An Afternoon Well-Spent

Sometimes a beautiful Autumn Sunday afternoon is a back-patio invitation to tea… with the Lover of my soul.


Grace and peace to you,

Shannon McKee


On Internet Rants, Driscoll, Friendly Fire, and a Better Way

SONY DSCI’ve been composing a blog post in my mind for years now. I’ve wrestled with how to say the things that swirl around in my heart as I watch the Body of Christ turn in on itself. Rick calls it “friendly fire.” I don’t know what to call it but I’ve experienced it first hand and I’ve watched it from afar. Either way it sucks.

So far, the post has just been in my head because the thoughts are too long and too complicated to get on paper. But, in the midst of this most recent feeding frenzy on one of our own (Mark Driscoll in Seattle), I feel like I need to get it out there; because more and more women are asking me what I think.

On the subject of Pastor Mark in specific, I don’t really know what to think. I don’t know him at all. I haven’t ever been under his leadership or sat across the table from him at dinner. I’ve never even been in his state (more’s the pity). What I do know of him from his books and his sermons makes me think that he genuinely loves Jesus and the Church and that he tries to consistently live a life that is yielded to the Holy Spirit. I haven’t read or heard anything that makes me think he should be disqualified from ministry leadership though I have no doubt that he is an imperfect man whose own sin does affect his ministry and the people that he leads. I, for one, have always appreciated his boldness and gritty passion. (Of course, I say that from afar not as someone who sits in his pews week to week.)

So, while I don’t know about this situation in specific, there are some things that I do know:

  1. Slander, malice and gossip are out-of-bounds for the family of God. I’ve seen some of the comments people are making about him. They seethe with hatred. By people who claim to love Jesus. Friends, this ought not be. The Bible couldn’t be clearer about it – in several places. Honestly, I am more alarmed by the response of many within the Body of Christ right now than I am by Pastor Mark.
  2. The whole New Testament is full of admonition on how we are to handle relationships within the Church. Situations like this one highlight how horribly we actually do this. I think it grieves the heart of God and tarnishes our witness to the world around us. The internet has made it incredibly easy – even savvy and sort of hipster – for us to lash out at one another with extreme statements of judgment. The truth is, we often know very little about a situation or its context before we spout off online. We make public statements where there should be prayer and one-on-one conversation and a desire for restoration.
  3. Things are not always as they seem. The accusers and naysayers often have their own agendas. As a pastor’s wife myself, I have watched people turn on us in the proverbial “New York minute” because they didn’t like a decision my husband made or the way he said something. Friendships that had been cultivated for years, were over in moments because someone couldn’t have his/her way. When people come to our church from other churches with their frowns and whispers about their former leadership, I have learned to take it with a grain of salt. Just because someone is unhappy and has a story to tell about their former pastor, doesn’t necessarily make it so.
  4. Leadership is a heavy mantle for most who take it. The men I know personally who pastor large, growing churches do not lead because they are on a power trip. They lead because they have been gifted by God with vision and passion and leadership and/or teaching abilities. They get up and keep going day after day because they genuinely want to see people draw closer to God. They don’t take it lightly or do it because they are trying to prove something to someone. Now, because of the growth that they see and the fruit of the ministry they lead, do they probably struggle with pride and pugnaciousness at times? Or come to rely on their own abilities too much at times? I would guess so. But, we need to pray for them and respect them and support them (like the Bible admonishes), not eagerly anticipate their downfall or make leading even MORE difficult for them than it already is. (As a side note, I think it’s ironic that WE create a culture of celebrity pastors and then act all shocked and dismayed when they get a little full of themselves. I’m not trying to downplay the sin of pride. It is a serious sin that God hates. I just think sometimes WE are the ones feeding the very pride we claim to hate.)
  5. Leaders do need corrected at times. Believe it or not, most of the good ones know that and have intentionally surrounded themselves with a least a few people who will call them out. Our leaders are just men. Sinful people who do make mistakes. We know for sure that both Paul and Peter made leadership mistakes. And needed some correction. How, when, where, and with what kind of motive that correction is offered usually makes all the difference – for both the leader and for us. (Another side note: When we idolize them in the first place, this usually does not happen well. For either party.)
  6. Sometimes a leader truly does need removed because of sin or because he doesn’t respond well to correction with humility and repentance or because he really is on some kind of power trip. I have been on the receiving end of that kind of leadership too. It’s hard. But, when that does happen, it should make us sad, reflective, and prayerful. It should be the place where peace and grace floods in and presses us all into Christ. Not the place where fingers are pointing and rumors are flying and condemnation is spewing.
  7. Grace is a beautiful thing. Especially when it’s intertwined with truth and time. We know this because we all want grace when we screw up. If only we offered it as quickly as we take it.

