Monday, June 26, 2017


Family histories are powerful. 
If we don't know them, we wonder about them.
They may bring inspiration and pride or shame and isolation, but in any case...
family histories, full of the  mundane and even cataclysmic, affect us.
Between the Old and New Testament 400 years of Jewish family history grind past. I use the word "grind" quite literally. The Nation of Israel spent these 400 years as a center for conflict between North and South, East and West...the most "fought over" piece of land in the history of the world. Over and over again Israel fought and was fought over in revolts, alliances and power plays. By the time the scene opens on the New Testament, Israel is a tired nation desperately waiting for God to step back onto the stage and rescue them, as their family history promised.
400 years of enduring the silence of their Heavenly Patriarch. 400 years of persecution, exiled from the One who promised that He would keep His promises to forgive them and make His presence with them known again.
400 years of waiting and watching, divided by a mixture of pride and shame, hope and despair.
Then one day a man named Zachariah entered the temple.
An Angel appeared to him:
Luke 1:13-15 ...“Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.
15b-17 "...He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he’ll get the people ready for God.”
What were these prayers, answered with a son? I don't personally think Zachariah was centered on prayer for a son...
His duty as priest was to intercede on behalf of his "family" Israel; to make offering for forgiveness and call out for God's presence with His people. After 400 years, Zachariah represented God's people, in a desperate place.
The time had come for God to answer this prayer and in preparation, God sent Zachariah and Elizabeth and all the people- a messenger: John the Baptizer. 
John spent his short life announcing that God does keep His promises. He does hear our cries. He does forgive. He knows that our only hope for life and peace is with His presence.
By the time Zachariah left the temple to return to mundane life, he felt a cataclysmic shift in his family history.
How much I would like to know the words he had lifted to God...those words of intercession and desperate dependence...
"Father God, whatever he prayed we want to echo Zachariah's prayers and his heart. We are desperate for You. We have no hope but You. No matter the powers that come and go, no matter the small victories or short-lived reprieves...
Only Your forgiveness and presence can give us life and peace.
Come Lord Jesus."

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Feeling Lucky (An Unpoetic Ode to Matriarchs)

My great-grandmother, Ina Davis was born in 1899; and I was lucky enough to know her. She cooked a mean fried chicken, the saltiest green beans you ever tasted and the best chocolate cream pie I've had to date. Granny sewed slipcovers and drapes in her barn on an old pedaled sewing machine, hung chickens from a clothesline before they met the frying pan and liked to beep her horn in tunnels just to hear the echo. She also hated when I whistled.
I loved her.
She was my "Granny" and she was a character from the generation of preaching "hellfire and brimstone". For better and sometimes knew what Granny thought and you heard Granny sing! But she had faith...and it was for me a faith to build on.
My grandmother, Dorthea Davis was born in 1921 and I was lucky enough to have her until I had three teenagers of my own. I used to salivate in anticipation of her yellow cake with chocolate icing and her huge yellow bowl of potato salad. Nanny worked in the dietary department of Brandywine Hospital in her crisp white uniform for YEARS! And Nanny was strong. She regularly arm wrestled her sons-in-law and her grandsons. Then twitched her nose in delight if she could still take them down. She also let me call her ridiculous names.
I loved her.
She was my "Nan" and God doesn't make them sweeter. For better and sometimes worse...Nanny worried or Nanny sang! But she had faith...and it was faith for me to build on.
My mother, Millie (Davis) Morris, was born in 1942 (sorry Mom); and I am lucky enough to have her still! I used to love to come in from playing in the snow to her milky and rivelly potato soup and no holiday is right without her perfect apple pie. Mom has worked hard her whole life..."secretarying", mothering, caring, cleaning, buying, selling, home-making and giving in delight to the delighted. Mom makes even the mundane feel special. She also forgives my scattered mind.
I love her.
She is my "Mumsy" and she continues to be one of my best gifts in this life. For better and rarely worse, mom fusses over her family...( I won't comment on her singing since she reads my blogs!) Mom's life is full of evidences of faith for me to keep building on.
My patriarchal matriarchs are absent from my life experience but I have been told of their faith and seen it in my great aunt, Helen Riggs.  I was lucky enough to know her in my formative years. Before you crossed her threshold, you were handed carrot juice, a vitamin and whole-wheat carob chip cookies; all long before the "healthfood" industry showed its face in Chester County, PA. Helen was a spitfire who jogged in her basement until she had to be 80 years old. She used to play hymns on her old 45's and greet you with so much enthusiasm you felt like a celebrity. She worked at getting her family "saved"...and it worked for me! For better or worse Aunt Helen told you about Jesus...and though she is my blood on my father's side, her singing could make your ears curl in. But boy, did Aunt Helen have to build on.
Why do I write of my matriarchal lineage? Because I feel lucky!
And because I'm reflecting on the women in Christ's lineage...
women with strengths and weaknesses. Women whose faith God chose to build on. And though we cannot comment on their vocal talents we can read the songs of their lives and build on their faith.

