Tag Archives: ISIS

All That #Matters and Why

The very last thing in the world I have wanted is for this writing space to become a place of quasi-political ranting.    Who needs more of that, right?

Besides, I’m ridiculously emotional and thin-skinned when it comes to criticism and I don’t think I have the guts to take the virtual sucker punches being doled out left and right by people who don’t seem to care either way— they just like to punch.

However, I do know the need to obey the Holy Spirit’s nudge telling me to speak up and write out some of the the wrongs I see today. Even though it seems like nobody is really listening….really hearing anymore— it matters enough to at least take a stand. What’s the point in “playing it safe” anyway?

For that matter….what’s safe?

All That Matters

Explain “safe” in the eyes of at least one dear Christian woman I know who sends all four of her sons out in shifts to wear a uniform and a badge in a world that has become increasingly hostile towards them simply because they wear a uniform and badge.

Because someone on the side of evil—not justice— said it was ok and others mindlessly decided to listen. These brave and godly men know the risks. Their wives and family know it too. And tonight, their momma knows the power of prayer and how the safety of their souls rests in the capable hands of their Savior. There, she knows, they are truly safe.

This is the part of the writing where I ought to insert a deep and meaningful quote on safe-ness and somehow draw the conversation around to the ideal safety we should be working towards versus the ridiculous place as a society we’ve wandered into. However, I don’t believe that safety has ever been a reasonable ideal at any point in Christian living.

Truth be told: the need for perceived safety has often led to compromises largely responsible for the upside-down confusion we find ourselves living with today. Little by little, we’ve given away valuable territory in our gospel, thinking we were being tolerant and wise “peace makers” until now, the joke’s on us when we try to talk about “right and wrong” and bring value and meaning to the larger conversations.

The sad fact is that while Rome is burning, the people in charge of making the rules have been fiddling around with definitions and modifiers for relationships they only inherited —they didn’t create—leaving large gaps where the unchanging truth of God should be.

As a result, anarchy has taken root in the underbelly of every institution and is slowly creeping into every crevice of our society. It ought to terrify us. Instead we seem more concerned with what Miley wore last night, whether or not the stock market is going to hold up or if having a Trump card in our back pocket will save us all.

We can point “out there” at the barbarism of ISIS or where people are treating one another like animals and leaders are barrel-bombing their own people while other countries have shut their borders against the ones who’ve manage to escape or avoid dying along the way.

We don’t have to care too much because at least it’s not happening here. Or is it?

It’s all so very real and getting closer all the time. There’s been a quiet erosion of all our stabilizing foundations to such a degree that when it finally collapses around our ankles, stunned we’ll be looking for someone to blame until we realize we might have been the ones who looked the other way

when the babies were murdered
and injustices took place
and the mobs burned down the towns
and the officers were gunned down like nameless, faceless animals
because someone said it was open season.

We’ll wonder how the enemy got in so close and so fast while nobody was looking because we’d forgotten how we were told that a house, a people and a nation divided against itself    Can. Not. Stand.

Oh we’ve got our hashtags. #BlackLivesMatter. #PoliceLives Matter. #EverythingMatters.  Texas Sherrif Ron Hickman dared to say we needed to drop the qualifiers and simply recognize that #LivesMatter and take that to the bank. Maybe. It’s a start but divorced from the Source, what’s a life anyway?

How can ANYTHING or ANYONE  matter at all if God is taken out of the equation? How can any life matter if the One who gives meaning, definition and validity to all of life is removed from the picture?

How can we be enraged over injustice if justice is a fluid concept based on who gets to define right and wrong, life and death, valuable or worthless?

Life only matters when it’s anchored to something solid and unchanging… Someone outside, beyond and bigger than ourselves Who imparts His unchanging meaning and value to all of creation. Otherwise…value? Meaning? It’s all subjective and dependent upon the mood of the moment.

The problem is not somewhere “out there”…. Its right here, in our own hearts where we’ve gotten disconnected from the foundational, unchanging Truth of God thinking we were liberating and expressing our souls freely.

In his essay, The Portrait of a Soul, Ravi Zacharias expresses this place of disconnect so well:

Today we find a limitless capacity to raise the question of evil as we see it outside ourselves, but often hold an equal unwillingness to address the evil within us.  I once sat on the top floor of a huge corporate building owned by a very successful businessman.  Our entire conversation revolved around his reason for unbelief: that there was so much darkness and corruption in this world and a seemingly silent God.  Suddenly interrupting the dialogue, a friend of mine said to him, “Since evil troubles you so much, I would be curious to know what you have done with the evil you see within you.”  There was red-faced silence.”

Oh, I know— in so many ways, I’m preaching to the choir here. Most folks who read here do believe that God created the heavens and the earth and believe in His unchanging holiness and love. Your hearts are burdened like mine in all the right ways for most of the right reasons. We do falter and occasionally we fall but, praise Jesus— we know how to get back up and where to stand.

The problem is only that maybe we’re just way too quiet about it all.
We’ve got our Jesus-ticket to heaven and that’s enough.
We’re just sitting down and waiting out the storm…
trying to play it safe when really— there’s no such thing.

overcoming through vulnerability

Here and now, for such a time as this and as the ones here to serve God in our generation, we’ve got to live out loud, get our hands dirty, bare our beating and bleeding hearts to our dying neighbors and live like we really believe what we say we believe— joyful and strong in such a way that shows we know Who and What really matters…and most importantly, why.

