Monthly Archives: July 2011

More Bling For Less Cha-Ching…Thoughts On The Debt Crisis

Silly sign. Serious problem. 

I saw this sign on my way back home from a conference in North Carolina. It caught my eye for several reasons. Initially, why is this country club lady in front of an industrial freighter & surrounded by boxes? And she isn’t wearing any bling. They could have at lease photo shopped some gold teeth on the lady. But that’s not the main reason I stopped in front of it. The overall concept of buying as much stuff as our money lets us get away with makes me sad. Kinda sick, but mostly sad. Debt is a temporary fix for a fundamental problem. This lady’s fundamental problem appears to be that she is addicted to questionable shellfish from the Gulf of Mexico. (thats where this poster was)
On a serious note, the United States has just two more days to figure out the debt crisis. If a solution isn’t reached then the United States will run out of money & default on it’s loans. I’m not an economics major, but that sounds like pretty bad stuff. I have read so many articles trying to figure out why we are in this crisis & why no one seems to have a good plan of getting us out. Here is what I have learned:
Debt is tricky. Debt is complicated. Debt doesn’t just go away despite all your hard work.
We all have debt. My debt includes what I owe for being selfish when my daughter wants the last piece of gum. The times I lie to avoid doing what I don’t want to do. Responding in anger when my 2 year old moves at the pace of a 2 year old instead of a 12 year old in the grocery store. I get envious when someone gets more opportunities than I get & I secretly hope that they mess up. The broken motives of my heart & actions has accrued a massive debt of sin. No matter how hard I try to balance the sin to the goodness in my life, I still remain a debtor in the end. Not just a debtor, but an exhausted & hopeless debtor. 
Amazingly 2/3 of the worlds nearly 7 billion inhabitants are living with eternal debt. Going to bed at night hoping that their good work that day was enough to erase the bad they did. Or living in depression feeling like they can never overcome the demons in their lives. But, what good news we have for them! Their debt can be paid & their lives reclaimed. 
Reading the news about all the bills and proposal being tossed around in D.C. is a stunning reminder of the significance of what the Jesus did for me. I don’t have to worry, dread or fear. No one is going to repossess my life or increase the interest I owe. I am free. I am loved. I am clean. My debt has been paid in full.

The economic issue that our government is facing is severe & warrants the Church praying for our leaders. It isn’t an easy fix. Lets pray for divine wisdom for those in power. Lets rejoice that our debt has been paid in full. Above all, lets be messengers of the cross’s message.

“Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
  Sin had left a crimson stain,
   He washed it white as snow…”
                          -Elvina M. Hall 1865


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From Sea to Shining Sea

Heading out on an epic road trip to North Carolina. My husband & two friends, non-stop driving, SUV, coffee, podcasts, and SO many memories. Won’t have posts for about a week probably. Will be posting updates from the road @e_k_griffin. Goodbye west coast. Hello east coast!

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Qualifications & Honor

This is a soundboard. Something I am NOT qualified to use & will bring me NO honor.

