Are We Failing at Our One Job?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

Please Don’t Mention This

“No. Please don’t say it, please don’t say it.”

I am begging this gentleman in my head.

We’re both sitting in the half-full waiting room at the doctor’s office. Everyone is spread out in every other seat.

Except for this man and the older gentleman sitting beside him.

They’re talking loudly enough for all in the room to hear.

I see the direction the conversation is turning.

And that’s when my internal begging increases:

“Please don’t mention it.”

But then he does. There it is.

He talks about being a Christian.

Community-Minded or Not?

In other circumstances, I would have been pleased to hear his talk. What this man is saying is itself good. He is talking about helping with the teens at church and seeing a friend again at church who had been sick. 

He clearly cares for the people at his church in a loving way. That’s good.

So why didn’t I want him to mention his faith here?

Because in a room full of all-masked wearers, with clear signage on the walls stating masks are required (and in a doctor’s waiting room, no less!), he is maskless.

Of all the people in the room, the one talking about Jesus is the only one not following the community rules.

Our One Job

None of the rest of us want to be wearing a mask either, I’m certain. But we do it because we’re asked to, and out of courtesy for each other as well as for protection for ourselves.

As the two men continue their conversation, I try not to fume. I glance around at the others there; I wonder what they’re thinking. I wonder if they’re wanting to move a little further away from this man’s germs.

And a little further away from this man’s religion.

This comes to mind:

“I often envision an exasperated Jesus coming back, and the first words out of his mouth to his followers as his feet hit the pavement being “You had one job: Love. So, what happened?” 
– John Pavlovitz

That’s what John Pavlovitz wrote in a book I just finished reading, If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk: Finding a Faith That Makes Us Better Humans. (It was initially the title that caught my attention. But the content kept it.)

Pavlovitz also writes this:

“If we were to reflect and have honest conversations with one another—and more importantly, with people outside our gatherings—we’d likely find that the most serious wounds to the body of Christ have been self-inflicted.

The Church is not fighting the rebellious, faithless, heathen world, as I’d always been taught, but itself. And as a result, I find myself in two fierce battles lately. I am simultaneously fighting both with and for my faith tradition.”
– John Pavlovitz

Sigh. I relate. It’s really not about masks or no masks per se. That’s just a symptom.

The deeper issue is this: Are we or are we not willing to show love to the world, even at personal expense?

Today maybe it’s masks. Next year it may be something else.

But whichever tool-du-jour is at our disposal to show love to our neighbor, shouldn’t believers step up and use it?

Instead, we’re fighting amongst ourselves about it. 

But What About Me?

“The way you treat other people…is the space where your values are on full display. . . . Jesus called it the “fruit” of a life: the tangible, visible, feel-able part of human beings that reflect whatever has taken root in their hearts.”
– John Pavlovitz

The door opens to the hallway of patient rooms. A nurse calls the name of the talkative man. It’s his turn to go back.

I imagine hearing a collective sigh of relief rising up from our little pop-up community here in the waiting room.

It’s only later when I return to my car that I think about my double standard. Yes, I am wearing a mask to show love to my fellow humans.

But no, I am not responding in love to this particular fellow man at all. I’ve already completely judged him, this man I know nothing about.

Just because I see his face doesn’t mean I see his heart. Maybe he’s not wearing a mask because of a medical condition. Maybe he recently recovered from covid and knows he isn’t contagious. Or maybe he just doesn’t wear one because he doesn’t want to wear one.

Whatever his reason, I don’t know it.

And while I still think it would have been courteous for him to put on a mask, especially in light of his Jesus talk, I don’t need to stereotype him as a bad person.

As I wear the Christian label myself, am I doing anything differently than he is? I’m struggling with anger about him, with self-righteousness, with pride, all the ugly things.

Are we both violating the law of love, our one job?

His violation may be a more visible expression of a lack of concern for others, but my violation, even though in secret, is just as much a failure to love, to give the benefit of the doubt, to even care enough to ask him his story.

We’re just the same, he and I.

Let’s Not Screw It Up

The things I hear about the church’s reputation these days is troubling. Again quoting John Pavlovitz:

Sadly, the American Church has in many ways become the greatest argument for someone not becoming a Christian, for rejecting organized religion and never looking back.”
– John Pavlovitz

None of us wants to see this happen.

But even as we fail to live up to the ideal image of Christ, can’t we at least not be jerks?

It’s not easy, but I want to do this:

“Loving beyond our capabilities is almost always going to be inconvenient beforehand and beautiful afterward, rarely the other way around. . . . 

Nothing feels as good as when we show someone more decency than they may deserve, when we err on the side of loving them—even if their response is less than appreciative.”
– John Pavlovitz

I want to err on the side of loving more and judging less.

Love is our one job.

