Hate the sinner?

We are all together on this journey called life. We need each other. And when we’ve fallen down, as we all have, we really need a friend. Not someone to necessarily “take our side” but someone to walk with us. 

I think this is what Jesus called us to do.  When we are asked to love and honor our parents, we comply. When we are asked to love our neighbor as ourselves we do it, as long as they haven’t offended us. But when are asked to love our enemy, we draw a line in the sand. We don’t even think, “I can’t yet but I will try to get there someday.” 

What if that person committed some heinous act against another person? What if the victim was a child? What if everyone said they did it and they deserve to be locked up or killed? Society says you can’t stand with that person because you’ll be “choosing sides” but is that what Jesus said? Are we supposed to love only the brokenhearted and not the broken?

We talk about the sanctity of life. We talk about showing everyone dignity. But then we tell our God that we will only dignify those we judge worthy. 

The world tells us we should judge  discriminate, marginalize and exile. And we justify our actions or inaction by human standards. We use our humanity as an excuse and say it is not possible for us to love this one or that one. We think, “God can’t expect me to live up to that standard.”

We love our children because they are ours. God loves us all because all of us are His children. I think God’s example is the one we should follow. I think this is where we truly transcend our humanity and claim our divinity, created in the image and likeness of our God.


I wrote this April of last year, I didn’t finish it and its been sitting in my drafts folder.  I guess this is the time to share it.

We are all broken.  Everyone of us.  The people you see at work, the people you drive by, family members, people at church, people at the store, all of us. Physical ailments, disabilities, loses, disconnection from God, inaction, family troubles are all reasons we are broken. The list goes on and on. There is so much pain in this world. Its staggering, unfathomable and heart breaking.  The Good News is Jesus was born and died to save us from sin and death. And He wants a personal relationship with each one of us, not just the ones “doing it right”.  He receives us as we are, broken.

Some people don’t even know they are broken, some won’t admit it, others are paralyzed by fear.  Some of us act out because of it; arrogance, ego, false pride, etc. Some people accept their situation for what it is and get up every morning and smile. I think a lot of us know we are in pain and we hide it and tell everyone we’re “fine”.  We think “I’ll handle this, I don’t want people to think I’m weak”.

Jesus can use our brokeness to help others. It’s hard for us to see our own way out of our problems, concerns or situations. Usually we need a guide or just a small ray of hope. We can do this for others.  When you see someone who appears to have it all together its hard to imagine that they have or have had struggles. Sharing our pain and imperfections with others builds a connection and that can know they are not alone.

You never know where help may come from, keep your ears open to hear your message.  My wife and I listen to Christian music most of the time. (If you haven’t listened to it lately give it a try, the artists are so talented and it sets your spirit right.)  We are humbled, encouraged and inspired by this music daily.

Don’t believe the lies the enemy tells you.  You are holy, righteous and redeemed.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

Here I go again

I can’t believe I forgot You again. I had to be reminded that you are here with me. If God is for us whom can be against us. Overwhelmed and stressed out I couldn’t see the light. A fellow believer spoke the truth.

She told me her favorite song that helps her through when times are tough. “His eye is on the sparrow” I forgot I had it on my phone, a version by Audrey Assad, it’s beautiful. He broke through the darkness and touched me. I realized that Jesus, God of the universe, sees me struggle and weeps for me. That’s how he cares for us. Not as a group of followers but individually and personally, all at the same time.

I wish I didn’t forget this all the time. I pray to Him all the time but sometimes I forget the truths of His love and grace and mercy and faithfulness. I could save a lot of time by remembering to trust in Him.

I saw a cartoon that expressed His intimacy with us. It said: “God…..well, you know, Amen.” Honestly, He already knows and cares.

Thanks Rachel for lifting me up. I love you.


Patient and faithful God

I had a conversation with a friend of mine last night. I hadn’t seen him for a long time. He has been away at seminary. We talked mostly about God calling us to a vocation. We talked about how humbling it is and a heavy responsibility. We talked about the persistence and persuasiveness of God and if you won’t listen he gives you a firm whack with a 2×4 to help you along with the process.

