Thursday, July 30, 2020

Our Mission Should We Choose to Accept Last Days

I shake my head at how complicated our world has gotten - not just from sea to shining sea - but all around the globe.

Evil is called good.

Good is being called evil. 

Truth is whatever you want it to be.

Love is being currently defined as acceptance, instead of following God's basic definition in John 3:16... for the good of someone else.

Hate is hate when out of love you wish to speak truth (but, never mind you have someone else's good at heart, because well good is bad, and my truth isn't necessarily yours)... So, we’re only allowed to say that which is tolerant, kind, and agreeable; or we're labeled "haters."

In America, it's currently "political season;" and, for some that means it's permissible to bring harm to the streets and neighborhoods of the common working-man, in the name of free speech and getting the ALL-important-CAUSAL-messages "out there."

The largest gap I've ever witnessed splits our nation in division over preferred parties and candidates.


Disagreement finds no common thread to bind anyone together anymore.

I see this question asked on a regular basis:
"Could these be the last days?"

Well, we are closer than ever, but according to Jesus, "No man can know the hour."

We have signs of the times given to us.

We have possible big picture ideas.

But....Honestly, "I dunno."  🤷‍♀️

And, that isn't what matters.

What matters is how I am to live my life, and the what, or rather, who, I am to fix my hope on, as I journey through whatever season this is that we are all facing together.

If you are a Jesus-follower, those are the questions we should ask ourselves, and hold up to the one plumb line I believe we have in this world: GOD-BREATHED SCRIPTURE. 

With those questions in a bubble hovering above my head, I, recently, turned to dig into Paul's second letter to Timothy, his "beloved son in the faith." It's a book of "last days," and how we are to live....

I've never blogged through a book of the Bible before.

I've led plenty of Bible Studies, but I'm not even sure what this genre of a blog should look like.

Yet, that's where I feel led to direct my attention.

What can I learn from a man (the Apostle Paul) who is definitely facing his last days on earth?

What might he teach me about how to live in the midst of hard times?

What take aways can I ponder, and put feet to, as I walk out my last days, no matter how long they might be? 

And, more importantly, how can I be a Jesus-follower navigating tumultuous waters of this season of life, loving biblically, speaking truthfully, bridging the "great divides" (if possible), and showing others what it looks like to live victoriously in Jesus?

This is an introduction to where I'm heading over, well, who knows how long...

And, as I begin, the first question I'm asking is this:

With whom do I identify most in 2 Timothy?



Not really either one; though, sometimes I operate as a Paul in a mentoring capacity, and, sometimes, I'm still a Timothy, needing to learn from a skilled master teacher.

But, I know who I want to be.

I want to be Onesiphorous (I'll call him "O" - sounds kind of Mission Impossible, right?

Paul brags on this servant to Timothy in chapter 1 (16-18).

What Paul says about "O" is, actually, quite tender. Here are the words in just three verses:

May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me— may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

Here's what I know about "O" that is worth emulating.

1) While others deserted Paul when he was thrown into the Mamertine Prison, "O" stuck it out, persevering, RIGHT BESIDE him, know matter what others thought...

2) In fact, "O" had to search, and search, until he finally found Paul, in the worst of conditions. "O" was a man of purpose and nothing deterred him from what he had come to do...He was diligent and determined.

Side note: No one made it out of Mamertine alive. You were either torched, sent to the games, beheaded, or died of starvation. It wasn't a prison as we know prison with cells. The prisoners were lowered down into this "cistern" by ropes, and pulled out the same way, unless you died first, and then you were sent out the only door in the place, that opened into the sewers. The sewer waters sent the dead on out to sea via the Tibre River.

(Mamertine Prison, Rome, Italy)

3) "O" never turned his back on Paul, and once he found him, he "refreshed" Paul (that word literally means, he gave Paul a "breath of fresh air."). Can you imagine how welcome that fresh breath was to the Apostle?  Undoubtedly, he brought Paul much needed words of encouragement, as well as, tangible refreshment in terms of food and clean water.

4) While "O's" name may be a bit difficult to pronounce, he was named appropriately. His name means, "one whose pleasure and joy it is to be useful." "O" lived and loved to serve others.

