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Exploring Contemporary Christianity

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Hero Worship

We give adulation in weird doses sometimes, don’t you think?

I saw the three young actors from the Netflix series “Stranger Things” on a talk show and everyone in the audience went absolutely berserk.  It wasn’t a totally unusual response, just over the top enthusiastic. But the thing that made me take notice was, the young stars’ reactions. These kids were 12-14 years old and new to stardom,  and seemed so inexperienced and unpracticed, that they looked overwhelmed and almost frightened as they entered the set.

I have watched the series, and love it, by the way. It’s a great show and the actors do a terrific job. It just made me kind of wonder… why do we do that? Why is an audience of, most likely, moms, dads, teachers, health care professionals, college students, business owners…accomplished, productive people applauding like mad for a trio of children?

Who Is Praise-Worthy?

Yes they entertain us, yes they do a great job of acting… and that’s all well and good. But when’s the last time we applauded or thanked the people who really make a difference in our life?  Your child’s teacher, a police officer, doctor, child care provider or the guy who plows your snow and get you out of your driveway in the morning?

These are the people actually critical to our day-to-day lives, all these people playing specific roles to help our lives run smoothly… and we barely give them  notice. But someone high profile who happens to have a gift and – granted does it very well, whether it’s singing, acting or sports-ing – well, we just go crazy for them.

I heard a preacher address this once, saying some people  are uncomfortable with those who raise their hands or sing loudly in church, but it is simply a form of praise and worship.  We’re expressing how we feel about Jesus. And if you think it’s weird, just think about what goes on at a Justin Bieber or Adele concert. Or at a football game. People yelling, screaming, raising their hands in the air, singing, chanting, cheering, swaying… all sorts of things. And we think that’s perfectly normal.

He makes a good point. It resonated with me because I had always been one who felt uncomfortable about people behaving that way at church. We think it’s cute or funny to see a 12 year old girl jumping and shouting and singing and even crying at a boy band concert. But if we see someone emoting at all like that  in church, some of us feel it is a little odd. Why is that?

And it’s not just performers and sports stars we reserve this hero worship for. It even happens in church. People sometimes look up to the person in the pulpit with a sense of awe, and are somewhat intimidated or star struck  with these models of spirituality. Of course we should respect someone in authority, especially when they are exercising that authority. But to treat them differently as a person, or with more respect than we treat the guy who picks up our trash  is not only unnecessary, it is in direct opposition to what Jesus taught.

Everyday Heroes

How about we start to honor and applaud the real heroes in our everyday lives? What might your spouse say if you thanked them for being such a good partner or good parent or good provider? Maybe it’s time to call your mom or dad and say thanks for how they raised you. Or your siblings, to tell them you remember how much fun you had growing up with them, and how supportive they were. Or maybe an easier place to start is with a note to the mailman or your child’s teacher, or an email to a co-worker to tell them you appreciate what they do.  

One kind act can change someone’s day or week. Sometimes even their life, if the timing is right.  You never know what someone might be going through. Speaking words of gratitude and praise into someone’s life could make all the difference.  We have the power to give hope and encouragement, and build someone up, simply with our words.

Whose day can you brighten this week?

Who Are The Chosen?


Ever have a scripture verse that  you’ve breezed by a dozen times, then suddenly it jumps out at you with new  meaning? I can’t stop reading Ephesians 1:3 through 10

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- to the praise of his glorious grace,  .… With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will…  – To bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (emphasis mine)

God chose us in him (Jesus) before the creation of the world
…can we even comprehend this? That each one of us that God put on this earth were chosen to be here. Right now, at this time, for some heavenly reason. God put you where you are ‘for such a time as this’ to quote from the book of Esther. You are no accident. You are not ordinary or random or unimportant in any way. Though the world may not know your name, you may not be famous, you may not feel important…in the really Big Scheme of things you are of utmost importance to God and his plan.

The Big Picture

I’ve come to view it all kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. Like back in the beginning of time, things were perfect, you know, Garden of Eden perfect. Awesome scenery, tons of healthy, delicious food,  you don’t have to wear pants, you’re favorite person is there to hang with, no alarm clock…you know, perfect.

