Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Tug of war

Tug of war is a test of strength.  It is an actual sport and was at one point an Olympic game.  There are rules and tactics involved, none of which we were aware as children when opposing hands were pulling on opposite ends of a toy.  As I remember, the only rule was “do not involve the parents” as this would cause the game to be over with no victor achieving the prized plaything.

When purposely playing a game of tug of war, it was easy to understand this test of strength.  Pull harder than the person on the other end of the rope in order to make them cross the line or drop the rope and you win.  There were seldom more than two people involved in this game as I remember, so the outcome would usually be swift as I would be pitted against my older brother (stronger) or my younger sister (weaker).

I can’t remember the last time I played tug of war, and have no desire to do so now.  Yet I find myself in this mental and spiritual test of strength more often than I like.  Bear with me while I make yet another reference to running….(you can insert the discipline of your choice)…

There are days when I lace up the shoes and head out the door with the anticipation of completely enjoying my run.  Other days, I lace up the same shoes, head out the same door, constantly repeating “I can do this…..I can do this….”   I know why I want to run.  It’s a bigger reason than just enjoyment.  If enjoyment were the deciding factor, I would not run that often.  There’s no game of tug of war happening on the days everything feels right – I’m well rested, no aches or pains in my muscles or joints, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping – you know, those perfect running days.  In reality, those are the occasional running days.

But the game is on when my body hurts, or the temperature drops below or rises above what is comfortable, or I’m tired before I start.  My mind is often against me as I will myself to get out the door.  A voice in my head screams mid-run  “STOP!  I can’t go any further!  It’s too hard!  Wait til tomorrow!”   The commitment and dedication voice shouts “Don’t give up!  I can do this!  It will be worth the pain!”  This is the test of strength.  Which voice will I follow?

I take myself through a quick assessment during this tug of war.  Are my legs too tired to continue?  No.  Is my heart rate dangerously high?  No.  Am I sucking air so much that I can’t speak?  No.  Is there anything physically wrong with my body that would necessitate that I stop?  No.  THEN WHAT’S GOING ON IN MY HEAD??  Why is my brain trying to sabotage my fitness goal?

Perhaps you can identify with this tug of war?

We’ve made our commitment to Jesus.  We read His word.  We know it is the truth and we are diligently applying His principles to our lives.  Some days this is so easy!  The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and it’s not hard to live like Jesus!!  Some days.

Other days we know our commitment hasn’t changed.  We are deeply dedicated to our walk with Him, but voices in our heads are screaming “This is too hard!  I can’t do it!  This hurts too much!  I will obey tomorrow….”  His word to us hasn’t changed, yet our minds turn against us and oppose the very thing we know we are called to do!

“The mind of the flesh – with its carnal thoughts and purposes – is hostile to God…”  Romans 8:7

The apostle Paul knew well this game of tug of war.  He felt the same frustrations of knowing what he should do and yet his mind leading him in the opposite direction (Romans 7).   He also knew that he had been given the victory in this test of strength:  We can change our minds.

Forgive those who hurt us?  Love those who are unlovely?  Obey when it hurts?

What quick assessment can we do to change our minds?

How much have I been forgiven?  Everything.

How much am I loved?  Immeasurably.

How much did His obedience hurt?  Indescribable.

He has made a way for us to find His good and acceptable and perfect will for us – by renewing our minds.  Our lives are changed when we follow the voice of His Spirit in us instead of just the voices in our heads.

“…you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit…”  Romans 8:9

“…be transformed, changed, by the renewal of your mind – by its new ideas and its new attitude…”  Romans 12:2

There is great satisfaction in returning from a hard run that I had to push through to complete.  I know that I will reap the rewards in the end.  There is a much, much greater satisfaction from having obeyed God when it was hard and it hurt.   The rewards of soul peace and inner rest are ours now and forevermore.





Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Divine interruptions

I’m supposed to be at a hotel on a river right now, sitting by the pool or patio, relaxing with a good book, enjoying a long overdue weekend away with my husband.

