Her mug says, “You are enough”.
But the Truth is, I am not enough.

I am not smart enough.
I am not strong enough.
I am not wise enough.
I am not enough.

There are holes in my life.
In my thinking.
In my finances.
In my work.
In my relationships.
In the lives of those I love.

And if I believe that I am enough, that I have it within me to fix all of that, to even begin to deal with all of it, then I am in trouble.
Serious trouble.

Because it just isn’t True.
And it is A LOT of pressure.

Always have the right answer.
Always make the right choice.
Always do the right thing.
Always be the right person.

I am not enough.
And never will be enough.

No matter how much education I get, I will still not know everything.
No matter how long I live, I will still not have sufficient wisdom.
No matter how much money I have, it will never fix it all. Supply it all. Change what needs to be changed. Grow what needs to be grown.
No matter how much I exercise and eat right, this body will still wear out.
No matter how much I laugh, I cannot cure the ills of body and soul.
No matter how much I care, people around me will still hurt.

I am not enough.

And that is a beautiful thing.
A blessing!

These very things – the cracks in my armor, the flaws in me, the failures of my life, the pain that God allows – these are the things that show me clearly and without question that I have a great need.
That I am not enough.
And never will be.

But, while I am not enough, there is something I most definitely am.
I am loved.
By the Great I AM, I am loved.
By the Great I AM, I am favored.
By the Great I AM, I am redeemed.
By the Great I AM, I am forgiven.
By the Great I AM, I am strengthened.
Given wisdom.
Supplied with all I need.
Because He is THE Enough.

And I am loved, not because I am enough.
Because clearly, I am not.
But I am also not loved because I am not enough, like some great pity-motivated project God has taken on.
I am loved simply because HE is enough.
He IS love.
And He chooses love.
He loves me even as He hates my sin.
He loves me when I excel.
And He loves me when I fail.
He loves me when I make Him look good.
And He loves me when I steal His glory for myself.
He loves me when I understand what He is doing and thank Him for it.
And He loves me when I rail against Him with questions, hurts and even accusations.

And that is what is, indeed, enough.
His love is enough.
While I was still a sinner, Christ died.
Before I was born, He knew me.
Before time began, He made a plan for my life.
He called me out of darkness and into the Kingdom of His dear Son.
He calls me Beloved.
And Friend.

He is Enough.
His Grace is Enough.
His Power is Enough.
His Mercies, new every morning, are Enough.
Because He is the Great Enough.

The “I AM” of my life.
My present circumstances.
My future concerns.
The number of my days.
And what fills them.
He is Enough.
The God who is able to do – and who, in essence is – “exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all I can ask or think”. (Ephesians 3)

I am not enough.
But thanks be to God!
He Is.

On Fugitives, Lenses, and God…

Image result for glasses with two lenses

He was a fugitive.
Not because he had done anything wrong.
But because the government was run by a madman.
Paranoid, delusional at times, and full of self-importance, the ruler of the land had put a price on his head.
And so he ran.
Desperately, he ran.
First to a neighboring country, an enemy territory.
Things got so shaky there that he pretended to be insane so that they wouldn’t also put a price on his head.
But eventually he convinced them to trust him – and then he steadily and subtly worked against the enemy government, even though he truly was a man without a country.

Word got out about his activities and slowly but surely, other men trickled in.
They were the malcontents.
Unhappy with their lives, they were drawn to him.
And together, they established a rough and tumble life in a foreign land.

Eventually, this band of brothers grew to be 600 men – plus their wives and kids.
They took over a small town.
And continued to pretend to be loyal to the foreign land in which they lived, all the while working against that regime.

Until the day it all fell apart.
While these guerillas were out raiding one enemy, a different enemy found them.
Found their small town.
And destroyed it.
Kidnapped their wives and children.
Took all their possessions.
So that when they returned home, exhausted after their own battles, they faced devastation.

And the men did what was natural.
They turned on their leader.
They blamed him.
This band of rough and tumble militants suddenly found a new enemy – their leader – and things were about to get ugly.

