Wednesday, September 23

Truly, Madly, Deeply

God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You.
    I thirst for You;
    my body faints for You
    in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water...
    My lips will glorify You
    because Your faithful love is better than life.
    So I will praise You as long as I live;
    at Your name, I will lift up my hands.
Psalm 63:1-4

Do you feel this way about the Lord? Do you truly long for Him, feel faint without Him near? Do you really feel that His love is better than life? Do you desire Him as much as you'd desire a big drink of cool water after nearly thirsting to death trekking across the desert? Sometimes I do. But not enough. Not nearly enough. I do love Him, and I do follow Him, but He loves me in such a deeply passionate way. I don't want to give Him crumbs of my leftover love and time and energy. I want to fall truly, madly, deeply in passionate love with Christ.  As with anything, I'm just not capable of this on my own, but with Him, I can love Him that way.

Monday, September 21

Cast Away

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is His faithful love
    toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
    so far has He removed
    our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:11-12

Lately I've been dealing yet again with consequences of past sin. Even worse, someone I love dearly has been experiencing consequences of my sin. In the midst of that, it's easy to forget that God has forgiven me. This verse above is a favorite of mine, for just that reason. His love for me is greater than I can begin to fathom, and He has taken my sins and cast them far, far away -- from me and from Himself.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: With such great love as He has shown me, how can I not love & serve Him with all my heart!?!

Wednesday, September 16

Psalm 100

Shout triumphantly to the LORD,
     all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Acknowledge that the LORD is God.
He made us, and we are His —
His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
     and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the LORD is good, and His love is eternal;
His faithfulness endures through all generations. 

Shout, serve, come acknowledge, enter, give, praise. All to Him. And do it triumphantly, with gladness, thanksgiving, praise. He is God, He made us, He is good, He is love, He is eternal, He is faithful.

Thursday, September 10

The Courtyard of God

"Planted in the house of the LORD, they [the righteous] thrive in the courtyard of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green."  Psalm 94:13-14
When we were in Africa recently, we had the pleasure of having lunch with a local family. The home was enclosed by a concrete fence, with a gate at the entrance to the driveway. This created a wonderful courtyard, and the husband had meticulously planted beautiful flowers and trees to create a true oasis in the midst of the dry and mostly barren areas we'd driven through all around the city. This would be a lovely place to be planted, if you were a plant. Everything there was thriving. Gardens like that don't happen by accident in the midst of the Kalahari desert.
Yesterday I read the above verse, and immediately thought of that courtyard in Africa. If I'm planted firmly in the presence of the Lord, I will thrive. This doesn't mean I'm promised riches or an easy life, but it means I will produce fruit. Not just for a season, but for as long as I live on this earth. 

Monday, August 3

Living in a Chaotic World

Yesterday contained two sermons in one. A bit of a tongue-in-cheek one first, titled "Finding Personal Comfort in a Chaotic World." The main bullet points of this one:
  1. Limit your exposure to the needs of the world. Keep those blinders on, folks!
  2. Wait for lost, needy people to come to you. We have a big, pretty church. They know where to find us.
  3. Stay in your comfort zone. It's safe and comfy here. 
  4. Make sure the pursuit of Christ doesn't interfere with your pursuit of the American Dream. Yes, God wants you to have that big house, the boat, the fancy car, even if it gets a little in the way of following Christ.
  5. Wait for God to give you a specific calling for ministry before you do anything to serve Him.
  6. Minister in ways that aren't messy. Stay a safe distance & don't ever get mired up in the muck of other people's messes.
  7. Face facts that one person just cannot make a difference.
So that's the have-it-your-way sermon. This leaves us with a very comfortable life, but such an empty, unfulfilling one!

The REAL message is that we're called to take up our cross and deny ourselves daily! Coming to Christ and trusting Him for our salvation does get us to heaven but we can miss out on so much of the purpose He has for us on earth. If He had no purpose for us, then we'd be transported straight to heaven at the moment of our salvation. 

