Dear Arrogant,


“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!” Revelation 3:14-15

How many of our modern day churches are neither cold nor hot? How many Christian lives wouldn’t look much different if they stopped believing in God? How many people are neither excited for nor antagonistic towards the Lord? How many of us rarely share our faith with neighbors, co-workers, or friends? How many choose the popular and comfortable stance on a subject instead of what is right? Do we find ourselves desiring to fit in both at church and outside of church by “riding the fence” on issues? Has our faith become lukewarm? Many people do things to “people please”.

In Revelation 3:16, the Lord says” So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” The Lord was sickened by what He observed. Laodicea was a thriving city. The people were self sufficient. They thought they were prosperous and needed nothing. They lived for themselves, and not for Christ. How sick this modern day “me” society must make our Creator!

In verse 17 the people were told, “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” They didn’t even recognize how they were living. They were blind to the fact that they did not need a Savior. Are we guilty of not allowing Jesus to control our lives? Do we love God, but not with all our heart, soul, and might? ( see Deuteronomy 6:5 )

The Lord counsels the people of Laodicea by instructing them to “buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen. And salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be ZEALOUS and REPENT. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come to him and eat with him, and he with me” Revelation 3:18-20
Christ is appealing to them and to us to repent and let Him in. We must make Him a vital part of our lives. We must humble ourselves so that we can receive His grace and mercy. We must be born again of the Spirit. God offers us this gift, we cannot buy it, earn it, or be good enough to deserve it. We must be renewed in our hearts and minds, and open up our lives and become totally committed to living and serving and worshipping the one True God.

Jesus makes a promise in Revelation 3:21. “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” If we turn our lives over to Christ and live for Him, we can inherit the riches of heaven. Recently, there was a picture of a homeless man on his knees praying. When he was asked why a homeless man with nothing would be thanking God, he replied “God will never forsake me and though I might not have much in material things, I have the greatest gift of all–salvation–thanks to Jesus Christ! He said, “My riches don’t come from man and money, but from our heavenly Father”! Homeless, yet indeed among the richest of men.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
1John 2:15-17

Believe-Repent-Pray-Serve-Witness-Read His Word-“Start a Fire and Make It Grow”

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:22

Dear Compromise

God has a sense of humor. The first half of my life I spent afraid of flying. It wasn’t the heights that bothered me. It was that I didn’t know who was flying the plane and I certainly didn’t know the people sitting around me. And here I was, putting my life in the hands of an unknown pilot, and soaring thousands of feet above hard ground and my illusion of control. Fast forward and I marry Jeromy. Jeromy’s lifelong dream? To become a pilot. Years of marriage and children ‘flew’ by, two careers, many, many trips…but no pursuing of the pilot’s license. Then, a chain of events as he was turning 40 resulted in me being married to a pilot. Now…we fly. Now…we fly a lot. Now, we fly a lot in a small plane. This might freak some people out, but I have to tell you…I am a thousand times more comfortable with my husband as the pilot than with an unknown stranger. Why, you might ask? Because I know him. I trust him. I trust his preparation. I trust his integrity. I trust his cautiousness. I trust his meticulous nature. I trust his ability to care for me and our children. I trust that he would do NOTHING to compromise our safety. I trust him.

Ruth and Naomi have always meant a lot to me. Maybe because I was orphaned as a young adult and blessed with a mother figure in my life. However, as I grow older and mature, I see more in this book, and especially this passage. Ruth clung to Naomi, begging her not to send her back. Ruth was determined and she bound herself to Naomi and Naomi’s God. This meant that she turned away from how she was brought up and clung to her mother-in-law and her faith. Can you imagine how frightening this must have been? She was leaving everything and Naomi knew it would be a rough road, one they might not survive. Naomi thought the girls should go back. Go back to their mothers, who could prepare them for whatever lay ahead. But Ruth knew going back would mean returning to her family, but also returning to their gods. Their false gods. Ruth loved her mother-in-law, but she was also binding herself to Yahweh. Think of the trust required when we turn away from everything we know and fully embrace Truth. When we follow Jesus, we have to trust Him. What does trusting someone require? Knowing them. Truly knowing them.

I urge you to get in the Word and get on your knees. Know the One you are following. Because, when it gets hard, there will be temptation to second guess, to turn away, to try to grab the controls, to lead instead of follow. Know Him. Trust Him. He invites you to do so.

