Monday, January 30, 2012


My daughter has moved to China. I have assumed running her life here in the U.S. till she returns. This means that I have to do a lot of explaining and fixing and such with all her financial and legal dealings.  I have power of attorney but that does not work well with people I must talk with on the phone. All these are very professional if not a bit sterile, lacking any discernible feelings.

Sometimes I hit the "wall." By wall, I mean that I can proceed no further without actually being my daughter (I have not figured out that one yet.)  I cannot prove my worth as a stand-in without actually having my daughter with me to vouch for me. Bureaucratic logic I guess. "No exceptions, Mr. Liberatore."
I am glad I worship a God who makes exceptions for me. Christ looks at me from the Cross and says, "Whatever the price, I'll vouch for him." Thank you, Jesus.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God
2 Corinthians 5:21

Today, let's cut someone for whom Christ died some slack. After all, He made an exception for us.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Voice

Seth Godin did a recent blog on play-by-play and color commentary. In sports broadcasting, the play-by-play person "tells it like it is," basically reporting the facts of the game. The color analyst fills in the game call with fun, sometimes useless anecdotes or observations. These can be funny or inflammatory or over exaggerations.

Each of us has a "voice" that plays in our head. The voice can correct us, encourage us, inspire us, embolden us or beat us down. For some of us, we wonder if it is God talking. The only way to tell is to try it out and see if the fruit of our actions squares with scripture, enforces life, and passes muster with a friend who has permission to tell we are dead wrong and we don't get all defensive. In other words, there is no magic formula to tell if it is God or not.

But know this. If it relentlessly beats you down, it's Satan. 100% of the time. Satan is a two-bit analyst who should be fired. Don't listen. If you have to listen and cannot stop yourself, get help. God may correct you but God will never stop doing it in love. You are loved, no matter what. You are loved unconditionally because of who you are and whose you are.

No matter what.

No matter what.

Get it?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Laying off Tim

The season is over for the Denver Broncos. I assume the #Tebow talk will now subside. Tim has been in the news for tebowing, prayer on one knee during a football game and all sorts of other God infused activities and speech. Those who love him, staunchly support his take on God and his faithfulness. Those who don't like him, spare no amount of ridicule. And little of the commentary has to do with his talent as a quarterback. Jury's still out on that.  I admit, I have second-guessed him as well. His Christianity is over-the-top and quite unlike mine.

BUT, do we look at the man? He is no God and, judging from the last loss, cannot summon God at will for his will. Mostly, he thanks God for what he has been given. But he is humble, a learner, a giver. He does not lash out when verbally attacked. He is not like many other "I'm not a role model" athletes. Rather than moral bankruptcy, Tim has moral currency, even if it does not look like mine.

Tim, the fruit of your walk with Christ looks pretty sweet. Sorry if I laid it on a bit thick. Keep the faith. Thanks for the fruit.
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity   1 Timothy 4:12
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart   2 Timothy 2:22

When will you have Enough?

What constitutes "enough" for you?  Enough money? Enough status? Enough busyness (busy people are important, right?)Enough stuff?  Is someone gaining on you? To put it another way, "When can we stop The Pursuit?" What price will I pay to acquire MORE? What will it take to fill that hole?

When was the last time you spent with someone whose questions did not orbit around "more" but were a constellation of "How will I survive?" I had the honor of being with 3 such children of God this past week. It made me think, I could not escape it with the usual buzz of the pursuit of more.

I have more than enough. God speaks through that encouraging generosity.

What constitutes "enough" for you? Strike up a relationship with someone who asks, "Will I survive? Just what WILL fill that hole? I bet God will. Just ask. But first make some room and unload some clutter. Maybe you have enough already.

Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. Psalm 40:11

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 59:16

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. Psalm 63:3

Answer me, LORD, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me. Psalm 69:16

God is a Pain

Over six decades of life, I have come to a conclusion. God is a pain. A fair number of folks, Christian and non-Christian, do not like God's expectations and find that they get in the way of personal happiness. God just doesn't "get it." God is a spoil-sport. We like God in theory but when there is an expectation, we prefer it not be brought up. If it is, we proclaim, "You are making me feel guilty." God is best when God just delivers the goods upon request.

