Saturday, May 31

Not Done Yet

Phillipians 1:6: "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
Can I just say, WHEW! There are so many days when I think I’m just not doing it right - it, being life. I get frustrated with myself because I still do stupid stuff; I tell myself I know better than to do those things! I’ve grown and learned so much, especially in the past few years, but some days it just feels like I’m c-r-e-e-p-i-n-g along in learning all the things I ought to know by now.

This verse reassures me that God isn’t done with me yet! It’s ok that I don’t have it all together, because I’m still a work in progress. But the even better news is that God won’t stop working on me until he’s done - until he has perfected his good work in me! He won’t give up, he won’t say it’s just too hard and I’m too stubborn. He won’t get frustrated and walk away from me, as I sometimes do with my projects. Nope, he started a good work in me, and he won’t quit until he’s done.

So I know that I have to keep trying, and remember that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I’m still FAR from perfect, but He who began a good work in me will perfect it.

Wednesday, May 28


“Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock.” Matthew 7:24

I’ve been involved in building a few houses. I’ve watched the process from clearing the site all the way through the finished product. I’ve even had to oversee much of the process myself - while pregnant (not fun!). So I learned a few things along the way. If you don’t get the foundation right, everything is else is out of whack. In a really bad case, the whole house could be downright dangerous to live in, and even fall down.

Thinking about that, I get the picture Jesus is painting with his words. If my life is my “house”, what am I building it upon? It kind of goes back to what I said before the verse. If I don’t make sure I’m building my life on Christ, then I have nothing to offer anybody else. I won’t be any good to myself, and surely not to the rest of the world. I’ve tried building my life on other stuff, and it’s all good for a little while; everything looks pretty from the outside. But when the storm comes and the wind blows, those things don’t stand up to it. The life I’d built before came crashing down in the storms of life. Then God helped me bulldoze that old junk away so I could start building my life on the sturdy foundation of Christ. And oh, what a difference that has made.

Tuesday, May 27

Be Transformed

“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2
Oh, how easy it is to be “conformed to this age.” Even if we spend time in prayer and Bible study every day, even if we start and end our day that way, it is usually not what we spend MOST of our time doing. There is news, television shows, secular books and magazines, even friends, family, and neighbors that pull our thoughts back into focusing on the world. If we’re going to be salt and light to anybody (that will be an entirely seperate post), we sure can’t - and shouldn’t - seal ourselves in a little insulated bubble to keep out all the worldly stuff. What do we do? Personally, I have weaned myself away from many things that weren’t bad, but just weren’t nourishing my spiritual life. I realized that I was getting sucked into TV shows that had me thinking things that just aren’t glorifying God, so I almost never watch TV anymore. (See a whole post about that here.) Some of the magazines I was reading had me thinking way too much about whether my clothes or my hair style were trendy enough, or envying the expensive new kitchen appliances in some million-dollar home. There were other influences in my life, too, (music, books, even some people) that weren’t necessarily bad, but sure weren’t helping me grow to know Christ more, so eventually, I cut them out. There are probably still more I should eliminate, but I’ll do that as I feel convicted to do so.

All of that relates to not being conformed to the world, but what about renewing our minds? That, of course, comes primarily from seeking a closer relationship with Christ: spending time in the Word; seeking to listen to God rather than just telling him my laundry list of wants and needs; surrounding myself with Christian friends; spending time worshipping, and so on. Christ lives in me, and I am a new creation now, but I have to learn to act like it.

Sometimes I’m not sure which things I should avoid, or what exactly I should do. Fortunately, I don’t have to rely on my own so-called good sense. If I allow Christ to renew my mind, I can then have good discernment skills. That’s something I pray for nearly every day. The Bible is a wonderful guide for living, but it just doesn’t specifically cover many of the things I deal with in my day-to-day life, so the only way I can figure out what to do is through discernment. I pray that for my kids, too. Not only do I need guidance about those things, I also need to seek God’s will. I keep flipping through the Bible, looking for that chapter called “Jamie’s Life” and figure if I do find it, I’ll look for chapter 35 (I’ll be 35 in a few weeks) and read that to see what God wants me to do this year. So far, I can’t find it, so I guess I’ll just have to keep praying, and try to keep growing with Christ’s help.
Please note: I am not endorsing the put-yourself-in-a-bubble idea for anybody, myself included. I also don’t think that everyone needs to eliminate all the things I’ve cut down on in my life; I was convicted about certain things not influencing me in a good way, but they may not have the same effect on everyone. Maybe I’m extra cautious because I have been so far off-track in the past and I don’t want to derail again. It’s all just food for thought (and prayer). I just know that no matter what, I’ve got to have plenty of good stuff feeding me spiritually so that I can deal with all the other stuff and not get off-track. I have to be fed before I have what it takes to go feed anybody else.

