• Engage

    Headed to the Courtroom

    Since I find myself on another jury today, it’s only appropriate to run this 2013 blog post again . . . Yesterday I was selected to serve on a jury for a trial that is anticipated to last three to four weeks.  The jury selection process was an all-day affair, lasting over twelve hours and creating quite a sense of camaraderie in the process. I keep thinking about the three major take-aways from this experience. First, the multiple defense attorneys for the four defendants (thus the long trial) repeatedly reminded us that the American justice system is built on the foundation of “presumed innocent until proven guilty.” And that is…

  • Heretical Book

    A False god to Bring You Comfort in “The Shack” (“The Shack” Review, part 2)

    “True worship must worship God as He exists, not as we wish Him to be. The essence of idolatry is the making of images of God. An image is a shadow, a false representation. We may not bow before a statue or a figure, but if we make an image of god in our mind that is not in accord with God’s revelation of himself, then we are not worshipping in truth….” writes James R. White. “If we love Him and worship Him as He deserves, we will not dare to ‘edit’ Him to fit our desires.”[1] “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew…

  • Engage

    Dealing with Disappointment

    There seemed to be a gigantic collective gasp at the 2016 Rio Olympics when American gymnast Simone Biles bobbled on the balance beam and had to steady herself with her hands. Instantly, the girl expected to win five gold medals lost the gold, even before finishing her otherwise excellent routine. She still won a bronze, but Simone (and the entire media machine) knew she was capable of a gold. How disappointing!  Simone handled her letdown with grace and realism, limiting her disappointment to the one missed skill rather than globalizing—as we so often do—by saying things like, “I am such an idiot! I can’t believe I did that!” Then, quickly…

  • Engage

    God’s Sovereignty and Mattresses

    "Remember what I accomplished in antiquity! Truly I am God, I have no peer; I am God, and there is none like Me, who announces the end from the beginning and reveals beforehand what has not yet occurred, who says, ‘My plan will be realized, I will accomplish what I desire." Isaiah 46:9-10 (NET Bible) I chuckle at the mattress commercials that say “Replace in eight.” How about “Just broken in, in ten” or “A taste of heaven at eleven.” However we decided to go with “Worn plenty in twenty” and replace our two-decades-old mattress. Things did not go as planned. The salesperson ordered the wrong mattress. Before we realized…

  • Engage

    Managing Our 2016 Expectations

    Back in the saddle of weekly activities,  2016 is already barreling along, the stock market and the weather jerking around like a bull in the Houston Rodeo. (Or…maybe that should be a bear?)  Whether we write down our goals and vision for the year ahead or not, we all have this picture of the way we'd like things to be. And then life happens. Here are some reminders to think about, pray about, as we try to live on purpose when life starts bucking around: We hold our expectations with open, God-trusting hands. Like Nehemiah, we may long to see certain outcomes and ready strategic plans for the moment when…

  • Ray and Baylor

    Baylor the Lap Dog

    This is Baylor, our Golden Retriever. He is a giant sucking funnel of attention and affection. He does not understand the concept of “enough.” And he worships—he ADORES—my husband Ray. His favorite position to do that is in Ray’s lap. But last week, the center of Baylor’s universe had hip replacement surgery. Needless to say, nobody, especially Baylor, is allowed in Ray’s lap. And Baylor does not understand this. All he knows is that his lord and master, his sun, moon, and stars, went away for a couple of days and when he came back, he was walking gingerly, leaning on a strange silver contraption to help him walk, and…

  • View from the cruise ship

    Focus on What’s Fixed

    My husband and I recently took an Alaskan cruise. As we settled ourselves for sailaway in front of large windows on one of the highest decks, I heard a little girl ask, “Did we start moving yet? How will we know when we’re moving?” I don’t know what her mother said, but I do know the answer: you fix your gaze on what isn’t moving. I was looking at the building in this picture I took; when the ship starting pushing away from the pier, I knew we were moving because of our view through the window in relation to the stationary building. And I thought, “Little one, the answer…

  • Engage

    A Mystery and A Warning

    It is a fascinating theological conundrum. The bible teaches both God’s overarching sovereignty and the free will and responsibility of persons.  Both are revealed, yet they appear contradictory.  How is a person other than a puppet if God’s sovereignty overrules our choices? How can a person be held responsible if there is no choice to make? Is God diminished by man's free choices? Recently in teaching Judges 14-16 covering the life of Samson, I discovered for the first time how his story illustrates this theological mystery.  Both the God’s sovereign purposes as well as Samson’s free choice are revealed in the narrative.   The writer clearly states that though Samson…

  • Engage

    God’s Invisible Hand?

    Just a short two weeks ago the world teetered on the brink of a missile strike against Syria.  Following the inhuman use of sarin gas to murder innocent men, women and children our President labeled this a moral outrage and announced our intent to administer severe consequences for this violation of international human rights. Feelings were mixed among the nation, abhorring the senseless deaths of so many yet hesitant to reengage in the role of the world’s policeman. Believer’s prayed including over 10,000 people who prayed and fasted with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s square on Saturday, September 7th.  Imploring God’s mercy and wisdom, yet peace seemed humanly hopeless.  But…

  • jewel

    Mad at God

    I knelt down next to my bed, ten years old, and once more poured out my heart to God. “God, please heal me! You know how much I hate having polio, I hate limping, I hate going to physical therapy every week, I hate the surgeries, I hate the way people stare at me because of how I walk. I hate that no one could love me with polio. I hate this, God! I know You can take it away—please let me wake up tomorrow morning all healed and restored!” Once again, I fell asleep, hopeful that God had heard me and He was able to snap His fingers or…