This phenomenon is not new. The Israelites, in their Sinai journey, complained, "Too much!" "Where's the recliner and the remote?" Adam and some others felt God was just plain scary.  The disciples grumbled.

Yet, we can draw from the Exodus this. We can listen to God and do what God says and avoid 40 extra years of hardship. We add to our own hardship and we make it very l-o-n-g when we pass on God's requests. Here, a few days journey took so long that the original travelers where dead before the Promise Land was reached. How many of us have a "Promised Land" in our reach, one a loving God has in store for us, and we wander instead because we prefer our way to God's Way?

Are worship, prayer and immersion in scripture a bother? Does having a day planner that starts with God and God's agenda and inconvenience? Is going out of our way and comfort zone to help someone who cannot return the favor and is not related to us worth the effort?  Is guilt just part of the consequences of my malaise or is it a number God does on me to keep me in line?

Is God a pain? Just sayin'.

7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
   and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
   and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

 8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,"
            declares the LORD.
9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.   Isaiah 55:7-9

Saturday, January 14, 2012


For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:32-34 (NIV)

Tell the truth. Don't over-think it. Gut response.

Who (what) do you choose when confronted with a time conflict? God or coach? Who wins? God or teacher? God or boss? Worship or sleep? Prayer or internet? Scripture or television? Helping the helpless or shopping? Adult Sunday School or breakfast? What others choices might we showcase?

We have to make countless choices each day. Demands are high. And, truly, God can be at the heart of many secular-looking choices. But…how often do we take the admittedly hard route and honor God over the other gods of our life?
Jesus – "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it."  Mathew 7:13 NIV

Start small. Make one choice a day a hard one, a narrow one. Choose God. God has nothing but your interest at heart. No one or nothing else can say that.

God - "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

In Love

Where do you turn when all Hell breaks loose in your life? Christians are not immune to trials. For years I turned for refuge to money, success, alcohol, being busy, overeating, and "being right." I still do but not as often. Over the years, I realized that none of these things or situation gave a hoot about me. They did not love me back. Who needs the drain of a one-way relationship? They each may have medicated me for a time but they did not deliver the power to subdue my trial and sustain me for the duration.

The Psalmist evidently had one of those days that overwhelm us. The Psalmist turned to the one who loves the Psalmist and with whom the Psalmist was engaged in a mutual relationship of love. God gave strength and perseverance (read the full text  of the psalm here.) And best of all, God loved back.

Who or what is your refuge? When was the last time you told God you loved God? Is your love one into which you pour your entire self or is it a love of convenience?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012



The boy, soon to be great prophet of God, was awoken in the night by a voice (scripture link.) It was God. After a few missteps, Samuel answers Gods call and begins a powerful chapter in his life and the life of his people. I am up plenty of nights. How do I know if the voice that disrupts my sleep is God? What do I do if it is?

The art needed here is called discernment. Samuel sought help from his spiritual mentor, Eli. So what do I do?

Here is what I try to employ when "voices" or images or whatever interrupts my night or day for that matter.

Does it square with scripture? Obviously, I need to be reading scripture to know if what I hear rings true. God's promptings will always ring true and square with scripture.

Does it pass the sniff test with those I trust and are spiritually mature? Please note the AND here. Maturity is very important. I need people who will love me unconditionally and challenge me continually. Those folks know a thing or two. Often, it is Godly.

Commit it to prayer. God stuff clarifies and intensifies with prayer. Other stuff dissolves.

Am I afraid and at peace at the same time? This does not always happen but it is a good sign that God is at work. God seems to work both sides of the just/merciful street. That calms and scares me.

Is what I must do next impossible without God's help? If so, God likes us in the "depend on him" corner.

I know you have questions as do I. Embrace them faithfully. The tension provides a growth point. Avoiding what's not of God is as life-giving as following God. What do you do to discern?