The fantastic part of having the internet, apps, tweets, texts or whatever so readily available is that you have more information than you can imagine. The depressing part of the internet is that you have all of that information so readily available. Now that you can see a mass of news and statistics, you feel like you are the smallest micro-fish ( if there is such a thing) in an infinite ocean. No one knows that you are dealing with a divorce, but everyone knows that Kate Middleton went grocery shopping. Everyone wants to know what Brad Pitt had for lunch, but no one notices when your depression begins to spiral and causes you to nearly disappear within yourself. 
Lets just cut to the chase here and get gut honest. Sometimes it really bums me out. The world isn’t ever going to ask me where I get my hair cut, or do a 20/20 episode on what I think about some particular topic. I see that there appear to be thousands of other people doing the same thing I am doing. And doing the same thing that you do. Pastors, entrepreneurs, teachers, writers, athletes, fashion designers, worship leaders, doctors…thousands trying to excel. Wow. That’s a lot of competition. 
If you are like me you , this makes you feel unqualified to do anything. Someone else has always been better. Thanks to the internet now we KNOW that there is someone better. I can see that no one re-tweeted my tweets. I can also see that some other persons tweet went viral. I can get facts and figures on how someone else in the same line of work is doing it better. Or has mega influence. I saw that my blog got 60 followers, then I visited another girl’s blog who had almost 5,000. Yes, 5,000. Uugh. Stupid blogger girl. Why are you “better” than me???
Maybe at work it seems that the same people are always invited to participate in the meetings you want in on. But, no one notices your qualifications. Do I even have qualifications anyway? I majored in Political Science, planted a church and am a stay at home mom. What do those qualify me to do? Umm…maybe write a small blog on God, the state of the earth and my kids? Yep. Thats about all it feels like sometimes. And if you have read many posts, you realize thats what they are all about. 
We all feel under qualified and out shined. Big dreams stuffed into small shoes. Stuck and unable to go anywhere. But there is hope! This is the killer part. We are not qualified by our resume, our experience or our track record. We are qualified by God alone. Don’t believe me? Read Colossians 1:12. 
God qualifies me, because He called me. We each have a calling and a kingdom destiny. No one else can do it. Steve Jobs is awesome. But, if he wrote a sit-com, no one would watch it. Jerry Seinfeld is a mega successful comedian. If he designed a computer it would fail miserably. We are all qualified, just not to do the same thing. 
I can so easily think that one purpose or role is more important than another. Or that one gets more honor. But, you knew who both Steve Jobs & Jerry Seinfeld were. Totally different, but loved and appreciated. You are qualified to fill a spot that I couldn’t fill. I am called to live out something that you wouldn’t have a chance at doing. In God we are all qualified. Different purposes, different abilities. One God who makes it all happen for us. 
Our ‘influence’ and ‘success’  are lost on God. He doesn’t honor what we are qualified to do, He honors the way in which we do it. Bravely, whole-heartedly and with a desire to glorify the One who is worthy. Each of us has a task at hand that is custom made for us. Think about it…What is yours?