So here's what we really ought to do (as opposed to those bullet points above):
  1. Confront the reality of our fallen world. 
  2. GO into the world! Take the church beyond the boundaries of our walls!
  3. Live like comfort is not an issue. Get way out of our comfort zones!
  4. Don't let the American standard of living interfere with the pursuit of Christ! 
  5. God calls us ALL to be involved in ministry. We're all given certain gifts and talents, but there are some general commands in scripture we should all obey, like sharing the gospel and caring for those less financially blessed than we are, etc...
  6. Join God in the messiness. He reached down into the mess of our lives to save us from ourselves, so we should do that for others as well!
  7. You CAN make a difference!
We can ask the Lord to show us the needs around us, and find out what He would have us do. 

Thursday, July 30

One Anothering

Our most recent lesson in Sunday school has got me thinking: how am I doing in regards to treating others the way scripture tells me to do? How well am I "one-anothering"? Here's what the Word tells us we should be doing...
  • Accept one another (Romans 15:7)
  • Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
  • Bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • Bear with one another (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Build up one another (Romans 14:19)
  • Care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)
  • Comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
  • Confess faults to one another (James 5:16)
  • Be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10a)
  • Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Greet one another (Romans 16:16)
  • Be honest with one another (Colossians 3:9)
  • Honor one another (Romans 12:10b)
  • Be hospitable to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
  • Be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Love one another (Romans 13:8)
  • Members one of another (Romans 12:5)
  • Pray for one another (James 5:16)
  • Be of the same mind with one another (Romans 15:5)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
  • Spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)
  • Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21)

Wow. I could do a whole post on every one of those! (Hmm... not a bad idea; I'll have to ponder that possibility further.)

So, how are you doing on the "one anothers"?

Friday, July 17

Navigating Life

"You reveal the path of life to me;
in Your presence is abundant joy;
in Your right hand are eternal pleasures."
Psalm 16:11
God shows me what to do, which way to turn, how to prioritize my days; He teaches me everything I need to know to navigate this life. Real joy, the kind that is not dependent upon circumstances, comes from spending time alone with God, knowing Him, and having a relationship with Him. He is the source of all true treasures. We tend to worry so much about temporary pleasures that we forget that eternity begins now, not when we arrive in heaven.

I'm asking the Lord to reveal the path of life for me in all things, specifically right now as I'm planning our upcoming homeschool year. I want Him to guide me as I choose exactly which books to purchase, what outside activities to participate in, what our budget should be, how to best organize our school room, as well as showing me the particular bent of each child, and how best to parent and teach them. We've made the decision that our house serves the Lord, and that includes our homeschool. I never want us to get so caught up in busyness, buying into the illusion that more (activities, etc,) is always better. Keeping our priorities in order, most especially putting a relationship with the with Lord above all, is key to maintaining joy in our home.

Wednesday, July 1


Recently, having been completely blown out of my comfort zone with a brand new 14-year-old daughter in the home (through adoption), I have been having some fears and insecurities to deal with. This passage spoke to me today:
"Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go... recite it day and night, so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do... Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:7-9
Staying in God's word is absolutely essential for me to be able to do what He's called me to do. Not just in adopting a teenager, but in all things. Spending time with Him daily and knowing the truth of what the Bible says is the only way to succeed in doing hard things.

Thursday, June 4

What's Missing?

I'm loving a new Bible study book I'm doing with a few friends. It's called Tune In: Hearing God's Voice Through the Static. The author, Jen Hatmaker, is funny but just in our first week of this study, I've already had a few "aha!" moments.

For instance, she asks us to consider this question: When you hear "in God's will," what do you think of? For me, the answer most often relates to decisions. Jen talks about life as a mom, saying, "Yes, I am sometimes there to tell them [the kids] what to do. But I also teach them kindness and a strong work ethic. I offer protection even when they think they are safe. Every disappointment they face is a teaching moment for me. Sometimes I communicate with no other objective than to lavish them with my love. Although they would surely disagree, telling them what to do is only a tiny fraction of my daily communication."

She goes on to ask, "If this is how God parents us, what are we missing when we seek His voice only to help us make a certain choice?"

Wow! That hit me right between the eyes. What we're missing when we seek God's will only in decision-making is the RELATIONSHIP with Him!!! We're viewing Him as a cruise director, rather than as a loving, teaching parent.

