Category Archives: Devotions

Bible Study & Tornadoes


Photo Credit: Arkansas Times

I heard a news story that caught my attention yesterday.

In the aftermath of the horrific tornadoes that ripped through the southern part of our country on Sunday, one reporter was filing a story from Mayflower, Arkansas.

He stood in front of a church that had been destroyed. All that was left of the church was one wall, which had been the front of the sanctuary.

The reporter declared that a Sunday night Bible study at the church had ended at 7:00. By 7:30, the tornado struck and in a matter of seconds, that church was no more. Thankfully, he told us, the church was empty at the time.

I thought about that story long afterward.

As those people met to study the Bible, how many of them honestly considered that they could be meeting the Author Himself in less than half an hour?

The term “Bible study” is so incredibly bland.

Invite an unbeliever to a Bible study and I imagine that they would rank such a thing right up there with taking the SATs or visiting the dentist. It sounds so boring and unappetizing, does it not?

When I read the following description of Jesus, the truth of who He is takes my breath away:

He is the exact likeness of the unseen God…it was in Him that all things were created in heaven and on earth…all things were created in Him and for Him…He Himself existed before all things and in Him, all things are held together…

In the beginning, before all time was the Word (Christ)…all things were made and came into existence through Him…in Him was LIFE…and the Word (Christ) became human and lived awhile among us, full of grace and truth.

For out of all His fullness (abundance) we have all received one grace after another, spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift.

He was a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief…He was despised and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him. Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows and pains…He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and by the stripes that wounded Him, we are healed and made whole…we had all wandered  away like sheep. We had gone our own way. And yet the Lord put all our guilt on Jesus.

Those who saw the living, resurrected Jesus described Him as follows:
*His eyes flash like a flame of fire
*His voice is like the roar of rushing waters
*He was sitting on a throne made of beautiful blue sapphire stones.
*From His waist up He seemed to be dazzling like fire and from His waist down He seemed to be entirely flame
*There was a glowing halo like a rainbow all around Him

“I am the First and the Last. I am the Ever-living One. I died but see, I am alive forevermore.”

THIS is the One who we get to know when we open the pages of the Bible!

We don’t study the Bible like we study for an exam, to learn a bunch of dry facts.

We read the story..HIS Story..within its pages so we can have the immense privilege of getting to know this Glorious One who authors all of our stories and offers us the beauty of redemption!!!

He is our Rescuer who  saves us from death.

He is the Restorer who gives us beauty for ashes.

He is the Healer, who makes us whole.

He is the Hope in the midst of the mess.

He is Peace in the turmoil.

He is your Creator, who knew you before He made the world.

He is the blazing Light that forever shatters our darkness.

He is the Author of our faith that moves mountains and slays giants.

He is our Courage in the face of heart-melting fear.

He is the Savior of the world.

He is the perfect Judge and He will execute  divine vengeance one day on all those whose sins are not covered by the blood of His perfect sacrifice on the cross.

He is the Singer who joyfully sings over His own.

He is our Joy that surpasses  and triumphs over the very worst this fallen world can dish out.

He is the ultimate and perfect Lover of our souls.

He IS LIFE itself.

So, my question is, do we believe this?

When we open the pages of our Bibles either at home or in a formal Bible study, do we approach the treasure inside those pages with expectancy and excitement because we are getting ready to hear from Jesus Himself???

Do we realize how tenuous our life is, how truly fragile we are? None of us are promised tomorrow, not even the next minute. Eternity is just a breath away and then we will all see Jesus: either as Savior or  as Judge.

When those dear ones in that church in Mayflower, Arkansas gathered for that Bible study Sunday night, what if that tornado had struck  at 7:00 and carried them into eternity? Would they have been prepared to see the face of the One they were reading about just moments earlier?

Are you?

Are you simply collecting facts? Checking off a “quiet time” box? Treating the Bible as if it were any other book rather than the living Word of the living God?

Rather than inviting someone to a Bible study, why not follow the example of the disgraced woman at the well? (John 4:1-42)

Jesus met her right where she was: married four  times and living with a fifth man,  ostracized by the people in her community, and living daily with a sense of suffocating shame and broken dreams.

Jesus was not repulsed by her sin, nor did He sidestep it. It grieved Him to see her selling herself short. He loved her. He honored her and treated her with dignity. He revealed Himself to be the awaited Messiah  and then He offered her forgiveness and freedom.

