Whimsy – Living Life Out Loud

18 07 2014

There’s nothing like having small children around to stir our hearts to lightness and laughter. We have the privilege of enjoying three of our grandchildren up close, for they and their parents are staying with us for a while.

It’s fun to watch them play, imagination turning the living room into a jungle or corral or restaurant. They are un-selfconscious in their play, free to just ‘be.’ I envy them.

A couple of weeks ago, one of our pastors recommended a book by Bob Goff: Love Does. It’s a fantastic book by an adult who is enthralled with whimsy – it sounds like fun, may look a little silly, be risky…let’s go for it! You’ve GOT to read this book!

At the same time, I heard that Donald Miller has a new book out as well. I didn’t know what the title was, or what it was about, but love to read his rambling style, and how he challenges what I believe.

It was his book, Searching for God Knows What that helped me get over people pleasing. Once I realized that real life in Christ does not involve “Values Clarification” (who is worthy to be saved in a calamity in order to help build a new world), I was liberated from the need to compare myself to others and work out (in my mind) why I deserved a seat in the lifeboat and they didn’t.

After all, the ground at the foot of the cross is level – and there is room for all.

Donald Miller’s new book is A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and its subtitle is “How I Learned to Live a Better Story.”

Here’s Don’s brief description of his book:

The two books, read at the same time, complement one another.

It turns out the two are friends. Each has a short section in their book which mentions the other author!

What are the chances I’d get them both to read at the same time?

The two of them challenge me to live a life that includes whimsy – is more spontaneous, and lived out loud. Life is meant to be an adventure, to include risk, and to be FUN!

Yes, there are times when the going gets tough, when all seems dark around us, and nothing makes sense. I want to sandwich those times like a thin piece of salami between two thick slices of the Bread of Life – abundant, enjoyable, whimsical life with Jesus.

Crammed between the two I want all the condiments that make a sandwich a masterpiece – lettuce, onions, pickles, mushrooms, olives, bell pepper, and eggplant, or (fill in the blank), slathered with the oil of the Spirit, Light mayo, mustard seeds of faith, and sprinkled with the salt of the earth.

Now that’s a sandwich that will invite others to dine with us, don’t you think?

I went in search of a photo of Bob’s book, and found this YouTube video instead:

Both books are about living a good story…one that is worth being ‘read’ by others.

There are two quotes from Donald’s book that stuck with me:

“The basic structure of a good story has a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.”

(In other words, a good story is not lived on Easy Street) – and –

“Great stories go to those who don’t give in to fear.”

(There’s an element of risk!)

When I think of the opportunities that I missed because I wanted to be “proper,” “do things right,” and “act my age” (who came up with that dumb idea, anyway?), it saddens me. I’ve been mostly sedate, glum, and safe.

And boring.

The few times I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone and done something childlike and free, people have been drawn to me.

For instance, there was the day I was on the beach and decided to sing to the Lord the new songs He’s given me. Two women kept moving closer and closer (Really, ladies? This beach has plenty of room for all of us!). One of the women was drawn by the music, said she heard the Lord in them.

I handed her an unusual barnacle I’d just picked up. She accepted it with trembling hands, then told me how her brother drowned nearby earlier that year, and the gift I’d given was the Lord’s message to her that all was well. Her brother was safely Home.

Only because I decided to do something silly and sing with abandon like a child.

She would not have been drawn to me had I merely been collecting shells…

I want more moments like that! 

I’m betting that Jesus was like this – a fun, whimsical person to hang out with. One who was unpredictable – spitting in people’s eyes to give them sight, delivering the oppressed (read Mark – this is in nearly every chapter), walking on water (who even thinks to try something like that?), and making lame people walk.

There had to be something vibrant and exciting about Him…even when He was merely passing by.

No one walks away from their steady job to follow a drudge.

Hmm. There’s no crowd behind me.

How about you?

Every one of us was created to be unique, not a carbon copy of someone else. To the extent that we are striving to be like someone else, we are short-circuiting the freedom Jesus died to give. Our gifts, and natural talents and abilities – even our very character – are going unused.

The world needs someone exactly like you, exactly like me, or we would not be here. How different this world would be if we loved better, laughed more, took risks, and weren’t afraid of making fools of ourselves.

Maybe, just maybe, we would discover that abundant life Jesus promised. 😉

It’s time to set aside the lie that we must “act our age” – live with the heart of a child once again (which is not to say be childISH – yuck!). 

People will be drawn to us, to discover what makes us different when we learn to embrace whimsy…

…and live life out loud.

PS I went back to YouTube to check out some of Donald Miller’s videos. If today’s topic stirs something up in you, check out this video filmed at The Gathering, Lipscomb U. He gives some wonderful insight into how to live a better story. (22 minutes long.)





“In Danger” Species

8 02 2014

If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize about Americans, it is this

In God we do NOT trust!

Look around if you think I’m wrong.

Our cars have airbags and seat belts, we won’t get on a bike without a helmet, knee pads are a must for skating/skateboarding, there are handrails and guardrails everywhere.

