Invitation to START OVER

Ever wish you had been born into a family of privilidge?  Wish you had more connections?  Is there a huge mistake you wish you hadn’t made?  The kind no one else can understand.  Do you regret your career choice?  Or the very personality that you live with every single day?

Only here. This is the only place you are offered a second chance. An offer to be born again. To chose a father that is a king, that decorates his streets with gold. He has the connections to chose the weather, to set the stars in motion, and to do….ANYTHING!  He knows everything you wish you knew, gives the best advice to be offered, has all the answers, offers protection and peace beyond comprehension. 

Do you feel too weak for change?  He is all powerful.  Are you much too poor?  Oh, he has that covered. Scared?  Yeah. It is scary. It is a give all, hold nothing back kind of choice. 

But give it. Surrender. Start over. Raise your white flag. Be born again. And receive it all. 

Celebrate!  I am getting OLD!

Happy birthday to me! I am 34 years old!  I am so thankful to be growing old with my family because the alternative is that I would not be, the other option is that I would not be having this birthday. 

Ya see, every year I count up from the age of 25.  I have lived 9 years longer than I was supposed to. I have lived to hear:  “You should live a normal life span.”  I have lived to “this is not life threatening.”  I BEAT CANCER!  I am a 19 year survivor of a Great War with a mighty opponent. 

Nine years longer than I was supposed to. What is 9 years?  I have an 8 year old daughter. An eight year old daughter that is going to impact the world with her love of animals, her joy of being surrounded with diverse people, her brain that never forgets anything that has left her with a wealth of knowledge that grows and grows, her sweet relationship with her Lord and Savior that is mature beyond her years, wisdom because she chooses right, beauty that attracts others to her, skills of hard work and determination, and enough love to circle this globe. 

I know. I know why I am alive today. Because my Jesus loves me beyond what I have ever loved myself and he gave me a gift that I did not deserve. He made me the mother of a miracle girl and let me watch his beautiful plan unfold. And why do I have to suffer so much?  Without a doubt, one of the reasons is so that I will appreciate so much!  If a doctor never told me that I would not live past 25, then I would never have been in amazing wonder at the irony of growing brand new life inside my body at the age of 25!  Not only, did I not meet death, I met new life, new precious life that would change me forever!

Happy birthday!  I have a life to celebrate!  A beautiful life that is more wonderful than I ever planned!  And my birthday gift?  PEACE!  Whatever this life holds, I can trust the one in control. He has never let me down and he never will. And this world is just a preview of the real thing. The breath taking sunset over Hawaii, the inspiring blue whale surfacing, family love, delicious fruit, my happiest day, it doesn’t begin to compare to the heaven I will live in for eternity!  Eternity!  I AM GOING TO LIVE FOREVER!

Get Impatient

We, as christians, as humans, should be extremely irritated with this world!  Even things that are not sin, are messed up. It has all been impacted by the curse. 

I can not stroke a lion’s man because that got messed up for me. My apple tree has no apples and has some fungal speckles all over the leaves. Picnics can get all together ruined by mosquitoes. 

And then it gets even more personal than my backyard. Cancer. No one sinned that I should have Cancer, but I live in a fallen world. A world that is not how it should be. And sometimes it is just quite irritating. And irritated, impatient, upset, even angry is as I should be. 

I used to struggle with the story about Jesus cursing the fig tree. Why couldn’t he be more patient?  Hmmm…let’s just skip over that story. 

And then I realize, Jesus never sinned. He always did what he was supposed to do. And we are supposed to be like him. He was supposed to be irritated. That fig tree was not as it should be. He made fig trees with figs and sin messed that up. 

Sin should make us impatient for heaven. We should hunger and thirst and be able to concentrate on nothing apart from Jesus. We should be angry at the bitter cold, we should cry out at the sight of death, we should hurl curses at the devil when we see his work on this earth. Because this is not the way it is supposed to be. 

And one day it won’t be. And there will be no more anger. And no more need to be patient because fig trees will have figs in heaven. 

The Worst Sin Ever Invented

We are saved by faith alone, it is none of me and all of him, so that no man can boast. But faith without works is dead. 

An obese man has a heart attack. He passes out and lays on the pavement unconscience. Quickly, he is rushed away by the ambulance. The paramedics revive him, return him to stability, and save his life. It was them that saved his life and not himself. All them. None of him. But if he thanks them and stops at McDonalds on the way home, walks in the door and heats up a pizza, and downs a whole package of Oreos while waiting on the pizza, he is as good as dead. He can not thank them and expect to be saved over and over. He must change. Faith without works is dead. 

This is my imperfect analogy, but I believe it applies to so very many today in my culture. I live fat on the hog with 911 programmed into my phone, but Christ calls us to CHANGE!  We post our articles on Facebook slamming sinners that are different than us, gossip about our neighbors and even our friends to shine our halos, quote our “I would never”s, and live our self righteous lives turning people away from Jesus faster than we can argue our point. 