Luggage packed?  Check

Jeep cleaned?  Check

Garbage taken out?  Check

Mark home from work?    Mark?     Mark????

I’m still at home waiting….

I am, however, miraculously relaxed, content in the waiting.  This is big.  I am the one who plans the schedule down to the minute.  This type of delay typically sends me into great levels of anxiety, frustrated as the minutes quickly pass and eat away at what was supposed to be mine.  But not today.

So many of my posts are about learning to rest.  It is a choice that I am making today to enjoy where I am.  To trust in my God who is infinitely more prepared for this day than I would ever be.  To rely on my Father to lead me and protect me by whatever method He sees best.

When was the last time you were delayed?  Perhaps we share the uncanny ability to select the slowest possible check-out lane when we shop.  Maybe frequent travel is a part of your life and you find yourself spending countless hours at the airport waiting for flights that will not be on time.  Or a simple glass of spilled milk altered the plan. Or a dead battery.

Some of these delays are easily remedied and our plans are quickly back on track.  Some bring a complete halt to any forward motion toward the goal.  Some make us rethink our plans and take a different route.  Some leave us stranded where we don’t want to be.  Is it possible that God has purpose in what we most often see as wasted time?

Maybe our delays open the door for something miraculous to happen.  We’ve all heard stories of people who ended up in places they hadn’t planned and amazing things occurred – or didn’t occur.  A delay that saved our lives would never be seen as wasted or resented.  But what if these things are happening all the time and we just don’t know it?

What if we began to see the delays in life as divine interruptions?  What if we began to live our lives as if we really believed God is leading us because we asked Him to?  Even when His leading stops us cold.  Faith in His good plans for us is where we find rest.  Even if we don’t get what we want.

What if in the delays we begin to see Him more clearly, trust Him more deeply, and rest in Him more fully?

Miracles do happen in delays, just ask Mark.  I haven’t been burning his phone up all afternoon!

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Unforced rhythms

I am happily back in my running routine.  I’ve managed to find a good balance and push through the difficulty of the restart.  I enjoy this time alone, especially in our new location.  I have access to a nice, small track that winds through trees and sits on the edge of a lake.  It pleases me and gives me greater incentive to lace up and get out.

When moving in and inquiring about the distance of this track, no one seemed to know.  Being directionally and distance challenged myself, I knew it best not to just guess at it, so I downloaded a GPS on my phone to measure it.  Once correct data had been secured, I could plan my distance and measure my time accurately.  This also pleases me.

The first day I ran on this track I was sure I had measured the distance incorrectly.  The numbers couldn’t be right. The next run the numbers still seemed off and I was sure that I had lost count of the laps I’d run.  I double checked the distance, triple checked the minutes, quadruple checked the lap counts over the next couple of weeks.  This can’t be possible!  I am running the same distance I ran in my old neighborhood but I am running much faster.   I began to try to slow down – surely I needed to!  But no matter how much I tried to adjust and return to my old pace, I kept falling back into this new one.

Not one to just be happy and accept this new development, I began to analyze how this could have occurred.  My previous route was mapped through the streets in our neighborhood.  Any given run would include the mental alertness to avoid being struck by a passing car or chased and devoured by any number of large dogs.  The mind had to also pay attention to potholes and deviations in the running surface that could cause a tumble and adjust the pace to accommodate crossing the streets should there be any traffic.  Could these mental demands have been what kept me at a slower pace?  I no longer have to think about any of these things.  I just run.

This morning as I ran, a gentleman entered the track for his run also.  I heard him when he came up behind me.  His steps were hard and his pace faster than mine.  As he approached I quickly realized I needed to pay attention and to keep my pace rather than fall into his.  Perhaps it was the sound of his steps louder than mine that made me want to speed up.  More likely it was my competitive nature that kicked in.  Either way, I would never have been able to finish my run at his pace even if I had tried.  But it took great effort to concentrate and stay in the pace that is right for me.