She took it. And joy  and life rushed in and overflowed a heart that was at one time bruised  and sad and battered and dead.

She then left us all a wonderful example to follow. She ran from the well into town and gleefully said, “Come see a Man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out! Could this be the Messiah?”  So the people left the town and set out to go to Him. (John 4: 29-30).

Think of the lost who populate your world.

Rather than inviting them to a Bible study, invite them to come see a Man in the pages of Scripture. Let Him speak to you and reveal who He truly is. And be forever changed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Beauty Of Easter


Each year, our church hosts a sunrise service at the parsonage on Easter morning.

Easter 2014-0006There is such a sense of excitement as we climb the driveway. The birds are singing and the sky is just beginning to lighten.

The long Saturday has given way to Sunday…and the world feels new!

We greet each other joyfully. Smiles abound and faces glow.

Just as the sun begins to peek over the mountains, we begin to sing.

Easter 2014-0099The people in the valley below have grown accustomed to being awakened every Easter by  the sound of our voices ringing through the morning air.

Once the singing is finished, our pastor takes his place in front of the crowd and opens his Bible.

Easter 2014-0079
Easter 2014-0106
Easter 2014-0127Easter 2014-0118Hearing that familiar yet astonishing story of the empty tomb never fails to move me to tears.

Because of Easter…

*there is eternal hope.

* EVERYTHING we will ever need was secured for us.

* we have access to God Himself and can call ourselves the Bride of Christ.

* JOY reigns.

*we are totally secure, regardless of our circumstances.

*light triumphed over darkness

*death was forever conquered

*Jesus offers us the beautiful and awe-inspiring invitation to walk through this life with Him, every moment alive with divine purpose, sacred mystery, fierce love, and magnificent, breathtaking grace!

HE IS RISEN!!!

Easter 2014-0087

 

 

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Crown Of Thorns


I walked into our empty house yesterday morning after attending Bible study and saw this sight: Crown Of Thorns-0004 Apparently, my mom had placed this crown of thorns against the shades in our living room while I was gone.

My eyes immediately filled with tears.

On the  drive home, my thoughts had been filled with thoughts of so many earthly concerns that they had temporarily drowned out the knowledge that this is Holy Week. The week of Christ’s suffering and shame, betrayal, beating, crucifixion and ultimately His triumphant resurrection.

How easy it is to forget the eternal in the midst of the daily mundane.

The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head. They clothed Him in a purple robe and went up to Him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck Him in the face. (John 19:2-3).

This, of course, was done after Jesus had been beaten nearly to death by Roman soldiers with a flagrum whip. This whip consisted of multiple leather cords that were weighted with lead balls and pieces of sheep bone. The bone was designed to reach into the skin, latch onto it, and rip it out.

Jesus had been tied to a flogging post while the whip was used repeatedly (at least 40 times). This was an extremely bloody and painful process that was designed to humiliate and inflict maximum damage. Sometimes people would not survive this torture. They would often bleed to death as their arteries and veins were laid bare (sometimes their intestines would fall out, so severe was the beating) and the skin on the back would be left in ribbons.

Of course, Jesus did survive this brutality…only to have a painful crown of thorns pressed into his head. The Roman soldiers did not delicately place this monstrous crown on his head either. They would have pressed it deep into his skull so that it pierced and tore into his skin, causing blood to run down his face. After mocking Him and hitting Him some more,  they dragged him out in front of the crowd for all to see.

They did this to God in human form.

In his book A Violent Grace  (highly recommended), author Michael Card sets the scene: “Could that be Jesus?” one person whispers to another. Look! The hands that had healed them were bound. The head that bent over their children is pierced by spines. The face that lifted up thanks before feeding them by the thousands is streaked with blood. 

Jesus will carry that twisted crown of shame into the wasteland of our sin. He will become lost there and forsaken. 

Why?

To re-create and redeem this cursed world. Sinful man, who brought the kingdom of thorns down upon his own head, was helpless to save himself. But praise be to God! The One who wore those thorns like a crown DID conquer the curse. The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus is now “crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9). —pp 88,90

We all know the rest of the story.