Isn't that what is needed in these troubled times? We need Jesus-followers who are determined to serve others; who see a need and fulfill it with pleasure; who encourage with words and tangible, practical help (after all, those who serve the "least of these" serve Jesus). May we each find our purpose and live out our WHY to the very best of our ability....even at the risk of being shamed and mocked. May we each be found to be "O"-kind-of-loyal. 

Yep, I want to be Onesiphorous.

And, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to be one, too. 

This blog will not self-destruct.


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Jesus: A Deeper Look at His Anger in the Temple

A few weeks ago, I stopped short in the midst of reading a post on social media.

Up to the point my breath caught in my throat, I was engaging with what the writer had to say about dying to self, giving up our rights, not having to defend ourselves out of pride - or control.

The written word was exhorting followers of relinquish our all to God, and ask Him to renew our minds to make us more like Christ.

Then came these words:
"Christ. That kick-ass savior who when confronted with injustice flipped tables and fashioned a freaking whip to drive out evil. There are people flipping tables and fashioning whips [today] because they can bear the injustice no more."

Here I stopped reading.

Jesus? A "kick-ass savior?"

Those words have troubled me (let alone the description of the whip...)...

bewildered me...

haunted me...

What did the author mean?

Being of a different generation, I zipped to an online Urban Dictionary to try and further understand.

Here's what I read:

"Kick-ass: North American vulgar slang meaning to dominate, beat, or defeat someone. To act in a very firm, controlling or aggressive manner..."

Was that Jesus' motive behind the overturned tables, the whip He fashioned from cords, the words with which He rebuked the money-changers?

Was he trying to control the temple-crowd, to beat them into submission???

I curiously longed to know.

And, this is my conclusion.


The heading in my Bible reads: Jesus Cleanses the Temple.

The words of Matthew say this:

Let's not leave out John's words:

Whether this is one instance, or two, it doesn't matter.

What matters is the heart of the Savior as He shows a rare display of anger.

Anger was not Jesus' norm.

His life was lived with compassionate healing, touching, caring, building relationship, gently restoring, speaking hard truths with kindness and compassion, and teaching with patience (that some might be led to a knowledge of TRUTH...and to SALVATION).

Paul's words to Timothy were probably Jesus' words to the Apostle Paul as he set out in ministry (please read them - they are for us, today, too!):

This we know about the Lord God, and Scripture tells us that what we see in the Father, we see in the Son:

The Lord is slow to get angry.

He wouldn't give us the same admonition that He didn't keep:

What I understand is that there are appropriate times to be angry...

...and, there are specific Biblical guidelines to follow in order to "be angry and not sin..."
(There, again, is a topic for another time...)

What, then, stirs Jesus' soul to the point that His ire rose?

To answer that question, I've gone way back.

It starts in the Garden of Eden; and, it weaves its way through the Old Testament and into the New.

What angers the Lord God of Creation from the Beginning into today is clear.

God created man for the purpose of RELATIONSHIP!

As God fellowships with the Trinity, He wants us to experience the sweetness of relationship, as well.
He is zealous about that...
Jealous....for us (for our love, for our time, for our obedience)!
He's passionate about us!

When relationship is hindered, or obscured, or any way...God gets angry. 

He longs for hearts that are wholly His.

Any time the Lord pronounces "WOES" on His people, it's because they are hindering others from seeing Him & His ways...

Woe: a condition of deep suffering and hurt!
(Merriam Webster Online Dictionary)

When relationship with His people is broken, God's heart is broken...

When the heart of God is broken, His anger rises...


It's so much more than making a point about injustice (now, don't misunderstand me, that's a definite symptom of misplacing our worship).

It's so much more than using God's temple for inappropriate activities...

Turning over tables was about the money changers, and religious leaders, preventing the crowds from coming into relationship with Jesus!

They were preventing Him from fulfilling His mission...

Jesus anger was all about the prevention of the GOSPEL message being introduced!

All the stuff happening in the temple was keeping the worshippers from seeing JESUS for WHO HE WAS - the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!

If, as already mentioned, anger stems from hurt...

Jesus actions in the temple were entirely about 

He knew that very soon, He'd go from temple, to the garden, to the cross, and, then, to hell and back, for the SALVATION OF ALL MEN...

