeline of earth. How is workless faith like a dead body? It is inconsequential to this world. Like the person that once inhabited the dead body, workless faith may exist in some eternal realm like some heavenly inside joke between you and Jesus, but it isn't doing any earthly good. Even the tiniest bit of trust in the Lord as God represented in you can cause a monumental display like a mountain moving, if only that faith worked here in this realm.

Not every one who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but he who does the will of My Father who is in the heavens.    Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, was it not in Your name that we prophesied, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name did many works of power?    And then I will declare to them: I never knew you. Depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness. Matthew 7:21-23

How can Jesus say that they were lawless when they were doing powerful things in His name? Well, because to themselves they were working for Jesus but they'd never actually been "hired" by Him. They professed to represent Him but they never got His approval to do what they were doing. It's the same as a person putting on a t-shirt that says "Whole Foods" who is passing out Mcdonalds hamburgers to hungry people and expects to be awarded by the Whole Foods CEO. Maybe what they did wasn't as harmful as what Mcdonalds could do to a vegan's G.I. tract and so God made good come of it. When these imposters saw the good that God did in spite of their infiltration of His name, they pridefully credited it to themselves. Hence their surprise at not being tight with Jesus when they see Him in person. 

Did Jesus command those people to do those works? Were their works done as a result of faith? 

What of faithless works? Those are the Mcdonalds peddlers with their fancy shirts feeding hungry mouths with junk food and telling them it's organic veggies. I did so many stupid things in the name of Jesus back in the day. By His grace it mostly effected my own life and those very close to me. Big, life-altering decisions though, nonetheless. I even got married a couple of times in the name of Jesus! I spent way too much money in the name of Jesus. All that stuff I did for a King and Country that had never asked me to. If I'd been listening to the Lord back then I would have calmed down and stayed put! Instead I crusaded after my own desires and scrawled Jesus' name on them with my own handwriting. Those things I did were dead works. The wood, hay and stubble that God will mercifully burn off my record when I enter His presence. 

Dead works are works that mean nothing. They do not profit us and cannot be accredited any eternal value at all. When we stand before our Creator and answer for all the works we've done, we can't point to those things and get even the tiniest eyebrow lifted on the Father's face. Inconsequential and pointless; they are futile works. Vain and meaningless works. It's as though we are on a treadmill and expect to arrive somewhere a mile away when we are finished with our jog. Were we surprised when we got off the thing and we hadn't moved an inch? All that WORK for nothing? Dead works.

Will faith in Jesus Christ lead us to do good deeds? There's no doubt about it! But first thing's first. Let's check in with the Master and see what He has for us. Maybe He'll say your first assignment is to lay down and get well. Heal from the sin that had me bound? Lay here and get to know You? "But I'm not sick, Lord! I can work! Lemme at 'em!" Oh yes, and He'll let you do your thing for a while. If He chooses to show you mercy, He'll even let you fall on your face in front of everyone and get divorced a couple times maybe. He'll even give you a big hug and kiss when you come slogging home in your pig-mucked tatters having spent everything He gave you. After you see what a hopeless case you are without Him you may decide to receive some faith. 

Faith comes by hearing Jesus, by trusting Jesus, by resting in Jesus, and by doing it over and over again. We believe or we don't. If we do stuff for Him before we believe Him, it's not going to bring His Life to us. Those works will end in the death of our purpose, the death of our calling and the death of our relationship with our Lord. People go on working for a Person they've never even heard from and expect Him to just be happy with the amazing things they've done. But it's only God's good work if it comes from Him through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son. If it has it's source, strength, and sustenance in Christ alone, then it is a faith-filled work.

