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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Last week I heard, what for me, is a profound statement: THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SAYING THANK YOU AND ACTUALLY MEANING IT.

Sounds obvious.

But how many times do I rattle off a list of things I thank God for: a hot shower and a soft bed and making it through another day with a debilitatingly  painful disease? Am I truly thankful? Do I approach the situation -- thanking God -- with humility?

James 4:6 tells us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

The biggest thing I need to overcome in order to be truly humble is . . .


I need to acknowledge I cannot do it, achieve it, supply it on my own.

I have not been doing this lately. I have been striving with every ounce of my being to gain what I think I need in order to be happy. But God tells me HE is all I need, and He will supply everything else.

Another thought: When Jesus humbled himself, even to death on a cross, it was

a choice

I must offer no less when I am humble.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Another song out on the radio these days is "Stand" by Kristian Stanfill. One line in particular this morning caught my attention: this life declares Your promises.

My life declares the promises....

God is faithful...

Forgiving and gracious...

Sustaining through pain and hardship and physical infirmity...


Loving enough to take me as I am and loving enough to not leave me that way..

What promises does your life declare?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


There is a new song by mercyme out on the radio: "I AM." I was contemplating last night what this title of God implies. Heady stuff!

The biggest -- and I do mean biggest! -- thing that strikes me in God saying, "I am who I am," is His eternality. "Am" is an ongoing verb. When applied to God in this way, it implies no beginning and no end. He just is.

But I was taught that theology is only part of learning about God. I need to apply this truth to my life. It needs to affect and change me. So what does that look like in my life? (Not that I am changing God to fit my circumstances, but my circumstances are particular to me and this truth must apply even in very specific ways.)

For someone like God, who has been around for all eternity, there is nothing He hasn't seen. There is nothing that will shock Him. Not my sin, or my fear, or even my greatest insight. So....

I do not need to be apprehensive when I take my concerns to Him. I don't need to worry or wonder that He might roll His eyes and tell me to get over it. If He was tired of dealing with the petty problems of existence on this planet, Jesus would have returned by now. But He hasn't. That tells me God isn't fed up or tired or ready to call it quits.

If He isn't calling it quits, neither am I.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How big is your God?

How big is that problem? How critical is that illness? How desperate is that need?

Is your God big enough to handle it?

I ask that question with the personal pronoun "your" because often the God we think of when we pray is not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible IS big enough, strong enough, powerful enough, loving enough. But we often look at our problems and think He can't possibly fix it, or more often in my case, love me enough to care.

Isaiah 40: 12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
    or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
    or weighed the mountains on the scales
    and the hills in a balance?
13 Who can fathom the Spirit[d] of the Lord,
    or instruct the Lord as his counselor?
14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him,
    and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge,
    or showed him the path of understanding?

15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
    they are regarded as dust on the scales;
    he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.

God can hold all the dust in the hollow of His hand. He can weigh mountains. He needs no one to teach Him. BIG. POWERFUL. ALL-KNOWING.

OK, so He can handle my problem in the best way possible.

But does He want to?

I am but a speck of dust on a speck of dust in a universe so small it can fit in the palm of His hand. And yet... This God, who created all things and stands outside of time and outside of space entered time and space to be born, to live, and to die on a cross.

For me.

For you.

If He loves us enough to do that, why wouldn't He care about these problems weighing on our hearts?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Beginning is Coming!

Today the pastor spoke on Revelation. Why do we get so caught up in the here and now? Why don't we constantly seek eternity? Because our view of eternity is boring. We see fat angels and harps and clouds. If we really thought of eternity the way God describes it, we would be so eager to get there!

Revelation 21 and 22 promise RESTORATION:

Earth will be restored -- the earth is groaning, like a woman in labor. This isn't the way it is supposed to be. Imagine a place with no thorns, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or poison ivy. One day God will refresh the earth, and it will be as it was in Eden.

Relationships will be restored -- our relationship with God and our relationships with others. Without sin to get in the way, these relationships will be perfect. Think about that best friend, how you can talk on the phone for hours and it seems like minutes. I used to tease my sister in middle school -- she and her best friend walked home from the bus stop together. The friend lived three houses down. No sooner did they get in the door than they were on the phone with each other. That is the kind of relationships we will have in eternity.

Joy will be restored -- "no more death or mourning or crying or pain." It is hard to imagine. But it is "trustworthy and true."