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How To…Loose Your Religion

I had heard about Justin Dorroh long before meeting him. People kept telling me what a great leader, visionary, all around great guy he was. I finally met him when he & his wife moved to Portland. Justin is the pastor of The Door Community of Faith in Portland. He is passionate about people living authentic lives with Jesus…which is why he was the perfect candidate for “How To…Loose Your Religion.”
            Liz asked me to write a “how to” lose our religion in our relationship with Jesus. Let me begin by saying, from my perspective, when I use the term religious or religion, I am not referring to people but to a mind-set or a way of thinking that in the end does more harm than good. To go on a “witch-hunt” becomes religious, and I think we are all tired of focusing on what’s wrong with people versus what’s right with them, no matter how small that kernel of truth might be.
            Under the law we know, do this, and God will move on your behalf. The law says, work for God and God will bless you. The law says, do your part and God will do His part. My friends, the law doesn’t work!  Now our means to right standing before God is based on free grace received by faith (think simple trust) and is no longer based on our obedience. Instead, righteousness is based on our faith in His obedience! Paul said it this way in Romans 1:17, “In the gospel a righteousness is REVEALED that is BY FAITH!” In other words, we are in right relationship with God, simply by believing the cross qualifies me for right relationship with God! Woo hoo!
            Now, one of the earliest heresy’s Paul had to deal with was the Galatian bewitchment (Gal. 3). What happened was this: Paul came in and preached salvation by grace through faith because of Jesus’ finished work. Later, a group of Judaizers came in to the Galatian church and said, “Hey guys, we love Jesus, you love Jesus…awesome! Grace is amazing isn’t it! AAAAAANNNNNNNND, you might want to consider getting circumcised. Why? Well, circumcision is an added bonus to what Jesus did, and it is useful to you as a follower of Jesus.”
            Sounds harmless, right? The whole book of Galatians is Paul’s frustration with how these guys began with believing in order to enter the Kingdom, but switched back to their own works as a means to progress in their faith. In today’s society, no one is going to come in and try to convince us to go through a bodily operation, right? But we love add-on’s to the cross! Like what? Like, how much Bible do you read? How many people do you share the gospel with? How much do you pray? How much do you fast? Are any of these disciplines wrong? No way! They are all awesome; however, the problem sets in when we believe that by doing or not doing these disciplines we somehow determine how “close” we are with God or how much of His favor we carry. The problem is we make these disciplines our means of right standing with God, and it is no longer about simple faith in Jesus who died for us, as us (Romans 6). So, when we are “doing” well at these disciplines, we are on top of the world; while when we fall short, we feel like we are being “disobedient.” Sound familiar?
            The problem is we don’t understand the power of the cross. Romans 6 is clear, we DIED to sin! If you are a believer you are NOT: sinful, dirty, lazy, fearful, insecure, prideful, arrogant, frustrated, full of rage, lustful, a drunk, disobedient, FILL IN THE BLANK. According to the scriptures, the entire sin nature died upon your acceptance of Christ’s finished work on your behalf. (Romans 6: 3-7; 11; 18; Colossians 2:13-15, & MORE) So it is no longer trying to conform ourselves to some good behavior that is really the pattern of how the world works (Romans 12:2) but it is now the grace to believe that old nature is DEAD!
            Jesus’ death on the cross finished the work of dealing with your sinful nature. His resurrection inaugurated a new nature that is now based in righteousness (Romans 6:18). We have a new identity as believers and the way it operates is by faith, as mentioned earlier. This is what Paul is getting at in 2 Corinthians 5:17 – The old is GONE, the new HAS come! God does not need our help to deal with the sinful nature, He just asks us to believe. Jesus said it this way in John 6, “The work of God is this, to believe in the one He sent.” Again, this is the scandal of grace! We are now righteous, holy, pure, acceptable, etc., because we believe in Him and His finished work.
            So, how do we begin to “lose our religion?” Stop trying so hard to please God (Gal. 2:15-21 The Message)! Rest in His finished work. Believe He did the entire work of redemption 2000 years ago. Hebrews 4 tells us the Israelites never entered His rest because they didn’t believe. They never experienced the internal rest that faith in God provides. In my opinion, the greatest evidence of faith is rest from performance for God and for people. I love the supernatural, and outrageous testimonies, but rest is the evidence of trusting God.
            So, read the Bible to discover what God has done for you; not to qualify to be used by God (Col 1:12). Believe what He says, not the negative things others say, or what you feel on a certain day. Trust Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth and to reveal Christ in you (John 16:13-15). Stop proclaiming accusations over yourself and others. Realize while grace isn’t a license to sin, it is the only way to leave sin (Romans 5:20-6:2), because grace eradicated sinfulness from your life, as a believer (Romans 6 & 1 John 3:5-6). So much more to say to piece together a complete picture, but I am out of room! Here’s to grace re-orienting us again and again to realize the gospel really is GOOD NEWS!

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The Brave Kind of Beauty

I visited the zoo several weeks ago and a particular image from that trip has stayed with me. Meddling in the back of my brain…unable to settle. It, or rather she , remained. A fabulous old lady sitting outside the zoo. She wasn’t able to walk around much & was pretty confined to the bench where she was waiting for her party to return to her.

What I noticed about her wasn’t that she seemed a bit helpless, slightly awkward sitting alone at a crowded zoo, or that she was even a bit overweight with large veins popping out by her feet. The thing that stood out was her grooming habits. She had her delicate hand held mirror out and she was applying a fabulous red lipstick to her pinched mouth. I was mesmerized. She was beautiful.

Today the kids & I visited a neighbor who is in a nursing home recovering from hip surgery. As we walked in we met a lady waiting to visit her brother. She was 93. Her hair was curled just so. Her knee length shorts matched the turquoise in her floral shirt and she was working the room. Chatting it up with my kids. Saying hello to everyone who passed while telling them that she was 93 years old & her blond hair was NOT dyed. A magnificent woman. Captivating. Confident. Beautiful.

Then there was another lady. She was being pushed down the hall in her wheelchair by a nurse. Her body was frail, but you could see the frame that must have caught the attention of quite a few men back in the day. Her hair was badly cut, but she had smoothed it back with care. And there on her face was the mark of fabulousness. Red lips. I mean *boom*.  A pale old face with bright berry red slathered on aged, uneven, peeling lips. This chic had gumption. I commented on her brilliant shade of lipstick and she said, “Thank you. I just got it.” Then she rolled on by with her shoulders back and lips puckered out.