But then sin  entered the world.
And it was like that picture of perfection became like a jigsaw puzzle that got smashed into a million pieces. Or 7 billion pieces, to be more precise.  And now, God has equipped each of us to be a part in putting that puzzle back together. Every One of us is an important piece of that puzzle. Whether you’re a police officer, criminal, physical therapist, stay at home mom, student, CEO,  drug addict, alcoholic or the Pope. The puzzle will not be complete without each of us doing our part. You may not be in God’s will right now, you may not be doing what He has planned for you. You may not feel important or known in this world, but you are critical to God, to putting his perfect picture back together.

He predestined us for adoption to sonship
 We are All part of the family. EVERYONE is welcome and expected at the table. We are pre-destined! God has determined it to be so, ahead of time. It’s like pre-ordering tickets to an event. You paid for the tickets. You are planning to go, you are expecting to go. In your mind, there is no way you are not going. God feels that way about us, I believe. He is planning for us all to come into sonship, into his family. No one is uninvited. The welcome mat is big enough for the Pope and the criminal. Faith, repentance and surrender is the ticket price.

Our Part

The mystery of his will…  -to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth.
It seems so simple doesn’t it? God Wants Us To Get Along! Come on, you know the feeling, if you have kids – or siblings, friends or coworkers- who are squabbling.  “Why can’t we all just get along?’   is the weary battle cry of many a parent on those days when things just aren’t gelling. It has now become something of an anthem for those of us sick of the fighting between political parties, church denominations, social classes, genders, races…man, we sure can find a lot of ways to separate ourselves from others.

I like to remember what  Peter said in Acts 10:34 and Paul said in Romans 2:11  essentially ‘God is no respecter of persons’ which sounds like it means something it does not. It’s not a matter of God having or not having respect for us (which is what I thought it meant at first), it is that God does not have a higher regard for one person over another.  Teacher, lawyer, pastor, atheist, criminal… God loves us all; equally, and completely. And more than we could ever imagine.

In Summary:  God planned for, wanted, and loves each one of us. He has a plan for each of our lives and we are invited, we are welcome, and we are desired by God to see him as our Father.  And He wants us all to love, serve, and get along with  each other.  I think that covers it.


What Have You Got To Lose?

We recently watched the movie  ‘A Case for Christ’-  it’s a true story about Lee Strobel, a journalist for the Chicago Tribune back in the 70’s and 80’s. He was a devout atheist and he and his wife were raising their daughter to be an atheist as well. Being a journalist, he was very facts-based, very scientific when it came to deciding what was true.


So,  when his wife begins to question about faith, go to church, and read the Bible, he gets pretty upset with her. He  decides to do  some investigative journalism for himself, to prove that Christianity is false. I mean, these ridiculous stories of the  Bible should not be very hard to debunk, right?


So,  Strobel decides to focus on debunking the resurrection of Jesus, because it is the central theme of Christianity.  And without it being true, the entire basis of the Christian faith falls apart. So he  researches many authorities and experts, all over the country and internationally as well. Some believers, some not. He is super thorough and pursues the evidence as only a journalist would. He comes to a very fact-based, reasoned conclusion that  satisfied the reporter in him (and the scientist in me.) Spoiler Alert, he realizes that there is no denying that the resurrection happened. He eventually becomes a follower of Jesus Christ based partially on the evidence he uncovered.

Here is his terrific 90 second summary of coming to faith called ‘The Last Bible Verse I Read as an Atheist.’


It is a fascinating story and a great discussion to have with someone who  finds it difficult to believe because of  “the facts”.  Often, those who don’t believe – because of the facts – haven’t really taken the time to learn the facts.  This was pretty much me, way back in the day (about 4 years ago). I called myself a Christian, but was not really convinced that what the Bible said was completely true.  I have found, as Strobel did, It is pretty hard to deny if you are willing to pursue the truth with an open mind . Andy Stanley of Northpoint Church in Atlanta, Georgia says …we are not called to ‘blind faith’. Jesus never asked anyone to believe ‘just because’….  


The gospels are filled with historical facts, cross references and details that are undeniable.  And if you take the time, read them thoughtfully- and decide to just quiet your inner skeptic for a minute – I believe there really is very little chance you will not come to the same conclusion Strobel did. I nearly guarantee it. I dare you to try it.