Immortality will be restored -- In Eden, after Adam and Eve sinned, they (and we) were denied eternal life. Jesus's death and resurrection made it possible for us to regain that. In eternity, in the New Jerusalem, we will have eternal life.

Dignity will be restored -- Many people in this world have had their dignity stolen, physically and verbally and emotionally. Our culture wants us to believe our value is based on looks, money, intelligence. God says our value is based on the fact that we are image bearers, loved by God, and redeemed by Him. In the New Jerusalem, we will reign with Him, like royalty.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

But, Lord, wait, be patient just a little longer. I still have family and friends and people I love who don't have a relationship with You. I don't want them to be eternally lost!

And while You are waiting, Lord, please give me opportunities to speak of You and the boldness to speak the truth in love and the grace to live a life that reflects You so that they will see and know You!


Thursday, September 6, 2012


I was planning the first week of school, expecting rambunctious 5th and 6th graders, and not knowing what to expect from my new history class for 7th and 8th. I now teach humanities for all of middle school in the small Christian school where I have taught elementary for 5 years. I needed an intro to Bible lesson for both grade levels. The 7th/8th history curriculum incorporates Bible, but the 5th/6th does not. And anyway, I could use the first lesson for both.

I wanted to use 2 Timothy 3:16:  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness...

Just so happens, my pastor spoke on that very verse the week before school started! He used a great visual aid.

So great, in fact, that I stole the idea and used it in class.

Teaching: Picture a one way sign. God's Word shows us the ONE WAY that is right, and we must follow it.

Rebuking: Picture a do not enter sign. Stop, My Child! That's the WRONG WAY!

Correcting: Picture a detour sign. You went the wrong way -- here is how you get back to the ONE WAY.

Training: Beware of the student driver! She may be a Christian, but she doesn't always know what she's doing!

My students made signs themselves, and we hung them above the black board.

Now, to find road signs for my apartment....I suppose stealing them off the poles would be in a different category than stealing Pastor's idea?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

walking in faith

For those that read my last post....I still have a job! The school is open, and we are running on faith. Our small Christian school has no finances to speak of, but we are trusting God.

My question is this:

Is it really faith? Faith in my health will fail me. Faith in friends might fail me. Faith in the government is hit or miss.

But faith in God?

The God of Creation, bigger than the universe, stronger than hurricanes and wild fires, compassionate and loving enough to forgive us of our sin...

There is no doubt. It's a given.

So is it really faith?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

strength in vulnerability

For several years I was a slave to the sin of pornography. God was constantly, consistently drawing me back, but it took a few years for me to turn from my sin and seek help. In the spring of 2009, I called a friend of mine from Bible college, who happens to be a Biblical counselor, and asked for help.

The first three months were up and down, like walking down an up escalator. I was on my way up, no doubt about it, but I was choosing again and again to return to my sin.

There was a turning point, a bottom-of-the-barrel moment. They (the ubiquitous "they") say that drug addicts and alcoholics must also reach an absolute low before they can truly recover. My bottom was not a DUI or arrest for narcotics possesion. Mine was knowing God loves me.

He loves me. And He deserves more than I was giving Him. I understood that my life was not glorifying God.  Oh, only 4 people knew of my struggle, but Satan does not always have to destroy us, as Christians -- he only needs to make us ineffective. And I certainly was that.

It was a beautiful August day. I was returning from my counseling appointment, driving along a winding country road on a steep downhill grade. Replaying in my mind the conversation with Faye and berating myself for hiding from her that I had again, just this week, given into temptation and spent time in fantasizing. Feeling guilt, self-disgust, self-loathing.

Wanting simply to die.

Because, certainly, God doesn't want me living this way and I am not helping spread the Kingdom, so why not end it.

And I was driving along a cliff, the perfect opportunity right outside my window.

But I had a visiioin of my family: father, mother, sister, brothers, in-laws and nephews, all looking at me in my coffin. No one in my family has accepted the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, though over the years they have become less adamant when telling me they don't want to hear it. But I saw them at my funeral, looking at the results of suicide and saying, "She followed God and this is what it got her. I'm not following that God." And turning away.

Oh God, save me! I don't want that!

That was my bottom. And unfathomable victory followed.

For several months, at least. Until the following February. Within one work-week, I had three different people offer to help me with my job. This should not, necessarily cause one's world to flip upside down. However, when one's job is one's security and that foundation is shaken -- because they wouldn't be offering "help" if I wasn't doing it wrong -- then it becomes a problem.