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalms 32:8


Not Nobody

Magazines always call out to me in the checkout line. The latest celebrity drama is blown out of proportion and photographs are tailored and taken out of context to add more intrigue. I look at the new headlines and snapshots of people I've never met. Then I look around at the store, full of sweaty summer people buying things for the Fourth of July weekend. You would never see us on those magazine covers. But our lives are just as interesting to the unseen realm. Forces of darkness even take an interest in us. But I've noticed lately that those who are invisible to the world's eyes can show up brightly on Heaven's radar.

Faith is the name of Heaven's magazine and there are images of people who are sold out and surrendered to Jesus. The faithful humans' reckless abandon to a God they can't see must cause a great commotion in a place where they have the answers to our existential questions. Like a kid holding the answer card while another kid tries so hard to win a point for the team. The heavenly host must be on the edge of their seats as we discover the mysterious truths of eternity that are so obvious to them. What will this simple creation do next?

What's making headlines in God's checkout line? Maybe we'd read stuff like this: "Little girl believes in Christ even after enduring years of abuse by the enemy" or "After eighty years of walking in Christ, man finally receives his miracle" or perhaps, "College kid resists temptation and seeks Jesus against crippling opposition"...

But we are tempted to buy the illusion that we are "nobodies". [Insert name of any famous guy], now he's the one people want to see, not me! If we aren't on a magazine cover or recognized by media in some way then we are nobodies. That is a huge lie. We are so deeply known. There is nothing hidden and nothing is private. From the atoms of our organs to the thoughts we entertain, we are known through and through. That's how God knows us. Also, we can hide very little from our unseen enemy.

We think behind our screens that we are in a place where no one is watching. Our curtains are shut and our lights are off. The night has shrouded the world in darkness. We are protected by our freedoms in this great country. No one can touch us without our permission. Monitoring technology and a tax-paid police force watch over us as we sleep. Somehow we think we are alone then. Alone with our thoughts, they say.

Celebrities know what it's like to be flashed in the pupils with a paparazzi invasion. They may know better than us that we are never alone. Somebody always has a camera, ready to capture a moment of their valuable face. Surely if they step out of line even a little their career could be muddied and their PR may be put to the test. So much at stake for those celebrities.

But what about for us? Heaven watches. Does that make you uncomfortable? In the shower, Heaven watches. Don't forget that we were naked in the Garden once and unashamed. Just because we wear clothes now doesn't mean our souls aren't laid bare before our Creator.

What headlines do we read in the bible? People whose lives were a picture of Christ and whose faith was a gift that echoes through eternity. Why do we mess around with this fascination that celebrities are the lucky ones? They get all the money and fame and recognition of this world. Shouldn't we be afraid for them? How devastating to think that they, themselves, believe this lie that they are more significant. My prayer is that they will feel the emptiness of riches and not let it destroy them, and that they will question themselves. I hope I never find myself jealous of people who are widely adored by this world, but that I'll always long to be someone who makes God smile. Nothing could be more famous than being seen by God.


We Cannot Judge and Love

Today the United States made gay marriage legal. A judge in the Supreme Court held the deciding vote. People celebrated. Other people mourned. It's a day that I don't want to label myself a "Christian". My love for Jesus still grows and my transformation by His Spirit still continues. I actually walk in the Spirit more than I ever have. But the word "Christian" makes me shake my head today. I hate being associated with a self-righteous people who believe our country was ever a haven of salvation. They weep and mourn over the changing laws of the land. Don't they see that God has allowed this? We are to obey those in authority and live in peace with all men. Will we now become criminals to salvage our precious American ideals? Will we now raise our own personal gavel and bring it down to our own destruction?

God is the only Being that can judge and love at the same time. As humans we make assessments, draw conclusions, and finally decide how to respond to each person we meet. As soon as this discernment becomes a judgment we run into major trouble.

The word "judge" comes from this origin, according to Google: from Latin judexjudic-, from jus ‘law’ + dicere ‘to say.’ That would lead me to conclude that a judge decides what is right and wrong and makes the laws of the land accordingly. It's very risky business deciding for ourselves what is right and wrong. As I recall, there was a tree that gave this power to us once.

