As I sit and watch the water flow in the waterfall that Nick and his friend Adam built for me, my mind is pondering the power of the effects that water has on rock.

A steady stream of water can smooth out the most jagged edges on the hardest rock over a period of time.  Some hearts are as hard and jagged as some rocks.  There are a couple of ways to smooth a jagged rock…with a chisel..(which is quick) and with water (which is slow.)

I know my own heart has been chiseled, some of the hardest edges knocked away by God’s precise blow….but I also realize that some places that were once hard, jagged and uninviting have become softer, rounder and easier to handle…kind of like a pebble that has been made round by other rough rocks being tossed about by wave after wave of  water. These are the kind of stones that are great fun to pick up and hold in your hand or collect.

I realize that sometimes I want God to use a chisel on other people.  I want those rough edges broken off quickly, but God more often is like water rather than a chisel.  He allows the steady flow of the Holy Spirit to round off hard edges.  He also uses people to rub up against each other as the Spirit moves upon us in waves.  Eventually we will all be smooth, round pebbles that fits comfortably in God’s hands.

I like this visual.  It gives me hope when I get cut by the sharp edges of some people’s hearts.

We started out talking about John Lennon.  I ended up with a picture on my wall of him after several months of conversation.  A few weeks later I had 5 pages of yellow notebook paper filled front and back with every album, every concert the Beatles ever performed.

One day after talking about the untimely death of John Lennon, I brought up that there was another John who was killed way too soon.  He got killed for standing up for what was right.  He got killed because he dared to stand up to a powerful ruler and confront his sin of adultery.  His boldness eventually cost him his head.  We had discussions regarding why adultery is wrong and who makes the rules and how I knew about this.  I told him it was written down in some books called Gospels.  This meant “good news”.  He said…that doesn’t sound like good news to me!  I told him the good news was about Jesus, he was John’s cousin and he was also the Son of God.

A few more months went by as we now would sit quite comfortably together in my office and talk about history like the titanic, or current events…the latest being the coal miners who were killed.  With each conversation I was able to weave in the story of Jesus, redemption, mercy and love.

There was much hesitancy in him about the realness and reality of Jesus.  One day I asked him if he would be willing to read a book by another person named John.  He was a friend of Jesus’s and he wrote down the things he saw Jesus do. I told him it was an eye witness testimony.  (He is very big on eye witnesses).

Last night there was 5 pages of white notebook paper stapled and laying face down on my desk.  Within these pages were sentences written down with numbers in front of them.  One of them was starred.  He peeked his head into my office as a group of us were sitting, getting ready to start a discussion…he said….”the one that is starred was what I thought was the most important thing written in that book.”

When I got home last night…..I looked for the star….and written in his paraphrase…John XV, 13…And here is how to measure it-The greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.

WOW!!! I am looking forward to this discussion.  This is why I do what I do!

5 Keys

I sat and looked at the 5 keys laid out in a straight line on my desk.  Looking at each key individually and then at the line of them.  What’s so special about those keys?   Each one represents a person who made a commitment on Sunday.

I pick up each key separately turn it over and then hold it in my hand as I pray for the person who turned it in.  I have no idea who these 5 people are…except that I know they are part of the flock I am overseeing.   I don’t know what they committed to on Sunday…it could be to accept the true Jesus…because a false jesus was exposed and recognized and discarded in  order to follow and obey the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God who sits at the right hand of the Father.

Perhaps they came back to their first love…because over time the worries and cares of the world, or the lust for material things crowded in and pulled them away from their commitment to follow and obey the Lord.

As I hold each key in my hand…I pray diligently for these 5 people.  They are so deeply embedded in my heart even without knowing their name because they are part of the family…and I am privileged to have them in my care.

There were 49 keys laid out on Sunday….5 were turned in…..the remaining keys are in the hands of our congregation…they hold the key to the Kingdom of Heaven for someone else.  I look forward to the day when each of these keys represents another soul that has accepted the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

There were only 49 laid out…because I kept one….I know that it is also my responsibility to bind the enemy and free another person to serve and follow Jesus.