Their commander could have gotten defensive.
He could have pointed out that he never asked them to join him.
He could have gotten angry and delineated the ways they had failed him.

But he didn’t.
Instead, he turned to the One who had sustained him thus far. The One he trusted completely. He “strengthened himself in the Lord his God”.

I am sure he wondered at God’s plan.
I am sure he doubted along the way.
I am sure he thought he had gotten it all wrong.

Because, after all, he had been chosen to be the next King of Israel when he was just a teenager.
Too young to shave.
The least of the least in his family.
So low on the totem pole that his Dad didn’t even call him in from the fields when the prophet showed up and asked to see his sons.

But that day, Samuel, the last Judge of Israel and God’s spokesman, had chosen David over his older, smarter, more handsome brothers. Said he would be the next King.

And David had seen God do amazing things in the years in between.
People singing his praises.
A beautiful wife, the daughter of King Saul.
Life was good.

Until it wasn’t.
King Saul tried to kill him. Repeated over and over again that that was his plan. Sent soldiers to his house to execute him.
And so David ran.
Ran from Saul.
From his army.
Hiding in caves in the wilderness.
Running from his life, for his life.

And then this.
The devastation of his home, the village of Ziklag.
His family kidnapped.
And the only friends he had left turning on him, ready to kill him.

“But David found strength in the Lord his God.” (I Samuel 30)
He focused on God instead of his circumstances.
He consulted the Lord.
And God directed him to his enemies’ location.
David and his men rescued their families.
Took back all their stuff.
And won the day.

David chose.
He chose to not allow his circumstances to define his view of God.
Instead, he flipped that around.
He chose to view his circumstances through the Truth of who God is.
Who He says He is in His Word.

Through the lens of circumstances, David was foolish to trust God.
The promise God had given, that he would be King, seemed to be a pipe dream at best.
But through the lens of God’s Word, His Truth, David rested with confidence in the knowledge that God was in control. Able. And would be his help in time of need. Even as years passed between the promise and the fulfillment.

We know the end of the story.
So it is easy to forget the struggle in the middle.
And that is true of every story in the Bible.
We see the big picture in their lives, the completed tale.
And so it is easy to forget how human they were. How much pain they felt. How scared they were.
Because we know how God came through.
The completed stories of their earthly lives.

But we are in the middle of our stories.
Perhaps in the wilderness.
Falsely accused.
Or facing the loneliest times of our lives.
Failing bodies.
Or failing relationships.
The middle of the crisis, the center of the storm.

And there we have a choice, just as David did.
We can view God through the lens of our circumstances.
Or we can view our circumstances through the lens of God’s Word.
Knowing that the story is not over.
This life is not all there is.
And one day we will see the completed tale.
How will it end? How will we end?
Will we end well?

We can. But only if we choose daily, in every situation, no matter what, to “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all our hearts, not relying our own insight or understanding but instead, in all our ways, knowing and acknowledging Him, trusting Him to make our paths straight and smooth, removing obstacles that block our way.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, AMP)

Which lens will you use today?

A Tale of Three Dads

From left: Carole, Ginger, Jack, Kathy

William Purves.

A hard man.
Forged in a school of hard knocks.
Without Christ.
And with an infinity for getting lost in a bottle. Or a glass.
Glass after glass. Bottle after bottle.

His wife longed for a child.
So he grudgingly gave in.
And she went to the orphanage and asked for the child no one else wanted.
But he made sure that that little boy knew that “Blood is thicker than water.”

Neither William nor his beloved wife, Marley, knew God personally then.
But it was the 40’s.
So a child must be sent to church.

And there, at church, that child, little Jackie, met a heavenly Father.
In sharp contrast to his earthly Dad, this Father wanted him.
Loved him.
Had a plan for his life.
Thought he was worth dying for.

Accepting the love of the Heavenly Father changed the trajectory of the life of my earthly Father, the little boy Jackie, who grew into the man I call Daddy.