They are, by faith, the matriarchs of us all.
Read about them:
Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, Mary...
I promise you their stories will make you feel lucky.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


My family is full of quips that do not really need to be re-quipped ...such as:
"You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose,
but just don't pick your friend's nose;"
for one example.
Is it in poor taste to introduce the lineage of Jesus in this way?!
The point is, of all relationships in cannot pick your blood line.
(Please understand that I would still pick mine as mine...if I could. In spite of an occasionally questionable sense of humor, they're my blood!)
When God chose to be present with us, he picked the best representative of Himself...His equal in every way, His son. And Jesus came. He picked a human blood line that is mapped out in Luke 3: 23-38. The genealogy of Jesus includes all kinds of moral failures...liars, cheaters, murderers, prostitutes, adulterers...
Any human genealogy has its share of shame, Jesus picked this one;
A family with victories and defeats, godly and ungodly.
This family of our Savior communicates beautiful things about our God; things way too important to speed read!
Did you know:
That within this Jewish heritage, three of the four women listed in Matthew 1 were Gentiles?
Did you know that through His legal (though not genetic) father Joseph, Jesus fulfilled prophecy as the Messiah who would come in the line of King David?
Did you know that through Mary, Jesus was also part of a priestly heritage?
Did you know that while Matthew describes Jesus legal lineage through Joseph, Luke defines his blood line through Mary?
Matthew explains His connection with the nation of Israel
and Luke, his connection to all mankind through Adam.

 Together these two gospels, form every family connection needed for God to keep His promises to His children, extending forgiveness and a restored relationship with Him. He is our priestly intercessor...the One who makes it all right again. He is our Messiah...the One who rescues us from a life doomed to idolatry and death.
And of all the glorious gifts that Jesus shares with us, my favorite is this: His presence.
He is able to come into the human condition of liars, cheaters, adulterers, murderers, outsiders
and still remain perfectly God, perfectly good, perfectly perfect.
No matter whose bloodline He mingles with, Jesus remains
Untainted by the ugly,
unchanged in His love
forever loyal to His plan to be our brother through His blood.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Shape I'm In...

Romans 8:29 "God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. " The Message

Yesterday was Mother's Day. Our family sat around telling stories for two evenings in a row. My Mom and I reminisced about my early childhood shyness and attachment to her and the weird ways this played out. Apparently, My kindergarten teacher expressed to my mom that I was isolating myself at school so in an attempt to help me connect with friends, my mom planned a little party at our house. When the "friends" arrived I brought my toys out to them and then went and hid behind my bedroom door. This is kind of how life has continued to challenge me. I am an introvert...and that's Ok but humanity is meant for relationship, and relationship can be a scary and difficult thing for anyone!

Just like getting in physical shape takes discipline, self-control and perhaps an excellent coach and roll model. Getting in better relational shape is work! It takes effort and intention.
It takes courage and inspiration.
At the core of being human, is this truth: we are all made for relationship, with God and with others. And so, I must continue working out my faith to get into better shape. The shape I was made for.
Jesus was in perfect spiritual and relational shape. His life with God and others demonstrates exactly what being human is all about: faith, love, goodness, kindness, joy, peace, patience...and self-control spilling out onto others. The shape of Jesus life, was the shape of God's heart...and the shape our life is meant to take.
 Jesus is the perfect coach and the ideal role model, and we can study his spiritual fitness plan in the way he related to others in the Gospels.
If I love God, I will want to be like Jesus and if I am like Jesus, I will become better and better at loving people,
 so they can see the shape of His heart.