But even if I’m wrong, isn’t it worth the risk? If what they say about Jesus has even a remote possibility of being true, don’t you want to know? Don’t you want to check it out for yourself, instead of just denying it out of hand, based on what others have said?  


I ask you, no- beg you,  to take one month, and open a Bible and start by reading the gospels. With an open mind and open heart ask God, or even challenge Him to show you if this is true. Not with scoffing or denying or cynical opposition. Just on the off chance any of it might be real.  It will change your life. Forever. I guarantee it.

 It’s what I first did, four years ago. I did the Joyce Meyer 30/30 challenge to read the Bible for 30 minutes a day, for 30 days.  I thought I’d never get through the 30 days, at first. The first 10 days were rough, but I decided to stick it out. I became so engrossed, I continued for another fifteen months or so. (I still read Scripture most days, now.) If you try it and you stick with it, I cannot tell you the change that will begin to take place in your life. Perhaps something to take up for the remainder of Lent, if you are so inclined.

If your life is great and perfect and satisfying beyond belief, and you have no problems or concerns right now, or about your future or what happens after you die, and you are doing exactly what you know you were born to do and couldn’t be happier, and you know nothing will ever change…then maybe you don’t need to bother.


Thing is, we can never guarantee that things won’t change. Life can turn on a dime. Trust me, I know. You can be bopping along all fat and happy and the bottom can drop out on you so fast, it’ll make your head spin.  At times like that, a belief in something bigger than yourself sure comes in handy.
And the rewards are truly greater than you could ever imagine.


What do you have to lose?





What Is God’s One Word For You?

What do you think is the one word God would use to describe how he feels about you, specifically? Think about that for a minute.

I read a study on this topic and I guess the word that was most common didn’t really surprise me. Because it was the word that I thought of first, too. Did you come up with something?

The most common word that Christians said they believed God felt, when he thought about them,  was “disappointed”.

Isn’t that something? Logic might lead you to believe the word should be “love”.  As Christians we’re taught  that God loves us no matter what.  But I think it’s a lot easier to believe that’s true in the general sense like, yeah God loves us all…
But it’s not quite as easy to believe that he loves each of  us, specifically and individually.  

Doing God’s Will

We may come to accept that God loves us, but deep down, I think we often have a sense that he has so much more for us, that we just aren’t accessing. That we are disappointing him somehow, that we could be  doing more for others and receiving more blessings if we would just trust God and submit to his will.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him, and he will make straight your paths. Pr. 3:5-6

I so struggle with the ‘trust’ and ‘submission’ part of that scripture,  which of course go hand-in-hand.  I think trust, submission and obedience are the big three when it comes to showing God our faith.

My own real problem is in obedience. I feel like I know there are certain things God wants me to do, but because of fear I can’t bring myself to do them. I say I trust, I want to submit, but ultimately I fail in obedience. Why? Fear of failure, mostly. Because I worry about what others will think of me, even though I feel that God wants me to do certain things.

Maybe there is a reason so many of us answer the above question with “disappointed”.   Because perhaps, it is half-true. Maybe God Is disappointed. Thinking about this earlier, I came up with…when I do not obey God, and submit to his will, doing what I know he wants me to do, he is not disappointed IN me, he is disappointed FOR me.

BIG difference.

It’s like with our own kids. When we watch them venture into the world and try new things; whether it’s joining a group of toddlers at preschool,   saying ‘yes’ to taking off the training wheels on their bike…or later;  trying out for the basketball team, volunteering at church, or auditioning for the school play…we’re  so happy that our kids are willing to step out. When they decide not to try something that we know they would really benefit from, we’re not disappointed IN them, we’re disappointed FOR them. For a missed opportunity.  

It’s no different with God.

Trust Over Fear

He has so many good things in store for us, if we would just listen for his voice, trust him, and act in obedience. Yes, it can be scary, yes it’s weird sometimes, yes, we might fail…But how will you ever know if you don’t step out?

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, and are called according to his purpose. RO 8:28  

If we never trust God and take a leap of faith, we’ll never know what good thing we might have been able to participate in.