Adam and Eve's eyes were opened and they saw... themselves and each other. Suddenly they felt the urge to cover themselves, ashamed. Were they also feeling vulnerable or maybe a little disappointed? Did Adam look at Eve and say, "I judge you to be... not right. You should cover up." or perhaps Eve looked at Adam and said, "I judge you to be... wrong. You should cover yourself." Of course, we are our worst critic. Maybe they decided they didn't like the look of themselves. Or were they simply just terrified of God? Maybe they were scared He would see the truth about them; that which He already knew.

God came walking through the garden in the cool of the day. He was longing for His creation; looking for them. With His love He came and judged. He pronounced His righteous sentence and told of the way He would rescue them from it. That is the way Righteousness judges and loves at the same time. We do not have that ability, even as regenerate believers. Only God the Father can judge.

James 4:12 says, "There is only one lawgiver and judge, He who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?" Yes, who are we? Standing with our fig leaves drooping, one hand holding it up and the other pointing at another sinner's brokenness and condemning them in our hearts.

No one is asking Christians to be gay. No one is asking them to deny their Lord. Yes, brokenness is everywhere. I'm sad for couples of all kinds that suffer from sins of all kinds. What some people call "marriage" another person calls an abomination. Who cares what other people do? If your plank is bothering you, pull it out!

Which tree are you eating from today? Will you taste and see that the Lord is good and eat from the Tree of Life which is Jesus Christ? Or will you take up the bitter fruit of your fallen nature and judge for yourself what is right and wrong? My prayer is that you let God do the judging. He along knows all things, including every gay person's heart. Live at peace among all men and women. PEACE. For God's sake and your own. Hebrews 12:14 (and several other passages say similar things)  Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

I'd rather eat with "sinners" than be counted among the self-righteous. Choose peace and leave the judging up to God.


I Love My Job

Lately I've had many reasons to assess my current position here at work. Is this career choice a good one for me? Do I excel at what I do? Is my work ethic applied daily? Is there a healthy amount of accountability and team support? What about the benefits package? When all is told, am I investing my time wisely and contributing to the greater good? There are so many things to consider.

I started here at this job over seven years ago. The job I had before this was relatively easy; a customer service job with predictable hours. All of my other jobs had predictable hours, actually. This one is on-call 24/7 but my scheduled hours are 6:30am-8:30pm, seven days a week. With almost a hundred scheduled hours a week and my "off" hours being on-call, I'd say this is the most I've ever worked in my life.

I have three "bosses". Sometimes they disagree on the best use of my time, especially the two older ones. The youngest one is the most demanding, but that's to be expected since she's new to the game and she has to make her presence known. None of them really know what they are doing. Luckily they can't fire me since their Boss is the one that hired me to begin with. But they sure do try to push me around! And my job is not to obey them but to meet their needs, even if they don't realize what those needs are.

The Big Boss hired me after minimal experience. He said He would give me on-the-job training and that He believed in my potential. I capitalize His pronoun because He's God. Believe it or not, God pays well. He meets all of my needs and challenges me daily. When He told me that I'd be working for children I laughed out loud! It was a hard adjustment in my thinking to stop working for myself or for money. I always thought we worked for a paycheck and then spent the money on our dreams. It's the American Way, right? God's economy is very different.

My paychecks come daily. But I get them while I work. All I have to do is walk correctly and I get a bigger paycheck every day. Instead of money, the payment is fruit. I get paid in order to produce more fruit. My work is to allow fruit to grow on me and my little "bosses" collect the harvest.

The most important part of my job is rest. Not the kind of rest that kicks up her feet and rests her eyelids (although, I need that sometimes, Lord knows). But the kind of rest that trusts and moves fluidly under the movements of something Bigger. It's like a dolphin swimming in the wake of a boat or a caterpillar that lets itself become a chrysalis upon a twig. They comfortably engage in their purpose and trust the supporting movements of what holds them. When I rest like that, that's when He pays me the big bucks.