And, so, now I wonder - what about me? 

Do, I keep others from seeing Jesus, because my focus is misplaced.

Because I'm selfishly looking out for my "agenda" instead of seeing the great need for Jesus in those around me?

Have I put something ahead of the GOOD NEWS OF JESUS?

If I do, then, the temple that is my heart needs to have a few tables overturned, so that I will RETURN TO THE LORD, and relationship with Him... (and, thus, keep the main thing the main thing)!

The Lord God is still ZEALOUS for His house!

His heart still breaks to see the lost find their way to salvation.

But sometimes, Jesus goes unseen as Savior and Lord of the temple (our lives)... 

...and, sadly, 

An unseen Savior is unable to reach the lost. 

That breaks Jesus' heart.

That makes Him angry. 

That makes Him fashion whips and turn over tables to get our attention!

Oh, that we will evaluate: Am I keeping the main thing of Christianity the main thing?

Is the Gospel my passion?

Or something else?

When others look at me, am I helping them see Jesus?

Followers of Jesus...
Set aside issues
Guard the Good News
& keep the main thing the main thing!

Our focus needs to be loving others to the Savior in tangible ways.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

How to Stop the Rumblings of the Mt. Vesuvius in My Heart. (A follow-up on anger)

I started thinking that I should have titled last Thursday's post: A Tale of Two Women....

However, the more I debated that title, I decided, that wasn't at all appropriate!

It really is the tale of "one woman."


The angry woman I called "she" could have been me...and I, "she."

We are easily one and the same.

Not in the moment my story took place, mind you (Scroll down further for the story, if you didn't read it on Thursday)...

...but at one time or another, I've been in her shoes.

Angry at someone for something.

I may have modified my behavior a little bit better...

Or not...

The fact is that we are all "she" at some time in our lives.

Out of no where comes an "oops," and a "where did that come from?"

As soon as I start to hear the rumblings of anger inside me, I am forewarned.

I know exactly where it is coming from...

Mount Vesuvius lives inside my heart.

If I don't deal with what's going on, a metaphorical Pompeii will feel the heat of my lava.

It will run down the streets with destructive force, leaving in its wake, a host of unsuspecting victims.

Like the gal who wanted an unhindered journey across town, I've lashed out at anonymous individuals...

And, sometimes (once again, I'm literally shrugging my shoulders and raising my eyebrows)....

...sometimes, the ones I tear into are those closest to me.

I definitely have a knack of hurting the ones I love the most.


This I know:

The source of the problem is my heart.

Something has been piling up inside that I have not taken care of in a Biblical way.

Most often, that something is hurt.

The age-old-adage is certainly true:

"Hurt people hurt people."

That is the thing about anger.

It is often birthed in hurt, rejection, criticism, stuff just not going our way, pure-evil-meanness that's been done to us...

And, anger says:
"You owe me."

No doubt, the times I've erupted like Mount Vesuvius on Pompeii, my anger feels justifiable (and, at the moment, the release feels pretty "good")...

...until my wise-mind kicks in and I realize what I've done.

When I'm angry, I just want someone to pay.

But, here's what the Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians:

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Get rid of anger! 

How does one throw away an emotion?

Well, that's not the full meaning of the Greek word translated "get rid of." It means to remove, to carry off; to take away; or, to separate from oneself. 

Just a few weeks ago, I was having trouble sleeping, so rather than toss and turn, I got out of bed, and came into the family room to read for a while. 

I kept hearing this little scratchy noise, and, actually thought to myself it might be coming from the storage closet behind me...

That's when I looked away from my book, down to my lap, where a ninja-sized, gray mouse (OK, he was an itty-bitty, baby-sized mouse, but a mouse, nonetheless) was staring up at me. 

Our eyes didn't lock for long, believe me.

I screamed at the top of my lungs (and, at 3-ish in the morning, my dear husband heard not a peep), then jumped up, sending the little guy flying. 

He ran off...

I ran off...

And, I've seen no sign of him since.

That's what "getting rid of" means.

You distance yourself from the "mouse" of anger as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. 

Again, how? 