Fear of failure is a huge stumbling block for so many of us. But God’s love for us is not tied to our success. He loves me right now as much as he ever will. And if I obey and do everything he asks of me, and all kinds of wonderful things happen because of my obedience, God is still not going to love me anymore than he loves me right this minute. That is such a difficult thing to fathom! But it is a truth that is in Scripture, and for me it’s one of the hardest things to accept. That no matter what I do God loves me. And he loves you.

Thank goodness he gave us children and parenthood to give us a small shadow, an echo of what he feels for us. But it’s just that – an echo. God’s love is infinitely bigger than the love that we can ever possibly dream of possessing, even for our own children. Because God Is love. He’s the source of all love, he invented it. Without him, being loved, or loving someone else would not be possible.

This is why “LOVE” should be the word that we know God feels, when he thinks of us.

So, back to trusting God. What are you sensing that God is telling you to do? I felt prompted  in my heart to write this blog. And I’ve been resisting it and I’ve been putting it off. And I’ve been hesitating. But no more. For Lent, I’m going to jump in and do it. I’m going to try to post every week. And I ask you to join me because I really need your feedback. (Please subscribe, top right, for notifications of posts →)

But I’ll  also ask you to join me in searching your own heart for what you really feel and really sense God is asking of you. And then going out there and doing it. Don’t worry, he’ll direct your steps, he’ll guide you – he’s got your back.  #TrustHim

You Gotta Have Faith In Something… So What’s It Gonna Be ?

Skipping around through my bible, I came across some verses that got me thinking…

Many of us are familiar with the scripture from Hebrews 12:2   …Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith,
and then I read in Acts 3:15, Peter saying …You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead… 
and so it made me think, that in some ways, faith is life.

Stay with me a minute here…
Whatever we place our faith in, becomes essentially, what we base our life on – what we live for. You may not have thought of it this way, but really, we choose  what to place our faith in, even if we think we don’t have  ‘faith’.

If it’s money and possessions that we rely on to satisfy us,  we go down the path of materialism. If it’s a relationship with someone,  our happiness and joy hangs on the every word, action and approval of  that person, or those we love, and so then our chance of offense is great. If we place our faith in our work, what we do for a living, then our satisfaction hinges on our daily success on the job,  in whatever expectations our boss or co-workers have placed on us, or that next raise, that next promotion.

Sometimes, worse yet, we simply place our faith in ourselves. We don’t need any help, we think    I got this, I don’t need anyone, I can handle it.      If our faith is in ourselves, we live in fear.  Fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of what others think of us and of everything  we do.

Even when it is our family that is our identity and our highest priority,  and what we place our faith in, that can be a misplaced level of importance, too.

But… if we place our faith in God, and His promises, our life resides more in the spirit realm.  We can begin to see ourselves the way God sees us, and that our hope is not in the things of this world, but in what God has planned for us.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Heb 11:1 

We can then truly live as though we are in this world, but not of it. That we are simply passing through.  Maybe then our focus can be – Will the world be a better place because I was here? Have I left my little corner of the planet better off than I found it? Has anyone else’s life benefited because I was here?

Maybe some food for thought as we enter 2018.

Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy, Blessed New Year!

We’re All On A Mission

Just exited a Lutheran church’s parking lot -after missing my destination and  doing a turn around-  and I noticed something that struck me.  As I was leaving the lot to go onto the main street, there was a sign that said

You Are Now
The Mission Field

I.  Love That!
Some people leave church after Sunday morning service and think, ‘Okay, that’s done.  Check it off the to-do list.’   I used to.  I’d check that  ‘go to church’  box and feel I was done with my religious requirement for the week. 

I know better now, that  church attendance is not the whole of our Christian life,  but that sign made me think;  you know,  in reality,  it’s just about the opposite.  We go to church to worship God and to encourage,  fellowship and pray  with other Christians. But our work as a Christian is  -for the most part-  everywhere else but church.  With the exception of pastors, worship leaders, and others whose calling is working directly in ministry.  For most of us, church should be  the jumping off point to a real life of service, to  accomplishing God’s  purpose.


