The Dance


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Late. My heart is in the word. My mind is in it too. Softly in the background the radio lets the sweet sounds of country produce a simple smile one moment and at a later moment a thoughtful, bashful blush.

It’s a beautiful combination. The work of the Holy Spirit illuminating my present world and the work of country music reminding me of my past world. I enjoy nothing so much as I enjoy the former. I enjoy only a few things more than I enjoy the latter.

And tonight, tonight, dancing into my thoughts and my heart came two partners. Learning, contemplating and exploring, the written word shaped and formed and provoked. My mind was excited. My heart was sometimes reluctant. And the Holy Spirit was near. Psalm 30:11,12…one partner.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness
that my glory may sing your praise
and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Smiling, crying and reveling, the words of Garth Brooks escaped the radio and tumbled through my soul. The Dance…a second partner.

“And now I’m glad I didn’t know
the way it all would end,
the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain,
but I’d have had to miss the dance.”

I know the first partner was from God. There is certainty here. I’m guessing the second was too…though there is no certainty in this.

God does this you know. He woos us. He draws us. He compels us to come close. We dance with fire. He comes to the dance. He calls “May I have the dance floor and will you join me?”

I often smile. Sometimes blush. And I dance across the floor.

really i can love like jesus 150

Here is an amazing thing…

If you want to understand the depth and character of God’s love look to Jesus.

In fact consider how the Holy Spirit of God conveyed the depth and character of his and the Father’s and the Son’s love as he moved the Apostle of God, John, to write…

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

The first sentence is 1 John 4:9. The second, 4:10. Now notice that word in verse ten: “propitiation.” Just getting it past the lips is difficult for some. Getting its drift can prove just as difficult. However, it demands our attention. So…

While the above translation (English Standard Version) used “propitiation,” other translations variously translate the original as:

  • atoning sacrifice (New International Version, New English Translation);
  • expiation (Revised Standard Version).

The Message went so far as to render it like this:

  • “he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.”


atoning sacrifice,
a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

What does all this mean? Well, let’s take a look at some Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions:

  • propitiate: to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of; to appease
  • propitiation: the act of propitiating; something that propitiates; specifically an atoning sacrifice

Seriously? Ok, ok, let’s not give up:

  • sacrifice: an act of offering something precious
  • atone: reconciliation; to supply satisfaction for; to expiate; to make amends
  • atoning sacrifice (not Merriam-Webster): something very precious offered to reconcile, expiate, make amends

That’s a little better, but not quite there yet. We should also get a little more familiar with the word “expiate.” Merriam-Webster was of no help, so how about

  • expiate: to atone for; make amends or reparation

That also helped, but they had to go and toss in the word “reparation.” So, let’s go back to Merriam-Webster to look it up real fast:

  • reparation: a repairing or keeping in repair; the act of making amends, offering expiation, or giving satisfaction

Finally, we’re getting there. Putting this all together, we might say, when in 1 John 4:10, the Holy Spirit led the Apostle John to write that God, “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” this is what he had in mind: Since God is righteous and just, the violation of his will through our sin needed to be repaired. We could never accomplish such a thing, so he did it for us through the life and death of Jesus Christ. In fact, it was Jesus giving his life on the cross that made amends for our sins and satisfied the righteous and just judgment of God. And what was that judgment? Just this: sin should forever separate us from him!

Now notice two more important things. First, God did not need to be reconciled. We did. He was not the offender. We were. Second, our faith and belief in Christ is not the propitiation. He is the propitiation. It’s simply not possible that we could ever satisfy, expiate, make amends for, or atone for our sins. Only God could cover such a twisted transgression. Whew! I am so thankful for his grace, love, and mercy.

