Why Words Matter

“People are so angry.” My husband said.

A man was blocking the milk section at the grocery store. Another man wanted to get a gallon. Instead of waiting or gently asking the man blocking the milk to move back a little, the man needing the gallon of milk said very loudly and rudely, “EXCUSE ME!”

My husband met that angry man at the checkout station where the machine wasn’t working for him because he couldn’t wait. All I could think of as my husband shared his experience at the store with me was how words matter.

Memes, politics, words that joke about wishing people would die, etc aren’t powerless. It feeds a greater movement towards violence and hate. As a Digital Engagement and Disciple-Making Coordinator with WorldVenture, I wince when I see words and posts from people that divide rather than unite, and feel like our country is like our Arizona’s forests–a tinderbox due to drought ready to ignite with one careless spark. The drought, of course, is the lack of compassion, love, and self-control online combined with bible illiteracy.

Recently, I was watching Paul Apostle of Christ movie. The group in the Christian encampment wanted to take up their swords and storm the prison to free Luke and Paul. Paul said in the movie we must love, not retaliate. No matter how we feel politically, how we grieve for the state of our country on this fourth of July, we must remember that we are citizens of Heaven first and we are charged to love our enemies, our friends, and our neighbors. But, ultimately, words matter.

The angry man at the milk display, the impatience of the driver at the mall, and the fiery posts witnessed online are examples of the power of ideas and words. The world needs more Jesus and less anger. More importantly, we need to focus on exercising self-control online and have more conversations. Foster trust, not hate one post at a time. Learn to wait. Learn to stand in line. Learn to be helpful. Those are my thoughts today on this Fourth of July.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

Loving Others as Jesus Did?

Because I can’t even begin to identify with the Mind that made matter, with the Voice that spoke galaxies into existence, or with the Power that holds all things together…but I can identify with the compassion Jesus showed lepers, and I can identify with the frustration he felt with the religious leaders, and I can identify with the sorrow he experienced when people rejected him.  It’s this sort of stuff—raw, down-to-earth, “human stuff” (that is, compassion, frustration, rejection, etc.)—in which Jesus works out his humanity, and invites us to follow him. And when we realize that Jesus really does understand what it means to be human (warts and all!), it increases our faith that he will help us know what to do with the bewildering, painful, joyful experiences of our own humanity.  – Trent Sheppard 

“I want to know Jesus better,” she cried in her newsletter. This newsletter soundbite is a couple of years old, but no less important. This Christian missionary’s cry did not come from disbelief, but a growing desire to draw closer to the Lord. Additionally, I cry,

“Lord, help me see people as you see them and love them as you love them.” 

Asking to love others as He loves them is a dangerous prayer. Look what happened when He showed His love to us? God sent His Son to the cross. Jesus stepped willingly to a Roman torture device and suffered for three days (if you don’t count the prior beatings He withstood before being nailed to the cross).  How far are we willing to go for our friends, especially when our friends make choices in their lives where the consequences are deserved?

We can’t even keep our promises. 

And are we willing to give and serve even if there is no benefit to us?

Loving others is so much more than just giving a food box or money to a cause. It’s much more than words, but investing in the lives of those God has placed around you. This is why I am passionate about social media. Social Media gives us the opportunity to invest in others in more than hitting like or re-tweeting a tweet on your feed. It’s sending a private message, responding with words to their post, and serving them online. I want to see a revolution online from Christians across many generations learning to see social media as a means to serve each other and extend the message of the Cross globally and truthfully. Because as a church, I feel like we’re failing to send that message online. Let’s do more reaching than preaching. 

Book Review: No More Faking Fine @EstherFleece

fineTwo kinds of crowds exist in the Christian world: the peace makers who believe that forgiveness means reconciliation no matter what the situation or the danger, and people like me who understand that forgiveness is more important and reconciliation is not always possible. Esther Fleece wrote, No More Faking Fine, and it is a clarion call to the church to understand and learn how to lament.

“A lament saves us from staying stuck in grief and rescues us from a faith based on falsehoods. It was a false belief that led me to believe I was the reason for my parent’s divorce. It was a false belief that told me I would never find my way out of despair. These false beliefs, combined with my inability to lament, caused a deep wedge between me and God. God was not angry with me about this. He understands the complexity of human emotions. But I had to be willing to communicate with Him to see what I needed and what He was doing and to uncover the fake beliefs prohibiting my intimacy with Him. (pg. 38)” 

Unlike other memoirs, No More Faking Fine honors her parents and the situation by focusing on the events and what God did through those events and her own psyche. It’s rife with Scripture, pointing her suffering and her recovery back towards an intimacy with God. The book became more than just a review for a publicist company; it became an act of worship, re-visitation of the past, and a lament. People who come from our similar, but varied backgrounds, can relate to this emotion-filled book. It is not written from hurt or revenge, but from a heart in healing and lament. In my experience, lament is not practiced in church because we are busy looking like we have everything together.