Ruth 1: 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

Dear Suffering,

Revelation 2:8-11 (ESV) To the Church in Smyrna

8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. 9 “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

Do you know what it means to suffer? I mean to really suffer. Not just “suffer” because of little things in life like:

· Waiting in line at Carrabba’s for 3 hours on Mother’s Day when you are “starving” (even though you ate breakfast earlier that day).

· Having to wait on your new I-phone to arrive because it is on backorder (though you have your old functioning one to continue using in the meantime).

· Getting a headache because you had front row seats at a Toby Mac concert (which you knew in advance would be super loud but you bought the tickets anyways).
Yeah…we often use the term “suffering” loosely these days, especially in America. It is rarely used in relation to the Christian faith. So, we assign the term “suffering” to trivial things not really understanding the true definition. I think that’s because up until this point there has not been a lot of suffering on our home turf related to Christianity. We certainly don’t have an understanding like the Church in Smyrna found in Revelation 2: 8-11, which can be seen above.

So, let’s take a look at what it means to suffer per the dictionary. The basic definitions are as follows: to experience pain, illness, or injury; to experience something unpleasant (such as defeat, loss, or damage); or to become worse because of being badly affected by something. Hmmmm…makes you think doesn’t it? Makes me stop and think twice before naming something like the three examples above as “suffering.”

Currently, there is suffering all over the world that our brothers and sisters in Christ are experiencing just as the church in Smyrna was back in Bible times. I have had the privilege to go on mission to such a place and hear first-hand about suffering for Christ. There is one example that stands out in my mind of a dear sister in the faith, whom I will call “Nadia.” I have had the privilege of hearing Nadia’s story twice now.

Nadia was raised in a Muslim family where that was the only acceptable religion. Her brother was the first one who came to Christ, and when he did, he brought the gospel to the rest of her family (and he suffered great persecution as well, but that’s another story). One day while Nadia was serving a meal to her brother and other men she couldn’t help but listen to what he was saying. He was sharing about his faith, and she found herself lingering in the room to hear more. Nadia also found excuses to go back frequently so she would not miss a word her brother was sharing. She liked what she heard about Jesus, believed it and committed her life to Him. However, her family found out. She was 16 at the time. Her suffering then began. I will leave out some of the awful details, but to sum it up she was beaten and told by her family that if she didn’t renounce Jesus and return to the Muslim faith, then she would be killed. So, faced with this she said what her family wanted her to hear. Nadia was then sent to a Muslim school that was to last for a few years. She never felt a peace about what she had done in renouncing Jesus to her family. She still prayed to Jesus. Then, her prayers were answered because the Muslim school closed so she didn’t have to complete her entire time there. She again committed her life to Christ. Eventually, she ended up leaving her family home to live with her brother (who had led her to faith) and his wife. She met and married a wonderful Christian man, and today they are serving the Lord together through orphan ministry to teen girls. What an inspiring story of suffering that God was able to turn into good for Kingdom work.

Such a humbling experience to hear this story. I pray that none of you reading this blog suffers like Nadia and her brother. However, I want you to take away from her story what we can also take away from the Revelation 2 scripture above.

1. Revelation 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Jesus always was and always will be. Romans 1:4 shows the power of Christ as the Son of God through his resurrection from the dead. No matter what, Jesus will be here for us.

2. Jesus can understand our suffering because he took on human form, walked on the earth and suffered much during His time. He can both sympathize and empathize with us because He too experienced earthly sufferings.

3. Don’t be shocked when slander occurs. Satan is behind the lies. People lied about Jesus, so why are we surprised when they lie about us. Stand firm when the attacks come. Do not falter, but stand on the truths of Scripture.

4. Do not fear. Remain steadfast in the faith. Look at suffering and testing as the refining fire, which God uses to grow us in our faith.

5. You will be rewarded for your faithfulness despite suffering here on earth, by having eternal life through Christ in Heaven. For those that do not know Christ, eternal condemnation will take place as their eternity will be in Hell, separated forever from God.
That last point is why we as Christians, no matter where we live, must be willing to suffer for the cause of Christ, no matter the cost. God does not want anyone separated from Him, so to make His name known, suffering will inevitably be present.

