Matthew 10:5-8

Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:

“Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.

From Russia, With Love

I was privileged, recently, to travel and lecture with a team of physicians, nutritionists and residents at medical universities in Russia. These were amazing collaborative ventures designed to strengthen Russian family medicine. I met so many people wonderful doctors, students and residents. It was a truly new and valuable experience.

However, the highlight of my week, as a missionary doctor myself, was being invited to assist in a clinic, staffed by Agape, inside of a homeless shelter.

The patients we treated were mostly men, with leg and foot wounds from frostbite. Some were complicated by alcoholism and/or depression; Russian winters are unforgiving if you fall asleep in the street.

One woman arrived as we were leaving; we opened up again for her. She adamantly refused prayer (which is her right) but received refills of her medication, a listening ear, friendship, humor and compassion. I did not know she had refused prayer and asked her, as we giggled together about a sarcastic remark, if she would like prayer. To everyone’s surprise, she agreed. It was a touching moment.

One disturbed young man refused to let me change his bandages. “No Americanski!” he shouted. In these moments, it is so good to know the Holy Spirit. I quietly stepped aside and let the Russian doctor care for him. And then I realized, I could imagine my uncles or cousins doing the same, if the tables were turned. Learning not to take offense is a valuable skill; I would have missed the opportunity with the last woman had I been in a funk.

After we finished clinic, the amazing guide Alexey drove me and my interpreter, Tatiana, to an apartment that Agape and a local church are using as a halfway house. It serves men recently discharged from hospital, who are open to the Gospel. These men, also, had injuries and wounds associated with alcoholism. We tended their wounds and changed their bandages.

Then we got the most amazing surprise; these men had made dinner for us!
We ate cabbage-stuffed rolls and grapes, with strong coffee, and talked about the Gospel.

It was strongly on my heart that God has forgiven these men, yet they still feel such shame and guilt. Their lives are so important to the Father.

I knew that, in Russia, one cannot preach without a license, and that my ministry license is only valid in America. So, following the prompting of the Spirit, I simply started a conversation. About Romans 8:1.

So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

We began to discuss this, as Christians, together. These tough men had tears in their eyes.

Then they each told me their story. We received them, without any condemnation.
Even my Christian translator sensed the presence of God and asked for prayer!

It was truly a night to remember.

Again I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.”
Matthew 18:19-20

Here I was, half a world away from Texas, discussing Christian truths with men whose language I don’t speak, in a halfway house. And Jesus was there.

Maybe that’s why it was the most delicious cabbage roll I’ve ever tasted.
And I normally don’t even like cabbage!

The Struggle is Real


This week, I was invited to three women’s events.

As a missionary-minded Christian, interested in relieving oppression, I went.

Call me a burgeoning feminist.

But the events weren’t quite what I had hoped for.

At a forum on women’s leadership (which was quite good), we ended with a male institutional leader joking that we might get “bossy.” He actually said this, about a young female co-leader, after he interrupted her and did not allow her to give her closing remarks.
He thought it was funny.

I didn’t.
I have yet to hear a man called “bossy.”
It is an intensely female word.
Usually indicating leadership. Or ambition.
When discussing men, we say “strong leader.” “ Ambitious.”
Not women. The word itself signifies that there is something inappropriate about feminine leadership.

I have known bossy men.
Inappropriately so.
When I brought it up I was told, “oh, don’t mind Joe. That’s just how he is.
It’s part of being a strong leader.”


At another event for female leadership, I heard a prestigious woman refuse to take credit for her achievements, a corporate leader (first in her position) say that we needed to be very careful assuming that anything was sexist, and a Hispanic leader proudly relate that her family never calls her by her name.
She is “doll” to the people who love her best. And proud of it.
I left bewildered, but grateful.
At least someone called for the meeting.

And then I went to a church event.
It wasn’t billed as female only, but my husband and the sound guy were the only men in the room.
I heard the founder of a spiritual network that builds real relationship and close community insist that “we are not a church,” and “I am not a pastor.”
During her teaching time.

And I wondered, what is a church?
Because a gathering of people, in community, around the Scriptures, sort of fits my definition.
I guess the fact that we were women is what negates it.

As I looked for the event, which was centered on Christian yoga, we ended up at the wrong campus of a very large church.
I talked to two preschool teachers, coming in for a meeting.
Then I asked a group of men leaving their Bible study.

“Have you seen any yoga people?” I queried.
“Oh, yeah, there were some women over there,” one said.
The preschool group.

“Were they yoga people, or just female?”
I didn’t let him off the hook.
“Oh, females,” he said, sheepishly.


Church, there are reasons millennials are staying away.
In large numbers.

We have a long way to go, baby.

Reveal it, deal with it, heal it. A recipe for dealing with racism.

When I was seven, a little boy threw a rock at me.
Because I was white.
I hit me behind the right knee, in the soft spot. Left a mark. And really hurt.

