We are all One in Christ Jesus

Love one another

But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:26-29

I remember when the Berlin wall came down. It was a historical moment. Here is a little snippet of Reagan’s infamous “tear down that wall” speech:

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

I understand the fear of war and the pain of division that afflict this continent– and I pledge to you my country’s efforts to help overcome these burdens. To be sure, we in the West must resist Soviet expansion. So we must maintain defenses of unassailable strength. Yet we seek peace; so we must strive to reduce arms on both sides.

Jesus was the original “wall leveler.” He smashed walls right and left, and it got Him into a lot of trouble. He addressed women, as equals, he ate and drank with tax collectors and sinners. He mingled with the rich and poor and he approached lepers and the outcasts of society. He never refused anyone who came to Him.

It’s been said that the ground is level at the foot of the cross and I believe that. There are no levels in Christianity, you either are or you aren’t. We are all clinging to the cross each and every day if we are to be honest with ourselves. I don’t know why, but we tend to grade each other and ourselves, but Jesus never does. God really doesn’t care how many times a week we go to church. He cares about the motives of our hearts. This needs to be said.

Paul spoke about walls and divisions when people in the church were starting to break themselves up in different “camps.” And we tend to do the same thing with our Pastors and each other. It’s just human nature I guess.

But this is the truth…….we are all in just as much of a dire and desperate need of Jesus as when we first believed. If we think differently, then we are deceiving ourselves. Most of the time, we fall somewhere between Billy Graham and Mother Theresa and the prodigal son and Peter when he hacked off the Roman’s ear. They were all in different places in their journey throughout their lives and so are we.

Christianity is simply this, that each day we come anew to the cross. Each day we celebrate a new Resurrection from death to life. Each day we try our best and admit our utter failure in ourselves and our utter belief in Jesus.

Jesus is praying for unity. He is praying that we love, and forgive. We are all on a journey to meet Jesus face to face someday. This means you, if you have ever said yes to Him. Look around, there are no “Super-Christians” here. Just people who have humbled themselves and responded to the Invitation.

In the quiet of night when only God saw.

In the middle of a church service.

With your arms around a fellow believer.

Even after you said you never would.

You get up, and you go. Against the odds, with all eyes upon you.

This means you, if you’ve ever felt the lump in your throat and tears spill over at Amazing Grace, or How Great Thou Art.

If you’ve ever known the unmistakable tug of the Spirit in the middle of the day.

This means you, even if you haven’t darkened the door of a church in a while. He knows you’re His and there is nothing you can do to change that.

You, who no longer have to be judge jury executioner of your own life, that’s so exhausting isn’t it?

I love how the Message puts Romans 3:21-24:

But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

I like to think of it like this. When you are out on a hike, there is a kind of rule. It’s unspoken but it’s there. I like to call it the grace of the trail. We are all on different levels, but we respect each other just for being out there under God’s blue sky. We give each other grace, we step aside so the faster ones can pass. Always, we try to greet each other with a smile of encouragement.

This is what we need to do as for each other as believers.

So grab a walking stick and come along with me. Extending a hand of Grace is a lot easier at the foot of the cross, the trail-head always starts there.


Company on the Trail

The God Who Sees

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” John Muir, The Mountains of California

When I got up this morning the wind chimes were clanging again, and the patio umbrella trembled in its stand. Yesterday, some of the neighbor’s roof shingles had stuck up straight like a bad comb-over. Today I guess the wind had shifted because they were back down flat, but it was going to be another windy day.

I wasn’t going to go to the mountain, but sometimes you can’t let the weather stop you. I needed my little slice of nature such as the desert can provide. I parked the car and crunched up the trail, once again so glad I shelled out the money for Merrill boots. The gravel and sharp stones on the desert trail can be merciless on shoes. In good shoes you can let your feet do what they were meant to do and you worry less about slipping.

As I walked I felt the familiar buoyancy, my soul untethering itself. It’s a bit like coming home, the trail is. It doesn’t look a bit like the trails of my childhood, there are no pine trees here as there are high up in the Sierra Nevada but somehow it doesn’t matter. That’s the thing about hiking. Each trail is really an echo of the one before it and they all eventually join each other.

Hikers know this.

As I walk, I find myself thinking about the wind and how sometimes it can be a Holy thing to go out and join up with the weather when it’s less than perfect. Harnessing ourselves to something uncontrollable is what we do when we give God control of our lives. The Holy Spirit can make you do some unpredictable things. Like one minute you’re minding your own business listening to Michael W. Smith sing “Majesty” and the next minute you are kneeling on the kitchen floor with your hands in the air.

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

As I walk on, I pause along the way and look at some things close up. A bird’s nest tucked inside the arms of a spiny bush, a scraggly tree covered in miniature purple orchid-like blooms. I relax into the rhythm of my footfall and find myself thinking of my Dad. He taught me that if you are really quiet, nature will talk to you. He also taught me that while nature should always be respected, it should never be feared.

He also taught me the wild freedom of peeing in the woods and that it’s okay to blow your nose right out there in the open, even if you’re a girl. The wilderness gives you permission to do things you’d never do anywhere else.

Another thing about the trail, it sets your mind free to meander down its own path. Somehow the conversations you never find time for at home, you can find time for on the trail; almost as if it’s safe to take them out since you know the trees and rocks and birds don’t listen.

Or maybe they do.


Sometimes the trail brings surprises too, in the form of friends who meet you there. Thank you E! You showing up was the perfect end to the hike, I had no idea you were there!

Church on the Mountain


“And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:27-29

“I have an idea!” She said. “Let’s have church on the mountain tomorrow.”

“Excellent!” I said…….”Let’s do it, and we’ll have communion up there too!”

When you are between churches like we are right now, sometimes you have to be creative, leave a little room for the Spirit to work. So this morning, I packed it all together in my camera bag. Cranberry juice and oyster crackers stood in place of the bread and wine.

On the way up the trail, nestled in my bag, I heard them clink together softly and I smiled to myself.

Jesus and I had a secret.

I paused by a Joshua Tree, remembering the words I had read earlier that morning about how they pushed the cruel crown of thorns down on His brow until it bled in rivers down His face. God’s face.


As we got to the top, I paused to let a family come down. Their two little boys were very loud and I was ready for the quiet, for the moment to pause and remember. I waited for E to join me. She had to backtrack because she was talking to a lady hiking with her dog and got side-tracked and missed the turn for Huff and Puff.

We scrambled over rocks and carefully picked our way to the top and I jostled around looking for a flat place to set up. As I presented the heart-shaped doily and stemmed glasses, she laughed. “I should have known!”

Nothing is too good for Jesus, after all.

It was a bit windy, so she held onto the glasses while I aimed for the shot. This was our view.


While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Matthew 26:26

There on the mountain, we each settled with our elements in hand, having lost only a little a splash of juice and a few crackers that had rolled down the mountain. I didn’t even need to find the verses in my iPhone because the words were already in her heart, and they sprang free, flowing out like rivers of living water as she lifted her glass:


The words come naturally to one whose life has truly been changed. No rehearsal is necessary.

“Do this,” He said. “As a remembrance.”

The lady on the trail had asked if we were sisters. E told her yes, sisters of the best possible kind.

Soul sisters. Kindred spirits. Sisters of the heart. Sisters in Christ.

“For where two or three gather together as my followers,I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20