Glory is when holiness comes to expression. How we glorify God.

As God is the saints’ glory so they are His.

An amazing statement. Hear Jesus pray in John 17 that, “I have given them the glory that you gave me.”

Glory is the extraordinary, mind-blowing weightiness of God’s presence as He brings to light or manifests all the goodness that He has and is. Glory is when holiness comes to expression.

At creation, only man was given a deposit of this glory, we were made in the image of God  (imago dei). God animated our souls with His God breath.  Man can express our worship of God only because from our spirit, where that deposit of glory rest, our soul’s interpreter speaks using man’s tongue. The glory of man above all created, uses words to declare praises. This is to glorify God.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. Heb 13:15

To glorify God is to be used to bring Glory to Him.

I write “used” because we are incapable of doing this ourselves. The imperfect cannot show or explain the perfect. When we glorify God it is God glorifying Himself through us. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Phil 2:3 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Cor 4:7

How does God work in us and through us to bring Himself glory?

Using the different meanings of glory we can better understand what glorify means.

Light: Jesus calls us the light of the world and we need to shine and illumine our area of influence with the presence of Christ. Light reveals. To glorify God is to reveal God so others see Him. See Him, not us.

Majesty: Recognizing God as our great Lord and King. To glorify God is to live in submission to His will and purposes. We exalt the awesomeness of God’s sovereign rule, absolute power and majestic creation.

Brilliance: Make God look good by our love and unity with believers. To glorify God is to make Him beautiful, desirable, and attractive in the eyes of man by the radiant way that we live out our love for Him and others.

Boasting: Holding God in high esteem we value, delight and take pride in God, valuing our relationship with God above everything else. We give a witness to God’s work in our lives and boast of Christ and the good news of His grace and gospel. To glorify God is to live our lives so that God could boast of us like He did about Job.

Honor:  Publically show the value that we have toward God. To glorify God is to express God’s worth to us in praise, worship and adoration. We magnify God’s name by making God’s name heard then pronouncing it great so others will also fear, which Biblically means be in awe of and respect, Him. We promote the name of God with great respect with the purpose that the mere mention of God’s name would evoke praise from men.

There are also ways we steal glory from God.

We glorify creation instead of the creator. We give glory to ourselves, our opinions, our works, ways and wills or we give glory to the world, men or objects, events or emotions. We ignore God, omit Him in conversations or fail to model Him to others. We profane His name with words or actions. We are taken over by pride. We put something above God, called an idol, that hides God’s character or distorts it as all things that lie to us do.  We don’t do what we say which labels us a hypocrite.

How can we glorify God with great intention.

Prepare our knowledge, attitude and will to this end by an earnest desire and commitment to glorify God.
Shift our attention to live out a life of worship by becoming aware of God’s presence and giving honor to Him.
Pray for a desire to glorify God, a consciousness of when we steal glory and a commitment to live it out.

In the Westminster Shorter Catechism the question, “What is the chief end of man?” is answered.
Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
The second question is “What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him?”
The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him.

Psalm 145 describes what glory is, why it is to be given to God, and how we are to give it.

First David describes what glory is and how it is to be given:

1 I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. 2 Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. 3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. 4 One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. 5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. 6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds.7 They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

The psalmist goes on to describe the character of God in a way that makes Him desirable to men:

8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. 9 The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 10 All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. 11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.

The writer continues with God’s noble acts:

14 The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. 17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. 20 The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. 21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. Psalm 34:3

Want to learn more, read The Honor Series, parables about God’s glory expressed in contemporary fiction.

Glory the work of suffering. How evil’s wounds become victory’s scars.

I work at being a writer. I practice each day and read the works of others and study the craft and have a curious mind when it comes to words and the working out of language. But within my old school pen or modern age laptop there is not any magical power or tendency within the equipment to ‘write’. They are only tools and cannot labor by themselves without the writer taking them up to work. The tools do not create or produce even a letter without being taken in hand.

So if glory is the work of suffering, is there any merit in affliction, sufferings and troubles?

Does God barter eternal glory for a toothache, family troubles, poverty, lack, widowhood, old age? We dismiss that immediately if we know even the beginning truths of God’s plan of redemption that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. God does not invest affliction with any degree of merit and certainly no ‘magic’ power to earn glory. Affliction works for us like my laptop and my pen. There is no merit in the keys that type the letter. The merit is in the hand of him that strikes the keys into an order. The efficacy lies in the strength and skill of the writer.

Have you recently had a severe family trouble? There is a saying, “A mother is only as happy as their saddest child.” We suffer with our children maybe more than they suffer. But have you been able to weigh the Lord’s dealings with you? Have you seen the effect of those trials upon your soul and what spiritual profit have you reaped? Can you find in these troubles any fruits of the spirit?

No. Huh? There’s not a greater love when you are in lack? A kinder heart when you’re being slandered? A greater patience in that third round of chemo? A stellar self-control that pushes aside even a snarl as you deal with back pain?

Then you are more like me and ‘woe, is me’ when suffering starts. We can find ourselves blowing up balloons of self-pity and having a woe-is-me party before we even see how we’re responding. If you’re critical of that then beware the seat of scoffers.

Trials test us.