Let’s not screw it up.

Featured Post—Kindness

Read Barbara’s post on kindness for reminders of how to move through the world.

Her words convicted me about our call to love even our enemies:

“How is it that we apply this to everyone else under the sun, except the person who irritates us the most?”

Read all of Barbara’s words here, then link up your blog posts below.


Do you find yourself judging people too before you know the facts? Share your thoughts in the comments.

My thanks to NetGalley + WJK for the review
copy of If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk


1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).


Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

One Word 2021 Linkup for September

Have you talked to anyone lately about your One Word?

  • Do they define your word a little differently?
  • How do they see your word in their own life?
  • Can they offer suggestions for how you could practice your word?

Give us an update on your progress with your word by adding a link below. 

You can also leave us a comment about your One Word.


This Month’s Challenge

Sometimes our One Word “works” or doesn’t “work” based on other things happening in our lives.

Are any of those circumstances within your control?

As you exercise your word the next 30 days, see how you would fill in these blanks.

I could have more [YOUR ONE WORD] in my life if:

  • I did this _______________.
  • I didn’t do this _______________.

Can you write a prayer asking God for clarity in deciding which responsibilities belong to you and which don’t?

And his help in following through?

This linkup will remain open from September 21 – 30.

The next One Word linkup will open on October 21.

If you’d like to receive a monthly email for suggestions about your word, sign up here.

You can also join our One Word 2021 Facebook group here for more interaction. 

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Link Up About Your One Word!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Light Has an Order: How to Light Up Someone Else


We still have three more months.

I’m not one of those people who has their Christmas shopping done by September. Alas. I’d love to be.

But I’m never quite ready to think about it this early.

There’s an order to my Christmas shopping:

  • identify who to buy for,
  • determine what they’d like,
  • buy the gift,
  • wrap the gift, and
  • give the gift.

I usually get hung up at step 2. It takes me until December to get over the hump enough to move forward again.

Yet there’s something about Christmas I am ready for, at any time of the year. It’s a candlelight Christmas service at church. We attend one each December at a neighboring church as part of our annual Christmas tradition.

Lighting the candles is the most moving part for me.

There’s an order to it, too.

  • First, we receive the unlit candles.
  • Second, someone brings the fire, and lights his neighbor’s candle from his own.
  • Third, that person passes the flame to their neighbor, who passes it to their neighbor, until it’s finally my turn too.
  • And then I get to pass the flame to my neighbor.

In the end, we all have lit small candles with little flames, but it creates much light. We raise our candles high and climax in singing “Silent Night.”

It’s a beautiful process. It stirs my soul.

Jesus manifests himself to me in a similar order as well.

“This life was revealed to us. We have seen it, and we testify about it. We are reporting to you about this eternal life that was in the presence of the Father and was revealed to us.”
1 John 1:2

  • First, Jesus reveals his love.
  • I need to pay attention to see it.
  • If so, I receive it.
  • Then I have love to spread round to others.

In that order.

Granted, sometimes I get lazy and try to flip the order. I try to tell about something I know little about. Or show love before I’ve received love. Or I simply drop out after the first or second step, and never end up sharing this authentic life with another person.

So as I focus on 1 John 1:2 this week, I know Jesus will start the process by giving his love; I can count on that. My part is to notice how he becomes visible each day. In the seeing, I can then collect a bounty of love to share with someone else.

Just like the fire on the candles I light at Christmas, I want to feel the heat of Jesus’s presence. I want to smell the smoke. I want to notice the movement. I want to see by his light.

And then I want light up someone else with this love, too.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Who can you share a light with this week? Get your candle lit, then pass it along. Share your thoughts in the comments.

I’m sharing at these blog parties

What Dark Can’t Do to Light
—Grace & Truth Linkup

grace-and-truth-weekly-christian-linkup-its friday

Donna’s work exposes her to the underbelly of life. She often sees the bad things, the hard things, that we humans can do to each other.

In our featured post this week, Donna sits us in a courthouse hallway with her, awaiting her turn to advocate for a child.

But even in the worst of the worst situations, she still finds hope. She seeks for it.

Donna finds it in the light that God shines in the dark.

She reminds us of the apostle John’s words:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:5

Donna took a deep dive in the Greek word “overcome” in this verse.

And she saw what the darkness has NOT done.

The darkness has not overcome the light.

“Christ, the Light John speaks of in John 1:5, not only defeats darkness, He ensures the dark forces of sin and evil are powerless to ever apprehend Him and therefore His own.”

Read all of Donna’s post here, then add your blog own links below.


Where do you need to see light overcome darkness? Share your thoughts in the comments.

I’m linking at these blog parties


1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).


Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

When You’re Not Sure How God Works


Audacious Prayers

It’s Sunday morning, 10:30 a.m. We’re crammed in the choir room after first service is over but before second service begins (pre-Covid days).

