Brave

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It’s okay to be different.

Some of my most favorite people are the ones who challenge me to think differently—to consider a different angle, a different perspective. It’s as if I am being blessed with the opportunity to examine a treasure anew.

I may argue with them a little. For me, it’s a bit of a playful exercise. I want to grow—to learn. I am quite fond of the proverb “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Each person is a work of art, a masterpiece. As I study each, I grow in wisdom.

I am quite fond of the hidden ones, the ones who are at home in silence. As another proverb says “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter—and the glory of kings to search it out.” The hidden ones . . . wow. It is an honor when one of them chooses to trust you. Value that confidence. Do not think lowly of the quiet.

Be aware that not everyone is as they appear on the surface. Choose to look deeper.

Remember the stories of Saul and David.

 

Prophets or Madmen?

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Each culture has a certain set of what we call “norms.”

That means that in one culture a person who is considered “gifted” or even a “prophet” may be considered worthy of being medicated, institutionalized or even killed in another. It all has to do with these “norms” we put forth as a society.

What do our norms say about us as a culture?

Do we even want to look?

I have been thinking about how certain segments of society treat people who have been diagnosed with what is commonly called “Down Syndrome.” Extra chromosome, right? Maybe looks a little different, right?

Me, personally?  Some of the sweetest humans I have ever been blessed to meet!

And yet, how do we treat them? Pregnant women are frequently urged to have their unborn children tested for Down Syndrome. Why? Well, apparently if they do have Down Syndrome, we can simply flush the kid and try again.

Umm . . . this is okay, why???

What are we being taught about the value and the worth of a human being?

Is not perspective a blessing? Do we truly value diversity?

I think we see a truer form of mental illness in people who believe that it is okay to wreak havoc and destruction in the lives of others than we see in all these extraneous labels we are pumping out now-a-days. If you think that it is okay to hurt the innocent, oppress the poor, and rub the faces of the orphan and the widow in the dirt—-that, my friend, is real mental illness.

 

 

I Challenge You to a Duel

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“Don’t mess with Mama-Bird!”

If you grow up in a bubble and are suddenly confronted by a difficult problem or situation, it can be easy to start quoting platitudes. Anything to make that discomfort go away. If you are taught to always say, “Yes, ma’am” or “No, sir” in response to everyone and always to be “polite” and “respectful,” it may be hard to practically function when a crazy person comes at you with the clear intent to harm, spouting racial slurs and swear-words you never knew existed until he showed up. If you were taught that in all circumstances, defer to and obey authority—and all of the sudden you are transported to the age of the Third Reich in Berlin . . . . well, it may be time to question all that stuff you learned.

Now, let’s be clear: in most circumstances, I am in favor of deferring to authority. Proper order and all. (I also like to be polite and respectful—in general.) But there are certain instances where authority seems to have forgotten who it is and is acting as something it ought not be. There are also certain instances where individuals do the same thing. And in those cases, I think that the most respectful thing that can be done is to call it out. Don’t be a jerk about it, but call it out. Do it from a heart that wants the best for all involved.

I know that we are all peace-loving people here, but it is really okay to be willing to fight if necessary. If someone tries to invade your home and attack your spouse and kids, I really don’t think that God is going to be angry with you for protecting them. Conversely, don’t think it’s okay to go and invade someone else’s house with the intent to “steal, kill, and destroy” and believe that you are under His protection when you do so. That’s just stupid.

I’m a woman. If a man comes at me and tries to rape me, I believe that I am perfectly justified if I incapacitate him so that he does not succeed. That’s self-defense. Conversely, if I stalk a man with the intent to pull something equally destructive, he is justified in defending himself against me.

I think that it is important that we do not mistake apathy and passivity for a “kind, gentle, peace-loving spirit.” That opens to us up to all kinds of wickedness. Not just anyone ought be allowed to influence us. King Ahab did alright when he was under the influence of Jehoshaphat, but under the influence of Jezebel . . . awful. Killing people and stealing their vineyards. Not okay.

I was recently given two pictures of a clearing. In one, there were either no guards or completely passive guards who stood by and did nothing while a whole bunch of angry skeleton monster-things came at me with clear intent to do harm. In the next, the clearing was surrounded by guards who did their job and did not allow any of the creepy skeleton creatures inside.

I felt like I heard the Lord ask, “In which scenario did you feel more loved?”

I responded, “The second.”

Love protects.

 

Release From Shame

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This article is written or anyone dealing with that one secret that keeps your head bowed. That one memory that keeps you feeling like you are not worthy.

“Jesus sees you.”

For some, that is a terrifying phrase. Why? Because they have been taught a Jesus whose character is more akin to the devil.  A Jesus who accuses and is keen to call out sin. Not a Jesus who sees the beauty in a person and seeks to call it out.