Tuesday, June 2

Trust Me

For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, 'Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.' ~Isaiah 41:13
Not long ago, I asked my daughter to stand on an overturned barrel, so she could get closer to a baby goat she wanted to pet. Though I was holding her hand, and assured her that the barrel was perfectly sturdy, she didn't want to do it because she didn't think it was safe. I'm her mother, and I have never, ever, asked her to do anything that would endanger her life or harm her! So I wondered, why won't my child trust me completely?

This was one of the many times when God takes my thoughts/words towards my child and points them to me. It's as if He said, "Have you noticed that you do the very same thing to me? You claim to know that I love you and that I always have your best interest at heart, so why don't you trust me completely? Sometimes I may ask you to do something that seems scary, but I am right there with you, holding your hand, and I won't let you fall."

Tuesday, May 26

Crown or Disease?

A good wife is like a crown for her husband,
but a disgraceful wife is like a disease in his bones.
Proverbs 12:4
A few definitions of a crown are: 1) any of various types of headgear worn by a monarch as a symbol of sovereignty, often made of precious metal and ornamented with valuable gems; 2) an ornamental wreath or circlet for the head, conferred by the ancients as a mark of victory, athletic or military distinction, etc; 3) the distinction that comes from a great achievement.

Based on that first definition, if I am a crown to my husband, I would be precious and valuable. I know I am that in the eyes of the Lord, and my husband shows me that he thinks of me this way as well. I don't think it has much to do with what I do; I feel that this is unearned merit on both counts. Based on the second and third definitions, though, I can be a crown by lifting my husband up, encouraging him. I can be the "good woman" behind him, helping him to do all he is called to do. By making a point to show my respect for him, both at home and publicly, I can increase the level of respect others have for him as well.

But if I treat him disrespectfully, if I don't honor and encourage him, I become like a disease in his bones that will affect every part of his life. I found this definition of disease: "a disordered or incorrectly functioning part or system of the body." In any marriage where the wife does not respect her husband and allow him to be the head of their household, that is a disordered or incorrectly functioning marriage. A disease.
I'm sad to say that I was a disease in my failed first marriage. It's one of the primary reasons that marriage failed: I was toxic. Though I am far from perfect, I now seek to be a crown that bestows honor upon my husband.

Saturday, April 25

I'll Trust in You

I will live to love you,
I will live to bring You praise,
I will live a child in awe of You...

You alone are God of all.
You alone are worthy, Lord.
And will all I have my soul will bless your name.

(Another great performance by my church's worship band.)

Thursday, April 23

Leave the Results to Him

I enjoyed this One-Minute Daily Devotion, so I'm sharing it with you. It is so true that we must seek to raise our children according to their individual "bent" because each and every one of us is unique!

Again, this is copied from a devotional, not my own words:

'That there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.' - Hebrews 12:16-17

"Esau and Jacob. Same mother, same father, twins. Raised the same way with the same belief system. But you would never meet two more diverse persons on the face of the earth.

When you have children of the same sex that are close in age, there are going to be some very fascinating dynamics. They have come from the same parents. They’ve been raised in the same household. How can they be so incredibly different? But every child is unique and has to be parented differently. A parent will often lament to me about problems they're having with one child while another child is doing splendidly. The parent will say, "You know, pastor, I've raised 'em the same way." And I think to myself, "That's the problem." You cannot raise any child the same way and expect it to be a fruitful venture. Children are not robots. They each have their own unique talents, individual interests and varying temperaments.

Remember, parents, only God knows the ultimate plan He has for our children. Only He knows how it's going to ultimately play out. The role of the parent is to seek to shape our children and to understand how to parent them uniquely. We raise them with love, fairness, discipline, and teaching in hopes that our children will one day be able to grasp the grace of God. We pray that one day they'll come to the realization that they are sinners and do not deserve God’s favor or blessing. We pray that they claim the grace of God, and allow Him to transform their life through Jesus Christ. And in the process, some of our children are going to choose to claim that grace and repent, and some are not. Do your best, pray for God's guidance, and leave the results in the hands of God."