They prove out what is real in us and sometimes the first fruits are spoiled, rotten. In the prequel to The Glory series, you’ll see this illustrated—Honey Cooper, a faithful cowboy, acts more like a rank bull when his world gets rocked. Believers don’t allows act out what we believe.

Often our flesh rises up and acts out first when we encounter suffering.

Afflictions can bring out rebellion, peevishness, fretfulness, self-pity, unbelief and even despair. Troubles can cause a tantrum that would put a two year old to shame. Most of us are not sanctified enough to say at the start of suffering, “This is my comfort in my affliction, for your word has quickened me;” or, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes?”

Our initial response can often be immature, but God. But. God. Works in us. His hand is upon the spade turning over the dirt and the typewriter keys guiding our story. Spirit fills us when we are upon the floor in an exhausted heap from our tantrum and words become prayer, supplication, confession, desires. Our first whispered, “Help me, God,” begins our cooperation for this sanctifying suffering working to make us more like Christ.

Our heart, too often, is so full of the world that there is in it little room for Christ until He himself drives out the intruders and prunes away the rabbit trail branches that lead to comfortable fruitless lives.

Affliction in his hands, and especially spiritual affliction, convinces us of the sin and emptiness of loving the world. It embitters us to its temptations and loosens our heartstrings to its pleasures.

We don’t understand the power sin exercises in our carnal mind. What strongholds it builds. We are blind to its destructive fruit. What a need there is for a fierce, furious love of God to go to war in our behalf against an enemy we often ignore and disregard or even flirt with. Christ is a jealous dominate lover of our souls. He will tolerate no rivals.  We are fools to think Him mean. Harsh. Uncaring. Strict. Or worse, far away. He is with us. Here. In this suffering, trouble, affliction, mess. And he is working. Working. That’s the key action.

I AM is working.

He is God and He is a hater of sin and a lover of His own. And He, is working in us. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10)

We need His discipline to teach us the folly of our ways and assure us that nothing, nothing, nothing save Christ is eternal. We need his corrections to convince us that abiding and thriving is the holy way to glory not sufficiency and striving. We need Him. This Jesus. With his scarred hands, evil’s wounds now victories scars. What love is this? That God would show us how to suffer well.  What hope is this? That the cross, a torturous death device, worked out our salvation. What faith is this? That we are promised a result from affliction; Glory.

And as God is the saints’ glory so they are His. Glory. It is all His.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor 4:17-18

Want to learn more, read The Glory Series, parables about God’s glory expressed in contemporary fiction.

Glory is the extraordinary, mind-blowing weightiness of God’s presence as He brings to light & manifests all the goodness that He has & is.


Affliction. This is light? a study of Glory in 2 cor 4:17-18

Affliction. Troubles. Times, when as the Message says, ‘things are falling apart on us.’ And God’s true Word says these moments are light.
As in light in weight, a burden easy to bear. Cancer, light? Wayward children, light? This back pain, light? I’m in debt, light? Without a job, light? Divorced, light? None of this feels, light. Suffering presses body and soul down into the dust with its weight and it is hardly ever ‘momentary’. This trouble started months or years ago and its peculiar nature could continue to remain for the rest of life. I don’t call that momentary.

But neither our foreboding nor our feelings on suffering can be taken as proofs of how a matter really stands. We must receive the Spirit of Truth’s testimony not our fallible feelings or false fears. If you answered the call of grace and know Christ as your savior then you, child of God, are called to carry on these light and momentary afflictions so that these troubles can do their work.

Neither our foreboding or feelings can be taken as proofs of reality- We must receive & believe the Spirit of Truth’s testimony in the Word. Tweet: Neither our foreboding or feelings can be taken as proofs of reality- We must receive & believe the Spirit of Truth’s testimony in the Word.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 2 Cor 4:17(KJV) Link to this another working verse, the ever faithful promise found in Romans 8:28 in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good.

These light in weight and easy to bear troubles come in two varieties: temporal and spiritual.

Temporal afflictions that people are subject to by reason of the fall are universal and come as bodily afflictions, family sorrows, and providential trials.  Summing it up so we don’t rabbit trail, here are some principles:

  • Health troubles prove out a sanctified illness is far better than an unsanctified health.
  • Earthly happiness is much derived from family but too often we set up these ‘family idols’ as our household gods and they usurp the place of God and chain us down too closely to earth.
  • There is a poverty found in riches and a richness found in poverty.

Spiritual afflictions are unique to the children of God. What is loss of health, family, friends, job, property … to the hidings of God’s face, to guilt of conscience, to the smell of death on an unbeliever, to the anticipation of the coming day of wrath? What are the temporary afflictions you suffer compared to the frown of your Beloved savior, the pruning of his sheers, the touch of His weighty hand?

How can these be light when we feel them so heavy?

Holy Spirit makes no mistakes. He describes things as they really are in God’s sight so they must be lined up in our sight. Let us confess we are wrong. Again. In how we feel about things. Now let us return to God and see if Spirit can come along side to help us see truth and believe it.

Compare and contrast is a good place to start to understand something. And we are in the process of changing how we think about Affliction so let’s go deeper.