But what hurt more, to an innocent first-grade girl living in another culture, was knowing that there was absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent it.
I didn’t know, that then, as now, people who look like me had exploited the beautiful Puerto Rican island, charging high taxes but providing few government services, exploiting lower minimum wage requirements, and living high on the hog while those who worked for us struggled.
I didn’t know I was a colonialist.
I didn’t know that the reason I attended private school was because the schools on the island weren’t considered high-quality enough for my middle class parents.
While I revelled in a multicultural world and learned history differently than my friends back home (Christopher Columbus looks a little different standing in the ports where he landed), the Native Americans in my country, that Columbus christened “Indians” were dying quiet deaths from desperation and alcoholism.
While I learned Spanish and had my first crushes on Hispanic boys, their cousins were carrying out terrorist attacks in the US due to inequities.
That when I gave my heart to Jesus and pledged to become a missionary going into all the world, that others were dying at home, due to racial injustice in my own nation.
I didn’t know.
But I sure do now.
Or, at least, I’m starting to.
They call it getting “woke.”
And the Christian in me is actively believing and praying for another Great Awakening. Many of my Christian friends are. Diligently.
I don’t know that we realized that we might be the ones that got woke.

I don’t guess we knew we were asleep.


Racism. I was taught, returning home to Texas, that the civil rights movement had won, the racism was gone and we were all equal.
But a quick glance around my third grade classroom, with people sitting in groups according to skin tone, would’ve shown that to be a lie.
It wasn’t gone. It was so much a part of our daily life in around Houston, Texas, that we became immune to it. It became invisible to us.
The first step in racial reconciliation in America today is this: we have to believe that racism actually exists. It has to be revealed to people like me, in the middle class or even higher, with light skin and great schools, who grew up in fantastic churches where there just, um, weren’t very many black people.
Not everyone lives in the same America.
Because any honest look at America will show us that there are differences in the way people live. If you look at income, academic achievement, incarceration, even diseases, people of color fare worse–on almost every measure.
Regarding how and why people of color have it worse, there are only two possible explanations.
Number one is that there is an invisible wall stopping people from succeeding. This is so painful to those of us who didn’t construct it that we don’t want to acknowledge the possibility. And, to be fair, we truly benefit from it. But most of us don’t even see it.

The other possibility is heinous. And that is to assume that somehow people of color are somehow not as smart or as noble. Their failure to achieve is due to defects in character, ability, or just plain poor choices.
If you take a minute to think, that doesn’t even make sense. So, if we assume that character isn’t linked to skin type, and intelligence isn’t linked to the amount of melanin you have as pigment, then we have to stop and realize that the only real possibility is that the playing field isn’t level. The system is not just for our brothers and sisters who have slightly different amounts of brown in their skin than we do.


I came to know little bit about this, like I did when that rock hit me behind the knee, when I began to work as a female professional in Fort Worth.I was shocked to find out that even when my qualifications, expertise, and achievement statistics were greater than those of my male colleagues, I was treated in meetings as if I was a little girl. My comments were tolerated, my insights ignored. That is, unless a male colleague repeated them and took credit.
In America women function normally in careers, jobs and professions until they reach a certain level, beyond which the consensus is that it’s inappropriate for them to go. I liked to joke, when I was younger, that I didn’t believe in the glass ceiling until I hit my head on it three times. But it’s too true to be funny. And I like to think that, just like that rock against the back of my leg did, those experiences give me a small window of insight into what it might be like to be black in America. But I admit that they give me just enough insight to realize this: that I don’t know what it’s like, at all.
I don’t know what it’s like, if I step into the elevator, for everyone there to assume I’m there to steal something.

I don’t know what it’s like to tell my son to be very , very careful driving at night, or in wealthy neighborhoods, because his life might be at risk.

I don’t know what it’s like to tell my daughter never to talk back to the policeman because she might die. I have no idea what that feels like.
We have excused atrocities until we are numb. This is the strategy from Hell.

And it seems to me that for many white Christians the question is this: is it a sin, that when your brother is dying, you do nothing?
A sin of omission.


What we need in America is a witness. The Holy Spirit has been calling, for generations, for a real choice from those who have the power regarding the twin sins of slavery and racism. For the descendants of Western Europeans to realize that we are brothers to our family with brown and black skin. That it’s not just glass ceilings. It’s glass walls, glass tunnels. It is past time to dismantle the structures in society that keep people down.
It is time not just to awaken from sleep. It is time to get on our faces before God. To cry out and repent of the sins we have committed. When Jesus spoke of the terrible act of leaving a man bleeding by the roadside, it wasn’t the thieves he castigated. It was the religious, the rich and the legalistic who walked by, because they were busy. and the only person in the story who spent his own time and resources to restore, was the only person Jesus praised.
Interesting that the Master chose a hated minority to play hero here. Making the point that love has no color.
We see signs that say, “No justice, no peace.” I say, “If we don’t deal with it, we can’t heal from it.”
We must find our way back to justice; we must become champions of the oppressed.
It’s not a popular Scripture in American evangelical churches, but the Bible says this:
“”Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, “Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.” But to the poor person you say, “Stand over there”; or, “Here, sit at my feet.” 

But you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the wealthy make life difficult for you? Aren’t they the ones who drag you into court?”

James 2:2-3, 6 
The King James actually says, “it is the rich who oppress you.”
Not something you are likely to hear at a “Biblical Values” meeting of Christian Republicans.


After we open our hearts for God to reveal it, we must deal with it.
We have to find wise and just policies for loving our neighbor, for truly being our brother’s keeper. With a level playing field, black, brown and red talent can take off, making contributions and enriching our society.
And then, we must heal it.
Everyone of us must confront the sins of our own hearts.
Racism. Bitterness. Apathy. Anger. Discrimination. Prejudice. Legalism. Religiosity. Slumber.