Being part of family is tough sometimes, isn’t it? It’s hard work. But it’s a hard work that God has called us to as His Bride, the Church. So, here’s the thing: I’m not going to write the Church off and go all Lone Ranger in my faith. I’m also not going to gather my own little posse of Christian buds who think just like me and chill with them all the time, keeping my head down until Jesus comes back. God doesn’t really give me that option, honestly. Instead, I’m going to keep living out my personal faith in my Lord Jesus Christ in the context of both a local church body and the larger, global Church that is diverse and complicated sometimes. And I’m going to let the mess and the challenges that come with that Church life drive me closer to Christ.

As for this situation, I’ll likely continue reading books and listening to sermons by pastors like Driscoll even though I don’t know them personally. Since I don’t experience them in real life contexts, I will judge their teaching based on its content. If it is Biblical and Gospel-centered, I will recommend it. But, mostly, I will encourage people to read the Bible and prioritize it above all other books and teachers.

And, then, I will pray – for Driscoll and Mars Hill on the West Coast right across the country to Tim Keller and Redeemer Prez on the East Coast as well as for all the churches of various sizes and bents in between. I’ll pray for all of our church leaders and for our submission as congregants when we would normally want to demand our own way. And for healing where relationships are broken. And for things to be brought into the Light in a way that makes us whole, not splinters us into factions. I’ll pray for Believers to hold their tongues and for pure motives to replace selfish, agenda-driven ones.

And for love to abound still more and more.

And for grace. I’ll pray for grace as we wrestle through all of this junk in an age where media and the internet are a powerful force – both for good and for ill.

Finding Beauty in Unusual Places

Beauty will save the world. – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Indeed, beauty is a powerful thing. It stirs us. Calls something out in us. Something deep and true that breaks through the fog of everyday living. It has been said that beauty has the power to elevate even the most mundane things.

Rick and I got a taste of that this morning. We were downtown Kent for a breakfast date. It was early and the usually bustling streets were quiet save the men out watering the lamppost hanging baskets and a few groggy students coming to study at the local coffee shop.

So, in the stillness of those early hours, we decided to take a walk through town.

When we saw the first vase, we both stopped to comment, noting that it was a thoughtful thing for someone to do. I mean, who takes the time to leave fresh flowers next to a corner bench?

But, as we rounded the corner we saw more… sweet paper-wrapped bundles of flowers that had been intentionally left in shop doorways or near benches. Bundles and vases every few yards. Many of them had encouraging hand-written notes attached. And, it went on for blocks. It became like a treasure hunt for us as we looked for them all along Main Street and Water Street.

At one point, a smiling shop owner came out to retrieve a vase full of flowers from her stoop. I asked her about it and she said she’d never seen anything like it. What started as a routine for her to come in and open the store, had become an inspiration. Overcome by the gesture, she couldn’t wipe the grin away.

Beauty. Invading the mundane.

I realize that some of you might be thinking, “So what?” After all it’s just a few bouquets of flowers left along the sidewalk. That money probably could have been spent on something more practical. Like buying canned goods for the local food pantry.
True. And, yet, I think beauty has its own value. Because it points us to something bigger. SomeONE bigger.