Jesus wore that crown of thorns on the cross where He died the most horrific death known to man.  He died the death that you and I deserve because of our sin. He took our place. He paid our fine.  He wore our shame so that we could know dignity. He took every single drop of God’s wrath against sin so that terrifying wrath would never fall on us. He was deserted by the Father so that we would always know His Presence and His love.

He wore that crown of thorns for me.

He wore that crown of thorns for you.

Yet how often we forget.

How often I forget His awe-inspiring sacrifice, His fierce, eternal love that reaches beyond the grave.

I needed to see that crown of thorns.

It is a vivid reminder that out of the worst horror, the greatest beauty emerged and death was conquered forever.

I had to end up moving the crown because it was poking holes into the shades.

My husband suggested that I place it on the mantle, in the middle of our JOY sign. Crown Of Thorns-0006

I think that is the very best place for that crown of thorns.

If Jesus had not worn that crown on Good Friday, we could never have known the Author of true joy.

I am unspeakably grateful.

May we never lose sight of the beauty of the Cross.

On one hand, the cross is a mirror held up to my sin that shows me, through the price that was paid, just how thoroughly lost I am:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)

On the other hand, the cross is a window held up to my Lord that shows how greatly loved I am:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

The cross of Jesus gives the gift of that great love to you and to me.

And there is no greater love.” —Michael Card, A Violent Grace, p. 181

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Invincible


 

Moriah's Party-0034-1

This morning, I read this  in Oswald Chambers’ famous devotional, My Utmost For His Highest:

“NO power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God living within the human spirit; it creates an inner invincibility.”

The word invincible means:
 *incapable of being conquered, defeated or subdued in any manner
*unyielding
*a position that cannot be taken by assault or seige
*having an unyielding spirit or stubborn persistence in the face of opposition or difficulty

My human spirit is certainly not invincible…but the Spirit of Jesus who lives in my heart is ALWAYS invincible.

My choice is, which one will I allow to prevail?

On a rainy, stormy day that matches the storm swirling  around me right now, I CHOOSE to be invincible in Him.

In Him and His strength:

I am incapable of being conquered.
I am incapable of being defeated.
I will not be subdued in any manner.
I am unyielding.
My position in Christ cannot be shaken by any assault or seige that the enemy might try to bring against me.
I am fearless in the face of opposition and difficulty.

If I listen to my feelings, none of that is true. But I have learned (through painful experience) to ruthlessly relegate tyrannical, ever-changing feelings beneath the rock-solid truth of God’s Word.

And through His Word, Jesus tells me this:

I give power to you when you are faint and weary and when you have no might, I increase your strength, causing it to multiply and making it abound…My grace, loving-kindness and mercy is enough for you. It is sufficient for any danger and enables you to bear the trouble…for My strength and power  show themselves most effective in your weakness…when you are weak in human strength, then I make you truly strong, able, and powerful in My divine strength. (Isaiah 40:29; 2 Corinthians 2:9-10, Amplified version).

My circumstances will not defeat me. Questions will not deter me. Doubts will not stop me. I will not believe the lies of the enemy and I will not allow my fickle feelings to have the final say.

There comes a time in every Christian’s life when Jesus requires you to walk solely by faith in His Person and His promises. I am in such a place right now.

But rather than bemoan my fate and whine about how difficult life is, I will allow this season to be a platform in which I show the watching world around me that I treasure Christ above all things this world has to offer.

I will allow the winds of adversity to fan His flame inside my heart and burn brighter than it ever has.

The darker things get, the more I will praise Him.

I refuse to be defeated.

Jesus cannot be conquered and as long as I take refuge in Him, I can’t either.

If you are a Christ follower and are going through a rough time, what about you?

What choice will you make?

Dare to believe your good God.

You are invincible in Him.

 

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A Fresh Shot Of Faith and Courage!


All States 2013-0010-1

It is a gray, rainy day in my corner of the world today.

However, the Son is shining brightly as I spend time with Him in the pages of my open Bible.

I am currently doing a fabulous study called “Amazed and Confused: When God’s Actions Collide With Our Expectations by Heather Zempel. I would highly recommend it.

At one point, the author suggested we look up Hebrews 10: 35-39. These verses made my heart sing. They blaze with hope and joy and serve as a reminder that no matter what we are facing today on this earth, we really do fight from a place of victory! Nothing that is happening to us is random.Whatever Jesus has allowed to come into your life,  it comes with great  and divine purpose.

