28 September 2009


This week a guest is writing the Prayer Circle post. Anne Lang Bundy is transparent in her love for Jesus. Her writing is a heartfelt act of worship that has taught me and provoked thought. You can learn more about Anne at her blog Building His Body. Please visit her there sometime.


Parents are provoked to make stupid rules.

"Nobody's allowed to breathe on anybody" comes to mind.

"Do not violate the airspace in their room" was instituted after "stay out of their room" proved insufficient.

"The word 'whatever' is not allowed in this house" has proven to be my favorite.

We have five darling children in our home, ages 4, 8, 10, 13 and 16. They've been brought up with the rich vocabulary of their mother the writer, yet fell back on 'whatever' one time too many for their father's liking. Thus he declared the anti-whatever rule, in an effort to stomp out the kids' disgusted resignation.

The problem with rules is that children have minds which immediately grasp the letter of the law and plot a way around it. It comes less easily for them to understand the spirit of the law and a benefit for the household intended by it.

It was only a matter of time before the word 'whatever' escaped my lips. My husband and I were discussing a decision on which I didn't have a strong opinion. I shrugged and offered a pleasant "okay, whatever" to indicate that I was fine with his preference. I was promptly reminded by one of my darlings that the word was forbidden, for they had listened only to the letter of the law and had entirely missed its spirit.

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.
~ Philippians 4:11 (NKJV)

Whatever is not from faith is sin.
~ Romans 14:23 (NKJV)

"You are My friends if you do whatever I command you."
~ John 15:14 (NKJV)

A person's relationship with God can be entirely summarized in how we say 'whatever.'

If a person denies that God exists, the word is said with Ridicule. "Whatever" comes out with a scoff, for who can take seriously what one argues is make-believe?

If a person acknowledges that an almighty God indeed exists, but suspiciously eyes Him as cruel to allow suffering, "Whatever" is spit out with sneering Resentment.

If a person knows of the sovereign God's commandments, but bristles at the idea of obeying them, "What-EV-er!" is snorted in Rebellion, throwing off the Creator's right of ownership.

If a person has acknowledged Christ as Savior, but sees grace as a licence to live as one pleases, "Whatever" is declared with Revelry in a life of continued sin—which dishonors the Savior's blood and undermines a claim of salvation.

If a person has asked for God's forgiveness through the atoning death of Jesus Christ and turned from sin, but does not yet appreciate that God's ways are for our benefit and not to spoil a good time, one will say "Whatever" with a sad sigh, in Resignation to God's will.

But if one finds the place of Rest offered by Jesus, one says "Whatever" in pleasant peace.

Whosoever believes in Jesus for eternal life may also believe in Him for His perfect will. It is possible, even amid hardship, to look heavenward with faith that God is orchestrating for our blessing whatever is beyond our control.

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
~ Matthew 11:28-29 (NKJV)

20 September 2009

Never Learned To Dance

God created us to be relational beings. When we are at our best we are conduits of God’s love.

Three years ago I walked into the Port Orange YMCA and saw a man sitting in the lobby by himself, sipping coffee out of a Styrofoam cup, who at first glance reminded me of Liberachi and Mr. T’s love child.

Harvey had all kinds of rings on his fingers and jewelry hanging from his ears. He seemed a little sad, but Harvey told stories, one after the other, in his loud and aggressive New York City accent. When he made an important point he waved his fingers in the air like a piano player hitting a keyboard. Interesting guy. Because we both like to tell stories, we became instant friends.

Most of the last year Harvey has been up in Queens taking care of his 94-year-old mother. We sat in the backyard this afternoon with our other friend, Mike Ellis, and talked about musicians like, Johnny Hartman, Keely Smith, and Louis Prima. Later we got on the computer and listened to them sing, amazing. Harvey produced two Grammy winning albums for Eddie Palmarie back in the day. He knows more than most on the subject of music.

When we were alone Harvey looked me in the eye and told me that the people in Port Orange saved his life three years ago. Fame for Harvey had come and gone . . . it was love and kindness . . . God’s love, moving through the people Harvey met, that changed his life.

You have the power to change someone’s life, even if with nothing more than a smile.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27).

Jesus was talking about these things in the context of the Holy Spirit working in us and through us. Harvey’s life has been changed because a group of strangers reached out to him, unconditionally, in love . . . in our Savior’s name.

. . . Father, thank You for Harvey and thank You for being a God who loves us. Father command our spirits to be open to opportunities to change people's lives just by using kindness. When Your love flows through us it is an amazing thing. We praise You and pray to You in Jesus name . . .