“It would be dangerous to think of oneself as a person of high ideals…it might lead you to become a prick and think you were rather a special person who deserved to be congratulated on his idealism.”  CS Lewis

And here is my point, the prostitute is not claiming how good she is and pointing out Bible verses to all the druggies around her. The alcoholic, the homosexual, the drug dealer is not judging and condemning. Are they sinning in their lifestyle?  Yes!  The Bible says so, not me. HOWEVER, they are not turning people away from Jesus!

And THAT is why Jesus condemned the Pharisees and hung out with the outcast sinners!  Now, wooa Caroline!  Should we all sin to point others to Jesus?  Nope!  As stated earlier, faith without works (change) is dead, “Go and sin no more.”  

But there is a HUGE difference here!  A matter of LIFE and DEATH!  We are NEVER COMMANDED TO BE SELF RIGHTEOUS!  We are never commanded to point others to ourselves and how good we are, we are to point others to JESUS!

I also was a sinner, Jesus saved me!  I also was lost, Jesus found me!  We are to forgive because we were forgiven more, we are to love because we were first loved, we are to SHINE THE LIGHT OF JESUS, NOT THE LIGHT OF SELF!  The difference is a matter of eternal life and death. 

Do Not Get Comfortable

Kicking and screaming, I had my own idea of what I wanted to do. I had my own plans to seek out to accomplish. God’s will was getting in my way.

I was blind, sick, hungry, and poor.  He did everything, it was not of me. I can not turn on a light when I do not even know that I am in darkness. My mind was awakened to my depravity. He is everything, everything to me. 

I gave him my plans for his. This is not a relationship to fit into pop-culture.  This is not a religion to make myself look good. I give him that, my acceptance and my image.

“A civil war.  A rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel. Enemy occupied territory, that is what this world is.  Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed…and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.” CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Do I want to move in and make myself at home?  Do I want to be a rogue soldier that has defected from my country?  Heaven is my home and I am getting ready. My God has more than supplied my needs. I show up and he does the work. I am present and he is the power. This is a rescue mission. There is family to save.  

Do not seek comfort  in this world that can not give it. Do not be surprised when the enemy attacks. He lies in secret and waits for me.  Do not try to fit in. Do not fear this evil that has already been defeated. The outcome is victory.  I am a soldier in a battle. I am here on a mission. This world is not my home. It is enemy territory. 

Baby America

  
Happy 239th birthday to the United States of America!  On this day in 1776, America adopted the Declaration of Independence. 

Not so very long ago, husbands and fathers from the poorest, weakest land on earth took up their crude weapons to declare, “Give me liberty or give me death!”  Mothers raised their children in a wild new country and pressed on to survive in a bare and empty place because they believed. They believed in something bigger than themselves. They believed in doing what was right at all costs. They believed that God Almighty had called them to worship, serve, and fight for the right to worship his holy name. They had hope. They had hope that this hard life was not all they were made for.

Today, I look at my nation and I am sad that I see these rights that they fought for slipping away. I look at my country and take a deep breath and sigh. America bites the hand of God Almighty that has fed her. She turns from the God that has protected her and stomps away like a spoiled little brat. She whines and throws a tantrum and pouts, “but I want my own way!”

And I realize, great men and women that built our country were surrounded by the same crowd. They wondered if their new country would ever survive. So, I stand and proclaim, this world is not my home!  I have hope!  I have a meaning and a purpose. When those around me turn from God, I claim his name!  

Use me Lord!  Use me for your purpose, use me for your people!  When comforts deminish, you are my hope. When my earthly rights fail, you are my freedom.  You are my freedom that can never be taken. No government can outlaw that freedom!

I am proud to be an American!  I love my country!  Today, I celebrate that I am living the American Dream. Today, I celebrate that I worship in an amazing church that preaches the Word of God. Today, I celebrate the freedom to raise my daughter with a Biblical worldview. Today, I celebrate a history of men and women that fought to give me that freedom. But beyond all that, today I worship and praise my God that is in control of it all. 

Happy Independence Day!

I Went to Church at Sea World

The blazing heat could not keep the crowd away.  People from every life story packed in to the non airconditioned amphitheater waiting for the show to begin. 

And the show did not disappoint!  Life paused and proceeded in slow motion as I observed the tricks that Shamu had been taught. She could wave her flipper and shake her head at the correct time to answer questions, she splashed the water soaking the crowd, and beached herself onto the platform. Amazing observation of human training!  However, the big THAT DIDN’T MATTER, but if you took away all the training, when the massive creature soared into the air, and I observed her black sleek, beautiful body, God said to me, “I made that.”

The music was classical and intense, but to me it was praise and worship. MY GOD MADE THAT!  The announcer never turned to the crowd and said, “I would like to thank Jesus Christ. This show would not be possible without him. Let’s give him a round of applause for creating the orca!”

BUT HE DID!  And as I observe magnificent animals and as I live and love this creation and as I applaud, may I always remember this is my Father’s world and the beauty of creation is just the beginning of his handiwork….get ready for the real show!  

This world is amazing and will pack crowds in to see the show, but it has its flaws. The mass is still entering the doors, the intro music is playing. The lights dim and the curtain is cued to open. Get ready!  The real show is about to begin!

