Thursday, February 28, 2013

Guilt - Not So Special Delivery

Hey Friend,

I hear the familiar "Beep Beep".  Zoe (my dog) slides to a screeching halt, scrunches up the rug and is barking at the front door.  Yes, it's the UPS truck and ooohh it's a package for me.  How fun!  This time it is a good gift, but later on it dawns on me how freely I accept things not meant for me.
UPS Driver:  "Yep, 103.  This is the address."

Driver's Helper:  "Say, Joe, I'm gonna need help with this one."

Driver:  "Whatcha got?"

Helper:  "It's a giant box marked 'GUILT' going to a Bev Duncan.  Who's going
             to want this?"

Driver: "It's ok; she accepts a big box of it on a regular basis..."
I have to admit that guilt is one of my signature struggles.  Sometimes it's the annoying "woulda, coulda, shouldas" - I would have signed up for that committee (guilt).  I could have been a better friend today (guilt). I should have been a better mom (guilt).  Guilt will pop up when we least expect it.

Sometimes I feel like somehow God is disappointed in me and I get this pervading sense of guilt that I should have done/been better.  This is "false" guilt and Satan is at work trying to make me feel badly about myself.  He comes to lie, seek and to destroy.  Actual "true" guilt is something concrete that we can point our finger to and say this was wrong.  Label it what it is...SIN.  Sin is sin, but even if it's a really big sin, there is still wonderful news found in 1 John 1:9:

"If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."  NO SIN IS TOO BIG FOR GOD'S FORGIVENESS!!

There is also a difference between Conviction and Condemnation.  Conviction is the Holy Spirit gently guiding us to see the sin in our lives and pointing us in the direction of repentance and redemption.  Condemnation, on the other hand, is harsh.  It says you're guilty and there's no way out.  But, again there is great news found in Romans 8:1:

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." 

If you claim Christ as your Savior, there is no condemnation...none, zippo, zilch, nada.  Think of it as the Guilt exchange.  We give God our guilt and He gives us His Grace.

     Guilt>Grace: The price has been paid.  The cross is our receipt!

Someone once said that GRACE stands for God's Redemption At Christ's Expense.  It's true - God sent His Son so that we might be redeemed from our sins.  Why?? Because God is Love.  He loves us...HE LOVES YOU !!!

"No one is beyond his grace.  No situation, anywhere on earth, is too hard for God."  (J. Cymbala)

I know I've gone on at length about Guilt and ultimate Grace, but as Easter approaches, this is something I really want you to fully embrace.  God loves YOU so much that He would have sent His son to die for you if you were the only person on this planet.  Wow - now THAT is Love!

So when the UPS truck wants to stop at your door or my door with a package that is not meant for us, let's wave him on by.  I will if you will...


ps.  A great reminder of our freedom in Christ is found in the lyrics of "I Am Free to Live For You" popularized by the Newsboys.  Google it and check it out.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Hey Friend,

When friends come over to my house, I jokingly tell them to sign in with their initials in the dust on my coffee table.  I may not be the world's tidiest housekeeper, but I can cook!  The other day I was actually dusting and I stopped to gaze at a gorgeous framed picture from my family's wonderful trip to a piece of paradise in Kauai. 

What an imaginative playground God has given us.  My daughter and I snorkeled close enough to reach out and touch the huge, graceful sea turtles and were amazed at the coral reef teeming with colorful fish only God could have dreamt up.  How you could see all that and not say there is a God, I don't know?

In a brave moment, I decided to be daring and go ziplining through the rain forest canopy.  The first joke was that they gave me a helmet to wear that wouldn't do diddly if I fell hundreds of feet to my certain death below.  I was harnessed in with a matrix of belts and buckles.  Then came the best part...I was hooked up with a single cable to this other zipline cable that would take me whizzing (perhaps literally) over the "Jurassic Park" landscape below.

I looked at that one wire that was going to get me from here to there and I thought, how many times in my life have I felt as if I were just barely hanging on by a thread; by a single wire??  When despair and trials hit, that one line seemed tenuous at best.  But...

That line is our life line.  It is God's hand reaching down and grabbing hold of us.  Even when we can't hold onto Him, He holds onto us. Thankfully, God's hand is strong and mighty.

"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and who says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." (Isaiah 41:13)

"You are always with me; you hold me by my right hand..." (Psalm 73:23)

The promise of God's presence limits how far down you can go!!