People run away from a God who looks down upon them. No one wants to feel condemned. No one wants to feel ashamed. For some people, it’s even just easier on their consciences to claim that they believe that God doesn’t even exist or that God’s existence is highly doubtful.

Oh, but you are so beautiful! You were not meant to be kept in the dark. You were created to dance in the light and know love!

I remember reading a story about a man who lived in a graveyard and had a legion of demons inside of him. Did Jesus look at him and say, “Too far gone?” No. Jesus loved that man who was tormented. He cast those spirits out. The very presence of love cast torment out. Jesus saw past the blasphemous muttering to the man. He knew of the man’s pain and had compassion on him.

May you know love and no longer hide.

Hugs,

The Joy Detective

On the Subject of Things That Go Bump

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IMG_0820Fear. An intriguing topic. A strange topic.

Fear. It’s been accepted as a norm. People are expected to be afraid. It’s the only reasonable sort of thing to do when faced with certain things. Certain things like the dark, the unknown, things outside your control, mysterious supernatural happenings, that one cockroach that just jumps out at you, those people who dare think differently, eschatological theories, immigrants, Donald Trump, Democrats, Republicans . . . and—most frightening of all—YOUR OWN REFLECTION!

But, why?

Are we simply going to accept that this is the sort of way we must live our lives? Just believe it because we were told this is just the way it is? Frankly, I find this bothersome.

I once heard a story about this one man from a favorite preacher of mine, John Crowder. Crowder said there was this fellow who was being martyred for his faith. (I think it might have been St. Lawrence.) Burned to death, to be precise. But was he doing as the “end” drew near? Joking with his persecutors. Dude was so full of joy that he didn’t flippin’ care he was being burned to death.

Now, that is what I call living!

I remember the first time I had an open vision of “the forces of darkness,” if you will. I was inside this magnificent old church. St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, I believe. Huge dome. Beautiful pipe organ music and incense. My first visit to an Anglican church. Everything had been going wonderfully. I was feeling so sensitive to God’s presence. So peaceful.

Then, out of nowhere, we switch from that ambience to the pipe organ playing something akin to “Phantom of the Opera.” It was so random. I see these two sizable shadows moving up on the ceiling. I look around to see what they could belong to, but there was nothing. They just kept flitting around on the ceiling while this music played.

I laughed.

I realized something then. God is very big and very real and very good. These things are like a joke. Their presence (or lack thereof) couldn’t drown out the awe and the majesty of the imminent and transcendent one. I didn’t have to be afraid of them.

Call Me a Silly Little Donkey

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Call me a silly little donkey. Call me a mad fool. Declare me out of my pretty little mind. That I may be! I see the treasure even in those who insult me. What, after all, has shadow to with substance? A question to ponder.

Can you truly threaten me by disagreeing with me? Shall I lose even an aspect of who I am if you call me an a–? I think not. I shall laugh as one who has had a bit much to drink and give you a hug, madman that I am. Or madwoman, haha!

Go on. Call me a silly little donkey!

Tell the Truth

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I have a bible verse that has become a personal favorite of mine over the past year. It comes from Ephesians 5:11. It reads “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (NIV).

This has become a very personal thing for me.

I have watched havoc be wreaked on the lives of people I know—including myself—because they were afraid to tell the truth. And there are always a myriad of reasons to conceal something. There’s always a rationale. Maybe you’re trying to protect someone. Maybe you want to avoid hurting someone. Maybe it’s self-interested. You think your entire world will shatter if you open your mouth. You don’t want that change.

It’s way too scary.

But scary has gotten to a point where it’s sick of living with me now, and I have realized that scary doesn’t really have much to do with who I am. Sure, I feel fear every so often. But that’s like a radar picking up on crap in the surrounding environment. That doesn’t have a fudge to do with who I am.

“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”

Ever think about the wording of that verse? I know if you grew up hearing it in Sunday School, it’s a bit easy to just brush under the rug. Oh, I know that one. I have heard it a million times! But if you think like that, chance are, you miss the humor. (The Bible, by the way, is a very funny book!)

Think about it. “Fruitless deeds of darkness.” The deeds of darkness have no fruit. It’s a bit hard for death to leave a legacy, actually; everyone committed to it turns to dust! It’s bound to fail.

And then life inevitably plants seeds in the dust of death and makes a frickin’ garden out of the whole thing. There’s irony for you!

So, telling the truth is something to do because it’s a whole lot more fun. There’s a bit more party involved in telling the truth. A bit more dancing involved at a light-show. And, oh, look! Read it in context, and Truth is Love is Life is the Way is God. Time for some happy-dancing. Go tell the Truth.