Tuesday, April 21

I Know Him

"But in the past, when you didn't know God, you were enslaved to things that by nature are not gods. But now... how can you turn back again to the weak and bankrupt elemental forces?" Galatians 4:8-9
Because I spent so many years not living for Christ, I have sometimes wondered when I truly became a Christian. After much thought and prayer, I would now say that I did indeed become a Christian when I professed faith in Christ and was baptized at about age ten. But I did not really know God.

For many years, my relationship with God was like my relationship with the senior pastor of my church. I go to a wonderful but very large church, so I don't really know our senior pastor personally. I've had a few very brief conversations with him; I've shaken his hand a few times; some of my good friends know him well and speak very highly of him; I've learned a good bit about his heart through hearing him preach. But I don't KNOW him. We aren't, as Anne Shirley (of Green Gables) would say, "bosom friends." That's how it was with me and God for many years. I had friends who knew Him and spoke highly of Him; I'd had a few brief conversations with Him, and I'd learned some things about Him and about His heart. But God was not my "bosom friend." It has only been in very recent years that I feel like I can honestly say I know God.

I was once enslaved to many "weak and bankrupt" things that are not gods. I never want to return to those things. I have now come to know God, and my life will never be the same because of it. Because of Him.

[Please don't think our church is impersonal just because it's large. I have a wonderful pastor whom I do know personally (one of the associate pastors), a fabulous Sunday school class, and I've made the best friends I've ever had in my life. But with more than 5,000 members our senior pastor just can't possibly have a personal relationship with every one of us. He is a great man, but has his limitations, unlike God who can know us all personally!]

Thursday, March 26


"Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not based on a human point of view. For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation from Jesus Christ."
Galatians 1:11-12
Paul knew the scriptures backwards, forwards, and sideways, and he knew the message of Christ; he spent much time persecuting the Christians and in the process learned about the Christians and what they believed. But even with all that knowledge, he didn't believe that Jesus was the son of God. He didn't think those scriptures pointed to Jesus. It took Christ speaking to him straight out of heaven for Paul to finally trust in Christ. Most of us don't have such a dramatic conversion experience.

In thinking about this further, though, I realized that we sort of do all have a similar experience. No matter how many times we've heard the gospel, no matter how much head knowledge we may have about God or the Bible, we cannot truly trust in Christ until the Holy Spirit begins to work in us.

Tuesday, March 24

The Group That's Left Out of Heaven

Based on my notes from a sermon on 11/23/08.
"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." Ephesians 5:1-5
These people --all those who have even a hint of sexual immorality, greed, or idolatry-- won't be allowed in heaven. Yikes! I think that includes a whole lot of folks I know, including myself.

The good news, however, is that if we are truly Christians, then we are fully forgiven and this debt has been paid. Good works do not save us, but if we are have truly trusted Christ, then we should have the "want" to give up those things that may have a stronghold on us. God WILL set us free from those things if we let him.

Chapters 1-4 of Ephesians tell us what God did for us when we were saved: He chose us (Eph. 1:4); adopted us (Eph. 1:5); gave us forgiveness (Eph. 1:7); gave us an inheritance (Eph. 1:11); sealed the Holy Spirit within us (Eph. 1:13); made us alive in Christ (Eph. 2:1-5); seated us with Christ (Eph. 2:6); gave us access to the Father (Eph. 2:18); gives us grace (Eph. 3:7); works through us (Eph. 3:20-21); and He enabled us to lay aside our old life (Eph. 4:22). That's a mighty big list from a mighty big God!

Because He has done all these things, we should be living a life of thankfulness! We must be imitators of God. The closer we are to the Father, the more we'll become like Him. When we become followers of Christ, He gives us His diving nature (2 Peter 1:4). He changes us from the inside out.

We are NOT just sinners saved by grace. We are now saints; we have God's nature deposited in us! The question to ask ourselves is, "Do I look a little more like my Father every day?"

Monday, March 23

Coming Soon...

I feel like I'm neglecting this little ol' blog, but when I started it, it was with the intent of making myself accountable to blogland somehow so that I'd actually spend more time in the Word. Now that I've developed a good habit (in week 12 now!) of starting the day by "keeping company with the Lord" and his Word. So I don't post here as often. There are, however, many things I do want to add here, like more notes from sermons & certain verses that really jump out at me, so I won't be abandoning this blog, just probably not posting quite as frequently.