If Glory is heavy, affliction is called light. 2 cor 4:17-18  Tweet: If Glory is heavy, affliction is called light. 2cor4:17

Weigh your blessings against your afflictions. First look at your stewardship compared to your blessings. Your ROI (return on investment) to Christ’s sacrificial love and abundant blessings. You’ve been given every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Eph 1) Every. Spiritual. Blessing. And if you can’t fill a book with your gratitude for these then you need to stop now and take up Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are and be given sight. You’re blind my friend to the work of God.

Put blessings into one scale and all your afflictions, both temporal and spiritual, into the other. Are your afflictions heavy now? Compare your light and temporary troubles to the eternal torments of those damned in hell. Compare your sufferings with the Lord Jesus Christ’s passion week. Have you drank the dregs of the cup of God’s wrath? Do we really suffer with a little body pain, a child afflicted, not quite so much money, a marriage more a trial than a comfort and think to compare our afflictions with the Man of Sorrow?

And if the light of these is ever so heavy, Spirit still says it is ‘but for a moment’.

There is an expiration date on our suffering marked momentary.

What is time compared to eternity? A grain of sand to the beach, one star to the galaxy, a drop compared to the ocean. They are insufficient to even compare. Time and eternity can never be compared together. Today cannot stand against all the past and every tomorrow.

Think about this. What if all of Job’s suffering were yours. If all of Paul’s, Jonah’s, David’s, Leah & Rachel’s, the ancient martyrs, all of these put upon your head to live out. When death came and your soul was transformed to eternity, what would they be? Only a moment.

If we let undisciplined minds run amuck and imagine the absolute worst, we forebode joy. Only one Man ever took on all the suffering upon His head. This Jesus will never lay upon His own more than they can bear. “He knows are frame, He remembers that we are dust.” Go to an Ash Wednesday service this lent and experience the reminder of who we are in His sight.


But we are also bruised reeds He will never break and smoking flax He will never quench. And chosen people He calls his friends that He knows so personally the intensity and duration of every suffering is shifted through his scarred hands. Under the heaviest afflictions, the Lord grants the greatest support and in the deepest sorrows He sings the most precious songs. There is always a promise given, a word of comfort and a peace provided in Him that lights up every darkness with Shekinah glory.

Why does God allow these light and momentary sufferings? For the sanctifying of the soul, His own glory, and the anticipation of heaven.

Seen this way and now considered, can we call our own affections ‘light?’ Fixing our eyes on eternity, can we endure in this present state ‘but for the moment?’ Spirit of Truth has enlightened the enigma. Now can we leave rebellious opinions, self-pity and unbelief behind.


So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.  2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (MSG)

Want to learn more, read The Glory Series, parables about God’s glory expressed by J.L. Kelly.

GLORY. This is heavy. What does Glory mean?

“Glory is a word of uncertain origin,” the etymology dictionary stated well.
One of those ancient words we use but what does Glory mean?

The Hebrew root words seem deep as they define Glory as heavy or weighty. I read that the first time and thought, heavy? I thought glory was bright and brilliant, magnificent splendor and it is defined that way in Old French.

Gloire “the splendor of God or Christ; praise offered to God, worship, glory (of God); worldly honor, renown; splendor, magnificence, pomp” (11c., Modern French gloire).
From the Latin there is gloria “fame, renown, great praise or honor.”
The Greek took the Latin word and gave us another way to think about Glory, they called it doxa (From dokeō, “to  seem”) and defined it as “expectation” (Homer), later “an opinion, judgment or estimate and hence the honor resulting from a good opinion.”

Glory is used of the nature and acts of God in self-manifestation, what He essentially is and does, as exhibited in whatever way He reveals Himself in these respects.

In worship, God is Glorified; ascribing honor to Him as we acknowledge Him as to His being, attributes and acts. A doxology from the Ancient Greek (doxa, “glory” and logia, “saying”) is a short hymn of praises to God and the tradition derives from a similar practice in the Jewish synagogue to end each section of the service.

Listen to Nicole Nordeman sing the doxology.

Opps…rabbit trail...quickly forming…

Back to the future and our topic.  “Whoa, this is heavy!” I repeat what was proclaimed in all three Back to the Future movies by Marty and the slang helps me understand glory as heavy:

1) When something is unbelievable, out of the ordinary.
2) When something is good, excellent, brilliant.
(Urban Dictionary)

Let me sum up Glory by combing these thoughts into a stated definition.

Tweet this defintion: Glory is the extraordinary, mind-blowing weightiness of God’s presence as He brings to light & manifests all the goodness that He has & is.

When God’s presence appeared, manifested, was brought to light from the supernatural unseen world into the natural seen world, people were blown away, overwhelmed, almost crushed as they fell to their face under just a glimpse of the ‘weightiness of God’.

Glory has no true metaphor.

Its truth is so unbelievably heavy that the finite mind can’t hold it all.
The Bible tries to help us with examples like a glory that surrounds a king, the fruitfulness of a forest ( Isa 35:2 ; 60:13 ), even the awesomeness of a horse’s snorting ( Job 39:20 ), or the ornateness of expensive clothing ( Luke 7:25 ).

Glory is the extraordinary, mind-blowing weightiness of God’s presence as He brings to light or manifests all the goodness that He has and is. Glory is when holiness comes to expression.