And I am so grateful.
Grateful for my earthly Dad who introduced me from birth to my Heavenly Dad.
My imperfect Father who consistently pointed me and my sister to my perfect Father in Heaven.
A man who broke the heritage of addiction and bestowed the legacy of a godly home.

I know I am blessed.
And I know that many of you do not have your earthly Dad.
He left.
He died.
He treated you badly.
Or you never knew him.

So it is hard for you to understand how your Father in heaven feels about you.
It is difficult to accept His unconditional love.
Unfathomable to think that He “rejoices over you with singing” and “daily carries you in His arms.”

But when you cannot imagine that, remember this:
The love you have for the person nearest to your heart is microscopic compared to the love your Heavenly Father has for you.
Take what you feel and multiply it by the largest number you can imagine.
And know that that is your Heavenly Father’s heart for you.

How do I know?
Because that Father sacrificed His Son so that He could have a relationship with you.
He put His beloved child in your place, as a substitute to bear the consequences of your sin.
And then He caused that same child to rise from the dead so that you never have to be alone.
You never have to fear death.
You never have wonder about the extent of His power.
And you never have to guess about His heart for you.

Shortly before he died, William accepted the gift of eternal life offered by His heavenly Father.
I believe he was able to choose that, able to believe that, able to trust that because of the way my Dad treated him.
Where Jackie was offered rejection, he chose to extend love.  Where he was bestowed condemnation, he chose to lavish grace. Where he could have followed William’s lead, he chose instead to follow Yaweh’s instead.

And my life is just one of the results.

Father God, thank You for my earthly Dad. Thank You for the ways he has pointed me to You. And thank You for Your work in his life, your hand on him from birth, through the orphanage and into his difficult home. Thank You for the church that made a difference by sharing Your Word and Your love with that boy. And thank You that my Father is not at all like my Grandfather.

For my friends who are hurting this Father’s Day because of their earthly dads, may You be extraordinarily real to them to day. Close. Comforting. May they know Your presence and Your peace. And may they love as You have loved them. Break the chains in their hearts that were forged by their earthly Dads. And replace them with the healing that only You can bring.

In the name of Jesus, the One who pointed us to You,

On Dots and Lines…

Image result for point on a line

“Are you living for the dot or the line?”

I first heard that question from my friend Brent. And it challenges me still.

Put on your high school geometry hat for just a moment. The “dot” on a graph or a number line stands for a discrete point. One small blip on the line or the plane. But a line – well, a line is actually infinite. We can’t draw it that way, of course. But one of the things that makes a line a line is that it could stretch on forever and ever.

So in this case, the “dot” is actually a set of dates – the ones that will appear on your epitaph. Born this date, died this date. Our lives are a blip on the screen, a dot on a line, a small piece of a much larger timeline.

And, of course, the “line” is eternity. Infinite. Never-ending. Eternal.

The Bible is very clear that humans, unlike any other part of earth’s creation, are infinite beings. We will all live forever. It is part of what it means to be created in the image of God. Obviously, this body will wear out and eventually disintegrate into dust. But there is a part of every person, what the Bible would call the soul, which will live on into infinity.

The Bible is also very clear that your eternal life will take place in one of two places – or, more accurately, one of two relational positions. Eternal life for the person who says, “I am a sinner in need of a Savior; I believe Jesus died in my place and I want to live for Him” is life with God. Life without pain. Without tears. Without sickness. Without sin. But eternal life for the person who says, “No thanks God, I am putting my trust in (fill in the blank)” is life without God. Eternal separation. Eternal darkness. Eternal pain. Weeping, wailing, teeth-grinding isolation.

So we are all eternal beings. But, for the eternal being who has accepted Christ’s work on the cross, there are still choices to be made in this life. And those choices can be categorized in these two ways: A choice to live for the dot. The here and now. Pleasure. Popularity. People’s opinions. Profit. Political correctness. Or a choice to live for the line. The now AND the not yet. The certainty that the end of this life is the beginning of real life. And the desire to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” when this body fails and the soul is in His presence.

