Braking Points

Pausing in the midst of Life to ponder, pray and find footing to continue.





I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth. Do you? Do I? Or, do we equivocate? The extent to which I believe this initial statement in the Apostles’ Creed establishes the lens by which I see the world, history, science, education, conservation of nature, people. Indeed the lens by which I view everything. C.S. Lewis and Eugene Price both avowed atheists before their conversions FIRST came to belief in GOD as the origin of all creation before becoming Christians. Their stories are found in SURPRISED BY JOY and MY BURDEN IS LIGHT.

In the commandments given to Moses it is what hinges all the commandments together. HEAR, O ISRAEL. THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.  YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE HIM.

SO, to recite these words while holding views that eliminate God from creation or limit God’s role in creation, or question his parenthood over All then I would be better off not saying them. Not because, the Creed says that, but because the Scriptures say that. Do I believe science and God oppose one another or do I believe that God created the clues in the Universe and the curiosity in humankind that seeks answers and solutions and knowledge to unlock the gates to discovery and invention and scientific processes? Do I believe every human carries within them a spirit stamped with the DNA of God Almighty. Do I believe the words of Genesis, ‘Let us create mankind in our own image. So male and female, he created them.’

So, is it empty recitation or awe filled proclamation. Do I speak a truth I believe or bear false witness while blasting the whole idea of God Almighty creating heaven and earth in favor of man’s theories which discard or dilute his power and action?

I believe in God the Father Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth!

What is your stand?






I believe in. . .thus begins the Apostles’ Creed, the oldest of Christian creeds. Millions of Christians around the world recite these words in church weekly, others more often, some never and some use other Christian statements of belief [Nicene] to collectively declare the tenets of their faith.

IMG_6107I grew up in a church tradition where such liturgy had been discarded as unnecessary and frankly, a bit suspicious, especially if it was merely rote recitation or used as standard for acceptance or rejection for church membership or access to Communion. From an early age I heard, ‘no creed but Christ’, no book but the Bible’, ‘we are Christians only, but not the only Christians’. I grew up believing and still frankly do that Jesus established Holy Communion [The Lord’s Supper] as a Sacrament, though I admit I never heard that particular word until I was well into my teens. We celebrated Communion every Sunday and often at special services. Baptism was by immersion at the age of ‘accountability’ [usually 11 or 12 years of age following a Pastor’s class] on a statement of faith—did they sneak a creed in on us—that went something like, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, and do you accept him as your personal Lord and Savior?” The appropriate answer of course was, ‘I do.’ After which baptism occurred.

So while other Christians were baptized with less water and some as infants, while others celebrated their first Communion around 7 years old, followed by Confirmation classes at what my tradition called the age of accountability, I have discovered that we are more alike than different. Some of us have drifted from the faith of our childhoods, some have deepened faith, some struggle to find their faith footing among a plethora of world views, many non-Christian or even anti-Christian.

I am sharing this so that whoever reads this can understand that the path I have traveled to embracing the Apostles’ Creed as a powerful way to succinctly express Christian doctrine.

As I age, rather than closing up, huddling in my self built bunker, I want to open my heart and mind and body to receive ALL God has for me to grow in Love. . .His Love, His Grace, His Power. I want to firmly plant my feet in the concrete of Jesus, but to open wide my eyes to see and embrace life rather than just waiting for ‘Heaven’. Living here, eyes open, heart open, loving, laughing, suffering, from the hour I first believed prepare me for EVERLASTING LIFE. I won’t say heaven will be less wonderful, if I waste time or hide out here on earth, but I do believe personally it opens my eyes to the blessings here and now. I want other Christians and even those who have other faith traditions or no tradition at all to see and understand God’s love and action in their lives. And as I age I have more opportunities to bless others, even if it is only to pray that they might know God loves them.

That is one reason I presenting this commentary and Terry and I are hosting a two week Lenten Study on the Apostles’ Creed at 6 PM EDT, Sunday in our home in Florida. And for those of you in Kentucky, I hope we can do this for a longer period of time when we return. Among other resources we are using Matt Chandler’s study guide along with the Bible. This is not a lecture, but a sharing group and all are welcome. This is not a gathering that seeks to pull anyone into a specific church tradition, but instead to celebrate the Oneness with Have one with the other as Christians.