Even our Facebook pages are filled with happy, wish-you-were-me posts and pictures of happy families, healthy relationships, and people who, because they are busy, have no time to listen to someone else’s lament. No More Faking Fine goes into talking about how coping mechanisms fail and how pain has a purpose if it leads us back to God. She weaves her own story thinly throughout the book, but mostly gives us a theological look at her emotional and spiritual journey as she worked at coping with coming from an abusive and traumatic past.

What stood out to me was the fearlessness she learned as her faith grew in the Lord. I recall how I was trying to share with someone how a person can go to church all their life and not know Christ or have a relationship with Him in spite of hearing the same verses every week. It is through the relationships of the people that come around us during our time of lament that help us understand intimacy with God. Fellowship is tricky for some of us.

“Some of us need to be told that good people are still out there–and they are. But even when Jason and Tamy showed me in numerous ways that they were there for me, my heart still anticipated their abandonment. I didn’t want to keep them at a distance, but my self-sufficiency had turned against me, and I had no idea how to reverse it. (pg. 176; emphasis mine)” 

I resonated with everything written in, No More Faking Fine. We even share some of the same struggles as I am sure some of you whom read it will identify with, too. People I minister to or meet that come from similar but different situations or backgrounds and are damaged have discovered that we share the same emotional struggles. Grief has many stages and that grief needs to be heard in safe places. While I love most of the books that I read on the subjects of grief and forgiveness, I can say with absolute confidence, No More Faking Fine needs to be read by others who struggle with lamenting. Isolation is our worst enemy.

We need the fellowship of non-judgmental believers to come around us with, “hugs and tissues,” instead of Job-like friends who only sit with us for a time until they try to “solve” or blame us for our problems. We need a fellowship of faith so we can recover, and mentors or loving families willing to come around us for gentle and timely correction or encouragement.  Like Esther, we need to move forward in obedience to Christ in spite of our fears, real or imagined.

In quoting her namesake,

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

You’re doing a great job, Esther.

Keep speaking to those of us who need to understand how to lament and draw closer to Jesus. 

Help us become fearless by pointing us to Scripture.


I Need a Silent Night #Christmas

While Amy Grant sings,

“I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night,”

…I am driving to work. The rain is falling in gentle sheets and the clouds lay low over the city. My windshield sparkles like Christmas lights, reflecting the headlights of oncoming cars in the rain drops. It’s been a crazy week, and as we near 2017, I can say that 2016 has been hard. A mixed bag of blessings and the death of our dog.

My husband and I have had many conversations in 2016 that sometimes go deep into the night, discussing ministry, being a husband to a missionary, and accepting that, from this point on, nothing will ever be the same. 2016 changed both of us, and I am glad to say, we are growing together as we embrace this new future. As I drive to work, I look over to my left through the wet drivers-side window.

Predawn light hits the low clouds, making a beautiful mixture of pearl gray and dark gray shapes hovering above the casino.

“Thank you, Lord,” I whisper as I focus again on the road. A friend told my husband to take in new experiences, breathe, and remember. Close your eyes, smell the smells, experience and feel the moment you are in. An Andy Andrews webinar said to notice the little things in your life, like the beauty of those clouds and the different shades of gray marked by the glimmer of dawn.

“To end this crazy day with a silent night,” One of the song lyrics say. Silence is overlooked. Being still is almost forgotten. My cat has the being still thing down.

As I make the left turn down a dark side street, I recall him sitting on the arm of our easy chair last weekend, mesmerized by the lights of the tree. He stood there for ten minutes, not moving, being still.

Then, he made me laugh when his little white paw carefully came toward a dangling bulb. Even he has his limits.

This and next week is the deep calm before the rush. As I pull into a parking place and shut off the engine, I look towards my work place. My ministry ends the moment I walk into work and begins again when I go to lunch, when I leave to go home, and when the weekend comes. Investing in online relationships to develop them into something meaningful is time consuming. There’s an urgency here. The church is behind in the digital age. Much work has to be done!