Living for the dot. Or living for the line.

All this God-stuff is great in theory. But it isn’t until the rubber meets the road on life’s highways that it gets really real. Breaking it down…

Living for the Dot: My Dad’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s, my friend living with MS and my other friend battling cancer are all losers. They have lost out in the great gamble of who gets good health and who doesn’t. Their lives are defined by their diagnoses. The great cosmic question of “fair” vs. “unfair” runs the emotions and in some ways, the entire show. God is bad, unfair, just plain mean. They must desperately grasp all that they can, as quickly as they can, from doctors, technology, and this world.

Living for the Line: They live realizing that those diagnoses are the result of a sinful, fallen world. Each one was sifted through the hand of God before being allowed to touch their lives. In the bad that God has allowed, He is working amazing good in their lives. Using their pain to comfort others. Growing their faith. Making them living testimonies. Knowing and truly believing that this life is not all there is. One day, my Dad will walk beside Jesus, enjoying a whole, healthy body free of tremors, pain and slow deterioration. One day, my friend will not need her scooter, her medication or her doctors. And my other friend will never have to think about another chemo treatment or what the future may hold. All that will be resolved. All that will be healed. All will be made right. And because each of them know that, they radiate hope even as they wrestle with their bodies. They gratefully use the tools God has given to fight the diseases. They ask Him for healing in the here and now. But they put their hope firmly in the “then” and the “not yet”. Living for the line means living with hope even in the midst of the worst circumstances.

Another example:

Living for the Dot: Some of us don’t face life-threatening diseases. Instead, we deal with the physical failings of the body that won’t kill us – they just make us completely miserable. Migraines. Arthritis. Fibromyalgia. Celiac disease and other food sensitivities. The slow and weary grind of chronic pain. If I am living for the dot, these things cause a severe depression. Again, I am a loser in this life. I have three of the four listed above. Pain is my friend. And eating out is always a game of Russian roulette. Nothing in the restaurant will kill me – but most of the menu will make me miserable. So, if I am living the dot, that makes me grumpy at best and seriously depressed at worst.

Living for the Line: If I am living with heaven in mind, then there is hope. Again, this is not the end. One day I will be able to eat that crusty bread dipped in olive oil. One day, I will have an ooey, gooey cinnamon roll with a cup of hot coffee that has real cream in it. Or those things just won’t matter. But one day for sure, I will be able to bend over without pain. One day my knees and my feet won’t betray me. And that day is coming rapidly. Because this life really is a dot! So for now, I will choose health over pleasure. I will choose to treat this failing temple that is my body as well as I possibly can so that I am not derailed from serving. But I will also allow each pain to point me to eternity. To the day when the real, eternal me will be face to face with Jesus – and, as Teresa of Avila said, “In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.”

There are so many more examples I could give!

Living for the dot, I will marry the person who makes my body flush with desire, regardless of the state of his soul.
Living for the line, I will marry the man who draws me closer to the One we both love, the man with whom I can best serve. And I will remain single – and pure – until God brings him my way.

Living for the dot, I will be consumed with what I have, the possessions I own, or the state of my accounts.
Living for the line, I will be consumed with the economy of heaven, storing my treasures there by investing my earthly wealth in heavenly things.

Living for the dot, I will allow the craziness of politics, media, and how I feel about all of that to drive my conversations, my social media postings, and my feelings about you.
Living for the line, I will pray for the President and every other leader, regardless of my feelings. I will be obedient to the Word and will respect my leaders simply because God allowed them to be in charge.

And it goes on and on.
How I dress.
What I read.
What I watch.
What I listen to.
World missions.
Who I care about.
How I express that care.
How I spend my time.
How I treat my enemies.

Each day is a choice.
Each moment, really.

My perspective or His?
My word or His Word?
My emotions or His heart?

Dot? Or line?


What’s a Girl to Do?

Image result for current events

What’s a girl to do?