IMG_1105The Apostles’ Creed is not merely words generated by men, nor does it have special mystical power, like an incantation. The words find their origin in Scripture, both [and this may surprise some] Old and New Testament. The words for me embrace the whole of the Bible beginning with Genesis, ‘In the Beginning, God’, the ‘Word became Flesh’, and ‘Come, Lord Jesus, Come’. Not only do they center me on the Trinity, but on the importance of the Church [the Body of Christ with its many parts, UNITED, UNIVERSAL], the reality of our own accountability before Christ and EVERLASTING LIFE.

SO consider yourself invited.*



The Hour I First Believed…

I have spent way too much time in my life chasing after people who caught my attention and seemed to have everything I did not have. It wasn’t so much that I wanted what they had as that I wanted to be included in their circle of friends, to be included so that others would view me as having value based on my proximity to them. It wasn’t that I had NO friends, but it seemed that I always fell short of the golden glow of popularity. It wasn’t that I had NO successes in school or life, but let’s just say I wasn’t Valedictorian or Homecoming Queen or Star Basketball Player…and somehow that seemed to be very important at the time. Of course, I blamed it on the fact that I was ugly, short, poorer than a church mouse, and believe it or not, that I did not have a boyfriend. I decided to change that status when I got to college and I did. Found my man and low and behold after 50 plus years still have him.

Unfortunately, I still found my self circling the ‘golden’ people working to fit in, wanting to get close enough to feel valuable, funny, and accepted. Sometime in my early thirties someone made the statement that ‘the person who loved the least in a relationship, had the most power’ so I adopted that attitude. I realized the formula worked fairly well but I did not like the effect it had on me. At the time my life was pretty much in turmoil in just about every area except education….I was acing that track…I was number one in my field of study at the University of Tulsa and I was owning it. I was also failing in my marriage, failing as a mother, and in general a pretty pitiful person. I hit a wall after I got my master’s degree, even though I got a really good job.

I met a woman at work who rubbed me the wrong way. She was always talking about her faith and God. Now don’t get me wrong I was attending church at the time. Why! I was even active in my church, but hey! She just rubbed me wrong. I suspect I do that to people now. I am ashamed to say, I even mocked her behind her back, rolled my eyes and even baited her. All the while my LIFE was in shreds. I was hurting others, people I loved, and they were hurting me as well. I found my self one step away from annihilation. Then Dorothy’s grandson David was hit by a car and left brain dead on the same day that his Uncle David had died in a car accident 16 years before. In the midst of my personal turmoil I witnessed how she responded and handled this horrific event and relived as her grandson died the loss of her own son. I watched as she and her husband comforted their son and daughter in law. What she had, I wanted but I had NO IDEA how to get it. I MEAN HEY! DID I MENTION I WENT TO CHURCH!

One night driving home from work, 50 miles on a two lane road, I sobbed so hard I had to pull over to the side of the road. I could not see. I prayed…not the first prayer of my life, but the prayer that saved my life. “God, if you are real as Dorothy believes, show me how to get through this time no matter what happens to my marriage or to me. Forgive me. Show me!” I did not even say Amen. As I sat there my tears slowed. I felt a peace within unlike any I had felt for a very long time. And as clear as a real voice in my head, I heard, Be Still and Know that I am God!

Spoiler alert: I did not immediately become BETTER, still letting God work that out in me.

What I did become WAS HIS! That is when I knew that the saying I had been relying on in all my relationships that the one who loved least had the most power was WRONG! Oh, it works if you want manipulate people, but NO ONE CAN OUT LOVE GOD AND HE IS ALL POWERFUL. So my goal is to become MORE LOVING of others and MORE LOVING to others…some days are better than others.

As the first few months of my new faith took hold, I sought out Dorothy and we became the best of friends. As I applied all I was learning to changing me, as I let God lead, as I opened the Bible and studied, I found myself hungry to know more. And low and behold, events occurred that changed my closest relationships and changes began to happen that I had only dreamed were possible. None of that came without some pain and suffering, but it allowed me to love my husband through a very difficult hurtful time in his life. Without God I could not have done that, but God gave me a new appreciation and love for the man I had married. He helped me to be a better mother, still screaming at the top of my lungs at times, but still better…and they all made it to adulthood.

I am sharing this because my granddaughter opened up and shared and I felt it was time for me to share this story. Perhaps that is what Lent is about, looking deeply at our journeys of faith or for some lack thereof and telling God how we feel. He knows anyway. Perhaps Lent helps us focus on what Love really is and HOW POWERFUL AND BLESSED THOSE WHO LOVE REALLY ARE…Whether they are in the Popular circle or Not.



