The Best Christian Response to Terror

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Another beheading. More Christians raped, murdered and fleeing ISIS in terror. The enemy wants us to feel powerless. Hunker down. Circle the wagons.

But Jesus always calls us to something richer and life-giving, even in the midst of death. After we’ve written a check, after we’ve gathered in our churches and prayed for our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world, after we’ve signed petitions…then what? What can we actually DO in a hands on way?

About the Gay Bride and the Christian Photographer

(“Best of” blog)

P1020423The door swings open and a high-energy, petite blonde walks in. “Hi, I’m Annie.”

“Hi Annie, I’m Mary.” Her smile mirrors Annie’s. “Welcome to my studio.”

“I’m friends with Emma and Ryan Glassman. I love how you photographed their wedding. You just…you do great work.”

“Thank you.” Mary glances at the Bride magazine tucked under Annie’s arm. “Your turn coming soon?”

“Yes!” she beams. “Next spring. So I’d like to talk to you about your pricing and packages.”

Mary grabs her brochure and hands it to Annie, pointing to two chairs pulled up to a coffee table full of wedding albums. “Can I get you some coffee?”

Annie looks at the chair and hesitates, “Umm before we get into this you should know…I’m gay.”

Mary knew this day might come. It just came much sooner than she expected. “I’m glad you’ve told me up front…because there’s something you should know. I’m a follower of Jesus.”
Annie’s smile fades just a bit. “Well…what does that mean?” 

valentines-day_1100010892-1013intWith earthly love, often what you experience at first is not so much love, but what author Lauren Winner calls ‘ego blast.’ You are excited that someone so great is into you! But until you come to appreciate his beauty it isn’t really love, it’s using someone for your own gain.

In the same way, in our relationship with the Lord, we first long for what he can give us–salvation from hell, relief from suffering, material provisions…Jonathan Edwards reflected that religious people find God useful, but Christians find God beautiful.–Dee Brestin, Idol Lies

Idol Lies (Worthy)

If God doesn’t condemn me, then why all the regret? Why the feeling that I just don’t measure up or have what it takes?

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” What a relief. God never labels me a Loser. He never dismisses me. Writes me off. Withdraws from relationship.

Love Word Sinking Showing Loss Of Love And Broken Heart

But it is one of the Holy Spirit’s jobs to convict us all of sin. And we’ve all felt his sharp elbows in our guilty little ribs. So what is the difference here? How can we live the difference between conviction that brings a proper response to the grave reality of our sin without getting sucked out to sea in an undertow of self-condemnation and regret?

The Tyranny of the Expected Response…What lies beneath?

(posted yesterday at Emerge)

A farmer sits on his front porch. Just inside the screen door the phone rings. And rings. His neighbor asks, “Aren’t you going to get that?”

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The farmer spits and leans back, “I bought that phone for my convenience. And right now…it’s not convenient.”

A prayer for you, your family and your service to others this week…

P1040303Father we pray your love and favor over us this week. Anoint us for all that is before us. We pray your glory and goodness over our lives and the work of our hands. We proclaim the Kingdom of Jesus over our lives, our families, and the good and beautiful work you are doing through us. This is the realm and the province of Jesus, all of it. Fill our lives with your life this week, God. Fill us all with your trueness and goodness and beauty. For your glory, for our joy. In Jesus’ name.

(Thank you for the inspiration, John Eldredge)

Downton Abbey: A Technicolor Story Enfolds a Black and White World

(“Best of” blog)

Downton Abbey

The final episode of Downton Abbey aired Monday. “Keep calm and wait for January” the Facebook icons reassure. You wouldn’t expect to find such a cool- set-must-see-TV-water-cooler-buzz show on PBS, but Masterpiece Theater has struck gold (four Emmys) with its story of Lord and Lady Grantham, their three Jane Austinesque daughters and the downstairs intrigue of butlers, valets, footmen, ladies maids and cooks. What hooks millions of viewers all over the world?

A world of daily candlelight dinners, beaded Chanel gowns, side-saddle hunts and Christmas pheasant shoots is rocked by World War I, the explosion of technology (automobiles, electricity, telephones), the rise of modern media and women’s and workers’ rights and a plot laced with secrets, theft, jealousy, midnight rendezvous, dead bodies, romance and a fairly astonishing moral clarity and commitment.

What it takes to move people from here to there

(“Best of” blog)

After months of transition, job search, selling a home, finding a home, a month of waiting for the new home sale to close, we have finally, actually, irrevocably MOVED.

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What seemed so daunting and risky and unknown has become, step by step, reality. Actually, God is in the business of moving us all from HERE to THERE. And as Bill Hybels pointed out at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit last week: the essence of leadership is to lead people from HERE, the current reality, to THERE, the much preferred future.

IF: the (mostly) under-40’s rock at their first un-conference

(“Best of” blog)
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I wrote this review of the first IF Gathering in Austin, Texas right after it happened last February (2014). As the banner above reads, they’ll be meeting again in February, 2015. I encourage you to gather there or online. A fresh wind is blowing out of Austin! And you can find out more here.

The 1200-seat Austin Municipal Auditorium sold out in under an hour. So they offered live streaming to anyone with a computer. And from around the world 20,000 more registered, many of those inviting friends and even churches full of women. It was as IF the organizers had blown a giant whistle and thousands had come running…to what no one was exactly sure. Not even the organizers.

When Pain Is Too Much to Bear, How Can We Find Relief?

(“Best of” blog)

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There’s “sad,” and then there are those times when sorrow seeps down into your soul and collects there into an aching pool of grief. You sleep. You wake up. And for a minute it’s better. Then the drip… drip of pain begins again. After thirty-two years with rheumatoid arthritis I would rather spend a day in significant physical pain than a day in significant emotional pain, although sometimes the two are inextricably linked. When we find ourselves in that kind of pain, how might we find relief?