God will put your life on display

The Job story has always freaked me out. You know the part. God says to the enemy…Have you noticed my servant Job?
Really? You gonna put me out there like that? On Main Street?
You gonna out me to the devil? Really? Because you love me? Because I’m special to you? Really?
And the result was…just look at what happened to Job?
Job was the “just in case of sin” guy.
His children liked to party…nothing too wild I suppose since it was right on the parents’ grounds. Anyway, the morning after…
That’s a sermon in itself. The morning after…the day of regrets…the day of trying to remember what happened the night before…the day of OMG, I couldn’t have…some of us have had morning after thoughts.
Anyway, father Job, knowing the children were partying the night before…how much trouble can you get in with unfermented wine, no drugs, no weed and dancing while singing your own music.
Anyway, Job offered a sacrifice the next morning just in case someone sinned.
How much was he intent that his household remain acceptable before the Lord? How determined was he that the Lord would always be pleased with his family. What a perfect householder. A perfect man. Not a sinless man, but a man devoted to serve the Lord wholly, both himself and his household.
One day when the angels presented themselves as usual before the Lord, God turns to Satan and asks whether or not he has noticed Job. Really?
But is this a reasonable expectation?
Should our lives be on display for the Lord?
To proclaim his goodness and glory all the time?
Scary? Being on display?
Being living epistles?
In case you didn’t know…Jesus came to put our lives on display as signs of the kingdom…to let others know what kingdom living is all about, to let others know just what God is willing to do in our lives.
That’s the miracle of salvation.
God who is all perfect takes something that is all corrupt and turns that something into light, salt and a purveyor of love and grace.


The imperative of the shout

The story can’t start at the beginning because of the imperative of the shout. This woman, Paula Ann Scott DeGraffinried met cancer almost three years ago and it had already advanced to stage 4 when originally diagnosed. While the rest of the family was paralyzed in fear and sadness, Paula DeGraffinried chose life. She chose life. She chose; not the life she’d led previously. She chose a life she’d never approached before. She chose life that she’d seen others choose. She chose the kind of life that only Jesus Christ could give her and she embraced him and his new life with great passion. In fact she joined the league of elderly ladies who talk about Jesus as if they really know him. She affectionately called Dr. Jesus. Until they both decided that after almost three years of a stalwart battle, she’d had enough, she’d gotten her family ready for her departure and it was now the time on March 2 for the two of them to never part again. And the shout went out from heaven that another was coming home. And the shout went out from glory that a praiser with a new step was onboard. The shout went out from Paula when she saw Dr. Jesus for herself and realized all the pain was gone. Not from morphine. Not from sedation. It was just gone because it could not maintain in the presence of our Lord. Let the shout go out!

(I wrote this immediately when my little sister died, March 2.)




It’s interesting that one of the first characters we encounter in the book of Joshua is Rahab, who protects the two spies Joshua sends ahead of the congregation. She was no where near the unwitting player one might have suspected she’d be. Her proximity to the margins of the camp not only made her profession as prostitute or “sexual technician” easier but, as she provided housing to passers by, she also garnered the latest news and gossip they readily shared. So when she was approached to provide safety for the Israelite spies she knew exactly who they were. She had heard about their flight from Egypt to escape the bondage their families had endured for a few generations now. She’d heard about their God, sometimes called the desert God because of Moses’ initial encounter with him. She’d heard about how this God chose these people and had exercised his grace and his generosity on their behalf throughout their journey.

“I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that your terror Is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.
“For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you,…and what you did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.
“And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, his is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” {Joshua 2:9-11}

She was happy to spirit them away, hiding them on the roof of her dwelling, covering them with stalks of flax. She was happy to get their promise to equally protect her whenever that protection might be needed for herself and for her family members. She let them down with a cord through the window and admonished them to hide for three days before resuming their journey. This would give the king’s search party time to return. They agreed to her wishes and requested only that she hang the same line of scarlet thread from the window from which they’d escaped so they would know their protection extended to everyone in that household.
Not only was she blessed because of her fearlessness and generosity, her story prevails with the “now faith” people listed in the New Testament book of Hebrews.

“By faith Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. {Hebrews 11:31}

The thing I like about David

There are many things I like about David, but the one that strikes me this morning is his capacity to show love. I’m sure this is the reason God called him a “man after mine own heart.”
Saul’s son Jonathan and he had enjoyed a rich relationship. When Jonathan died, David searched for someone from his friend’s family on whom to shower the love he’d had for Jonathan.
He looked for someone to love.
He looked for someone to be gracious to.
He didn’t wait for the opportunity to present itself.
He didn’t wait for someone to ask for help.
He searched out the family of Jonathan to see who had such a need.
I’ll bet we could each do this every day of our lives.
I’m thinking it would change our perspective on our own conditions.
I’m thinking it would change our way of thinking about the great love we’ve received.
I’m thinking it would channel love through us in a way that would bless us beyond our imagination.
Beyond our imagination.
So David actually sent a messenger into the household of Jonathan to inquire who among them might need an extra dose of love.
I just laughed while writing this because I want someone to ask me if I need an extra dose of love.
Don’t you?
Maybe not every day. But some days. Yes!
And out of this inquiry he found the son of Jonathan.
His name was Mephibosheth. The story goes that at his birth he had been dropped and the result was that he became lame in his feet.
He was a special needs child who had grown into a special needs adult.
Not sure what his care team looked like or how they were performing at this point.
But God put it in the heart of David to inquire whether or not there was someone in Jonathan’s household who could benefit from additional love.
And he found Mephibosheth.
And he took Mephibosheth into his own household.
And the house of David loved Mephibosheth and showed him the great hospitality of God until his death.
I’m glad that I’m loved extravagantly by God. I’m glad inspires us to love.
And I’m happy to be used to share God’s love with someone else of God’s choosing.
And that’s what I like about David.