Monday, May 26

Send Me

Isaiah 6: 7-8:
"He touched my mouth [with it] and said:
Now that this has touched your lips,
your wickedness is removed,
and your sin is atoned for.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:
Who should I send? Who will go for Us?

I said: Here I am. Send me."
During a vision, the Lord comes to Isaiah, and brings along some of the Seraphim (mighty angels - these are not the cherubic float-around-on-a-cloud-playing-the-harp kind!). Isaiah is frightened because he knows he isn’t clean enough to be in God’s holy presence, but one of these mighty heavenly beings flies to Isaiah and touches his lips with a coal taken from the altar in the temple. This heavenly creature tells Isaiah that his wickedness is removed and his sin is atoned for. Isaiah is cleansed the way that we would be cleansed by Christ’s death on the cross hundreds of years later. This is the reason why he is able to remain in God’s presence, just as we are able to be in God’s presence because Christ’s blood cleansed us. I know I’m not clean enough or good enough on my own, but when I chose to follow Christ, I became a new creation. Not perfect like Jesus, but new and now actually capable - through Christ’s power - of being obedient to him.

Once Isaiah is cleansed, God asks who will go for him, to do his work and deliver his message. I think it’s great that He gives Isaiah the opportunity to volunteer for the job, and thereby show some appreciation. Isaiah is so grateful to God for cleansing him, and probably also for not smiting him dead because of his uncleanliness, that he wants to do whatever it is God wants done. Notice that Isaiah volunteers for the job before he even knows what it is! Whatever it is, he’s ready and willing. “Send me,” he says!

I like that God gives Isaiah this chance to thank him, to serve him. He has a zillion ways he can get his will done; he doesn’t need Isaiah. And I love that Isaiah jumps in there ready to go, ready to serve. Am I that willing? I have certainly received that same gift, of being cleansed, having my “wickedness removed”, and my sins atoned for, and that allows me to have a relationship with God. I should be just as eager as Isaiah. But am I? Are you?

Friday, May 23


2 Timothy 1:7
“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness (timidity), but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”
This verse speaks to me so much every time I read it. Originally, I read the NIV version which substitutes “timidity” for “fearfulness” so I like to think of both. I’m enthusiastic, I love people, I’m a talker, and I like to learn and try new things. However, anything outside my comfort zone, even if it’s something I love doing, often frightens me out of my wits! Sometimes my husband and I teach dance lessons; every time, my stomach hurts and I can’t eat beforehand. I’ll feel almost sick - until we get started! Then I’m loving it! Same thing with any time I’ve ever had to speak in front of a large group of people, or even when we go on photo shoots! Now that I’ve learned what it is, I am learning to deal with it, and we just make jokes about it. After we’ve finished whatever it is, I’m always famished!!!

This is just one way fear - or timidity - messes with me. But this verse reminds me that I don’t have to be afraid. God is always with me, holding my hand the whole time, picking me up and dusting me off if I do fall on my face. When I allow him to be in charge, I know it’s going to be alright. I haven’t yet figured out how to totally eliminate the fears, but I am learning to keep going even when I feel afraid.

God also reminds me in this verse, that he’s given me power! I really CAN do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength. I know I’m a big ol’ wimp on my own, so I love remembering that it’s his strength I’m depending on, rather than my own.

He also gave me a spirit of love. He loves me, and by loving me, he has given me the capacity to love. What a wonderful gift. And sound judgement! Boy, do I need that, because my judgement isn’t so great on it’s own. I have made a whole lot of mistakes by depending on my own “good” judgement; what a relief that he gives me truly sound judgement.

You know, the biggest, most overwhelming thing all these verse have been telling me is that life is just better when I let God lead. I wasn’t meant to do everything on my own, and I complicate the heck out of things when I try. I’m trying to really, truly, wholly, lean on God.

Thursday, May 22


I spent some time in Philemon today, thanks to my new blog friend Kathy’s post today. But she pretty much covered the whole (short) book! I will say, however, that Paul’s letter to Philemon is a great reminder to forgive those who have hurt us. An amazing truth God showed me a few year ago is that if I don’t forgive someone, no matter what they’ve done to me, then I am essentially saying that I am better and wiser than God - after all, he forgave me! Realizing that brought me to some serious repentance for the grudges I’d been holding, and created the beginning of a whole lot of healing for me.

Now, onto the verse I'm pondering today...
1 Timothy 6: 6-7: “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.”
This verse above comes right after Paul’s warning against false teachers, who are “full of pride and understand nothing” because they think that serving God is a good way to get rich. Oh, my.