Rose. Sweet Rose. She was 94 and we met her when we were at the fish tank. She was sitting quietly in her wheelchair cheering the fish on as they raced by. Genuinely the nicest lady. She kept looking at my kids and reminding me to ‘count my blessings’. I did. Rose was rocking the bling. She had red & blue sparkly necklaces on. I mean, bold & bling bling.

Sitting there staring at Rose, it came to me. I realized why I couldn’t shake the image of the lady at the zoo wearing red lipstick. These women were BEAUTIFUL. Genuinely. Knock you down, powerful beautiful. If their calloused feet could fit into stilettos , I bet they would rock those too.

Not the formulated tan, beach wavy hair, big fat lip beautiful that we see all the time in magazines. That kind of beauty is fine to a degree, but it doesn’t compare to these chics. They wear their bling, their mile high socks, and pin tight curls because they are TELLING you they are beautiful.

Big beaded necklaces, matching coordinated outfits, messy red lipstick. These ladies are saying “We are still here.” , “I am still valuable & even if I never leave this building again, I will go out with a bang. Beautiful to the core. Beautiful to the end.”

We don’t see this kind of beauty often. It seems that we are ashamed if our lips are uneven. Or if we have veins appearing in our legs. Maybe you are loosing your hair…who cares! Calculated, culture-driven beauty becomes generic after a while. It’s the imperfect beauty that we can’t seem to forget.

Be brave in your short-comings and bold in your value. Ladies, wear red lipstick and pull out the bling. Men, I dunno. Play football even if you know you will loose.


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How To…Love A Skeptic

This my friends is Danny Harrison. He is one of our dear friends from Seattle. When I first met Danny he was one of the most intimidating skeptics you ever saw. Hating anything to do with the Church, but God had a big destiny for him. Now he is a pillar at Mosaic Community Church. You just never know… His perspective is unique and powerful. I thought we could all use a little help in How To…Love a Skeptic.
I used to be a vehement and proud skeptic of everything even vaguely considered “Christian”. If Jesus can reveal His heart to mine, and carry somebody who was as angry and skeptical as I was into a life filled with hope and joy as mine now is, I am convinced he can do the same for anybody.  My journey to recognizing that God loves me personally, and has an awesome plan for my life began with people who love God choosing to love me despite my skepticism.
I grew up in and around the Christian church.  A majority of my childhood and adolescence was spent moving around different states and countries as a “missionary kid.”  I had known all the right answers, I had gone through all the motions of being “a good Christian” for most of my life.  I recognize now when I look back, that I had some understanding of God and Jesus from a young age but that no sort of actual relationship with him had actually existed. I had years of accumulated head knowledge about God; plenty of arguments to be made and ways of proving myself “right.”  But I had no heart knowledge of God.  I never talked with him – only about him.  I had never allowed him to reveal anything of his true nature to me personally.  I was religious. 

And then a major piece of my life shattered.  My father – a major influence in my understanding of God – made a series of painful decisions culminating in his divorcing my mother.  My family was destroyed, my trust in my father disappeared, and I dove into anger as a response.  To make a very long story short, my response to my father’s hypocrisies and betrayals was to throw away everything he or anybody else had ever taught me about God.  I threw the church out of my life, I threw any sense of what I believed “truth” to be out of my life, and without even truly understanding what I was doing or why, I decided that I no longer believed in Jesus.  The resulting season of life was one fueled by extreme anger and pride in me.  I sought meaning for life.  I fleetingly thought I found it at various points.  But I was quickly consumed by depression and some incredibly self destructive patterns.  Of course at the time I thought I was doing just fine… Here is how to love someone like I was then… a skeptic.
1.  Remember that you too, were once a skeptic. 
Never will somebody be successfully argued into a relationship with Jesus.  We can’t talk people into trusting him, despite some of our best intentioned attempts.  We as followers of God can only be faithful to speak truth and to love people.  We don’t “lead someone to Christ,” but rather we are privileged to be present when God begins to draw someone’s heart to himself.  We are called to sow seed, and to harvest.  As much as I’d like to, I cannot force a plant to grow. 
One of the most valuable “tools” for sowing and harvesting is the adage of “walking a mile in another’s shoes.”  Take a moment and glance back over your shoulder.  Marvel with Him at how far you have come. Remember for a moment what that felt like – how scary it was to have so many unanswered questions, to not be sure if somebody or something would catch you if you “let go,”.