At a time when I think I should have life figured out, things have changed and life is different than it was before.  I am happy with where I am, but I find myself double, triple, and quadruple checking whether or not I am on the right track!  Unlike my running pace, my new life pace is slower than ever.  Others are moving at a different pace and I hear their steps behind me.  I watch them pass me by and I am tempted to try to keep up.  I measure what I am doing now to what I’ve done in the past.  It doesn’t seem right.  It doesn’t make sense, this new rhythm I’m in.  I’m trying hard to understand what God is doing and where He is taking me, but I don’t.  Not fully.  Not yet.

Several months ago I came across this scripture:

“…Come to me.  Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with Me and work with Me – watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message Bible)

This grace.  This beautiful, wonderful, undeserved favor of God.  I am learning to rest in this grace.  I am learning to sit with Him while the project is still unfinished.  I am learning to be still when my inclination is to move.  I am learning to slow down when I want to speed up.   I am learning to trust Him with me.  He is setting the pace for me to live freely and lightly.

It cannot be forced, this rhythm of grace.

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

One day at church

There’s a meeting at the church and a new speaker is in town.  Large numbers attend this informal service and the crowd is made up of the members of this particular church, visitors from other churches, and people who have never set foot in any church before.  The speaker’s name had been publicized widely and curiosity is at its peak.  It is surprisingly quiet as he speaks, everyone listening intently.  Some are listening with ears full of hope.  They’ve heard he has a message that has been changing people’s lives.  Some are listening with skepticism because this message is different from what they’ve heard through the years.  Others are listening and their anger boils.  They believe him to be a charlatan, come to deceive good people.

The church leaders are very concerned.  The crowd that has gathered is a conglomeration of every sort of character you can imagine.  There are the well-respected members of the community standing by the ones from the “other side of the tracks”, the professionals by the beggars, the saints by the sinners.  If his message is to be believed it will open the door for everyone to become members of this church and that just can’t happen!  Many of these people have no place in God’s house unless they make some radical changes!  Some will never be acceptable.  What would they do with all these outsiders?

The leaders have heard of his message as he’s been talking to people all over the country.  They’ve stood on the outskirts of other crowds trying not to be noticed as they’ve taken note of the blatant errors he proclaims to be truth.  They’ve met together on numerous occasions and discussed how to handle this, as they know it is only a matter of time before he finds a stage with their members.  And as expected, here he is, right outside their church.

They have a plan.  He handles himself very well, so it is important that the topic they bring to his attention is a solid one.  The questions they put before him should draw him out before the crowd as the imposter he is.  The education of the crowd is surely more important than one individual’s life, right?

They’ve chosen a woman to be their tool.  They care nothing about her, only to use her as a means to their end.  They’ve been looking for the bait for their trap and she fits perfectly.  She’s a nobody who has broken the law and this deceiver has openly declared that their laws are useless.  What will he say to this?  It’s one thing to generally speak that we don’t have to follow the law, but when faced with the specifics of a blatantly guilty person standing in front of him, the law demanding a grave punishment, what else can he do but contradict himself?  They will stir up the crowd against him.  He will be a laughingstock and finally discredited.  Things can go back to normal.

Forced to stand in front of the teacher, her humiliation is palpable.  She knew the law.  She knew what she had done was wrong when she made the choice to do it.  If they would only listen!  If they understood her circumstances, surely they wouldn’t do this!  She quickly scans the crowd of faces looking for even one glance of mercy, one look of kindness.  All she sees are strangers staring at her and she hangs her head in shame.

This teacher has a very odd response to the situation.  He doesn’t speak to these accusers or to the woman shivering and crying before him.  He starts playing in the dirt!   The leaders look at each other in disbelief that he is ignoring them.  Incensed by his disregard, they won’t let it go.  They persist with the question ” The law says kill her.  What do you say?”  Finally he stands and simply says “If any of you have never broken the law in any way, you can be the first to impose the consequence.”  Then he goes back to playing in the dirt.