Ephesians 5:10-14 Therefore, test everything to see what’s pleasing to the Lord, and don’t participate in the unfruitful actions of darkness. Instead, you should reveal the truth about them. It’s embarrassing to even talk about what certain persons do in secret. But everything exposed to the light is revealed by the light. Everything that is revealed by the light is light. 

Therefore, it says, Wake up, sleeper! Get up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
We’re waking up. To a better tomorrow. Together.

Serpents and Doves.  On Wisdom, love and winning the world

So, once again, we see Jesus. Being absolutely crazy.

He had just commanded us to pray that the Father send Laborers into the Harvest. (Matthew 9:38)
And, in typical Jesus style, he immediately (hearing from that same Father), set about bringing the answer. He called his own twelve guys, instructed them, and sent them out.

Matthew 10:5 (The Message version) Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge: “Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.”
Matthew 10:16-17 “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove. “Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.”

So, yeah, Jesus WAS the answer.

And, here, He created the answer. To a really big problem.
But what He said seems seriously crazy. And, er, not at all how we would do it.
Are still doing it.
So let’s look at how Jesus would do evangelism.
If He were directing it. Because He is.
Isn’t He?

Matthew 10:5 Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge: “Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.
Touch the untouchables. My apologies to my friends from India here, but I thought that only India had a caste system. Had people who were “untouchable.” Oh. Wait.
I think that the most radical thing Jesus said here was that reaching the “untouchable” people right in your own neighborhood is way more important than taking a big mission trip to another continent or culture.
Now, if you know me, you know that I was called to serve as a foreign missionary doctor when I was 7. And missionary endeavors that are cross-cultural and effective are sort of a big deal for me.
But somehow, that wasn’t Jesus’s priority. “Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood.” Wow.
Check out the same theme, in Acts, chapter 1.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Jesus’ charge to the disciples here ended with the ends of the earth.

But it didn’t start there.
It started…in Jerusalem.

Right. Where. They. Were.
And this is the take-home: If you don’t openly share Jesus where you are, why should He send you anywhere else?
A witness doesn’t have to be obnoxious.

They do have to tell the truth.

It’s required.
Would you recommend a great movie to your next-door neighbor?

Sure you would.
But have you ever mentioned what a great Savior you’ve heard about?

So there’s the problem. We’ve all seen “witnesses” we wouldn’t want to be.

Competitive. Judgmental. Not really, “Wow, check this out!” But more “I know something you don’t know….” (Sing-song voice here…). Or, even worse, ‘My religion’s better than your religion!”
Throw up. That is NOT the Gospel of God.

It was never, and I mean NEVER, meant to be a vehicle for our own pride.
But when it’s done with love, humility and respect for the other person, nothing can outshine it.

And it doesn’t take mad skills.
Just love. And willingness to try.

2). Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchable. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.
I know, I know. I’ve gone all charismatic on you.

But this is Jesus.

And His recipe for going to the lost included healings, miracles and, er, “kicking out demons.” Wow.
Now we can do some healing through missionary doctors, nurses, hospitals, etc. And that’s good. Great, even. Christian history is full of noble healthcare workers who laid down their lives in this way.

But that wasn’t always how Jesus did it. In these chapters, He performed real miracles.

And trained his staff, before they were even born again, to do so as well. And they didn’t always seem very spiritual.

And I think that that’s the secret.

When He tells us to do something amazing, it has nothing to do with our goodness or power. Just our obedience. Willingness. Faith.

I’ve seen some amazing things.

You will, too.

3) You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.
No, Jesus didn’t plan for us to build a zoo. But He did give us pretty clear directions.
He wants us to be smart. As cunning as a snake. This might include things like learning local customs and laws, whether at home or abroad, before you take to the streets to preach.

Or give away a car. (I almost went to jail in another nation for that one, once.)

Maybe it means not being naive about human nature. About what unbelievers, and sometimes, believers, might do. Out of jealousy. Spite. Competition. Ouch.
And yet, while being so very aware you of the pitfalls, we are never to walk in pride. Not carry ourselves as if we know more than others. And that’s cool.

Starting at home.

Believing for the miraculous.

Combining great wisdom with great humility. Or at least trying to.
Gee, maybe it’s just me.

But that doesn’t seem like the way it’s often been done.
But we can try.

And I think we’ll see something amazing happen.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
And THAT is what it’s all about.
Peace out.


Matthew 10:5 Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:“Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously. Matthew 10:16-17 “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove. “Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words. 

Not OK. How I learned to say it.

It was a cringe-worthy moment.
I am ashamed to remember it.
It was the last night of a large, border-medicine mission trip.

Where I mentored ~40 medical students, in how to care for folks in a low-resource environment.  How to use your faith, and Christian love, with your medical training.  How to lead someone to Jesus in a makeshift exam room, without coercing them (even gently) because you are the doctor.  Never abuse your power.
And ten of these students were with me, all day every day.  I mentored them even more closely.

We had amazing experiences. And heard horrifying stories.

The abuse of the Juarez drug cartels.  People fleeing for their lives.  People using their faith to survive kidnapping, attempted murder, the destruction of their businesses.  Some of it by the official police.  The complex world of illegal immigration, in that context.
And, as doctors do, we coped.  With humor.  Sometimes inappropriate humor.

