“It Speaks Volumes!” or V = l x w x h

“I pray that you will be able to understand how wide and how long and how high and how deep His love is.”

 Ephesians 3:18

               Sometimes, expressions get lodged in my mind and I can’t seem to get rid of them until I give them what they want…time in the spotlight.  Granted, my bulb isn’t too bright, but seeing as how these thoughts have been lurking in the shadows, even the faintest shaft of light seems to bring them out of hiding and onto “center stage”.  There, with the other thoughts temporarily taking on understudy status, these unrelenting expressions command my full attention and I sit back and allow them to have their say, and then exit stage left.  Occasionally, if they don’t quite have their act together, I have to drop the curtain on them before the second act, but usually I don’t cause a scene…so that they may create one.

Recently, however, I attended a showing for the expression, “It speaks volumes!”, but rather than finding the saying packing its bags after the performance, I found it still hanging around.  So, I thought that perhaps it just needed a bigger stage…and a larger audience.  Maybe, if I treat it like the star it wishes to be (and thinks it is), it will graciously bow out of my mental theater.  So, if you would be so kind as to pull up a chair (they are super-comfy and come with a limitless supply of popcorn…as all imaginary chairs should) and cast some of your own light onto this drama queen of an expression, perhaps it will feel adequately appreciated and call it curtains after this showing.  So, without further ado, and back by its own popular demand…I give to you “It Speaks Volumes!”

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A New “Old” Normal

“That the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born,
that they may arise and declare them to their children,” Psalm 78:6


For most of us, at least those whose lives are impacted by the schedules of children, the beginning of a new school year has sent shock waves into what was, for a season, a peaceful lifestyle.  With the end of July came the beginning of school.  For some, this hit like a tsunami as the milestone years of kindergarten, middle school, high school, or college crashed upon them.  For others, it was yet another wave whose push and pull reminded them that, like the ocean, change is relentless.  Whether you are a parent, a grandparent, or a teacher, the beginning of another school year may find you revisiting the shoreline of time and noticing, with the passage of another year, the increased change in the landscape.

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The Uncatalogued Church Library

The Uncatalogued Church Library

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14

“Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children.”  Ephesians 5:1

          “In the beginning was the Word…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  The words of John as recorded in the first chapter of his gospel are always compelling but perhaps never more so than on Good Friday, with Easter Sunday just two days away.  These words hold a deeper meaning when we think about what God did “in the flesh” more than 2,000 years ago.  Veiled in flesh, God reveled Himself to mankind.  Wrapped in flesh, God unfolded His plan for redemption.  Buried in flesh, God brought forth a resurrection over flesh, and death, and the grave.  Through Jesus’ life in the flesh, our life in the flesh may also become printable, and readable, and reproducible.  Pretty amazing.  Pretty astounding.  Pretty applicable.

While Jesus was given many titles during His time on earth (The Way, John 14:6; The Bridegroom, Matt. 9:15; the Lamb, Rev. 21:22) and even before His descent to earth (Anointed, Ps. 2:2; Man of Sorrows, Is. 53:3; Root of Jesse, Is. 11:10), none are more powerful than the title “The Word”.  When Jesus is described as the “Word that became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), we realize that Jesus is not only the Son of God, the Lamb of God, and the Image of God, but He is the very language of God.  Jesus is God’s Man-you-script to mankind; He is the Son of Man who came for each of us that we might read of our Father’s love and plan for salvation through the life He lived…and the life He gave.  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).

It’s interesting to note that while God could have revealed Himself in any number of ways, He chose to do so by clothing Himself in flesh and speaking directly to us.  Before there were languages to speak, the Word was spoken. Before there were instruments to write, the Word was recorded.  Before there were books to be read, the Word was published.  Jesus, the Word of God.  God chose to make Himself known through His Son and in doing so He literally sent us a Word from Heaven.