Luke 1:1-4 "So many others have tried their hand at putting together a story of the wonderful harvest of Scripture and history that took place among us, using reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses who served this Word with their very lives. Since I have investigated all the reports in close detail, starting from the story’s beginning, I decided to write it all out for you, most honorable Theophilus" (whose name means 'one who loves God'), "so you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt the reliability of what you were taught." The MSG
                                   "Everything was created through him (Jesus);
                                                 nothing—not one thing!—
                                               came into being without him.
                                          What came into existence was Life,
                                            and the Life was Light to live by.
                                        The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
                                             the darkness couldn’t put it out." 
                                                John 1: 3-5 The MSG

Monday, March 27, 2017

Word for the Day

I heard a *story recently about a pastor who was rebuked by a young congregant for wearing a suit and tie to church on Easter Sunday. The pastor unknowingly represented the harsh judgment this woman experienced in a church that viewed formality as mature spirituality. The casual nature of her new fellowship had been healing, so naturally to be reminded of a painful past seemed justifiably her mind her new pastor was guilty. Funny thing was, she was now guilty of placing as harsh a judgment on her new pastor by viewing IN-formality as mature spirituality.

What would have been different in her response to a suit and tie had she forgiven those who had judged her for dressing casually? Instead, she had condemned the people who had condemned her.
Then spewed the un-forgiveness onto her new pastor.
Reflecting on this story, has granted me fresh insight into why there is so much dissension in our country and in our churches. There is a word missing in the wrongs being addressed. It is a word for our times...a word for the day.
The word is: forgiveness.

Our culture is suffering the brutal consequences of widespread un-forgiveness.
Black and white
Left and right
Straight and gay
Male and female
Parent and child
Faithful and faithless

We are angry, bitter people; spewing out of our wounded beings and limited perceptions of God, distorted views on justice and love.
We all carry mantles as a way of sharing His Kingdom in this world. And with them often a sense of moral superiority. The causes of our day weigh on us: The refugee, the single-mom, the unborn baby, the poor, the sick, the widow, the neglected, the orphaned, the enslaved...
Does God call us to address injustice? Absolutely. As He does.
Is anger a motivating force that propels us into action, yes! As He is.
His anger serves to address the wrong for the purpose of restoring relationship...always.
And could any relationship be more devastated than the one between rebellious, sinful man and a Holy, perfect God?
Is there any greater line of distinction than Creator and created?
Jesus walked about, addressing the wrongs of His day...but ALWAYS for the sake of pointing people to His Father, to relationship with Him; NOT simply to relieve their suffering. Any believer must admit the power of suffering in leading us to Him...He is the only One able to fix all that is wrong through relationship with our Father in Heaven, through His sacrifice and victory and by the power of His Spirit.

Jesus, at the moment of  history's greatest injustice cried, "Father, forgive them...they do not understand"
So true, we think we understand but we do not understand...none of us fully understands.
What would be different if we introduced ourselves to the thought..."I might not fully understand"!
What would be different if we forgave those who have caused pain by their lack of understanding and by twisted perceptions of godliness, as we ourselves most assuredly have?


If men may wander
from their homes
and leave a wife
and children prone
to borrow, beg and steal...
who am I to say?

If wives, alone are
left to fend
and spend their time
with other men
whose wives are left as well...
who am I to say?

If children left to
raise themselves
and entertain
with lusts un-shelved
a fading, starving soul...
who am I to say?

If those who lead in
office, grand
with gross resource
at their command
wield their vice with heavy hand...
who am I to say?

If someone's wid'ning
emerald eyes
feast upon
another's prize-
to glut and then reclines...
who am I to say?

If enemies swing
guns and swords
they've divine support
to fight and maim and kill...
Who am I to say?

If all that's in a
hidden muse
Reeks rancid
poison to infuse-
blotting beauty from the world...
Who am I to say?

But there is One who may.

His heart was and is always for the sake of ALL...the sinning and the sinned-against, the oppressed AND the oppressor.
God does not wear a t-shirt spouting love for all on the front...and picturing a dissenter hanging from a noose on the back.
Could it be that in addressing what we define as hateful and judgmental, we are guilty of judgment and hatred?
It seems to me, that whatever political, spiritual or social side we find ourselves fighting, we are often fighting out of un-forgiveness.
As a result, no matter how good we believe our cause or how just our mantle, without forgiveness, we do NOT represent our Father, and we will ultimately NOT do good in this world.