And I passed on a very inappropriate inside joke, from American labor and delivery and obstetrics.

It was called “hispanicus hystericus,” and referred to a Latina woman who panics during labor.

I had no idea how hurtful this was; I knew it was inappropriate.  And I meant it to be kept private, like a lot of inappropriate things.  I would never have admitted that it was BOTH racist and sexist.  Not even to myself.

But the Bible doesn’t promise to cover our sins.

Luke 12:3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. 

Yeah.  Thanks a lot, Jesus.
And so it was that my occasional, inappropriate, both-racist-and-sexist joke, that was mean to stay just between us, got repeated on testimony night.  Out loud.

I love humor, but this wasn’t as good as I had thought it was.

I asked one of my star students, who had led several broken and grateful people to Jesus, and eternal salvation, that week–with great love and compassion, what he had learned.
“Um, Hispanic Woman Syndrome?” He queried, nervously.

Face palm.

What followed changed my life forever.
In the uncomfortable silence, a voice rang out.

Jackie Velasquez was a second-year resident who had come along to help teach the students.

She never came back.
But into that embarrassing moment, her clarion call to right burned itself into my brain.

Into the tortured social constraints of an ethnically diverse church and mission field testimony service, it resonated.
“Not OK.”

Clear and loud.

Nothing else.

“Not OK.”
I apologized.

I told her it was my fault.

She didn’t believe me.

She never forgave him.
And I learned something that night.

The hard way.

Years before, I had voluntarily joined an oppressive church.

Because it was so energetic. So invigorating.

And because I was fully hooked and committed before the pastor began to teach about sex roles.

Women at home.

Needing to be excellent in their housework.  Because if they weren’t, they were just lazy.

How women needed men to protect them from their natural instinct to be foolish.

How every personal decision needed to be informed by the principles taught by the apostle. 

That got really weird, eventually.

And after the suicide-deaths of two Jesus-loving, people-pleasing young women, my world was shattered.

I eventually left.

And then freaked out.

It took years of counseling and personal growth–after all, I had left the apostle.

And therefore, the Word of God.

Um…not so much.

But it took time.

And beginning these mission trips was part of my tip-toeing back into the Church, after many years away.

And that night, in her indignation and (truly) righteous anger, a second-year Hispanic resident handed me a gift.
I have learned to say, simply:  “Not OK.”
When things happen around me.  “Not OK.”

When folks I like and work with make racist, or sexist, remarks.  “Not OK.”
It is a powerful tool.

I only regret that I took my own (inadvertently?) racist and sexist words for me to learn it.

I repent.
And thank God, I am learning.

Proverbs 31:8 Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable. 

Stepping out of the Shadows

“To the outcast on her knees, you were the God who really sees…

And by your might, you set your children free.” (Michael Card, “El Shaddai,” as recorded by Amy Grant)


Growing up in church, I can remember meeting many beautiful women.

As a little girl in rural and suburban Texas, there were so many ladies that you just wished you could be.

Not all of them, though!

Most of the church ladies were…just moms. Overweight, dumpy moms.

(I had no idea, then, that I had already internalized so much sexism).


But every now and then, you would sit next to a truly beautiful lady.

Blonde, with blue eyes. And pretty clothes. And she would be so nice to you.

And you would go home, feeling like you met Cinderella. And wish that you could be her.

And, over many years, in many churches, I accumulated a lot of these role models.
My role models were, of course, culturally determined.

The more someone looked and acted like Cinderella or Grace Kelly, the more I admired them.
And it’s cool to be beautiful. And kind.

But I think, looking into the Scripture, that something has been lost here.

Because the Bible didn’t leave us any portraits.

Not of hairstyle. Or eye color.

And God could have emphasized anything he wanted to.

What he chose to record were acts of courage and faithfulness.

That were potentially costly. And reflect real leadership.
So God chose courage, faithfulness and leadership.

And while we certainly value those things, and I have heard a lot on faithfulness, I haven’t heard much on courage and leaderhip taught, very often, in Southern women’s meetings.


And I don’t mean to be a critic; I have loved my church life and all of the leaders, teachers and other men and women I have worked with.

What do we value, in women, as a culture? Passivity. Personal appearance. People pleasing.

None of these meets the Biblical test; God simply doesn’t emphasize them. And being passive or a pleaser actually cuts across the grain of the Biblical accounts of godly womanhood.  And the teachings of Scripture.
I recently taught a series of local Bible studies on Biblical women. Abigail. Ruth. Deborah.

When I got to Deborah, I found something very interesting.

The woman in my Sunday night gathering, at a local yoga studio, had never heard a sermon on her. They represented four different local churches.
Deborah was a mother in Israel.

She was a judge, like Samuel. That means (and we like to sugarcoat, or ignore, this fact) that she was anointed by God to lead the nation.

Just like Samuel.

I heard a sermon once where the preacher said that this was because Israel was so evil, in those days, that God couldn’t find a man to lead them.

Interesting thought, but, um…the Bible doesn’t actually say that. Like, anywhere.
The history of Christianity parallels the history of western science. Fascinating, actually.

After a time of great learning, science was lost.

Because much of it had been learned in Eastern and Middle Eastern nations, and Europe didn’t trust it.

