Brave Together

I’ve got a new idea. I wrote about this in my newsletter this week, but the idea continues to expand in my mind. What if we were brave together instead of trying to be brave alone? What if we said aloud what scares us? What if another person’s story of bravery helps us be brave? What if our story encourages someone else to step out in faith?

This came to me as I was thinking about my family’s recent trip to a theme park. One of my kids was really nervous about riding the roller coasters. In fact, on the first day, he would only ride the small ones. But then, his little brother (four years younger!) rode several! This inspired my older son. His little brother’s bravery was contagious, and our second day there, he rode every single roller coaster in the park. He was scared, squeezing my hand or his dad’s, but he was brave.

Our world has so drastically changed in the last few years that I think a lot of us are gun shy. We are scared to try something new. We’ve had our fill of change and transition, but there is a longing inside of us to be courageous and step out into the unknown.

It occurred to me this morning that uncertainty can be pretty scary. I’m in an uncertain place right now regarding my kids’ schooling for next year. Our plan fell apart, and we’re right back where we started. Everything feels uncertain.

I remember “uncertainty” was a buzz word in 2020 as far as Covid and its implications were concerned. We were all uncertain, and that made us feel extremely uncomfortable not knowing what was next. The other thing I realized about uncertainty is that it can actually be exciting, exhilarating, and adventurous. When we don’t know what lies around the next bend in the road, we might be tempted to assume it’s big, ugly, and scary. What if, instead, it was glorious, beautiful, and thrilling? What if we reframed our uncertainty as a chance to be surprised by joy?

What if it’s really true that we can walk in courage to face the new thing and not be defeated by it? What if it’s really true that we won’t walk the road alone but with others? What if it’s true that He, Himself, will go before us, behind us, and surround us in His love?

It is true, friend. I want to invite you on this journey with me. Would you share your story of fear or bravery or both? Let me elevate your story to encourage others to be brave in theirs. We can be brave, together.

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Trusting God Behind the Veil

The drive wasn’t bad for a road trip. It was longer than we normally drive in the car with six kids, but all in all, it was an easy day trip. After numerous trips to Colorado in my younger days, my favorite part of the entire drive was the anticipation of seeing the mountain skyline in the distance. The climax, however, was driving into Denver through the Eisenhower Tunnel and being greeted by the looming “purple mountains’ majesty” on the other side.

But we weren’t going to Denver or through Denver. We exited Interstate 70 onto Highway 24 to drive into Colorado Springs. I’d see faint outlines of what I assumed were Rocky Mountains, but then I’d lose sight of them. Highway 24 is full of rolling plateaus. That first day of August, the sky was heavy with clouds while the sun played hide-and-seek behind them. The sky was dramatic, and the landscape of these rising plateaus held a beauty all its own. I drank it in.

I kept expecting the mountains to surprise us, and we’d really talked it up with the kids. We’d set an expectation that any minute, they’d be confronted with a glory their mid-western eyes hadn’t experienced. But I began to have a sinking feeling in my stomach. Had I planned the wrong vacation? Was Colorado Springs the right destination? Would our kids be disappointed? Would this failure of my planning be added to the ever-growing list I’d made in my mind over the years? Every rise and fall brought a real sense of disappointment and worry.

The friends we were visiting live just a smidge north of downtown Colorado Springs. We were coming into town, and we were a mere ten minutes from their house. The sun was now fully out, and it was close to 5:00 when a barely perceptible line drawn across the horizon caught my eye. I lifted my sunglasses to verify I was really seeing something, lowered them again and cried, “There! There they are!” All sixteen eyes fixed on the horizon, and I felt in that moment that Jesus had surprised me. He wasn’t holding out on me, rather, He was waiting until the perfect moment to reveal His masterpiece.

Though darkness seems to hide His face, I rest in His unchanging grace.

“The Solid rocK,” Edward mote–1834

The outline of the Rockies grew more solid against the bright afternoon sky, though it was tainted with a thick haze, a result of forest fires to the west. which disguised the details of the mountains themselves. The kids finally saw them, and my heart lifted because my God does not fail. He established these very mountains with the command of His voice. They remain as a testament that we, too, are like a strong mountain when we trust in Him. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:19-20, ESV).