Beautiful Scars

By far, one of the coolest things she has ever done, my eight year old just had the experience of swimming with dolphins. She is a fish herself and she is at home in the water wih animals. The trainer started with a few facts about the beautiful animals and then she said something that stuck with me, “Do you see these scars covering her neck?  Well, I don’t feel sorry for her. This means she played with other dolphins, she was well socialized.  It is the dolphin with no scars that I am sorry for.”

I have been to a few funerals in my life. They vary so greatly. Do you see the man laying in the casket?  He is my grandfather. Do you see the wrinkles in his face?  I do not feel sorry for him. It is a time of peace. He lived a long life. The wrinkles mean he lived. And I know he lived well and now he is in eternal perfection with his maker. Oh beautiful wrinkles!  It is the funeral of the babe with smooth plump skin that I mourn. 

Do you see the scar on my neck, the scars on my stomach?  Do not look upon the scratched up dolphin and the wrinkled man and give pity, my scars mean I am alive!  I have beaten Cancer!  I have a story to share, He saved me!  The Cancer ribbon is not for me, I am a survivor!  Oh the beauty of my scars!

It All Changes Not At All

I’m not THAT old. This summer, I will celebrate my 34th birthday. 

My daughter popped up from her summer reading book and questioned, “What is a long distance phone call?”  It just wasn’t that long ago that all phones were attached to houses and there wasn’t the problem of my cell phone battery is about to die.  

I watched a documentary about the Hoover Dam. The men drove trucks into the cave (leaving them on) and then several men died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Just like I am shouting, “I’m not that old.”  I am shouting, “It was not THAT long ago!  How did they not know?!”  Such a simple way, with the knowledge of that poisonous gas, our world has changed. 

Fashion changes so swiftly that now I ask advice from my eight year old, because sometimes I just don’t know “what the kids are doing these days.”

The world is spinning, spinning, changing in so many ways. 

But then I read about the struggles of parenting in the seventies, and love affairs in the twenties, and people greedy for money during Biblical times, and I realize that people have really not changed at all. 

We love our families, struggle with other people, desire riches and comfort, ask questions, eat food, learn just a little bit, and come to terms with God in one way or another. 

For years and centuries and millenniums, human nature remains the same. We laugh about the details around us that change, but they are just that:  details. And it all comes and goes so quickly. So, while I do love me some details, Lord, please help me focus on the big picture. I want kindness more that I want the popular opinion, I want to give more than I want to have, inner peace more than temporary happiness, wisdom more than entertainment, education more than possessions, love more than greed, and Jesus more than this quickly fading world. 

Love Changes Things, to the culture of Bruce Jenner

There was a bracelet, and bumper sticker, and hat, and pencil case design that was quite popular a few years ago and still mingles in Christian bookstores. WWJD?  

WWJD?  What Would Jesus Do?  I am sure it was started with great intention and that IS a great question to consider. HOWEVER, it was used as a pointing finger to say, “tisk tisk, shame on you. That was bad. Jesus would be so ashamed of you.”

But that is no new idea. Christians have been pointing that finger for quite some time. Some of them pointing that finger have a log so big in their eye that I would wonder if they have ever seen the love of Jesus at all and perhaps they are claiming Christianity when they have no concept of grace at all. Others, I truly believe are Christians, but yet again, do not allow the love and grace of Jesus to really change them. 

So, what would Jesus do?  What would he say to this world?  WHAT WOULD HE SAY TO BRUCE JENNER? 

Well, what did he say to the world?  What are the words of Jesus?  WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?  What does the Holy Spirit say?

First, he would throw his arms around Bruce Jenner and give him a hug. He would tell him to come down from that Sycamore tree and he would go to his house for dinner. JESUS CAME TO SEEK AND TO SAVE THE LOST.  I am just going to go out on a limb, that I usually don’t climb on, and say that Bruce is lost. 

But don’t get me wrong here, or more importantly, don’t get Jesus wrong!  I am not of the live and let live crowd. I am not crying that he is brave and courageous. What in the hell people?!  What he is doing is for no one but himself!  It is nothing but selfish. That is the only word to define what is going on there. And here we see the other side of Jesus that people don’t like to talk about. 

Remember the Jesus running through the temple pushing over tables?  He was not really a PC kind of guy. If Jesus walked around loving all day, why did the leaders hate him so?  Why was he tortured and crucified?

So, when I hear about Bruce Jenner, I feel nothing but sadness for him. How empty and lost and horrible his life is. He is the definition of someone that does not know peace and true love. Bruce, being a woman is not going to fix your life. The new media attention, the popularity, it will all vanish. It is nothing. What is next to fill your void?  Nothing will fit the shape of that hole in your heart except Jesus. This life is between you and God. And you need Jesus. You need to live for something bigger than yourself. You need to know truth. And you need to know the love of your Creator that made you and loves you beyond what you can imagine. 

But I don’t stop there, I turn to the crowd that is encouraging and applauding his despicable behavior and I call them a brood of vipers. Not only are they harmful to Bruce, they are leading our country in a new trend that will have consequences. How tragic!

So, what is the answer?  How can we stop the downward spiral?  There is one answer and only one answer:  JESUS.