Broken Praise (12/2016)

This is a poem I wrote for my Church’s annual Christmas Eve Candlight Service this year. I’ve been writing and sharing a poem since I was in my early teens. 

This year, I finally found my inspiration on Christmas Eve when I was at my grandparents. (It’s become a bit of tradition for friends to ask when I finally wrote it. This time I was in the car heading home from my grandparents, less than an hour before I needed to be at the church.) 

My grandfather said something that kept going around in my head. He was speaking of his mother, my great grandmother, who would nearly shout when praying. When he asked her why she always prayed so loudly, she answered, “I am so insignificant. I have to shake the rafters in heaven so I’m heard.”

It was something that itched my brain. Because that is the beauty of God. God doesn’t need your shouts to be heard, he listens to that quiet plea in the depths of the silence, when you have no words, he still hears you. The angels are said to rejoice when someone comes to Christ (Like 15: 10). That there is so much excitement in heaven that the very angels share it with each other.

We humans are not insignificant. God is so eager to have that relationship with us, that his messengers understand and rejoice with him when one comes back to him. We are not insignificant to God, we don’t need to shout. He hears us.

Broken Praise  (RKG 12/2016)
The rafters shook in Heaven today.
A shout was heard as the angels came
Rejoicing at the foot of Heaven’s throne.
Martyrs cried out with joy and saints danced with the Heavenly host.
The angels celebrated as Satan groaned.
Another one found is Satan’s loss.
The rafters in Heaven shook today.
The barest whisper of sound swept through Heaven with the force of a hurricane.
It had the power to close the gates of Hell and throw open the pearly ones.
It snatched from Satan’s grasp, one so lost that she found the light.
Her breathless plea, a whisper of hope, shook the rafters of Heaven today.
Lost in fear, betrayed by man, she took a leap and found faith again.
Never alone, always held, Emmanuel, God with us.
The Shepherd gathers his lost sheep, one by one.
The rafters shook in Heaven today.
A shout rang out and angels rejoiced around the Heavenly throne.
His cry was heard in the darkened room, despair so thick trying to suck him in.
But light abounded and darkness fled, salvation found, peace within hand.
A warrior’s cry so loud within his broken whisper, that demons quivered in fear.
Abused and hated, homeless and hungry, he took a leap and grabbed the hand of Salvation.
Never alone, always held, Emmanuel, God with us.
The Shepherd gathers his lost sheep, one by one.
The rafters shook in Heaven today.
The power of a broken praise that can heal hearts and find the lost.
Amazing the grace when love is given and hope restored.
The angels rejoice and martyrs cry with joy when one more is snatched from the grasp of Hell.
When Satan groaned, life is found.
When a birth foretold, and death chained the beast, Heaven’s rafters shook and a curtain tore, the joy poured out no longer contained.
Angels stood amazed as the Gospel was told, the love found in the act of sacrifice too great to bear.
My prayer so loud in my chaotic mind, shame pushed aside and grace found.
No longer condemned, I stand free.
I, I, shook the rafters in Heaven today, pleading to be taken out of the pit to live in the light of righteousness.
O come, O come, Emmanuel, take my hand and pull me free. Set me on the mountain high, out of this pit take me now.
Break the grasping talons of Satan now, shatter my chains, no longer enslaved.
Coat me in the sacrifice of love, wash me in the river of life, let me live in your perfect light.
My broken praise, my gift to you.
My rejoicing joined the angels today, as I was found in the darkness.
My Shepherd led me forth to the light, to drink deeply of the never ending life-giving water, never to thirst again.
The rafters shook in Heaven today.
Satan raged while the angels rejoiced.
I found my God when all was lost.
The gates of Hell slammed shut while Heaven celebrated.
One who was lost was found.


Christians, Be Careful What You Say On Facebook

Very well written and something I agree with fully. We are called to love and not condemn. It is only through God’s love that anyone can truly change. We all have sins we don’t want discussed, but remember –God hates ALL sin equally. That includes gossip just as much as perversion of the flesh.

Please read this article and always remember — people are watching and judging the God you love by your actions.

Christians, Be Careful What You Say On Facebook.

His Language is Spoken

I had the extreme pleasure of attending Joni and Friends’ first ever Global Access Conference recently. I am still struggling to put into words what I learned and to describe who I had the joy of breaking bread with while learning about their ministries around the world.

One thing that I can say with all certainty though, is that God is moving mightily among these people whom the world considers worthless.

I’ll be talking about it for some time, I am sure. I’d love for you to enter into the conversation with me, and perhaps it might get you thinking about your own church as well as your own interactions with those who are disabled.

The first topic we will look at can be found in the panel session I attended called “Learning to Speak Their Language,” which was about how to interact with children and adults with developmental disabilities and mental illness.

