Saturday, April 20, 2013

How to Find Hope in the Aftermath of the Boston Bombing

The Saturday following 9/11 found me polishing my kitchen cabinets the way a ravenous lion devours a zebra. I cleaned the blinds and laundered the curtains in the family room too.

Last Monday afternoon, I was at work when Drudge Report started tap dancing on my phone. He did several encores before I turned my attention to it.

Thus began another dull, slow burn of trying to grasp the potential in the human spirit for evil. I shied away from the news.

Tuesday morning I sat in front of a television screen and let the tears come; my broken heart was already in Boston anyway. I changed my Facebook cover to the Boston skyline, a pretty pitiful offering, but all I could figure to do.

On Thursday, I donned my sneakers and grabbed my daughter, and we ran 3 miles. I broke two personal records according to my Nike Plus ap, and my hip flexors are still sore this morning. But it was worth it. I ran for Boston, every marathoner, every victim, and in defiance of terror worldwide.

Man, that felt good.

Then yesterday happened, a manhunt of historic proportions. I was reacquainted with Chechnya on the map and tried again to celebrate the birth of my son on a day that brought so much hatred and violence and evil to our nation's attention.

By the end of the day, evil was found cowering in a boat that belongs to someone else. Evil trespasses and squats on our property, wounded and awaiting his final blow.

Evil will be dealt a final blow, be sure of that. The time will come when Jesus will reign, and we--all nations, all languages, all tribes inexplicably together as one body--will worship Him, our head.


This is how love wins.

In 2001, terrorism made me want to clean my house. In 2013, it makes me yearn for another house, one promised, where all will be right.

I imagine it will look and sound a little like this:

(Revelation Song in 8 languages representing 7 nations)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Letter from a Son on his Birthday

My children were all born in the morning hours. In the evening of each of those days, while sitting next to rosy cheeks protruding from baby-blanket-cocoons, I wrote my newborn a letter on pink stationery with an embossed rosebud, sealed it, and brought it home to their baby book for safekeeping.

I'm not sure how safe they were. I've discovered throughout the years that they were all found, one by one, by the addressee. I guess a sealed letter from mom on the day of their birth was too much to resist. Seals were cracked, and hormonal, motherhood gushings were all licked up by precocious children exploring their baby books some ordinary day of their childhood, probably while I was folding laundry downstairs.   

And now, I think I've been outdone.

Adrian wrote an open letter and posted it on Facebook, a gift given by the birthday boy rather than received. 

His father, ever the pastor, had an equally profound response, so I'm posting them here—fair game, as they both already posted publicly. 

I love my men, for all their strengths, for all their failings, and for all their vulnerable honesty.

As I verge dangerously close to more hormonal, motherhood gushings—again, I conclude my introduction.

I give you my son and my their own words:

Dear everyone reading,

I turn 18 on Friday. Wow. Time is flying. All my friends are in college already, so I've always been a lot more mature anyway. But something about the big 18 are just "wow" to me! 


Anyway, being 18, a "legal adult" has got me reflecting on my life. Situations, moments, people, past, present, future, etc. and I feel as if their are some things I need to reflect on, and some people I need to address.

1. My parents: I'm sorry that at 18 years old, I constantly leave my room a mess. I'm sorry that I disrespect the things God has given me and take for granted the things you do for me. I don't pull the weight around the house like I should. I'm sorry, and I promise to make steps to show you responsibility. Sorry it took this long.

2. School: I know my teachers aren't really on Facebook, but this is more to inform and encourage anyone reading. I'm sorry that I didn't show priority to my education and slacked off thinking I could catch up. It's easier said than done. I don't come a rich family so scholarships were the only way I could afford college, and I failed to get as many as I could because I've lacked the grades. Don't make the mistakes I've made.

 3. Girls I've hurt in the past: This one is gonna be hard for me. I've always had an identity issue. If I didn't feel appreciated enough by friends and family, I needed girls approval. I have always been known as a "player" — one girl to the next. I admit that idea of me isn't too far off. I am SO sorry for the scars I've left emotionally on girls in my past. I was more concerned with title and appreciation that I didn't take into account the value of your soul, and your heart. Men, those are daughters of God, not trophies. Cherish and love the women God gives to you in His timing. Because when you go above Him and do it your own way, it reeks havoc on their hearts, your heart, and Gods. I promise to flee youthful lust and stay pure for my future wife because she is worthy of it all, whoever she may be one day.