Their consciences stricken, they know he got them.  Rather than catch him, their plan backfired and one by one they walked away.  The angry walked away, but not the entire crowd.  And not the woman.  She had expected to die and all of a sudden it’s quiet.  No one’s talking.  She dares to open her eyes and look at the teacher as he plays in the dirt.  She doesn’t understand.  He didn’t defend her or condemn her, yet her enemies are gone.

The mercy and kindness she had hoped to find in a face was before her.  He stands and simply asks “Where did they all go?  No one punished you?”  Still in a confused state of disbelief she answers “No!!”  So he takes her aside and begins to explain to her why her sin was wrong, why she shouldn’t have broken the law, the 12 step program to begin so that she doesn’t break this law again, where she needs to be going to church, who she needs to be hanging around with, and hands her numerous resources she needs to begin to read immediately so her life can begin to change…

No.  He lovingly tells her that he doesn’t condemn her either and to go on with her life and don’t do it again.  She is stunned.  Can it really be that simple?  Can meeting this teacher and listening to his words really be all she needs to have the life she was supposed to have?  Can the truth that he speaks really set her free from the mess she’s in?

After speaking to her he turns again to the crowd and says

“I am the Light of the world.  He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the Light which is Life.”  John 8:12

The bible doesn’t say anything more specific about this woman.  In my imagination, I see her staying with the remaining crowd to listen to what else He had to say!  Her life altered, she wasn’t the same woman who had just been dragged there against her will only moments before.  He was like no one else she had ever met.  She was changed by love that didn’t ignore that there had been sin nor condemn her for that sin.  This love gave her a way of escape.

As I read of this encounter today, I ask “Where are we in the crowd?”  Are we the ones standing silently judging those who are in sin?  Are we the ones who are vocally condemning another?  Are we the ones who are trying to give them looks of kindness and mercy when we don’t know what else to do?

Or are we the woman, afraid of the condemning voice of our accuser, expecting to be punished for our sin?

I must confess, I have been all of these at one time or another.  Oh, maybe I didn’t drag someone to the altar proclaiming their sin before the entire church.  But I’ve gossiped about them.  I’ve excluded them.  I’ve spoken when I should have been silent and I’ve been silent when I should have spoken.  I’ve hung my head in shame, expecting punishment.

And what did I receive for MY sin?  Love that says “I don’t condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”

My heart’s desire is to be like Jesus in the crowd.  To be the one that is willing to love the messed up life without thinking I have to “set them straight” on everything and burden them down with more “law”.  If I will be a true follower of Jesus, and they simply hang out with me while I follow Jesus they will be following Him too.  We’ll talk with Him and learn from Him together and we won’t be walking in the dark.  Our lives will be changed and we will find true Life.  Maybe this will happen one day at church.


Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Rest in the mess

As I sit down to write this morning I am exercising a new discipline.  Discipline simply means training, and I love how God uses our everyday situations and circumstances as opportunities to train us in His ways of handling the more important things.

I really like a clean house.  (Remember…I view Mr Clean with super hero status.)  An ideal morning for me is enjoying my coffee and stillness with God in the middle of a neat and tidy space.  Composing my thoughts seems to be easier if everything is in its place.  Dirty dishes, discarded clothing, and fast food meal wrappers on the table can be great distractions for me and have often taken my first attention before I would get to God.

If everyone else would simply cooperate, my plan would flow perfectly, providing me the atmosphere of peace that I desire.  Yet somehow they appear completely unaware of the fact that I need their assistance in order to enjoy this very necessary rest.  They’ve all dispersed to their respective work and schools, leaving a wake of evidence they have occupied this space.

I don’t think He cares that there is much to be done while I sit at His feet to listen.  This is the discipline of a Martha learning how to be more like Mary.

Life can be pretty messy.

There is much to be done, decisions to be made…the clock is ticking.

People are not cooperating, and the pressure is on.

Jesus says rest.

This does not come naturally.  In order for me to know what needs to be done today and what can wait, I must rest. To have wisdom for the decisions that are pressing to be made, I must be still enough to hear what He says.  When I need the cooperation of others to move forward with the direction He has planted in my heart, I must trust Him with them.  To be exactly where He wants me doing exactly what He has for me to do, I must learn to rest in Him.