Warning, I feel myself being pulled up on my soap box here:
Perhaps this is politically incorrect in parts of the Christian world, but I believe the prosperity gospel is a bunch of heretical baloney. The Bible clearly states that, as Christians, we are going to face trials. Period. It’s gonna happen, and “naming and claiming” the health and wealth so-called “promises” are NOT going to prevent it. At one point in my life, before I’d spent much time in God’s Word, I thought maybe they were right, and maybe the fact that I wasn’t rich, and that my life wasn’t perfect, was because I wasn’t claiming the right promises. Maybe it was because I had “given power to the spoken word” and had tried to talk to friends about my worries. This teaching said I couldn’t do that. But then a good friend, who had been told these same lies, experienced a difficult pregnancy. She wasn’t allowed to speak of the baby’s potential problems, had to make up non-lying excuses about why she needed her mom to babysit because she couldn’t tell her that she frequently had to see a specialist for high-risk pregnancies. She finally confided in me, and we prayed for the baby. In the end, the baby was fine. But oh, how much more stressful that pregnancy was because she couldn’t talk about her fears and worries, and couldn’t ask friends and family to pray for them! That’s when I realized how terrible this health-and-wealth gospel is; it says that if you have illness or tragedy or you have money troubles, it’s all your fault because you just didn’t have enough faith. ARRRGGH! I didn’t intend to go off on this, but it infuriates and saddens me that people actually believe this stuff!!!

OK, so Paul has warned Timothy about these false teachers. Then he says that serving God does make us rich! But wait - read the rest of the sentence!…if we are satisfied with what we have.” So he’s not talking about a pocketful of gold, or a bank account full of money, or a Ferrari in the garage. It’s the serving God that satisfies us so we don’t care whether or not we have that other stuff! Just to make sure we get that, he adds, “we brought nothing into the world, so we can take nothing out.” This is the exact opposite of the bumper sticker I have seen way too often that says “He who dies with the most toys wins.” No, he who dies with the most toys is still just dead, and the toys remain here to be fought over by the surviving relatives. Just a little after this verse is the “the love of money is the root of all evil” verse. I didn’t intend to get so fired up about this today, but it sounds like ol’ Paul was pretty wound up about it, too. After all, he had learned to be content even in prison!
A few verses later, Paul finishes up this letter to Timothy by reminding him to “run away from all those things.” No, wealth is not the problem, but the desire to be wealthy is. Having money isn’t a sin if we are generous and if we realize that all our “stuff” is just that - “stuff.” Unlike people, stuff can be replaced. It will all rust; when we consider all eternity, the time that we have this “stuff” is just the blink of an eye. It’s not worth much in that light.

Paul continues. “Instead, live in the right way, serve God, have faith, love, patience, and gentleness.” That’s my prayer for myself today, too:
Lord, please help me to live in the right way, to serve You, to have faith, love, patience, and gentleness with everyone. It’s only by your help that I can do these things. Help me look at the things in this life through the perspective of eternity.

Wednesday, May 21

Our Helper

"If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever–" John 14:15-16
I sometimes use the Amplified Bible to expand the meanings of some words, but generally I don’t like reading it because all those extras are distracting. I went with this version today, however, because that description of the Holy Spirit just can’t be beat.

The first part of this verse deserves more than a cursory glance. It would be easy to look at it, especially if taken out of context, as a manipulative statement, or a threat. But that’s not at all what it is. Jesus isn’t saying that he won’t love us if we fail to keep his commands. What he’s saying is that if we really do love and trust him, we will keep his commands because we want to, not because we have to. That “want to” may take a while to grow, but it is the evidence we have that we really have received the wonderful gift of salvation.

OK, so now we want to obey, but things are often easier said than done! How are we going to make this obeying stuff a reality? Well, left to our own power, we’d fail miserably. But God already knew that, so he made other, much better and more effective arrangements; Jesus promises to ask his Father to send us the Holy Spirit! Who is the Holy Spirit? He is our Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby! Not only that, but he will NEVER leave us! Jesus promises that this amazing Helper with remain with us forever! With that kind of promise, and that kind of divine Help, we can indeed begin to obey. We’ll all still stumble, but sin does not have the ultimate power over us after we accept Christ. Just a few years ago, I learned a life-changing truth: when Christ died for us on the cross, not only did he take the punishment for our sins, he also took sin’s power over us. That is the ultimate freedom, and that kind of freedom is what a real relationship with Jesus is all about.

Tuesday, May 20

Be a Fool

1 Corinthians 3:18:
“Do not deceive yourselves.
If any one of you thinks he is
wise by the standards of this age,
he should become a “fool”
so that he may become wise.”