Saturday, March 7

Keeping Company with God

"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that." Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)
I love when God reminds me that I am His child. When I lack wisdom in parenting (which is more often than I'd like), I have only to look to Him to see what I should be doing. But this is also a great reminder that children watch their parents to learn how to act, how to live. That's a big wake-up call; that old "do as I say, not as I do" bit doesn't hold water.

I like the idea of keeping company with God. That sounds much less sterile than having quiet time or Bible study. It reflects the relationship factor, which is the most essential part of being a Christian.

God keeps on teaching me more and more about love. I'm called to love as He loves: extravagantly. Such a wonderful word! My favorite definition of extravagantly is this: "going beyond what is deserved or justifiable." God loves me beyond what is deserved or justifiable. Do I love others the same way? Only the Lord knows the number of our days, or the plans He has for however many days we have here on earth. We ought to love as hard as we can -- extravagantly -- for as many days as He give us.

Saturday, February 28


"I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds [us]." Ephesians 4:1-3

I've written about a sermon on this verse before, but I read it again in my quiet time this morning and it spoke to me a little differently, or maybe I should say more personally, today. Taking this verse seriously should have me re-evaluating everything I do. Am I loving and respecting my husband in a way worthy of the calling I've received? Am I loving and training our children in a way worthy of Christ? Am I the kind of friend/daughter/neighbor that's worthy of Christ?

Even more than that, am I doing all these things (and more) with humility and gentleness? With patience? Do I truly accept others in love, even the ones that don't think exactly how I think? I need to be helping the keep peace and unity within the body of Christ, remembering that we all serve the same Lord and Father.

It's a big calling, but He's a big God.

Sunday, February 22


"Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name."
-Psalm 86:11

This verse doesn't give me any wiggle room. I must have an undivided heart. Undivided. That's not easy. Keeping God first in my life sounds like a challenge, but still possible. But this is even bigger. There should be NO part of my heart, no part of my life that doesn't belong to the Lord.

The good news is that this verse also tells me how I can do this. The Lord will teach me how, and then I just walk with Him, follow Him. If I let Him teach me and lead me, He will give me an undivided heart.

Wednesday, February 18


"And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7

It's raining today, and I'm glad for it because we've been in a drought for so long. Many of my plants died last summer because we didn't have enough rain, and we weren't allowed to water. All of those that died were fairly young; they were not yet established and hadn't grown strong roots. The older plants, unless already sick, survived because their roots were deep enough to find what little water there was.

A friend told me recently about a large tree in his yard that fell in a windstorm and barely missed his neighbor's house. He said the 90-foot tall tree looked healthy, but it's roots had rotted, and when a big wind came, it pushed that tree right over and exposed the rotten ball of roots.

Even after we've accepted Christ as Lord, continuing to follow Him--truly submitting ourselves to Him--is something we must choose to do anew each day, and sometimes moment by moment. When the hard times come, or when we're faced with temptation, that's the time we find out what kind of roots we have. Are they strong enough and deep enough to withstand both droughts and storms? Are we rooted where we need to be -- in Christ? Those deep roots will only come by spending time with the Lord in prayer and by learning His word and planting it deep within our hearts. By doing that, not only will be grow those deep, strong roots of faith, we'll also be overflowing with thankfulness for all that He's done for us, but most of all for who He is.

Friday, February 6

Love His Children

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent also loves his child." 1 John 5:1
Before Ken and I were married, we knew that our kids came with us as a "package deal." Initially I loved Brandon because he was Ken's son; at first Ken loved Kathryn because she was my daughter. After a while, I came to love Brandon and Ken came to love Kathryn because of who they are as individuals, but it started out simply because they were the child of the one we loved.

Since I love God, part of how I show my love for Him is by loving His children. All of His children. And if I keep my heart open and pray for eyes to see those "children" as their Father sees them, then what starts as simple obedience will grow to a feeling of brotherly (or sisterly!) love as I see past their quirks and such.