On the way home I heard “Lord, I’m Ready Now” by Plum. That lyric “Lord, I”m ready now” struck me. You would think that it’s a bold  statement to make to God. The audacity of telling God the timing of His plans for our lives. Here’s where the message lies. This statement speaks to God’s patience. It speaks of His unconditional love for us. He continues to show His trust for us by waiting for us to to say “yes”, to be willing to yield to Him. God is all powerful, He could make us do His will if He wanted to, but He doesn’t. He loves us so much that He respects our right to  say “no”. Wow. He yields to us. The God of the universe waits on us and when we turn to Him, He runs to embrace us.

We are so blessed to be called Children of God.

May the Lord bless and keep you. May His face shine upon you and give you peace.

God can do for us

We received some sad news last night about a local resident who had been very sick. It really sunk in today. It’s times like these that I see the stark difference between joy and pain. So much deep hurt. How can we ever feel relief? I know God is the answer. Eventually we will recover with His help over time.

But how will we feel joy again? When we be able to laugh again without feeling guilty? What do we say to the family and friends to console them? How do we make sense of something so senseless and unnatural?

The human mind has defense mechanisms. A mother forgets the pain of child birth and looks forward to the next birth. We forget the heart break that takes our breath away and we let ourselves love. Our love ones pass away. We never forget them but we learn how to live our days without them.

I never thought I would feel sad for other people in pain. I was always so self absorbed, only sad about things that effected me personally. My heart breaks now when I see others in pain. I want them to feel peace and comfort. I want them to know that God loves them and Jesus wants to heal their pain. It’s the truth. It’s hard to hear when we’re so low. Maybe it’s too hard to believe, too good to be true. But God’s power and love is bigger than we can imagine.

So dark

Its been a dark time as of late; Americans being beheaded, Robin William’s suicide, a local police officer was shot and killed, a local leader and business owner’s plane malfunctioned and he and his wife died in the crash. And today is the anniversary of 9/11. Some are horrifying acts of violence. Suicide, a person so hopeless and in pain that they can’t stand to face life anymore. Still others just senseless accidents with no rhyme or reason. The list goes on and on.

We see video images of some of these incidents, the human condition at its worst. Portrayed on TV and social media we see the worst of mankind. It seems our whole society is falling apart. There is no respect or caring for another human being. Yet when I look and listen closely I see the human spirit at it’s best. In these times of great shock or despair we have some ray of hope and we start to pick up the pieces and move forward.

When I am in conversation with people or listening to someone talk on the radio or read a post on Facebook I hear about individuals doing great things. I hear about parents with gravely ill children that smile at work and help their coworkers. I hear about people traveling to dangerous areas of the globe to minister to the sick or poor. People working soup kitchens, giving away their fortunes, committing themselves to a life of service to God or being a friend to those who have none.

We can’t deny that there is evil in our world and sometimes unexplainable tragedies. Our media sensationalizes the worst of our society but the overwhelming majority of people are good and decent. Some individuals are amazing and inspiring examples of how we should act.

I think God is once again trying to show me that we are all connected. We need to communicate with one another. We need to share our lives with others. We should ask for help when we need it. We should tell stories about our trials and how we came through them or how someone helped us through them.

Nothing can separate us

God’s love is so amazing. It’s abundant, overflowing and available. And nothing can separate us from Him. When we call on Him, He is always there, waiting for us with open arms.

God’s grace cannot be exhausted, neither by the volume of supplications that are made or the amount of grace needed per individual. It is inexhaustible. It is beyond comprehension. It always was and will last for all of eternity. It is vast and wide and never diminishes.

When we call on God we receive His full grace to help us. It doesn’t matter if we just prayed or had ignored Him for years. God hears us cry like a mother hears her young. Yes he rushes to our aid but that does not mean that he is far away. He is ever vigilant, waiting on us to ask for His assistance.  But we must ask.  God gave us free will because He loves us. He made us in His image, so we are free to choose for ourselves.  But The Almighty wants more then anything to be in communion with each and every one of us.