Even the hard stuff is part of the great story of redemption that He is writing into your life and in a way that we cannot always understand, it is necessary.

So, I invite you to read and meditate on these verses and remember to keep an eternal perspective today. This life isn’t all there is.

Hold on.

Believe your great God.

Be strong and courageous.

Endure with joy: no retreat, no surrender.

Delight the heart of your Savior by walking in fearless faith.

Know and rest in the fact that Jesus is faithful. Always.

And He is coming again.

Do not fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward. For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God and thus receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised. For still a little while ( a very little while), and  the Coming One will come and He will not delay. But the just shall live by faith and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in Him. But our way is not that of those who draw back to eternal misery and are utterly destroyed, but we are of those who believe,(who cleave to and trust in and rely on God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah) and by faith preserve the soul. (Hebrews 10:35-39, Amplified version).

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Choose Life!


Thornton-Franconia-0040-1

This morning at 3 a.m., I was wide awake.

Did you ever notice that in the middle of the night, your thoughts rarely turn to happy, peaceful things? There is something about the darkness that makes it very easy to allow your thoughts to run wild and to give into every fearful thought that enters your mind.

I have lived long enough to know that if I am awake that early in the day, that Jesus has something He wants to share with me. So I got up, grabbed my Bible and my fuel (Pepsi), and sat down next to the fireplace to meet with my Savior, who never sleeps. Isn’t that a comfort? My husband was sound asleep, blissfully ignorant of my insomnia. But Jesus was right there, delighted to see my face and hear my voice. (Song of Songs 2:14).

My directed reading led me straight to what Jesus wanted to say to me: “I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore, choose life, that you and your descendants may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

CHOOSE LIFE!!!

I have heard that verse a million times over the years, but this morning at 3:20 a.m., it filled me with fresh joy!

And the good news is that I don’t have to wait until everything in my life is perfect to choose life! Neither do you! (As if there is such a thing as a perfect life this side of heaven!).

I  could sense Jesus’ smile as He whispered to me over and over through His Word, “Choose life! Choose life! Choose life!”  He had asked me to meet with Him in the pages of His precious word to give me His prescription against the darkness!

There is this beautiful thing that we have been given called free will. We really do get to make a choice here. Victory or defeat? Life or death? Worry or faith? Trust or unbelief? Fear or peace? Darkness or light?

This day is a gift to me from Jesus.

He has entrusted me with the next 24 hours and I get to make the choice as to how I will live this never-to-be-repeated day.

The good news is that I don’t have to let fear win. I don’t have to allow my faith to falter by looking simply at my circumstances. I don’t have to worry about this or that.  I don’t have to continually ask ‘why?’ or ‘how?’

All of those things represent death.

Instead, I can choose to walk in His Light. I can choose those things that represent LIFE: faith, love, hope, peace, joy, courage, strength!

And so can you, regardless of your surroundings or circumstances!

In His presence is fullness of joy! (Ps. 16:11).

That is exactly where I will CHOOSE to spend this day!

What will your choice be?

“Peace I leave with you; My own peace I now give to you…Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled!…In the world, you will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer! Take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted! For I have overcome the world! I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you!…The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that you may have and enjoy life and have it in abundance: to the full, til it overflows!”—(John 14:27; John 16:33; John 10:10).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Beautiful Fight


Josh & Maeghan-0269-1

I was born a fighter.

From my earliest moments, I made my presence known and turned my parents’ world upside down.  I was strong-willed. I was loud. I was bold. I was a force to be reckoned with.

And I still am all those things…but as a result of walking with Jesus for many years, He has softened those hard edges, redeemed the ugly and replaced it with grace and beauty, and healed so many of my broken places.

I don’t have victory one hundred percent of the time, obviously, but I do walk as one who knows that I am deeply loved and completely forgiven  by the magnificent One who rescued me.

Just typing those words brings tears to my eyes. I was once told that I talk about Jesus too much. Well, I can’t talk about Him enough. He is everything to me. He is the very breath that I breathe and He has totally and completely captured my heart, soul, and mind.

I am a sinner saved by radical, earth-shattering  grace. I will never  get over that extraordinary truth for the rest of my days on this earth or on into eternity.

Last night, I watched a YouTube video of Beth’s Moore’s talk at Passion 2014 earlier this year. She quoted I Timothy 6:12, which encourages us to “fight the good fight of faith.”

