The Real Jesus is not a Racist.

47722262-310C-4578-9C62-F524FBCE9869

I grew up in the South Suburbs of Chicago.  My neighborhood and schools were made up of black, white, and brown people.  Some black people were violent, some white people were violent, and some brown people were violent. I witnessed with my own eyes a white male teacher physically assaults a young black woman in the hallway. “Go to the principal,” the teacher said, “Who will he believe, Me, or you.”  I saw that girl crumble into herself with fear and shame.  She never told.

Some black people were good and wonderful people, some white people were good and wonderful people, and some brown people were good and wonderful people.  I witnessed countless acts of love and unity between races in our community.

I grew up not judging someone based upon the color of their skin, what car they drove, or where their house was.  I got to know people as individuals.  I had white, black and brown friends.  It was normal for me and the people around me.  There were racists, no doubt.  White people infuriated by the black and brown people moving into their white neighborhoods.  Their prejudice left when they all moved away, which was good in a way.  It was sad to see how many of the people I had known my whole life, seemingly with good character and morals, run for their lives to all white communities to hide. It sickened me.  It made me realize how deep the racial divide was in the hearts and minds of white men and women.

Our church split because a majority of white people did not want to invite their new black and brown neighbors to worship with them.  They wanted to uproot the entire body of believers and move to an all-white neighborhood mile away from the changing one.

I was again, dumbstruck at the atrocious behavior of “Jesus Followers” I had looked up to and admired my entire life.  Men stood up and shook angry fists during church services and business meetings.  Harsh angry words, unrepeatable and unforgiveable. I remember being 17, completely speechless at the behavior of these adults.  What was amazing in the midst of all of this was our pastor. He was an unshakable, unmovable pillar of strength. He stood strong and true to the real Jesus.  The Jesus that loves all the children of the world, Red, Yellow, Black and White.  The bad guys left.  The church flung open its doors to the community, and quickly became a truly multi-ethnic place of worship, one of the only ones I’ve ever seen.

The racial divide in our country is unacceptable. Thank God for cell phone videos and pictures to record the horrific acts of violence that have marked our country since it’s birth. Our nation was built on the backs of black slavery. Never, ever forget that.  George Washinton himself owned hundreds of slaves. He didn’t regard them as equal. The sin of racism is as deep as the roots of our great nation.

I beg you to repent if you are inclined to view one race higher or lower than another.  Repent and find the true Jesus, the one who loves all men and women, all the races with equality.

The real Jesus doesn’t use racial slurs or roll His eyes at black men and women demonstrating and marching for peace. The real Jesus stands among them, because He too, was forcefully and unjustly maligned and killed. The real Jesus marches on, spreading joy and light and peace.  Join the real Jesus.  Be free from the ties that bind our hands and hearts to the ties that bind us and have bound us since our nation’s inception.

Be free to love. Be free.  Let freedom ring.

The Very Best Friday

Beloved

This side of Heaven, we will encounter many hardships. We will experience the ravages of sin, the aftershocks of Eden. We will hurt with gaping wounds, inflicted by those we love, betrayed by the ones that know us best.

We will worry the world onto our wobbling shoulders, convinced that we can save it by taking it upon ourselves, us, being made in the image and likeness of God.

We sow seeds of insolence and reap harvests of regret.

We obsess, malign and worry God-sized fears, obnoxious in our own false grandeur.

All the while, God, on the cross is looking at us in our own foolishness and taking the weight of the world back upon Himself, where it belongs, so our way is easy, and our burden made light. Even with all of our inconsistencies and intolerance, He looks to us and calls us Beloved.

Jesus knows our hearts. He knows we long for what is wrong in the world to be made right. He has made a way for us. His way. He is a ‘Man of Sorrows’, acquainted with grief. Don’t push the sadness of the death of Jesus on the cross away. Don’t push your own sadness or sorrow away. Grief is never wasted.

Grief knows grief, and standing at the foot of the cross, robed in sadness, we are equal, united in our desperation for wholeness and healing, for an upside-down world to be made right. We seek the Messiah’s face and hear Him say the words since Eden we have been waiting to hear, “It is Finished.”

And it is. Jesus holds the victory in the secret of the cross. Let’s meet him there today together.

Be The Light

I don’t cry easily.  Really, I don’t.  But this week, I have. The overwhelming sadness  that sits right outside our doors is hard to fathom.  Every morning I get pulled from a deep sleep into a waking up, and my thoughts go like this, “It’s light. It’s morning…. oh, we are still in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.  I then pick up my phone to check the time and it is blowing up with updates and information from around the world.  Every day the numbers get higher, every day more people die.  Really healthy, young people. Babies.  Healthy adults, the elderly, the poor, the needy, the rich…it does not much matter.  This virus is wreaking absolute havoc on humanity.

It’s sunny and warm out here in Kansas City today. The Robins are singing, the bluebirds are back, fluttering from tree to tree gathering little berries off trees to bring back to their nests.  They have really been my only companions besides Rob and Belle. They are so funny to watch. Ive gotten several photos of them, their little head tilts make me laugh. One was listening to a cardinal sing yesterday, and it tilted it’s head toward the song, seeming to like it. 8561BBFB-0034-4240-A0D6-24676ECC1049

Everything in my yard feels very, very safe.

But “out there” …wow.  It’s dark, even on the sunniest of days with the bluest of skies.  I suppose it’s appropriate, considering it is Holy Week.  The week Jesus was betrayed. The week leading up to his end. The completion of his job on earth in body form. Jesus wept.  He did, and we can too.

We need each other more than ever.  You have the power to be the light in someone’s day today.  Shine bright friends, we can overcome this darkness together.