Have you ever been asked to share a word?  Perhaps at a family gathering, at an assembly, in Sunday School, or even at a funeral you may have heard the invitation, “Does anyone have a word to share?”  If you have seized these moments, what did you say?  Or, if you didn’t, what do you wish you would have said?  When we’re asked to give a summation of thoughts we suddenly realize the importance of words.  What should be said?  What shouldn’t be said?  What would be a blessing?  What would be an embarrassment?  All too often we freeze, torn between wanting to say just the right thing and fearful of saying just the wrong thing.  And so, all too often, we say nothing at all.  We just sit.  Speechless.  Frozen.  Inarticulate and (we hope) inconspicuous.  Thank goodness God doesn’t have stage fright!  When He spoke, He did so with a loud booming voice whose reverberations are still resounding today.  And through Whom did God speak?  Jesus.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

As we approach another celebration of Jesus’ victorious resurrection from the grave, may we contemplate a little more deeply the implications and applications of Jesus’ description as the Word of God.  And, not only is He heralded as the Word of God, but as the Living Word of God.  Jesus is not confined to the past tense, though He reigns over history; nor is He suspended in the future tense, though He holds the future in His hands; Jesus is the present tense…always…continually…constantly now.  He is the Living Word because, though He has spoken through His life and death, He continually speaks through His resurrection.  Each time we go to the written Word, we encounter and hear from the Living Word.

So, what about us?  Having encountered this risen Savior, having succumbed to His grace and mercy, having pledged our lives to His authority, and having made a declaration to be “imitators of God” (Eph. 5:1), will we be courageous enough to repeat the words of David when he said, “Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.  I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart,”?  (Ps. 40:7). David understood that God’s word was to be taken literally and figuratively.  Literally, we are to read and to heed Scripture.  Figuratively, we are to apply all that we learn; we are to be imitators of Christ in that we too are to become the living word of God.  Just as Jesus’ life was to be read that man might come to know God the Father, so our lives are to be read for the same purpose.  If we are truly children of the Word, then we are also walking volumes of His documented grace, and mercy, and transformation.  Our lives are meant to be lived and, as we live (not posthumously!), recorded, shelved, cataloged…and checked out.

If we stop and ponder the weight and truth of this, then we’ll be forced to look at our individual lives, and our collective lives within the church, a little differently.  If I view my life as a story that God is not only writing for my good but also for His glory, then will I be more likely to let others flip through my pages and see His handiwork?  And, if God has written a chapter in my book that might be instructional for someone else, should I deny him access to its contents…especially if I remember whose pen wrote that chapter?  And…to go even further with this analogy…if I am a book, a living book, that is meant to be read, then the church as a whole is a living library!  Just sit in the library-like silence emitted by that thought.  Picture yourself seated within, no…shelved within…your church body.  Beside you is a rebound volume that contains chapters of history and wisdom; in front of you is a new edition of poetry and promises, two rows back is a tattered, well-worn book of deliverances and dedications.  It is the house of God that is housed with the books of God; it is the library of God that is shelved with the chronicles of God.

This thought weighs heavily upon me because I believe it’s true, but I don’t believe it’s currently tangible.  I think that, for the most part, we don’t think of our lives as books.  As stories…yes, but as books…no.  Stories are personal and we decide if they are to be shared or not.  Books, well, they are written, bound, and reproduced for the sheer purpose of being read.  Who publishes a book and hopes no one will read it?  We hold our covers closely together, sometimes even locking them up like a personal diary.  We don’t allow our stories to be cataloged so that others may read them because that would mean we’d have to share those stories.  We’d have to allow ourselves to be opened up…not just once but again, and again.  It’s scary.  It’s illuminating.  It’s unrestrictive in a world that holds tightly to restrictions.  It’s putting our lives on a shelf…not to be put up but to be put out…and checked out.  It’s becoming an imitator of Christ as we too become the living word of God.  Our lives, after all, are His story more than they are our stories.  He holds the pen upon our pages; He perfectly arranges the subjects and the verbs, the phrases and the clauses, the prepositions and the conjunctions, the commas and the periods…and those ever ill-used semi-colons!  So, who are we…who am I…to say that my pages should be unchronicled and uncatalogued?  I am so grateful for the Word who became flesh and whose Spirit now dwells within me.  I am so thankful for the manner in which God made Himself readable to me.  May I, in Him, find the courage to place my life upon His shelf, for His glory…and for the good of others; and may others do likewise, for His glory…and for the good of me!