Beth taught that in the original Greek, the word good also means “beautiful.” 

Fight the beautiful fight of faith.

The words beautiful and fight don’t really go together, do they? What is beautiful about a battle and a struggle?

It can only be a beautiful fight because it leads you deeper into the heart of the Beautiful One Himself, Jesus.

Is your life is hard right now? Are there things that Jesus has allowed that you do not understand? Are you left feeling confused, sad, discouraged, angry, hurt? Because after all, He could have stopped it, couldn’t He?

You, my friend, have a fight on your hands.

What are you going to do? How are you going to fight? Will you choose the ugly fight or the beautiful fight?

The ugly fight looks like this: You will complain to anyone within the sound of your voice at the unjust treatment you are receiving. You will live with a heaviness of heart as you contemplate how unfair God is being to you. You will constantly rehearse the problem in your mind. You will look at the lives of others who are in a seemingly happy season and allow envy and jealousy to darken your heart. You will seek escape  from your  reality through books, TV, movies, or games. You will host a lavish pity party for yourself every night.  You might stop going to church. Your Bible will remain unopened and begin collecting dust.  You hold onto unforgiveness like a drowning person would cling to a life preserver.  You grow very angry with God because you choose to believe the insidious and evil lies of the enemy that your God doesn’t care and has abandoned you.

Darkness wins.

How? Because you are fighting against Jesus rather than fighting alongside Him.

I have fought the ugly fight plenty of times. It never ends well. Trust me on this. Don’t start down that path. It can only end in defeat and misery and tremendous damage can be done.

On the other hand, the beautiful fight looks like this: Life gets hard. You do not retreat. You do not surrender. You do not live in denial. You determine at the outset that you will face this trial head on and you will walk straight through the middle of it until you reach the other side. You are undaunted and determined.

Yet, you are hurting. And that is normal. Never once does Jesus ask you to bury your feelings and pretend they don’t exist. He invites you to share them—no matter how ugly—with Him. He can take it. He cares. He listens. He understands. (After all, He endured everything we did and more when He walked this earth. He knows.).

So, wrestle it out with Him.  Take off the mask, lose the platitudes and the pretty prayers and get real. 

If this seems irreverent to you, begin to read the Psalms and you will see David, who was called a man after God’s own heart, openly expresses every emotion to his God. David was a man of tremendous passion. He never held anything back and we don’t have to either.

You have to put those emotions somewhere. So give them to your Savior, who can bear the full weight of them all. This is a process and one that you might have to keep going back to. That’s okay. This is how you drain the poison that, if allowed to fester, will destroy you.

This is where the beautiful fight really begins: Despite your feelings, you decide to walk in faith. Hebrews 11:1 declares faith to be “perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.” You make the decision to place the truth of God’s Word over what you see and what you feel. You choose forgiveness toward those who have hurt you, knowing that Jesus will deal with them on your behalf. You trust His loving heart and His kind intention, no matter what happens. You embrace gratitude and in so doing, realize that there is beauty and light and joy to be found even on the darkest of days. You refuse to give in to fear and self-pity. You will continue to do good and minister to others.  You trade your weakness for His strength. You step into your God-given role as more than a conqueror. You accept His gift of peace to quiet your troubled heart. You open His Word and you cling to His promises. Every single time you get knocked down, you get back up.  You develop an eternal perspective rather than a temporal one, knowing that you cannot yet see the big picture of God’s grand redemptive plan. You take comfort in the knowledge that His ways are not your ways…but His ways are good and right and perfect.  You keep a running dialogue with Jesus, who is with you always. When the enemy comes at you with his lies, you silence him by speaking God’s promises over your situation…thus making you his worst nightmare.

You are taking your place alongside Jesus and watching as He fights on your behalf.

The result of this beautiful fight? Light and love triumph.

When the season passes, you will still be standing. You will have  grown in intimacy with Jesus because you have experienced Him in ways you never have before. You will be transformed into His likeness. You will have seen firsthand how He gives beauty for ashes and is able to redeem even the worst situation for His glory.

And in His eyes, you will be a beautiful warrior.

The choice is yours. Make the right one. You will never regret it.

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On Having Courage


Sandwich January-0045-1

I have discovered something recently.

I used to think of courage as being this grand, heroic gesture.

And it certainly is that.