*Story from Matt Chandlers video series "To Live is Christ"
**JCarnuccio 3/2015

Sunday, November 27, 2016

"I Wish..." - Reflections of a Republicrat

I am soon to enter my 50th year of life. For all of my voting history, I have called myself a Republican. This year I became officially “Non-affiliated”, or more specifically, a “Republicrat”.
The more I attempt to understand the differences the more I see that
both parties, contrary to the media, have much to admire and much to apologize for.
For a solid year my head has circled around the claims and shames of both parties until I concluded that I simply could not vote 2016...until election day came.
Then as every responsible and privileged citizen of our country, I got to the polls, agonizingly inked my oval and begged God for His mercy.
In the violent discord that has followed, my mind continues to cycle through repulsion and relief over which oval I inked November 8. The truth is, both figuratively and literally, we all lost at some level and I am so saddened by the hatred that has ensued.
So for my self-therapy, I offer this political essay, in the hopes that it might bring reconciliation to someone at some level even if it’s just my own circle.
Many Americans have come to define our form of government as a democracy ( “a system of government by the whole population or in which all eligible members of individual states make laws, typically through elected representatives”). In reality, the United States of America was designed to function as a Constitutional Republic ( a system of government in which elected representatives, and an elected “Commander in Chief”, make laws within constitutional limits).
Most local and state governments have the right to give voters a voice in passing laws, while on a national level those laws are strictly passed by the officials. Citizens have no way to directly make laws. At the inception of our nation, the  forefathers attempted to ensure our future against mob rule (society at the mercy of a fickle majority) on one side and tyranny on the other (society at the mercy of a dictator).
2016 has been a pathetic display of the continuing undoing of the founders’ best hopes for America, running the campaigns with bullying and ending them with riots.
Do you know what demagogue means? I didn’t!
“A political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than rational argument”. No wonder many of us were sick at the polls.
Demagogue vs. demagogue...and it was about as ugly as it gets and has removed the feeble finger of political correctness from the dam of public prejudice, resentment and malice. Every day our mailboxes filled with defamations, accusations and exaggerations.
Every day they infiltrated our homes and our minds and our relationships.
But anyway... can we maybe agree on a few points?
The Republicans are not all heartless, bigoted, supremacist nationalists. And the Democrats are not all immoral, irresponsible, atheistic anti-Americans.
This is what I have come to appreciate about both camps:
I appreciate the hearts of my liberal/democrat friends. They are impassioned to help the poor, the suffering, the alien, the marginalized...and not just here in America, but all over the world. My “L/D” friends have hearts that absolutely amaze me in their compassionate, inclusive expanse (obviously violent protesters, arrogant journalists, disrespectful entertainers excluded from this statement). The L/D’s that I personally know use their eyes and ears to keep us aware and alert. I am so thankful for their voices in my life and in their realms of influence. Theirs is a battle for “the common good” and “justice for all”.
AND I appreciate the common sense of my conservative Republican friends. They have an incredible ability to connect the pieces, let history inform our present and future, and seek to restore dignity to people through work and personal responsibility. The C/R’s  in my world are impassioned to keep America solvent and effective in the world.  I am so thankful for their voices in my life and in their realms of influence. Theirs is a battle to remain  “one nation under God” and protect “liberty for all”.
But be careful Republicans, or your fight for liberty may strangle love and be careful Democrats or your fight for love may strangle liberty.
Honoring both and offending both...I will now go by “Republicrat”. Because I want to live with a heart for people that empowers but does not enable. I want our family to continue to reach out to the needs of the world but not ignore the needs in front of us. I want the freedom to funnel the resources we’ve been given to the causes we care most about. And I want to live with the courage to share our thoughts and life experience without mocking others for theirs.
I want the heart and mind of Christ.  
Given the strengths that both sides have to offer...I wish the Demagogues would stop politicizing, propagandizing, defaming each other and exploiting the American public. If only the parties could replace their oppositional defiance disorder and filiblustering and begin dovetailing their strengths into leadership that is effective for the American public and spilling over into helping the world.
I wish those of us who call ourselves Christians would stop looking at each other in disbelief and spewing the accusatory “How can you call yourself a Christian and vote for…?”
Is God Himself not liberal in His love and forgiveness (Ephesians 2:3b-5 “Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath, but because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.”) AND a God who sets limits in the way to freedom and truth? (“Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life” John 14:6
I wish we could recognize God’s heart for and His image in every human being (however hidden we consider it to be), and appreciate what it brings to our world.
I wish we could forgive and pray for those who (often due to a lack of love in the church) are running the other way when they hear us call ourselves Christians.
I wish we would take out the log in our own eye.
My wish for Millennials is to be able to give thanks for the blessings of being American. Obviously, millions of others are anxious to live here.
My wish for X’ers is to keep the faith and smell the roses.
My wish for boomers and busters is to have peace and not fear the future.
God is on His throne.
But what I am describing is legitimately impossible without God’s work in our hearts…
Forgiveness and reconciliation begin and end with Him.
And that is why, before I fight anymore over who’s more deplorable in the 2016 election...I am asking Him to make good on His promise to set up His kingdom
in my own heart.
Republicrat for now and His child for always.
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
“It is for freedom, that Christ has set us free, stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”.