We see. God for who He is. “Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is seen for who he is, and God seen for who he is in him. The moment God is seen in him, God’s glory will be on display. In glorifying him, he himself is glorified—glory all around!” John 13:31-32 (the Message)

Jesus Christ the son of God is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:3

This Jesus; crucified, dead and buried—was resurrected. Heavy. Hallelujah! Glory! Yes.

At creation, only man was given a deposit of this glory, we were made in the image of God  (imago dei). God animated our souls with His God’s breath.  Man can express our worship of God only because from our spirit, where that deposit of glory rest, our soul’s interpreter speaks using man’s tongue. The glory of man above all created, uses words to declare praises.

Man’s highest glory is found in his lowest posture, laying crowns at Glory’s pierced feet; for only He is worthy to receive glory and honor and power and praise.

Man has his glory days. They are found in his worldly position, in the sense of his possessions, in a young man’s strength and old man’s wisdom. At a deeper level man’s glory is found in our willingness to overlook the faults of others or avoiding strife, or sacrificially serve others. But too often man’s pursuit of folly shows that we do not live up to our glorious calling to worship God and our human glory can become an expression of independence from God. We find our eyes fixed on the earth instead of heaven. The glory days ring with ‘look at me, think of me, do not neglect me. Wash-rinse-repeat me. Busy, busy, glorifying me. What breaks the cycle?

Affliction and suffering, trials and tribulation. Call it a financial crisis, health scare, family difficulty. Those nasty things that weigh us down and bring self to a screeching halt when we realize, ‘self cannot do this life thing alone’. We turn back to God (repent). Now, if you are a partaker of grace and are able to weigh the Lord’s dealings with you, look at the results of those trials. What spiritual profit have you reaped from them?

Transformation has glory’s fingerprints all over it.

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also– knowing that tribulation works patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us.” Romans 5:3

Glory is a gift given to us in Holy Spirit.  Christ in you, the hope of glory (col 1:27); that extraordinary, mind-blowing weightiness of God’s presence as He brings to light or manifests all the goodness that He has and is. Glory is when holiness comes to expression.

J.C. Philpot preached, “There is a certain preparation necessary for the manifestation of that grace to the soul which is the beginning and the pledge of eternal glory. For instance, ‘guilt of conscience’ prepares the soul for the blood of sprinkling. The arrows of the Almighty, shot into the heart from his unerring bow, prepare it for the balm of Gilead; a taste of hell for a taste of heaven; the thunders of the law for the consolations of the gospel; views of self for views of Christ. Apprehensions of the wrath to come hunt the soul out of every false refuge, convince it of its need of an imputed righteousness, and preserve it from resting in a name to live. It is thus that the deepest trials usually issue in the greatest deliverances, the sorest distress in the sweetest consolation, and the pangs of hell in the joys of heaven.”

Paul is telling us, “In our sinful state, with our finite mind and our weak, frail body and emotions, we could not bear the weight of the immortal glory prepared for us.” Remember, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 cor 2:9

This is the “weight of glory” that the apostle speaks of– beholding and enjoying that mind-blowing weightiness of God’s presence in the Godhead trinity of Father, Son and Spirit for eternity. “We shall see Him as He is and know even as we are known.” 1 John 3:2

Jesus prayed for us this way, “My prayer is for those who will believe in me … I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17)

As God is the saints’ glory so they are His.

That’s heavy. It blows my mind. It bows my body. It lifts my empty hands and opens my speechless mouth. It swells up in my soul and manifests in an overflow of God breathed words.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


The extraordinary, mind-blowing weightiness of God’s presence as He brings to light or manifests all the goodness that He has and is.

Want to learn more, read The Glory Series, parables about God’s glory expressed.

TrAAcking Time. God’s grace in Ocular Myasthenia Gravis


Using, watching as my husband’s 787 moves across the western side of America toward Shanghai. It’s been five years since he piloted a plane. Five. Years.

I’ve always known he was a badass. It’s what attracted me to him in the very beginning. JMK had the ‘it’ factor-brains, authority, tenacity and a work ethic that exhausts the rest of mankind. It was all packaged up in that Irish soul, a deceptive kind of strength. Like Bond, James Bond. Who doesn’t look like a badass until he’s in a bad ass kind of moment. Then watch out, he engages. And it’s do-or-die time and that’s when you want a badass in your corner. In front of you with confidence, taking care of business and telling you exactly what to do. And not do. (I forget this sometimes. That the very thing that made me fall in love can also make me… um, get extremely frustrated.  Badasses are notorious bullies.)

But for five years my badass got grounded from his occupation. Ocular Myasthenia Gravis– grave muscle weakness- it attacked his eyes and gave him double vision. In the beginning he looked the part- badass pirate mike. He could do anything with an eye-patch-Harley, ski, hunt, fish as he friend-ed, fathered and husbanded and brother-ed us all on. But he lost his flight medical and took a seat at a desk job beside me. We thought God was crazy. Anyone will tell you don’t go into business with your wife. But we beat the odds and our marriage even prospered along with the business. And our spiritual growth, well it was on more steroids than mike’s daily dose of prednisone.

There isn’t enough paper and ink to chronicle what we learned in 1825 days-what we gave up and what we gained. But God. But. God. My two favorite words put together. But God, how we changed. Financially, to live with less and appreciate more. Spiritually, to live out that we trusted God to be in control. Physically, that God can heal anything and if He chooses not to or calls you to wait, that His grace is sufficient. Emotionally, that our worth and purpose is found in Christ-we are loved by Him and becoming like him is our chief ambition-not being a pilot, business owner, badass, or writer. Relation-ally, that what is eternal is found only in relationships. There God supplied everything we needed.

