Roman 12:1-2

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2

Friday, November 8, 2013

The famine is lifted!

I don't know if this should be its own post or linked to the last one, because it is the end result of the widow of Zarepheth's story:

I got the job I was seeking! The famine is lifted!

Only days after I cried out to God and said, "I can't take much more of this, and where is my faith, anyway?" -- God has provided.

And I must ask, where was my faith? If God provided every day, wouldn't He provide the job as well?

But that wasn't really the issue, was it? No, the issue was that His plan was not resembling the one I'd come up with. It wasn't just a lack of faith; it was also a case of discontentment. Lack of faith and Discontentment were dancing, sometimes a slow waltz and sometimes a jitterbug, but always dancing in a circle. Sometimes one led and sometimes the other. But always dancing.

Did I learn the lesson God was teaching? I'm not sure. 

But, anyway, I am grateful.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Widow of Zarephath

Widows figure prominently in the Bible. God always has a soft spot for those who can do nothing for themselves and are therefore completely dependent on Him. Widows in Bible times definitely fit this category: they could not work, and if they had no sons, they had no means of support at all and were often destitute.

The Widow of Zarephath was no exception.

1 Kings 17 tells us she had a son, but he was young. In the midst of a famine, she had only enough oil and flour left for one meal, and then she was prepared to die. God sent Elijah to her, and he promised that God would provide every day until the famine was over.

She believed, she acted, and God supplied.


Since losing my job in June, I feel a little like the widow of Zarephath. For months now, God has supplied through various means; the Church has really come around me to help me through this time, and I am grateful beyond words.

But I realize something true about the widow's story that isn't really talked about in the Bible. God supplied every day, miraculously. The jug always had oil and the basket always had flour. But just like manna in the desert, there was only enough for one day. 

Every morning her little boy looked in the jar and said, "Mom, there's only enough for one meal."

And, I believe, she responded, "Yes. The man of God said there would be." And when the little boy doubted and asked, "But what if He doesn't provide more tomorrow?" The Bible tells us that some time later, the boy got sick and died, Elijah prayed and he regained life, and then she believed. There was some measure of doubt in her heart every day, even though she saw God's miraculous provision every day.

Every morning was the same: on the brink of starvation, their situation as dire as it was yesterday. I think the pressure of it weighed on her as much on day 366 as it did on day 1. Until some time later...


What is my point, here? Honestly, I'm not sure. I feel like that woman: God is providing enough -- every day, enough. But every morning I look in that jar and say, "But there's only enough for one meal. Then what?"

There are two miracles at work in this story. The first is tangible: God provided daily in a miraculous way. The second is not tangible, for it is in her heart: every day she believed tomorrow there will be enough, too.

God is constantly giving me that first miracle. I ask humbly that He would also allow me the second.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


My Tuesday morning Bible study group has been doing a video series called "Soul Shift." I highly recommend it. We are doing the video, as I said, but here is a link to get the book:

Today Steve talked about changing our mindset from consumer to steward. He opened with a story of kayaking down the Colorado River with some friends. The guides told them if they flip, don't try to get back in, just float. Steve, of course, flipped and had the time of his life navigating the rapids on his back, feet first. Some of his friends made it successfully from start to finish in their kayaks. But whether in the kayak or in the water, he said, they were all going the same direction. No one was fighting the current. His point: even when we think we are in control, our culture is taking us for a ride down the river of consumerism. (That's my paraphrase.) 

He said, the problem isn't spending, it's wanting. We have to change our desires. He used Jesus' words in Mark 10:17 ff: 

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him,“Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have keptall these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words [g]he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

(Side note: I am struck by the words in verse 21: Jesus felt a love for him.)

Jesus focuses on our relationship to other people. The five commandments He quotes here are from the second tablet, the six commandments that deal with our relationship with others. (The first tablet have the four commandments dealing with our relationship with God.) This is significant because it is not about POSSESSIONS but about FOLLOWING JESUS WITH OUR POSSESSIONS.

Steve used an illustration of a triangle. On the three corners: God, my possessions, and the state of my soul. Steve said, if you bump one corner, the other two will move. 


Lately I have been researching the Indians of Pennsylvania. Ask me sometime; I could go on for hours. For now, suffice to say, Native Americans have a different way of looking at possessions. They don't have any. Or, at least, they don't own land. They use it. They take what they need from it, always leaving some in reserve so the land can refresh itself, and then move on. Because they know it does not belong to them. The food they eat does not belong to them; always they said a prayer and offered gifts to the hunted animal so the animal would give its life so that the Indian might eat it and live. In terms of home: shared with extended family and easily dismantled or not (in which case it was left behind and a new one built somewhere else). In terms of farming tools and other objects: a man owned his hunting gear, a woman owned the farming equipment and household goods. 