Lord, this world is a mess.
Terrorist attacks.
World leaders who cannot agree.
Nuclear threats.
Egos that run the show – from Pennsylvania Avenue. From Hollywood. From Wall Street.
People who are fully devoted followers of anything and anyone but You.

Those who practice Humanism. “We’ve got this. We can do it. We are in control.”
And those who are devoted to Islam. “Allah’s got this. He can take over the world. Death to all who are not his.”
Or perhaps Universalism. “The Universe has this. We have no control because there is none. We are just cogs bumping along without pattern or form. You believe what you believe. I’ll believe what I believe. We’re both right – even when we contradict each other.”
Those who worship nature. The earth. The rocks, trees, water, sky.
And those who worship themselves. My bootstraps. My effort. My world. My kingdom.
Those who claim to not worship anything at all – and end up worshipping something or someone to fill the void in their hearts.

This world is a mess.
They need You.

And yet, those who follow You in other countries are paying the ultimate price for it.
Because they choose You.

A world that is lost, dying, and going to hell.

What’s a girl to do?

I can’t change the world.
I am not strong enough.
I am not smart enough.
I do not have enough resources.

So I am inclined to shut down.
Do nothing.
Except shake my head.
And talk about it with my friends.
Offer platitudes.
Or an appropriate meme or two.

What’s a girl to do?

All I can do.
Which is the next thing.
Whatever it is that God puts at hand.
I can be obedient.

I can abide.
Stay connected to The Vine.
In prayer.
In Bible reading.
In studying.
And then in applying what I have learned.

I can live out what I read on those pages.
“Love your enemy.”
“Pray for those who curse you.”
“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Forgive as you have been forgiven.”
“Fear God – hold Him in awe and give Him the respect He is due.”
“Guard your heart – and your mouth.”
“Give thanks in all things.”
“Study to show yourself to be an approved workman for God.”
“Gather together to worship.”
“Pray for those in authority over you.”
“Seek first the Kingdom.”

What’s a girl to do?

The next thing that God puts in my hand to do.
Which could be “big”.
Touching many lives.
Making what the world would call a large impact.

But it could be “small”.
Touching only one life.
Doing something that no one else sees – except the Father.

Like packing a lunch for a little boy, giving him five small barley loaves and two small fish for his meal.
And teaching him to share.
So that, when the followers of the Master ask, “Who here has any food?” it can be offered with willing hands and a willing heart.
And then it can be multiplied in the hands of the Master. Feeding 5,000 men plus the women and children.
A small thing.
The “next thing” on the list for the day of that busy Momma.
“Gave Judah his lunch – check. Now on to bigger, more important things.”
Not realizing that a lunch, faithfully packed by loving hands, can change the world.

What’s a girl to do? What’s a guy to do?
About London.
About poverty.
About abortion.
About ministry needs at my church.
About the homeless.
About racism.
About the hatred that seems to be growing exponentially.
About reaching my neighbor for Jesus.
About reaching the world for Jesus.

What’s a girl – or guy – to do?

Do the next thing.
Whatever it is that God is calling you to do – whether it is “large” or “small” – simply do it.
Do it well.
Do it cheerfully.
Do it as an act of worship.

Because little becomes much in the hands of the Master. And not just in the account of the feeding of the 5,000 in Matthew 14. But in the widow’s oil that got multiplied in 2 Kings 4. Or in David’s slingshot against Goliath in I Samuel 17. In Tabitha’s sewing in Acts 9 that blessed so many. And throughout the Word of God, the principle is the same. Take the little you have. The little you can do. Surrender it to the Master. Apply what you know about Him to your day-to-day life. Be obedient in even the tiniest things – and watch what He can do.

Little becomes much in the hands of the Master.

So Master, this girl doesn’t know what to do about the big stuff out there. And there’s A LOT of big stuff out there.
But I can do the next thing. By Your grace. In Your strength. I will cheerfully do whatever it is You put in my hand to do. Knowing that YOU can change the world. Even with what little I bring.

And THAT’s what a girl – or guy – can do!