Nadia’s brother shared that they would like prayers for staying strong in the midst of persecution and suffering. He did not request prayers for the suffering or persecution to be taken away. No! Instead, with a smile on his face he made his prayer request for continued faithfulness and strength because he knows the persecution will not end, likely this side of Heaven. What an example for you and me. The advice the believers in Smyrna were given is being followed right now by Nadia and her entire family. So, with the changing tide in America, where will you stand as the absolute truth of the Bible is questioned and Christianity becomes more and more unpopular? Will you take on suffering as did Nadia’s family and the believers in Smyrna? It is my hope and prayer that we all will.

Playing Offense with God


What comes to your mind when you hear the term offense? My mind automatically goes to football and the fact you have defense (protecting the end zone) and offense (trying to score a touchdown). Depending on which team you are cheering for will determine which type of gameplay you like the best. However, ultimately offense is the most exciting because as your team scores points you get closer to victory and have a better chance at the win. Everyone likes to be on the winning team. Success comes to teams that practice, are disciplined, are team players, are great athletes, are good communicators, and have a good coach. Without these things attributes, unless there was a fluke, there would never be any wins. In addition if there wasn’t offense played, then there would not be a winner either. Can you imagine going to a football game and watching each team stay in their respective end zones playing defense and never trying to advance by playing offense. No way! That would be the most boring game ever, don’t you agree?

The following is a story with very mismatched teams. Picture this, the Philistines, with an army of 36,000 versus the Israelites with an army of 600. Who would you have placed your money on if betting? The Philistines, right? Well, apparently even King Saul who was the leader of the Israelites would have placed the same bet against his army because he shrank from the challenge and was basically in hiding when his son Jonathan and only his armor bearer set off as 2 against 36,000.

From 2 Samuel chapter 13:

“23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash. 1 day Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. 2 Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah in the pomegranate cave[a] at Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men, 3 including Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. 4 Within the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side and a rocky crag on the other side. The name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5 The one crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.”
Seems like a foolish move in man’s eyes, don’t you agree. If I had been the armor bearer I am sure at that point I would be second guessing Jonathan and maybe even plotting how I would leave him to return to the safety of the rest of the Israelite army. I would have wanted to be playing defense to protect myself in a seemingly impossible situation. However, the armor bearer and Jonathan show amazing courage and faith.
“6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” 7 And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish.[b] Behold, I am with you heart and soul.”
The faith exhibited by Jonathan in the verses above is incredible. He had faith in the sovereignty of God. Jonathan did not know for certain that he and the armor bearer would be victorious, but he knew that with God on their side they could confidently go forward and advance the offense. The armor bearer showed just as much confidence, not only in his master, but also in God. He was willing to be part of the offense, though he could have easily retreated in fear. The plan Jonathan laid out for the armor bearer seems very uncertain as can be seen in the following verses.
“8 Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.” 11 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12 And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan his armor-bearer and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing.”
2 men. No sneak attack. No real plan. Just trust. They stepped out and could immediately have been killed. Instead mocking followed by the Philistines, who at this point were playing defense. The offense of 2 must have looked pretty pitiful to the Philistines, but that’s because they couldn’t see God. Oh, but He was there and ready to play. “And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” 13 Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him. 14 And that first strike, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, killed about twenty men within as it were half a furrow’s length in an acre of land. 15 And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic.”
An amazing victory that has no explanation other than God was with the 2 men who stepped out in faith trusting that God would accomplish His will one way or another, whether the 2 of them lived or died. If Jonathan had dragged his armor bearer into battle to play offense on his own strength, failure and likely death would have soon followed. However, Jonathan believed in the power of God and was willing to put his life on the line for his beliefs. Wow, what courage. What a testimony! 2 men sneaking off to play offense & subsequently defeating 36,000 Philistines while the rest of the army was hunkered down in safety many miles away. “16 And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude was dispersing here and there.”
All I know is I would not have wanted to be King Saul at this point. He learned of the victory and I wonder what went through his mind? Now, I’ve never been in a battle against 36,000 Philistines, but I honestly don’t think I would have plunged into an offensive strike with only 1 other person, when the rest of my allies were hiding out in fear. However, this story challenges me in a good way and I hope it does you too. Jonathan and his armor bearer are heroes, but only because of their faith in God. I hope I am never faced with what Jonathan & King Saul faced. However, I have my own battles to fight, as I’m sure you do too. I don’t want to just be on the defensive, but I want to be able to strike on the offensive with God on my side and not wait for defeat passively. I know how my story ends. I have victory in Jesus and the promise of eternal salvation, no matter what comes my way. So, as long as I cling to God and trust Him with the details of my life, I will be on the winning team, all because I played offense with God. I’m not guaranteed anything in life, and trials will come, but this truth will prevail, “For nothing will be impossible with God” from Luke 1:37 (ESV).p.