Jesus is a badass too.

The original badass but that’s a rabbit trail you can read about another day.

I thank you, and you know who you are- You and you and you. Family. Friends. We thank God for your prayers, encouragement and love.
Today, as I track time I am intensely sentimental and overwhelmed with gratitude and pride. Pride that we finished the race we were called to run. The last 42 days were all uphill in this marathon. Flight Training.
I can only explain it this way. Five years ago you drove a ’78 Ford standard shift truck held together with duct tape-78 ford dashboard

and now they drop you into an Indy racer ie-787 Dreamliner high-tech simulator.

dreamliner 787

And you’re 54 now. Your eyes are great-thanks to bi-focals but the brain is foggy. And the paper manual I picked up at Kinkos-1000+ pages printed both sides- you have to memorize. Of course they want you to study it off an Ipad. Now. That’s where your flight manual is housed. It used to be 20lbs of kit bag. Now it’s all on the Ipad, if you can find it with a swipe.  I joke, he can, now… but for 42 days it was badasserie at its finest. A juggling act of bi-focals (for 3 focal points), Ipad, Dreamliner and temper that sat beside Daral-a God send AA check-airman captain.

The final exam always comes at the end of the course- I’m talking about the five year grounding – and he passed. American was so glad to have him back they started sending him free stuff- Ipad, Cole Hahn briefcase, beautiful new uniforms! Ok… yes the FedEx guy told me he was delivering them all over DFW this week. But I like to think everyone was celebrating with us. And as the new uniform was hung on the door hook of the closet and his new CCK;) bag tags were put on his carry on luggage and he did what badasses do—preflight the next day. I felt so proud of him and for him.  My badass is back in the cockpit.

Ocular Myasthenia Gravis enabled us to behold His glory.

“We [actually] saw His glory, glory as belongs to the [One and] only begotten Son of the Father, [the Son who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, who is] full of grace and truth (absolutely free of deception). (And I testify of this)  For out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift].
John 1:14 & 16

May you see God and His furious love in whatever your circumstances are today. Grace upon Grace, and Peace.

When you walk the road to Emmaus

walk to emmaus


Luke 24:13-35

Did you hear this alarming news?

46,471: Drug Overdoses Killed More Americans Than Car Crashes or Guns (

drugs kill
“Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, ahead of motor vehicle deaths and firearms (deaths),” the Drug Enforcement Agency announced on Wednesday. In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, 46,471 people in the United States died from drug overdoses, and more than half of those deaths were caused by prescription painkillers and heroin.

It’s alarming.  A serious wake-up call.  Snoozing is no longer an option when you get this kind of news. That someone you knew, loved, shared life with has overdosed and died. That tragedy became personal this past week as our collegiate son lost a friend to an overdose.

Questions immediately arose.  Disturbed, that heroin was that close to my son’s inner circle of life, we confronted him with frank questions. Distressed , we worried if we’d been naïve or distracted-majoring on the minors when the unimaginable of heroin was a real threat to his life and never discussed. Distraught, we grieved for his friend’s family. My troubled heart found a place of comfort from Luke’s account of Resurrection Sunday where two disturbed, distressed and distraught disciples found answers.

The road to Emmaus is a picture of the aftermath of a traumatic experience. 

Times when you think it’s all just a bad dream and you’re going to wake up but instead you find yourself in the reality of an emotional roller coaster ride you never wanted on and can’t get off.  This is the universal journey when death has come—to a person or a job or a marriage, or your good health, or a dream.  Something has died. And it changes the orientation of life.  What do you do now?

The two disciples in Luke’s account began to walk home, trying to make sense of it all. Their hopes of the kingdom of God and in the Messiah they had given up everything to follow were ended in a brutal crucifixion. Jesus was dead and buried.

They wandered home, suspended between yesterday and tomorrow. 

Powerless to prevent the events or change their current situation. Wrung out—emotionally, spiritually and physically—by the troubling “what ifs”. These disciples were in what Richard Rohr calls “liminal space”—a particular spiritual position where human beings hate to be, but where the biblical God is always leading them. The Latin root limen literally means “threshold,” referring to that needed transition when we are moving from one place or one state of being to another. Liminal space usually induces some sort of inner crisis: you have left the tried and true (or it has left you), and you have not yet been able to replace it with anything else.

Biblically this is:
Abraham called to a land he did not yet know.
It is Joseph in the pit or later prison.
It is Jonah in the belly of the whale.
It is David the shepherd anointed to be king.
It is pregnant Mary.
It is blinded Paul.
And it is two disciples on the Emmaus Road.

This journey is a time for overwhelming emotions and dangerous questions. Thank God we have each other!

Like the disciples, when two like-minded friends chose to walk together and talk things out; comfort-that inner strengthening-occurs. They didn’t stride in silence or talk about the weather or anything else but that.  While the experience was still raw and fresh and powerful, unresolved and unhandled they chose to talk with each other about ‘all these things that had happened‘. This open-hearted conversation created a place for Jesus to join in. That is the soul of Christian community that can happen in a home, a coffee café, a corner of campus or the bleachers of a stadium.  It’s an unfixed place where two or more are gathered in His name with open hearts and authentic discussion seeking to discover Jesus and His transforming power. Here power is released for today and hope is given for tomorrow and comfort is received for the past through the Holy Spirit.