Otherwise… what really matters?

the three-sixteen love life

It was probably the first verse you ever memorized by heart or scrawled in tightfisted crayon print at VBS. We’ve seen it numbered on a football player’s face and sometimes on a lettered sign in the stands.  In fact, it’s “common” enough that even many non-churched people seem to know at least a little something about John 3:16.

In 2008, Max Lucado published a book and study by this title proclaiming it as the Gospel in a nutshell. It’s all there.      I can’t disagree.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

It’s so familiar that  Believers can *almost* fly  past it without pausing to take it all  in. I know, because a few weeks ago it was tagged at the bottom of my daily devotional and I almost skipped it because, shoot– I know that one already. But something said “Go there.” so I read the whole chapter.

What jumped out of this oh-so-familiar and yet now-so-revolutionary little verse has stuck to the edges of my heart and mind like velcro. I saw a startling nugget of God-truth so huge and yet so power-packed small, I am still struck with wonder.

three-sixteen love life

Simple and yet complex, this verse stands like a beacon amongst it’s neighbor verses, anchored in their bedrock truth.  God loved the world. We learn how much and why.as well as the reward for those who believe and the severe  consequences for those who choose not to. But this isn’t where I got snagged and pulled deeper.

It was Love.

What is it about this 4-letter word that causes us to stop and stare? We think we know what that little word means and yet coming from this place…from the very One who embodies, inhabits and expresses it to the fullest extent, what we see here is not the stuff of Hallmark or Hollywood.        Not at all.

Because THIS Love was different.
It gave.
It was sacrificial. 

 This Love bled and died and rose again so that we might be united with God in and through our belief in Him.  But there’s more.

It’s a past tense,  singular, done and sealed deal which immediately becomes the eternal present and future tense for all those who believe now….and those who will believe by the word of our testimonyThat’s where it got me.

We who believe become living expressions and manifestations of that John 3:16, sacrificial-love moment. 

God is loving the world through us–
the John 3:16 people.

  • Because He first loved us.
  • Because we are His here and now expression of that same love.
  • Because “they” will know we are Christians through expressing that same love.

Ok… maybe this isn’t earth shattering for you but it rocked my foundations a little bit more because I… well,  we…all of us just make this too hard. We miss it by watering down the definition of Christian love with the rest of the world because …sacrificial love just isn’t pretty, politically correct or comfortable.

We’d rather live the “best life now” illusion of “christianity”.. more appealing, attractive and…lordy..  RELEVANT to people today.  We want folks to like liking us enough to join us…at least join our churches.

Except…Jesus didn’t invite people to church. He invited them to be born anew–to take up a cross and follow Him in relationship.

That’s a rather sacrificial invitation.

What might a three-sixteen love life look like? Maybe….

  • It’s a family selling everything to move to India only to discover they “accidentally” moved their small children into a brothel…and they purposely choose to stay, live amongst those women and minister.
  • It’s a young woman with a broken heart for the broken feet of children, who commits her life to providing care and shoes for an entire community.
  • It’s a teacher spending long hours instructing disabled children at her school only to check in afterwards at the resource ministry she’s established to reach their families and community.

It’s an infinitely-faceted love with eternal implications expressed in innumerable ways.

It’s a lifestyle, a mentality, an automatic response flowing from the place of three-sixteen love which was first given to us. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night hungry for what was missing from his life of religion. It’s night in our world today.

Mass shootings,  violence against women and children,  corruption and scandal coming from once-trusted institutions…massive earthquakes, typhoons, church and marketplace bombings….              it’s so dark.

People are hungry for light.  

Of course…I’m blowing this wide open..maybe a little too wide but the truth is–John 3:16  was Jesus’ response to Nicodemus’ earnest question…”How?” In so many ways we’re living amongst a people maybe not asking it with words but their desperate actions are asking the same thing.


We who have believed according to the promise of John 3:16 are God’s answer to the world’s question…and

we need to live and love like we believe it

Glory bearers

Because here’s the thing: no matter what it is we’re called to do or where and how we’re called to serve, if it’s done right, it will look WEIRD to the outside world. Selling everything, sharing and breaking bread in community looked weird then and it’s no less weird now. But it’s also attractive if it’s done right.


Truly, I’ve been challenged  because  though I’ve served joyfully,  I’m guilty of playing it soft inside the perceived notion of “safe” Christianity which says “give, but live comfortably ….no need to make a scene.” 

Sometimes, I am overwhelmed because heck, I’m just one person and even with my willing husband we are only two. That’s where God steps in and multiplies our obedience right where we are taking the first step. Encouraging us to take the next and the next.

A “next step” is coming. We’ve been talking about what it might look like and how it could unfold in these next years as the last kiddo takes flight and the homeschool years come to a close. Not exactly sure what that will look like but we’re certain of at least 3 things:

  1. We want to serve God and grow old together (emphasis on the “grow”).
  2. God will guide and provide.
  3. There is no more joyful or safer place than doing His will.

In the meantime, we’ll be blooming where we’re planted for this season….and living and sharing with others a life as close to three-sixteen as we can.

What about you?   What is God teaching you about having a sacrificial love life?

Joyfully!Lorretta signature