We often read Philippians 4:19 only in terms of physical provision such as money, food, etc.  But I believe He really meant every need:

“And my God will liberally supply your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

If I need your help to do what He has called me to do, then I must trust Him to lead you also.  I have to lay down my impatience and my time-table and rest in the waiting.  Even if things are a mess.  To those of us who are “worker bees” and thrive on getting things done, this feels irresponsible.  I must trust Him that He is never late.  He is always on time.  If I confess my trust in Him and His leading in my life, then I must also believe that He will keep me on schedule. I will not be late doing what He has called me to do.

One of the greatest strategies of the enemy is to keep us in unrest, to continually stir up our souls – our minds, wills, and emotions – so that we aren’t living in and enjoying the peace Jesus has given.  This doesn’t mean we live oblivious of responsibilities that must be fulfilled.  It does, however, mean that if I am living without His peace in every moment of every day, I am missing something He has for me.  I must fight to stay in peace.  Not just the evidence of it in relationships with others, but deep peace of soul.  Peace that refuses to be shaken.  Peace that God is doing something in the middle of the mess.

“Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”  Psalm 85:10


Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Wayward children

I am a part of a weekly bible study with a small group of ladies.  If you do not currently have a small group that you meet with, I strongly encourage you to find one – or begin one!  We meet in the home of a friend and our curriculum is simply the bible.  We read, we discuss, we ask, we pray.  We come together because we are hungry.  Sometimes we cry, often we laugh, always we search to know more.

God is faithful to lead and the topics studied and scriptures read always speak to a particular need in the group.  We linger after our “lesson” is completed and share further what spoke to us, or just visit about our plans for the day.

This week’s “after” discussion centered around wayward children.  We have ladies with babies, ladies with teenagers, ladies with young adults, and ladies with older adult children who have provided us with grandchildren.  (This act in itself has more than made up for any hardship we felt our children may have caused us.)  So anytime the topic of children arises, we all have many things to say!

The older of us have the benefit of hindsight, whether we feel we did a good job raising our children or  we share our mistakes in order to encourage a younger mother to take a different route.  Our children grown, we have a different perspective on how they managed to survive our efforts in “training them up in the way they should go”.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  (KJV)

In my experience, Proverbs 22:6 (above) was a verse that gave me hope for the final outcome of raising my children, yet I had very little understanding of what it really meant when I was actually doing the training.  I fervently believed that I was to train my children to do right, to love God, to obey Him, to have integrity, and all the other habits and characteristics of a good person.  And since He had placed these beautiful souls with me, I struggled to train them in my ways.   Herein lies the root of many a parent’s frustration.

How do you train a child that is not like you?  Surely I am not the only mother known to look at her child in bewilderment and silently ask “Why do they do that???”.   Many of us enter motherhood not even really knowing who we are, let alone these small individuals who inhabit our world.   Whether our children come with a spouse, through adoption, or natural birth, we take our responsibilities to care for them very seriously, especially when it comes to spiritual things.  We want to do it right so that we can secure a wonderful life for their futures.

Yet for many of us having done the very best we could, a day comes when our plans seem to have gone awry.  A child is not on the path we had planned and prepared for them.  How can they reject the fundamentals we so diligently established?  We no longer silently ask, but are indignantly demanding “Why are you doing that????”

The enemy quickly comes to accuse.  Our child is losing their way and we agonize with the questions of where we went wrong.  What did we miss?  How is this possible?  Why, God???

We want to go to God and quote our adaptation of Jeremiah 29:11 –

“For I know the plans your mother and I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.”

Letting go of the plans we have for our children is an uprooting experience.  We’ve spent years planting the seeds for what will be. We grieve when our children make choices that we know are wrong.  We hurt for them before they are even aware of the consequences they have set in motion.  But often we grieve mostly for ourselves.  Our words of instruction or correction are many times the camouflage for the anger we have over the destruction of our dreams.  We will not have things our way and the disappointment runs deep.