Thursday, February 5

The Good Things We Do

"And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it." Philemon 1:6

If you want to feel accomplished about reading a whole book of the Bible, try Philemon on for size. Just one chapter. I usually have my HCSB and my Message Bible both in my lap as I spend my quiet time (or whatever I'm going to end up calling it) with God. In this case, this verse in the Message really jumped off the page at me.

In my last post, Kathy (katdish) said that I'm an incredible person and she wants to be like me when she grows up. Now, I admit I like those kinds of comments, but what I really hope (and I do, for the record, believe she sees this) is that anybody who thinks those kinds of things about me will see that it's not ME! I want people--as the verse above says--to recognize Christ in all of it. Being like me would mean being obsessed with organization & getting grumpy when the house is cluttered; it would mean being lazy about getting up in the morning; it would mean worrying too much about things that I know the Lord has under control. It's ONLY when I manage to get out of the way and let Christ work that *I* do any good thing.

All of us believers have this faith in common, and I pray that in any good thing that any of us do, that people are able to recognize Christ in all of it.

Ooo, bonus verse! Today's "verse of the day" on my sidebar goes right along with this:
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." James 4:10

Tuesday, February 3


"Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:27

I've read this verse many times, and it is one of the ways the Lord has spoken to me about our plans to adopt a child (or maybe a few). Last week, I was really asking myself and God some tough questions about a whether or not I could become the mama to a child with some potential health issues caused by a terrible case of abuse. I couldn't remember where this verse was located. (I am good at remembering the overall idea of a bit of scripture, but often have difficulty reciting the exact location of the verse.) I had finished my scheduled bit of Bible reading for the day, and then offered a very brief thought-prayer to find this verse to re-read, and I flipped right to it. This time, however, one particular --a part I'd never paid much attention to in previous readings -- caught my attention:
" their distress..."
Distress is "great pain, anxiety, or sorrow; acute physical or mental suffering; affliction; trouble; a state of extreme need." A few synonyms: agony; misery; torment; anguish; grief; calamity; adversity.

I'm not called simply to look after orphans and widows when they are doing well and have things pretty much under control; I'm not called simply to care for them in ideal circumstances. I am called to care for them in their affliction, pain, sorrow, trouble, and extreme need.

I don't think the Lord could have answered my questions more clearly.

Saturday, January 31

In the Morning

Let me hear Your loving kindness in the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul."
Psalm 143:8

It's been about two months now since I started making a point to start my day with "quiet time." I still don't like calling it that because it sounds boring, and it's been anything but boring! But I haven't come up with a better name yet, and at least you know what I mean.

For years I wanted to do this, but it was out of a sense of obligation, rather than a true yearning to hear from the Lord. Gradually that shifted, but I still hadn't made it a priority. God told me in about 83 different ways (ok, slight exaggeration!) that He wanted to show me His loving kindness in the mornings and teach me how to walk. I finally obeyed, and it has already made such a difference in my day-to-day relationship with Him.

I love this verse, too:

"He wakes me up in the morning,
Wakes me up, opens my ears to listen
as one ready to take orders."
Isaiah 50:4b (MSG)

Isn't that great? He wants to talk to me in the morning, and help me get my day off to the right start. I used to wake up and go through my mental to-do list for the day; now I let Him tell me what He has on my agenda for the day. He'll even wake me up, and open my ears to hear Him. All I have to do is be ready to take orders.

Friday, January 30


"I will heal their waywardness.
I will love them lavishly..."
Hosea 14:4a (MSG)
As I've said before, I became a Christian at a young age, but spent years wandering wayward from the Lord. I did my own thing. I know I grieved Him. It's easy to kick myself and dredge back up all the yuck from my past. Once I've confessed and repented, however, it's not God that keeps reminding me of all I did wrong.

I love the way this verse puts it! God won't just overlook my waywardness; He will heal it! And He won't just love me a little; He'll love me lavishly! defines "lavish" this way (emphasis mine):
•To expend or give in great amounts or without limit
Characterized by or produced with extravagance and profusion
Did you get that? His love is without limits, and characterized by extravagance. There just aren't words for how grateful I am for His love. Even with all I've done, despite my waywardness, my Lord loves me extravagantly and without limit. And He feels the same way about you.

