Monthly Archives: October 2013

the triumph of mercy


Mercy triumphs over judgment.

These were James’s words to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations some 2000 years ago. These are God’s words to me today.

More fully …

“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” –James 2:12-13

Notice, judgment and mercy are not separated here. They co-exist. Accordingly, there can be reasonable judgments made, but they must be triumphed by mercy … coated, bathed, and lavishly immersed in grace.


Because this is how Jesus lived. This is how Jesus loved … loves. He is the God of both – judgment and mercy. No mercy can be applied to a heart if a heart hasn’t first crossed the line requiring it.

Accordingly, we should follow Christ’s lead – mercy enough to bathe judgment. We should not offer mercy as a way of gaining the upper hand … of somehow thinking that our generous grace towards others places us in God’s higher regard. Instead, we should offer mercy because the upper, outstretched hands of Jesus Christ have extended wide and long and high and deep on our behalf. When we forget this, when our offers of mercy are motivated by personal pats on the back, then we’ve missed the grace of God entirely. It becomes all about what we have done rather than about everything that Christ has done for us, in us, and ultimately, through us.

In this day of doing faith and living grace, there will be someone who crosses your path in need of mercy. Judgment abounds (and in many cases rightly so), but judgment without the cross of Jesus Christ standing as a guiding light to monitor your responses will never advance the kingdom. At least, not through you. Not through me.

So I stand here today, close to the cross. Leaning into it, clinging onto the splintered, bloodied beams knowing that without this mercy-laced judgment, I am left as I am, incapable of loving the most excellent way.

That excellent way?

Mercy triumphing over judgment. If I’m going to live anywhere, let me live there. Let me grow there. Let me love from there.

Keep to it, faithful pilgrims. It’s a good way … the grace-way to move the kingdom forward. As always …

Peace for the journey,


“Peace Be Still” ~ a BellaMella Canvas Give-away

**CONTEST IS CLOSED! Thanks to everyone who took the time to peruse Melanie’s work. Amelia just drew the winner – SKOOTS 1 MOM. Congratulations, Skoots. Please shoot me your mailing address so that I can pass it along to Melanie.

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.  -Mark 4:39

Jesus spoke these words to the tempestuous waters that raged around his disciples on a night some 2000 years ago. He continues to speak these same words over us in our nights of troublesome sailing. 

Peace. Be still.

Peace. How desperate we are for God’s daily allowance to be ours! I cry out for it in times of personal struggle. I cry for it in your times of great tribulation … for God’s peace to be our portion regardless of the strains that come against us.

The good Father has never forsaken my prayers along these lines. While I’ve not always received the desired outcome of my specific prayers, I’ve never been denied the peace of Christ. It is possible to bear the seemingly unbearable when God is in the boat. Wherever God is, so is his peace.

Not long ago, my friend Melanie Dorsey began to paint her heart-words onto canvas. Bravely, she allowed the world a window-peek into her giftings to see, first hand, how God is moving her faith forward. How blessed I’ve been to watch this unfold – a new dimension to further develop her words of witness. I couldn’t be more inspired. So …

I asked Melanie if she would be willing to apply her creativity and her paint to this verse from Mark. This portrait is the finished product. And this, friends, will be given to one of you.

“Peace be still” is a mixed media, 11 x 14 canvas. The sides are painted and suitable to hang “as is” or framed. The canvas has a sealer for a finished look, and the character is cut from an actual hymn page, Wonderful Peace (belt displays hymn title).

I love it. I hate to part with it, but it’s been in my heart to do this for a few weeks now with the idea of sending one of you a little peace for your journey.

If you are interested in winning this treasure, take a moment to peruse some of Melanie’s other work at her webpage. In the comment section below this post, please tell me which ones are your favorites. Your name will then be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win this “Peace be still” canvas. For additional chances to win, please share this particular post link on your facebook and/or twitter pages. Indicate in the comments below your additional participation. This contest will close at noon on Friday, October 25th. A winner will be announced on Friday afternoon, and Melanie will send the canvas directly from her studio.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with this beautiful hymn, Wonderful Peace, I’ve included a rendition of it sung by one of my favorites, Gary Chapman. Sing your way to worship, friends, and remember that our Jesus has not left the boat. He who superintends the waves is the Peace who superintends our hearts. Be not afraid. Peace … be still.

I love you dearly,

Sabbath Light

In this light. In these colors reflected on brick walls. This is where I worshiped this morning.

Simply here in a rainbow display of God’s love. It leaped from the walls and into my heart, moving my soul to a posture of faith – a knee-bending, heart-yielding, humbling belief in a God who has not left the building. A God who, instead, makes himself manifest in the building despite dimmed eyes and dulled hearts.

Those who have eyes to see, minds to conceive, and a heart to believe couldn’t miss the Light of God’s witness this Sunday morning. He was just that brilliant.

And then these words, chorused in response:

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;

Thou my best thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

My best thought.

Day or night.

Awake or asleep.

God’s presence …

My Light.

Enough to dispel the darkness. Enough to revive my faith.