At my greatest point of despair for my children, in the midst of my hand-wringing, crying pleas to God, here is what He gave me:

“…Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears…”

Stop crying about this!

“…your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord; and your children shall return from the enemy’s land.”

Just like that.  He assured me they were not lost forever to the ways of the world.  They would return.  YAY!!  We’ll get back on track with my plans!  Oh wait….there’s more?

“And there is hope for your future, says the Lord; your children shall come back to their own country.

Oh.  You mean they can find You in a different way than I did??   They may see You differently?  They may worship differently?  You have a different plan than mine??  Remember that Proverbs scripture?  Here’s how it reads in the Amplified version:

“Train up a child in the way he should go – and in keeping with his individual gift or bent.…”

God knows our children more intimately that we will ever know them this side of heaven.  He created them with their particular personalities, temperaments, gifts, and tendencies.  Who knows better how to get them back on the right track??  He will bring them back into His plans for them and it is more beautiful than anything we could have ever dreamed up.  I know.  I am watching this unfold before my very eyes.

Our part with a wayward child?  Let go of our plans, believe in the faithfulness of God, and become their warriors in prayer.

“…you shall cross before our brothers (children) in battle array, all your valiant warriors, and shall help them, until the Lord gives your brothers (children) rest, as He gives you, and they also possess the land which the Lord your God is giving them.”  Joshua 1:14-15




Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Make yourself at home

We gathered at my mother’s house yesterday to celebrate.  She has a very small home that when filled with her five children, in-laws, and grandchildren becomes a chaotic, beautiful mess.  Conversations overlap, laughter is a constant echo, and the smallest children become the center of attention as they lay the obstacle course of toys among our feet.  This brood of individuals blends into one body, a family where love is a solid and sure foundation beneath us.  We are comfortable there and this brings great delight to my Mom.

While my mother enjoys attending to her loves, there is an expectation that we will make ourselves at home in her house.  If we want something to eat, we are completely free to search the refrigerator or brave the pantry in hopes of satisfying our desires.  If we want to spend our time there in lengthy conversation or silently enjoying time with her, it doesn’t matter.  If we want to attempt a nap (challenging, as her bedroom is a loft, impossible to make silent if anyone else is in the house), we are still free to stretch out and rest whenever we want.  Our friends are welcomed warmly should they be with us and offered the same opportunity to make themselves at home.

While knowing that we have these wonderful freedoms, my mother is still respected as The Mom.  It is her home and we’ve been groomed from childhood to know what is acceptable to her and what is not.  We would not dream of crossing her threshold demanding our own way because the world outside says we can.  Dare we try, the atmosphere of her home would change.  Love would not be shaken as a sure foundation, but we would no longer be comfortable and we wouldn’t feel “at home”.

Discovering the love God has for me was life-changing.  Finding this wonderful intimacy with the Father has brought relief from burdens carried for many years.  Learning to be comfortable in His presence has brought a rest to my soul I never imagined was possible.  I so deeply enjoy this constant relationship with Him where I am relaxed and at ease.  His love for me is truly a solid and sure foundation.  He delights when I make myself at home with Him.

I am free to ask Him anything.  I can ask Him for my needs.  I can ask Him for my wants.  I can be still with Him in silence, or I can chatter away about anything that is on my mind.  I can ask Him the hard questions without fear of reprimand when I am struggling in an area of faith.  I can entertain the thoughts about Him that take me out of my religious comfort zone knowing that it doesn’t trouble Him at all.  He is able to keep me grounded as we talk about all I am learning.

Yet while having this freedom to know Him as “Friend”, I must never forget that He is God.  King of kings and Lord of lords, He is deserving of and due my utmost respect.  He has groomed me through His word to know what is acceptable to Him, and living in this relationship with proper respect is where I find my true comfort as His child.  The times I have dared to insist on my own way because it was acceptable to the world, were the times I felt the grief of His Spirit within me and that is a most uncomfortable feeling. I couldn’t relax in His presence though His love for me remained unwavering.  I no longer felt “at home”.

