Sunday, February 24, 2008

Our Privilege

Several days ago I passed one of my 117 students as I drove home from school. We both pulled to a stop light—I in my Toyota, he on his bicycle—and waited our turn to cross the busy intersection. I guessed from the dashboard clock that he’d gone to tutorials or served detention or stopped over at a friend’s house before heading home. The student didn’t realize it was me, or at least pretended not to, but I couldn’t help watching him while we waited.

This particular boy is the sort of freckle-faced kid who’s pretty good in math, but more interested in being a clown in the classroom. From time to time, I grind my teeth over him, but we get on all right for despite his efforts, he’s not a very successful comedian.

Seeing him there cast him in a different light. Daylight, actually, for I teach in a windowless, basement classroom. But more than that. I’d forgotten how small he is until I saw him in contrast to the cars rushing by, buildings and trees and lampposts dwarfing him, wide blue sky curving overhead. I thought about how hard he tries to gain attention and acceptance from his peers—not unusual in middle school—and about how often I raise one eyebrow at him.

My heart was overwhelmed by compassion for this kid trying to find himself and his way in the world. I regretted the times I’ve felt frustrated by him; felt anything less than the love of Jesus for him.

I said out loud, “He deserves to be loved. Everyone deserves to be loved.”

Just then, two men with backpacks and dirty clothes crossed the street in front of us, and as clearly as if He’d spoken out loud, God reminded me, “Everyone is.”

Now I have no way of judging whether the three people in my line of vision know the love of man or God, but tears gathered in my eyes because for a split second, I felt the crushing grief of all the people in this world who feel unloved. Had it lasted longer than a heartbeat, the pain would have been unbearable. At the same time, my heart was pierced deeply by how many men, women, and children have yet to experience the overwhelming and unconditional love of their Father.

It’s our job, you know, to tell them. To show them. To live the love of God in Christ Jesus among them. To experience it fully in our own lives.

It’s our privilege, but we forget that. We forget to see people the way Jesus sees them. Forget that our loving relationship with the Creator of heaven and earth is something most people can't fathom. That it comes with a responsibility to every living person.

But I'm glad He reminded me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Press Release

Some of you might be interested in today's press release about the ABNA contest on

. . . or that might be just me. :)

I MADE TOP 100!!!

Just discovered my novel "Children of Light" made the top 100 cut in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest (out of 5,000 world wide entries)! If you could possibly help me out by posting a review (or commenting on someone else's review), I'd appreciate it. You must be an Amazon customer to review or comment, but anyone can visit my profile and download an excerpt (for free) at

Thanks friends!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

An Invitation

Hey friends,

Want to know why I wrote "Children of Light," an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist? Go to and scroll down to my latest blog post.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Haggling Over the Cost

I was reading about the cost of discipleship in the gospel of Luke this morning, and I feel foolish.

Just the other day I felt a bit sorry for myself, enumerating in my mind what this mission of ours has cost in terms of relationships, primarily. I actually said to God, "I had no idea it would cost this much." The financial aspect I can live with, money being such a fickle part of life anyway. But by calling and choice we’ve stepped outside the comfort of our established relationships and started over.

Yet even as I whined, I couldn’t help seeing God’s wisdom in putting us through this specific training module. What in the world did I think would happen when we move to a large metropolitan area in another eighteen months and instead of joining an established church with a ready-made family, we start living the life of Christ in the midst of those who don’t yet know him?

Jesus said, "Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." That particular cross is not simply some trial or tribulation—we all have plenty of those forced on us by the nature of things—it’s the cross on which we voluntarily crucify our own plans, desires, and self-will for that of God’s.

In a reading last week, Oswald Chambers questioned, " . . .do you say, 'I am not willing to be poured out right now, and I don’t want God to tell me how to serve Him. I want to choose the place of my own sacrifice. And I want to have certain people watching me and saying, Well done.'"

Well, yes. Sometimes I do.

But here’s another truth: there is nothing I must give up that compares to knowing Jesus and being transformed into his likeness. Nothing so sweet as volunteering to be sent and having Jesus push me out of the nest and into the hearts of people who need him.

I’m stronger now for my wrestling with discipleship self-pity. Wrestling with it and winning by the power of the Spirit at work in me. If this is what it costs, so be it. I’m not haggling anymore, for I’ve gotten the better end of the deal no matter how you slice it.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Self-Esteem, Schmelf-esteem

I’ve decided that self-esteem isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I mean, seriously, look at how fragile it is. How quickly it dissolves into an insecure mess, giving up its strength at the smallest hint of criticism. Felled like the giant-above-the-beanstalk by the absence of just one hoped-for affirmation. One phone call that never comes. One ignored email. One day of obscurity.

Or maybe that’s just my self-esteem.

I recently entered a novel of mine in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and made it to the semi-finals. Okay, so did 846 other people, but it’s a move in the right direction. Anyway, I received very nice reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and two of Amazon’s top reviewers as well as some others. But two or three mediocre reviews really got under my skin. I went to bed early after reading one of them, convinced I’m a terrible writer with no business letting anybody read my stuff. Good-bye self-esteem; you’ve been edited.

I have a friend that was twice supposed to let me know when we could meet for lunch. I never heard from her again. Ciao self-esteem; you’ve been dropped.

I shared some exciting news with someone. They replied with a lukewarm “how nice.” Au revoir, self-esteem; you’ve been boring.

I had something important to say in a conversation in which it was impossible to get a word in edgewise. Adios, self-esteem; you’ve been silenced.

I know better. I really do. I spent a couple of years wrestling with adolescent-style insecurity and finally realized the only ticket out of that mud pit was to put my confidence not in myself or in the favor of others, but in God alone. Call it God-esteem. But every now and then I forget.

So, I’ve decided I want to get rid of my self-esteem entirely. It’s a fickle, demanding, mean-hearted lover with serious control issues. Enough navel-gazing. Enough hurt feelings. Enough measuring myself against people who appear to be more successful, more beautiful, more interesting.

Sayonara self-esteem. You’ve been kamikaze-ed.