Did you pick up on that? when one's job is one's security

And I stumbled. Fell. Hard. It took me nearly nine months to again reach that place of victory. I'm actually not sure I've ever really gotten back. Certainly I still struggle more than I wish I did.

Why such a long description and explanation of something from over 2 years ago?

Because today I will learn whether or not I lose my job. Through no fault of my own. Simply another casualty of the economy.

I am scared. I am a single woman with working disability. I won't find another job, and I won't get unemployment because you have to be willing and able to work any job and not quit, and can I survive on disability alone? I don't know what comes next.

But for God's glory: I have not returned to the false comfort of sin. For several days now my prayer has been, "I am frightened. Help me to trust you."

God is not demanding fearlessness. He is not wagging a disappointed finger at me for admitting my fear. He simply wants me to turn to Him with it. It provides Him with the opportunity to show His care, guidance, mercy, and power.

I am in a vulnerable spot right now. The idea of the knight in shining armor to carry me from all my troubles is a temptation. But I am on my guard. Prayer and Scripture are the immovable rock in the stormy sea.

That is my strength in the midst of vulnerability.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

All of Me

I continue to struggle with addiction. My "drug of choice" is not alcohol or heroin or prescription pain killers. My drug of choice is pornography. I am a young single woman who, when on a binge, will spend hours a day fantasizing about a husband who does not exist. I used to console myself that at least, in my fantasies, he and I are both Christians and married. But in all honesty, it is still sin.

An idol I have created for myself.

Something I have placed above God and more important than knowing God and obeying Him.

In my fantasies I have imagined my wedding. My vows include something to the effect that he gives me everything -- security and love and joy. So my response is to give him "all of me. Today and for the rest of my life, all of me."

Awww. How sweet.

This week in church we sang a Phillips, Craig, and Dean song, "You are God Alone."

You are not a god created by human hands.
You are not a god dependant on any mortal man.
You are not a god in need of anything we can give
By your plan, that's just the way it is.

I create those fantasies; I cannot create God -- He is too kind, loving, forgiving, and holy for me to contemplate, let alone mainpulate and control.

God gives me everything: security, salvation, hope, life -- th very breath I breathe. God does not need anything I could give.

And yet...

He wants all of me.

Dear Lord, let this ever be my prayer: all of me. Today and for the rest of my life, all of me.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Part of a Whole

I grew up in a liturgical church. Every week I would sit in the shiny wooden pew, sing the same songs and recite the same prayers in unison with the rest of the congregation. To this day, I can recite creeds and sing kyries even though I left that church nearly 20 years ago. I always felt that the point of church was lost if I could recite those words at any given moment -- the meaning of them was lost, and it was one of the reasons I left that church.

I began a saving relaionship with Jesus Christ in 1994 and joined an "independent" church. No liturgy here! I no longer live in that town, and the church I attend now could be described as having contemporary worship with orthodox teaching. I love my church, but there is a drawback: as a 1000+ congregation with two buildings and five services, one tends to get lost in the crowd.

Yesterday I attended a Catholic mass with a friend, as I am staying with her while on vacation. I knew neither the prayers nor the order of service. On one hand I felt very out of place, very isolated.

But as I sat in that shiny wooden pew, I realized the unison is a reflection of the UNITY. I walked away with a sense of where I fit in the bigger picture: a landscape of waving golden wheat and a line of trees to buffer the wind and fluffy clouds floating  in a blue sky is not unlike the growth of the Christian in fertile soil with friends to help block the wind and the saints who have gone before cheering us on. In that litugical service yesterday I realized I am part of something bigger, something that crosses borders and epochs, something that is united by Who we worship more than it is divided by how we worship.

And what about being able to recite a creed at the drop of a hat? Oh, what a blessing! No matter where I am, no matter how my mind is wandering where it shouldn't or my actions reflect the world more than the Word -- I have truth at the tip of my tongue. I could do the same thing with Scripture; it is only a matter of repetition, and then I would have that Truth, too, on the tip of my tongue.

When I retrun home in another week or so, I will return to my church. I will look around the room with new eyes: we are just a small part of a large family who, every minute of every day, somewhere someone -- many someones -- are worshiping the Lord of All. My church service might not look like yours, but our God is the same!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

God as my Father

Today is Father's Day, and the Pastor connected his sermon to it. Our church has been doing the E100 series -- the 100 essential passages of Scripture. Today was "the Fall of Israel", but Pastor actually talked about David's last words to Solomon and how to be a godly man.