I believe John had a special insight into this love Jesus had brought to them.  It makes me smile that he often identified himself as “the disciple that Jesus loved”.  I want to live that confident in His love for me.  But make no mistake, John had no misunderstanding of what loving Jesus back meant.  He wrote some very stern words that provoke examination of even the most faithful hearts.

“Whoever says, I know Him but fails to keep and obey His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But he who keeps His Word, truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected.  By this we may perceive that we are in Him.”  1 John 2:4-5

Throughout the book of 1 John a key word is used that I believe is one of the greatest fundamentals of a Christ-follower, yet seems to escape so many:  abide.  It is our abiding, living, dwelling, and constantly communicating with God that keeps us in obedience.

“In this union and communion with Him love is brought to completion and attains perfection with us…there is no fear in love…”  1 John 4:17-18

Almighty God has made Himself at home in us.  His love perfected  in us through our faith, He delights in His children when they make themselves at home in Him.

“Anyone who confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides (lives, makes His home) in him and he (abides, lives, makes his home) in God.”  1 John 4:5


Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

A Mother’s Hands



Your hands

have touched all our lives

DSC_0269_edited-1 copy_edited-1

Imprinting the depth

of a mother’s love

from generation

to generation

Love compelled

by the greatest

love of all


Your hands

folded in prayer

ushered His presence into our lives

with every whispered word

His covering

His mercy

His goodness

His love

touching our lives

through a mother’s hands

To my mother, Sammy Stinnett

Beautiful Mother, Grandmother, and


You are dearly loved

Happy Mother’s Day

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized


I am not one of those people who remembers names well.  I am really good with faces, but not so much with the names that go with the faces.  I am working on it.

In my professional life I was a classroom trainer, providing education and skill development in the field of sales.  At any given time, there would be anywhere from 5 to 25 in my classroom.  Our office administrator was efficient in preparing both sticky name tags to be worn and standing tent cards for each person registered for class.  You would think that their name plastered on their chest and labeled at their places at the table would be sufficient for me to call each of them by the correct name.  Not really.

Have you ever had a name just stick in your brain that wasn’t the right one?  Several years ago I had a gentleman in my class named Kevin.  I don’t know why, but in my head he evidently looked like he should be called John.   He was in my class every day for an entire week and I repeatedly called him John rather than Kevin.  It was embarrassing and I apologized over and over, yet it just seemed to keep coming out my mouth when addressing him.  Being a very good-natured fellow, by day three he had marked out the name Kevin on his tent card and written in John!  Evidently he found it too much trouble to continue to correct me each time and agreed to be John for that week.

There are many people who don’t like the names they were given at birth and take the steps to legally change them.  I suspect, however, that the majority of folks who don’t really like the monikers chosen for them have just learned to live with it.  They may go through their whole lives experiencing this little cringe every time they hear their name.

In biblical times and still in certain cultures today, names are chosen for their meanings, not just how the sound rolls off the tongue or whether or not it will be an attention-getter.  When a parent named a child, they were speaking their desires for the character development and the future of that child.  When God chose certain people to accomplish His plans, He often changed their names:  Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Jacob became Israel, Saul became Paul.  These people found their true identity in the new name God had given them.

So what name identifies you?  Shame?  Regret?  Failure?  Perhaps Depression?  Unloved?  Abused?  Worthless?

One of my favorite songs is “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave.  Here are a few lines:

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear you whisper “child lift up your head”
I remember oh God you’re not done with me yet

I am redeemed, you set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain
Now I’m not who I used to be

Because I don’t have to be the old man inside of me
’cause his day is long dead and gone because
I’ve got a new name, a new life I’m not the same
and a hope that will carry me home

Abram meant “high father”, Abraham meant “the father of many or of multitude”.  One of the meanings of the name Sarai meant “argumentative”…interesting.  Sarah meant Princess.  When God changed Abraham’s name, he didn’t go around calling himself or Sarah by their old names.  He took the new ones.  He didn’t introduce himself by saying “God calls me Abraham, but my real name is Abram.”  He no longer had his old identity, he had a new one.  A new one full of promise and hope and faith.  (Genesis 17)

God has given you many new names:  Redeemed, Forgiven, Righteous, Sanctified, and many more.  My personal favorite?  Beloved. He has given me a new identity and wants me to no longer define myself by the old.  I don’t have to explain it to anyone and it doesn’t really matter if they don’t believe it.  It’s mine.  I’ve got a new name.