One of the attendees asked a question that is a common query in churches: “What if they can’t understand the Gospel?”

The panelist, who was a mother of a child who is non-verbal due to autism, said something that really struck me: “The Holy Spirit knows his (her son’s) language.

What a beautiful response! It totally wiped away any scientific, theological, or medical argumentation regarding what is human knowledge (in my mind). It brings it down to the most basic of beliefs–God knows my heart.

Theologically, we have decided that there has to be a ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ where we verbally recognize that we are sinners and are in need of God’s forgiveness. In many instances, when someone says they want to believe, we tell them that they need to repeat after me, an example of such a pray can be found on The Blessing House website: Lord Jesus, I come before you and confess that I am a sinner. Jesus, I believe that you died on the cross, and that Almighty God raised you from the dead. I pray that you forgive me of my sin, and be my Lord and Savior. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray this request. Amen

This is based off of verses such as Romans 10:9 Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

We must first acknowledge that while having a ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ is not wrong, it is not Scripture based. The only prayer that we are told to pray is the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. There is no description of the prayer that we are supposed to say in repentance and acceptance of God’s forgiveness. There are no motions that we are supposed to do, no assigned person we are to do it in front of, nothing we are told to do but: Confess and believe.

Now, it does say to confess with your mouth. This can be a hang up for those who are non-verbal due to illness, or some form of disability. But, it doesn’t have to be! Because, as God tells Moses, who is attempting to get out of the duty that God has set before him, in Exodus 4: The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD?”

To echo the mother at the panel session: God made you and he knows your language. He knows your language even if you have never spoken before. No matter the language your heart speaks, God created it: Sign Language, Hiri Motu, Korean, Inuktitut, and English or the roughly 6,500 other languages in the world. The story of Pentecost in Acts 2 is proof of that:  There were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

Why do we put human limitations on what God can do? Why do we make rituals take the place of the beauty of God’s encompassing love and forgiveness?

God knows your heart.

No matter your ability, God knows you. If you in your heart of hearts ask for God’s love and forgiveness, I cannot deny your salvation because you didn’t come to him the way I did. It is not my place to deny your salvation. It is my job to love you as a beloved child of God, and teach you the Gospel so you can know him.

Even if I believe that you might not understand, I am still tasked with the duty to tell you of God’s love and sacrifice to save YOU. Because when you stand before God’s throne, you will be judged just as I will, no matter the limitations that humans have placed on you. God will judge your heart to see if you have been made clean by his Son’s blood.

The Holy Spirit speaks your language and it is love.

So, to all the Christian believers out there, I urge you: Do not hesitate to reach out and speak God’s love to all you meet. No matter if you think they might or might not understand, God knows their heart. Do your duty with love and tell of God’s sacrificial love.

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Changing the World- MLK Jr

Today is the birthday of the late great Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Days like this, I wonder, have we succeeded in making his dreams come true?
Sure, we now have an African- American man in the Oval Office, but how is the prejudice and the racial stereotyping?
I personally think that we have just gotten really good at hiding our politically INcorrect language and feelings. Perhaps our children are not quite as prejudice as our grandparents were, but are they truly changing the world with true tolerance?  (By tolerance, I am not talking about today’s wishywashy understanding of tolerance, but God’s divine love where despite our brokenness and sin riddled souls he still loves us)- It is a known fact that to be prejudiced is actually a learned trait, it’s not breed into us like our eye color or height.
Faking tolerance by cleaning up our language isn’t what is going to change the world- it is in actually reaching out and creating relationships with those who we term ‘different.’ It’s about encouraging one another to change our basic attitude. It’s about learning to love one another on the truly spiritual Body of Christ way.
This means that our church, local and global, is the last place where prejudice should be found.
How is our church stacking up to God’s decree? When we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves in James 2:8; to love each other as Christ loves us in John 13:34; we were ALL created in God’s image as can be evidenced in Genesis 1:26-27; and God loved us so much that He sent His son to die for US ALL John 3:16.
Are we loving each other the way we should?
Are we loving each other as Rev. King had hoped we would by now?
You be the judge.
And remember- “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3: 38).”

“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend.” -MLK Jr
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”-MLK Jr

“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies. (from MLK’s “Loving Your Enemies”)”

Here’s hoping that the world changes even more before we leave it. Praying for change and the gumption to be part of it.