Galatians 5:1

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Whose letter is it anyway?

So, I've been trying to figure out some beautifully creative way to wrap up Hebrews but I can only think to end as I began...a rewrite. An "in my own words" book end.
There is much discussion on the identity of the authorship of is that it was written by one (Timothy?) and dictated by another (Paul?). Whose letter is this anyway?
So that would make me a third party transcriber? In other words: Don't take my word on it for yourself.
What we know for sure is to whom this letter was written...the Hebrews (the "Ones who have crossed over"). But it is also to all of us...a letter that has lasted for millennia so that we too may "cross over" to "dwell in the land" of His promise.

Chapter 13 (The point is...)

Do not get in the way of love! Live in love! Let's begin with showing love to complete don't know who they are or what they've been through! They could even be messengers from God Himself!
Live in love! Don't be so absorbed in yourself that you forget your brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith.
For some of you these outer circles of relationships are not a's the closest ones you neglect and abuse.
Live in love with your spouse. Marriage was God's idea to reveal the power and beauty of HIS love to everyone else. So He takes this relationship VERY seriously, and He will address our disregard for this holy foundation of humanity.
When I say "Live in love"...I'm talking about people NOT things...not the ability to get more things.
Loving things will hamper your ability to love God and people.
HE is enough for you!
That's what this whole letter is about! No amount of money, stuff, religious practice, self-preservation tactics...
nothing can add, nothing can top what He offers you!
You are not without examples of men and women who have lived this way, the way of love...the way of faith in Jesus Christ.
Since He never changes, you too may trust Him and follow those who've lived such love out.
But be many people think God's favor can be earned by working hard to follow the rules.
NOTHING garners God's favor except Jesus human life, death and divine resurrection as the perfect and completed and singular work for your life's redemption. He accomplished what we could never accomplish... GOD becoming/living a perfect human life of love.
When you live trusting His act of love as your only may be rejected by the people around you... just as He was!
That's OK, belong to a family and a home that IS and IS coming.
So be thankful! And...
Trust the leadership God has put around you. Sure, there are those from the past to be inspired by but guess what? You also have those who are present to help you now. Not perfect people... not flawless leaders but they are sincerely trying to love and guide you the best they can and they will answer to God for how they lead don't be a pain the neck! That accomplishes nothing and certainly doesn't help the cause of love!
Pray for us (who write this letter), we too are imperfect people but we want to honor God's work in us and we want to accomplish the purpose He has me in prison to do! Please...I hope through your prayers I can love well within these bars so that I may come out from them again and be with you!
Having said all this, the God who restores ALL relationships...the God of love,
who provided His Son for a secure and forever relationship with Him,
this is the God I trust to prepare and enable you to live in love...
this is His will, this is what pleases Him,
this is only possible because Jesus makes it possible.
I strongly encourage you to be patient and carefully consider all I've written...I've said it as succinctly as possible. Watch for Timothy's return from prison...and I hope the sooner you see him the sooner you will see me too!
Share my greetings with everyone
may you humbly enjoy God's rich, lavish favor as you walk through each day "crossing over" into all He has provided for you
in Jesus.