I’ve since  learned that being a Christian is not about what you do in church. Not very much, anyway. If you look at Christianity as “Love God, Love Others” ,  then being in church on Sunday is just a small part of the first half of that equation; the Loving God part.  But you’re a Christian every day of the week.  You’re a Christian in the things that you do and say outside of church.   And in the  way that you choose to spend your time,  and the sacrifices you are willing to make for others…

 I used to think I was doing God a favor by going to church.  But it’s the other way around. 

I think we actually go to church to get filled up.  We go to church to get inspired, to get ideas about how better to serve others.  Maybe to actually rest from service a little.  To let God’s grace wash over us.  And to be refreshed. 

I saw an interview with Jeff Foxworthy, a stand up comic, about serving those in need in your community. He said  ” My life is the best when I’m not the most important thing in it.”  And,   ” Once you’ve tasted purpose, you can’t be happy with just existing anymore.” (That’s a sermon in itself.)

Foxworthy talks with Andy Stanley, pastor of Northpoint church in Atlanta about his mission and what he is doing in the homeless community in Atlanta. It’s a great interview and it is worth checking out:

 So your mission field really does start when you leave church.
Sunday afternoon does not have to be the end of your spirituality for the week!

It’s just the beginning.






What a fantastic week it’s been. Who doesn’t love this time of year?

Let’s see…we have Friendsgiving – the day before Thanksgiving, when friends in from out of town get together and catch up with their old crew. There’s Thanksgiving, of course – with food, family, fun, and more food (who’s not a fan of that?)

Then we have Small Business Saturday – when we support and honor the hard-working people at family owned businesses and mom and pop shops. By giving them our business we are helping to keep jobs and  dollars in our own community.  And finally we have Give Back Tuesday, when we are encouraged to count our blessings and share what we have been so graciously given by God with those who are in need, through donations to our favorite charities.

Grateful Every Day

This whole week was about being grateful, and recognizing your blessings. I heard the term “Thanks-living” used to remind us-especially followers of Christ- that every day, all year long, is a good time to be thankful to God.  I couldn’t agree more!

In the midst of it all,  I had the chance to get out of the house one day this week to run errands and go to an appointment, and I was so overcome by gratitude!   When someone does their work in  an exceptional way, with such integrity and sincerity, I am nearly brought to tears of gratitude and admiration for them.  I find it to be one of the best ways to live out our Christianity.   It was one of those great mornings where everything went better than expected.

First, I received exceptional physical therapy and felt fantastic afterwards, and had a friendly chat with with the new PT tech at my clinic. She was so sweet, I left smiling. That was followed by a great visit to the Rochester  post office. Contrary to what many  think about going to the post office, the downtown Rochester location is terrific. With fast, friendly service and helpful staff, they are the best.  And everyone I encountered there just seemed to be in a good mood, smiling, holding the door open for each other, making small talk.

Then there was the guy at the gas station who pumps my gas  (yes, you can still get full service at  a gas station!  In downtown Rochester, at any rate).   He is a true sweetheart and just a really nice, earnest guy who works with  diligence and kindness.

Then, I encountered the women at the Rochester library gift shop… so, so friendly and helpful!  Very sweet and just kind beyond necessity. Finally,  I got a fantastic car wash in Lake Orion from guys who really seem to enjoy their job and were super nice and positive about it.

It’s the Little Things…

I can’t tell you what it means to me to just go out into the community and have so many uplifting experiences all at once. I’m tearing up thinking about it.  And about  how it really is the little things that make your day great.

It’s just that easy to make someone’s day, incidentally.  Every day we have the power to build someone up or tear them down.  “Be kinder than is necessary” is a very cool maxim that has resurfaced recently.  So good!

Just grateful to be part of such a stellar community…  


What if we lived in a constant state of gratitude and service?

I know we all go through tough times and there are some days or even seasons of our lives where it doesn’t feel like we have anything to be grateful for.  But if you’re willing to open your heart and really examine the life that you’re living, you will find that every one of us has something to be grateful for.

Gratitude is a powerful emotion. It’s hard to walk around depressed when you are counting your blessings.  And on the bad days, rather than dwell on what is going wrong, maybe think of someone who is struggling more than you are, and needs your help. There is nothing like serving others to get your mind off of your own problems.