And after an initial flare of glory in the first three centuries, Christianity was muffled. By institutionalized and politicized religion.

Now, I don’t blame the Catholic Church for the Dark Ages. They were the only church around.

I think any of us could have done it.

In a zeal to keep knowledge pure, they banned science.

In an effort to avoid doctrinal error and cult-like practices, they took the Bible away from the people.

Only the priests could read and teach it.

And we got the Dark Ages.
We have similar veins in Christian culture today, Protestant or Catholic.

And, if we’re not careful, we think it’s automatically spiritual to reject science. And education.

To mistrust those from different backgrounds.

To centralize authority and interpretation of the Scriptures in a few trusted male leaders.

And to keep women in their place.
But God had an answer for the Dark Ages.

It started with Martin Luther, we are told.

I theorize that it probably started before that, with prayer by faithful witnesses whose names we will only know in Heaven.

But it started. And God mightily used Father Luther.

“The just shall live by faith.” It was a revelation.

The light came on.

And out of that came the Reformation.

Followed, and paralleled by, the Enlightenment. Education was back. In a big way.

Western science took off, and became the model for the whole world.

And God has progressively revealed science and technology to mankind ever since.
And, spiritually, that “justification by faith” lightning bolt started a fire.

Followed by others, over the centuries.

Until, in the 20th century, we again saw miracles on a large scale.

The move of the Holy Spirit.

The Missionary movement of the 19th century.

The Word of God, preached through every possible technology, every available voice.

And spiritual knowledge has expanded and grown.

We keep taking steps into the Light.
But, it seems to me, that someone has been left behind.

Half in shadow.

The woman.

Christian women, in my lifetime, have been taught a set of values that are more Victorian than Biblical.

Taught that, while US law holds us accountable for our decisions, actions and finances, the Bible says our husbands should actually make our decisions for us.

That we are to be quiet. Always.

That having a voice of authority, and using it, are….questionable.
In Genesis 16, God spoke to a woman.

Her name was Hagar.

And she had been bought and sold, and used for sex and breeding.

By, um, God’s man of the hour. Abraham. With his wife’s participation.

And then she had been treated harshly by her owner.

To the point that, while pregnant, she ran away.

Into the desert.
And there, alone and destitute, with no means of survival, God spoke to her.

Genesis 16:7-11 The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied. The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.” And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael which means ‘God hears’, for the Lord has heard your cry of distress.

God hears.
Abraham and Sarah’s actions weren’t without consequence…

Genesis 16:12 This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”

Ishmael would go on to become the father of most of Israel’s modern day enemies, including the Arab peoples.

It would be to a band of “Ishmaelites” that Joseph would be sold into slavery.

And it would be Ismael’s descendants with whom Israel would struggle in the future.

But God, knowing all of that, thought that justice for this one abused woman…was worth it.
He heard her.
But, wait…there’s more.

Genesis 16:13-14 Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi which means “well of the Living One who sees me”. It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered.

Hagar had not been truly seen as a human being by her owners, her forced “family.”

She had, apparently, not been seen in her childhood, to the point that she ended up as a victim of human trafficking.
But God…saw her.
Psychologists say that to be known, really known, by another, is the thing humans crave more than anything.


It drives us into inappropriate sexual relationships.

Damaging friendships.

Dysfunctional families.

It underlies our fantasy-wish for fame.
The answer to that hunger is….

God sees you.

He knows you.

And He can create springs in the desert of your life.

And get the message you need right to where you are.

And even bring blessing out of the evil that’s been done to you.
Abigail…recognized that her husband was a fool and confronted a King who was about to commit a hot-headed sin. Read about her; God honored her for it.

Ruth…was a stranger, of another ethnic group, who worked, and loved, out of loyalty to one old, financially broken woman. She took the initiative to find a job,and went out with boldness and consistency. Read about her; God honored her for it.

Deborah…led a nation legally and in battle. And was a prophetess, who led them spiritually. She was bold and courageous, and brought deliverance to her people. Read about her; God blessed her for it.
And, if it seems to you that the current evangelical church might not put these woman on a “Top Ten Godly Woman List” if they weren’t already in the Bible…you may be right.

The Christian woman still stands in the shadows of our sexist Greek and Roman heritage.
But God sees.

It’s time to step into the light of Biblical truth.

Courage, compassion and leadership.

And maybe, just maybe, we can claim our inheritance among our brothers…and still be beautiful.

Job’s daughters did.

Job 42:12-15 So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning….And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.

Go Ye…Means Today

It all started with my hairdresser.


I had been talked into (true confession here) letting her do my hair, always, because frankly, I suck at it.


So I saw her every week.


The salon was trendy.  Modern.

The music? Not my favorite.  Worldly.

The workforce was straight, gay and in-between.



My stylist had tats. (Tattoos, for the uninitiated).


Creative dress.

A different hair color and/or style, regularly.


And I absolutely loved her.

She reminded me that, years before, I had been her family doctor.

Can’t make this stuff up.


And she loved me.  Out loud and effusively.


So I kept going back.

Making an effort to listen to the Holy Spirit.

And love the people who worked there, and came there.


And she would confide in me.

Our weekly shampoo and style-out became part pajama party, part counseling session.

And loads of fun.


And I didn’t push her.