Wait, Wait, Wait–One of My Least Favorite Things to Do! Preparing for Lent, 2018


I am pretty darn sure that the purpose of waiting extends beyond simply getting on my last nerve.  Indeed some waiting periods involve little more than tapping my foot or glancing at my watch every few seconds while sending a slit eyed look at the closed door in say the doctor’s office.  Having experienced some gall bladder issues lately, some waiting involves letting the pain subside or the nausea to pass.  Some waiting involves getting through cancer treatment and then holding one’s breath until the tests reveal whether or not you have beaten the beast.  Some waiting periods anticipate good things, the birth of a child, Christmas, family visits, vacation trips, the return of a loved one from deployment overseas.  Whatever the anticipated event or the delay, waiting demands to be reckoned with!

This Lenten Season I want to consider the wait.  I invite you to join me. Why? Because God seems to have a purpose for waiting.  Plus it appears he likes the number 40, because he kept the Israelites in the wilderness with Moses for 40 years and Jesus in the desert for 40 days.  So Lent’s 40 days stretching from Ash Wednesday  to Palm Sunday give time to pause and reflect on how the sacrifice of waiting can build character and teach me how to utilize if not embrace THE WAIT!  Perhaps together we can even find the miracles within the time in the Waiting Room.  For as Isaiah wrote:

“He gives strength to those who are tired; to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy. Even youths get tired and weary; even strong young men clumsily stumble. But those who wait [hope, trust] for the LORD’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:29-31‬ ‭NET‬‬

Surely WAITING has a PURPOSE in God’s economy…just saying.


What I Learned about Heaven and Hell from Jesus’ Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man

Jesus said, “There was a rich man who always dressed in the finest clothes and lived in luxury every day. And a very poor man named Lazarus, whose body was covered with sores, was laid at the rich man’s gate. He wanted to eat only the small pieces of food that fell from the rich man’s table. And the dogs would come and lick his sores. Later, Lazarus died, and the angels carried him to the arms of Abraham. The rich man died, too, and was buried. In the place of the dead, he was in much pain. The rich man saw Abraham far away with Lazarus at his side. He called, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am suffering in this fire!’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember when you were alive you had the good things in life, but bad things happened to Lazarus. Now he is comforted here, and you are suffering. Besides, there is a big pit between you and us, so no one can cross over to you, and no one can leave there and come here.’ The rich man said, ‘Father, then please imagesend Lazarus to my father’s house. I have five brothers, and Lazarus could warn them so that they will not come to this place of pain.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have the law of Moses and the writings of the prophets; let them learn from them.’ The rich man said, ‘No, father Abraham! If someone goes to them from the dead, they would believe and change their hearts and lives.’ But Abraham said to him, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not listen to someone who comes back from the dead.’ ” (Luke 16:19-31 NCV)

Recently, I heard a sermon at a church we were visiting that brought me back to this parable of Jesus. I realized the parable had SO much to tell me about heaven and even more to tell me about hell. Imagine that, there is still capacity to learn at my age and even more that God wants to teach me.

The first part of the parable deals with two men living very different lives on earth. One has money, privilege, he is living in the lap of luxury and whether he simply cannot see the suffering right outside his gate or he simply chooses to ignore it. I don’t know, but what I do know is that the man suffering in poverty and poor health has a name, which gives him greater distinction in Jesus’ story than the rich man. His name is Lazarus.

While the rich man disregards Lazarus, Lazarus sees the rich man and longs not to bring him down to his level, but to merely have crumbs from his table, discarded bits of garbage from the rich man to eat. Street dogs give him more regard than the man with plenty.

BUT, both men die. Jesus tells this part with the matter of fact attitude death deserves in the God’s Grand Scheme. Rich or poor, all flesh eventually fails and dies. Here is where the heaven and hell stuff begin and here is what I learned.

Angels carry Lazarus, not a nameless beggar, but a person whose name God knows to the arms of Abraham (heaven). There he is alive, comforted, and sees only the beauty and grace of God. In hell, on the other hand, the rich man suffers physically, mentally, spiritually.

So much for the attitude that says “I’d rather party in hell than strum a harp in heaven.” The rich man in hell is very aware of heaven. He sees the lavish life Lazarus is living. Like Lazarus once longed for the rich man’s crumbs, he longs for a single drop of the living water of heaven. Imagine the torment in hell as the damned see heaven constantly from the pit. Imagine realizing that the chasm between cannot be crossed after death, but also imagine the rich man’s anguish as he recalls his brothers who are still living on earth without benefit of salvation.