reading Jesus

Oceans Thin – A New Year’s Poem

But first, the backdrop… (When I draw a picture, my skills are such that it’s necessary for me to label my picture:  top…bottom…tree…dog…etc.  I think the element of labeling might be necessary in my writing as well.  I’m never sure how clear my thoughts are.  After all, as the writer, I’m accustomed to…and blissfully unaware of…the fog in my mind.  But in case you move about in a world of lucidity, perhaps I should turn on some fog lights for your benefit!)

Before writing this poem, my mind had been drifting over the waves of disparity I see between how we ought to live and how we tend to live.  Or, to keep in context with the poem, how we sail and how we ought to sail. Then, after writing the poem, I thought about all the ships I’ve boarded over the years:  friendship, ownership, membership, leadership, discipleship, lordship.  I’ve been on a lot of ships!  But, unfortunately, I realized that once a vessel was boarded I sometimes became its cargo rather than allowing it to become my transport.  I let the name of the freighter identify me rather than letting my actions carry me; I traded the shape for the substance.  Is it possible to know friendship and not be a friend?  Is it possible to be an owner and not manage?   Is it possible to be in discipleship and not disciple?  Well…is it possible to be on a boat and not be a sailor?  Yes, yes, yes and…yes!  So, here’s to a new year of sailing, and resailing, our oceans thin.  I hope to see you at the dock where you’ll board this vessel of determination with me.  May we sail the seas together as we inch our way closer, and deeper, to those heavenly shores…where our final ship awaits us.  Her name?  Worship!

Oceans Thin

 Miles wide, yet inches deep,
In oceans thin our thoughts we keep.
For those whose eyes search far and wide,
Care not for things that waters hide.


With boats that skim the glassy tide,
All thoughts lie strictly on the ride.
For if one’s journey takes him far,
What lies below, his thoughts won’t mar.


Sailors who ride upon the seas,
And keep their eyes on things that please,
May cover many miles each year,
But never know the treasures near.
For if one were to look below,
He’d have to stop, he’d have to row.
He’d have to change his point of view,
As inches delved make miles few.
His log book too would show a change,
As depths were charted more than range.
For treasures drawn and brought to light,
Now give him more than stats to write.


We all are sailors on this sea,
We all have sights we long to see.
But as we chart our course, we know,
It’s not how far but deep we go.
For while our eyes may look above,
Our hearts were meant to look with love,
At things that waters dare to cover,
Concealing lives from one another.


We sail above, but dwell below,
And know too well still waters flow.
We travel fast but little see,
Instead of keys, it’s oars we need.
So as we set our New Year’s sail,
Let’s search for that which waters veil.
Instead of miles, let’s inches go;
Instead of riding, let us row.


‘Cause lives are filled with buried treasures,
That we’ll not see if length we measure.
But once we set our sights below,
If depth we gain, in width we’ll grow.