Traversing the road between the now and the not-yet it is vital to have a spiritual companion with whom we can freely talk about ‘all these things that have happened’. Whether comforted or challenged, confessing doubt or debating action steps, always we gain a spiritual perspective that causes our hearts to burn within us as we realize Jesus has joined in the midst of these conversations, bring his wisdom and love as we walk the road together.

After the alarming news of my son’s friend who died of an overdose, we gathered together as a family. We talked and assured one another. We prayed and our son joined with his friends and talked and they grieved together and they remembered their friend. And friends went together to the memorial and they talked and they comforted one another and this grieving family and they agreed in the promises of God and believed what was written, “He has risen.” And had hope.

 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
HEBREWS 10:24-25

May the Lord Jesus Christ bring you grace and peace in the midst of your Emmaus road.

κοπιάω-a few Greek words define the Sweet Spot

In professional sports, especially football an athlete reaches what’s called the ‘sweet spot’.
It’s that time in his career where his physical strength and ability of a young man intersects with enough years of experience and wisdom to master the game. It’s when quarterbacks can play at the highest level and influence their teams to victory. Think Brady or Rodgers.

brady vs rodgers

The sweet spot.  The harvest. That comes in time after much toil.

You get there after a lot of very hard work.  There’s a word in greek that Paul uses to express this- κοπιάω. Transliteration: kopiaó Phonetic Spelling: (kop-ee-ah’-o). 
 I toil, work with effort (of bodily and mental labor alike).
I remember this word by telling myself to “Cope-EE-owl- CopE (like an) owl.”


Kopiaó is the idea that you break a sweat. You’ve worked until it drips and your body and mind have exerted at maximum intensity toward a purpose. It’s that effort in the pursuit of results that produces success. It’s your plan added to consistent effort measured by integrity that produces excellence. It’s knowing you’re weak, and your weaknesses, and your spiritual poverty and your lack of discipline, tendency to wander, chief temptations, and feeling the weariness that comes from the constant toil, and still believing by faith that God with work in you and through you as you trust in Him because He has called you and will equip you and you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. 
To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. Col 1:29

The sweet spot is what R. Kent Hughes writes about in the preface of his ‘Preaching The Word‘ commentaries, ‘A Word to Those Who Preach the Word.’ Every year I would read this essay before I began to teach the BSF study and I would often return to it when the Kopiaó had me weary from exertion. I found great encouragement, wisdom and peace in the charge of R. Kent Hughes words so I share this treasure with those who CopE (like an) owl.

Hughes writes, “There are times when I am preaching that I have especially sensed the pleasure of God. I usually become aware of it through the unnatural silence… through which my words sail like arrows. I experience a heightened eloquence, so that the cadence and volume of my voice intensify the truth I am preaching. There is nothing quite like it-the Holy Spirit filling one’s sails, the sense of His pleasure, and the awareness that something is happening among one’s hearers.
What has happened? How do we account for this sense of God’s smile?
The answer has come from the ancient rhetorical categories of logos, ethos and pathos.

Logos– God’s Word. We stand before God’s people to proclaim His Word because we have done our homework. (Kopiaó) We have exegeted the passage, mined the significance of its words in their context & applied sound hermeneutical principles in interpreting the text so that we understand what its words meant to its hearers. We have labored long until we can express in a sentence what the theme of the text is & our outline springs from the text. Then, our preparations will be such that as we preach, we will not be preaching our own thoughts about God’s Word but God’s actual Word, His logos. This is fundamental in pleasing Him.

Ethos-what you are as a person. There is a danger endemic to preaching, which is having your hands and heart cauterized by holy things. Phillip Brooks illustrates it by the analogy of a train conductor who comes to believe that he has been to the places he announces because of his long and loud heralding of them. And that is why Brooks insisted that preaching must be “bringing of truth through personality.” Though we can never perfectly embody the truth we preach, we must be subject to it, long for it, and make it as much a part of our ethos (what we are as a person) as possible. As the puritan William Ames said, “Next to the Scriptures, nothing makes a sermon more to pierce, than when it comes out of the inward affection of the heart without any affectation (design to impress).”
When a preachers ethos backs up his logos, there will be the pleasure of God.

Pathos-personal passion and conviction. David Hume, the Scottish philosopher and skeptic was once challenged as he was seen going to hear George Whitefield preach, “I thought you do not believe in the gospel.” Hume replied, “I don’t, but he does.” Just so! When a preacher believes what he preaches, there will be passion. And this belief and requisite passion will know the smile of God.

The pleasure of God is a matter of logos (the Word), ethos (what you are), and pathos (your passion). As you preach (or teach) the Word may you experience His smile- the Holy Spirit in your sails!” R. Kent Hughes

As the BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) year begins and many dear friends begin again to kopiaó as they teach, lead and attend classes all over the world in The Revelation study, I pray that you may be blessed abundantly as you strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in you to find the sweet spot and feel God’s smile.
To God be the Glory! JLK

I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1: 25-29

Cartography- a word that gets you where you need to be like Steve Thomason

Cartography- a word that gets you where you need to be- like Steve Thomason


I didn’t know what a cartographer was until I looked up the word ‘mapmaker’.  Cartography (from Greek χάρτης khartēs, “map”; and γράφειν graphein, “write”) is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.