As I was listening/watching the video this morning, I was struck by the contrast. The Delawares, Shawnees, and Susquehannocks (among other Pennsylvania Indians) had little, but they had enough. When Europeans arrived, the Natives they met were "giants" because they ate better than "civilized" man! Several sources I have read say that there was no envy among the Indians -- if one saw something he wanted, the other gave it to him without question, even to their last piece of meat or the clothes off their backs. 

They had little.

But they had enough.

And this reflects what Steve said in episode 5 of "Soul Shift": A steward is generous and content

It's not about what you have or don't have.  (It's not about what I have or don't have!) It's about learning to be content. And that is when we shift from being a consumer, to being a steward.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

geography lesson

My last post was honest. I hope it was also encouraging to someone who continues to struggle with addiction.

I hope today's post is more encouraging still




Today's geography lesson has nothing to do with names of states and capitals. It has nothing to do with reading a map. It has nothing to do with rivers and mountain ranges. Today's lesson is all about direction.

What direction are you headed? Only two choices: toward God or away from God. 

If you are going the wrong direction, how to do you change that? Turn around.

If you are turned around, facing the other direction but you have yet to move, how far are you from the spot you were standing in a minute ago?

As far as the east is from the west.

Two days ago I was willfully and determinedly running in the wrong direction. Yesterday I stopped and turned around. In that moment, I was as far from my sin as east is from west. You can never be in west if you are standing in east. Can't do it. They are polar opposites. Or, rather, directional opposites. 

I still have a road to walk, but I am walking in the right direction, and before I even took that first step: as far as east is from west.

Today's geography lesson. Class dismissed.

Psalm 103

Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Dirty floors

Have you ever mopped the floor, stood back to mop your brow and examine your handy-work, only to have spouse or children or dog run all over it with dirty feet? How did you react? How did you WANT to react?

I have neither spouse nor children. Nor pet, for that matter.

And I am not writing from the exalted position of floor mopper.

I am the dog with dirty paws.




For several years now I have struggled with sexual addiction. For three years now, I have had moments of victory. Some of those moments even extended into months. 

This is not one of those months. Or even one of those moments.

For the past five weeks, I have jumped feet first into the mire of living in a fantasy world, and all that entails. I won't go into detail. Suffice to say, I am at a low point with myself and with God. As I talked with a dear friend about it, she encouraged me to pray, "God, make me willing." Because at this point, I don't want to turn away from what feels good (in the moment).  I am not willing.

I have been putting on a front, and as a Bible college graduate, I know all the expected answers. I go to church and Bible study. I teach children on Sunday mornings. I encourage others with what I know is True from God's word. Even though I haven't opened my Bible in weeks. But it is all fake.

This past week at Bible study, one of the ladies was talking about the throne room of God, and the confidence we have to approach God.

All I could think was, "But I'll get the floor dirty."

I know what the Bible says: I am forgiven, redeemed, washed and clean. I DO have the confidence to approach the throne of GRACE.

But, honestly, this week I'm not feeling it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

kids and tech

I grew up in the age of cassette tapes and Atari and VCRs as the newest big thing. I remember getting Nintendo for Christmas one year -- gray and purple, it came with Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. I can still hear the song in my head. Can't you?

Today's generation has i-this and i-that, facebook and twitter, and short snippets of thought have become the communication pattern of the day. Technology is changing so fast, and we adults sometimes feel left out. We marvel at the speed of which their little thumbs can hammer out a message or their young minds can absorb the process of uploading their goofy videos. Some of us marvel...some of us shrug...some of us give up and say, "I'll never get it, so I'll let my kid program the icloud." 

Yesterday I participated in a Bible study that is working through Chip Ingram's video series titled "House or Home?" The series itself is very good (I always enjoy Chip), but yesterday's session was especially challenging. It was on kids and technology. Chip actually had his son Ryan present the information, because Ryan has struggled, in his own life, with the videos and ideas and images that the internet makes so easily accessible to all of us.

So many adults struggle with internet pornography. Why do we think children or young adults, as bundles of hormones with poor impulse control, will not?

That's where the marveling and the shrugging and the giving up are so dangerous. Not to us, but to our kids.

Ryan surveyed the young people he leads regularly, mostly college age students, young people who have passed through the turmoil and identify-forming rebellion of the teen years and successfully come out the other side. Successfully, because they made it, but perhaps not all of them are unscathed. These young people, surprisingly, said they wished their parents had kept a closer eye on their internet use....they wished their families had spent time together without electronics. These young people are eager for mentoring relationships. They know how to download something from the cloud, but what about planning a meal and the budget to go with it? They know how to flash-type a tweet, but they can't communicate with someone across the table.

Teens will balk at that. They will insist they like it that way. Who needs your old-fashioned modes of communication, anyway?