Even when we discussed parties, and boys and bars.

I held my peace. (And withheld judgment).

And gave sound counsel. In small doses.

Waiting for the still, small voice.


And building relationship.


Because, one day, in an exam room, I had led her in a prayer.

To make Jesus her Savior.

I didn’t know if she remembered, but I did.


And I loved her.  Listened to her.

And waited.

And talked about Jesus, when it helped her with her here-and-now life.


Once the Lord gave me a sudden, divine insight into one of her friends’ problems, as we talked.  And she stopped, mid-motion.  Brush in hand.

“What an…epiphany,” she murmured.  “Can I tell him that?”

“I think God is helping us.  Please do.”

Wow.  Just wow.


Three years into this process, she suddenly tells me she has decided to go back to church.

Be still, my heart.


And join a Bible study.

Lord, you do all things well.


Of her own accord.


Then she tells me that her lifestyle needs tweaking.

To line up with the Bible.


And eventually moved away.  To live her dreams.


When I drive through her town, I stop by.

For breakfast.

Or a blow-dry.

Or both.


And we talk Jesus.


Evangelism doesn’t always mean going to China.  Or Syria.  Or Uganda.


It might mean biting your own tongue.

And building relationship.

With the people in the world around you.


You could start with your stylist.

Nail tech.





But don’t take the shortcut and just preach at them.

Take the time.

Make the investment.

For them.

Whether they ever receive Him or not.


He did.


Peace out.


Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to every creature.


“Preach the Gospel at all times.  If necessary, use words.”

–anonymous Christian quote, often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

Who Knew?

In June of 2014, I had an encounter with a dynamic personality, that left a mark on my life.

I was at a Joyce Meyer conference.  Of course, I was.

And Joyce’s speaking points seemed so simple.  Of the “Of course, I already know that” sort.  Yet, by the end of the 3-day seminar, I felt unusually changed.  Different.  Like, permanently.

Let me back up.  The whole story started with an act of generosity.  (Doesn’t it always?)  A young minister, in a tight place, needed some health care.   I decided to treat her, free of charge.

She turned out to be that most unusual Christian minister.  A former homosexual.  Ok, I can say it.  Lesbian. God had brought her so far, and now she writes books and speaks all over the country, helping gays get free.  The church finds her story very uncomfortable.  And the gay community wants to destroy her.

But…salvation is real.  Or it isn’t.  Make up your mind.

And a person’s past is just that.  Past.

I really liked this woman.  She was warm, real and genuine.  And, oh, so honest.  Gut-level honest.

We started to talk about the church, homosexuality, and teenagers.  All critical topics in this day and age.  I shared with her my plans for a book on parenting teens, mentally healthy teens.  She shared with me that 75% of lesbians were abused or molested as young people.  We bonded over the need to educate Christian parents on godliness, Biblical sexuality, and Biblical empowerment.  Especially for teens.  Especially for girls.

Two days later, I got a call.  It was her.  “I have 6 passes for the ministers’ section at Joyce Meyer.  I have women’s ministers for 5 of them.  The Lord instructed me to offer you the last spot.”  Would I like to come?

Joyce Meyer.  Ministers’ section.  Um, yeah…

So I took 3 days off and came.  And God, through Joyce, changed my life.  Again.

At the end of 3 days, I could tell I was different.  I just couldn’t figure out why.  The Holy Spirit is like that sometimes.

And to be honest, neither Joyce Meyer nor my ministry friend was the dynamic personality I mentioned at the beginning of this blog.  That happened after.

At the end of 3 days of amazing ministry, I had a tug on my heart.  I was, at that time, the employee physician for Kenneth Copeland Ministries.  And I just knew I should drive out there.

Now, “KCM”, for those who work there, is not in Fort Worth.  It’s….near.  Sort of.

And Joyce was preaching in Fort Worth.  But, that still small voice beckoned.  Whispered.  Smiled.

And I called my husband.  My quality time and acts-of-service needing, amazing husband.

“Go ahead, take all day if you want to.  I’m working on the car.”  Huh.

45 minutes later, I pull through the gates of a very empty Kenneth Copeland Ministries campus.  On a Saturday.  Scratching my head, figuratively.  And my phone rings.

It’s one of Brother Copeland’s assistants.  And he wants to know if I could possibly drive out to the campus that day for a special meeting…These are the moments I love learning to be led by the Holy Spirit.  Smile.

It is beyond the scope of this blog to detail the private workings of a KCM meeting, and highly unethical.  It was a good meeting.  Great, even.

But it was what happened after that marked me.  Probably forever.

Everyone else left, and I found myself alone with Kenneth and Gloria Copeland.  In their blue jeans.  On a Saturday.  Both of them incredibly sweet. And I did something crazy.  I demanded that they let me pray for  them.

Yeah.  I really did that.  To my childhood heroes and mentors.  On the first day I really ever met them.

If you’re Baptist, it would be like meeting Billy Graham.  And then demanding that he let you preach. (Cue wince here).  And they let me.  Very graciously.

I can honestly say that it was one of the more focused, concentrated prayers of my life.  I pled the blood.  I stood on the Word of God.  I put pressure on our covenant with God through Jesus.  (See, I really have listened to them all of my life).

And a funny thing happened.