I’ve always thought of life as a journey. God has moved me around a lot, I’ve been scattered and gathered. He’s called me out then shown me the way to go. His word is our map and His Spirit our compass. But often it’s God’s people who help explain the directions.

This year God connected me to “cartographer” Steve Thomason.  His visual art-theology website was like mousing into Disneyworld. Where do you go first? It’s wonderful. It’s deep yet simple. It’s thought provoking teaching from a authentic and vulnerably courageous voice. I’ve learned so much from Steve.  He is a map-writer that communicates spiritual direction effectively. And he’s not afraid if you see things differently – he loves Jesus and he loves God’s people.

Like a map, Steve Thomason points to the direction of exciting things.  Look, over here at what the Bible Project is doing at this video on HOLY.   Or like a Scout he lets you into his personal journal to read his journey notes on the current scenery of how his PhD dissertation-Missional Spirituality in the Suburbs– is going – I can’t wait to refer to him as Dr. Thomason-so cool.  He even lets you into the ‘situation room’ that place we see in the White house on the TV dramas where the top secret stuff is happening. He’s brave enough to let us know he’s ‘living with disagreement and mapping out that conversation’.  Someone pointed him to Brene’ Brown’s TED talk and he put “the power of vulnerability” on the map for me.  Thank you Steve.

We all want maps. I hate wasting time and getting lost, don’t you? We want to know where to go, which way to turn, what’s a seriously dangerous dead end or an exquisitely glorious lookout.  And YOU’VE been somewhere I want to go. We all need to Map-Write more. We all need to be spiritual Cartographers who model ways that communicate the truth of Jesus Christ and the journey of spiritual transformation in Him and tell about the practical places to find it in God’s word or through God’s teachers.

Don’t keep the good news to yourself, be brave and share it.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” Romans 10:14-15

PLEASE, post a comment if you have something to point us to.


FURY Book Two ECHO by JL Kelly
FURY book two ECHO by JL Kelly

Now available.


Hallelujah is a glorious word to say

Hallelujah is a glorious word to say

Hebrew word halleluyah

Just say it. Hallelujah!

You’ve shouted it once. Remember, on the mountaintop, hands raised in the V of victory exclamation. Blessed so blessed, God is good. All is well. Hallelujahs full of perfect joy. Praiseworthy.

You’ve sung it. Hummed along or belted it out. Heaven’s common language music, earth’s Hallelujah answering back to heaven’s holy, holy, holy. Notes and lyrics penned by one and sung by many. You’ve owned that verse, it was his but it is yours. Poetry undefinable disputable yet explaining the fragile complexity of your soul. And the sinner’s song, sacrilegious and contaminating, broken and yet most pure as Hallelujah is lifted up like a confession.

You’ve also closed your eyes and bowed your head. Finally opened your fist, exhaled sacredly that long held offense to breath out, Hal-le-lu-jah. The sound a welling up, a giving over, a soul-speak kind of surrendering.

I once asked why. And God’s answer to the offended was hallelujah.

Hallelujah. Broken or beautiful. Holy. Hallelujah!

This January it was 30 years since Leonard Cohen released the song now heard on every sing-show, heartbreak episode of a TV series or elevator ride called, “Hallelujah“. He spent years struggling with the lyrics, penning as many as 80 verses “banging my head on the floor and saying ‘I can’t finish this song’ before he was finally able to cut the song down to its recorded version on the 1984 album “Various Positions.” Then his label, CBS Records, refused to release it not realizing that “Hallelujah” would become one of the most haunting and often sung songs in American musical history, versions made famous by Jeff Buckley and sung by Rufus Wainwright in “Shrek”.
k. d. lang, one of the most notable interpreters of “Hallelujah,” talked about listeners responses to the lyrics. “My mom is eighty-eight years old,” said lang. “She lives in a seniors’ apartment and all her friends were like, ‘Oh, I love that song!’ I said, ‘Mom, do they know what the lyrics are about?’ And she goes, ‘I don’t think they listen to the lyrics; I think they just listen to the refrain.’ I think it’s very indicative of spirituality in general, that something as simple as saying ‘hallelujah’ over and over again, really beautifully, can redeem all the verses. “Ultimately,” she concluded, “it’s a piece of music and it belongs to culture. It doesn’t belong to Leonard, it doesn’t belong to me, it doesn’t belong to anybody.”

I agree. Creative work is inspired to be shared. And when it is universal it connects us and we become part of its symphony of story. But it is also extremely personal. It is pieces of us, exposed. And releasing it takes courage because of the vast vulnerability it generates in its exposure, uncertainty and emotional risks to the artist.