I can say confidently that I love my job because my job is love. I'm a mom. This is the best way I can ever invest the time I've been given.


The Tar Baby of the Rogue Thought

For almost six years I haven't seen a rated R movie. The last one I attempted was the most recent Rambo. I did it to try and bond with my husband all those years ago. I'll never forget the scene where a village was attacked by a raiding army of ruthless killers. I couldn't hide my horror or my emotional reaction to what I saw. My oldest child was only a year old at the time and the brutality was too drastic of a contrast to the sweetness I'd absorbed all day from her. The next time I held her I saw an image from that scene flash through my mind. It assaulted the peace of a motherly embrace. It was then that I decided to cleanse my mind by carefully choosing what I looked at. No rogue thoughts would pull me from my beautiful moments with my kids.

Well, now I'm a lightweight. I saw the most recent Hobbit movie finally (PG-13) and the dragon made my blood turn cold. Those CGI people are getting really good at recreating evil, aren't they? For a second I thought they couldn't make a dragon look anything but really cool and awe-inspiring. No, they made the thing exactly as the book described it, terrifyingly evil. I was surprised at my gut reaction. This is coming from a girl who started reading Stephen King in eighth grade. Horror was my thing. Now I just want to be entertained when I watch a movie. Don't taint my thought-life, please. I still managed to enjoy the Hobbit's conclusive movie, though, even if I was a little traumatized.

So, the rogue thought. Any distraction from God's best is temptation. There will be times when I need to think about dark realities, but I don't go seeking them anymore. Unfortunately there is still stored junk in my memory banks from my existence before Christ's work in my life. Occasionally I get slapped across the brain with them. But I'm writing this blog because I am developing a strategy to avoid them.

A parallel that came to mind when I thought about how entangling rogue thoughts can be is from a book I read as a small child. It was a story called Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. I know that some people have called it racist to mention that story, but I happen to know it isn't about that at all. The story was written long ago by a black man named Uncle Remus. All I remember personally, though, is the Disney version with the pictures of the cute and shiny little tar baby cheeks.

I also remember being really freaked out by Brer Rabbit who appeared friendly to the stranger at first but who shortly after puts his fist into the face of what is being called a "baby". Of course it was made of tar, so it was a trap for him. But he was talking to it one second, then when it doesn't respond he punches the thing! What? I'm sure glad nobody does that to my baby! Glad for them because they'd really regret it. Anyway, the rabbit gets all tangled up in tar and then Brer Fox comes along and gets conned into setting him free.

For some reason I am associating my possible A.D.D. with a Tar Baby. I can't do anything about the fact that the distraction is laid in my path. But I can do something about how I respond to it. Ultimately, it's a trap. It looks friendly at first or at least interesting and when it turns out to be futile even focusing on it, I get mad at it! So here I am mad at myself for wasting my time and mad at this rogue thought that stole my attention. In goes the fist and then it's got me! It's all over me now. I'm stuck and wrapped up, ready for the enemy to have his way with my soul. I should have just kept on walkin'.

Rogue thoughts are placed like traps all along the path of life. Some of them even look like precious babies of importance that need to be taken care of. It's a dangerous place and I need my Guide at all times. When He keeps walking past what looks like something that needs to be taken care of, I need to follow Him. Nothing to see here. Perhaps with time I will be less distractible and more focused so I can fall more in love with the only holy object of my attention, Jesus Christ.


Real Hope

If a hope deferred makes the heart sick then a false hope must make it shrivel. My heart has hoped in many things. From grand promises powerful men have made to conniving "facts" manufactured by marketing experts. How I wanted to believe it all!