13 September 2009


The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic. - Joseph Stalin

Daytona Beach is a battleground. Some other places, not so much.

Over Labor Day weekend I spoke with a former Amish woman and her husband at a home church in the North Country of Upstate, New York. As we sang hymns and prayed on a back porch, the men wore jackets and some of the women hung blankets over their shoulders to stay warm. The leaves there are just starting to turn. Near the end of the gathering some of us took communion.

The couple I spoke with told me that not many people in that part of the country are interested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even with persistent economic troubles, their lives seem comfortable in a Norman Rockwell kind of way. It is almost like, ‘Who needs Jesus in such a quiet and peaceful place.’

East Central Florida is different things to different people, but few would describe it as quiet or peaceful. – Although, street signs, bumper stickers and t-shirts announce Jesus almost everywhere you go, out of the schools each year we produce a robust cohort of drug addicts and young people willing to trade their bodies for drugs. There is at least one story of a person being snatched from a public place and raped every twelve months. We even had our very own serial killer just a few years ago. – When people on the street in Daytona Beach talk about needing Jesus, they are not kidding.

We have a lot of Jesus here, because we need a lot of Jesus.

Saturday we laid-to-rest my friend’s son Garrett. He probably died from a drug overdose or at least medical complications brought on by his struggle with addiction. Tuesday, between sessions with clients, I sat in my office and wept. I hear a good share of difficult stories, but Garrett’s death hit me hard, it became personal, maybe because I have two boys and I’m afraid for them.

Jesus spent a lot of his time on earth with ‘sinners’ like addicts and prostitutes. He came to them with a heart full of love, understanding, and compassion.

Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick . . . For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 9:12-13

There is no doubt in my mind that people in the North Country experience heartache and have their own brand of troubles. I know Jesus is there, too. But, His presence is more overt down here in Daytona, where the battlefield is active . . . where Evil and Good both stare you in the face . . . where broken spirits are mended by a Savior who refuses to forget us.

. . . Father, we praise You for being a God who loves us. In our pain we felt Your love so acutely this last week. Thank you for the gift of Garrett, we remember worshiping You with him by our side. His love for You was so transparent and obvious. Be with us Father as we move forward, as we close ranks where Garrett once stood and continue to march forward in love and compassion for those around us. You are our God and we praise you. In Jesus name . . .

10 September 2009

Broken Hearts

Father, thank You for friends during times of need. All love originates from You, but it often arrives through the actions of Your sons and daughters. Father, there is a lot of pain in Port Orange this week. Your love gives us peace, but our hearts are breaking for the loss of Garrett and for the suffering of his family. We cry out to You, Father, give us peace, but stir our spirits to never forget. We ask Your forgiveness, we could have done more. We lean on and cry out to You in Jesus name.

07 September 2009


One of my primary concerns hiking up Cascade Mountain in the Adirondacks this weekend was to figure out a way to have my picture taken so that I didn't look too fat

Yes. I admit it. I confess to you brothers and sisters, I’m incredibly vain, painfully so at times.

When I’m not snatching a second look at my waistline in a hallway mirror, a preoccupation of mine, I'm looking for food. – I see it. I eat it. I mourn. I eat again. It’s a worn out familiar cycle.

After a long ascent to the top of Cascade Mountain, looking out toward the breathtaking countryside surrounding Lake Placid, I was so happy it was cold. ‘Now I can put on a jacket,’ I told myself. Jackets cover offending waistlines! A person can look slim in the right jacket!

I ripped my red North Face rain-jacket out of my backpack. Whipped it on over my head. “Hey McCrory, can you take my picture,” I yelled to my hiking partner. Click! Picture taken. Mission accomplished.

On the flight home, just a few hours ago, I asked myself, where does this vanity come from? What am I trying to accomplish? – And, ultimately, when I trace it back, step-by-step, I’d have to admit that it's a lack of faith that drives my vanity. A lack of faith in the knowledge that God loves me. A lack of faith in the belief that our Father’s affirmation is all I ultimately need.

We are relational beings. We were not created to walk with God or experience life on earth alone. However, at times I still make the mistake and believe human admiration can somehow replace love that emanates from our God. It is disordered love in one of its saddest forms.

God loves you and me, despite what we look like, despite the crazy things we did in the past ... and, despite what other people might think about us.

He is an amazing Father who cares about you so much and longs for a relationship with you …

If you see me at the YMCA, I’ll just be trying to lose a few pounds, exercise is still a good thing. But, if you catch me standing in front of a mirror, kind of puffing out my chest and flexing my biceps, you have permission to slap me on the back of the head and remind me that God really does love me.