We have burglar alarms, gated communities, metal detectors in our schools, and believe the world would be a better place if all the law-abiding citizens turned in their firearms (so only the bad guys would have them).

We avoid danger at all cost – and are insured up to our eyeballs to protect us from financial ruin should something ‘bad’ happen.

Look at the number of companies who exist simply because they’ve incited fear in us. Without their coverage, we feel naked and exposed.

We’ve become addicted to safety. No, let me go one step further and say that safety has become our idol.

Have you traveled by plane lately? What a pain in the neck. I used to travel for work, and I’m thankful that I’m not employed with them anymore because the hoops that one has to jump through to get on board are insane.

I actually had a guard pull a gun on me when I left the boarding area at the airport, walked half-way through the exit area, and then turned around to go get my boarding pass from my husband (which I forgot he was holding for me). Seriously?

We’ve passed countless laws to ensure our safety. How’s that working for us?

Sadly, followers of Jesus are often no different from the rest of the world.

One statement I’ve heard from many preachers is this: “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.”

We treat God like some supernatural seat belt that’s supposed to keep us from injury –

– and then get angry with Him when He doesn’t ‘work’ right!

Have you read Hebrews 11 lately? You know, the “Hall of Faith.”

I like the part that reads, “who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weaknesses were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight, women received back their dead by resurrection…”

Umm hmm…sign me up!

But wait, there’s more:

“Others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned; they were sawn in two; they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins , in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill treated…wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”

Either these folks slipped under God’s radar and He goofed up… or we have gotten off track somewhere along the way.

I don’t think the issue lies with God!

The apostle Paul understood this best, I think. Here’s his resume:

“In everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger…”

or this one:

“I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness,dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren, I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2 Corinthians 11:26-27)

Paul was one ‘In Danger-ed’ man!

Could it be that we find Christianity boring because we’re playing it safe?

Yeah, the ride could get bumpy, it might get a little sketchy here and there, but we would feel alive!

It is my desire to slide into home plate, worn out, used up and yelling “Woohoo! What a life!!”

Let’s give ourselves completely to God, unencumbered by our safety nets for “just in case” and take a walk on the wild side.

May we follow Jesus into the great unknown, willing to become the “In Danger-ed” generation and LIVE!

Life to the full, baby! Let’s have some fun!!





It’s Not Time

13 11 2013

A judge is separated from the people who come before him (or her). There’s a big desk, a lot of floor space, and tables behind which the prosecutor and defendant sit.

The judge does not personally know the people being tried; all he knows is what he’s been told and what he observes of the person while in his presence (and not in the best of circumstances, to be sure!).

He’s never spoken to them before. He knows nothing of their history, their character, or the intricacies of their relationships. He’s never had a meal with them, or seen them in a social setting of any sort.

He only has the “facts” as they have been presented to him by the attorneys – each with their own agenda, by the way.

When we judge people, don’t we do so in like manner?

I am as guilty as the next person of passing judgment on others. I judge by appearance, by my preference, by what I consider to be right and wrong, and based on what others tell me about the person.

Often, I know little or nothing of the person. I haven’t talked to them, eaten with them, or have any idea what they are like as a person.

I was stopped dead in my tracks by Jesus’ words in John 3:17:

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world;

but that the world might be saved through Him.”

And this one, too:

“And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him;

for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

He who rejects me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him

– the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” John 12:47-48

Check these out:

“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27.

Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.” 1 Corinthians 4:5

“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13.

If Jesus didn’t come to judge the world, but to save it…

…and we are His body…

…then He is still here…

…to save, not to judge.

That day is coming, but is not yet.

There are many evils taking place around us. Our propensity is to hop onto the judge’s bench, pass judgment, and sentence people to hell.

This isn’t Jesus’ heart in the matter. He came to save, not to condemn.

At the deaths of people like Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Ladin, and even Hitler, heaven did not rejoice. These were people that the Lord created. He loves them too. He wanted so much more for them.

It grieves His heart to have anyone choose hell as their final destination. 

If we are to be Ambassadors for Christ – accurate representatives of the King of kings and Lord of lords – we will need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Jesus set an example for us:

In Mark 2, Jesus is found eating in Levi’s house with tax collectors and sinners. The “good” people took exception with this and asked how He could do such a thing. Jesus heard them and said,

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Verse 17)

Is it possible that we’ve gotten off track? I think perhaps we have.

I leave us with this:

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

keep yourselves in the love of God,

looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire,

hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Jude 20-23

It’s not the “religious” folks who need the body of Christ. It’s the unlovely, the hopeless, the desperate. These are the ones who will respond.

They may not all look like street people, but instead more like politicians who know in their hearts that what they are doing is wrong…but can’t see a way out of where they are. They are prisoners of war, compelled to do the bidding of their captor.

Mercy will win far more hearts than condemnation ever will. Jesus needs a body here on earth to do His bidding…one who does justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly with Him…not judges.

That day is coming…

…but now is not that time.

Faith, hope, love…

the greatest of these is

LOVE.





Is Jesus A Paralytic?