Someone closes the door. This is serious now. A choir member has asked for prayers for healing. It’s time to get down to business.

In the church I grew up in years ago, we weren’t bold with our prayers. Sure, we asked God to help us…if he wanted to, if he didn’t have anything more important to do, if he thought us worthy enough.

It felt a little flimsy.

But the prayers in this choir room are of a different flavor.

And they make me nervous.

They’re outrageous. They don’t just ask for future healing; they declare it to be so. And further, that it’s already occurred.

Everyone in the room needs to agree.

I’m not used to this.

Um, should I walk out if I don’t fully believe that the healing has already occurred? I don’t want to be a hindrance.

But my leaving would be quite noticable. I would be embarrassed. I would be pegged an unbeliever.

Is It Okay to Ask?

But I can’t fully convince myself I know what God will or won’t do.

And I further can’t convince myself that if God DOES want to heal, my belief or unbelief wouldn’t outstrip his ability to do so.

Does that make me a heretic? Of little faith? A lesser believer?

Are questions a bad thing?

I understand how more certainty and less doubts can bring more peace, less stress.

Science agrees that those who regularly participate in religious practices with strong beliefs report greater well-being than those who don’t, for a variety of reasons.

Psychologists also examine how certainty comes into play.

“With belief—that God will intervene, that a ritual will heal—comes certainty. And with certainty comes a kind of inner peace.”
– David DeSteno, How God Works

People who are more certain that God is at this moment killing all the cancer cells as they pray are more likely to be calm. They’re more at peace. They have less stress.

I’m Not Convinced

But my questions remain.

What happens if the choir member finds out at next week’s scan that his cancer has not gone away, but in fact has grown? What does that do to his faith? To the faith of those who prayed away the cancer already?

Start the process over and believe even harder next time?

I’m not convinced this is how faith works. I’m not convinced this is how God works.

And I’m not convinced that God is bothered by my questions.

God created some of us more inquisitive than others. My dad was that way. He was always asking questions. Always curious. Always wanting to learn more. Maybe I am this way, too.

I don’t think it’s a negative. Or a sin.

It doesn’t mean I love God less. Or trust God less. Or have less faith. It just means I’m inquisitive.

God is stronger than my weakest doubt. My faith isn’t dependent on my certainty about how God works.

I’m not even capable of understanding how God works anyway.

None of us are.

Uncertainty Is Uncomfortable

As I walk through this year of Uncertainty as my One Word, I’m learning that making peace with uncertainty is both harder than I ever imagined, but also more necessary than I thought.

Because, after all, if I’m never uncertain about anything, I’ll never change. I’ll never grow. I’ll never move closer and closer to actual truth.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to be sure about things. There are plenty of things I feel sure about. And yes, it comforts me (or, depending on what it is, it disturbs me).

But we can’t be sure about everything. Too much of life is volatile. It’s unpredictable.

When I am positive I already know everything, I shut myself off from learning new things.

And I can’t afford to do that. There is always more to learn.

I need to learn new things. I need to grow. I need to be transformed more and more into the image of Christ by experiencing him in new ways and by thinking new thoughts and by learning new behaviors.

Better ones. More accurate ones. More godly ones.

I believe it’s what God wants me to do. He wants me to keep searching for him. And he’ll keep providing evidence to prove his presence.

Uncertainty can be a bridge between here to there. It requires humility to cross over. It requests arrogance be left behind.

Am I wrong even now about some of the things I’m certain are true? Most assuredly so, even though I can’t see which ones yet.

I trust God to continue revealing truth to me all my life, if I’ll remain open to receive it.

But Uncertainty Is Okay

I stay in the choir room that Sunday morning. It feels rude to leave.

But I pray my own prayer, my honest prayer.

Like the others in the room, I want to believe God has already stripped away the cancer cells from my friend and that the doctor will find nothing on the next x-ray. I ask with audacity for complete healing. I’ve done so many times in the past and will continue to do so in the future. 

But I just can’t demand God to do it.

And I can’t guarantee his answer.

Uncertainty is okay. Even good. It leaves space for God to show up in unexpected ways.

Even when it’s uncomfortable.

How does God work?

I can’t say for certain.

I’ve just seen that he does.

Even if I don’t understand how.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

My thanks to NetGalley for the review copy of How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion by David DeSteno. It’s a fascinating look at how religious practices themselves affect our lives from birth to death (but it’s not about how God does or doesn’t act through the practices).

I’m sharing at these blog parties

Are You Spiritually Jaundiced? 3 Ways Light Can Save Your Life

She’s Here!

It’s a Wednesday in October 2019. Cheyenne is 1 day old.