Ouch. Just when I think I’m starting to become wise, I’ve lost it. Much like being humble: when you think you are great at being humble - oops! - you’re not being humble anymore. {sigh} Something I read yesterday pointed out that we try to simplify faith so that it will fit into a tidy little box. That got me thinking. God won’t fit in a box. And while faith should be “childlike”, I don’t think that actually means it’s simple. I think what Jesus was teaching us there (Matthew 19:14) was that we will never be capable of understanding all the complexities of God and heaven and faith, so we should stop trying so hard to figure it all out and just be content to love and trust him.

When we think we’re wise, we’re fooling ourselves. I know God has given me more wisdom than I once had, and I’m soooo thankful for that. There’s no telling what kind of trouble I’m likely to have gotten myself into without it. But I also pray each day for wisdom in parenting, in how to be a better wife, and so on… I know that real wisdom only comes from God. Not from education at the best schools, not even from life experience. A person can have LOTS of life experience and yet not gain any wisdom from it because they aren’t relying on God for that wisdom. That’s what this verse is telling me. It doesn’t matter how smart or educated or experienced I am in the things of this world; it’s all foolishness. When I admit that I don’t know it all, and I’m never going to know it all, only then can I begin to become truly wise. Admiting that I will never know it all allows me to trust God to lead me - because he does know it all!

Monday, May 19


Titus 3:5 “[God] saved us because of his mercy. It was not because of good deeds we did to be right with him. He saved us through the washing that made us new people through the Holy Spirit.”
The first part of this that strikes me is that God saved us. What did he save us from? Lots of possible answers there: he saved me from myself, he saved me from being a slave to sin, he saved me from spending eternity separated from him.

Why did he save us? Because of his mercy. defines “mercy” as this: “compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence.” Did you catch that bit about it being compassion toward an offender… or other person in one’s power? That’s right, we’re the offenders. And we’re under God’s power. He could have just whipped us into shape or not ever given us the option of being “offenders”, but he chose to use mercy; “compassionate forbearance”.

The next REALLY important bit of this verse is that we were not saved because of good deeds we did. We can’t do anything good enough to make up for all the sin and disobedience we’ve been guilty of since Adam & Eve. We can do good things, and in fact, God wants us to do good deeds, but it’s not how or why were saved. We cannot earn salvation no matter what we do.

How did he save us? By washing us inside and out. He washed out all the icky stuff, cleaned us til we were squeaky clean. He made us new people. New people. That means I’m not the same as I once was. Does it mean I’ll never mess up? No. I have to LEARN how to be this new person. But I’ve got the power to live up being the new person God created because I’ve got the Holy Spirit inside me, and the Holy Spirit gives me all I need.

Sunday, May 18

Tender Hearted

Ezekiel 36: 26-27
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”
Following Christ isn’t about following a set of rules and regulations. But when we do decide to follow him, at some point we’ll start feeling, as my pastor says, the “Want To.” I want to do what is good; I want to do what is pleasing to God. I want to stop doing sinful things and start doing things that glorify God. Does that happen all at once? Does God wave a magic wand over us and *POOF* we begin to live spotless lives? No way. But it starts a little at a time, and it grows. Sometimes that “want to” and the spiritual growth that accompanies it happens fast, but at other times it’s pretty slow. Hopefully, though, we don’t let it stop altogether and become stagnant, stinky Christians.

God doesn’t just teach us how to act. True, he gives us some pretty good guidelines of what to do and what not to do in the Bible. But following him isn’t about rules and new habits. Developing good habits doesn’t change our hearts. God, however, does just that - he changes our hearts. Before I became a Christ-follower, I had a stubborn heart of stone. A hard heart. Hard, stubborn hearts can’t do much good. But then he gave me a heart transplant, and now I have a beautiful, responsive heart, capable of much love. Capable of learning what God wants to teach me. Along with that heart transplant, God gave me something extra - a really big, amazing something extra. He put his Spirit into me!!! That makes all the difference! Having God’s Spirit in me allows me to follow his rules. It’s what gives me the “want to.” I still have a long way to go before he’s done with me, but I’m growing; I’m changing bit by bit, from the inside out.

I’m using another verse here that I could have made a whole post about, but that wonderfully helpful Holy Spirit gave me this one to go along with the above verse. I think I will write this up all pretty and stick it on my bulletin board by my computer as a daily prayer. I am modifying it a bit to personalize it for me, but you can find Paul’s original prayer in Philippians 1:9-11.

May my love overflow more and more, and may I keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want to understand what really matters, so that I may live a pure and blameless life until the day of Christ’s return. May I be filled with the fruit of your salvation — the righteous character produced in my life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” Amen!

Saturday, May 17

Don't Fret

Philippians 4:6 - “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.”
I’m having trouble with this today, so this is a good verse for me to spend some time pondering. By the way, I use several different translations, and I think they all have merits. I really like because you can look at lots of different translations for a particular verse.