What little, seemingly inconsequential, things are you grateful for that would be easy to take for granted?





Is Your Prayer Drawing People To God, or Pushing Them Away?

Prayer Unites, Prayer Divides

Some Christians wield prayer like a weapon. I had a friend who liked to pray before every meal. At the coffee shop, at lunch out at a restaurant, with a group of Christians or non Christians, didn’t matter. I didn’t really begrudge her this, though I was not much of a Christian at the time, but one of our common friends, also a believer, got sooo frustrated with this behavior!

Thing is, Sister Super Christian would always wait til someone took a bite of food to say “hey, how about if we pray first?” Thus embarrassing and annoying the diner with her mouth full of food. This one woman had this happen to her one too many times and  threw her fork down and folded her hands, definitely Not in a prayerful way.

It’s kind of funny now, but it really illustrates how we can make prayer something that comes between even fellow Christians, let alone non believers.

And then there’s the kind of prayer that I experienced last Wednesday and again yesterday. A group of humble, servants of God, praying sincere and fervent prayers with a faith that is palpable, and fills the room. I will say, there is nothing more beautiful than being a part of that. Feeling the Holy Spirit’s presence and love, with people praying for you…it’s indescribable and powerful. When we unite in prayer for a common purpose,  it’s like the very air in the room changes.

Closer to God Through Prayer

Praying together can bring us closer as brothers and sisters in Christ, but also is vital to building a close, intimate relationship with God.

I never feel nearer to God than when I am praying, honestly and openly, from my heart. To a God who is always there, always listening, always straining to hear what we have to pray. And hoping we will take just a minute to listen to what He has to say back to us. We don’t always think of prayer as a two-way street, but if what you want with God is a relationship, not just a sounding board, then listening needs to be part of the equation.

It’s great to have a friend who listens to you, but if you never listen to them, the relationship can only go so far. It’s really no different with God.  We start out turning to God with our laundry list of complaints, requests and laments –  pleading for help. And that’s an okay place to start.  I think many, if not most of us, start our faith journey this way.

But going deeper in relationship with God necessitates that you give Him a chance to speak into your situation. I mean, it’s what we want, right?  Ultimately, anyway.  I don’t think, deep down, we really just want to pray and have everything  ‘magically’  made right in our life, with no real sense of knowing God better or feeling closer to him.  Listening for God’s response after we pray can make all the difference!

For some great ideas on different ways to pray check out these websites and

What If God Was One of Us?


Fully God, Fully Human

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Mt 14:13

Jesus is told by John the Baptist’s friends that he has been beheaded in a bizarre and surreal scene at Herod’s birthday party. (Check out Matthew 14:3-12 here   )

 When Jesus hears this news, he goes to the mountainside to pray. Some think he left to avoid a similar fate by Herod’s men. Some say he retreated to pray to his Father;  about what to do next, or perhaps concerning the care of his weary apostles, or even about  feeding  the 5000 disciples who had followed him.

We don’t actually know what he consulted the Father about, we are not told in scripture. But we do know that Jesus was a compassionate, caring man, every bit as human as you and me. I like to think he may have been praying out of sadness and grief over the loss of his cousin, his friend, the man who heralded his coming, John the Baptizer.

If we read too quickly, it doesn’t even occur to us that Jesus might pause to grieve. We sort of think he should just accept the death of this important person in his life and move on.  Because we see the story in context of the big picture. And in hindsight, it seems like a fairly small point in the story.

But imagine it!  A friend, a supporter, a disciple being murdered in this horrific way. Of course he must have grieved! Jesus was fully human. He lived like us,  he felt like us,  he related like us.  When the bible says ‘fully human’ it means  Fully.  Human.

Jesus was upset,  bewildered, distraught and sad – most likely.  We don’t know what he felt, but those are all likely because he was fully human.  We see him display very human emotions of compassion, love, and even anger at various times in his ministry.

Fully Human in the Garden

We see him in the garden of Gethsemane, nearing the end of his life on earth, where Jesus asks his Father to save him.  Just as we would have done. He knows what’s coming. He knows he has to go through this terrible thing  that will end his life.  It has to be done.   It was part of the plan and  Jesus  knew it.  Anticipated it.  Agreed to it.