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers                                                    

“You will know them by their fruits.”    –Matthew 7:16a

Ah, the providential prowess of Peter Piper.  Little did I know how scriptural this nursery rhyme was until just the other day.  While picking the last of the peppers for the season, I couldn’t help but think of this tongue twister as I snipped each banana, bell, cayenne, and jalapeno pepper from its stalk.  But as I picked a peck of peppers (for pepper jelly, not for pickling), I noticed something I hadn’t before.  With the removal of each pepper, the stalk rose higher; it almost seemed relieved to be rid of the fruit it had gloriously produced.  As I picked, the plant perked; here a pick, there a pick and everywhere a perk, perk.  And that’s when the scriptural truth struck me…it is profitable to bear fruit, but it’s pointless if the fruit isn’t picked!  Like I said, Peter Piper knew what he was doing because, as the rhyme goes, Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.  He didn’t pat them, pinch them, or pamper them.  He picked them.  They were ripe, they were ready, and so they were reaped.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do with fruit?  Isn’t it meant to be picked?  We use the analogy of “bearing fruit” and of “being fruitful” because Jesus did…and Paul did.  In John 15:5, Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  From this, we can see that the bearing of fruit is not only a natural result of our connection to God, it is a necessary outgrowth of our relationship with God.  Then, in Galatians 5:22, Paul writes about the fruit we can bear when we allow the Spirit to germinate within us.  He states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Again, the evidence of our faith is found in our fruit.  But we would be remiss if we thought that the bearing of fruit was all God required of us; if our branches were bedecked and our boughs were bejeweled, how would that be beneficial to the kingdom?  We’d look prolific, but that isn’t the point of bearing fruit.  Isn’t the true value of the fruit found when it is harvested?  After all, the fruit isn’t meant to feed the tree but to feed those who come to the tree.

As I noticed on the pepper plant, with the picking of each pepper, the plant’s branches rose higher.  Once the fruit was removed from the stalk, the plant was able to regain its stature and once again stand erect.  Odd as it may sound, the fruit that was first fed by the plant had become the fruit that now fed upon the plant.  By nature’s law, unpicked fruit can actually become a burden rather than a bounty.  I find that to be interesting.  Being fruitful is good, but it’s only the beginning; until it’s plucked, packed, and passed out, it hasn’t become profitable…it hasn’t fulfilled its purpose.  And, if the fruit isn’t removed, the plant will become burdened under the weight of its bounty.

Have you ever been weighted down?  Have you ever felt as if you needed a stake or two placed beside you to support your bottom and a wire trellis around you to sustain your branches?  Sometimes we can feel this way because we’re not receiving the nutrients we need…because we’re not abiding in the Branch.  But sometimes we may feel burdened with a load of fruit because we haven’t allowed it to be picked from our branches.  After feeding things for a while, we may have the tendency to want them to hang around; when this happens, our gifts become our guile and we exchange our harvest for a heavy burden.  Jesus did call on us to be fruitful.  In fact, it’s in the production of much fruit that we glorify our Father in Heaven.  (John 15:8)  But His intention was never for us to be productive for its own sake but for the sake of others.  In this same verse (John 15:8), Jesus says that “in this”, the bearing of fruit, we will show ourselves to be His disciples.  Disciples are those who bear fruit so that others may be nourished and likewise bear fruit of their own so that still others might also be nourished, and so on, and so on (2 Timothy 2:2).

It’s a natural response, this bearing of fruit.  It’s evident in nature and it’s meant to be evident in the lives of those who are rooted and staked and trellised to their Heavenly Father.  If a pepper plant can be fruitful, surely I can be as well.  And, if a fictional character has sense enough to pick produce, then surely I can have at least as much wisdom as he.  With that said, I will do a little examination on my own branches during this harvest season.  First, I will see if there is any fruit that is growing (oh, I hope there is!); then, I will see if there are fruits that need to be picked.  Are there any that are making me droop because they’ve reached maturity?  Are they feeding on me rather than feeding from me?  If so, it’s time for them to be harvested for the good of the grower and the glory of the Gardener.  And, should I find myself plucked of my fruit with branches no longer bending, may I look forward to new seasons with new growth and allow my newly unencumbered limbs to give praise to the One who not only purposefully plans my proliferation but also perfectly pinpoints the picking of my propagation.

And so I say, Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers; it’s scriptural, it’s spiritual, it’s script-able.  May we all go and do likewise.

peter piper