I already know that I shouldn’t worry. The Bible is quite clear about that. “Do not fret or have anxiety about anything…” Whoa - about anything? As in, nothing at all? That’s so, so hard for me. Some things seem easier to give over to God. Let him handle. But don’t worry about anything at all? That is definitely easier said than done.

So how am I suppose to do this not-worrying thing? Fortunately God gives instructions about that part, too. I am suppose to pray about everything. Not only that, but I’m suppose to ask him specifically for the things I need and want. Does that mean I’ll get everything? No, not unless he thinks it’s best for me. No matter what, though, he wants me to bring it to him. He wants me to ask, and then he wants me to accept his answer, whatever that may be. And the other part of this verse? I’m suppose to do all of this - the praying, the asking, the accepting - with thanksgiving. Whatever happens, if I’m continually praying about it, then I’m involved in a close relationship with God, which means he’ll hold my hand through it all. God is with me, holding my hand; that’s enough to be thankful for, and even though it’s REALLY hard, it’s also enough to ease my mind and help me let go of those worries.

Friday, May 16

Jars of Clay

2 Corinthians 4:6-7:
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

God created light simply by speaking it into existence out of the nothingness of dark. He also shines his big ol’ flashlight into the dark recesses of our hearts and souls so that we can see his glory, so that we can know him. That’s so amazing. We have such tiny little human minds, and can so easily have hardened hearts. But he gives us himself so that we can recognize “the face of Christ.”

That’s so hard for me to understand. He gives himself to me. He is part of me. He lives in me and through me. If I keep my clumsy, tongue-tied self out of the way, his glory will shine through me. Others will be able to see him in me. But there’s the tough part: keeping myself out of the way.

I know I’m not that great on my own. I am a perfectionist living with the fact that I can’t ever be perfect. I often say exactly the wrong thing and still don’t have a rewind button for the stupid things that come out of my mouth. I worry, usually about ridiculous things (though really, if we believe God is in control, why worry about anything? But that’s for another post). I have had my share of really big screw-ups. So you’d think it would be really easy to get out of the way and let “Jesus take the wheel”, as the song says.

But it’s not easy. I tend to take stuff back from God. I let him have the “big” stuff and I keep the “small” stuff. But I manage to mess up the small stuff and it turns into big stuff. I read a great post yesterday about a little girl beginning that toddler stage of wanting to do it all herself, so she says, “MyDo!” That’s such a great reminder that when we don’t let God have control, we’re just like stubborn toddlers.

So this verse reminds me that I’m not that special on my own. I’m a clay pot, and a clay pot isn’t worth much, just sitting enpty on the shelf. But there is one thing it’s good for: it can be filled with valuable oil. Then it becomes something of value, and even begins to absorb a little of that valuable liquid into itself so that it even smells like the fragrant oil it contains. That’s what I want to be. A little clay pot full of the treasure of Jesus Christ, beginning to have the fragrance of Christ.

Thursday, May 15

Dirty Laundry

Hebrews 2:11:
“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”
Why do we hide our “dirty laundry” from each other? Why are we afraid to let each other know about our dysfunctional families, the cousin in prison, the alcoholic father, the bulimic sister? Why are we ashamed of the “sins of our fathers”?

Jesus didn’t hide anything. True, his dad was God. But humanly, he came from a long line of disfunctional folks and big-time sinners. Prostitutes, murderers, adulterers, and the like. Do we claim to be better than him by keeping our skeletons safely hidden in the closet?

Jesus already knows all our disfunctions and claims us as his family anyway. Though I am a sinner who comes from a long line of sinners, he is not ashamed of me. In that verse above, Jesus is the one who makes us holy. Which means we aren’t holy to begin with, but he invites us to come to him and become his brothers and sisters. And once we’ve been adopted into the family, God becomes our Father, and Jesus is proud to call us family.

Wednesday, May 14

Rejoice Always

“Rejoice always, pray constantly,
give thanks in everything, for this is
God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice always” - that’s what I’ve been focusing on lately. Rejoicing because God is God, and he is in control. Rejoicing because I have been blessed with life and love. Rejoicing because my future is going to be full of boundless JOY, even if I face icky stuff here in this life. And today’s verse teaches me to rejoice because God said so!

“Pray constantly” - this part used to give me such trouble. How am I suppose to function in this life if I never get off my knees, if I’m mumbling prayers as I do the grocery shopping? But now I’ve learned more about what prayer really is. It’s about a relationship with God. I do need to spend time specifically devoted to prayer, but all throughout the day, I can be in open communication with God, ready to listen to him, eager to learn whatever he wants to teach me, and maintaining a spirit of thankfulness.