In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

“the solid rock,” Edward mote–1834

Sometimes, when life is hard, grief hangs heavy, and the valley of the shadow of death feels like a suffocating blanket, we have to choose to see His grace and rest in it. If He was willing to take care of our debt of sin behind the veil of the temple, entering as the sacrificial lamb, how much more will He do for us in our struggles?

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things…Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

Romans 8:31b-32, 34b, ESV

The sunshine doesn’t always break through the clouds immediately. We have to rest, knowing that behind the haze and clouds, there is majesty waiting to reveal itself. He is there even when we don’t feel lighthearted, joyful, or excited. He is there. There may be veil, but it is there, behind the veil that we remain rooted and grounded in His love. The storm will pass, but right here, right in the midst of it, He is our solid rock, our foundation, our God in whom we can trust.

The Conspiracy of Distraction

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on

There’s a plethora of conspiracy theories circulating in the United States presently. I don’t even have to list them, because chances are, if you’ve utilized any type of social media over the last few weeks, you know what I’m talking about. What I’ve primarily noticed is that these conspiracies serve a purpose: distraction. Ironically, the whole concept of conspiracy theory is that the almighty “they” have distracted you with ________________________ in order to hide this other thing “they” were doing. And what ends up happening is people drawn into these conspiracies fall prey to the very thing they want to avoid–being distracted from what’s really going on.

Who is responsible for this distraction? Well, undoubtedly, the people creating the theories themselves are responsible, but I’m inclined to look a bit deeper to the bottom-dwellers who are stirring the pot. I believe this to be the work of the Enemy, the devil, the accuser. This is a spiritual battle. His tactics are simple. Divide and conquer. Distract and disable. A distracted Church is a disabled Church. How can you make space to share the Gospel if you’re sharing conspiracy? Who is going to take your Words of Life seriously and view them as reputable if you’re sharing theories you found on YouTube? How can you fight the real battle when you’re distracted by a conspiratorial one?

I have frequently found myself intrigued by the conspiracies over the years. Why is that? My guess is that mystery is alluring. Humans do have a longing for the truth, to know the facts, to be the one who uncovered the hidden gem that proves we’ve all been duped! No one wants to be an idiot. No one wants to live their life, come to the end of it, and realize that what they believed was a lie. This is normal. This is part of being human. But perhaps, what we’re really looking to uncover is treasure, and instead, we’ve settled for the cheap entertainment of conspiracy theory.

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Matthew 13:44

Jesus came teaching and preaching about a kingdom. This kingdom had come down from heaven and was like a treasure–a pearl of great price, a valuable coin, a net full of fish, a treasure hidden in a field. This kingdom is for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. This kingdom comes in quietly and under the radar. This kingdom has a king, and His name is Jesus. In order to follow this king, to be His disciple, one has to be willing to give up everything one has. But in return, the one will inherit all the king has.

But there’s this settling…we settle for less than what he offers.

  • We say we believe in him, but we keep looking elsewhere for answers.
  • We say we’ve given up our rights to follow him, but we demand them from our governments.
  • We say we trust Him to provide, but we look to our own jobs, skills, and resources as our only source of income.

We’re not alone in this experience of settling for conspiracies and other empty answers. The disciples of Jesus struggled with this as well. Thomas followed Jesus for three years but refused to believe He was alive again until he saw His scarred hands and feet. James and John were looking for places of power in His kingdom, hoping He’d overthrow Rome, but didn’t realize that to sit at His right and left would mean death for them. The disciples collectively looked at the meager loaves and fishes and couldn’t see a way to feed 5,000.

The truth, friends, that I need to hear and you need to hear is this: “Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15, ESV). What we need right now is the Truth. God loves this world. He sent His Son to die for the sins of the world. He came to bring his kingdom and begin it IN US. He came to defeat sin, death, and the grave. We don’t need the distraction of conspiracy theory. It robs us of our calling as children of God. It robs us of the valuable time we’ve been given to share the truth of His love for the world. It robs us of the ability to live our lives with resurrection in mind–this is NOT all there is. His kingdom has come. And it will come fully, and we will rule and reign with Him on this earth. The time is short. The kingdom is at hand. Rise up.