31 10 2013

Another important step in gaining the mind of Christ is found in a word:

Remember

Where were we when Jesus found us? What was life like? What kinds of messes were we in at that time? If we aren’t filled with gratitude for what the Lord has done in us, then we’ve forgotten. StephenWhoElse made an excellent comment regarding Ministry That Matters. It was this:

“God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Cor 1:3-4)

If God has lifted us out from the same mess that the brokenhearted, downtrodden and desperate people are in, then we have a big responsibility to share with them the same comfort we received from God.”

Please note that our responsibility is TO them, and not FOR them. Our job is not to rescue them, provide income, or “fix” their lives. These things are beyond our scope of ability. Instead, our calling is to love them; to see them through God’s eyes. Oh, not as they are, but as they will be once they know that they are loved by Him.

You see, Jesus is the Head.

Of what?

His body.

Check this…it’s cool…

We have His mind…and get to be His hands touching; His feet going; His mouth speaking; and His eyes seeing.

Sadly, too often we are merely His “butt” – sitting.

(No irreverence intended.)

Our hands massage the body; our feet take us to church on Sunday, but not to the desperate; our mouth speaks sweet words of affirmation to itself, while telling the destitute, “Get a job.” We shut our eyes to the downtrodden. If we don’t “see” them, we have no responsibility to them.

To a great extent, we’ve become quite narcissistic…

…and rendered Jesus a paralytic.

This isn’t about the street people – although it includes them. Look around. There are many who are living “lives of quiet desperation.” Life is spiraling out of control, fear is at an all-time high. They have no “Anchor for their soul.” They’re being ripened for the harvest.

Jesus said:

“The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

(Matthew 9:37-38)

Lord, help us to be You in the world – the way You intended for us to be.

Teach us to love with Your love and feel compassion the way You did when You walked among us.

Help us to “be the change” we want to see in the world. We will need courage and strength – and a lot of discernment. May we glorify You in all we say, do and think.

In Jesus’ name. Amen!





A Treasure Hunt With Jesus

30 10 2013

“Healing is a response to a crisis in the life of another person. It’s enough of a response, a satisfactory response to a crisis in the life of another.

“And whenever the word crisis is used in the Greek New Testament, it is translated in English as judgment. That’s right – judgment.

“Healing is a response that I make to a decisive moment in the life of [another]; whether I respond or not, I have made a judgment.

“Every day we are afforded opportunities to pass on to others what we have received from the Lord: namely His unconditional love and acceptance of me as I am, not as I should be.

“He loves me whether in a state of grace or disgrace, whether I live up to the lofty expectations of the gospel or I don’t. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.” (Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God, p. 82)

I find it interesting to realize that someone else’s crisis causes me to make a judgment.

After I’ve heard their story (assuming that I didn’t dismiss them as “worthless” and ignore them altogether), I mentally evaluate the person and then pass judgment based on several things: their appearance, their fault in the matter, their value as a person, and my resources.

If they are clean enough, appear to be the victim – not the perpetrator – are “productive” in society, and it won’t take much time. I judge them worthy of my time and extend a hand. My involvement brings healing to them.

However, if they’re dirty, have “brought their problems on themselves,” and a vagabond, or their life is an utter mess…that’s another story. I judge them to be hopeless and quickly move on.

As I said in “Ministry that Matters:”

In this way, I have never been less Christ-like.

The question becomes:

“How do I obtain the mind of Christ concerning the unlovely?”

It begins with a simple request from the Father: “Lord, would you give me Your heart for the lost, the broken, the downtrodden from every walk of life?”

In James 4:2b-3 we read, “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

When we make this petition, the answer will be “yes,” for “God is not willing that any should perish…” Our request is in line with His will, therefore it will be granted.

Then, as we drive around town we need to take notice of people around us. Soon you’ll notice someone who keeps coming into your line of view. Give them a descriptive name (one of mine is “the drunk in Old Sac.” Another is “the sad lady in K-Mart.”), that will help you remember the person.

This isn’t our evaluation of the person – just a way to identify them as we pray for them.

The Lord already knows their name – and their story.

When our attention is drawn to a person, we would be wise to believe that there is a reason…often that reason is nothing more than to whisper a prayer for them.

The “drunk” was a fellow we saw being picked up by ambulance when on vacation. It is unlikely that I’ll ever see him again.

There’s also the “mumbler.” I frequently see him around town. I got to meet him one evening after praying for him for a couple of years. I asked for his first name so “the next time I talk to Jesus about you, I’ll know what to call you.”

The extent of my involvement with these people is prayer.

I can’t “fix” their lives…but I know the One who can!

If life seems monotonous, ask the Lord to give you His heart for the lost, the broken, the outcast. He will!

Soon every emergency vehicle’s siren will be an opportunity to pray.

You’ll notice the people in other cars at intersections…and your heart will be broken to realize that not one of them knows Jesus…and you will pray.

The sad woman at the store will be touched that you noticed her pain and asked if you could pray for her.

Go ahead – ask for His heart for others.

I double-dare you.

You’re about to embark on a grand adventure…

…You were made for such a time as this!

(To be continued…)