Monday, December 24, 2012

The Greatest Gifts

I've been thinking about these words for a couple of days now. What precious and magnificent presents we have been given!
Merry Christmas to each of you (which means - a peaceful, content day of worshipping Jesus, the Christ, God's anointed One)

Ephesians 1:3-6 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
(The Message)

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Wedding "Down Under"

Recently I have been absorbed in preparations for my daughter's wedding in Australia. I returned just a couple of days ago and am recovering from jet lag. The wedding was wonderful and I am delighted in her choice of lifelong love.

Below is a photo of the happy couple and our family. Celebrating and savoring the sweet moments.

Today's Tragedy

The school shooting in Connecticut brings tears to my eyes, grief to my heart and weariness to my soul. I am asking God to bring comfort to the families of those killed and to the survivors and their families as they walk a desperately painful path ahead. I am weary of evil. Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. That was demonstrated today and is demonstrated in me and each one of us when we choose words or actions that are evil. I long for Jesus' return and the end of Satan's reign.  Meanwhile, I am reminded not to "cast the first stone" and to pay closer attention to God's instructions for LIFE for me and those around me.

On a practical level, here is some good counsel for those of you with children from

Praying and hoping in God...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Waiting in Silence

I have wondered for weeks about what to write in this space. The quiet is sometimes deafening and sometimes imperceptible. It is deafening when I want to hear something and imperceptible when I am at peaceful rest with God.

God says in Luke 6:43-45 it is out of the overflow of my heart that my mouth speaks. Perhaps then, I can safely say, my soul is at peace, at rest. I have no agenda, no need to speak. I am enjoying God while I wait for Him to say something worthwhile through me.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Money, money, money...

Hebrews 13:5
"Let your character and moral disposition be free from the love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and intense craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present circumstances and with what you have. How can you do that? By realizing that God Himself has promised: I will not in any way fail you, nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not ever leave you helpless in any degree, nor forsake you, nor relax My hold on you. DO NOT believe any thought or suggestion to the contrary"!

I recently spent way more than I should have on me. The family budget for the month took a hit. I am taking steps to recover some of the funds and tightening my spending for the coming months to move back into a healthy place. 

I've pondered the "why?" behind my actions and am still working on it. The Bible verse from Hebrews gives me some clues. I have learned that I shop (and overeat) to address some feeling I'd rather not face. When I'm not content, according to Hebrews, I have forgotten or don't really believe that God is with me, loves me and will not fail me. The key is there. Now to unlock my heart and get that truth working in it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Advice to the young

A young friend asked what I've learned so far that would benefit him. Here's what I said...

It's hard to condense a partial lifetime of learning into a few pieces of advice, but here goes:
1) Love God (which includes friendship, listening, talking, obedience, humility...) with your whole being and love Him more than anything (activity, item you own, etc) or anyone else in your life. This takes practice and effort and sometimes just takes "chilling out" with God.

2) Care for your soul - there is a place for things other than God that feed one's soul. Those things should be done only to the extent that you have something in you to give to the people closest and dearest to you first and then the rest of the people around you.

3) Use the gifts God has given you (we all do have spiritual gifts) to build up the people closest to you first, then the church you are part of, then the larger church in the world and then the people around you that don't yet know God.  Enthusiastic and consistent use of gifts in love will often result in God giving more spiritual gifts to you to steward.

4) Love and be friends with people who show interest in God whether they enter a relationship with God or not.  Keep those friendships.  People are not projects/evangelism targets.  They see our hearts and know whether we really like them as people or if we're just being "friends" so they can be saved.  Lots of damage is done by Christians who leave God and His timing and love out of the pursuit of unsaved people.

5) Remember that everyone has something to teach you, no matter if they're 2 years old or 100, rich or poor, homeless or not.  If you approach people with that humility in your heart, you will be a very rich person.