Wait! You might be thinking, “You only used English definitions. Wasn’t the New Testament penned in Greek?” And, yes, you would be right. So are the above conclusions supported by understanding the historical and grammatical contexts. Well, this is what you can find regarding “propitiation” in Vine’s Dictionary of New Testament Words: Hilasmos (ίλασμος), the original Greek)…”word is used in the NT of Christ Himself as ‘the propitiation,’ in 1 John 2:2 and 4:10, signifying that He Himself, through the expiatory sacrifice of His death, is the personal means by whom God shows mercy to the sinner who believes on Christ as the One thus provided.”

For those in the know, Vine’s is not accepted as the best Greek tool, but it’s serviceable and it’s accessible for all Bible students—novice and expert alike.

If we ended here the statement at the beginning of this essay would be proven: “Here is an amazing thing.” However, we’re not done…because God was not done. Let’s see how the Holy Spirit finished his thought as he continued to move the Apostle John to write…

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

In 1 John 4:11 that is exactly what followed 4:9 and 10. Now hang on. This is an incredible comparison. We just saw the incredible depth of God’s love and now we are being directed to love one another. So what will our love look like? I think the answer is simple if we follow the logic:

“If you want to understand the depth and character of God’s love look to Jesus.”

If you want to understand the depth and character of Christian love look at a Christian?


If you want to understand the depth and character of Christian love look to Jesus.

And, even more incredible, the Apostle John was inspired to write this with the intention of saying “this is the natural expression of what it means to be born of God and to know God.” A few verses earlier he wrote, “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God“ (1 John 4:6,7).

Man. This makes me ask myself some questions.

What if doing what is best for another means covering their fault?

  • At great expense to me, am I willing to cover those faults?
  • At great expense to me, am I willing to lay down my rights for others?

What if doing what is best for another means not covering their fault?

  • Am I willing to suffer the tension and discomfort loving confrontation may bring?
  • Am I willing to “lose face” or suffer other potential loss that loving confrontation may bring?

What if I’m really serious about becoming more like Jesus (I mean, come on, I believe this is true)?

  • Does my love for others ever rise to propitiatory heights?
  • Does my love for others ever offer any semblance of atonement?

It’s like Arsenio Hall used to say, “Some things that make you go hmmm.” But I want so much more than “Hmmm.” I pray always to love like this kind of love. How about you?

Big News


I just love this stuff…you have to read it.

Originally posted on my[desert]place:

I must admit that I doubt God a lot. I’ve heard many stories of God’s provision both in the Bible and from people in my own life. It has never really sunk in though. Sometimes I am so blinded by the world, that I cannot recognize when it is God’s doing. When I hope for a good outcome and it happens, I say “Thank You” but it is not heartfelt. Granted, the larger happenings in life are easier to see. Just like it is easier to seek God when things are going wrong, than when they aren’t.

I’m overjoyed that the Holy Spirit is working in me, in such a way, where I can recognize God’s doing. Where I know without a doubt, that THIS WAS HIM. To see something come together for the first time, when all along it was jumbled pieces to a puzzle.

I typically have to…

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My Love-Hate Relationship


From one of the young guns wanting desperately to follow the Savior. Such great words, Derek. Read some of his stuff. You’ll be blessed.

Originally posted on Derek Troy:

I have never experienced a more desperate love-hate relationship in my lifetime. Right now, I hate you. The more I hear about you, the more I hate you, because I want you so badly, yet I know you’re not good for me. I haven’t been with you for a long time, and oh, how miss that last time with you. You showed up, we spent the night together, my lips were on your neck. For a moment I loved you, then I remembered how much I hate the way you make me feel. You make me feel numb. You make me sick.

I can’t even tolerate one, short moment with you. I will not entertain you. You don’t deserve my love. You’ve hurt so many others, as well. You are a homewrecker. You are one I will not forgive. I have so many horrible memories of you, yet so many…

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Tony Compolo’s “It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming!”

Resurrection Sunday is nearly upon us. We’ll see folks in their Sunday best, little children hunting down Easter eggs, and Sunday afternoon meals and potlucks in homes and churches across the land.

Resurrection Sunday is nearly upon us…let’s not forget…

It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming. 