But at the last moment – he asked for a reprieve. He sweated blood.  He agonized.  He cried out.

Fully Human.

Of course, ultimately, he accepted that which was the agreed upon plan all along. Where would we be if he hadn’t?

But we forget that he was fully human.  We forget that what Jesus went through was as hard for him as it would have been for us.  We think it was easy for him because he was fully God too.  

But in the dichotomy of fully God and fully human, they don’t cancel each other out. They magnify the Being of Christ.

Being God didn’t make it any easier for him to be human, than it is for us.  What Jesus went through, the temptation he experienced, the isolation he felt, the fear, the loneliness…he struggled through it all so he could have the perspective, so he could know  what it feels like to suffer.

So that when we struggle, when we suffer, we know he can comfort us with the comfort of someone who has been there. This is our God,  communicating His great love for us.  Showing us the lengths He was willing to go for us.

You see, we’ve never been through anything that Jesus can’t relate to – that he can’t pull us through, with empathy, comfort, and understanding.

And that’s why fully human is such an important part of who Jesus was.


For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses…Heb 4:15
…rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Ph 2:7


Should We Maybe Stop Praying So Much?

Prayer is such a comforting thing to offer, but I wonder if offering it to those struggling might be sometimes counterproductive.  I heard a Rabbi who was starting a Jewish ministry recall his first encounter with the host of a Christian ministry and TV show.

He said something like   ‘Pat, when I told you I was struggling, that things were off to a shaky start, and you told me you’d pray for me, I thought, ‘Oh great, another Christian praying for my ministry’.   The Rabbi went on to say that he was surprised and touched by Pat’s follow up phone calls, offers of help and a donation check that arrived in the mail.

I had a similar experience when I was at our local farmers’ market and two of the farmers were relaying to a few of us what a bad couple of years it had been for the crops.  Being rather new in my faith, with lots of enthusiasm, but not a lot of wisdom, I told them I would pray for them,  their crops and their livelihood. The skepticism was evident in the small smile and shrug of the blueberry lady in response to my offer of prayer.  I could see in her eyes that it meant almost nothing to her.   In light of these incidents I realized that prayer
alone doesn’t always do for the person everything God intended for us to do.
After all, we are His hands and feet!  God put that person in our path for a reason.  Prayer’s great, but back it up with some help, some agape love, expressed through service or action. DO Something!

I would almost go so far as to say  don’t  tell someone, outside the faith,  you’re going to be praying for them if you don’t plan on doing something to support that prayer and  to show that person what Christian love is all about.

Sure, go ahead and pray, but maybe do it quietly.     And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others… Mt. 6:5     We come across as insincere or fake, or all talk and no action when we constantly run around telling non-Christians that “I will pray for you.”  And then we disappear from their life, patting ourselves on the back, thinking we’ve done such a good deed.  

This actually  does a disservice to the perception of Christianity in the secular world, I believe.  We are viewed as pitiable creatures who woefully plead with an invisible God whenever something goes wrong, and that we are helpless to do anything, and vulnerable in the face of catastrophe.

Putting Prayer Into Action

But we can mobilize. Your prayers for someone battling sickness or disease may be comforting, but it doesn’t have to stop there. You can add to the prayers an offer of driving their kids to soccer practice for the next month.  Or you could make them a meal, take up a collection and pay for a house cleaning service, or get a gift card to a restaurant or even just send them an uplifting card, or check in with them regularly.

Even these small gestures mean so much when added to offers of prayer.  They are practical, tangible offers of God’s love and in so doing them, we show those outside Christianity what it means to be a Christian. It’s not just all talk and prayer.  It’s backing up the words with action, it’s letting God’s love be expressed through us in practical and helpful ways that really do make a difference. You may have heard the phrase ‘faith without works is dead’.   In the bible, James writes: Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? Jas 2:15-16
What good, indeed?

So, back to my initial question : Should we stop praying so much?
Of course not. Prayer is the backbone of our relationship with God. Perhaps, though, we should stop talking about praying so much and just do it.  And throw in a helpful, practical act of kindness for good measure.

For some great suggestions  go to 

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