This is where I worship. This is why I worship. To see the Light is to see eternally. How grateful I am for the glimpses of glory that color themselves onto brick walls so that I might celebrate, once again, the love of Jesus that colors grace onto my heart.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2)

Brilliant Sabbath Light. Perfect Sabbath rest. Blessed …

Peace for the journey,


my Father’s world, not the government’s . . .

From where I’m sitting this morning, I see the witness of the changing season. The tree that hedges my bedroom window is beginning to sharpen in color, while surrendering a leaf to the wind every few minutes. I could stare at it for hours. What rich beauty there is in monitoring God’s creation! How foolish I’d be to try and override his seasonal preferences. How presumptuous I’d be to keep the beauty all to myself.

This is my Father’s world. One walks in dangerous territory when one tries to take the reins away from him.

When we try to manipulate God’s creation by cutting off access to an ocean or to the color of fall so brilliantly displayed in his mountains or even to the ground where men laid down their lives for freedom, we’re walking a dangerous line. When control becomes an issue, God takes issue.

Who are we to play games with his waters, his trees, his land? With his words he spoke them into existence. With his words he can easily remove them. What must he think of our posturing and our pride?

How foolish we are. How bold we’ve become. Little gods running around, idols fresh off the assembly line from the factory of Man Knows Best, all the while under the watchful eyes of the God who knows best and who must (if he is prone to laughter and tears) both chuckle and cry at the absurdity of it all.

He is not unfamiliar with this script. He’s read it before, seen it play itself out on the stage of history time and again. Man trying to control one another; man trying to control God. And while the former might actually come to fruition on occasion, the latter will fail every time. Man cannot take away from God what has always belonged to him.

This is my Father’s world. And while our view of it might currently be limited by barricades and police officers, God sees it all. No one, no law, no amount of power and pride can block his view. From his vantage point, it is clear what we’ve become.

We’re no longer one nation under One God but, instead, many nations serving many gods. Let’s be honest. Let’s call it for what it is. We’re a fractured people, broken down and woefully off track from our beginnings.

I cannot change the climate in our nation’s capital today, any more than I can amend the hearts of mankind. But I can pray for the climate and amendment of my own heart, and I can do so while surrounded by the seasonal witness of a fall tree that isn’t affected by the seasonal shifts of man’s need to control it.

Together, the tree and I and our Creator will work it through. It’s enough to carry me forward, maybe even enough to carry you as well. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the foolishness of man today, might I encourage you to find a window view or find an undisturbed, unmonitored path in your community and take a walk with the Father in his world? What you will find there will make sense to your heart and bring peace to your spirit.

May the rich and certain witness of fall be the rich and certain witness of God’s enduring, unchanging, and formidable strength in your life. He sees from above what man is trying to prevent from below. Nothing can block us from his view.

Peace for the journey,

Living Deuteronomy 4:9

My heart and my pen landed on this verse this morning, while scribing the words of Deuteronomy into my Journible:

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” –Deuteronomy 4:9

And I thought about my dad and our time of circled prayer in my garage last Saturday morning which included my mom, my husband, and my two younger children. I am my father’s child and these are his grandchildren; he continues to make faith deposits into all of us.

A word here. A prayer there. A genuine love wrapped up in arms and with enough hearty laughter to crack even the driest of souls wide open to receive God’s showers of grace.

My daddy has not forgotten the things his eyes have seen, nor has he let them slip from his heart. Instead, he remembers the faithfulness of his Father and lives it forward. What he has sown into me, what he has sown into my children, cannot be measured on this side of eternity. His scattering of kingdom seed roots deeply in our hearts – a generational dispensation of faith. Who we are, in part, is directly linked to who he is.

I am grateful for all the ways I see my father’s faith at work in my life and in the lives of my children. I am grateful for all the ways I’ve yet to see my father’s witness walk on eternally. He has been careful and intentional with his legacy of faith. I am challenged to live accordingly … to remember the things my eyes have seen and to not let them slip from my heart as long as I live.

What about you? How goes it with your remembering, your slipping? Your generational dispensation of faith? When was the last time you circled your family members for prayer or spoke bold truth into their hearts?

This is not the time to shrink back in your faith, friends. To assume that no one is listening or no longer needs the witness of your history with Jesus. There’s too much in that place (your history with Jesus) not to speak it forward. What God has done for you—in you and with you—is a mighty work of grace. He means for it to walk on eternally in the hearts, minds, and souls of those who sit beneath your influence.

This is how we get home safely to Jesus—the thread that tethers us back to our beginnings when Father God hovered over the dark and deep and determined that we would be part of the goodness that flows out of him. Adam and Eve, all the way down the family tree until you and me. Generation after generation of obedient and willing saints who chose not to forget the things their eyes saw or let them slip from their hearts for as long as they lived.

That’s a lot of circled prayer time, a lot of faith lived forward. It reaches down through history, through the words of Deuteronomy, in all of God’s Word, and, most importantly, in the words of my daddy whose extraordinary faith has warmed the hearts of all who’ve drawn close to its flame.

What I have seen I will remember. I will not let it slip from my heart for as long as I live. I promise.

I love you, daddy.

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