Nothing Ever (Could Separate Us)

Feeling close to God

I think the first place I fell in love with was Hyde Lake in the Thousand Island region of New York. My grand parents had a cottage (trailer with an enclosed porch) there when I was young. It was a small lake in the country. A campground sat at the north end and the rest was dotted with cottages. Almost directly across the lake from them was a cliff 20 or 30 feet high with a rock ledge that stuck out that you could jump or dive off. The cottage was on the west side of the lake and the sun would rise over the trees on the cliff. Some mornings the lake was so calm it looked like mirror and would reflect the image of the cliffs and trees. So beautiful.

We would catch fish off the end of the dock, go swimming, catch frogs and crawfish for hours. Grandpa would bait my sister’s hook with a worm he had jus bit in half.  We would go for a boat ride and wave to the other people on the lake. They would ride by slowly pointing and staring at Grandma and Grandpa’s cottage with a tree growing out of it. We would go to the farmer’s stand and buy 18-24 ears of corn for 7 of us. Everywhere we went there were people calling out, “Hi Dot and Tony!” My Grandma would talk to the animals and put peanuts between her toes and the chipmunks would come take them. Grandpa would filet our perch and small mouth bass and cook them in the campfire.

It was so quiet and peaceful, away the busyness of the city. Everything seemed to slow down. I know it was vacation but it seemed like you had all the time in the world.  You saw so much of nature. The air was fresh and clean and the stairs were so bright. Life was stripped down; sleeping, eating, playing, spending time with people you love and that love you. It felt like a safe place to be yourself. I didn’t think about being close to God there. I wasn’t really in tune with that as a child. But I’m sure now, that was a part of it. It helps us to hear God’s voice and realize the beauty of the world around us.

Maybe that was the reason it felt so special.  Today when I see beauty in nature, I think of our Creator. There are so many different ways to experience God; a bird’s song, a sunset, the stars, rolling hills or the vastness of the sea. Sometimes I just stare out, in awe and wonder, at nothing in particular.  How did this all come to be? What an awesome, powerful and loving Father we have to have given us this world.

I started out writing about God and nature and it turned into reminiscing.  So many places over the years have been “God’s country” to me; camping different places and things we’ve seen in our travels.  The top three are Hyde lake, Camp Koinonia and our current home in Livingston County.  I always turn to praising and thanking God for creating these beautiful places and allowing me to experience them again and again.

What’s my job?

God has a job for all of us. He calls us to do His will in a specific way. But it’s even more then that. We are fashioned by Him to do “our” part. No one else can do our part. We were made for it, it’s our purpose here on earth.

Some of us are fortunate and in God’s time he reveals our calling to us. He speaks it to us and we know in our heart of hearts what to do. Some of us pray for His will and patiently, or impatiently, wait on His answer. Others aren’t listening or refuse to answer. And then sometimes He hits us right between the eyes.

So many “jobs” go unfulfilled because even if someone else wanted to, they couldn’t do our job. It’s like trying to put a puzzle together and just jamming the pieces together even though they don’t fit.

Imagine a world where everybody answered The Call. Everyone working to bring never ending glory and praise to our all deserving God. Spreading peace, comfort and joy. Someday, someday. This I pray.

I don’t decide

We don’t get to decide who deserves God’s love, mercy or grace.  God’s love for us is unconditional. He doesn’t dole out forgiveness based on what we have or haven’t done. His grace is an undeserved gift.

So here’s a question: If I am His hands and feet, if am supposed to be Jesus to His children here on earth, do I have the right to deny anyone His blessings?  If I am charged by God to love His people, can I decide who those people are? The answer is no. Jesus gave us a commandment, to love each other. Now it doesn’t matter if I like a person or not. It doesn’t matter if that person has harmed me or someone else. It doesn’t even matter if they believe in God or not.  I have to love everyone, I have to give them hope. I must share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  There are no limits to God’s love. I need to keep it that way and not put restrictions on it by judging who is worthy of His love.