After the Storm


Acts 28:1 “After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta”
In order to understand the magnitude of this verse, one must know the many events leading up to this day. Ever since Paul met the Risen Lord on the way to Damascus (see Acts 9), he became a faithful witness. Paul traveled far and wide spreading the Good News of the life-changing power of the Lord. During this time, Paul was ridiculed, beaten, stoned, and imprisoned by those against the message he was teaching. While in prison in Caesarea, the Lord appeared to Paul, and “called” him to testify in Rome. (Acts 23:11). Paul accepted this mission and pled his case to be sent to Rome to stand trial. Eventually, Paul and some other prisoners were embarking on a ship to Italy. On the voyage, a terrible storm ravaged the ship for two weeks. Everyone thought they would surely perish. However, God sent an angel to Paul declaring that although the ship would be lost, all on board would be spared. On the 14th day, land was spotted. Surely, they were safe now. But, the ship struck a reef and broke apart. Things looked bleak, but God kept His promise and all 276 people made it safely to shore. (see Acts 27) In the song Just Be Held, Casting Crowns sings “Lift your hands, lift your eyes in the storm is where you’ll find Me. And where you are, I’ll hold your heart. Come to Me, find your rest in the arms of the God who won’t let go.” Yes, God will find us in our storms of life and He will not let go.
So what would happen next?

Acts 28:2 “The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold.”
Finally, something positive was happening. Paul knew everyone would be okay because God had made that promise. God had been with them through the storm, now he was using strangers to bless them with their hospitality. Why was it unusual kindness? The men from the ship were strangers. They had nothing to offer, all had been lost in the storm. The islanders showed compassion for them as if they were neighbors. Does God not call us to do the same in Hebrews 13:2? “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Acts 28:3a “When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire…”
Even though there were plenty of others to do this job, Paul’s servant heart was still evident. He was following Jesus’ example of Matthew 20:28 “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” May we desire to have a servant’s heart even through and after the storms in our lives.

Acts 28:3b “a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand.”
When this happened, the natives began to talk among themselves saying that Paul must truly be a murderer and that their god Justice would not allow him to live even though he had survived the sea. But Paul shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. The islanders waited for Paul to swell up or fall down dead, but nothing happened. They changed their minds and decided he was a god.(Acts 28 4-6)
How easy it is to judge others without knowing the true story? Through it all, Paul remained calm. Paul refused to be discouraged or frustrated. He knew God had a purpose for all that was happening. Paul knew that in this world, we will have tribulations, but that Jesus has overcome the world and offers us peace. (John 16:33)
Sometimes hardships are for God’s glory.

In Acts 7-10 we are told that Publius, the chief, entertained the men for three days. The father of Publius lay sick. Paul visited him and prayed, and putting hands on him healed him. Just as the islanders first showed unusual kindness to Paul and the others from the ship, God showed unusual kindness to them by healing all of the sick in their land .May we learn from this, and show unusual kindness to others because God gave us His Son as the ultimate gift of kindness.

Through all the storms in Paul’s life, he came out stronger in his faith, courage, hope, and love for God and others. “He knew that for those who love God all things work together for good.” (Romans 8:28) There is a choice whenever you go through a storm or hardship or tribulation—you can become bitter or can become better–the choice is up to you!

Pray Boldly

Nehemiah, what a guy! I have not studied his story in depth, but I have to say after reading the following verses, I was both encouraged and challenged by this man and his faith. Nehemiah was from the land of Judah, and he was very well respected. Though very far from home, he worked his way up through the ranks until he became cupbearer to the king. Talk about some responsibility! Not only was he the one to ensure the wine was safe for the king to drink, but he also had the respect and ear of the king.

Since Nehemiah was often in the Kings company, he was exposed to travelers passing through the kingdom. Verses 1:1-3 show one such circumstance, “1 … Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.””