However, sometimes, courage is revealed just by showing up, by choosing to get up and face another day when life is hard, by making the choice to believe God’s promises with all your heart and soul when circumstances mock those words that ring with the authority of eternal truth.

As I write this, my area of the country is getting yet another giant snowstorm. The world outside my window is blanketed in suffocating white and gray. There have been times over the past three months that my heart has felt  like that.

Just yesterday, we were treated to a preview of spring: bright sunshine, blue skies, and temperatures in the mid-forties. It was glorious, a foretaste of the wonderful season to come. But twenty four hours later, winter has come roaring back and I am over it.

This has been one of the worst winters in the life of my family, for a variety of reasons. Not only were we walloped with storm after nasty storm weather-wise, but an ugly betrayal by someone we trusted came to light in early January, leaving a lot of wreckage in its wake.

I have been angry, heartbroken, and sad. It has been a time of unprecedented wrestling with Jesus, as I deal with the fact that He has allowed this to happen (we really can be that honest with Him, you know), and as I ask Him fervently for His power that will allow me  to forgive. (That will be the subject of a separate post).

I have discovered that He listens and He answers. He empowers and He provides. He protects and He guides.

I have discovered that in Him, I am strong. I am brave. I am courageous.

Peace I leave with you; My own peace I now give to you…do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourself to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled. —Jesus (John 14:27, Amplified).

So, in the midst of the mess, I face what is happening head-on. No denial. No pretending. No cowering in fear. I refuse to allow this circumstance to defeat me or define me.

I  just keep showing up. I go to church and lead Bible study. I meet a friend for lunch.  I go on a date with my husband. I shoot a wedding. I make dinner. I celebrate our daughter getting her driver’s license and our son’s 18th birthday. I do my volunteer work. I write on this blog. I take lots of pictures with my beloved Nikon. I take a photography class.

I choose to trust His heart and His kind purpose even when I do not understand.

I make the decision to not surrender even one inch of ground to the enemy of my soul, who daily hopes for my collapse and defeat. When fear or anger rear their ugly heads, I refuse to dwell on them. Instead, I focus like a laser beam on the truth of His Word.

Not. One. Inch.

And that is what courage looks like.

Just like this seemingly endless winter will one day melt into spring, so this season in our lives will end and it will be a brand new day.

When that day comes, I will not limp across the finish line, barely able to walk. Instead, I will run across it, undefeated, free, and closer than ever to my Savior who constantly sustains me and gives me beauty for ashes.

Whatever you may be facing today, choose courage.

Fear not (there is nothing to fear), for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties; yes, I will help you; yes I will hold you up and retain you with My victorious right hand of rightness and justice. (Isaiah 41:10, Amplified).

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Drop It. Leave It. Let It Go.


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Yesterday, I received an email that really got me riled up.

I doubted that the person who sent it meant any offense and it wasn’t a huge deal, but I was so ready to hit “reply” and defend myself.

So I did hit reply and my fingers were poised over the keyboard to let it fly…and then I remembered the verse Jesus had given to me in my quiet time with Him earlier that day:

Keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. —(I Peter 4:8).

Love covers.

Then He spoke to me again through another verse that I am committing to memory:

Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop, leave it, let it go in order that your Father, who is in Heaven  may also forgive you your own failings and shortcomings and let them drop. —(Mark 11: 25, emphasis added).

Drop it. Leave it. Let it go.

“But….”

Drop it. Leave it. Let it go.

You see, I still wanted to send that email. I have never  hesitated to stand up for myself and set someone straight. In my flesh without Jesus, I can be hot-headed and my words can be sharp.

But He wasn’t asking me to set anyone straight. He was asking me to consider my actions carefully. He was asking me to submit to HIS ways, to bring my feelings in line with His Word. He was asking me to show the same mercy and grace to this person as He has shown to me.  He was asking me to trust Him with my reputation. (Note: yes, there are times when  it is important to speak your mind. Being a Christ follower does not mean being a doormat. However, this situation did not call for that. It was simply a bruise to my ego).

I read in the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church that he made it His aim to please Jesus in all he did. (2 Cor. 5:9). The commentary in my ESV Bible said the following about this verse: “Paul lives his entire life in light of  the hope that his actions will bring delight to God day by day.” 

Would the words I intended to use in that email have brought delight to Jesus?