But less than ten years later, those same teens have become young adults and they desire the very things they pushed against before. Isn't that always the way it is? We don't want mom and dad to teach us how to budget...we just want to spend the money...until we get that first credit card and realize the heartache that goes with such behavior. We don't want personal responsibility....we just want to be with our friends...until we are married and have kids ourselves and realize we're clueless.

And the internet, with its pervasive illicit images and easy accessibility is no different. They say they want it, and they know what they're doing, and we should leave them alone...until they realize they have sacrificed something good for something immediate.




After the video, the 8 of us sat and discussed our kids and their tech devices. Someone shared about how her 13 year old daughter was the victim of sexting by a boy on her swim team. She didn't tell her mom; I suspect she was embarrassed and ashamed, even though she had done nothing wrong. Her mother often, randomly, checks her phone and her facebook and her iPad, etc., and has made the rule that mom MUST have every password, and if she tries to check and can't get in, daughter is in trouble. A good policy to have, seeing as how this boy forced a conversation that the daughter over-and-over typed, "Don't say stuff like that." And yet, as tech savvy as this girl is, she didn't have the wisdom or the skills to get away from the situation.

They know technology. That doesn't mean they are wise. 

Proverbs 2 says:

My son, if you accept my words
    and store up my commands within you,
 turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding
 indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
 and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,

then you will understand the fear of the Lord

    and find the knowledge of God.
 For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
 He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
 for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.
 Then you will understand what is right and just
    and fair—every good path.
 For wisdom will enter your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
 Discretion will protect you,
    and understanding will guard you. 

This applies perfectly to technology, doesn't it? If our children and our young people are taught God's commands, His Words found in Scripture, and if they are given a godly example to follow, then God will be their shield. As they are cruising around in cyberspace, He will protect their way. X-out, walk away, shut it off. Find an actual human being to talk to about it. He will allow them to follow every good path, and knowledge will be pleasant, not life-shattering or addictive or violating. Discretion will protect them.

But they must be taught. Let them have our wisdom, won through years and experience. Don't let them learn it the hard way if they can help it. If we can help it. 

My challenge to you is this: learn the technology. Stay up on it, for your children's sake. Don't take the easy path, for that way lies destruction.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Faith in Motion

A week or two ago,  I posted about human trafficking, sharing a few sites for your perusal. Here is another:

However, today I want to share a different organization that is just as worthy. We all have a story, experiences and hopes and friends who make us who we are. Some people feel drawn to support political candidates, changing the world that way. Some people feel comfortable serving in organizations such as The Restavek Freedom Foundation or any of the other organizations that fight human trafficking. Some people feel led to serve and support education initiatives around the world.

For those people, here is one option to get you started!

The idea behind the 410 Bridge is that most of the world's population lives within these lines of latitude. Most of these people are destitute. You've heard the statistics. The U.N. has developed a means of categorizing nations. The Least Developed Nations (LCDs) are those which meet the following criteria, according to

1. a low-income estimate of the gross national income per capita
2. weak human assets
3.  high degree of economic vulnerability

(I had to look up "weak human assets": this is based on nutrition, health, education, and adult literacy.)

The U.N. puts 50 countries in this category, and all of them are in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Caribbean. This is where 410 Bridge chooses to make its impact.

By teaching and providing the means for the people of a few communities in Uganda, Kenya, and Haiti to take care of themselves, they are hopeful -- and successful -- in showing neighboring communities it can be done. Before 410 Bridge came to Karagota, Kenya, a community which my church supports, few students passed the 8th grade exams, which determine a child's future: school, career, and economic status. Of course, wrapped up in those three, then, are access to health care and clean water, without which the cycle of poverty continues. Since 410 Bridge has come to Karagoto, the residents have access to clean water, women earn money by knitting and selling sweaters, and more students are passing their 8th grade exams.

There are many ways we can help 410 Bridge help these communities. Prayer and supporting a student financially are perhaps the easiest. However, there are also opportunities to go on missions trips, hold fund raising events, or host one of the Partners, specifically the Daraja Children's Choir of Africa. (These children are amazing! Your church or organization will be so blessed to watch these students sing and dance, and the money raised from the tickets of the performance helps 410 Bridge. I don't know the details so go to the website and check it out!) 

But why only Kenya, Uganda, and Haiti? These are only 3 of fifty LCDs! 

I've heard it described this way: 410 Bridge chooses to go deeper instead of wider. They take the resources they have and invest deeply in all aspects of a community, instead of sending little bits here and there and there and here, until lots of communities are barely helped at all. A farmer's crops need their roots to go deep in order for the plant to survive and make it to a time of harvest. Perhaps helping the Kingdom of God grow is like that, too. In fact, didn't Jesus teach that? 

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.  Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13: 1-9

Let's invest deeply.