God also provides a safety net below with his loving arms.  I call that net I AM WITH YOU.  Though I may dip down God promises:

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (Isaiah 43:2)

When I realize that God is with me, my perspective changes.  I have confidence in that one line, my life line, holding me.  I know He will hold me and never leave nor forsake me.

And so....I let go... zipping through the trees with the sun on my face, I know He is with me.


ps.  If you are holding on by a single thread right now, know that I am praying for you!  You matter!  Feel free to confidentially contact me if you have a specific prayer request:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Behind Every Door There's a Story

Hey Friend,

Are you like me?  When you take a walk around your neighborhood, do you look at the houses...ooh I like that one?  Or do you sometimes look at the yard and if it is well manicured you surmise that those people must really have their act together??  I do.  I don't mean to, but I do.  I come to conclusions based upon what the outside of their house looks like.

But, behind every manicured lawn; behind every door there is a story.  Perhaps behind the door with the nice wreath is a son who has been in rehab for the third time.  Behind that red door is a marriage that is barely hanging on.  The green door is home to a family with an autistic child.  What stories lie behind the other doors??  An alcoholic?  A mother out of work?  Pornography addiction?  Mental illness? Abuse?  The list could go on and on.  

So why do we hide behind our pristine lawns?  Why do we wear masks?  Why do we say "fine" when someone asks us how we are?  I think if we were honest with ourselves it would be because we are afraid that if someone knew us...I mean really KNEW us, just as we are, we wouldn't be accepted.  Secular society doesn't help either.  It promotes image management.  Have you ever received one of those nauseating Christmas letters in which everyone's life sounds like a fairytale?  It begs the question....What if we were REAL??

What if we followed Jesus' example and accepted people just as they are?  The second commandment (which means it's really important) is to "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."  Do I make it comfortable for others to be really REAL around me?  Do I make myself REAL to them?  Am I willing to drop the mask and risk being transparent?  I think that's what God would have us do.

He speaks very clearly to how we can love others as we love ourselves...

"A new command I give you.  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34)

"A friend loveth at ALL (emphasis mine) times." (Proverbs 17:17)

"Carry each others burdens..." (Galatians 6:2)

In order to carry each others burdens, we need to be real first.  My friend Cathy and I share a special bond because we dared to be real.  We both shared that we deal with anxiety and depression.  Neither of us looked with judgment upon the other and it has helped both of us tremendously get through the trials, and celebrate the joys of life.

I'll end this post with the lyrics of a song by Christian recording artist Mandisa.  The title of the song is "What If We Were Real":

We keep trying to make it look so nice.
And we keep hiding what's going on inside,
But what if I share my brokenness?
What if you share how you feel?
And what if we weren't afraid of this crazy mess,
What if were real?

What's behind your door?  What if you dared to share your brokenness?  What if we were real?...


What brings us true JOY??  Putting J-Jesus first; O- Others second and Y-Yourself last.  Simple equation but it works.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

When You Feel Like Screaming

Hey Friend,

Yesterday I felt like screaming.  Why?  Because it's been four months since I've been able to take my dog or just take myself on a long walk.  Knee surgery, meant to help in the long run, has rendered me unable to walk more than a block or two without disabling pain.

With beautiful weather here in the south, I watch as dogs and people walk happily past my yard.  Ugh!!!  I want to scream, but some people think that Christians should handle pain or disappointment with stoic, silent reservation...find joy in our suffering.  Okay...I know...but still I want to scream. 

Think about it...God gave us lungs to scream in joy or in pain.  He gave us tear ducts from which to shed tears.  Think further.  What do lots of babies do upon entering this world?  They scream and cry.  Why?  Because they've just been pushed and pulled into a place they really don't like.  It's new and harsh and uncomfortable here.  They are protesting!

But, ahhhh to be placed in mother's arms.

"I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you." (John 14:18)

I am reminded by a friend to take my recuperation one day at a time. (Truth I sometimes don't want to hear.)

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet..." (Psalm 119:105)

God lights our path one step at a time.  He may not show us miles ahead, but just enough to put one foot in front of the other.

Yesterday really stunk, big time!  But, today is a little better. Rarely is the journey progressively upward each and every day.

God promises that "His mercies are new every morning..." (Lamentations 3:23)

Want to scream?  Then scream.  I'll scream with you...then know that God is bigger than all of this.  He's got this.  Better yet - He's got you!

Great is His faithfulness one day at a time.