In her book Captivating, Staci Eldredge says that beauty has purpose. “Beauty beckons us,” Eldredge writes. “Beauty invites us. Come, explore, immerse yourself. God – who is Beauty Himself – invites us to know Him. Taste and see that the LORD is good (Psalm 34:8).”

Ahhhh, yes. Those flowers are pointers. Pointers to a God who is the Master Artist. I don’t know if the person who left them even knows Him. But, as an image-bearer of the One who made her/him, that person was reminding us that the LORD is good. That He makes beautiful things. That He Himself is beautiful. And, that a day is coming when His beauty will fill the earth once again and we won’t need reminded. Because the beauty will be ever-visible.

012bacb966ee98a3fe38da4dd1fca4c79f84b02230 010b84c089cb59b0d38beeeeae5c3a268ae6a42b56 01ff0dbe16ffde27e3a6aad8a2f890b84996628423 01d93a344a2be4b43f77b1ab71cccb0b2ee2f75523So, dear friend, let me ask you: How are you doing at recognizing the pointers? Are you taking the time to see beauty? And what about leaving pointers as you go about life?  How are you leaving beauty imprints on the world around you? 

01021d82dbbbb850a76dd3897378468a89b267fdb2 0124f71f9b13ff49e996c873146cb1a04c946689d2 0118df66ef62f5a834487a3737a58248dbd6b8038c 017a98fe4403b0a57f6c338db3abc7fcddfb2a7a8bThe world needs your beauty because ultimately it needs His beauty.

Indeed, beauty WILL save the world.

Grace and peace,

Shannon McKee

September’s Challenge and A Long-Awaited Letter

Bible: 66 Letters from the Lover of My SoulIf you’re part of my church family, you’ve probably heard about Pastor Rick’s September Challenge. I was so refreshed and invigorated by his reminder and challenge to us. (If you don’t go to our church or you do but you weren’t there on Sunday, you really should go listen to it here. Before September begins, please. It’s half-an-hour… you can do it while you make dinner or fold your laundry piles.)

When he talked about the Bible being like a personal letter, it reminded me of this post I wrote a few years ago. I thought I’d reshare it with you today (with a few edits to update it for 2014).  Here you go:

You know that prickly sensation when you’re in anticipation of something? I like to think of reading the Bible like that.

Sort of like we might feel if we didn’t have instant messaging or tweeting or email or even phone service. And we had to wait for letters to come great distances to hear from the ones we loved. I imagine it like the early immigrants to America might have felt. Maybe a letter has just arrived from our Grandad who still lives in the Old Country. How we all grab for it and want to read it first. Instead we gather around in the fire – brothers, sisters, cousins, all of us together. And one of us reads it out loud. And maybe his Scottish brogue comes through thick in his writing and Mom has to explain this or that because our own memories of “home” have grown dim. We didn’t really mean to forget. Not really. But, truth be told, it’s hard to remember what he looks like anymore or the way his hug feels after a walk in the meadow. And the littlest among us barely knew him at all before we left.

But when Momma reads we remember. We hang on every word. And I get goosebumps as I listen to words penned by his precious hand. A bit of him. Here. With us now.

That’s how I feel about getting to open my Bible and pour over its Words. It’s an imperfect analogy, I know. But, it gets at the heart of it for me. Sometimes we open the letter together, all gathered around the Book while someone reads it aloud. But, I’ve also got to acknowledge that the letter is for me alone also. It’s God’s communication to ME.

SONY DSCFor, I did receive a letter from a great distance. Only it’s not from Grandad. Naw – it’s even better. This letter is from the very One who called the stars out by name and told the proud ocean waves where to stop. And knew me while I was still being knit together in my mother’s womb. The One whose mercies are new every morning. He who heaps grace on me – grace upon grace. He has spoken. Written down all the things He wanted me to know for this life. Fantastic accounts of love spurned and the relentless pursuit of a Suitor. A picture of the cheater wooed back. Of a love that wins and a future hope that awaits me.