I am a single woman, and so after the service I thought about what he said in terms of God as the ultimate man.  Of course, God exemplifies perfectly everything Pastor said a man should be.

A real man...

Rejects Passivity. In human terms, this means a real man is going to lead, take an active role in his family, whether that includes children or not.

What about God? How does He show this quality?

He saw my sin, my distance from Himself. He could have said, "She made her bed, now let her lie in it. She can serve her own punishment." Instead, He sent His Son to live on earth and die on a cross for my sin. God took the steps necessary to bridge the distance. And He continues to reach for me when I am far from Him. He is anything but passive!

Accepts Responsibility. In human terms, a husband and father will carry his share of the burden of a family. He will sacrifice his own desires -- a game of golf or a night at the bar or workworkwork -- to do what is right for his family.

God accepted responsibility for my sin when Jesus died on the cross.

Leads Courageously. Men are called to be courageous. Casting Crowns sings a beautiful song to that effect.

Jesus leads the way. We can read in the Gospels the accounts of how He lived and walked and loved the people around Him. We can follow that example, as well as the example of other believers who have gone before us.

Invests Eternally. God wants men to think about the long term, the big picture. It is not just about disciplining a son or daughter's misbehavior. It is as much about raising them to be godly men and women. Fatherhood is not only about working to provide food, shelter, and clothing. It is also about investing in their lives, knowing their interests, caring about them as people.

And doesn't God do this beautifully? He is always reminding me of the big picture -- "It's not about you, my dear child. It is about My love, My glory. My plan of salvation through all of history." And the lesson He teaches me today is not only about today but should have and will have a future and eternal impact if I keep my eyes on Him.

Friday, May 25, 2012

the unadorned

I listen to a radio station that calls itself "uplifting and encouraging." For the most part, I would not disagree.

However, I don't understand how it is considered encouraging when a Christian who wins an award or some sort of recognition publicly offers praise to God. I don't find this encouraging because I think we would all do that -- "Everyone is watching, so I need to do what I know I should."

No, I am more encouraged by the unassuming, the unnoticed, the unadorned:

The stay at home mom who faithfully models the fruits of the Spirit to her children

The husband and father who walks with intergrity as he leads his family in a godly path

The Christian school teacher

The nursery worker at church

The conscientious neighbor who looks in on the elderly

These are the ones I find encouraging....

Because this is what, after nearly 20 years of walking with the Lord, I still fail to do.  I would do it publicly; of course, I would!

But very few people get saved because a celebrity praises God. At best, seeing someone they admire for singing talent or atheticism give Jesus Christ a shout-out, a Seeker will find someone in his acquaintance who he thinks already knows God and he will start asking questions. It is most often the neighbors, the coworkers, the bowling buddies, who lead others to Christ.

The unadorned are like the witnesses in Hebrews 12 -- they have gone before. Not that they have died already, but that they have walked this path of integrity -- doing what you would do when everyone was looking even if no one is looking. They turn to us and beckon, "Come on, you can do it! See, we have. With God's help and grace, you can, too!"

That is why the unadorned are so encouraging.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

living in Saturday

Jesus died on Friday, the afternoon before the Sabbath began. The sky went dark and He said, "It is finished." By this we know our sins are forgiven.

Tomorrow we celebrate His resurrection and the promise of our own. One day we, too, will be holy and perfected, standing before God's throne.

But today....

Today is Saturday.

The day the tomb was not empty. The day Jesus' body was in its shroud in the hollowed out rock.

The day our sins were forgiven but glory had not yet come.

And that is where we are living. In Saturday. We have the promise of glory, but we are still waiting. We look at our lives and wonder when we will ever get it together. We look at the world around us and cry out over the pain and anguish and death.

Romans 7: 14-24

 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.  So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.  Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

Praise the Lord! Sunday is coming!

Romans 7: 25- 8: 3

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh

Or, the way I memorized vs. 3: For what the law was powerless to do, in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did!

I can't wait for Sunday!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Great Thoughts Become a String of Pearls

This week I have taken the chapter on Great Thoughts (Chip Ingram's Good to Great in God's Eyes) to heart. Or, rather, to mind. No -- to heart, for when we dwell on these thoughts, they needle into our counsciousness and become part of our character, like a speck of sand in an oyster.

Very often the Great Thoughts that twirl around my mind like a beautiful ballerina are inspired by a song. I love listening to KLove, which is a Chrisitan music radio station that plays around the country (and I shamelessly and without reservation encourage you to find the station in your area where they broadcast). The lyrics of these songs resonate with my soul.