Hell isn’t some good old boy’s club or “Cheers, where everybody knows your name”. In hell you don’t even have a number let alone a name and like the rich man in his torment, no one there wants to see the people they love join them. There is no party! There is loneliness and regret. One may never have cared whether family or friends found Jesus on earth, but based on Jesus parable, in Hell they are begging for their redemption. If we Christians had one ounce of the passion for the lost that the rich man exhibited in hell, we could change the world.

Once in heaven we cannot see the other side. We will not dwell on the citizens of hell, but in hell those citizens see what they rejected, pay the price, and long not to have another person join them. We see glimpses of this desire for others to be saved here on earth…people who have experienced hellish life styles that destroyed themselves and others before finding Christ usually make the most passionate evangelists.

I really don’t like thinking about hell and yet here in this week before Palm Sunday, I realize Jesus thought about it, taught about it and experienced it for ALL Creation, so I cannot ignore it. So today I am praying for the Lost…especially, those who think they have it all together and simply do not need God and for those who think God doesn’t exist and that death is simply switching off the lights.



Lenten Reflection: And We Didn’t Even Notice Him







He was hated and rejected by people. He had much pain and suffering. People would not even look at him. He was hated, and we didn’t even notice him. (Isaiah 53:3 NCV)

Bruised and bullied, crying softly where he lay
Left to suffer by his taunters, battered child, jar of clay
And we didn’t even notice him, we looked the other way
Not a hint of recognition, not a single glance his way.

Wounding words on her Facebook page, No not another day!
Cannot face the ridicule and shame waiting in that hallway!
And we didn’t even notice her, we looked the other way
Not a hint of recognition, not a single glance her way.

Tiny heart beating, tiny product of a night of play
It doesn’t fit, wasn’t planned, just make it go away
And we didn’t even notice them, we looked the other way
Unborn infant, frightened mom, not a glance their way.

We shouldn’t be surprised at the headlines of today
We, too, are battered, bullied, broken jars of clay
The pattern of our brokenness makes us want to look away
But the Savior of the world has something else to say,

“In every tender battered shoot trampled on today
In every broken heart, in every fractured jar of clay
See me, see me, see me where the wounded lay
See me, see me, see me don’t look away.”

For every teardrop, every sin, He died to pave the way
Bloodied, naked on the cross, He didn’t look away
He saw the thief, He saw his mother, He didn’t look away.
Mockers, skeptics, pagan soldiers, all within his sway

And YET He stayed, He didn’t look away.
He didn’t look away! Can I not stay?
Can I not look and see beyond my mirror everyday
And see the suffering, tend a need for other jars of clay.

“In every tender battered shoot trampled on today
In every broken heart, in every fractured jar of clay
See me, see me, see me where the wounded lay
See me, see me, see me don’t look away.”








Ten Days In, Need a Promise for Lent?


For those Christians participating in this season of Lent through intentional soul searching, sacrifice, and seeking, frankly, even those who are not, today is the 10th Day of Lent, a quarter of the 40 days leading to Easter.

One beautiful and tragic truth about the calendar and time

It marches forward, there is no going back

Time for those of us in human form marks the days, the hours

And it does so relentlessly

Without any “hitting the pause” button or “rewinding”, without my control

Like the poem, “Into the valley of death marched the six hundred”*

Marching like the Grand Old Duke of York’s men, “up the hill” and “down again” **

Reaching that magical peak of life, younger for some, older for others, before the after,

beginning the downward march or on more days than I care to admit the “SLIDE”

I can look back, but I cannot go back

So forward I go….whether through Lent to Holy Week or through Advent to Epiphany

Season after season of life in this fragile flesh, with a finite mind and limited mastery

Remembering, Reenacting, but not Returning

So it was when the Incarnation occurred, Suddenly God became man

Christ Jesus, The Lord in the form of a baby and grew up to be a man

Came to be trapped by the movement of time

He Who knew the freedom from the calendar chose to be tied to the days and nights

Of human fleshly existence, no going back, no going back

Eyes fixed on a Cross, unlimited power and authority self-limited for those few years,

So that beaten, battered, bullied, the brunt of mockery stinging,

He struggled up the Via Delarosa, up Calvary’s hill bearing my sins

He struggled upward on the downhill side of His life as a man for you and me

In the darkness of despair, with the ugliness of all sin from beginning to end on him

The weight, the ways of the world infusing His dying form, God Left HIM,

Still human, Still divine but briefly separated from the Father

MY GOD, MY GOD, Why have You forsaken me?