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The Church in the Valley (Christmas Eve 2011)

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In the soft glow of twinkling lights, hymns raise upon the hushed air.
Brightness flares briefly as candle light is passed across the pew, soft chuckles resound as stubborn wicks refuse to light.
A stillness lays lightly upon all who sing, fussy children quiet slowly, as Silent Night gently swells.
The piano lays hushed as the only instrument used is the simple voice of Christ’s Body raised in praise.
Here in the midst of the valley, the small church sings of the birth of the Savior.
Within this valley, nestled amongst forested hills, lies a bit of God’s heavenly love.
Within this church, wounded hearts are gently stitched back together with stronger thread, tears of fear are wiped away by quiet acceptance, peace is found within the arms of loving friends.
This is the church in the valley. This is a small part of Christ’s living body, moving through life one day at a time together.
This valley has seen it’s shares of troubles, but still this little church perseveres. It has weathered the storms of life, surviving the buffering of heavy winds,
It has risen above the high flowing waters, while softly singing of the birth of the Christ.
It’s been touched by tears of sorrow and pain. A year past has seen too many goodbyes for comfort, but still the church rejoices as more saints stand before the Lord in heaven.
Within this church, tears are meet without fear and praises echo from wall to wall.
Within this valley, nestled amongst forested hills, lies a bit of God’s heavenly love.
He puts each person, full of brokenness, within this church so they can rub up against each other, sharpening our dull spots while rubbing away the roughness of the world.
He chooses whom will come in contact with whom, and he has chosen me to become part of this little church in the valley.
When songs floated on the chilled air, singing the birth of the Savior, faith was found and a path was set.
Through loving kindness God forced me to grow. He broke me down and built me up, like clay in the potter’s hands.
He taught me trust through the elder’s words, and Scripture’s Supremacy through sermons of Pastor’s passion, he taught me strength of character through friends’ weakening bodies, and faith through a widow’s teachings, and kept me in humor and love through it all.
This is the little church in the valley. Overlooked by many, loved by the special ones. God’s little bit of heavenly love found between the forested hills.
Where a young girl of new faith can be tempered into a woman refining her faith. This is the church that has built me and whose love will continue to guide me as I walk with Christ.
This is the church that survives life together and who can truly feel the presence of God amongst us.
This is the church in the valley, amongst the forested hills, where the Body of Christ sings of the blessed birth of our Savior. This is my beloved church family living amongst God’s little bit of heavenly love.

Please, meet me in heaven!

It’s been a couple of emotionally wrought months in my little valley.  We’ve had the highs, in the form of many weddings (I personally attended six in a month and a half).  And now we have the lows.

~We have celebrated the life of a older gentleman (J.P.) who gave of his time and finances to those in need.

~As a community we celebrated the faithfulness of a sweet 28 year old who died unexpectedly. She (S.F.)was a true sister in the Christ, who loved her Heavenly Father with every inch of her big heart. Even though her death was so unexpected with her being so young, her memorial service was full of laughter and rejoicing amidst the tears because we knew where she was going.

~This weekend, we gathered together to celebrate the graduation into Glory of a 92 year old woman (R.B) who is now wonderfully free of the Alzheimer’s that removed precious memories from this vibrant woman.  She is dancing before her Lord, the One she spoke about with such passionate love.

~And soon, we will once more come together to rejoice the home-coming of another saint. A warrior in the fight against the insidious breast cancer, (C.P.) was a woman who lived out her faith in a quiet way that rippled into everyone who came in contact with her. A role model of how to keep one’s faith strong even in the moments of such pain and uncertainty.

Even in so much sorrow, joy resounds.

Our tears of sadness are not tears of the hopeless.

We of the Faith do not say “Good-Bye” but rather “I’ll see you soon!”

In the quiet of the night when sorrow ‘s presence refuses to leave, we are held close by the Father who understands it all.

Rather than be alone in our grief, we turn to our family, the one that God created. The Church becomes a refuge of available shoulders and shared memories. Within the Church one can cry and others join in, and when laughter resounds, they share the joy.

Romans 12:15- “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”

 The difference is simple. I have been to too many funerals of those who have no hope in the eternal life with Christ, they never accepted the sacrifice that was freely given. And so, the sorrow was thick upon the brows of all those who mourn. My heart was so heavy with the grief of knowing that this wonderful person would not be in Heaven upon my arrival. I would grieve for the loss of that soul for the rest of my life.

The Father’s grief is so much stronger than mine. He mourns for every lost soul. These people whom He loves so very much refuse to turn to Him, they refuse to accept His gift of eternal life.

Matthew 23:37  –“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. “

 I would rather participate in a thousand more home- coming celebrations for the saints of Christ, than grieve for one more beloved lost soul.

So, I pray. I act. I tell.

Please my dear friend, let me tell you the story of the God who stepped off of His throne to be borne of a virgin. Let me tell you of the God I love, who of His own free will, died a horrendous death upon a cross, who stayed in the grave for three days to arise on the third. Let me tell you of my Savior who is at this moment in Heaven awaiting the time when He will come to judge the earth and all of its inhabitants of their sins.

Let me tell you of a Love never ending and all encompassing.

Please, just listen.

Please, meet me in Heaven.