Which brings me to the next part - “give thanks in everything.” Yes, thank him for the good things: rain on a parched garden, the opportunity to learn along side my daughter as we homeschool, a relaxed evening with my husband, a dog sleeping by my feet, a cup of steaming hot tea. But also thank him for the harder things: learning patience as we wait to get approved by the state for adoption, budgeting the money to replace a rotting back door, finding the time to do all the things that need doing. And even though we might not thank him for the painful things, we can still find things to thank him for in the midst of them, if we look hard enough. I am amazed, humbled, and inspired by a sweet family we know who recently, suddenly, lost their youngest son. They hurt, they cry out, they hunger for answers, and they desperately wish for their sweet boy to be back in their arms. But they FEEL God wrapping his loving arms around them in so many ways, and they find so many things to thank God for, even in this unthinkably painful time. And through it all, they have hope - the great promise that they will see him again. That kind of faith, that kind of hope, that kind of thankfulness is God’s will for us.

Tuesday, May 13

You Can Do It!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." ~Hebrews 12:1-2
I like this verse a lot. I like to think about that “great cloud of witnesses” - the great people who lived a life of faith hundreds of years before I was born. I am not great… but Abraham, Gideon, Samuel, David, and those like them are up there cheering for little ol’ me. Imagine a big race with lots of exuberant fans on the sidelines, cheering me on. Even when a racer is tired and feeling like he might not make it, a bunch of enthusiastic cheering usually helps them hang on a little longer. But imagine guys (and girls!) like those faith hall-of-famers being the ones urging you on, saying “you can do it”, and knowing you can do it because they did!

But you don’t try to run a race wearing a backpack and layers and layers of clothing, because it slows you down, makes you tired too soon, and it’s much less likely that you’ll finish the race. So you’ve got to throw off that junk, leave it on the roadside. You don’t need it. It’s the same with sin and all the worldly stuff we get caught up in; it makes it SO hard to run the race.

The only way to keep on with the race - what we’re suppose to be doing in this life- is to keep our eyes on the finish line. Jesus. I learned that phrase “fixing our eyes” really means to turn away from everything else. Even things that seem ok, like friends and family, even the way we serve, can take our eyes off Jesus. He is the only perfect example of faith - he even “authored” it!

One huge thing to keep in mind is that Jesus suffered more than any of us will ever be called to suffer. But he got through it because of the great JOY that he knew was coming. That part is the same for us; whatever we go through here and now, we are assured that the joy to come is SO much greater! I want to learn how to worship God with my whole life, my whole being, all the time. It’s easy to praise when things are going great. But when the hard times come - and they will, in varying degrees for all of us - if we don’t have a solid foundation in the word of God, then everything will come crashing down around us and the “whys” will be too much for us to bear. Our faith will fail if it is built on fluff. That’s part of why I’m trying to grow in not just my knowledge of the Bible, but in my understanding of it.

Monday, May 12


Galatians 4:4-6:
When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his son… so that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
There’s so much in this passage. First of all, a reminder that everything happens on God’s time-table. Sometimes that seems painfully slow to us, like it will never happen; but if it’s God’s will, it will happen when God says it’s time. That’s frustrating and hard for our human minds to comprehend.

Think about adoption for a minute. We have learned that when a child is adopted, they have all the same legal rights as our flesh-and-blood children. As far as the law is concerned, they become our children just as if I had given birth to them. That’s what God did for us! When he adopted me as his child, I became a sister to Jesus Christ and to all other believers - and I became a CHILD OF GOD! I am a co-heir with Christ! How mind-boggling! God’s love never ceases to amaze me. And as we try to prepare ourselves for adopting a child, I am comforted by the fact that God will give us the love we need. The child we adopt won’t be perfect, but neither are our other children. But God already had a perfect child - Jesus - so why would he want us, with all our issues and problems? Because of his great love!

When we adopt, we’ll get a piece of paper that proves the child is part of our family. When we are adopted by God, we get something much better than a piece of paper to prove it; we get the Holy Spirit living inside us! That’s what allows us to claim God as our Father, and gives us the right to call him “Daddy.” I still have a hard time with that. It says plain and clear in the Bible that we can call him “Abba”, which is what Hebrew kids called their fathers; in other words, “Daddy.” But that’s so intimate. I guess I grew up thinking God was a far-away, kind of scary guy in the sky. Somebody who demanded to be addressed in a very formal manner. But here he tells me it’s ok to call him Daddy. Wow again. God is my Daddy, who loves me more than any earthly father ever.

Sunday, May 11

Set My Heart Free

I began this blog as a Bible study tool, intending to study verses while asking God to show me who he is. It’s easy for me to go down my mental list of, “thank you for providing a home and material things, thank you for my good health, thank you for my family…” Those are all great blessings, and I know God is pleased that I do thank him. However, this is suppose to be so that I can thank him and worship him for WHO he IS, rather than just a laundry list of THINGS he has DONE. But I need to learn to worship him just because he is God. I have learned an important lesson from a friend who has experienced great, heartbreaking tragedy: God is still God, even through the most unimaginably painful circumstances in our lives. God always was, always is, and always will be. And that’s plenty enough to deserve my constant praise and thanksgiving.