What would you add?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Still Waiting...Expectantly

I've waited what I think is a long time for God to fulfill a desire He planted in my heart many years ago. I'm still waiting AND I think I'm waiting with more grace and patience than every before. I've learned much in the waiting:

God is always good
God is always on time
God LOVES me and has good plans for me
God is favorably inclined toward me
While I wait God is "tweaking things" (remember "You've Got Mail"?), positioning me and the myriad other details needed to fulfill that dream so we/they converge at just the right time.
While I wait God is changing me (and sometimes I think that's why I am still waiting!); He is refining my attitudes, my longings and my character.

Waiting is good and it is challenging, especially for people like me who COULD run ahead and make things happen for themselves. Had I rushed ahead, I could have missed these excellent lessons or learned them in a much more difficult way.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I learned something today from my daughter and was reminded of my dad and my grandfather. Both men are/were persistent and constant learners. My dad has new information ready to share each time I talk with him. He reads and learns.

My grandfather (his dad) also read and learned and grew. The week he died, while in the hospital, he continued to read and learn from God. On the day before he died, he excitedly shared something he'd learned from the book of Psalms with his pastor.

I've said before and will say again, I want to be like him! I want to learn and grow and change every day until God decides I need to be in glory with Him.

Old dogs CAN learn new tricks! It's never to late to learn, make changes and grow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Expecting and Receiving

What we expect, influences what we receive.

When we expect a service person to be against us and frustrating, they usually are.
When we expect a person to reject us, we often experience rejection.
When we expect our spouse's habits to irritate us, they do!
When we expect good things from God, we SEE the good things He's giving us.

So, what are you expecting? What are you looking for from moment to moment? Do we not see the favor and kindness of God because we are not looking for it? I think so!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dealing with Stress

Stress in life is inevitable. Waking and sleeping, working and dreaming - the rhythms of life have and ebb and flow. Just as the waves of the ocean stress the shore, so our life's rhythms stress us.

God invites us to peace in the midst of stress. He invites us to pull up a chair and rest with Him.

Our culture values being busy and having much to do every day. As a culture, we don't think rest and relaxation are for times other than a scheduled vacation and that usually ends up having as hectic a pace as our daily lives!

Rest is something God did after creating the world. (Genesis 2:2-4) If He rested, we can! He invites us to rest even in the midst of life's stresses and rapid pace. When we are able to adjust life to allow for rest, we must! When we cannot control the pace or stress of life, we have an oasis in God to BE in.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Food for Body and Soul

Eating food is necessary for health. It is also a tool for destruction when done for other reasons. I have eaten to numb emotions for much of my life. For various reasons my toolbox for dealing with sadness, loneliness, anger, frustration, fear and happiness has been empty except for the "food" tool. With years of life and consequences, both emotional and physical, I have worked to find other tools for my toolbox. That said, my default is still eating food.

This battle is constant, daily and draining. I know many struggle as I do.

My current question is: How do I set my mind on the Spirit in this. Food is so much dealing with my flesh, my body.  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Leadership Lesson

Last Saturday I had the privilege of being a trainer of leaders. It was a BLAST!!! Let me say that again another way. I was SO in my spiritual element and SO thankful that God gave me the experiences and life lessons to actually have something worthwhile to contribute and IT WAS A BLAST!!!

Anyway, I also had a leadership lesson while doing the training. My always expressive face and body language displayed something in my heart that wasn't kind. I got to apologize to a participant (and wish I'd asked forgiveness instead) and let the whole group of 50 people know of my error. Fun times. Looking back, I'm so grateful I obeyed God and admitted my mess.

Leaders lead in many ways. Leading in humble vulnerability is necessary and pleasing to God and others.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mind Battles

Many good writers have given counsel on dealing with destructive thoughts and lies we tell ourselves. The challenge for me is actually doing those things in a crisis. Will I trust God to be good and kind TO ME when I feel low and alone? Will I fight the waves of sadness or will I let them roll over me and bury me?