This weekend I am creating two videos on my new desktop: “Miracle on the Mountain,” and a video specific for a church in Chandler (A heart-felt thanks to the folks at Solid Rock Christian Fellowship who contributed to the Christmas Offering. My portion of it helped me get a much needed new desktop that can handle the heavy workloads of online ministry).

I plan on baking this weekend, too. My Christmas Day could be a white Christmas with fresh cinnamon rolls in the oven made from scratch.

Our Christmas was different this year (Grand Canyon backpacking trip) so there are no presents under the tree. Nothing can top the gift God gave us in Luke 2:

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Chaos and craziness will melt into Christmas peace by the time the weekend arrives.

I can’t promise I’ll be still, but I can promise to be in the moment.

Book Review: Shaken #TimTebow


Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms by Tim Tebow is a book for a seeker, and can be a great book for a seeker not into football.

Yes, (gasp), I am not into football, and it is frustrating to me not to be able to delete the NFL app off of my phone. I had heard about Tim Tebow even as a non-football person. He trended on social media all the way from John 3:16 to taking a knee and causing people to either love or hate him. So I agreed to review this book to see if Tim Tebow was more than just social media hype and was blown away.

Here are some highlights:

  • His parents were missionaries.
  • John 3:16 written in blacking on Tim Tebow during a play caused 90 million searches on Google to find out about John 3:16.
  • His book focused on the kids in his organization and how their faith impacted him.
  • Scripture is peppered throughout.
  • He always brings it back to God.
  • It’s a pep talk with delightful pockets of deep thought.

He’s a very positive person. It was difficult for me to comprehend though what it is like to go through losing a job in the NFL when most of us are struggling paycheck to paycheck and don’t have anything to fall back on if we lost our jobs. His perspective on the press and how difficult it was for him to deal with the negative and the sometimes confining aspect of being a public figure made me appreciate him more. We need more positive role models in the NFL. The way he uses his resources and time to reinvest in the people in our communities is refreshing. Tebow reminded me that something as well-known as John 3:16 in the Christian world is not as well-known in the secular world.

Shaken tells the story of Tim Tebow’s faith, his work, and his story on a level that is easy to digest and non-judgmental. The struggle to make the team and run his career is real. Tebow talked about having a Circle of Trust which inspired me, as a mentor on social media, to also have one. My group was re-named to remind me of the responsibility entrusted to me. Every person should consider a “Circle of Trust.” We all aspire to greater things, but without someone who has permission to speak truth in our lives, we will fail because of temptation. Busyness would keep us from digging into the Bible to refresh ourselves and keep the foundation of our faith strong without an accountability partner.

So, for someone new to the faith or inquiring, Shaken is a great read.

*Early copy of this book given by the publisher to review*


Once Broken: Episode Two of the Wilderness Trekking Series

Raising support makes life crazy. My last post today posted without anything in the body of the post. This reminded me that I failed to get online today to update the latest in the Wilderness Trekking Series.

This was created using a tablet, a smart phone, and the woman’s own smart phone as mine ran out of room. For the next series, I have ordered a camcorder with a 32 Gigabyte memory card. It’s a cheap camcorder as I have not raised the support yet to run full time ministry. On a church secretary’s salary, I am barely supporting my websites as it is through God’s generosity.

So be praying me to 100% support by March, 2017.

New Ideas Always Inspire


New running shoes are beautiful. Not a single mud splatter or tear and it even smells like new shoes. The joy in that object fades as the wearer of the shoes have to actually run. Running shoes were meant to be used, like tools of ministry.

People always get excited about starting a new online ministry. Any online ministry can be effective, but it all boils down to the work of volunteers. Without consistency and engagement, an idea will fizzle like yesterday’s opened liter of Pepsi. That’s why I design a church’s online ministry with the volunteers in mind.

For low turn-out, I work at making an online ministry feasible even in a volunteer drought. That’s what I love about social media and technology. The concept is simple, like running shoes.

Just put them on and go. Get online and talk. But like running, getting in shape to run long distances takes time. Ministry cannot be results driven. It’s not the numbers that matter, but how a person can holistically be led to the Lord and discipled. When you read a missionary’s letters, the emphasis is not on how many people came to the know the Lord today (although, that is their goal), but the stories are always around the relationships.

Jesus discipled through relationship. 

We shouldn’t be any different. He even went to where the people were to preach and serve. Just google how many miles Jesus is said to have walked in his life of ministry. You’ll be amazed.

He didn’t even have my beautiful running shoes, just sandals.