First, we see that Nehemiah is concerned with his homeland and his people. He had not forgotten his roots or from where he had come. The news that he received was not positive, and immediately Nehemiah takes action as can be seen in 1:4 “As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” How convicting! Well, at least it is to me. Nehemiah heard the news, and he immediately sat down, wept, and mourned for days, but even more importantly he fasted and prayed during this time. He had compassion in the situation, but he did not take the information and file it away feeling it was a hopeless situation. No! He reached out to his Heavenly Father through prayer and by fasting so he could be intentional in his prayers and communion with God. When I get bad news, I often get upset and reach out to others for comfort instead of immediately turning to God in prayer. My guess is I am not alone in this. I tend to be concerned with me and how the news affects me. Ugh, I hate to admit that, but it’s true. Nehemiah was not even directly involved in what had happened to the wall in Jerusalem, but he knew talking to the men who gave him the news would do no good. So, he sets a very good example for us by fasting and praying. There was no “middle man.” Nehemiah went directly to the only one who could intervene and change the situation, his Heavenly Father. This was not an issue Nehemiah had been aware of and ignoring. Nope, as soon as he heard of the issues, he took action by fasting and praying.

How often do you and I hear bad news and we just worry about it instead of going to God in prayer? Nehemiah immediately prayed, “5 … “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.” First, Nehemiah recognized who God was. He also expected to hear from Him. Nehemiah acknowledged himself as a servant and sinner. He also prayed for others; specifically, the people of Israel and these prayers went on 24/7. Talk about commitment! The man believed in what he was praying and in whom he was praying to, and he didn’t waver.

Nehemiah also knew the scriptures. Through his prayer, he not only confesses his personal sins but those of his people, and he recalled the laws given to Moses in verses 7-9. Specifically, these verses encourage me to stay in God’s word so when I am facing struggles, I can recall His promises just as Nehemiah did. He drew comfort from the truths he knew.

Nehemiah was direct in his prayer as well which can be seen in verse 11 “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Nehemiah prayed boldly, and he prayed a big prayer. He was specific in what he was asking God to do and in the following verses we see his prayer paid off. He was placed in a situation which allowed God to grant his request. This can be seen as scripture states, “2 In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2 And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3 I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” And guess what? The king allowed Nehemiah to return to Judah to do as he requested.

This story likely would have a different outcome had Nehemiah not responded to the news about his homeland as he did through prayer and fasting. It convicts me to have my priorities right, as well as my expectations. My priority should be to study God’s word so I can draw on its lessons for situations that arise in my life. I also have to remember that prayer is my first and most important line of defense. A direct line to God and the knowledge that I have His ear just as Nehemiah did all those years ago…now that’s encouraging to me, and I hope it is to you as well. I also need to pray expectantly as Nehemiah did. When I pray, I can expect an answer whether it’s the one I wanted or not. So I hope that through this story you have been encouraged just as I have. Whatever you are facing in life, there is no doubt every situation will be easier to face when you turn to God first and trust Him with everything.


Promises Made, Promises Kept



Do you ever have feelings of inadequacy like Moses did? Do you occasionally wonder why God created you? Do you question what can God do through you?

I find myself wrestling with these same questions from time to time. I have so many faults, so many weaknesses, so many mess-ups in my life, so many feelings of unworthiness. Why would He love me so much in spite of my junk?

When we get focused on the “I” and the “me”, that’s where we fail. It’s not about us at all. It’s about Jesus living in us and working through us.

God is both a promise maker and a promise keeper. He always finishes what He begins. The work He began in you, He will complete! As He gave Moses the strength to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, He will lead us. As He provided nourishment and shelter for Moses and the Israelites in the desert, He will provide for us. As He guided them through the darkness of the desert, He will also guide us. He did it then; He will do it now.

Of course, Moses struggled to trust God at times, in spite of having witnessed God’s power and glory. Yet, even in weakness, God still used Moses. It is a reminder that God empowers us to overcome those times when we feel inadequate, sad, scared, and tempted to do wrong things.

Jesus gives His power to every believer. It is always available to us! Having Jesus’ power doesn’t mean that bad things will never happen. It means that we have access to Jesus’ power no matter what situation we face. So when we feel inadequate, scared, angry or helpless, Jesus is there to strengthen us and remind us that we are not alone! It means it isn’t up to us to do things on our own. We can trust that Jesus will be our partner and help us every single day.

Are there any areas of your life that you need to fully trust God? Are there areas that you desperately need the power of Jesus to help you overcome? A sin, a feeling of inadequacy, or a tough life decision? Pray and ask Him for strength and guidance. Ask Him to help you overcome whatever challenge you face

Exodus 3:10-12

“Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt. But Moses said to God, Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt? He said, But I will be with you,…”

God told Moses, “I will be with you”. Just as He was faithful to Moses, He will also be faithful to you.