This is an update on my post from last week.

We were almost 10 minutes into our Sunday Service yesterday and though I thought that darkness had invaded the light and I was almost swallowed up…instead the tiniest spark of truth/curiosity, desperation…maybe all of the above caused him to walk into our church service yesterday.  Glancing  back and forth from our screen into the bible that was in the chair next to him he listened and read along with the passage in Matthew 19, that I used in my sermon. The passage is about when a young man asked Jesus what good thing must he do to get eternal life. (v.16)

I have to admit that I was pretty deep in discouragement yesterday as my week sort of tanked with every passing day and I struggled with doubt, inadequacy, frustration and even anger.  To top it all off we had one of our lowest Sunday attendance in almost a year, half of our congregation was not in attendance yesterday….and as I sat near the back of the church sighing and praying that God would not let me look at who wasn’t there, but focus on who was there and to put His Words in my mouth; I felt him enter, before I saw him enter.  He walked in almost stooping low, so not to be noticed, his eyes darting all around like a trapped squirrel.  I jumped up and walked over to him and brought him in. I offered him a seat next to mine, but he chose to take a chair behind me. It was a perfect day for him to walk in…very few people….not overwhelming at all.  Who knew??? God knew.

Yesterday was also communion Sunday…we do communion usually before the sermon….he sat and listened respectfully to the liturgy and I relaxed a bit, realizing we would not have any outbursts.  He remained in his chair throughout the communion service and observed the church in action.

It was as I stood during the sermon inviting the congregation to open their bibles with me, that I looked up and as I saw his eyes this time…they were going back and forth from the screen to the bible and this time there was the smallest of smiles, the tiniest spark….

We are going to talk again on Tues.  I pray the spark becomes a consuming fire!

I was sitting at my desk, typing away on my laptop when it happened.  It hit me from out of left field.  I wasn’t ready, I was far from prepared…I was distracted…I was researching for a meditation…I was completely blindsided.

In he peered, restless, twitching, upset, loud, and wanting to talk.  I sighed as I closed the lid on my laptop, so I wouldn’t be tempted to glimpse at whether or not another e-mail came in,  looked up and asked “What’s up?”

The invasion began as he glides into the room like a storm that blows in quickly.  Pacing, stopping to emphasize his point, then walking around the table and back again to my desk; all the while spewing out frustration like so much vomit.

It is Maundy Thursday afternoon, I have a service to get ready for. I don’t have time for this ranting, I cannot fix his problem.  I am tired.  I want him to leave.

He stops, bends down to almost eye level and says “Let’s talk about spirituality, you know so much about spirituality.”

I know what he is inferring, I am shaking a bit…I look him back straight in the eye and say “Yes, I do, but all those spirits pale in comparison to the HOLY SPIRIT!  Let me tell you about the Holy Spirit.”

At that, he blew out of my office taking a bit of the light with him, but leaving behind a darkness that seemed to swallow up what little was left.

Lord, Let your light shine.  I need it.


I spent 3 1/2 hours the other day with a man who has never been to a church service in the 31 years of his life.  As far as he knows, his parents never went to church, or at least they never talked to him about church.  However, for people who have never been to “church” they all have some pretty strong opinions about it.

Our conversation meandered quite a bit in those hours, but 4 very strong points came across.

1. He believes in God, every time he referred to God he would point up and say “The Big Guy upstairs”.

2. He has never in his life had anyone talk to him about Jesus Christ being the Son of God.  His knowledge about Jesus comes from others opinions, the media and his own assumptions.

3. He has never read any part of the Bible and did not know what the Gospels were, (he does now, because I told him what they were.)

4. His opinion about Christians come from 4 people who proclaimed to be so.. who all 4 told him he was going to Hell, but because of his angry reaction to them, never told him the way to Heaven.  They just told him the things he HAD to do!