Monday, January 19

Heroes Aren't Perfect

I have a lot of verses and notes and great things I want to blog about here, but I've been busy, busy, busy! I WILL do it soon... but for today, I'm copying & pasting another great One-Minute Daily Devotion from Bryant Wright at Right From the Heart:

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

"Historians, gossip magazines, and the media are now beginning to highlight Martin Luther King's many flaws, weaknesses, and sins. And you know what? I'm glad.

Children read history that describes many of our heroes as perfect idols. Washington and the cherry tree. Lincoln freeing the slaves. Roosevelt ending the Depression. No flaws. And then our young people contemplate their role in our society and think, 'I have so many weaknesses, so many flaws. I could never have a life of impact for good.'

Wrong message. All the great figures in our history had flaws, weaknesses, and handicaps. And yes, even Martin Luther King had some deep flaws and committed many sins. And for these, we hope he dealt with God. But despite those sins, despite his weaknesses, King led a peaceful social revolution that brought dramatic, desperately needed change to our world.

One of the great things about the Bible is, it is so honest about the heroes of the faith - Noah getting drunk, Abraham and Sarah not waiting on God to have His promised child, Jacob's lies, David's adultery - yet all these men were used by God in an incredible way.

All of us have weaknesses. All of us are guilty of sin we regret, yet God's grace is available to all, when we seek His forgiveness in Christ. God can use any life for good, no matter how flawed, if we trust in the only One who had no flaws - His Son, Jesus Christ."

Monday, January 12


“But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts." Thessalonians 2:4 defines "entrust" this way:
1. to charge or invest with a trust or responsibility; charge with a specified office or duty involving trust: We entrusted him with our lives.
2. to commit (something) in trust to; confide, as for care, use, or performance: to entrust a secret, money, powers, or work to another.

Being entrusted with something shows that the something is considered important by the one giving it to us. We wouldn't use the word "entrust" for something unimportant or worthless. This verse shows that God has charged us with the responsibility and honor of carrying the gospel to others. It is a gift.

Our thoughts and our words need to please the Lord, no matter what anyone else thinks. When we speak of the gospel, do we treat it lightly, or do we revere it as the precious gift that it really is?

Sunday, January 11

Clean Heart

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
I've started a great weekly devotional for the year, and each week we have a verse to ponder. (Check out the link on my sidebar to "Create in Me a Clean Heart." You can join in, too, and it's free!) This is one I'm familiar with, but I don't think it's possible to revisit this often enough, because this is a hard one for me. I know from my own experience that depending upon the Lord is the wisest thing to do, but I still tend to take things back over. I have a little "Jamie's In-Box" and a "God's In-Box" on the imaginary desk in my brain, but I tend to only give Him those things that I know to be too big for me; everything else goes in my own in-box. That's a big mistake, though. It's a bad habit that I am fighting from back when I felt that God didn't want to hear about or deal with the minute things of my life. I figured life-or-death issues were His responsibility, but He was too busy to deal with the little things. I have learned that nothing is too big or too small for God. This verse tells me to acknowledge Him in ALL my ways. Not some of my ways, or the big ways, but ALL my ways. If I do this, He'll guide me in everything; if I don't do this, I'll get myself into big trouble, just as I've done before.

Every morning I must choose to submit myself to Christ anew. I'm asking Him to search my heart and show me what areas of my life I'm still keeping to myself. I'm asking Him to show me what kind of changes I need to make in my life, and asking for His help to make those changes.

Thursday, January 8

Making Wealth (and Apple Pie)

You may say in your heart, "My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth." But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth. ~Deuteronomy 8:17-18
One day, not long ago, I received a completely unexpected but very appreciated monetary gift. I was rather overwhelmed with all the ways that God provides, and then I came to my computer and this was the verse-of-the-day on my sidebar! God certainly wanted me to really "get" this point: there is nothing I can give Him that isn't already His. No matter what I do, no matter what kind of wealth I acquire, it all comes from the hand of God. He made the earth I live on, He made the sun that warms it, He made the universe in which it sits, and He made little ol' me. Anything I acquire is because He allowed it, He gave me the skills, abilities, power, health, and so on that I use to do anything and everything.

