Broken Crayons

Have you heard the saying that broken crayons still color? It’s true.

It’s also true that God uses broken people to bring out the colors in the world. Those, and not the perfectly whole people, are the ones God favors to work in and to work through.

God uses wounded healers because He is a wounded healer. He still bears the scars from His wounds by which we were healed.

Those marks on His hands and feet are to remind us that we weren’t healed and saved to bask in our deliverance, but to turn around and help others find healing. We have been reconciled through shed blood in order to facilitate a ministry of reconciliation based on the Prince of Peace.

Love That Says No

“Love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love’s kind, must be destroyed. And our God is a consuming fire” (George MacDonald).

I think as a society we’ve turned love into a vague kind of permissiveness that tolerates anything and has no will of its own, a thinly disguised kind of lust that puts self-gratification above all else.

Not so with the ruthless, radical, relentless love of God. Not so with the love that took Jesus to a bloody death on a cross.

I’m finding out in my own life that this love of God, while pure and perfect and good, won’t tolerate anything but God’s very best for me.

While I’ve received God’s YES in Jesus, often that YES means a No to lesser desires and wants in my life. Sometimes, they’re bad and harmful. Sometimes they’re good. But just as bad is an enemy of good, so can good be an enemy of the best.

I still believe that the times God has said no to my prayers have been great mercies, maybe even more so than when He says yes. He’s kept me from finding the end result of me getting my own way, which usually doesn’t turn out well. Especially since I’m not always certain that I actually know what I want.

God will burn away anything in me that’s not pure and lovely. The bad, the ugly, and yes, sometimes the good. That’s what hurts the most.

Maybe the best kind of love is that which seeks to bring out the best in others and won’t settle for anything less. That’s God’s kind of love. The kind that sometimes says no.


Velveteen Love

“’Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’” (Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit).

I’ll just let this speak for itself. May each of us know Love like this that takes us where we are and makes us real and whole.


Thursday Smiles

“We know what true love looks like because of Jesus. He gave His life for us, and He calls us to give our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16, The Voice).

Smile. God loves you. Not as you should be. Not as you wish you could be. Not as you see yourself on your best days when the skies are blue and all the traffic lights are green.

God loves you as you are. He loves you at your worst as well as your best. He loves you at your darkest and ugliest moments the same way He loves you when you’re living right.

You can’t cause God to love you less or make Him love you more.

When people walk away, God won’t.

When you don’t like yourself, God likes you.

Whether you drive a Maserati or a Ford Pinto, God loves you.

God’s love is as unchanging as God Himself, which means that His love for you is forever.

Take that thought with you as you drift off to sleep tonight.

Oh, by the way, tomorrow’s Friday!



Happy February 14!

It’s Valentine’s Day aka Single Awareness Day aka The Day Before Chocolate is 70% Off. In other words, this day is loaded with expectations. And chocolate.

For those of you in relationships, congratulations. Don’t take them for granted. The good relationships aren’t the ones where the two of you settle but where each of you is still trying to win the heart of the other and outdo each other with acts of love.

For those who are not, the temptation to cynicism and envy and anger is very real. Especially if you’ve reached the point on giving up for any kind of romance of your own.

The key is to get out of yourself. It’s to seek out the unlovable and serve them with acts of love. It’s to focus on the Author of all loves, the one who made us lovable when He set His love on us in the first place.

That’s how Valentine’s Day exists. We love at all because He first loved us.

It’s important to remember that love at its core is not an emotion. While love does involve the emotions, it is ultimately an act of the will. When you stop feeling in love, you still choose to act in loving ways. That’s real love.

No matter where you are on this Valentine’s Day, remember above all that you are loved. God demonstrated His love for us in that while you and I were still sinners, Christ died for us. While we were still enemies with God, Jesus chose those nails for us.

You are the beloved of God. That trumps every other identity and that’s the best way to define yourself and to see yourself on this February 14.

Plus, there’s always chocolate. Chocolate never judges. Chocolate understands. Chocolate will always be there for you.



John 3:16

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NLT).

Anybody remember that guy with the rainbow colored afro who used to hold up the John 3:16 signs at sporting events? I do.

Some of you reading this may not be old enough to remember him, but you’re at least familiar with the verse. Perhaps too familiar. Maybe you’re like me and you’ve heard these words so many times that you’ve almost stopped listening to them.

I think I heard them in a fresh new way today at Room in the Inn when the guest speaker chose that as the theme of his message to the homeless men.

“For God . . .” Every great story begins with God. Every story of hope and redemption, every story where good overcomes evil, begins with God.

“For God loved . . .” If your God is known more for what He hates and what He is against rather than what He loves and what He is for, perhaps you’re serving a god instead of God. The defining verse about the God of the bible starts out with “For God so loved . . .”

“For God loved the world . . .” God doesn’t just love white Republicans. God doesn’t just love Americans. God doesn’t just love religious people. God doesn’t just love “successful” people with the perfect resumes and perfect lives.