He knew it was coming and still he continued…..

So here I am 10 days into Lent, considering the work Christ has done for me, the sacrifices made, the power of the Cross, the power of his resurrection. And then in Philippians I read:

For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NET)

And I am reassured by the promise. He continues to work in me…to perfect me, to lead me to stand closer to the Cross as He leads me forward in time to that level land.

Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God. May your kind presence lead me into a level land. (Psalms 143:10 NET)

*Charge of the Light Brigade” Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1854
**The Grand Ole (Noble) Duke of York, English Nursery Rhyme


Vanity, Vanity…Giving up a Sense of Entitlement for Lent


Sense of entitlement – The world does not owe me anything. God does not owe me anything. I live in humility and grace. from “20 Things to Give Up for Lent”, Pastor Phil, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, March 4, 2014

A fact about Entitlement:

It is a relatively new word; the first known use of this word was in 1942.

The full definition says a lot:
a. the state or condition of being entitled
b. a right to benefits especially by law or contract
c. a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group and the funds supporting the program
d. belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges by reason of birth, family, accomplishments, need or (my words not the dictionary) just because I think I deserve special privileges because I think I do.

While there may be pro and con arguments regarding a-c of the definition, I treasure the rights I have as a citizen of the United States based on the Constitution and I believe that human rights should be defended throughout the world. So here during this Lent season, as I consider the Word of God in Philippians, I know that I must dig out the weeds of vanity, selfish ambition, concern for my own interests which lead to a sense of ENTITLEMENT and I must seek to have the same attitude that Jesus did. I am always moved by these words:

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose.

Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.

Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.

You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but

emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature.

He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!

As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11 NET)

Even though Jesus existed as fully God, he did not demand EQUALITY. HE gave it ALL up, all the privileges of BEING GOD, took on the form of a slave, human form with all its fleshly needs, all its mental anguish, its heartaches, its fragility.

HE Humbled Himself…and was obedient to the death…death on the most horrific form of execution Crucifixion.

So, giving up Entitlement means that I must take on an attitude that does not demand to be First, or maybe even equal. It means that I need to be concerned for the needs of others and be faithful to carrying my Cross daily without comparing it to anyone else’s.

After all, in Jesus heart He always knew Who he was…He was One with the Father and One with the Spirit. And by His Blood, by my belief, and baptism I am an heir of God.

What more could I ask? “Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me, not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.” (Lyrics and Music by Norman J. Clayton)image


Toe Tapping, Eyes rolling, Horn Blowing…Giving up the Dance of Impatience for Lent.


Here I am eight days into Lent, continuing to struggle to give up guilt (those gut wrenching flashbacks require constant vigilance), fear, need to please, and envy. Eight days and so many more to go. Why continue on the list of 20 supplied by Pastor Phil? Because these eight have exposed only the tip of an iceberg that keeps me from fullness with Christ. I doubt anyone looks at these internal monsters as sacrifices, but indeed whether I cling to them or they cling to me, they interfere with my relationship with Jesus. If I allow them to continue to hold me captive, I deny the full power of the Cross. I allow them to replace Jesus in my life.

So on this eighth day of Lent, I continue on my journey by giving up that incredibly difficult companion and time waster IMPATIENCE. If I spent the time I waste complaining about being stuck in traffic or in the line at the grocery store where the cashier has to do a price check and cannot reach anyone in that department, if I spent that time connecting with Jesus, praying or lifting the spirits of those others stuck in line with me…If I chose to honor Christ by not letting my thoughts turn stormy when I am delayed by weather. If I chose to allow God’s action to take place rather than plowing into the waiting room of life like a Momma Elephant in charge mode, as in taking “charge” of things left best to God’s timing.

He gives strength to those who are tired; to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy. Even youths get tired and weary; even strong young men clumsily stumble. But those who wait for the Lord ’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired. (Isaiah 40:29-31 NET


If I choose patience, not toe tapping, eyes rolling, horn blowing impatience, I choose to allow God’s perfect timing. I choose joy in the midst of circumstances I may not understand; I choose waiting with faith in the Christ who always is waiting for me to catch up and catch on to what living a life in Christ really means. He wants to take off my fake chicken wings and exchange them for the wings of eagles…He wants to teach me to fly not to squawk and scratch.  If….Imagine all God could do in my life…or in yours.

“Yet whatever else it may be, Lent should never be morose – an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures. Instead, we ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement. After all, it is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges.”
– the editors of Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter


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