I love this quote (by Carl Sagan):
"In order to make apple pie from scratch,
you must first create the universe."

Doesn't that put it all in perspective? Even the smallest of things I do--like baking a pie--are only possible because God created everything I needed, and then allowed me the honor of doing it.

I think I need to go bake something now, and ponder the scope and size of the universe and the Creator of it all...

Sunday, January 4


Have you made your new year's resolutions? Jonathan Edwards made some back when he was a teen. This is a mighty impressive list. I love how he starts out, before his actual list:

"Being sensible that I am unable to do any thing without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him, by his grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake."

It's a long list (70 resolutions), but here are a few of my favorites:

1. Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God...
4. Resolved, Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God...
6. Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live.
16. Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one...
17. Resolved, That I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
28. Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
42. Resolved, Frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God...
52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, That I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.
58. Resolved, Not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness, and benignity.
70. Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak.

If you have time, read all of The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. I think you'll find a little inspiration for yourself there, too.

Friday, January 2

Lying, Stealing, Anger, & Slander

Notes from a sermon on Ephesians 4:25-32
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
This excerpt comes after we've been told how to live the new life in Christ (Eph 4:17-24), so this is what we ought to be doing:
  • Vs. 25: We should speak the truth.
  • Vs. 26-27: Anger is an emotion we will always have, but Satan is ready & waiting to tempt you to sin in your anger. Losing our temper is sin; bitterness and hatred is sin. The only righteous anger is being angry when people are disrespecting God; it's NOT righteous anger when we get angry about something done to us.
  • Vs. 28: No stealing. The most common way Christians steal is by not tithing. All that we have belongs to God; the tithe is acknowledgement of God's ownership of all we have. Not reporting taxes, etc., is a way that many steal from our fellow man. We work so that we may share.
  • Vs. 29: No rotten talk. This includes having a critical spirit, slander; we should edify and encourage one another. No gossiping! No profanity; rotten talk comes from a rotten heart (see Matthew 12:34-35). We must account for every word we speak (Matt 12:36-37).
  • Vs. 30: Doing any of these things grieves the Holy Spirit. It disappoints the spirit of God living inside us, much like when we as parents are brokenhearted over poor decisions of our children. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit, so our salvation can't be undone, but we break God's heart when we do these things.
  • Vs 31: We must put away these thing (the rotten talk, stealing, anger, & so on).
  • Vs 32: We must consider the needs & feelings of others. Be compassionate & empathetic. And we must forgive; this is not an option. God has forgiven us for murdering the son of God with our sins, so we must forgive others.
Even when we fall short, He is still going to be our Dad, and He will never send us away.

Thursday, January 1

An Example

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life."
1 Timothy 1:15-16
This is one of my favorite verses, but one I had never seen (or else had skimmed over & missed) until just a couple of years ago. If I had seen it before, I would not have truly understood it with my heart. I'd always known--in my head--that Christ came to save sinners, and I knew I was a sinner, but I didn't have full comprehension of that until I had become broken. I realized that without Christ, all my good intentions were worthless; I did things I swore I'd never do, even though I'd always thought poorly of people who had done those things. When I finally faced my own sins, God's mercy seemed SO much greater than it ever had before. Realizing Christ died for me became almost incomprehensible because I now knew what I was capable of, and it wasn't pretty.

I very seldom delve into my specific sins when talking with people; confession is good for the soul, but if there are "juicy" details involved, people tend to get distracted from the main point. All of my past sins can be summed up in saying I was stubborn and did things my own way. I did what God commanded only when it was convenient for me. I asked Him to get me out of messes I'd created, and tried to rationalize to Him about all the wrong things I was doing. There was never a time I didn't believe in Him, but I didn't trust Him to know what was best for me. A person can convince themselves that just about anything is ok if they *think* they are in control of things. God showed GREAT patience with me, just as in the verse above. (Note: In situations where I feel that sharing specifics will help the person I'm talking to, then I'll do so.)

I've learned that I must make a choice anew every morning about whether I'm going to follow Christ that day. I must depend on Him daily, because depending on myself (or anyone else, for that matter) will get me into trouble.

I--the foremost of sinners--received mercy so that Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life.