The past two days I have struggled with feeling alone despite being in relationship with some amazing people near my home and far away. Instead of choosing to see the blessing in it, I chose to see a few hours of solitude as "too much". A friend called me this morning who is bearing much and fighting to keep her heart afloat in circumstances that could easily get the better of all of us if we were in her place and I realized, I needed to change.

We are in battle with old thought patterns AND with an enemy of our souls who is bent on robbery, murder and destruction. I choose LIFE. I choose to FIGHT!!!
Are you with me??!

Good reads:
I John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Lamentations 3:22-26 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson
Believing God by Beth Moore

Friday, August 10, 2012

Choosing Well

I once asked my dad how to know the will of God. He gave me a few Bible principles that have served me well. Here they are for your consideration.

1. Listen for God in stillness - in general, don't expect to hear God well when you don't slow down and make some quiet space to hear Him. Psalm 32:8
2. God's instructions are daily and moment by moment - Isaiah 30:21
3. I need to WANT to do what He tells me to do in order to hear Him. If I just want His ideas about the way forward so I can evaluate them and decide if I'll do them, then I'm not ready to hear His direction for me. Romans 12:1-2
4. God will pour desires that align with His heart into yours and then give them to you. Proverbs 3:5-12

Friday, July 27, 2012

Temporary Goodbyes

We are leaving our beloved Alaska again tonight. We have spent two weeks enjoying some of the people we love. My soul has been refreshed by the beauty here. God really showed off in the Greatland! We say "goodbye" only for a time. We hope to return again and again. Until then...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


This is borrowed from my most wise and gracious friend, Carolyn.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.

Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.

Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.

Painful moments, TRUST GOD.

Every moment, THANK GOD.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Grieving the destructiveness of sinful choices

Today, many in Colorado and around the world are grieving the loss of earthly lives, ended by the brutal choice of one. My heart is heavy. I long for this and every kind of violence to end - violence in every form. That of guns and war, of spouse to spouse and parent to child, of abusers to their victims and of me to people around me when I am selfish, not loving.

God help us to live the way HE designed us to live - giving grace, loving tenaciously, refusing our natural sinful ways, embracing His commands and living them out.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Our visit to Alaska is prompting some thoughts about what "home" is. I live and enjoy friendships in Virginia where we currently live and call our "home". I lived many years and have friendships in Alaska and it feels very much like "home" to me. I grew up in several places, but count Colorado as "home". So, where is my home? Perhaps they all are home to me.

As Jesus followers, we know that our souls are eternal and that God has a place for us to call "home" in heaven. He said before He left that he is preparing a place for me/us to live with Him forever. That will one day be my true home. In the meantime, I have homes here on earth. I've heard older people who love and follow God say, "Heaven is my home." Someone even wrote a song along those lines.

A friend of mine has had a year of great losses. She told me she has come to deeply enjoy God and longs more and more for the day when she no longer has to deal with the pain of this life and can enjoy God face to face. Her life and words challenge me to learn more about heaven so my longing for it increases.

God gave us this world to enjoy, to cultivate and tend it, to fill it and subdue it. He intends us to LIVE in it as our home. He also is preparing a place for us to live eternally with Him. We have spiritual homes in both places. Here's to LIVING where God has us today!

Friday, July 13, 2012

"Stones" of Remembrance

When God's chosen people (the Jews) experienced God intervening on earth for them, God commanded that they set up a memorial to refer to when their memory got rusty and to use as a teaching tool with their children. I think we need to do the same. When God does something for us, we need to write it down or make some other memorial of the ways God acts on our behalf. Like Israel, we are forgetful. When times get tough, we need to have a way to remember what God has done for us in the past so we can believe Him to be good in our present challenges. I keep a little notebook for that purpose. The other benefit of keeping the notebook is that I actually LOOK for what God is doing in my life and for others. It's amazing what I find when I look with intent!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Life lessons from Bejeweled Blitz

Bejeweled Blitz is a simple game in which matching 3-5 "jewels" in a row results in points. Sometimes specific jewels are given special qualities that would net many extra points if used in matching. When that happens, I find myself so often distracted by wanting those jewels to match up with their partners that I fail to see the other obvious matches on the board. What's spiritual about that, you ask?