Tell me it's going to be alright and I want to trust you. This ignorant bliss that is so tempting it has me laying my head down on a pillow of lies. So comfy and yet so dangerous. Fabricated hope. A cheap hope that was made in a sweat shop overseas under the snapping fat fingers of capitalism. Hope born on the backs of generations in dysfunction, brought to my table and served up lukewarm. If only it were true. If only the sweetness in my nostrils wasn't the putrid stench of rot. Trusting in death just stinks.

Real hope is precious and hard to come by. In fact, you don't happen upon it. Real hope finds you. In a dark alley with countless failed attempts at goodness, real hope glints off broken shards. On a vast empty beach where the sabotage of delusion leaves a barren shore and dreams are drowned, a flash on a distant surface beckons, even as feet are torn by the pulled sand beneath them. The pain reveals truth like a nice hard look at our organs against the surgeon's gloved fingers. There it is... truth.

Just when we think all hope is gone... real hope arrives. It starts as a faint, bright shimmer to us. it awakens a hunger deeper than any earthly thing could satisfy. Soon it comes into view. It is much more than a tiny light now. It walks upright like a man! The movements are fluid and perfect. His arms are unbreakable promises and His smile is a priceless treasure. Possibilities open wide like the mouth of galaxies. His timelessness envelopes the quietest space within. The pillow is His bosom and His hands are warmth and healing. This hope gives rest and assurance. Eternity places it's hope in Him. In Him my hope is secure.


Abandoning Choices

For as long as I can remember, I have had trouble with decisions. Yes, I've made many bad decisions and a few that turned out to be good ones, but it's the act of deciding that has always been my trouble. There's just too many choices! Too many variable outcomes! How does a person not go crazy in this world?

I used to have what I called in my rebellious years, the "f%$@-it button". I know, classy. But you didn't know me back then. I was different, to say the least. But now I would call that "button" Reckless Abandonment. I would purposely not think about consequences because I believed everything would work out how it should. I always submitted to some bigger view of my destiny. Unfortunately for my youth, it was catastrophic to submit to the undercurrent of external circumstances. But F-it, right? At least I wasn't afraid to take a risk like all the reserved, success-driven people in my graduating class. Boriiing! I risked with substances that the human body was never meant to ingest. I risked with my heart not knowing if it would be left torn and shredded to pieces. I risked with the preciousness of my soul, dancing with many dark forces of a self-indulgent culture. I knew how to take me some risks! And I suffered many consequences... I still suffer some of them, even now.

That decision-making thing we humans do, it's complicated. One wrong move and it could be checkmate. Those of us that have survived gambling with our lives are deluded into thinking that we are blessed coming and going; maybe we're even covered by grace! I've gambled most of my life. The thing is, every choice is a gamble because we don't. know. the FUTURE. We can't know the outcome of anything for sure.

But Somebody does. Yes, He does. He asked me recently if I'm ready to give my decisions to Him. Lord Jesus, even the decisions I make at the grocery store that have me deciding which grocery cart I will use? You want that decision? Take them, Jesus. Because what if... what if the wheel is broken on one of the carts and it comes off and the baby falls out, breaks her arm, and her life is altered by that one. vital. choice! The choice I never knew was vital just by looking at it. It only takes an instant to alter a destiny. We've seen the movies about it and read the short stories. Granted, God's plan will always remain, but our story could change in the blink of an eye. A cascade of events could set us on a course that might have otherwise been vastly different. God knows that, and He sets us up for success! He asks us, are you ready to be healed? to be united with my Holy Spirit? to be led by my indwelling Life? Are you ready to admit that you're sick of pretending you have this life under control?

Every moment is a variable and they are all known by God. Each one, a precise calculation. Every hair on our head is numbered. Number 45,239 just fell to the ground and He saw it. One down, thousands to go! One day in our lives holds enough information to last God a thousand of our years to sort out all the details. And He has all the time in the universe (literally!) to work things out. By the way, if we love Him and are called into His plan, it's all for our best.