I told him he didn’t HAVE TO DO anything.  Christians WANT to do.  We do it because we love God and want to obey him. Love takes away the HAVE to and turns it into a WANT to.   I used his mom as an example.  I asked him if he would steal $20 out of his mom’s wallet?  He was very indignant when I asked him that.  He gave me a very curt “NO.”

“Why not?” I asked….

“because I would never take something from her, because it’s wrong. ”

“How do you know it’s wrong?”

“I don’t know, I just know it’s wrong. It would hurt my mom and so I don’t want to hurt my mom.”

“That’s how I feel about wanting to follow God’s rules.” I said.

He looked me square in the eyes and said “ROBBERS!”  They are “ROBBERS!” He was beginning to become quite agitated. (I have to admit, I got a bit nervous at this point.)

I asked him what he meant by the word “robbers.”

“They’re nothing but a bunch of Robbers, cause they are stealing a name that’s not theirs.”  “No offense to you.” He said.

I told him I didn’t take offense, but I was curious as to why we (our church people) were not considered to be in the category of “Robbers.”

“Because you all don’t tell me I HAVE to do this….but you make me WANT TO. ROBBERS Take, what’s not theirs!  They don’t deserve the name….if it’s about LOVE…then they’re ROBBERS.”

Wow, I pray that I always be the person that  draws people to WANT to follow Christ….I sure don’t want to be a Robber.

I have had two eye opening experiences regarding the “terms” people use and how we interpret them.

A few months ago I was at my son’s house with several other members of our church at a monthly event we call “movie night.”  After the movie during discussion time, one of my son’s roommates (who is not a Christian) told me I was religious.

I was offended.  I reacted to the term “religious.”  I told him I wasn’t “religious,” I was in a “relationship.”  I surprised myself at how strongly I reacted to that term.  I reacted because some  “Christians” have used that term to others in a derogatory fashion.  When I hear “religious” my thoughts think “judgmental” , “legalistic”, “holier-than-thou.” These are all terms I don’t want to be tagged with.

This young man, blinked at me a couple of times, took a deep breath and said, “That’s not what I meant!”  The term “religious” to me means “holy,”  “spiritual,” and “following God.”

What I took as an insult, he had given as a compliment.

The second event just happened a couple of days ago when I was sitting in a room with a couple of guys who have been journeying through this land called “ministry”  far longer than I.  We were discussing terms such as “missional” and “engaging our culture” in regards to churches.  Once again, there was this  gap in understanding of the “terms” we were using.  We were able to define what we meant when we used the words “missional” and “engaged.”

I went home and asked my husband what he thought of when he heard the word “engaged.”  He immediately thought of a transmission on a car,  you can rev the gas pedal all you want, but the car won’t go anywhere until you “engage” the engine.

He then asked our son what he thought of when he heard the word “engaged.”  Our son asked an excellent question back, “In what context?”  He then proceeded to say, “the first thing that comes to mind when I hear that word is a ring, engaged to be married.”

Context is everything!

So recognizing that “engaging my culture” and “being missional” are some of my passions, I got the opportunity to do this “Darlene style.”  In context, this is how it looked for me a couple of days ago.

I went to the apartment complex that we have done several church sponsored events at.  This particular day I was dropping off fliers for our 3rd annual easter egg hunt.  There were two men in the office, one was the husband of the manager of the complex.  When I told him I had the fliers with me, he proceeded to tell the other man about the last 2 events we had.  We laughed and joked about which was worse, frozen snow, or mud and rain.

What was so great to me was that he was looking forward to this event and he told the other guy that he had to come and bring his kids.  This guy thought this was great and would.  Imagine two “unchurched” guys looking forward to an event sponsored by a “church”.

It wasn’t until I was walking out the door, that one of them realized I was the pastor.  His comment…”You’re the pastor?”

Yes pastors, can joke around and “engage” in conversation and be “missional” and guess what  be a PERSON that is relatable.   Personally, I think my congregation is much larger than the people who show up on Sunday mornings…..but that one is for another post. 🙂