Often I have an idea for God that I think is spectacular. I ask for it and look for it and wait. During the wait, I think I may miss God's obvious work and will because my eyes are only looking for what I want to have happen. From now on, I intend to start looking more broadly for what He's doing!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Submission is NOT a Dirty Word

Over the years, I've heard lots of sermons and read books about submission. Most Christian authors in my early years concentrated on the submission of wives to their husbands and let that spill over into an idea that all women were to submit to all men. No mention was made of submission to other authorities or that men were included in the commands to submit.

In the Bible, God sandwiches the submission of wives to their own husbands between exhortations for all of us to submit to each other. In Ephesians 5:15-6:9 and I Peter 2:11-3:17 we are told to submit to EVERY human institution - government, bosses, parents, husbands and wives (yes - men get to submit to their wives "in the same way" as they submit to the other entities mentioned). When we submit to human authorities, we demonstrate our confidence in God's end game and His ultimate authority.

Submission is aligning oneself under a line of authority so God has room to work. When we choose to submit to authorities and one another, we stay in a healthy place for God to bring about good things for us. If we don't and are persistently disagreeable and rebellious to the authorities and people God put in place, we step out of line and are vulnerable to whatever our circumstance brings our way.

Our motives in submission, according to the previous passages, are "to imitate God as beloved children"; "in the fear of Christ"; "out of reverence for Christ"; "for the sake of conscience".

The rewards are amazing!

We make the most of our time on earth
It may be well with us
That we may live long on the earth
We are doing the will of God from the heart
Whatever good thing we do we will receive back from the Lord
People will glorify God because of our behavior
By doing right we silence the ignorance of foolish men
We find favor with God
We follow Christ's example of suffering with grace
Some spouses will be won by our behavior
We do what is right
Our prayers are heard
We are harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted and humble in spirit
We inherit a blessing
We see good in our days on earth
Those who revile us will be put to shame eventually

I think these outcomes make submission attractive!  When we submit to one another, we live in unity and we bring our best to the table, drawing the best out of others.

NOTE ABOUT ABUSIVE SITUATIONS: If you are in an abusive home situation, there is Biblical support for NOT submitting to that behavior.  God hates a man (or woman) who covers their spouse with violence and He strongly rebukes and punishes those who harm children. Choosing to remove yourself (and children, if involved) from that dangerous place is necessary and wise. Do not compound a sin problem in your home by letting it continue. Be a strong help to your spouse and join God in creating consequences for unacceptable behavior that MAY get their attention. Many communities have shelters for abused women (and I'm certain men can get advice there as well). At the very least, get information from them about such situations and make an informed choice.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Praying in Crisis

I have personal connections to fires raging in Colorado and other western states. My parents have been evacuated from their home and are safe at my brother's house some distance away. My sister is housing a displaced family. The city I consider my hometown is blanketed in heavy smoke and there is daily compulsion to pray. But what should I pray for?

In my gut, I want life to be easy and comfortable with no tragedy or pain or suffering. God, who simply cannot lie, told us we would have trouble in this world. It is messed up because along the way every person makes a choice to serve themselves first and not God. I'm part of that sin equation, like it or not. I don't feel the need to defend God or explain in this blog why we have a messed up world, since it takes little effort to see this is true.

Years ago God taught me some prayer lessons in the years my husband risked his life for the sake of others. I wanted him to come home safely so my life would be comfortable and free of the pain of losing him. I wanted my girls to have their daddy to grow up with. One night while praying with them before they slept, I realized my selfish prayers were a setup for their tender hearts to be damaged if Ron were to die on a rescue mission. I knew from Scripture that life isn't comfortable and easy and that we suffer loss and grief while on this earth. I wanted my girls to have the freedom to ask God for the longings of their heart understanding that He is good AND wanted them to understand that if we don't get what we ask for it isn't because God failed us. So, I changed my prayers. I admitted what I wanted (for him to come home safely) and I asked that he would make wise choices as he flew the helicopter and helped others. I acknowledged God's goodness and asked for His grace no matter what the outcome.