But, we can base our decisions on what we believe is best. I base my assessment of life on wisdom gained in all of my thirty-six years on planet Earth. Do I choose crunchy or creamy peanut butter? Well, let's think about this. My daughter won't eat anything with chunks in it and my son can't handle the texture of anything that stick to the roof of his mouth so he won't eat it either way. Do I want someone other than me to eat the peanut butter? Then I'll have to go with creamy. Which brand? Well, which one is healthier and cheaper? Ok, Adams sounds good. Seems right to me. Good? Right? It's peanut butter, dude. But these are decisions I have to make every day. Good versus evil. Taking others into account. The golden rule. Be a good steward. Makes sense to me. But... "In all your ways acknowledge Him..." (Proverbs 3:6)

Jesus, do You care about peanut butter, really? Do You want every tiny decision? Or are some of them mine to make? You're within me now. You see through my eyes and are thinking within my mind. Whatever I see You doing, that's what I want to do. Now that I know Your voice and sense Your presence, I can follow You. Jesus is shopping at Costco, in me and through me. I allow Him to live in the temple of my body, so He is there when I am there. I'm submitting my will down to the tiniest, seemingly most insignificant choice, and there is Jesus. Peanut butter. You really do care about these things, don't You? But You call me to see it in a much more eternal light. You don't just see a decision about peanut butter, You see my kids. You see their future. You love them more completely than I ever could. Oh yes, You choose the peanut butter. Choosy moms let Jesus choose their peanut butter.

I want to choose to stop being externally motivated and influenced. I have God's LIFE living in me and I want to stop consulting the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil for my decisions. I've settled for what I think is best for long enough! I'm choosing to surrendering to the Holy Spirit within me. That's one decision I have no doubts about. I don't know what's truly best in any other area. I no longer want to make decisions by gambling on an unknown future. I want to let God live in me and through me, guiding my choices by moving ahead of me. I never really knew what I was doing, anyway. I see that now. I want to recklessly abandon my choices to the One Who knows ALL, is EVERYWHERE, and will ALWAYS WIN.


Stories and Storytellers

Something's been bugging me. I have always had a fascination with Christian celebrities. The fantasy that people who are doing what I always dreamed of doing (performing arts), are somehow doing it all for God to further His Kingdom in some indirect way. They are in the thick of the idolatrous world soup and yet appear to have this great faith. The story in my head about these stars is them getting up as normal people every day, eating, making tough decisions about their careers, fighting to resist temptations, and doing all the unglamorous and unedited life stuff we all do. Add to that, my version of the show business story that involves fun gigs and get-togethers with influential people, and you have it.

Over the years, I've tried to hang on to music and movies that the world offered. I'd try to find reasons to believe that the people who made them may or may not be under cover Christians. Now that I have children and am winding down my thirties, I'm less likely to watch anything that spits on the value of human life or listen to anything other than music about Jesus. Believe it or not, there's plenty out there for me to enjoy because I know where to look. But now and then I am romanced by a story the world offers, or a celebrity facade that seems Christian-y enough to get where I'm at.

That when I sense that I'm being drawn into the illusion again; the seduction of story that uses our imaginations against us. I see a face in a photo and read an interview online. Suddenly their world opens up in technicolor within my head and I'm happy to fill in all the gaps. I can see how they could be saints and I place a golden halo around their heads. I'm tempted to want to meet them or at the very least to be jealous of where they are in life. How come their road was paved for them and mine led me here behind this obscurity? My own existence starts to seem gray and dull compared to some glamorous life of my own invention.

(Jesus Christ, You save me again. Your word floats into my heart like a subtle fragrance.) The familiar scent of perspective that purifies the air and recalibrates the mind and says, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!" I recall Jesus as the rich young ruler walks away, unwilling to part with his comforts and treasures. Then I look at my surroundings and the pitfalls of American consumerism and I see that I am also rich and wrestling with this life's possessions. Status and influence mark success in this world. "The greatest among you will be the servant of all," Jesus says. Servant of all?