The thing I remember most about that night was the incessant, insistent repetitive pounding of rain on the pavement. It was the kind that caught your attention with its rhythm and reason. It was the kind that characterized the storm in my life that night.
With an impending eviction the next morning, i found it difficult to sleep. My heart pounded as if a symphonic partner along with the storm. I knew God had my back. He always had. But it was one of those moments when it’s most difficult to stand fast on God’s promises. Everything in my reality was in opposition to the faith i espoused on the regular and frankly, I was scared.
The help I sought didn’t come through. Everyone was already taxed beyond their own limits. One said my emergency wasn’t hers. I’d heard other people say that. I knew there was some modicum of truth to it. But we were friends. Relatives. So it was the Lord and me on the night of the storm and I was fading fast.
I was so stressed that I dozed out of sheer exhaustion. A few times. At one point there was even a dream. And in the background, that roaring rain that never subsided the entire night.
In the dream, I opened my eyes to see a huge man standing at the foot of my bed. He was a Black man and he seemed quite strong – able to handle any situation. Seriously. For some strange reason, I said to the Lord, “Is that my angel?” I have no idea where that question came from. But I also sensed a reply. “Yes. Can you go to sleep now?”
I said, “Yes,” and I did go to sleep. It was a peaceful sleep. Not like the torrential naps I’d caught before. And I slept for the rest of the night.
And when I awakened in the morning, the first thing I heard was that unrelenting rain that ushered the storm into yet another day. A day I was scheduled for eviction. What also burst into my consciousness was that the rain had been a recurring message that I’d missed all night long. No one is ever evicted in the rain. Before I’d called, God had already answered and I pretty much missed the whole thing.
No one is ever evicted in the rain.
By the time the storm passed, so had the threat of eviction.


She knew she was going to die. Maybe not how soon. Maybe not the exact day. But. She knew she was going to die.
Nobody else knew. But she knew. And she hadn’t received any type of diagnosis of disease or prognosis of impending death. But somehow she knew.
And she began to make what she perceived to be the necessary preparation.
One thing she did long before her death was to make provision for the grandchild she was raising. She regularly implored her best friend at church to assume the rearing responsibility for the little girl she loved so much. They both loved so much. The little girl always found the familiar lap of the church friend every Sunday. And before church was over began to ask if she could accompany her home after church.
Her name was Myrtle, the one who knew she was going to die. She had the house painted, bought new furniture and perked up her surroundings in a hundred different ways. All the while showing no sign of sickness except for the diabetes that had plagued her for a while and the menopausal changes that seemed no more than an extreme pain in the behind.
She also bought things for the grandchild she loved so much. And what could she possibly need? She already had her own room with her own television and her own set of children’s encyclopedia. She already had the heart and ear of the grandmother and grandfather that doted on her daily. She already had the total attention of her young uncle who took her everywhere he went, except into the army, where he was during this time.
It seemed like a reverse nesting – the kind of fussing and fixing that mothers do while they’re waiting for the birth of their children.
While Myrtle waited for whatever she saw in the distance, she fixed up the surroundings for those she would leave behind. Very nicely. Very intently.
And for the grandchild who already had everything, she bought dresses. What, to a six-year-old, seemed to be a closet full of dresses. The kind of dresses children wore on Easter Sunday. Pink. Yellow. Blue. Mint green. White. Lavendar.
So many dresses. Dresses that fit perfectly. Dresses that tickled the fancy of a little girl. A little girl who would have traded each dress for more time with her grandmother, who knew she was going to die.
And she did.
Just a couple of weeks after the dresses appeared. And the little girl went to live with the church friend who kept her word and raised the little girl until she became a woman.
I was that little girl.


Only. God.


This piece is an extra because I wrote it on January 1, 2017, and I’m inspired to embrace faith as never before. Many who know me would be surprised to hear me say this because I have a reputation for believing God – that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him diligently. But it’s a new year. And a new day. We have a newly elected president and only God knows what’s ahead for those of us who are under his leadership through no choice of our own.
Only God knows the amount of mischief the president will wander into that can rain down destruction on people who least deserve it.
Only God knows the places the president will inappropriately insert himself and cause degradation in the lives of people who have already been denigrated more than justice should allow.
Only God knows the outcome of the seemingly chummy relationship between the incoming president and the leader of one of this country’s leading adversaries.
Only God. Only God knows the sadness and depression that has hit the hearts of many who feel abandoned and wonder at the reason.
Only God.
And it’s only God who can guard and defend us.
It’s only God who can bring us through this frightening moment in history.
It’s only God who can protect us from those who would deprive us of righteous needs and endowed rights.
It’s only God who can stay the hands of those who would oppress and deny privilege to any besides those who look and reign as themselves.
It’s only God who can shut the mouths of those who would slay with words those they deem to be inferior naturally and politically.
Only God.
It’s only God.
He is my hope.
He is my strength.
He is my guiding light.
He is the only one who can keep us.
He is the only one who can cause us to thrive in spite of being denied.
He is the only one who can cause us to soar in spite of being put down.
He is the only one who can bless us beyond even that which we can imagine.
So yes. This. Year. I am embracing faith as never before.
This. Year. I am putting my arms around God.
This. Year. I am dancing with great expectation.
Believing that God is and that God is a rewarder of those who seek him diligently.

(Excerpted from Mustard Seed Mondayz, coming real soon to an online vendor of your choice.)