So, how DO we pray for people in crisis? Should we pray for rain which would help put out fires, but brings erratic wind and flash floods to areas without vegetation OR for wisdom for those battling the blazes? Should we pray for no houses to burn OR for comfort and peace for those displaced? Should we ask that miracles happen OR that God would make the best of an ugly mess? YES! We need to ask for our hearts' desires because God said we wouldn't have if we didn't ask. We also need to listen to God's quiet voice to learn His good plan in the midst of a mess. When we ask Him to do what He's planning to do we have the privilege of watching it happen and knowing He did it!

I want my family to be safe and have their house back fully intact. I don't want to have my childhood home destroyed by fire. At the same time, I want comfort for my parents as they wait and watch. I want the people who have lost homes to be comforted and know love from people and to know that ultimately any good we receive originates in God. I want them to have their needs met and want to participate in meeting the needs. I want people to experience God's goodness and love in the midst of their tragedy because He does make a difference and DOES work good out awful things.

So, I pray. I hope you are as well.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Yesterday (at church, how ironic) I messed up. When I realized it, I went and admitted it to those I had offended and said I was very sorry for what I had done and that I understood I was wrong. I asked God for forgiveness. Despite their "no problem" responses, I spent time off and on the rest of the day reviewing what I had done in my mind and berating myself for what I had done. I have an overly active self-condemnation habit that I'm working to break.

Fast forward to this morning. The reason I didn't feel forgiven...I didn't ask for forgiveness. I offered repentance and that was a good first step. Asking for forgiveness gives the other person power and requires I submit myself to their response. I AM forgiven by God, but it also feels good to be forgiven by people when we've messed up. No matter what their response might have been to my request for forgiveness, I think I would have walked away feeling forgiven at that point. There is something wonderful about true repentance, the kind that will do anything to make things right. (2 Corinthians 7:10-11)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Our mission is clear...if we choose to accept it

Our home group recently studied John 17 and one of our members summarized it this way:

We have a mission - to glorify God with our lives. We get to do it even if we take a few steps backward and try again to get it right. God has been at work since before the earth was made and he inserted Jesus into the long timeline of earth to give us the perfect example of how to do it - following God's instructions for our lives to the last detail like Jesus did.

Puritans summarized our mission in a similar fashion: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

Here's to doing both - living life in a way that makes God smile and invites His glory to be seen AND enjoying relationship with the one true God Almighty through His son, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reading the Bible - agenda or no?

Last Saturday as I read the Bible, I found myself slipping into a dying habit. I read to "get something" out of it for you. Rather than reading with the hope of knowing God better and spending time with Him, I got distracted by the pressure I put on myself to write regularly.

I realized it pretty quickly and stopped. I picked up the book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, and read the text for June 2. It began, "Relax in My healing, holy Presence..." Just what I needed. I sat in the sunshine gazing at the blue sky and thanked God for being in and around me. I basked in His presence. I enjoyed His very personal love for me that morning.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Faith in Tough Times

Faith in God learning to trust Him with everything in life is an essential step in one's faith journey. God gives us opportunity to exercise faith from the start. When we choose to believe the Jesus is the person described in the Bible - virgin-born, sinless, crucified, dead/buried, risen to life, in heaven now - we take our first significant steps of faith. Any one of those facts about Jesus is worth pondering a while.

As we travel along with God, we get more opportunities to believe Him. Some are clear statements in the Bible that require us to stretch what we know or think and become molded to the ways of God. Other facts in Scripture do not give us clear cut answers to some of our questions and that leaves us with a tension that we must live with in faith in order to mature.

