Friday, December 25, 2015


“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
Isaiah 9:6-7

The Government will be on His Shoulders.
He will establish a Kingdom.

Matthew tells us some things about this Kingdom.

“The kingdom of God is like:

*a man sowing good seed and his enemy sows weeds among the good seed (Matt 13:24)
*a net let down in a lake and catches all kinds of fish--good ones and bad ones; brought to shore where good is separated from the bad (Matt 13:47)

Bad exists and even grows right up with the good. Don’t be surprised that bad exists too. The reckoning will come.

*a mustard seed , the smallest of your seeds becomes largest of garden plants (Matt 13:31)
*yeast—tiny morsels but when placed in large amount of flour can work through whole dough (Matt 13:33)

Kingdom is in the small things. But very powerful. Very thorough. Tallest and finest even when your eyes do not see. It can take time and lots of kneading. Do not be discouraged. Saturation and mighty results are coming.

*treasure in a field that is found and the man sells all he has and buys the field (Matt 13:44)
*a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one he sells all he has and buys it (Matt 13:45)

His Kingdom is worth more than anything you already have. His Kingdom requires sacrifice and offers priceless treasure.

*a king who settles his accounts, first demanding payment and then offering mercy to a servant who then goes out and demands his own payment from another (Matt 18:23)

Kingdom is ours by mercy. Remember this.

*not of this world (John 18:36)
*within you (Luke 17:21)

We are a kingdom in Christ’s love and freedom(Rev1:6)

A kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb12:28)

God’s kingdom?

 "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.”
Luke 6:20-23

Blessed are you who are poor! Yours is the Kingdom!

“[Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

‘The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor’

Then he rolled up the scroll gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them,
‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’
Luke 4:16-21

We cannot get away from this message.

This isn’t an upside down message.

It is the Right Side Up one.

All who lack are the blessed ones. The ones who have the Kingdom.

Our Jesus came with this message.

A message specifically for the broken hearted.

And how did He arrive to deliver this news to us?

“There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

This is a Kingdom that approaches us.
Knows us.
Is just like us.

In every single barren, risky place.

His kingdom is now.
In you, as His.

Will you receive it?

A kingdom that is:

Difficult (good and bad together).
Worth more than anything you currently have.

Given by mercy and mercy likewise required.

Not of this world.

His kingdom come.
His will be done.
On earth as it is in heaven.

Let it be so.

“For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
 Isaiah 61:8-9

Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Thursday, December 10, 2015


We spend a lot of our time as strangers here.

As shining ivory residing in an exquisite ebony land we know what it is to stand out and be foreign.

Our family understands what it is to be different from those around us.

There are blessings abundant in this life choice.


It never stops being difficult.

Feeling like ‘the others’ has become our most settled niche.

Take furlough for example.

Months ago our family landed in Miami, Florida to begin our furlough.

Miami, Florida.

We know no one in Miami. No church family. No friends. No family. Upon arrival, we quietly collected our bags, rented a car, found our beach condo and in the pressing haze of jet lag scrounged some food before we tumbled into a fitfully deep slumber.

We spent the next month chasing a dream (flight training for Jeff) while settling into our visit in a very different culture. We easily found all the physical necessities. Food, flight school, new books, a car to drive, phones. More food. God bless America.

But just a few days in, my kids started mentioning it.

“We need some familiar hugs Mom. Furlough is about the people we love here. It is very weird to not see our friends and family yet.”

We managed well in Florida but something was definitely missing.

Remarkably I would find the absent ingredient in a Whole Foods grocery store.

In Fort Portal there is one grocery store that I have shopped in for 20 years. Other shops move in and out but Andrew and Brothers Grocer has provided our staples the most consistently for all that time. The store is small in comparison to American supermarkets, but I have grown comfortable with the size and layout and inventory. So comfortable, in fact, that the immense expanse of American grocery stores and their choices can feel completely overwhelming. I’ve learned, through the years, that in the early weeks of a furlough I will manage better if I approach an American grocery story one or two aisles at a time. It’s really all I can emotionally handle.

One day, about a week into our furlough, I was perusing my ‘aisle of the day’ at a big, beautiful Whole Foods. In the midst of my methodical scan of resources I received a text message from my sister. She sent me two pictures with no words attached but I was immediately drawn in. The pictures were of dear friends from our teenage years. The photos communicated deeply to me. So many stories. And so much history. As only my family could know.

I quickly typed back some texts and my mom joined in. In a moment that I felt out of place and uncomfortable those simple texts connected me to those who know me very well. Connected me with those who can communicate a world of meaning from a few snapped photos on an Iphone.

And that’s why I was crying in front of the flax seed bars on aisle 10 in a Florida Whole Foods.

Sweet, sweet knowing.

It is truly awesome.

Being a stranger is not so impressive no matter how well rehearsed we are at the coping.

Being with those who know me? That is a life giving exorbitance.

And that brings us to John chapter 17.

In this chapter we have Jesus. Only His voice.  And He is praying. Out loud. For all of His people.

The glory and sweetness and sheer comfort of Him praying for the likes of us…

Sweet gracious.

It is breathtaking.

But in all the glory of these generous words, there are some very specific phrases that echo and repeat and stand astounding.

It is, quite simply, the beginning and the end.

(He is so beautifully both.)

“…Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
John 17:1-3


 I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known
in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
John 17:26

In this world of swirling authority wrangling we hear this simple pure truth in the voice of Christ. His last words (important words!) emerging from a peaceful gathering that would usher them to the garden and then to His death.

All authority was given to Jesus so that He might give.

Jesus, by God’s design, has authority over all and his authority gives life.

Life that equals knowing. And being known.

“I have made you known…so that your love may be in them.”

As rules and roles struggle and pull we are reminded simply and profoundly of Jesus’ work.

Knowing God so closely that it’s all he had to proclaim.



Being one with a God who is FOR us. (Glorify me that I may glorify YOU!)

Exercising authority that is FOR all the other ones.

We don’t have to look far to witness ‘authority’ that demands and takes and self aggrandizes. Sometimes under the veil of establishing credibility an authority structure will state strengths and advancement as reason for receiving one’s trust. We must discern well and proceed with much caution. Such authority does not resemble Jesus who, with all authority well in hand, proceeded to give and to break and to die.  To serve.

Looking like Jesus is always the best choice when we step into the humility of leadership. His image, a wounded one, mirrored into all of our daily service.

Our accused, betrayed, and surrendering leader prays chapter 17’s very important words.

“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name…”

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

Jesus wants us to have.

He wants us sanctified.

He wants truth for us.

He wants protection for us.

He wants LOVE for us.

And unity.


“…I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father…”

When I read this verse I often glance guiltily at every chasm I can see in our fellowship of believing. Every parting and separating and definitive line drawn.


The unity prayed for by Jesus here is our joining with God and Christ.

A joining that is far less severable.

Far less effected by the likes of us.

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.”

Outside of our control.

It is a joining that holds onto me.

“Then the world will know…”

That Jesus was sent from God and that God has LOVED US. Even as He has loved Jesus.

“Then the world will know…”

This alone will teach them: our connection with God.

As we strategize and plan and study and grow in all our big, big kingdom work this truth repeats and whispers and kneads deeply into every shattered place.

God loves.

We must never stop practicing our acceptance of this.

He is IN us.

We are known.

Believe, friends.

Grasp and hold.

Eternal life is now.

In the sheltered and cozied-up comfort of His very knowing gaze.

All of that love poured into us.

No competition.

No comparison.

No defeat.

Attention enough for all.

And this is knowing.

And this is grace.

And this is unity.

Anchored in Them, complete.