Was my desire to bring glory to Him?

That would be a big NO. 

Drop it. Leave it. Let it go.

So I did. (After complaining a little more to Jesus). But that’s okay. He is always listening and He cares about every single detail of our lives. He is the only One who can take all our negative feelings and attitudes and not be burdened down by them. He is also the only One who can give us the strength to make another choice. (Philippians 4:13).

Peace reigned in my heart and my sleep was sweet.

The following day, I saw  the writer of the email. Jesus had removed any irritation I felt.

What happened next made me smile. This person apologized and acknowledged that the email had been over the top.

I had kept my peace. I had not said words that I might later regret. I entrusted myself to Jesus.

Unbeknownst to me, He had worked on the writer’s heart and all was well.

I was so grateful that I had kept my big mouth shut and handled things His way. It is a beautiful thing to not have to regret words spoken rashly.

Knowing that this is going to happen again (opportunities for us  to get  offended are numerous), I looked at some Scriptures that teach us how to relate to others and made a list. This helped me immensely and I hope it helps you as well!

When you are offended and want to hit back, ask:

1. Will this display compassion,kindness, humility and gentleness?
2. Can I say or do this in the Name of Jesus?
3. Will this word or deed bring a blessing and give God’s grace?
4. Is what I want to do or say good and beneficial?
5. Will this promote peace and unity?
6. Will this build up or tear down?
7. Will this word or action grieve or sadden Jesus?
8. Am I imitating Jesus in this situation?
9. Am I remembering how much God has forgiven me?
10. Is it kind?
11. Am I following Christ’s example?

What are we commanded to do?

1. Bear with one another, forgiving whatever grievances you may have against on another.
2. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you.
3. Whatever you do, whether in world or deed, do it all in the Name of the Lord Jesus.
4. Live with complete lowliness of mind, humility, unselfishness, gentleness, mildness, and patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.
5.Strip yourselves of your former nature (put off and discard your un-renewed self).
6. Be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude) and put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image.
7.Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage,bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil speaking, abusive, or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill-will, or baseness of any kind).
8. Walk in love (esteeming and delighting in one another.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. —(Romans 12:18).

(Scripture references: Colossians 3:12,17; Ephesians 4: 1-3, 15, 22, 24, 30-31; Ephesians 5: 1-2)

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Stepping Out Of The Boat


Photo credit: Google

We all know the story…

…the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.  

Shortly before dawn, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them, “Take courage! It is I! Don’t be afraid!”

“Lord, if it’s You,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to You on the water!”

“Come, ” He said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. (Matthew 14: 24-29).

I have always read this passage and been amazed by the astonishing courage of Peter.

But then I read these words tonight from Emily Freeman: We are all Peter, standing ankle deep in cold water. The Lord walks toward us, the arm of God stretched strong in our direction. 

We lock eyes and feel His invitation to hold His gaze.

There is nothing about His appearance that should draw us, yet we are pulled into the fullness of Heaven reflected in His dark eyes.”  —(A Million Little Ways, p. 85).

Those words stopped me in my tracks and took my breath away.

This story really isn’t about the astonishing courage of Peter.

It is about the astonishing magnetism of Jesus Christ, who brings the Kingdom of Heaven blazing to this earth.

Jesus is intensely personal with each of us who love Him.

In the midst of a raging and terrifying storm, the very eyes of God focus like a laser beam onto yours, drawing you closer to Him and away from fear, boredom, aimlessness, and stagnation. 

You see, you were never meant to stay inside the boat.

Jesus beckons you to join Him in His quest to bring the stunning beauty of redemption into the brokenness of this world.

He holds out His hand to you and invites you to leave the stifling confines of your comfort zone and walk with Him into a life that is lit with joy and filled with the unique adventure that comes when your heart is joined to the very heart of God Himself.

That heart that is filled with love, power, strength, passion, and LIFE.

This is the  irresistible Jesus that I know. 

I have chosen to leave the boat and even though the storms around me can look scary and threatening, I lock my eyes onto His.

I have never felt more alive.

The fears that once held me in place are gone.

His relentless love is transforming me, as my ugly is increasingly eclipsed by His beauty.

The chains that once bound me are falling away as I learn to walk in the glorious freedom that He died and rose again to give me.

The safety of the boat has lost its allure.

It’s a beautiful life.

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