Spoken For by MercyMe is no exception.

I don't know the rules of linking from a blog to another website, and I don't want to plagerize or anything, so I won't link but simply quote the lyrics as I would a line from a book. There are two images that come to my mind as I listen to the chorus:

Covered by your love devine
Child of the Risen Lord,
To hear you say, "This one's mine."
My heart is spoken for

"This one's mine" brings to mind a Western on a grand and epic scale. The back story involves a homesteader whose wife and child are killed by a thief. After burying his family, he goes after the man who killed them. Meanwhile, that thief has joined a gang that is worse than he has ever imagined, and though he wants out, he is stuck, tethered to their leader by fear and despiration, and the evil they perpetrate is much worse than simple thievery and accidental killing. Soon a posse is after them. The homesteader joins the posse for one purpose only -- to be there when they finally catch up with the gang. When they do, and the posse is preparing to hang them all from the nearest tree, the homesteader says, "This one's mine." He takes the thief and rides away. Fade to black.

As they approach the homestead, the man leading the thief's horse because the thief's hands are tied, he says, "I forgive you. You can stay here and work for me, be the son to whom I will leave everything, or you can high-tail it for Mexico. Your choice."

I am afraid my words don't convey the full feeling of what my mind has envisioned this week. "This one's mine -- hands off -- I'll deal out her punishment." And then God turns around and forgives. And gives us the opportunity to be heirs, part of the family. To hear you say, "This one's mine." My breath catches in my throat, knowing the punishment I deserve is one breath away, and then being offered full forgiveness in the next instant brings utter relief.

That leads to the next thought.

Covered by your love devine
Child of the Risen Lord,
To hear you say, "This one's mine."
My heart is spoken for

Spoken for. I am the beautiful belle of the ball, more beautiful than Cinderella could ever hope to be. A nice looking gentleman approaches, "May I have this dance?"

"I am honored, sir. But no, thank you. I am spoken for."

For now.

And for all eternity.

Spoken for.

These are the thoughts swirling through my mind this week. These thoughts provide me with such security and joy that they become another pearl on my string. The string of pearls that my Daddy gives me to let me know I am loved. I am chosen. I am spoken for.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"The Actions of men are the best indicators of thought.'

That is a quote from John Locke that Chip Ingram uses to open the chapter in Good to Great in God's Eyes entitled "Think Great Thoughts."

Later in the chapter, Ingram writes, "The thoughts we entertain in our minds become the thoughts that guide our lives."

I know this is true. Having spent several years in addiction, I can say that what I thought about -- always, always desiring that next "fix"-- is what led me to seek that next fix. Not just the random thought that pops into my head -- I can't help those. But the "entertaining" of thoughts, the dwelling on, the mulling over and over, like sucking on a cough drop to get all the sweet medicine out of it and immediately reaching for another when my throat becomes scratchy again -- that is what leads to the wrong behavior.  My behavior is in direct coorolation to my thought life.

So when I whine about my complacency (as I did in my last post), the solution is obvious: think about the object of my affection that seems to only produce complacency in me. As I think about and learn about and read about and pray to God, my complacency leaves me. It does not dissolve away but rather runs, full tilt, leaving behind it the full-fleded desire to spend even more time in God's presence.

Philippians 4: 8 - 9

 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Good to Great IN GOD'S EYES

"In God's Eyes" ~~ What does God see when He looks at me? Does He see the complacency that poisons the well-spring of my heart? Does He see the impure thoughts? Does He see my self-centeredness, where the most-oft asked question is "How will this affect me?"

The answer is: yes, He does.

But praise the Lord! That's not all He sees!

He also sees the righteousness of Christ, as I stand behind the Son, bathed in His blood. He sees a daughter, a co-heir, one who will inherit His infinite riches in glory. He sees one who has been bought back -- at a great price -- and therefore is so very valuable!

As I read through Chip Ingram's book, I have a quotation on a plain piece of paper as my marker. It is a quote by John Wooden:

"Be  more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

Seeking to be more...

In God's eyes.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Once again I have allowed complacency to rule my life. I never thought of myself as someone who takes the easy way, but my actions regarding sin prove time and again that I absolutely do.

I was reminded last night, the gentle prodding of the Spirit, that walking with God is not a passive activity but an active one.

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

He has shown you, O Man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

God wants me to actively pursue him.

And isn't that what He did when He sent Jesus to die for my sin? He crossed the chasm and ran after me.

And He is still running.