 

When We Suffer…

0B84E5C8-7E37-4A00-956A-080E2B22FE97But God is the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His interposition deliverance came. We were cast down, but not destroyed.”

~Amy Carmichael

 Amy Carmichael was a young single woman alive to the love of Jesus and the mission she was called to at the turn of the last century.  She served Him in Southern India, rescuing very young girls from the evil practice of prostitution at the Hindu temples. Eventually she rescued boys, growing her little family to over a thousand children.

One night while walking in the dark, she tripped over a hole in the ground and severely injured her leg. Her injury was not fixable with the medical treatment that was available to her.  She was bedridden for the last twenty years of her life- quarantined.

Despite her injury and constant agony and pain, she ran the orphanage and published around 35 books, without the internet, computer or even a typewriter.

God used Amy in amazing ways.  Her work in Southern India continues to this day.

She chose Jesus when all else looked helpless.  She served God and the people around her wholeheartedly. She said often that her missionary work was nothing else but a chance to die– die to self and be alive in Jesus.

I think of Amy often, I have studied her life for years.  I cannot count the number of times I have said to myself, “Amy did it. So can I.” Her life is a symbol to me of Jesus’ love and wholehearted devotion in the midst of extreme suffering.  It wasn’t difficult for her to talk to others about the love and grace of Jesus, she saw him in her suffering, because of her suffering, and the suffering of the women and children around her.

Often in difficult times, we see God moving more; People’s hearts are more open.  Hardship breeds longing for assurance and hope. There is a commonality in the face of suffering that does not happen in any other way.

You have the best message in the world! God is real! Jesus is alive! The Holy Spirit is Hope!

God the Father will take care of you.  Jesus is your friend, forever with you, and the Holy Spirit alive in you will give you the wisdom and strength you need for each new day.

We struggle, but we press on.  We are cast down, but we will not be destroyed. God will take care of you.

“Look at the birds of the air. They don’t plant or gather crops. They don’t put away crops in storerooms. But your Father who is in heaven feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? Can you add even one hour to your life by worrying” ~Jesus

The Welcoming Prayer

img_4371Who would have guessed even a month ago that our whole planet would jolt and be forever changed?  Not me. COVID-19, the Coronavirus, is now a trending word worldwide.  It feels like the whole world has changed overnight..

In one day, one hour, Maddie and Whitney lost their last semester of their junior and sophomore year at k-state.  They both lost their jobs at the preschool they worked at together.   They went from growing independence to dependence.  Belle can’t go back to school either, the rest of her freshman year in high school over in a snap.  I asked her this morning how her and her friends were feeling about it, and she said, “None of us knows what to do or how to feel”. All of their hang out places and spaces are gone.  Parents don’t want groups of kids at their house, so that’s out too.

As a mom, it hurts my heart so much to see what the girls have worked so hard for be put out in a second, without much direction or comfort in knowing what lies ahead.    These losses hurt.

I find myself thinking that despite all of it, our own losses are nothing.  Absolutely nothing compared to what many are going through right now.  We have a home.  We have food. We are reasonably healthy.  We have enough. We truly have so much to be grateful for.  Gratitude lists are so important in times of crisis and chaos.

While yes, we do have all those things, along with the hope Jesus gives, there is still a whole lot of room for grief.  We are not heroes if we don’t grieve or allow some sadness to surface.  Putting on a happy face despite all that is churning beneath the surface is not always helpful.

In my own circles, I can see and feel a rage growing in people.  Hoarding, complaining, menacing, arguing, etc. are all reactions to fear and sadness. It’s important for all of us to steward those feelings and recognize what is causing them.  The Welcoming Prayer is something that I turn to when what is happening around me is confusing. I welcome all of it, knowing that everything that happens to me is something I can learn from, and grow because of.

The Welcoming Prayer is a method of consenting to God’s presence and action in our physical and emotional reactions to events around us. The purpose of the Welcoming Prayer is to deepen our relationship with God through consenting in everything that happens to us and around us.

Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
God’s action within. Amen

~Thomas Keating

Grief does not cancel out gratitude.  Grief is a feeling; it is not regulated or to be dismissed by us or anyone.  We all handle grief differently.  For me, it’s going on a walk, solitude, sorting it out in my head before processing with anyone. In those times I can “Welcome” what it is that I am feeling and thinking, and begin to sort through my emotions, thoughts and feelings.    For Belle, it’s singing at the top of her lungs while driving down a long road with some friends.  For my older girls, it’s sitting in their newly established independence, just being with their people in their grief, comforting one another by just being.

What I think is most important right now is to remember that Jesus, our lord and savior, the king of the universe, was called “A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.”(Isaiah 53:3)

Our Jesus knows what it is to hurt, to lose what is most important, to weep. He weeps with us as there is suddenly so much grief and loss in our world.   Know that in your own losses you are not alone.  Literally the world grieves with you.  Jesus sees and cares.  He has so much love to give. 

What we know about God in times of Trouble

A worldwide pandemic is a pretty big deal. I’m not exactly panicking, but certainly a little on edge and cautious. In these very troubled times, we can still have a very great peace. We can hope. We can trust. Here’s what we know about God because we are God’s children. He never changes, even when the whole world is changing.

God is our comfort. He is our protector.

“He will cover you with his wings, and under his wings you will find refuge.”Psalm 90:1

God knows what we do not and cannot know.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”Jeremiah 33:3

God is the source of our strength and rest.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

We can trust God. He is our refuge.

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge”Psalm 62:5-8

Nothing, absolutely NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35,37-39

Take heart. God is on your side. ❤️