As long as I live there will be something worth fighting for, worth writing for, and worth dying for.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Last night, for two hours, I sat with a group of Christian young adults. We spent the entire two hours discussing the effects of Colossians 3:11 on our lives. Two hours on one verse. That is intense. From the whole night, though, I came away with one burning question. It is a question I present to you now.

Why aren't there more homeless people in our churches?

Now, obviously, it doesn't have to be 'homeless.' Why aren't there more single parents in our churches? Why aren't there more hopeless people in our churches?

Why is it that the body of Christ seems altogether incapable of actually reaching out and including within the community of Christ those whom Christ Himself came to save?

If a homeless person, a gothic person, a witch, a tattooed muscle man, a biker, a hippie, a whatever... whatever it may be that makes you feel uncomfortable or breaks the church's cultural norm. If that person walked into the back doors of your church, what would you do? Honestly.

Monday, June 28, 2010


This is not always an easy one for us. We live in a go-go-GO! society with a slow-slow-SLOW! faith. It's one of the paradoxes of our lives. The world around us contains so many pressures. There are ads, commercials, newscasters, movies, all screaming at us telling us what we should be, shouldn't be, could be and mustn't be. Too often it is too easy to allow them to rule our hearts and minds.

When our eyes shoot open in the morning after a one hour snooze button marathon, the first thing on our minds is the 101 reasons why we shouldn't have had that one hour snooze button marathon. We are busy busy busy people, but we are called to be still.

Faith can never be convenient. Faith done right is like a Sunday afternoon slow-cooked meal. That is real food. That real food takes time, planning, sacrifice. It takes dedication. It's no wonder we settle for toaster pastries and zap-a-snacks. But there are no zap-a-snack shortcuts with faith. It's not like you can take a quick shower, grab your orange juice and an apple with a prayer bar that you can scarf down on your way to work. That is not how faith works.

In Psalm 46, we encounter a Battle Psalm, a song praising Jehovah Sabbaoth, the Lord of Hosts.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah"

Obviously, we enjoy parking our sermons on "Be still, and know that I am God..." But oh! What we miss in this context when we rip that verse out and slap it on a bumper sticker. Look! Look at this chapter, listen to the heart of the Psalmist as he cries out to God. As he stands in the midst of turmoil and says, "God is our refuge...we will not fear... though the world falls apart around us... God is still with us." Wow.

How often do we approach life with that faith? Better question: How often do we not approach life with that faith? Our mountains crumble, the heather around us rage, and we throw a little white flag in the air shouting, "Ok! I give up!" We succumb to the ebb and flow of life. We are battered by its waves. Like Peter, we have been called to walk on the water in the midst of a stormy sea but we are too focused on the storm to remember that we were in fact told by the Master of the Sea to walk.

There may be a storm in your life. It may be that your eyes pop open in the morning and your mind is already whirring. To-Do lists may already line your wall on brightly-colored post-it notes. Somewhere, in the midst of all that chaos, is God. He's standing, waiting. Waiting for you to give the word. Waiting for you to cry out to Him so He can look at the chaos around you and say, "Peace! Be still." But first, it's your turn.

Monday, June 21, 2010


This is the first in a series I have affectionately named the "B" series (no, there is no A series). Grant you, having a series of "be"s is nothing new. Jesus did it first with His "Beattitudes." Still, we often forget that so much of our faith is action. The only "be" we tend to care about is "be" saved. That's about it. We forget that our faith is a continuous call to action. A constant call to serve. A standing command to be everything we can be and even that which we cannot in order to further the Kingdom of Christ. We are altogether to comfortable sitting around doing nothing, leaving all of the 'spiritual stuff' for those 'spiritual stuff kinda people.' We are supposed to be those 'spiritual stuff kinda people.' We need to be available.

This is a personal antagonist of mine. I loathe being inconvenienced. Many of us do. We settle into a one track mind and believe that A, B, and C are going to happen. We plan accordingly. So, when K walks up out of turn, we become highly annoyed. Still, in that moment, we have a choice. We can run K over and proceed directly to A. Do not pass "Go." Do not collect $200. Or, we can handle K first and embrace this little change in plans.

God tells us His thoughts are higher than ours and His ways are beyond searching out. What this means is that, more often than not, when K wanders up to us out of turn, God is the one who put K there.

Case in point, the other day I was inconvenienced by one of my students. He decided to announce that he was not going to be able to go home for another 30 minutes. Translated, this means: Miss Jessica, you have to stay here with me for the next 30 minutes of your life, wasting your time watching me because I didn't have the wherewithal to make sure I told my ride to be here on time. At least, that's how I heard it.

In that moment, I had a choice. A) I can be very annoyed and make sure he, and the entire world know that I am being inconvenienced. B) Be available. I took a deep breath, excused my coworker to go home and braced myself for a long 30 minutes. A minute later he was gone. Well, that's convenient. Instead, I was left after school with a group of students (brothers and sister) waiting for their mom, who would be 30 minutes late.

In those thirty minutes, God smiled on our little powow. One of my students started talking about faith (rare, even for a Christian school) and shared his testimony. I watched as this young man literally became lost in his Saviour and in all that God had done for him. He talked, and talked and talked. Normally, that would annoy me too, but I had made the decision to be available. I listened, smiling with a genuine joy, sharing in his rejoicing, praising the Lord that in this dimly lit school there was one little light trying to shine.

I couldn't help but smile, even laugh as I drove home. How God used those moments to encourage my heart, to strengthen the faith on which I stand. To prepare me for the test coming later that evening.

As I turned in to bed that evening, I was still swelling with emotion from the encounter earlier in the day. God is so good!

I picked up my phone and discovered a text message. Long story short, the girls had the wrong number but the same names as some of my students so it took us a while to realize that we actually did not know each other. I had a choice A) Inform them that they had the wrong number and that I was not going to stay up any longer dealing with them. B) Be available. After the events of the day, I again chose B. The following hour led to a friendship with a young preteen girl, nervous about entering high school next year and worried about how she will handle math. As our conversation ended, she texted me: "Good night, Miss Jessica." I slept well that night, praising God for a day, that to me, was more about victory than anything else.

We have to realize that God's ways do not fit within our logic. The broken down car on the side of the road may very well be an opportunity to be Jesus to someone who is hurting. The young mother of four behind you in line at the grocery store may very well be an opportunity for you to further the Kingdom. What we see as inconvenience may very well be God's divine appointment.

We need to wake up every morning expecting God to use us, not wondering if He can fit Himself into our daybook. As your feet hit the floor in the morning and your mind starts laying out "A, B and C" take one moment to step back, grab a Sharpie and over it all write: "Be Available" because that is the most important thing on your to-do list, any day. And that way when L walks up to you completely out of turn, you can face it with a smile and say, "I've been expecting you."