Today the verse I chose is Psalm 119:32, but there are a couple of versions I like that each speak to me a little differently:

“I pursue the way of Your commands,
for You enlarge my heart.” (HCSB)

“I run in the path of your commands,
for you have set my heart free.” (NIV)

Sometimes we want Christianity to be easy and convenient, and it usually isn’t. It goes against what the world expects us to do, and often it even seems weird. Many times, those on the outside looking in at us see Christianity as a list of rules and regulations - a list of all the things we aren’t suppose to do. “Why,” they ask, “would I ever want to limit myself from doing things that make me happy?” The answer is found in the above verse. Following Christ, obeying God, sets us FREE. We aren’t bound by a list of “can’ts” because the price for our sins has already been paid. But as we begin to do his will, we find joy. As we grow closer to him, we want to make him happy, and as we do those things that make him happy, he gives us even greater joy! It’s a wonderful cycle. When we follow his commands, he “enlarges our hearts” so that we can more fully take in the beauty and wonder of all he has created; so that we can care more deeply and have greater empathy for our friends and neighbors; so that we can begin to comprehend just a little bit of his great love for us. All those things give us greater joy, and that is why we want to pursue the path of his commands.

Saturday, May 10

Follow Me

Luke 9:23:
"Then He said to them all, 'If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'"
As I’ve said before, God wants us with him - but not just in heaven someday after we die. He wants us with him NOW. And he gives us pretty clear instructions for doing that: we must DAILY make the decision to follow him. Following him often means doing things that are hard, uncomfortable, and inconvenient; it doesn’t guarantee prosperity and happiness in this world. God is not politically correct, and neither is following him. Sometimes it’s messy, and sometimes - especially for those living in other countries - it can even be deadly.

But he isn’t asking us to do anything more than what he did. In fact, even those who die for their faith in Christ still aren’t doing exactly what he did, because they are still imperfect sinners. Jesus Christ is the only sinless human EVER, but he paid for our sins with his perfect life. None of us can claim that.

Trying to become more like Christ often seems so far out of reach. But each day, before I even get out of bed, I can make the choice to follow him TODAY, rely on him TODAY, submit to him TODAY, allow him to live in me and through me TODAY. He won’t ask me to do it alone, because he is my best friend and he will never leave me.

Friday, May 9

Feels like Home

“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
God wants us with him. When we receive the gift of salvation, that means we get to spend forever with God. If we reject him, he respects our decision and allows us to live apart from him - forever. That’s what hell is: eternal life apart from God. Will those in hell know they are in hell, or will things be much like they are now, minus the Christians? I don’t know. I’ve read conflicting things about that, and I haven’t had a chance to ask God face-to-face, but it’ll be on my list of questions when I get there. What I do know is that I WILL get to spend forever with God because he wanted me to live forever with him, and I said yes. I know that God is with me, every moment; my life is a great big conversation with God, only sometimes I’m not paying attention to what he’s telling me. But when I get to heaven, I know that it will feel like the best homecoming ever. I think another name for God ought to be the Best Host Ever. You know when you go to someone’s house - whether it’s your best friend or your parents’ house or wherever - and you just feel that good decompressing whoosh, where all the stress goes away and you’re HOME? That feeling, magnified by about a million times is what I think heaven will be like. God created the best home ever, and when we - his children - come home, he wants us to feel welcome and like we’re finally HOME… because we will be. It’s easy to forget that this world is not our home, until tragedy strikes and we have no explanations for the WHY’s that follow. The reason we have no answers is because we were created for another, better place. Things here are not as they should be. But being with God IS what we were created for. He is a loving parent cheering for us as we try to “fight the good fight” and “finish the race”, but he knows that someday we’ll be at home with him, right where we’re supposed to be.

Thursday, May 8

Demonstrating Love

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8

Wow. I say that often, but it’s all my simple little human brain can come up with sometimes to express my awe about my Lord. So I say again - WOW. I know God loves me. Anybody who has grown up in church has heard the little song, ”Jesus loves me, this I know…” So I know that God loves me. But how much? This verse says that while we were still sinners, he chose to die for us. We didn’t do anything to earn it. He is so generous, and so loving, that he suffered and died while we were messing up. He didn’t wait until we were starting to get our lives on track, or making promises to do better, or reading our Bible, or anything. He did this WHILE we were sinners. Have you ever had anyone who has really hurt you, broken your heart, disappointed you, or deliberately betrayed you? Can you imagine, at that moment, while the pain and hurt is still fresh and raw, choosing to lay down your life in a horrible and humiliating manner in order to save that person’s life? That’s exactly what Christ did.