It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s a coming.

It’s Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, “Father, forgive them.” It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God who will not abide with sin pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, “My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” What a horrible cry. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. And at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s a coming.

And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday. Now it’s Sunday.

And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn’t the only thing that was shaking because now it’s Sunday. And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb. Yes, it’s Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it’s Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed. It’s Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave. It’s Sunday. And now everything has changed. It’s the age of grace, God’s grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it’s Sunday.

It’s Friiidaaaay! But Sundaaaaaaaaay’s Coming!

This old sermon, made famous by Dr. Tony Compolo, has gone through many versions…all of them similar and all of them powerful. Here are two more…

Resurrection Sunday is nearly upon us…let’s not forget…

Fundraiser Success!


I am so thankful for this amazing young lady. Follow her blog, but more importantly follow her example.

Originally posted on my[desert]place:

Thank YOU!

I am just continually amazed at how incredible God is.
How faithful He is.
How He provides for His children.

I can’t even begin to say enough thanks to everyone who has helped me so far.

We had a special guest grace us with an amazing performance.

Mike Herrera


Thank you Mike! You were amazing as always!

We also had a poetry reading by Abby Brooks
Musical performance by Stacy Ivy accompanied by Lynn Caddell on guitar
Musical performance by Sarah Wallace and the adorable Saniah

In summary:
Talent was great…
Fellowship was encouraging…
And the fundraiser was a complete success!

We raised $1373!

Thank you

Thank You!


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A Follow Up To One Son’s Post About Forgiveness From My Other Son Upon Hearing His Brother’s Testimony.

From the pen of my son. Daniel. May his words also move you toward forgiveness…

To Mom, we miss you and will always remember you. Thank you for being the kind of woman who taught us the ways of the Lord. You gave to us a chance to live a life not dictated by irrational decisions born of bitterness, desperation, and hopelessness. Matthew couldn’t have put into words how we feel any better. I will always love you and look forward to our reunion in Heaven.

To Andres,

You are seemingly blessed with second chances in life. Today I heard for the first time how my brother intervened on your behalf and gave you yet another chance in life and came to forgive you. Yet one other chance was given to you by a young man who suddenly found himself standing directly behind you at Red Robin one Sunday afternoon several years back. Little to your knowledge, there looming over you, was a man over 6ft tall and weighing 270 lbs, dwarfing you by comparison, watching you act carefree with your companions. Sudden and fierce rage, torrents of righteous anger welled up in this man. His fleshly desires desperately compelled him to reach out in revenge and wrongfully snatch from you what you had taken from his mother: life itself. On that day David, I chose to forgive you and live a life not dictated by bitterness…the kind of life my mother would have wanted for us. So I pray for you, that maybe one day you too will have the chance to walk with the Lord in Heaven and on Earth.

March 14th, Pi day, bad anniversary day… Forgiveness day

To The Man Who Killed My Mother


From the pen of one of my sons. May his heart move you to consider forgiveness as a powerful antidote to adversity.

Originally posted on Acts Of Manliness:

She was taken from us on March 14th, 1999.

Pi day. A day of whimsical merriment in the minds of many nerds and a great sales day for many bakeries and pastry shops across the world.

For our family though, it holds a different meaning.

Some days are harder than others, but no single day holds any more hurt or pain than any other, even the anniversary date.

Mom, I miss you.

I wish I had been able to give you one last hug, tell you one last time how much you mean to me, or how much I love you.

You wouldn’t believe how much you have missed in the years since you were taken from us. All three of us are married and you now have three beautiful grandchildren.

The kids will never know how amazing you were, they will never be hugged by you, they’ll never have…

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In the Still of the Night

In the still of the night the presence of God is deafening. When the heart starts to wander, his Spirit reminds me of Jeremiah who wrote,

“He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.” Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

His Spirit leads with his word, filling both mind and heart, and fellowship with him halts the rising tide of doubt. In the still of the night the presence of God is not deafening. It quiets my soul.


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