What do you call yourself?  You know the Bible says you’re righteous, but do you continue to identify with your sin more than your righteousness?  You know the Bible says you are loved, but do you live out your days with the emptiness of rejection from your past rather than experiencing the passionate love God has for you?

If so, it’s time to realize that God didn’t just give you these new names because they sound good.  They now define who He has made you.  They speak into your character development and your future as His child.  These new names were given to fill you with promise and hope and faith.

You’ve been renamed.  Take it!

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Some things just shouldn’t be rushed

My morning coffee.  I thoroughly enjoy this process of breaking through the clouds of slumber into consciousness once again. Jumping out of bed and grabbing a cup to go just doesn’t do it for me.  (And of course a good post shouldn’t be rushed, as evidenced by the fact that I inadvertently clicked publish rather than save earlier today….)

This morning as I was enjoying my java and the new rhythm of my life, things came to mind that just shouldn’t be rushed:

Gently rocking a newborn baby.

Watching the sunrise or the sunset.

The healing of a broken soul.

Listening.  Really listening.

Praise and worship.

My thoughts progressed to things that just can’t be rushed:

The making of a butterfly in a cocoon.

The sculpting of stone into an intricate masterpiece.

A very phlegmatic child.  I had one of these.  If you have one, you know what I mean.

Spiritual maturity.

God’s plan.

Even when we are given glimpses into the plans God is working in our lives, we cannot rush Him.  We cannot make His purposes unfold before His appointed time.  I believe this is one of the many reasons He tells us to rest.   He wants us to have vision, to be able to see the unseen, to hope in what is not yet evidenced in our natural realm.  But He had no intention for our eyes to be so set on the future that we miss today.

I am learning more every day about living in today.  Not yesterday or tomorrow, but resting in the fact that whatever is on my plate for this day, He is with me.  He is leading me through the purpose for my life one day at a time. Not one day is insignificant to Him or His plans.  Even the days I mess up, He is able to weave into His great plan and redeem them.  He asks me to trust Him and cooperate with Him.  He knows what He’s doing.

No one has ever walked the face of this earth with a greater sense of purpose than Jesus.  He knew what He was born to do and He knew that it could not be rushed.   Throughout His childhood and young adulthood what was He busy doing?  Growing.  Physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Even when His public ministry began, He would not be rushed.  He was pressured to be someone He wasn’t called to be, pressured to do things He wasn’t called to do.  Even by His family:

So His brothers said to Him, Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples there may also see the works that You do.  This is no place for You.  For no one does anything in secret when he wishes to be conspicuous and secure publicity.  If You must do these things – if You must act like this – show Yourself openly and make yourself known to the world!”  John 7:3-4

They didn’t believe in Him and their voices were full of mockery.  His activities made them uncomfortable.  He didn’t fit in and they preferred to live their lives apart from Him.  His response?

“My time has not come yet…”  John 7:6

He wasn’t just talking about His death.  His death and resurrection were the culmination of all that He was sent to do.  How often do we find ourselves “doing things for God” that He never called us to do?  Jesus lived His life so in tune to the Father that He only did what the Father said to do.  Nothing more, nothing less.  There are times people pressure us to be someone we were not called to be and do things we were not called to do.  Many times this pressure is self-imposed.

He has given me a glimpse of the plan He is working at this stage in my life and it excites me greatly.  Trusting Him with each day has brought great relief in knowing that I am not in charge of this big plan for my life to be purposeful.  He is.  And if I will simply cooperate with Him day by day, doing and saying only the things He prompts, He will fulfill all He desires and it will be good.

It just can’t be rushed.