4. My sisters: In follow up to number 3, I want to apologize for being an AWFUL example of what it is for a man to treat a women. I've failed in that department and now I find myself at a loss of time. You're both growing up just as fast as me. I love you, and I know that you both love God, but I can see that you are awe struck about getting attention from boys. I see the boys you talk to. Please stop. You're not at that season of your life to worry about that. "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all other things will be added to you." He will give you a man A LONG TIME from now. I don't want to see you be another one of the girls that I've disrespected. I know what guys minds are like and what they say and do to get your attention. I pray you stay strong in The Lord and I'm sorry I wasn't the example you needed. But I see you falling in love with youthful passions and I just can't turn a blind eye to it. It's not all its cut out to be. I have a lot of scars and broken pieces of my heart missing. Trust God, seek him now. You have much more time before you should be concerned with all that stuff.

5. My Praise & Worship director: I am sorry for the familiarity that I have so much complained about, but yet happily partake in. I always complain when it's beneficial to me, but quick to jump on someone when it's you or someone else. I am sorry for disrespecting your words and not giving weight to them because "Ah, he's just my uncle." That's not right and I apologize. I will strive to be not the best musician, but the lead worshiper! I want God to flow through me. A band is only as strong as their weakest link. I don't wanna be that! I will strive to be a good nephew, a good musician, but also a true worshiper and respectful to honor you as the leader.

6. My youth pastor: I'm sorry that I have not been the forerunner of our youth group and not come alongside you in the way I should. I am so looking forward to becoming a youth leader next year and helping you with the youth group. I love the impact God has used you in my life for.

7. Everyone else: I am sorry for taking my Christianity casually and not representing Him the way I should. I have blown my witness so many times. But I am sick for flipping sides like a coin, living a double life. From now on, you are gonna see a surrendered life for God.

One last thought, I know these are just apologies in word form. I know it's gonna take putting it into action for you to see a change. But I am surrendering all of me to Christ to be His servant and witness to the world.

You can dress a pig up all you want, clean it, shampoo it, put a nice bow on it; it will always return to the mud because that is his nature!

I'm done dressing up and grooming my life to appear appeasing like I have everything together. Lord, change my nature, fix my life and set me on the right path. I trust in you! It's gonna take action in faith. But I can do all things through You.

Okay, I'm done rambling. So much more I could address, but I think I said what needs to be said.

Thank you all so much,
I just want some money for my birthday ;) ,


: : :

And a father's response:  (It's not always easy having a pastor for a dad. I should tell you some time about what it's like to give birth with a pastor for a husband and birthing partner.)

Thanks for sharing, son. I know airing out your failures and sin is not something most people are comfortable with. Most would rather keep things hidden and give appearances that they are living right. Others are quick to judge the actions of others but fail to see their own faults, or see the weakness of others and not their own.

You display a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, a willingness to confess your sin, a judgment of yourself which will keep you from being judged, "For if we would judge ourselves, we will not be judged." (1 Cor. 11:31). Also, when you confess your sin, you walk in the victory that Christ gave us over sin and you then can walk alive to God and bear His fruit (Rom. 6:11).

The important part of this confession is to surrender all to Christ and allow Him to make the changes in you that He is making. So many times we fall short of this process. We confess, but then digress, instead of progress. Why? Because when we confess our sin, there is a feeling of relief, yet that relief is not transformation. Transformation happens when after confession we surrender our will to God and He does an inward work of supernatural proportions that we will later come to understand to be only by His hand.

Thanks again for sharing, for being transparent and for encouraging me to live the same. Now go, and obey the Lord. Love you.

He that reproves a boy concerning the beginning of his way,
even if he becomes old
he will not turn away from it.
~Prov. 22:6, Aramaic Bible in Plain English

Friday, April 5, 2013

When God's Answer is No

Easter may seem like a distant memory already, since it was 5 days ago, and we pack so much into our days in the 21st century. But there’s a part of the Easter story that’s lingering with me. It’s the Garden of Gethsemane part.

Jesus was about to face the express purpose for which he came to this planet, and basically, he was having second thoughts. He had previously volunteered to leave heaven to be born a helpless babe to an imperfect mother in a primitive time for a gruesome reason. The proposition was to squeeze Eternity into the burial clothes of human flesh and die a torturous death he didn’t deserve.  It took some humbling of himself, but Jesus did it willingly according to Philippians 2:2-5. 

And we know from Hebrews 2:2 that he endured the cross for the joy set before him, the joy being the reconciling to himself the crowning creation crafted in his image.

But in between the humbling of himself and the joy set before him there is this mess in the Garden of Gethsemane.

No one gets through this fallen life on Earth, or even the abundant life for that matter, without facing hard things. And even for Jesus it didn’t look pretty. He was sweating it out. He begged and pleaded for Plan B. It kept him awake that night.

But God ultimately answered his prayer with no. He does that sometimes, and it can be a real bummer.
You can read the rest at Laced With Grace. Come, and let's figure out what we're supposed to do when God's answer is no.

Laced With Grace
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