Basketball and God

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My 5th grade nephew doing his thing last season.

I doubt many folks think of God when they think of basketball. I’m sure a multitude of prayers

have been lifted up from courts and stands across the nation with the desperate hope of a buzzer-beating shot. But on the daily, not so much.

I certainly didn’t relate the two until a couple of months ago. I was in the middle of a personal retreat, wrestling with my soul-crushing inability to allow God’s love to define my worth rather than work and ministry. It was an agonizing couple of days struggling to traverse the deep canyon from head knowledge to heart knowledge. My head knows God’s unconditional love constitutes my worth. My heart, however, tends to think God is far too nice to hurt my feelings by telling me how much I’ve disappointed him. Maybe God doesn’t even realize he is disappointed. Maybe he isn’t being honest with himself. But I know. Which makes me feel worse so I work even harder to be worthy of His love and not let Him down. Pity party for one, please.

It was in the middle of this wrestling (excuse the mixed metaphors) when I thought about basketball.

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Love Anyway

Fallujah-Banner

There is so much hatred and fear filling the airwaves and news feeds these days. Fear does not look good on the people of God. We are suppose to dress ourselves in with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience and over all that wear the coat of love. (Col. 3:12, 14)

Right now thousands of mamas and children are starving to death in displacement camps after escaping ISIS in Fallujah. I’m thankful for organizations like Preemptive Love Coalition, a global movement of peacemakers changing the way we engage the world’s most polarizing conflicts by confronting fear with acts of love.

Join me in giving. $35 feeds a family of six for two weeks.

https://preemptivelove.nationbuilder.com/fallujah

Front Porch Conversations

“If you could have lunch with one person who has died who would it be and why?” 

There are many people who have passed that I would like to sit with on a front porch, rocking slowly in two red adirondack chairs. We’ll shoot the breeze over some fresh-squeezed lemonade, my Great Grandma Weaver’s sugar cookies on a table between us, still warm from the oven.Red chairs

Like my Grandpa Baker whose stories slowly left his mind long before his body left this earth and before I truly understood the gift of his wisdom.

Like Robert Kennedy who still inspires me with his eloquent words and his passionate rhetoric. I picture his dog, Freckles, on the front porch, too. He’s enjoying a spot of sunshine and seems vaguely entertained by the squirrels dancing across the yard.

Like St. Francis of Assisi who was beloved by many including every animal on earth. He was like the Snow White of saints. But more than that, he seemed to get what living free in Christ was all about. I bet my front porch would be like a scene from Disney if Frances came over for a visit with birds and chipmunks and deer all sitting peacefully at our feet while we talked. Since it is my vision, the animals will speak as well adding fascinating insight about creation and the Creator and the disgusting behaviors of humans polluting their home.

Brennan Manning 1934 - 2013

Brennan Manning 1934 – 2013

But tonight if I had to choose one (other than Jesus, of course, because that is a given) it would be Brennan Manning, my favorite author and fellow ragamuffin. I’ve read almost every book Brennan wrote which numbers at 20 and own most of them as well.  They are well marked, highlighted and worn with multiple notes in the margin.

No author communicates the truth about grace more powerfully to me than Brennan.

No writer conveys the deep affection God has for me more convincingly than Brennan.

No leader calls out my false self more compassionately than Brennan.

No person challenges me to live free in Christ, beloved by God, and in fellowship with the Spirit like Brennan.

Brennan’s voice is the one I hear reminding me every day that I am God’s beloved.  That God not only loves me but that God actually likes me. God enjoys me. God delights in me. Brennan would quickly remind me that God likes me not because there is an ounce of good in me but because there is an abundance of goodness in Him.  What a humbling and freeing thing to remember.

Some days I really need front porch conversations with Brennan. I need him to remind me of all these things. Which he would do for an appropriate amount of time. And then he would kick my butt off the porch so I could go tell others.

Brennan died about two years ago. I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person.  But I meet him in his books. I read again his familiar words, pretending we are in red adirondack chairs on my big, wrap around front porch. The lemonade and cookies are there. Even the animals show up. And for just a few moments, we have a much-needed front porch conversation.

So, what about you, friend: if you could have lunch with one person who has died who would it be and why?