Wednesday, May 7

Cast Your Cares...

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7
What does this tell me about who God is? It tells me that He is compassionate. He doesn’t want me to worry about anything because He cares about me, and for me. That He cares about me means that He doesn’t want me to hurt, just as any good parent hopes their children will be spared from pain and heartache (although sometimes they--and we--bring heartache upon ourselves). That He cares for me means that He provides for all my needs, just as a parents cares for a child by feeding, clothing, and loving him. He does all this even when He is not thanked or acknowledged; even those who deny Christ still partake of the goodness of all He has created. Just as I, as a parent, still care for and about my daughter even when she is cranky or disrespectful.

God is telling me in this verse that I have no reason to worry or fret; He is taking care of everything, so all I have to do is soak up His glory and be the child He created me to be.

Tuesday, May 6

Who are You, Lord?

I’m asking God to show me WHO HE IS through his word…

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Deuteronomy 5:6-7

God does so much for me. He created this beautiful world I live in. He chose to give me life. He made so many things happen, created so many people as my ancestors to create even the possibility of my beginning. And He continues to bless me daily. He puts up with my mistakes, with the mistakes that all of us humans make, even when we are trying to become more Christlike. So it is no wonder that He expects to be number one in my life. He is all-powerful, but He chooses not to be heavy-handed and force us to behave; He could indeed do that, but that would take away the wonder of free will. Sometimes He reminds me that He has done great things for me, and sometimes He must steer me back on track by a little loving discipline. But always, He love me enough to keep giving me chances. He is all-knowing, ever-loving, and oh-so-patient with me. He expects and deserves my complete adoration.

Thursday, May 1

My Testimony

Although my parents were Christian, we never talked much about God or our beliefs; it seemed like a very private subject. At about age 10, I was “saved”… I walked the aisle and said the salvation prayer, and got baptized the following Sunday. It was great. But I really didn’t know what I was suppose to do after that. I figured I ought to read my Bible, and I tried, but didn’t know how to approach it, so I tried to read it cover to cover, not realizing that isn’t usually the best approach. So I’d get frustrated and not pick it up again for a long time. Over the years, I was pretty much spiritually stagnant. Sometimes I’d make a few baby-steps but never could quite figure out how to serve the Lord AND keep up with my Monday-thru-Saturday life. Other times, I strayed farther. I still prayed, but mostly they were prayers of asking for things to go my way, or explaining/rationalizing to God why I was doing the things I was doing. Basically, I talked to God, but I didn’t want to hear from Him. I felt like I had things under control, and I didn’t want Him messing with me or my life, except maybe to get me out of trouble. I wanted to lead, not follow. (If you know anything about couples/ballroom dancing, you know that it does not work when the one intended to follow tries to take the lead!)

Finally, several years ago, a whole lot of things happened, snowballed, and I reached a place of brokenness. I realized that what I had been doing wasn’t working at all; I realized how tremendously imperfect I am, and how desperately I needed a Saviour. I realized that I can’t do it on my own, and that I need to let God love me – that also means I need to let Him change me. If I wasn’t so broken, I don’t know if I ever would have reached that point of letting go of my control. It wasn’t one magical moment that this happened; it was a process, but this was finally a real beginning. God began to work in me, and He pruned me and my life severely. It hurt. But I finally began to grow. The Lord led me exactly where I needed to be, to the church home I needed, to the friends He wanted me to have at that season of my life. I continued to grow, I continued to seek Him. I learned much, and the more I learned, the more I sought to know. I pray that never goes away. I will never know or understand everything in this life, but I never want to lose the hunger and thirst for God. During this time, I married Ken, who was also beginning a deeper walk with Christ, and we have helped & encouraged each other along the way. He is such a blessing to me, and I pray that I am a blessing to him, too. We’ve learned that keeping Christ at the center of our marriage is essential.

From the time I was a child, if asked if I was Christian, I would have said yes. I believed in Jesus. But Satan believes in Jesus, too: he knows & acknowledges that Jesus is God, but chose not to follow Him. I now believe that for all those years, I was just what our pastor calls a “cultural Christian”, meaning someone who calls themselves Christian because they go to church and grew up in a Christian home, etc. But did I FOLLOW Jesus all those years? No. I let him give me the gift of salvation, but I did not give Him my heart and my life in return. It was not until I gave up control and began to TRUST Jesus with my life that I became his follower. Now I know Jesus as my Saviour and my dearest friend, the only one that I know will NEVER leave me or forsake me. What a great relief that all I have to do now is follow… it’s much less worrisome than trying to lead!