Paul goes on to explain:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Getting rid of anger and rage means we extend a scepter of kindness and compassion (this is where the mouse analogy breaks down).

We reach out to those who have wronged us.

And, then, the most important part follows the comma!

We make a choice to forgive.

As Jesus forgave us.

There's a little footnote in my Bible beside this word "forgive."

It sent me to Matthew 18...and a parable Jesus tells that explains what forgiveness means.

You'll find the whole story in verses 21-35.

It's a convicting story, believe me.

Forgiveness isn't just three little words we say: "I forgive you."

It is so! much! more!

The bottom line of the whole parable is that forgiveness is the decision to cancel a debt.

"Wherever there's a hurt," Pastor/Writer Andy Stanley says, "there's a theft. There's an imbalance. Somebody owes someone. In order to achieve justice, a transaction must take place that transfers something back to the victim. It could be an apology, a favor, money, or some other form of restitution, but the tension will remain until the debt is settled." 

Funny thing is that anger isn't easily appeased.

Nothing, the person who hurt us does, seems to quench the rumbling of the volcano entirely.

But one thing will, and Jesus exemplified it for us.

He forgave us of our debt.

And, we did nothing to deserve it.

We're to do the same.

Anger is only appeased when the debt is canceled.

I make the choice to no longer let the one who has made me angry control me any longer.

When I forgive, truly forgive, in the sense of canceling the debt owed me, I separate myself from the anger.

I throw it off...



And, when I do, I find freedom....

That is the best part of forgiveness!


Jesus got angry and lashed out at the Pharisees in the temple.

How does this fit?

That's for another time.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

A Back Story to a Future Look at Anger

A memory popped into my head a few days back from about seven or eight years ago...

Odd how this happens.

However, it is one remembrance I felt worth exploring.

One afternoon my job as Dean of Women at a Christian University took me clear across Phoenix to a Behavioral Health Hospital to be with one of our young students who'd been admitted the day before.

To say it was a "trying" experience, which wore me out, is an understatement.

For the safety of the patients, one can't just walk in, ask for a room number, and go visit.

The center is locked down.

Every item you bring with you into the hospital is taken away and put in "safe keeping."

The wrapped gift I'd brought?

Well, the bow was untied, the package unwrapped, and the gift (a book) throughly searched for "contraband."

Obviously, this was my first go-round...

And, I was noticeably a rookie.

It had the "feel" of visiting a prison.

Once through security, which looked much like TSA security at an airport, I was taken to a room with  circular tables.

My student was brought to me.

We visited without privacy.

The more we chatted, the more I realized her stay would be long, but she was determined to "work the plan" set before her by the staff and her family.

She really wanted help.

I prayerfully (and I mean that, prayerfully!) tried encouraging her best I knew how.

By the time I left the hospital, I was emotionally drained, and physically fatigued.

Now, I faced the long drive back across town to the college and our home.

However, the timing couldn't have been worse; and, the traffic was treacherous as only traffic can be heading West across the city back to my location come late afternoon.

Knowing the freeway was impossible to navigate, and not even wanting to try, I took back roads.

I managed to hit every! single! red! light! the entire! way! home!

I finally made it to my exit, but still had a good two miles, and too many red lights til I made my left turn onto the campus.

It was a relatively nice afternoon, so I'd rolled my windows down, to enjoy the breeze, and hoped to allow it time to clear away the cobwebs the little spider-of-sadness wove up in my head.

At one of the lights, I placed my elbow on the window sill, rested my head on my hand, and began the final few blocks of driving...

The traffic in front of me, and the cars behind me, set the pace of my remaining journey.

I could go no slower, no faster than they would allow me to go.

With head still on hand, I made it to my turn lane.

That's when the lady in the car behind me, pulled around, and yelled at me at the top of her lungs (with her little daughter in the car), "Get off the f---ing phone!"

Startled, I lifted my hands, to show her they were empty, and raised my eyebrows.

I mouthed, "No phone!"

I doubt she saw any of my effort to explain.

What a range of emotions rose up in my heart as she rushed off to who knows where!

Unsure why she was frustrated, I longed to be able to explain myself.

I knew I had not been unsafe.

I knew my driving hadn't been unusually slow.