If this isn’t something you can relate to for some reason (you first came to know God as a small child, or you’re eighty-five and came to know him at age twenty-five, or something) then I encourage you to simply acknowledge your questions now.  We all have unanswered questions about and for God, even if we love and trust Him with all our hearts.  Some of us, amidst our love for, and belief in Him, still have doubts about the things of God.  God isn’t mad at you for those doubts and questions.  He doesn’t love you any less.  You aren’t less of a believer for having them.  If anything, they confirm your humanity, and point to your hope for greater things than what you currently see (Lamentations 3:21-25)! 

Consider Jesus’ disciple Thomas.  That guy literally walked with Jesus.  He saw him perform miracles, heard his teaching with his own ears, saw him killed and buried.  The first time Jesus appeared to his disciples after rising from the dead, Thomas wasn’t there.  When his buddies told him they’d hung out with the risen Jesus, Thomas said he wouldn’t believe Jesus was alive unless he could touch the wounds Jesus had received during his execution (John 20:24-28).  Poor Thomas, throughout a lot of the history of the Christian church has been sort of painted as this bad guy; a cautionary tale.  We’re admonished to not doubt like Thomas did.  But if we’re honest, we all have our Thomas Moments.  Even if we’ve followed Jesus for years, we all have our questions, our doubts.  “Does he really hear me when I pray?” “Some people seem to just have a perfect faith, I’ll never have that kind of a walk with God.” “God is good and all, but he can’t fix this in my life.” “Am I just unlovable?” “Is this really what God called me to?” 

But look at what Jesus does in that passage in John.  He comes back to the same place where all the disciples are, this time with Thomas in attendance.  Jesus doesn’t walk up to Thomas with fists on hips, shake his head, and say “tsk tsk Thomas, how dare you not believe!”  No.  Rather, because he knows Thomas, because he created his heart and mind, because he loves him, because he desires Thomas to know and trust him intimately, Jesus walks up and tells him to inspect his scars.  In doing so, he addressed Thomas’ doubts with strength and grace.  Jesus knows your heart intimately.  His desire for you is that there would be peace and security in that truth – not ominous dread.  He wants to address everybody’s doubts with
 strength and grace.  We are broken humans, but it is his love that draws us near to him. 

My point is this:  even though your questions may be different, you do share some common ground with people skeptical of Christ.  When we own that we were once lost and are now found, when we own that we have our occasional Thomas Moments we can begin to empathize with a skeptic.  When we can empathize, we can begin to love.  When we begin to declare the realities of our transformed lives, when we receive the loving act of Jesus coming to us and speaking truth to us, we begin to plant seeds of change in the lives of the skeptics around us.
2.  Stop being surprised, shocked, or offended by skepticism and rebellion.
I am continually amazed when people who follow Christ are caught off guard by the actions, beliefs, statements, and so on of people who don’t know God.  At this point in my walk with God, there is, so far, no piece of scripture that is more encouraging, hope giving, or able to make me punch the air above my head repeatedly with celebration than Romans 8.  If, for any reason, you do follow Jesus but don’t believe that the same power that raised him from the dead – the Holy Spirit – is living and active inside of you right now, go read Romans 8.  I pray that it will be an alarm clock to your soul! Anyone who believes Jesus is their Savior has been freed from condemnation and a life filled with things that lead to spiritual death.  After that declaration, much of the rest of Romans 8 describes how before we come to know God personally, and his Spirit fills us, that we are incapable of living a life pleasing to God.  Why then are so many believers surprised when those who don’t yet know the light of Jesus live amidst the darkness of not knowing him? 