Other times, opportunity comes in trusting God to be good no matter our circumstance. [Exodus 33:19, Psalm 31:19]  When I was newly married, my husband had a high-risk job. Each day could have been his last here on earth with me and I wrestled with the implications for myself and our two girls as the years unfolded. I eventually realized that there was no guarantee that he'd be kept safe by God (John 16:33). In I Peter 1:6-7, God tells us that we should not be surprised by the difficulties we face and that they test our faith, our God-confidence. I learned to believe that God is good ALL the time no matter what my circumstances looked like. When Ron was in a helicopter crash and I waited for word of the outcome, I confronted whether I truly believed God to be good no matter what. That day settled it for me and I have held fast to that confidence in God so far. I know there will be trials that will test me beyond the limits I think I have and I expect to believe God's goodness eventually even if I falter along the way.

You will have difficulties in this life, too. Will you believe the goodness of God no matter what?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When Silence is Deafening

A friend of mine noted that the quiet of the early morning hours made her wonder if she could enjoy life when it was no longer so hectic which prompted me to think about rest, quiet and soul health.

Sometimes silence is deafening. When we choose to be silent, we meet ourselves and our past there (thank you for that thought, Gay Hubbard). We may also meet God in the silence. Depending on the truths we know or perceptions we have of God (from the Bible, experiences with authority and our parents) we will either enjoy that meeting or run from it.

I used to keep busy to keep busy. I used a full schedule to avoid facing the pain in my heart. Healing took quite a process of education, revamping what I believe about God and myself and making tough choices that I had to work to live out. Now that I have lived in that place of health, I find myself enjoying silence more. I still enjoy activity and being with people. I still enjoy handcrafts, but the drive to do them is not as strong now. They are no longer a necessity, rather a joy.

Permission to be silent and to rest comes from a healthy understanding of God as our good Father and good Shepherd. When we believe the truth about God, meeting Him in the silence to speak truth to us is not intimidating and full of hope.

Read through the New Testament asking God to show you who He really is, not who you think He is. Take notes and learn. He will surprise you!  Brad Jersak has written a good book on having healthy conversations with God in quiet moments and his wife, Eden, has written a lovely book of ideas to start those conversations.

What do you do with silence? Are you at peace or in fear? Can you choose to face what you might find there?

For peace in solitude,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Between Authority and Presence

A friend of mine, who happens to be a pastor, shared something I've been pondering of late. He said we need to live between God's authority and God's presence and when we do we're walking the "narrow way" that Jesus described to his followers in Matthew 7:13-14

There is so much between those "places".

All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus and He's living in me (and you if you have allowed him in). [Matthew 28:18] Stop and ponder that thought a minute or two! Wow!  That means we have the opportunity and authority to do ANYTHING He directs us to do for His kingdom and His purposes - including loving well, giving generously, obeying His directions for us, trusting Him and on and on. Think about times when you've had authority - even on the playground as a kid - and ask God how you were different on the inside. What would you be able to do today if you felt that same power that is good and godly because if flows from God Himself in you?

God's presence is such a peaceful refreshing place. That is where I go to refresh my soul. It is the ONLY place to truly "get centered". I connect with God in constant conversation (both LISTENING and talking with Him) throughout the day. I engage God because He is with me all the time. He's always there, I'm the one that needs to remember that fact! [Hebrews 13:5, Psalm 139 especially v.7]

There is also tension living between the two. Authority implies direction and action. Presence implies simply being. Living well with God in this world will require both.

(Thanks, Ken Wilson!)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Living in a foreign land

I recently visited my sister in Germany and a friend living in Denmark. Both of them face interesting daily challenges with culture and languages that are different to them. As I entered into their worlds, God reminded me that I am a stranger and alien in this world.
Jesus told his followers, including those of us who follow him now, that we would face hatred because our spiritual nature in Christ is different than the world - foreign to those who don't yet know God personally.
John 15:19
"If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world [no longer one with it], but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you.")