The grass seems so much shinier and perfect in Hollywood, though. (maybe it's plastic?) Being still and handing over my curiosities to the Spirit, I am warmed by a familiar vision. The softness of my toddler's cheeks are part of the precious jewel that she is, to be protected and adored. The kiss of my five-year-old as I carry him with his freshly broken leg through the house. "I love you, Mommy," he whispers in my ear as I tote his heavy man-child frame back to the couch. And the timid words,"Will you teach me how to hear God's voice?" my oldest daughter asked me tonight at bedtime. I can't think of a more exciting or complicated wisdom to impart! Lord, help me, what an honor.

Oh, but the world-famous ones are everywhere. The people who are making a living being spectacles that are paid to get scrutinized and photographed. For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be that influential. I want people to take me seriously and to find the things I know to be indispensable to life. I want to sing the truths of God into peoples' souls and get them to question the illusion until it crumbles before them. Freedom to the captives, Lord!

But I'm also hating what entertainment is doing to my little ones. They don't have the ability to be bored, ever. Quietness is something to avoid and to fill. Before God has a chance to speak, we're off to some new thing. A counterfeit comes and parades as God's will. We scoop it up because it's here, right now, instead of waiting. Distracted again, we lose sight of Him and then we ask ourselves, "where did I go wrong?"

The seductive story catches hold and takes us away from the Spirit. You know what story I'm talking about, it's the one that delivers the resolution after a set amount of time. Epic films can last three hours, but television shows are also good at a quick wrap-up (with a teaser at the end to keep you coming back for more). God leaves so many stories hanging in mid-air. The conclusion only comes to us in Heaven. Trusting Him to tell it with our lives, that is real satisfaction within His Story.

Why can't we redeem the message and use it to illustrate God's love? Maybe we should leave that up to God to decide. Are we hearing Him first? Or are we making excuses to indulge in these things because we think we can hear Him within the noise? "I think He said...um, this thing." Really? Do you want to base your life on the speculation of words you thought you heard through the din of the world's noises? I'm talking to myself. I've steadily been turning down the other noises so I can tune into God's still, small voice. I'd better be able to recognize Him from all the counterfeits out there if I'm going to amount to anything. Get alone and into God's Story first thing, everyday. His is the only Reality.


Idol Banter

Everywhere I look I see man and womankind exalting themselves. With the time I've spent away from mainstream media, it's always newly shocking to me how brazenly anti-God this culture is when I finally flip on the "tube". That's Youtube, of course, since I'm glad to say I don't have access to cable television in my home. I keep seeing the tower of Babel and all the fools who thought they could build a tower to Heaven. Now that we know the Universe is infinitely vast, a tower that reaches beyond the stars seems ludicrous. And yet there they are, plain as day, building it just the same. Empires built on icons; gods and goddesses that the young and restless worship with their obsessive hearts. I remember having posters in my room of handsome rock stars, that gazed intriguingly at me from my walls. Sometimes, as a teenager, I would imagine them watching me and I would even talk to them, silently. Those glossy paper objects took on a life of their own within my imagination. This is what the bible means by idols. Our thoughts and our love being married to these fantasies of what we believe life is all about.

I am fueling my own daughter's fantasies by encouraging her obsession with various movie and television cartoon icons. What's the harm in enjoying the culture's greatest hits for their age group? I mean, all creativity comes from God and music, art, and fashion are all gifts given by God. Why can't Disney movies and toy departments hold secrets to God's love and truth? Besides, how can I compete with the overwhelming onslaught of genius marketing tactics that mean to capture my child's loyalties?

How can I not? Is it OK to stand by and watch my daughter's fascination with villains turn into a real-live lust for power over others? "It's just a phase. They'll grow out of it." Or they won't. And they'll be food for the power-hungry 1% that run this world from leather seats. Food for the idol-makers.

I suppose this means war.