Imagine being at a zoo, and walking into an exhibit of nocturnal animals.  Inside that exhibit, the light would presumably be extremely dim to encourage the animals to believe it to be night, thus you as the visitor could observe them doing more than sleeping.  Suppose you see an animal of some sort moving on a tree branch.  It has eyes that seem enormous for the size of its head; maybe they even glow a bit with what light they do reflect.  Maybe you hear and feel little clicks it makes as it uses its natural sonar to find bugs to eat in the dark.  Now imagine being horrified that those eyes seem so out of proportionally huge.  (“There’s no need for that!”)  Or imagine that you pull aside a zookeeper and complain about the creature’s clicking sonar.  (“Can’t you do something about that terrible noise?!”)  Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?  It is in that nocturnal animal’s nature to make that noise to find food and communicate.  It is natural for that animal to have the enormous, luminescent eyes it has.  It lives in darkness.  It may look bizarre to you, but it is normal to that animal.  Judging that creature for living according to its present nature would be bizarre to the point of being comical.

How often though, do we do this with humans?  How often do I find myself offended by a co-worker’s uninvited tale of his exploits that weekend?  How often do you make a snap judgment about a person simply based on what they’re wearing?  Why are we shocked by trends in pop culture?  We shouldn’t be.  Romans 8, Philippians 3, and Ephesians 5 just to name a few chapters, describe the fruit of the sinful nature we are all tragically born with.  Judging a skeptic for living “nocturnally;” amidst the natural darkness which is all they know, is the opposite of loving them.

I am not however – please hear me clearly – advocating some theology of absolute tolerance or brushing sin “under the rug.” There is a vast difference between encountering sinful behavior in someone and a.) finding an appropriate time and place to address it versus b.) having a knee-jerk reaction to sin, pronouncing judgment (that’s God’s job, not ours) and moving on through life. Encourage that skeptical person that you know a God who has better plans for their life that don’t actually include that issue.  They may not understand at first, but as God works on that skeptic’s heart; in part through your love for them, I promise they’ll begin to see what you mean.

Lastly, the beauty of darkness is that it will always be dispelled by light.  Let’s go back to that illustration about the nocturnal creature for a moment.  Imagine that while you stand there perplexed by the little guy’s bulbous glowing eyes, annoyed by it’s clicking sonar, a zookeeper steps into the exhibit.  He picks up the creature and heads toward a doorway.  Intrigued, you follow in the same general direction.  Outside, you see the same zookeeper standing, smiling, basking in the sunlight and holding an animal – but something is different.  It seems to be a creature of the same size and shape as the one you just saw the keeper pick up in the nocturnal exhibit, but this animal is beautiful.  Its eyes are suited for the sunlight, you no longer hear clicking.  This animal has a new nature; a new existence. 

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, God says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  Jesus is that zookeeper.  If we love skeptics the way Jesus loves them (he spent most of his time on earth with white collar criminals, hookers, and beggars and told the religious leaders of that culture that he came to save and not condemn…) then they may very well come to a place where they desire to be carried out of the dark and into the sun.  By the Son.  Christ promises us a new nature to live by.  We are all promised a mind set on the Spirit which brings life and peace (Romans 8 again) when we are transformed by light!
3.  Live honestly and openly in loving community with other followers of Jesus.  Invite skeptics consistently to participate in that community.
My skeptical heart of stone toward God was melted by God, and God alone.  But I know the journey to my even being willing to possibly consider that God wanted me to know him and be known by him, began by seeing a group of people who love God truly love each other well. 
It was in the midst of my searching for “actual truth,” and something fulfilling that wouldn’t fade the next day, that I was persistently invited to a thing called “Life Group.”  It took many repeated invitations before I finally decided to go.  I knew it was a small group of sorts that was connected to a church – hence my initial flat out refusal to go.  But eventually I decided to check it out.  Today, I have no problem admitting that I walked into Life Group that first time rabidly hunting for flaws in the people there.  I had grown up attending mid-week church based small groups.  I “knew” what to expect; and I was going to walk in there and find every crack in everybody’s facades, call out every piece of hypocrisy, and laugh at every half hearted attempt to talk about a God I claimed to no longer believe in.  That night, my plan got shut down.  Praise God! 

The extraordinary thing about the people who were at Life Group that night is that they are individuals who are surrendered to Jesus.  They have trusted him.  They know him.  He has radically changed their hearts, and their lives are marked by a desire to see him do the same in the lives of others.