A letter like that shouldn’t be sitting pristine on a shelf. Friends, do you know that men died so that we could get this letter? And read it in our own language? This is a letter that deserves to be poured over. Read again and again. Slowly, savoring every word. Pages worn thin from getting it out over and over again.

I know I need the letter. Oh how I need it. Because, I’ll be honest, sometimes I forget. I forget what He’s like and how His story has become my history. Let’s face it, there are lots of other voices competing with the letter. Trying to keep me from it. Some even mock the letter. “How do you even know it’s from Him? What if it’s a fake? Or been altered by the deliveryman?”

But I know better. Aside from apologetic proof upon proof, there is the reality that His fingerprints are all over His correspondence. His heart beating with the very idea of something so impossible as grace. There’s nothing like it in all the wide world. No ancient text from any other religion that quite reads like this one. I both need and WANT to hear what He has to say. To be reminded afresh.

I know, right? You felt it too. Goosebumps. So what are you waiting for? Go get your letter and soak in the words from the heart of your Suitor. Go find out for yourself what it is that makes Him so worthy of your affection.

Grace and peace,

Shannon McKee






50 Shades of… Poop {A Guest Post}

My man is a preacher. A teacher and communicator at heart. But, he’s usually speaking not writing. So, when I can have him on my blog, I consider it an honor. He writes today about a topic that is very troubling to both of us and has been the topic of many conversations between us. Without further ado, Rick McKee’s first post at In a Mirror Dimly… 

50 ShadesFunny thing, I don’t study poop so that I can classify it into 50 different shades. I recognize it as poop, so I move away from it. I don’t savor it, wallow in it, roll in it, read it, watch it, or recommend it.

I’m sitting here on the front porch of our vacation rental. It’s our last day before returning home. I should be relaxing, walking on the beach, hanging with our friends or getting an ice cream cone. Instead, I’m blue. My pastor’s heart is restless and sad. I’ve seen one too many ladies post about her excitement – loved the book and can’t wait for the movie version of 50 Shades of Grey.

Because it’s my vacation, I’ll get to the point. It’s porn. The book is classified as erotic fiction. That means it is intended to arouse the reader sexually. It’s about an illicit sexual relationship. A wealthy, powerful, controlling man maneuvers a young woman into BDSM. That’s it. That’s the plot.

Folks, that’s porn. If you’re a Christian, you’ve no business reading it, watching it, recommending it, or gleefully posting about your excitement. Try to imagine reading it aloud to Jesus. Or, would you go watch the movie with your Lord?

Have I read it? No. What? I haven’t read it! How can I condemn it? I also haven’t seen Debbie Does Dallas, and yet I would still recommend against it. Are we saying that one can’t speak against porn unless they first soak it in? Stop it.

Am I a prude? Nope. My God made sex. If he made anything better, I think he kept it for himself. Sex, in its proper context, is fantastic. It is one of God’s good gifts to be celebrated. The proper context? Between a husband and his wife (or a wife and her husband, if you prefer). And, should be about giving, not taking. A communication of love, not control or pain. Those are concepts I learned from God’s Word as a follower of Jesus.

So, why is my heart tied in knots? I’m concerned for the women in my congregation.

If the stats hold, many in my own congregation have read the book. I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to help many folks start walking with Jesus. Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” If a ministry is going to be fruitful, it should be reaching new people with the gospel. But, that gets messy. Many churches prefer a clean, empty stable. I prefer a full barn. I like it messy and fruitful better than clean and sterile. So, many in our congregation are just starting to learn the implications (and blessings) of discipleship to Jesus.

Beside, I would be naïve to think that only seekers, new Christians and non-Christians have read 50 Shades of Grey. The tentacles of porn have woven themselves into many Christians’ lives.

I’m no exception. I was first exposed to porn when I was in 2nd grade. I felt its grip for decades. Even when walking with Jesus. Even when in ministry. Like an alcoholic that never says he is “recovered” but only says he is recovering, I still fight the temptation. I know the terrible impact of porn. And I praise God for each passing day that is free from its grip. Blissful freedom.

