Imagine Jesus | Gospel of John

Welcome to Real Life. What’s God like? My late friend Bob pictured him as the bald “Mr. Clean” from the detergent bottle.

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. –A.W. Tozer
Jesus Christ. He’s my savior, my friend, my God. I know him. But not well enough. I want to know him better. Though I’ve never seen his face, I will one day.

John saw his face. As apostle and intimate friend, he knew Christ as well as a person could. In his Gospel, John uses imagery to help us know Jesus too.
WORD In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:1, 14 NIV) Words express reason and thought. Our words reveal who we are, what we’re like. We think in words; our essence is the sum of our thoughts. As a writer, words are my medium. Words holds power to infor…

Unwelcome Guest | Nehemiah 13

Welcome to Real Life. Not every guest is welcome.

Perched on death-defying cliffs. Walls three-feet-thick. Moats lined with razor-sharp objects meant to maim. I toured five castles in Slovakia last month.  Unlike Disney's Cinderella castle, these fortresses were designed to repel enemy invaders.

Jerusalem's city wall provided such fortification. Empowered by God, Nehemiah and the remnant Israelites rebuilt it in a mere fifty-two days. (See previous post, Ask Boldly). However, upon his return from reporting to King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah received disturbing news.
"I learned about Eliashib’s evil deed in providing Tobiah with a room in the courtyards of the Temple of God. I became very upset and threw all of Tobiah’s belongings out of the room. Then I demanded that the rooms be purified, and I brought back the articles for God’s Temple, the grain offerings, and the frankincense" (Nehemiah 13:7-9 NIV). Eliashib welcomed in the very enemy Israel built a wall to keep out. T…

Ask Boldly | Nehemiah 1-2

Welcome to Real Life. I’m amazed by those who ask boldly.

“Buď tak dobre . . .” my mother would begin in Slovak and then pause with a mischievous grin. We knew what was coming. Translation: Be so good as to . . . Mom was about to beg a favor. She wasn’t shy about asking. Anita told me this anecdote at her funeral.
“Once I called for your sister. Your mom told me she wasn’t home. But then she asked me to come over and drive her to Bingo. Of course, I couldn’t refuse your mom.” I thought of Mom as I read Nehemiah. He, too, made bold requests, though a bit more serious than a ride to Bingo. His story begins with sad news. A group just returned from Jerusalem. Nehemiah asks for an update. They give this report.
“Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”[1] Stunned, Nehemiah sits and weeps. For days, he mourns, fasts, and prays.

Nehemiah is cupbearer to Artaxe…

What Pleases the Lord? | Ephesians 4-5

Welcome to Real Life. The best gifts come from the heart.

“Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.”
Ephesians 5:10, NLT
In my early years of marriage, I found it difficult to buy gifts for my mother-in-law. Though she graciously received them, nothing thrilled her. Her daughters’ gifts, however, never failed to make her eyes shine. Over time, I came to understand what pleased Mom. Her favorite gift: a dinner-date with her son. She really didn’t need one more pretty thing. Time with her only son was a precious gift.

What gifts make my Father-God's eyes shine? Maybe it's easier to start with what doesn't please him. Let’s stop lying and stealing. Let’s get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among us. (Ephesians 4:25, 28, 31, 5:3).

I often write about love and grace. God’s love is unconditional. His grace is bottomless. I can’t get enough of either. This doesn’t mean God’s okay with sin. He’s not. The kingdom of Ch…

Sweet Simple Faith | Galatians 3

Welcome to Real Life. I’m pretty good at complicating simple faith.

“After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”  (Galatians 3:3, NIV, 1984)
In the weeks leading up to the writer’s conference, I was preparing like crazy. For at the conference, I'd have the rare opportunity to meet one-on-one with publishers, agents, and editors to tell them about my book, Do You Really Love Me, Lord? It’s God’s story really. The story of how he convinced me of his unconditional love.

I thought if I could craft the perfect pitch, maybe I could interest a publisher. I was feeling the pressure. I have to make this happen!

Or, do I?

While preparing for the conference, I was also reading Paul’s letter to the Galatians. They had come to sweet, simple faith in Christ. Then, some rule-keepers infiltrated espousing a new message: Do you really think faith in Christ alone will save you? Paul’s wrong. You must be circumcised. You must keep the Jewish law. You …

Come Home to God | 2 Cor. 5:19-21

Welcome to Real Life. Is God mad at me?

“The grace in God’s heart is always bigger than the sin in my life.”
–Pastor Jonathan Schaeffer
While listening to Moody Radio the other day, I heard a man named Julian call in and tell the program host, in tears, “It’s time. I want to come home to God.”

Julian knew God. He believed in Christ as his Savior. Earlier in life, he had walked with God, attended church, and prayed. But, somewhere along life’s journey, Julian walked away.

Far from God, Julian had become addicted to cocaine. His life was crumbling. He knew he needed God. So, he began looking for a way home. He turned to Christian radio.

Along with thousands in Radioland, I listened as Julian prayed with the host. I witnessed his homecoming. It was holy ground. Julian wasn't the only one in tears.

Are you and God at odds? Do you think God is mad at you?

As a young woman, I lived far from God. Though I believed in God and attended church, I did not know him. My heart was far from him.…

Love Never Fails | 1 Corinthians 13

Welcome to Real Life. What drives me? There is only one pure motivator.

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. –Charles Schulz
February is the month of love. No one would deny that love is real. Though, you can't touch it. Love is both noun and verb. It can be hard to define. (I tried once: What is Love?)

God is love.[1]It is the sum of his character. He is the author, creator, originator of love. I am His child. Do I take after my Father in heaven? Is my life characterized by love? Are my actions motivated by love?

1 Corinthian 13 is the chapter of love. It begins by examining motivation. After all, isn't that where every action begins? Recently, after reading it, I wrote my own paraphrase, to help me get a better grip on love.

If I fill endless blogs with my thoughts about God and Real Life, and
If I teach, mentor, parent, tweet, post, and discuss,
But I do so to be heard, to fill my need for significance, or prove I am right, and
Not because …