 Something was vastly different about the people in that room than any other group of people I’d sat with before in my life.  They knew who I was walking in there.  They had a pretty good idea the type of life I was living.  They knew that I claimed to hate what they claimed to love.  But they chose to love me regardless.  Instead of dragging me in and telling me everything wrong I was doing, they welcomed me in and said “hey, come have some food; tell us about yourself.”  Instead of preaching on and on about the love of God to me (something I didn’t want to hear a second of) they lived out that love toward one another and with me.  The group talked about the Bible as if it affected their daily lives.  They were authentic when sharing about their lives’ struggles and joys.  They were raw.  They were real.  And they simply said to me, “Come.  Come join in what we’ve found.”

So I kept coming back, if only to explore.  It was months before I ever began to open up to the possibility that the life these people so clearly had could exist for me too.  But their love for one another; for the God they talked about; for me, kept me coming back.  It was in that Life Group that God began to truly capture my heart.  There is no underestimating the power of authentic, loving community.  Live in it, invite skeptics into it, and watch as God uses that community to transform their lives and yours.

Mine is a life that has been forever changed because people were faithful to love a skeptic.  I went from knowing about God but not really knowing him, to flat out rejecting him, to now walking daily with him; knowing his love and believing his promises over my life.  God’s heart is that every person would come to know and love him intimately, and live life to the full as a result.  He continually uses broken humans just like you to exhibit his extraordinary love to the people who are hurting, searching, and skeptical.  Love them.  Love them.  Love them!  And enjoy watching God work miracles in their hearts.
Blessings to you,
Danny Harrison


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How To…Stick it to the Man

Here I am looking oh-so-smart.

You have probably assessed from this photo that I am a really smart cookie. I mean like, totally smart…Err. Well. Okay, I’m not super smart. But, once I did get invited to join the National Honor Society. What did I do? Like a good Norma Rae, I stuck it to the man. Here is the post on : 
How to…Stick It To The Man
1. Identify ‘the man’. 
For me I was able to identify ‘the man’ one day at the beginning of my senior year in high school. I was invited to join the National Honor Society. It was probably a fluke clerical error. I’m not being modest, it was really most likely a clerical error. When I got the letter in the envelope I was beyond elated. This feeling of shock and awe was then preceded by the question every 17 year old asks themselves. “Does this in any way conflict with my convictions and values?”
2. Get way too worked up. Overreact!

It did not take me long to determine that the National Honor Society was in grave conflict with my beliefs. It was quite distressing actually. I knew that it is a good thing to have on my college application. I could apply for scholarships…but, no. Not I! I would be the one 17 year old high school student to throw my fist in the air and demand change. Stop the injustice that the Honors Society helps promote! 
Rich kids don’t have to work, they aren’t responsible for feeding and putting to bed their younger siblings while their single mom works her night shift. Children from poor families have to work jobs after school and that takes away from their study time. Plus, they can’t afford tutors and study aids like children from wealthy families. 
This means that it is more likely a rich kid will be able to maintain higher grades and therefore be invited into the NHS. Any high school student knows that being a part of the NHS is a really big advantage for college applications and scholarships. We can then assume that the rich kid will have a leg up over the poor kid thanks to the NHS. They will be more likely to get accepted into college and receive financial assistance (really, do they need it?). This system clearly favors wealthy families over poor families! Then the rich college grad kid gets the better job and the poor kid works for him. Is this even America people?!?!!? Is the NHS Constitutional??? ( this is the overreacting part) 
It still amazes me that the NAACP hasn’t gotten into this issue…
3. Tell ‘the man’ to his face that he is evil. 

