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March 10

Good morning, God’s favorite! Do you remember that you are? You are a beautiful, perfect, UNIQUE masterpiece of the creator, made to fulfill His special UNIQUE purpose for your life, made to glorify His name in a way NO ONE ELSE CAN. How wonderful is that?!?

Gotta quote Brennan Manning in The Ragamuffin Gospel again.  (He says he is quoting Robert Hotchkiss.):

“Christians ought to be celebrating constanty. We ought to be preoccupied with parties, banquets, feasts, and merriment. We ought to give ourselves over to veritable orgies of joy because we have been liberated from the fear of life and the fear of death. We ought to attract people to the church quite literally by the fun there is in being a Christian.”

Can I get an AMEN!!

Now, I believe there is a serious place for awe, for reverence, for silence and stillness before God. But it seems that I go to that extreme too often. There is definitely a place for joy and celebration!! We’ve been liberated! That should excite us!

I think it is exciting us. I know I feel it in my church family. I believe something amazing is happening there, and too many of you have told me you feel it too for me to dismiss it.
A beautiful thing is happening.
I can’t quite get my head wrapped around it to describe it, but it has something to do with

LOVE, TRANSPARENCY, BEING REAL, LETTING OUR WALLS DOWN,

admitting we don’t have it all together and we are tired of pretending that we do. And people it is FREEING! I can see it in your eyes as you talk to me and feel it in your arms as you wrap me up in a hug, and I see it among you as I look across the church building. We are LOVING each other for the messes we are, loving without reserve and it is just exciting.

Even our amazing, Godly minister took a great step of faith last night and let his walls down for all of us to see. I know this is difficult for a man who is supposed to be our spiritual leader, who is in fact hired to be that; but, praise God, is it so refreshing to see him, at great apparent risk to his job, share an ongoing family struggle and say, “Yep, I’m just like all of us. There are things about God’s ways that I don’t understand either, but I’m still here and I am going to trust Him, and I still need God’s wisdom and his mercy!”

And there’s no risk to his job! Good gracious – when he finished talking, we surrounded him, literally – an auditorium full of people got as closely packed in as possible – and we prayed. In that moment I believe we each took a piece of this heavy burden from his shoulders and we loved him for his transparency. What a privilege to help him carry his load! I just know, I KNOW, he must feel so much more FREE today! LIBERATED!

I am so grateful that Christ began the church – a family that we can walk through this life with. My family – thank you for beginning to let down your guard, to show your true beautiful selves – for though you may not feel it, that’s what God has made of your messes. Beauty.

I want to share something I wrote after a particularly moving service not too long ago:

I want you each to know how deeply moved I was by our last singing service. I’m not sure that I have ever experienced such a sense of true community in worship. It is no secret that Brentwood Hills is blessed to have many members with remarkable singing talent, but last week, there was a deeper loveliness to our typical blend of beautiful voices; and that was the harmony of sincere hearts pouring out our offering to God. The Spirit was moving, I believe. My family, it was a sweet, sweet sound. We were a collection of broken souls reaching out in hope for the perfection and healing of our God.

As I sang, or should I say attempted to sing through my tears, I was encouraged as I looked around at my spiritual family – many of whom had eyes closed, or heads bowed, or heads nodding in agreement with the words – singing of their longing to be nearer, still nearer to God. I saw you who have been wounded by recent deaths in your families, you whose hearts have been torn by struggles with infertility or miscarriage, you who have been bruised over and over by battles with addictions yet continue to fight, you who have been beaten down by unfaithful or abusive earthly family members – I saw you earnestly and deliberately sing, “It is well with my soul,” and I believed you. I watched you who have bravely battled alongside your children that struggle with disability, you who have chosen to serve the poor, the lonely, the outcast, the difficult to love with your time and your hearts instead of seeking worldly fame and fortune, you who have continued to seek God in the face of burdens, sing, “Lord, reign in me, in my darkest hour,” and I was connected to you. We were a group of equals – equally searching and equally longing for our true home.

In scripture, we are called to teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, as we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts to God. My family, you did this and you do this for me. I was edified, I was encouraged, I was accepted, I was admonished, I was empowered. Praise God for the blessing of corporate worship! Thank you for reminding me that not only are we communing with God in worship, but we commune with each other, as we in one voice, lift our broken hearts to the healer and lover of our souls. Thank you for helping me to truly worship.

Lord God, please don’t let us go back to our old ways of polishing up the outside and hiding behind thick walls. Help us to continue to be more and more transparent and REAL with each other! Let us experience that FREEDOM!

Now, as to how I’m feeling this week – are you really still reading? Wow.

I feel very good. Other than sleeping being erratic still, I have no other real complaints. I pulled out a big chunk of hair in the shower the other day, and that was emotional. But then I took a deep breath and asked God to prepare me, to help me remember that it’s just hair.

Mostly, I just feel excited. Because God is at work all around me and in me. I hope and pray that also includes being at work against this cancer.

Go and BE FREE today! I love you all, especially if you’ve actually read all of this! 🙂





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