It concerns me to see porn become so normalized. Some have labeled this book/movie as “mommy porn.” When Christian moms openly read and recommend porn, how can we condemn any porn? I’m sure that most of these wives would be aghast at the idea of their husbands consuming porn, let alone recommending it on Facebook.

That’s where this becomes so dangerous. When a Christian dude consumes porn, he usually knows it, feels convicted about it, is ashamed of it, and hides it. In this case, we have Christian women consuming porn, but they’re posting on social media instead of moving toward conviction and repentance.

Just because sin goes mainstream doesn’t mean it is okay for the followers of Jesus. My kids and I have call and response. I say, “When the world is going to hell in a hand-basket?” They respond, “Different is good.”

Ladies, I beg you, go to God for your view of self, love and sexuality. Just because your neighborhood book club is reading erotic fiction doesn’t make it right for a follower of Jesus. Different is good.

And, if you’ve already gone toward porn, as I often did, turn toward Jesus. Trust the Creator, not the world. Repent of your sin. And, savor God’s grace.

For a woman’s take and her reasons why she won’t be reading 50 Shades of Grey, I would recommend this blog post.

Now, please step away from the poop.



So… You Want to Ask About Their Adoption {a guide}

If you’ve been around me for more than four or five seconds, you’ve probably heard me talk about my church family. Seriously. I love those people. I could list a whole plethora of reasons but that might (a) bore you or (#2) make you jealous. Not a good blog outcome either way.

But, I will take this opportunity to tell you just one of the things I love about them. I love their collective heart for adoption. We are a people who has been captured by the idea. Why? Two reasons come readily to mind:

First, because it is such a beautiful picture of the way God loves people and “adopts” them into His family. We cry out in a spirit of adoption, calling Him our Abba. Intimacy. Love. Family. It’s all about the relationship… not duty-bound religion.

But that’s not all; we’re bullish on adoption because we see God’s heart for the orphan all throughout the Bible. As we come to know Him, our heart mirrors His. For a whole host of reasons and circumstances, the heartbreaking truth is that there are children who have been left behind by their biological parents. We want to be a people who steps into that void and takes some of those children into our own families. Some of our families came to that place because they also struggled with infertility. Some did not. Either way, they have joined in God’s plan to love orphans by bringing them home and making them their own, very real sons and daughters.

While each of my friends would absolutely call their kiddos blessings, I know it hasn’t always been without struggle for them. Parenting never is. But, adoption comes with its own set of wrinkles. Not regret, mind you. But unique challenges just the same. One of those is the comments and questions that come from others – especially if their child is visibly of a different ethnicity.

Yesterday over at Rage Against the Minivan, Kristen shared this video that a friend of hers put together. It’s a great poke at some of the questions that sometimes come to adoptive parents. I pass it on as a good laugh but also as a reminder to be thoughtful as you inquire about these precious ones.

Video credit: Rain City Church on Vimeo.

Grace and peace,

Shannon McKee

Balance in Motherhood

Balance. It seems to be an elusive goal for most modern women. We want to be able to do it all. To keep all the balls in the air – each one weighted perfectly so that we can keep this whole act going. I have my suspicions that balance might be nothing more than a buzzword. A modern construct that we talk about a lot but don’t really grasp.

What’s more, I’m not sure it’s even a laudable goal – does the Bible call us to balance? I don’t think it does.

Over at The Better Mom, we set out to tackle some of these very questions in an April series about Balance. As I read the pieces from my fellow contributors, I see many of them coming to the same place I have – questioning this notion of balance all together.

On Monday I shared some of my perspective in a post about “balancing” ministry and motherhood. Yes, I know Monday was two days ago. Sorry. I blame it on the marriage class that Rick and I are leading on Monday nights. And Caleb’s LAX season. And, Easter preparations. And, my friend in surgery. And… well, you know how it goes. Clearly, I am not keeping all the balls in the air. {wink}


Grace and peace,

Shannon McKee