Well, I promptly wrote a formal letter to the National Honor Society headquarters telling them that I could NOT accept their invitation. I informed them that I could not be party to an organization that discriminates based on socio-economic status and in turn adds fuel to the cycle of poverty. I have morals and I have values. I am sure that this profound and insightful letter sent the headquarters into a tail-spin. It’s an amazement that they even recovered from it…
Next, I told the NHS sponsor teacher at my high school what I had decided about the organization as a whole and that I felt it was unethical for her to support such a group. 
To top it off, I tried to convince the NHS chapter at Midway High School to band together as students in order to boycott the Society. Together our voices would be heard. Sure, we won’t get college scholarships, but this is humanity we are fighting for! My insight into class struggle was lost on them as well…
For the record, I did in fact do all the things listed above. Mom, Dad…I’m not sure if I ever told you this…I doubt it will surprise you though. We can’t fight ever battle in life. But, some days you need to write your congressman. And some days you need to Stick It To The Man.


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Rest vs. Laziness … and 10 virgins

Leaving an old boat in your yard…that’s lazy.

The merriest of summers to you all. Perhaps you have noticed that over the past month I have barely written on here. To be honest its because I have been a bit lazy.  Summer is a break, a laid back breather to help us gather our wits for the coming fall. I suppose I understand this concept. Its a fine line between resting & laziness.
Resting comes from the motive of storing up. Allowing your mind, body & soul to come to a healthy place so that you can continue on in a healthy way. It is a mindset that allows peace, joy and strength to build within you. 
Laziness is being passive. It is an unwillingness to follow through and do what needs to be done. Rest prepares you to complete the task. Laziness is avoiding the task. Putting it off without the discipline to actually do it later. 
When I rest, I don’t sit idle. I do things that put life and energy back into my soul. I read, spend time with Jesus, chat with a friend about the condition of my heart. I sit and dream with God about what is to come. I engage in creative outlets that remind me that there is a certain ‘lovely’ quality to life. When I rest, my body is storing up for the battles ahead. I sit under a shady tree and sharpen my kingdom weapons. I build up my storehouses with joy knowing that the land is going to be mine one day. 
Laziness, that’s another story. I get irritated. The slight weight of things I should have done builds up. I toss things aside deciding that I need time to just idle, be neutral. Veg and ‘rest’. I trick myself that it is resting, but it is really depleting. I fill my time with empty nothings and don’t prepare myself for anything. Which is exactly what I get at the end – nothing. 
This irritability sets in my heart. I am prone to grumpiness, my temper is shorter with my kids. I wake up expecting little from my day and it bothers me. Instead of snapping out of it, I fall deeper into it. The more I put off,  the more I put off. If I have one basket of clothes to fold, it will be doubled by the following day. I simply stop doing things. Lazy. Inner frustration builds and I don’t want to think about any big, exciting God dream. I’m not ready for one. I haven’t fed myself a diet of truth and discipline. I haven’t engaged in joy, simply sit-com laughs. 
Rest vs. Laziness. In Matthew 25 there is a story of 10 virgins. The bridegroom is coming and they all had their lanterns with them. Only 5 of them could be bothered to get oil ahead of time. The other 5 put it off. All ten fell asleep. Half of them with their oil by their side.

When the bridegroom came only the 5 who were prepared went with him. Those five weren’t hectic overstressed girls. They rested & slept just like the other five. BUT – They had a sense of occasion. They knew that at any moment something glorious and significant could happen. They were prepared.

The other five had no sense of occasion. They were lazy and had no expectation on their evening. They just put off getting oil and went to bed. Just like any other night. But it wasn’t any other night. They missed the moment.

It’s easy for us to get into a routine. Just another day at work. Just another date with my spouse. Just another family night. Just another church service. Just another Monday… Laziness with no sense of significance.

Restful people don’t try and muster up some significant moment all the time. But, they are prepared for one. Then when it comes, they can enjoy it and marvel at the occasion. It’s the way we are called to live. What if tomorrow is the day that God wants to speak a new direction to you, but you can’t be bothered to stop checking Facebook when you should be reading the Bible and praying. Or maybe there is another level of intimacy for you and your spouse, but you just don’t want to find the emotional energy to ask them deep questions. Or perhaps there was a financial miracle God wanted to do in your life, but you hate organizing your finances. So you simply let them stay messy & you don’t notice the hand of God at work. Every day is memorable if you do something memorable.

Rest this summer. Rest hard. Laugh deeply in order to refill your weary soul. Do what needs to be done so that you can hold the things coming. Significance is all around. Today is an occasion. Don’t miss it.


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