God began to move.  Brother Copeland (forgive the formality, but I deeply respect the man) started to pray, too.  Then he preached.  Then he sang.  And, as he sang an old hymn to me and to his lovely wife, the craziest thing happened.  A particular line in the song, completely unintended, yielded the answer.  To our whole meeting.

I can’t tell you how excited we got.  Like only Kenneth Copeland, and Karen Smith, if you knew me, can get excited.

We jumped.  We laughed.  We cried.  We celebrated.

It’s so good to hear from God, through each other.

And he gave me his number.  “Call me, girl, anytime you need anything.”

This happens?

I remembered another preacher, Jerry Savelle, teaching on the favor of God.  And I corrected myself.

“This happens to me all the time.”

And I said, like only a Texas-born, Texas-raised woman would, “You better make sure you wanna give me that.”

“What?” he asked.

“Brother Copeland, I’m a missionary.  I was called at 7 years old.  I’ve been preparing.  And things are changing all around me.  I’m going to need godly counsel.  So I’m just saying, if you say I can call you, I probably will.  Be sure.”

He grinned at me.  “Girl, I said you could call me.”

Gloria smiled at me, and they left.  I just sat down.  And shook my head.  This Jesus.

We met the next week.  And I got godly counsel.

I followed it–all the way to Amarillo, and away from KCM.

And tomorrow I start volunteering at an inner city children’s ministry that serves 21 different nationalities in their ESL program.

I feel like a Rubik’s cube that’s been disassembled, lubricated and put back together.

And now God is spinning all the pieces into their places, solving the puzzles.  (Cue whirring noise here).

CityChurch Amarillo.  By morning.  Here we go.

Pray for me, if you think about it.


Give Me Oil in My Ford; Keep Me Trucking. On the importance of stewardship.

When I was a sophomore in college, I attempted to change universities.  With disastrous results.  And my mother came to help me race across two states to get back to my own college and sign in before they cancelled my scholarship.  (It was, uh, before you could do all this online.  We stood in lines.  And did things on papers, which were filed in crazy big file rooms.  And on punch cards for big computers.  No kidding). So you had to get there before the line closed down.


And I was so grateful that we made it.  But my 21-year-old foolishness was not without a casualty.  My beloved VW SuperBeetle, “Buffy.”  She died on the outskirts of Bryan, Texas, while we piled into mom’s rental and raced to sign the forms and claim the check.  We made it, at 4:30 or so, on a Friday.  30 minutes to spare.  Whew.


And when we got back to Buffy, the price became more clear.  She was not to be resurrected.  Not repaired.  Because it had not occurred to me, on a 600+ mile trip, to put oil in the car.  (After all, it was just one day of driving…one really, really long one).


And my estranged father,  who had purchased my VW and rebuilt it, was not pleased to inform me that Volkswagens don’t take water.  They are, apparently, only cooled by…oil.  Oops.


He gave me his own SuperBeetle, and bought his wife a new car.  And we all lived happily after ever.  But it was a hard-earned lesson; I had truly loved that car.


And many of you, right now, are shaking your heads at 21-year-old impulsive college girls, attempting to be led by the Spirit, who make mistakes and fry engines.


But I have a question for you.  What, in your life, are you failing to maintain?


If you have a wife, she needs constant affirmation.  Expressions of caring.  Understanding. Listening.  Validating and respecting her point of view, even if you disagree.  It may feel superfluous, ridiculous and unnecessary. But it’s what cools her engine, and keeps her from imploding.


If you are blessed to have children, they need constant monitoring.  Again, affirmation.  Time together.  Laughter.  Constant correction.  Teaching.  Discipline. Consequences.  All wrapped up in a great big bow of love and acceptance.  It keeps their hearts from freezing up, and helps them make the journey.


And if you are blessed to have a husband, I can promise you that his emotional needs are different from yours.  While you are busy expressing caring, understanding, respect and validation, he needs your trust.  Your appreciation.  Your acceptance.  And yes, even your admiration. (Just ask John Gray, who wrote a book about it).  It’s the oxygen he breathes.  And it keeps him from throwing a rod.  Or whatever cars (and guys) do.


And I wonder why we, who are all so careful (once we grow up) to care for our homes, yards and automobiles, refuse to put in the gas and oil that could keep our relationships running smoothly for a lifetimes?



And what might be available to use if we actually maintained our relationships with each other?


The oil of joy.  The gasoline of acceptance.  The spark of communication..


My Volkswagen Bug was replaceable.  Almost.


Our families aren’t.


Peace out.


Of French Braids and Frozen Hair.  An essay on human nature.

I stepped into the exam room to face a frightened 4-year-old girl and her mother.  (Apparently, somewhere alone her brief life journey she had an encounter with a doctor that involved pain.  Can’t imagine where.). Tears were in her big blue eyes; her bottom lip trembled.  Seating myself at her eye level, and breaking out my best and brightest children’s TV voice, I asked her if she knew of Doc McStuffin.  The wheels began to turn.  Her eyes lit up with recognition.
“Well, I’m Doc McKaren.  And she’s my friend.”  I showed her my stethoscope, my otoscope, and my blood pressure cuff.  All the paraphernalia of my clinic profession.  Just like Doc has, on TV. And the tears dried up.  But she still eyed me warily.  So, after asking her mother about the symptoms that brought them to the clinic that fine day, I turned to my patient again.