I pretty much was stuck in the flow of the traffic.

Yes, I was WEARY!

The day had drained me of practically every ounce of energy.

HOWEVER, that had NOT hindered my driving ability.

Still, I longed to be able to explain myself.

Somewhere out in that city is a woman, and a young girl, who may still be angry with the driver of a red Subaru Outback, that they "THINK" was on her phone for approximately two miles.

Anger says, "You owe me."

Anger says, "I want something and you are preventing me from having it."

What she wanted (I guess) was to go faster...

What she wanted was me out of her way...

What she wanted was less traffic (good luck with that at 4:30-ish PM in downtown Phoenix)...

What she wanted was to vent her frustration with someone who couldn't attack back...

What she wanted was something I couldn't give her:

Entitlement to an easy journey across town.

However, I became the symbol of why that couldn't happen for her.

So, she tore into me.

And, there it is...

We all desire our journey through life to be an easy one.

Newsflash: It can never fully be so this side of heaven.

Yet, when it's hard, we look for someone, ANYONE, to blame.

Many times, it's the anonymously unknown individual we point to and fault.

The innocent one.

We vent to those who cannot attack back...

There are several directions this story can take.

But, what do we do if we are the one with the expectation and our journey is tough?

...When life is hard?

...When people stand (or drive) in our way?

...When I'm not getting where I want to go quick enough, easy enough, or without complication?

What do I do?

Instead of venting in frustration....

Instead of expressing anger, sinfully, what are my options?

What's a biblical response?

What's a follower of Jesus to do?

This is what I'm pondering...

Because, that day will come, when I'm the one driving behind the woman I think is on the phone, preventing me from what I want....

This is the back story.

You'll have to come back for more...

Until then, read the verses on anger interspersed throughout this blog, explore your thoughts on the issue, as well.

"See you" (metaphorically speaking) on Tuesday...

Thursday, July 2, 2020

A Reconciliation Answer...

It's very simple, actually....

the story of reconciliation.

It's not a "race" thing, 

unless you are talking the human race.

No question, it is a human-race-need.

The story starts in the Garden of Eden.

God made man in His image.

His Plan-A was that we'd live as image-bearers.

So, He made Adam, and followed the first-man with the first-woman, Eve.

They had one "law" to follow.

But, their greed, and strong-internal-desire of wanting more, destroyed them.

Call it what you want, but the reality is that their action of disobedience was SIN.

And, sin separated man from God.

Peace-with-God abolished.

But, God loved His image-bearers.

So, reconciliation became the critical need.

To cover for the consequence of death, and bring reconciliation,

our great God-of-compassion sacrificed an animal (the first death in the Garden),

and covered the man and the woman.


Reconciliation restored.

Peace-with-God renewed.

Fellowship re-set.

Next thing we know is that man comes against man and a murder takes place....

Reconciliation needed again...

And, this sequence became a pattern through history, until Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice.

Once-for-all He died to bring reconciliation.

And, it was accomplished.



There was made and will be a way back to reconciliation...........ALWAYS!


So, the Lord God began compelling those whose lives were changed because of Christ's death....

His "new creations" (2 Cor. 5:17)...

...and, He gave them a ministry of reconciliation...

A ministry designed to restore peace-with-God,


"Go and tell...." He authorized.

"Go and make more disciples, who will go and make more disciples, who will also be entrusted as image-bearers with a ministry-of-reconciliation."

Sinful man

made in God's likeness

creates havoc 

with other image-bearers...


The same old reason:  SIN.

Sinful man needs something, and he doesn't know what that need is...

So, he takes it out on others...

Followers of Jesus, we have the answer for their need...

We have the answer for the UNREST....

...and, the Lord has authorized us to be His messengers... live as He would on earth, appealing others, imploring them to be reconciled...

...and to live reconciled...

with God

with mankind

to one-another one-another...

Essentially we've been reconciled 
in order to reconcile....

What's the answer to reconciliation?


It begins with me...

and, honestly, it ends with me...

Have I taken my role as an ambassador, as a minister-of-reconciliation seriously....

There is one basic answer:




If there is a problem with 






just maybe,

followers of Jesus

need to step into their role

as ambassadors