She is a bigger girl than we expected, 9 pounds and 4 ounces. She feels so heavy, looks so beautiful, already loved so dearly.


But the nurse whisks in this day with a determined look in her eye. Mid-nursing, my daughter Morgan is asked by the nurse to hand over her baby.

They have Cheyenne’s bilirubin numbers. They are dangerously high. She is jaundiced at a disturbing level.

She must go to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Now!

Everything now depends on the light.

The Dangers of Jaundice

Mild infant jaundice isn’t unusual. Almost 60% of newborns are born with jaundice. It causes their skin and eyes to look yellowish. It often disappears on its own within two to three weeks and is harmless.

But occasionally, the build-up of bilirubin in the blood (the normal byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells) is so high it can cross the thin tissue that separates the brain and blood.

It can damage both the spinal cord and the brain. It can lead to cerebral palsy, hearing loss, learning disabilities, and if left untreated, it can even be fatal.

But what about spiritual jaundice? Is it dangerous too?

When we have a build-up of bad habits, of toxic relationships, of negative attitudes, our spiritual lives also become jaundiced. And not to stretch the metaphor too far, but this build-up can also cross the thin place connecting the brain and the blood.

What can we do about it?

Turn on the Lights!

With my granddaughter Cheyenne, they say she’ll need to stay under the special lights in NICU 24/7, for 3-5 days, until her bilirubin levels come down. Otherwise, she could have brain damage (kernicterus or bilirubin encephalopathy).

She immediately begins phototherapy, or light treatment.


Thank God for the light.

How does phototherapy work?

The special blue-green spectrum of bililights helps make the bilirubin water-soluble, a process called photo-oxidation. With more oxygen in the bilirubin, it’s easier for Cheyenne’s liver to break down the bilirubin and remove it from her blood as she pees and poops. She’s also extra hydrated to speed up the elimination of bilirubin and to protect her from losing too much water through her skin under the lights.

Jeff and I get to peek at Cheyenne in the NICU. We can’t touch her yet.

But we can see her.

She looks so lonely there by herself, wearing the tiniest little sunglasses you ever can imagine, hooked up to an IV, and laying on a bili-blanket of light below with an array of lights all around.

3 Ways Light Can Save You

The healing for our spiritual jaundice also requires extra doses of light. The message the apostle Paul heard from John is God is light (1 John 1: 5).

Here are three ways we can turn on the light for spiritual light therapy, helping clear up our spiritual jaundice.


Check yourself into the ICU. Intentionally listen for stirrings of God. Maybe you’ll hear him in your favorite music. Or listen for him as you read a favorite psalm about God aloud. Step outside tonight to listen to the insect sounds he created and return outside in the morning to hear the bird songs he orchestrates.


Sit under more light. Look for God in other people. Everyone is made in his image. You’ll find traces of him in every person that crosses your path. See him in your work with others. Reflect on your relationships through the years to remind yourself of all the places God has shown up.


Reach for God’s light this week by loving yourself, his creation of wonder. Allow God to love you through small treats (for me, it’s a special dessert or time doing puzzles). Take a walk in the sunshine and feel God’s warmth on your skin.

God’s light is not in short supply. Wrap yourself up in it. Let his light break through your jaundice. 

Touch the Light

Cheyenne is now two days old. It’s Thursday. The grandparents are allowed again into the NICU. This time Lauren, her nurse (God bless her), lets us all the way in.

Jeff and I are grateful to hold our second granddaughter. It’s difficult with the tubes and the light board.

We gingerly wrap our hands around her. We’re thankful to touch her.


The light is saving her life.

She cries. I do, too.

At three days old on Friday, the light treatment (and Cheyenne’s miraculous, God-designed body) is clearing out the bilirubin quicker than expected. She is disconnected from her IV and released from the NICU light therapy.

She returns to a regular hospital room with my daughter, her mom. And she meets her big sister.


After five days in the hospital, Cheyenne is finally released.

Her journey with jaundice still isn’t over (it will take a few more days for it all to clear), but she’s finally well enough to ride home with her mommy and daddy on Saturday.

Grateful for the Light

I’ll always look back to those days almost two years ago with gratitude for the special light that saved my granddaughter.

It reminds me still to be grateful for the special light that saves us all.

We all depend on light for life.

The very Word of life, light himself, existed from the beginning. We have seen his light. We live because of his light.

See the light in your life today. Observe the light. Touch the light.

The light will save you, too.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

This is Week 1 of reading (and for some of us, memorizing) 1 John 1. (It’s not too late to join us.)

John wrote:

“The Word of life existed from the beginning. We have heard it. We have seen it. We observed and touched it.” (1 John 1:1, GW)

Yes. Thank you, God.

How has light saved you in your dark moments? Share in the comments.

I’m sharing at these blog parties