My first fiction novel, “Hallelujah, The Psalm of the Offended” just passed its own anniversary as a published work. What took me years to work up the courage to release has been out 2 years. I relate to Cohen’s head banging struggle to finish the piece and cut it loose. The Psalm of the Offended is really my personal story. Not my-story in a biography, but my story in my journey as an offended one as the Lord spoke to me could His answer to the question why be Hallelujah? I went back this past week to update some content to the back of the book and started re-reading it. I know better. I’m my own worst critic. It was painful. I already knew The Psalm of the Offended had a slow start. It’s an epic in scope, there were several places the story could have begun much faster and tied up quicker, but before I could edit a word, I resigned myself to get my fingers off the keyboard and let it “start where it starts and let it finish when it finished.” Just last night a friend said, “please don’t mess with it. I love their story.”
Like Debbie, too many people have told me they love these characters-Cheyenne & Bennett-and want to see more of them in future books even after the slow beginning and the long happy ending.  But others were offended and balked, loudly, about the first cousin crisis-they couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Conflict obviously. And I mean that in a ‘plotting’ way. Try to give me a few believable reasons 2 people can’t be together in this century? Stories need well developed external conflict—ie: some thing that keeps two people apart or the hero from reaching his goal. First cousins worked-see the forest now? probably not but that’s okay, some people just like to look at the trees… sorry, rabbit trail. . .

rabbit trail... 
Readers agree this is a raw,realistic and heartwarming story but I was surprised that some admitted they were immediately prejudiced at the beginning because the family was rich and life seemed perfect and they thought the story was going to be another one of those stories. I smile. I do like to catch you judging and I definitely set you up to get caught with meaningful character development. Plot spoiler, no character is perfect and everybody lies when they’re wearing their mask. Another bit of insider information on writing: You can also expand or shrink a storyworld with several techniques and one of them is to make the characters affluent and widen the playing field. The music industry gave this novel an interesting backdrop playing off the business world of the agents and the global entertainment audience that forced Cheyenne to travel in contrast to the internal world of solitude and inspirational struggle inside the songwriter’s head.

I was also surprised by what people wanted to talk about. I thought those sins would be the hot topic. They weren’t. They’re universal, we’ve all been there. It was the broken a-ha moments. It was Chet in his trailer after New Year’s Eve hitting rock bottom. And the African mother holding her infant son in the back seat of the car. It was Lexi Reed being found, loved and accepted. And Daniel speaking tough truth as he told Cheyenne to take a long walk in the cold and get over herself. It was the complex dynamics of family and the ultimate simplicity of Bennett’s forgiveness.

When people share their thoughts about The Psalm of the Offended with me and their own story of being an offended one, I’m still silently saying, “hallelujah.” The work fulfilled its purpose.  And even though I’d love to go in and tighten this book up with a polishing re-edit, that’s not for this story. It needs to read slow so that it’s hallelujah can haunt you into thinking could God’s answer to your why be Hallelujah too.

If you’d like to read The Psalm of the Offended I’m promoting it for free from June 6 – June 10 on amazon kindle.

Please share the deal with your friends and let me know what you thought of the story.

Grace & Peace

The Psalm of the Offended Book 1 of the Glory Series
The Psalm of the Offended Book 1 of the Glory Series


The Psalm of the Offended is the story of Cheyenne Cooper. Born to sing, her anointed gift of songwriting takes her farther than she ever imagined into the music world. But Cheyenne never wanted fame or fortune, just the forbidden love of one man. Yet her anointed purpose keeps putting more people, places, and problems between the love she longs for and the life God has ordained her to live. She can’t silence the music and she can’t stop the furious pursuing love of God from transforming her through its song. Her epic story spans glorious mountaintops and the dark valleys of the soul that will change your thinking forever. In a world entitled to blessings and unconvinced by religion, Psalm of the Offended is a raw wrestling match of spiritual reality in a tremendously moving story. For anyone searching for the answer to why, For anyone hurt by the tragic happenings of life and aching for healing, For anyone stirred to finally move towards forgiveness and acceptance, For anyone who loves music and is interested in the creative process behind the melody, Psalm of the Offended is a fresh and original perspective on suffering and surrender. This parable is a must read for anyone who has been offended by the all powerful sovereign supremacy of God.


“This book is so much more than a romance novel. It is an inspiration for anyone who struggles to accept the sovereign will of God when life deals out heart-wrenching challenges (and really, isn’t that all of us?). There is not a sugar-coated page in this book, and we come out the better for it. Read “The Psalm of the Offended” and see yourself in this captivating story of longing, self-denial, and heavenly deliverance. ”  ~ Lynn D.

“These characters will hook you fast and you won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough as you read this romantic story of love and loss.  I could not put it down. I was drawn to this powerful family as the love story melted my heart. I would recommend this book to everyone that likes strong characters with a steamy love story and a faith-based background . ” ~ D C

“Excellent read. Fast paced. Couldn’t stop reading to find out how things turned out. Looking forward to J.L. Kelly’s
next book.” ~ J. Lee


THRIVE Conference


I will be speaking May 8 & 9 at First Baptist Church of Corinth’s Women’s Conference THRIVE teaching on John 15.

“Are you just surviving life? Or maybe you live striving to please God with all you’ve got but with little to show for it. There is a spiritual secret of abundance, joy and power known as abiding.  Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to abide to thrive.”

3 Sessions will be taught

  • Survival instincts caused by Bad Definitions
  • Striving; the trap of self-sufficiency
  • Abiding the secret of abundance

Bring a friend and attend if you are in the area. 

Comment below if you want more information!


Thrive Conference