If you've lived in another country or even moved from one part of the country to another, you have some insights into culture shock and how to cope with the differences that just might inform your spiritual journey on earth this side of heaven.

I want God to be proud of the way I've conducted myself here. I want to look like His kid, not like the rest of the people around me and I want to love people so well that they'd consider a relationship with Him over what they are accustomed to in the evil world around us.

2 Corinthians 1:12
"For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fresh Bible Reading

A friend of mine, asked for some ideas to freshen her times of reading the Bible. Just thinking about it inspired me to get more intentional about it and renewed my desire to learn about God's love in the pages of His words to us - The Bible. Following are the suggestions I gave my friend.

NavPress Lifechange series for basic inductive (letting the Bible interpret itself) study of a single book at a time.

What the Bible is All About by Henrietta Mears - gives historical and biographical information about all the Bible books in an accessible, easy to read format.

Read through the whole Bible with one question in mind for God; take your time and ponder His answers when they come.
     What is God's love like?
     Who is Jesus? Who is the Holy Spirit? Who is God the Father?
     How does God fight for me?
     What does God care about most?

Use a different Bible version than you normally use if it's become "stale" or you get distracted easily.
    Some good ones are New International Version, New American Standard Version, Updated, Amplified Bible, English Standard Version, The Message (I recommend reading the Message after you've read through another version or two since it is really a paraphrase and is one man's idea of what God meant rather than a translation in which many people agreed on the meanings of terms)

Have fun getting to really know God in the pages of Scripture and letting that relationship transform who you are!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pleasing God or pleasing people?

In recent weeks, I've heard and read some statements that seemed written in BOLD PRINT for my heart when I encountered them. I'll summarize those so you have the context of this post.
1. A wise friend in Alaska lovingly pointed out a long-standing struggle I've had trying to please people and that I too often live with concerns about what people think of my actions/decisions.
2. Last Sunday, our pastor said, "Every great vision will have critics...Run after the vision God gave you...There are no monuments to critics."
3. Two days ago, while reading a Bible passage, I was stopped in my mental and spiritual tracks by this statement - "For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

I was grieved to realize in that moment I was a slave to people - anyone that seems to care or have an opinion about the pursuit of God's vision for my life. I know I very much want to be a voluntary servant of God (bondservant), but I've fallen into the trap of involuntary servitude to people far too often! When I let myself be consumed with what others think about my pursuit of God's calling on my life more than what God Himself has told me to do, I've chosen slavery to those people rather than to God.

Taken together, it is clear my current assignment from God is to wrestle through this habit and pull this "weed" up, roots and all, by the power of God working in me. I know the roots of this struggle were established when I was abused by a school teacher in second grade. I know the weed was watered along the way by events in junior high and high school. I know God has already begun a good work in me to pull this weed out, roots and all. It must be time to take the next step in that process of being made into the image of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

In Galatians 5:1, the Apostle Paul declares, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a joke of slavery."

Cooperating with God for victory,

Monday, January 23, 2012

Now what?

For years, I have dreamed of preaching the good news God shares with me to men and women on a large scale. The dream has been squashed by myself and others and I've denied I ever wanted it to deal with the pain of setting it aside. I've longed for it and been discouraged, I've dusted it off and then feared it.

There were barriers to the pursuit of that dream along the way, some real and some imagined that seemed just as real. Now that all the barriers are gone, I'm confronted with questions I'd never noticed before.

These questions occupy my thoughts almost daily now:
Is this truly my dream? Now that it is possible, do I want to do it? Why do I hesitate? What do I fear?

God says, "Do not fear" about 143 times in the Bible. I know He wants me to believe Him to do great and mighty things for my good, no matter how impossible they seem to me. I know operating in fear is not operating in faith in my God who is good and cares personally about every detail of my life (Psalm 139; Jeremiah 29:11). I feel paralyzed somewhere deep down.

I'm on new frontiers and taking baby steps.

Without barriers, would you pursue your dream? Would your dream be the same?