“Can I tell you a story?” I asked, seated on my rolling stool.  Surprised, she nodded yes.

“Well, today…a princess came to see me…”  And so began the story of Elsa, and Anna, and Olav, who eventually got lost.  And the subsequent search for them–in the patient’s ears, mouth, tummy and back.  While we giggle.   It’s a trick that works for me nearly every day in a busy outpatient clinic.  And I get the information I need to help her.  And her mom leaves happy.

Kids love Frozen.  It’s a great story, with a great message.  About being different.  I was raised in the 80’s, when everybody was really trying to be…the same.  My mother once came to my 5th grade choir concert, and left shaking her head.  When I asked her why, she said that every single girl had the same haircut.  (Feathers, anyone?)

And my husband once saw a TV interview of young teenagers at a Madonna concert.  The 80’s version of Madonna.  And the young woman on TV was dressed in a leather jacket, torn clothes and curly blond hair.  Like…Madonna.  And when the reporter asked her why, she said, “Because I want to be different.  Like everybody else.”

Shake my head.  In mercy.

Another thing that was popular in the 80’s was french braiding.  I never really got the hang of it, although I managed it once even with my thick wiry hair.  In the Houston humidity.  But now we live in Amarillo, (much drier), and I like to wear French braids at work.  It keeps my hair out of my face when I am a looking in little people’s ears and listening to their tummies.

And we wear them on mission trips.  A couple of months ago, I was with 40 medical and health professions students on a mission trip to the US-Mexico border.  Seeking out the underserved, and those without access to care.  Believe, me, they’re there.

And I came out to the vans in the early morning frost and fog (El Paso is a desert, and it gets really cold at night), and ran into a dietician student with a…French braid.  She laughed and said, “We both have on our Frozen hair!”  It took me a minute, but Elsa does have the coolest French braids.  And kids today call it “Frozen hair.”  Interesting.

What’s cool about a braid is that it’s not easy to undo.  It doesn’t come apart accidentally.  You have to want to take it apart, and do so purposefully.  (At least, if you have thick, wiry hair!)

Ecclesiastes 4:12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. 


It’s a Biblical principle.   God likes strength.  And he often does things in three’s.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Earth, Sky, Water.  (I remember a game from my childhood called “animal/vegetable/mineral.”). A triangle is the most stable shape in nature.  Three points define a plane.  And so on. When it comes to people, he also made them in three parts:

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. 

May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.


In the Scripture, men and women are delineated as three-part beings.  Spirit.  Soul.  And body.  And like the earth,  sky and sea, they are intimately related and intertwined.  You can’t have one without the others.
So let’s talk about it.

Your spirit.  

This is the part of you that gets born-again.  By faith in Jesus.  That mounts that very still, small voice that leads you into good decisions and God’s plan for your life.  It is your core; the essence of you.  The part that communicates with God.  Your Father. It is eternal and not bound to this earth.  And it is not male or female.


 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  Gal 3:26-29


The word “Christ” isn’t just Jesus’s last name. (OK, it isn’t  Jesus’s last name. It’s His title).  And it literally means “anointed.”  Like, with oil.  As a type of the spirit. Oh, yeah.  Spirit.  That part of us that is very like Him.  In the Spirit (where our spirits connect and function) there is no gender.  And no…lots of other things.


But many people confuse the spirit with the soul.  The Bible uses both words, but not interchangeably.  So, simple logic here.  If the spirit is the born-again part (if you’ve done that), and the body is the third part…what’s left for the “soul” is: the mind part.

Now, your mind isn’t exactly your brain.  Scientists keep  trying to prove that that’s all there is to us.  They haven’t been able.  BUT your mind is intimately connected to your brain.  And the Scripture gives us clear instruction concerning the mind:


12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12: 1-2


Your mind has to be renewed.  Retrained.  Filled with good things.  Spiritually educated.  Then, according to verse 2, you know what to do.  What God’s will is.  And the soul includes non-cognitive aspects of the mind, like emotions, intuitions and the subconscious/unconscious parts of us.  And gender, birth order, and many other factors go very deep here.  One simple definition I heard a preacher use of the soul was “the mind, will and emotions.”  I like that.


Lastly, we have the body.  Many people believe that their body is their problem.  But, honestly, the body is just a follower.  It follows what the mind says.  And, if you get the mind renewed with the Word of God, it can trump any appetite, habit or problem.


And these three–spirit, soul and body–are woven together.  Like a braid.  With deep and complex connections we don’t fully understand yet.

Psychiatry has a concept called “integrated personality.”  It means that everything in you hangs together.  Works in harmony.  Isn’t going different directions.  And that you know you are.

Electronics talk about “integrated circuits.”  Where everything affects everything else.  In a complex way.  God, however, chose a 3-fold cord as His symbol.  Because it works.

So…care for yourself.

Feed your spirit.  The Word of God, prayer, worship.

Feed your soul.  Mind/Will/Emotions.  The Word of God.  Healthy relationships.  Healthy boundaries.  Positive self-talk.  The list goes on.

Feed your body.  Healthy foods.  Water.  Vitamins.  Supplements, if you need them.

And exercise all three.  And rest them.  And get them help if they are injured or ill.

It’s OK.


Maybe some nice doctor will step into your room with “Frozen” hair and tell you a story.

Peace out.

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