“For God loved the world  so much that He gave . . .” True love always involves sacrifice. The epitome and the ultimate example of sacrificial love is God giving us Jesus both to live and to die for us.

“For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone . . .” Salvation is for everyone. Not just a select few. Not just for some. Not for those who deserve it (because none of us do). It’s for anyone who asks for it. It’s for you and me.

“For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes . . .” Sometimes, faith gets overcomplicated. Sometimes faith gets reduced to pithy bumper sticker slogans. Faith is simple yet profound. It costs nothing yet it is priceless. Faith means believing not just with your heart or your mind but with your whole life.

“For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

That’s it. You don’t have to perish. You have the choice of eternal life. Not just a future pie in the sky by and by kind of life, but real and robust life to the full right here and now. God will always respect the decision you make, whether for Him or not.

The choice is yours. What will you do with it?


Looking in the Mirror

These days, I’m feeling a bit like that Tom Hanks character in the Spielberg move The Terminal. In essence, he’s a man without a country when the country he just left had a military coup and the United States won’t let him enter because of his own country’s uncertain status.

I don’t feel like I can endorse either the Republican or Democratic parties.

The Republicans and their zeal to build a wall and keep refugees out seem to have forgotten about Isaiah 58 where God’s idea of true worship involves taking care of the poor and needy, the least of these. I also seem to remember that quote on the Statue of Liberty about giving me your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.

The Democrats seem to be heaping a lot of venom and vileness onto President Trump. While I’m far from a fan of his, I have a really hard time trying to reconcile #lovetrumpshate with people talking about burning down the White House with him inside and other posts that are full of nothing but hatred toward the man.

So I choose to remain an independent.

It’s easy to cast blame about what’s wrong with America and the world in general. It’s very easy to point the finger at the other side and to proclaim loudly that “they” are the problem and whenever we can get rid of “them,” all our problems will magically go away.

It’s far more difficult to look in a mirror and to see part of the problem staring back at you. It’s harder to realize that we all as citizens of America and the world bear responsibility to do our part to make our country and our world a better place not just for us but for all.

You can choose to pray for the President, Congress, House of Representatives, Supreme Court, and all those in power at the federal, state, and local levels. You can choose to follow Jesus when he said to love your enemies (even the Trumps of the world) and to pray for those who persecute you and treat you badly. You can serve others in many ways by getting involved and volunteering at homeless shelters and other community ministries.

I believe the saying goes that for those who are busy making a difference, there’s not nearly as much time left to criticize and belittle others.

Ultimately, the reality is that only Jesus can change America and the world. Only the Love that laid down His life for His friends (and enemies) is stronger than the hate and fear that are so prevalent these days.



You Can Never Out-give God

“Our Lord Jesus is ever giving, and does not for a solitary instant withdraw His hand. As long as there is a vessel of grace not yet full to the brim, the oil shall not be stayed. He is a sun ever-shining; He is manna always falling round the camp; He is a rock in the desert, ever sending out streams of life from his smitten side; the rain of his grace is always dropping; the river of his bounty is ever-flowing, and the well-spring of his love is constantly overflowing” (Charles Spurgeon).

I’m not one of those people who believe that with enough faith, you can name and claim vast sums of money, mansions, and other material wealth. I don’t believe God is a celestial genie whose sole purpose is to give us our every wish and whim.

I do believe that God always gives the greatest gift– God gives God.

The greatest blessing isn’t the kind that shows up on a bank account statement. It isn’t one that you list on your income tax returns.

The greatest blessing from God is that serene peace that comes from knowing God will keep every promise toward you and there will never be a moment where you slip out of God’s hand.

The greatest treasures aren’t things. The currency in heaven isn’t gold– it’s love. it’s those who will be there because of your testimony both spoken and lived out. All you can take with you is what you’ve given away, as the line from It’s a Wonderful Life goes.

I’m all for those who are financially successful. I’m all for having nice things. I also know that he who dies with the most toys, still dies, and you can’t take those toys with you.

All you can take is the love of God that you’ve given away.



Love Like That

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that” (Ephesians 5:1-2 MSG).

Love like that.

It’s so easy to type out but so very difficult to live out. In fact, it’s impossible.

It’s impossible to love the way God does, especially if you’re working purely on your own strength.

The only way to love like God loves is that you must first open yourself up to receive God’s love freely and unhindered. As my pastor once said, trying to contain the love of God is like trying to contain the ocean in a thimble. It will spill out.

That’s how you love like God loves. It’s from the overflow of God’s love for you.

My prayer for you is that you can stop trying to earn or deserve God’s love but instead simply stretch out your hands and receive it.

Once you understand God loves you not because of your worthiness but in spite of your unworthiness, once you realize the nature of His unconditional love for you, it frees you to love even the most unlovable people (even the Trumps and/or Clintons, depending on your political persuasion).

One day, they might very well say about you, “I know and believe God’s love for me because I have seen in in you.”

That’s the best kind of love.

“The love for equals is a human thing–of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles. The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing–the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing–to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then there is the love for the enemy–love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love. It conquers the world” (Frederich Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat).