“I give you permission to be mad at me… I’m going to fight for your life even if it means I have to fight you to get it.”

Spoken by Iyanla Vanzant, but I hear the heart of Papa. Our Father. Maybe one of the more succinct pictures of the redeeming wrath of God personified.

And why not? Iyanla is included and participates in the conversation, in the great dance that is relationship, not religion. That we all are involved in. Even as we stumble. Even when we turn our backs and see only the hell of the darkness of our own shadow.

Christ in you, the only hope. And you in Him.

I don’t know the answer to every little question about how it all works. But I finally don’t need to. It’s the difference between reading a bunch of books about a person versus actually knowing them. Think of the person you know the most about. You might not be able to explain everything about them to someone but you know what you know and that’s enough. If someone else wants to get to know them then they will truly understand also. Beyond the cerebral.

I’m all about sharing insight. That’s why I write. I am 100% interested in knowing all the answers. But the difference now is that my security doesn’t depend anymore on knowing the right answers. My security is now in God alone. Who God is and how much God loves us. Loves me. Loves you. I need a God that big.

I think about people who vehemently disagree with me and, with a few exceptions, most of them are much better people than I am. Some of the best people I know. And I hesitate to say it, but I know eventually you get to a point where you need a God that is bigger than you. When the wind gets knocked out of you spiritually, emotionally, mentally, etc and you find yourself face down on the ground.

Not that God is punishing you. Not that He has some sick power trip where He wants to see you suffer. But if you insist, He lets you carry a big enough chunk of the whole world so that you will figure out you can’t and don’t need to.

I heard someone say the other day that faith is knowing you have nothing to offer. Not that you are nothing. Jesus didn’t die for nothing. God so LOVED you that He hung bleeding and naked on the torture device we nailed Him to just to prove that you can give Him everything you got and you still won’t exhaust His love. Your healing is His mission.

You are free to surrender. You are free to rest. You are free to fall back into arms that already hold your heart.

I am learning to give up.


Dr. Roger Newell from George Fox University wrote the following that I really like and wanted to share:

“…I have been re-reading a classic by my old Ethics prof from seminary, Lewis Smedes, who wrote Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts we Don’t Deserve. It’s full of practical wisdom, moving personal stories and clarification about what forgiveness is and isn’t.

“For example he writes about ‘some nice things that forgiveness is not’ and mentions tolerance. He tells about a pastor who had affairs with numerous women in his congregation. Was he forgiven? Yes. Was he removed from the ministry and did he have his ordination revoked? Yes.

“Smedes writes: ‘We don’t have to tolerate what people do just because we forgive them for doing it. Forgiving heals us personally. To tolerate everything only hurts us all in the long run… You do not excuse people by forgiving them; you forgive them at all only because you hold them to account and refuse to excuse them… You do not forgive people merely by accepting them; you forgive people who have done something to you that is unacceptable. You do not have to tolerate what people do when you forgive them for doing it; you may forgive people, but still refuse to tolerate what they have done.'”

Heads Up

They call it crazy until you’re “successful”. If you “make it” then they come asking you to show them how to do it. Until then, courage in this capitalist consuming society is not only extremely expensive but also very dangerous. Don’t be fooled by all the “go after your dreams” rhetoric; success is idolized and they permit process only to that point. God’s love and acceptance gives you wings but the crabs will still try to keep you in the bucket. Especially if they consider your performance a reflection of theirs. Can we give people a little more room to be human and not have everything figured out? There isn’t a manual for this kind of flight. It’s not blasphemy to try something and learn a few lessons. Trust yourself and others with God and His never-ending love.

To You

Dare I say that a theology that divides and separates is no gospel at all. If my theology doesn’t help me see all in Christ then I think it is headed in the wrong direction. Back to the spiritual stone ages.

If my theology doesn’t lead me to love people more then I don’t think it is correct. Now let me clarify that love is not the same thing as enabling or condoning all behaviors. There is no love in lies. Deeper connection is sometimes associated with increased costs required to take a stand for what is the ultimate best for all involved.

But if my theology puts us back into an us/them or in/out mentality, then I think we’re circling back around the same old worn out mountain. The same tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Same song, different verse. No real substantial difference than the rest of the religions out there.

Real life is so much more complicated. Existing on continuums. Spectrums of awareness. We need each other. The difference between asking why versus the pride of certainty. Investigating. These are real people with real lives. And Jesus loves them all. God loves them all. Holy Spirit loves and is constantly at work with and in all.

If The Good Shepherd goes to gather every last little sheep, what gives us the right to give up on someone? Giving them over to God is not giving up on them. We do what we do but their healing is not our responsibility. We participate. Salvation does not originate in us. Relief from the condemnation rained down by probably well-meaning clergy and also a multitude of common every-day religious folk.

Loving you means I can tell you no as well as telling you yes. Loving you asks, “What can I do to help?” Versus circling around the sinner with stones ready to throw. This is a heart issue. Not another behavioral checkbox. We comfort with the comfort we have been given.

Start by looking inside first. This is not about posturing. This is not about simplistic “happy thoughts”. Real relationship rises to face reality. With a heavy dose of hope. From our Creator, our Father. Whose heart is full of eternal unfailing love.

This love happens organically. This theology arrests your heart and new life flows upward to your mind. Unforced joy and peace that passes understanding lifts you up out of the performance pit and into the everlasting arms of a Father that enjoys you and doesn’t do abandonment.

Will you rest in Him?

We all want to be loved. At what point did you give up? At what point was it too much? What is the next root of deception that we can expose and remove in the pursuit of embracing the truth of your identity in Christ and the wonder of all that entails? How can I help you embrace the new life that is already yours for the taking? That will free you as no other formula ever could.

Thoughts to consider as you continue in conversation with those you encounter in this moment. Relying solely on Holy Spirit for protection and specific direction.


Objects May Appear Closer

In the old way of thinking, I see now how religion reduced people to objects. It was all about checking the boxes, working the formula, collecting people like you’d collect baseball cards. Just add them to your list, say the right words, and you thought you were collecting crowns.

This new way is like having the entire galaxy at your disposal to explore compared to looking at a picture of the night sky. When there is no formula, when there are no checkboxes, when everything I do matters, and I have complete freedom – then I am presented with the challenge of actually opening myself up for connection way beyond the surface.

Now relationship means something more. Now I actually have to take a look at the effects my choices, decisions, and behaviors have on those I interact with. Now people are no longer objects that represent my ability to perform.

Now I can’t slap a label on you, put you in a box, and call it a day. Now I am challenged to meet you where you are and pursue understanding how I can be a better person in relationship with you. No matter who you are. Whether you are the elder of my tribe, the person sleeping in my bed, the person paying me, or the clerk at the store that I may never see again.

Now you matter no matter what. You aren’t a means to an end. You are the whole point. In this moment. And maybe to come. But my action or inaction impacts you and in turn impacts me and us all.

Yes, Hitler is responsible. But those who participated in the atrocities and those who didn’t do anything to stand up for those being hurt – all are responsible in some way. Even those across the seas. Who knew.

That is an overwhelming thought in this day and age. It seems like the world we live in is a swirling cesspool of dehumanized zombies absolutely decimating each other in staggering numbers and incredibly cruel ways. There is too much work for one person, even a few.

But until we ever reach a point where we’ve cleaned up enough of our junk to seek out the deliverance of those oppressed elsewhere: start in our own backyard. Actually start in our own house. Who will you interact or communicate with today? Start with the next person.

May I suggest even starting with yourself. We sometimes forget Jesus said to love others as you love yourself. Remember, no checkboxes anymore. Are you even minding your own life? Your own business?

I wasn’t. I was on the performance train speeding down a never-ending track of seeking assurance and safety that I didn’t realize was already mine to enjoy forever. When the eyes of my heart were uncovered, I was overwhelmed with the amount of time I had at my disposal that was previously spent slaving away for false religion. I approached the former way as if I was my own savior. Just tell me what to do. Well-meaning, but so mistaken.

I am now working through facing years and decades of regrets. Things I wish I had done differently. Mainly people I wish I still had in my life. That’s the worst. To accept that not only did I make decisions in the past that hurt people, but that I may never be able to fix those relationships in this lifetime.

That is real freedom. That is real respect. The sides of the coin that are probably more commonly quickly disregarded.