May we forever proclaim that He indeed is the Lord our God, who is faithful to the end!

Hebrews 3:1-6

“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses-as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”

Philippians 1:6

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

The Integrity Walk


The book of Proverbs has nuggets of wisdom and insight embedded in the verses. Do you seek wisdom? Do you seek to know what God would have you do? How would He have you live or make choices or treat your family, customers, neighbors? It’s all right there.

Have you ever heard this nugget from well-intentioned people: “You can be anything you want to be.” Our society ingrains success and the American Dream in us as early as conception. Want an intelligent child? Play him or her Mozart while they are still in the womb. Want analytical and critical thinking skills? More fine arts exposure as infants and toddlers. Want to avoid being saddled with college debt? Start playing T-ball, football, soccer as early as you can wear cleats. Join the magnet programs and earn as many college credits before leaving high school so you can be ahead of the others. These things are not bad things to do or pursue. It’s when the YOU becomes the justification for the HOW you achieve the dreams and goals. We are in the midst of an election cycle that threatens to tear this country apart. Don’t believe me?  Scroll through any social media and read for yourself.  Plentiful are the claims of integrity issues, character flaws and seedy undersides to polished pictures.

The problem? “You can be anything you want to be” is a lie.

I cannot be anything I want to be but I can be everything GOD wants me to be. (I’m not sure who coined that phrase but I heard it on the radio.) When we sneak and look for short cuts to get what we want, our ways will be found out – usually at the most inopportune moments. Someone spills the beans. In our home, Tiny Tornado can keep a secret for about 1.1 seconds and then it’s fair game. We are always seen – God is always there.

For our human interactions, it’s exhausting to not walk in integrity. The old me – the one who didn’t know Jesus – was not an honest person. The person I lied most to and hid the most from was myself. This journey with Christ is a constant exercise in laying down my human gut reaction in order to walk in integrity as I bear Christ’s name.

What do you want to be? Do you have hopes and dreams? God has an incredible plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). To be ALL that He wants you to be, walk in integrity. Seek him desperately. If you see a crooked way, ask Jesus to walk with you – He will guide you to a much straighter and narrower path. Two verses earlier in Proverbs, we read this: “The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.” (10:7) How do you want to be remembered?

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. Proverbs 10:9

Have you read any good books on this topic? The one that stands out the most to me is Chuck Colson’s Born Again. I love that book! It is definitely worth your time if you need a good book for the coming winter nights. You can read about his life here:

Take a Flying Leap

“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”” Matthew‬ ‭14:22-33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I love this story in Matthew because it not only shows the power of Jesus, but it also shows what can happen when we have faith and when we have doubts.  I don’t know about you but there are definitely times in my life that I have faith to “walk on water” doing what Jesus has called me to and times I take my eyes off of Jesus and start to sink. Not that I have literally ever walked on water but there have been times I have taken giant leaps of faith.

Most recently I took a literal leap of faith when I traveled to Nicaragua on a mission trip and on our last day a group of us went zip-lining. This was not my first time but it was the first time I was asked if I wanted to go upside down. Hmmmm…sure why not?!?!?!!! So, the guide clipped me in, told me to kick my feet up above my head, let go with my hands and to enjoy the ride. Let’s just say my fear of falling kicked in but I was sort of excited about this new adventure as well. Even more than my fear, my faith in the guide (who I still can’t tell you his name), faith in being clipped in properly, faith in the lines holding me, and faith in the guide at the other end braking for me so I would stop at the appropriate time, yes this feat was a literal leap of faith. And I made it!

However, it’s not often in life we make these literal leaps. Our leaps are sometimes big and other times small, but anytime we take a step in faith we must keep our eyes on Jesus to continue on the path He has called us to.

What do your leaps of faith look like?

-quitting your old job to start a new one

-making the first step in reconciliation of a damaged relationship

-choosing a college

-adopting a child

-calling that friend you have lost touch with

-signing up for a short term mission trip

-starting a conversation with that person in church who you have seen sit alone for the past few weeks

-sharing the gospel with friends and family

-opening yourself up to share past or current struggles with others to help them with their same struggles

I could go on and on but for each one reading these words the list would be different. However the message found in Matthew 14 above is the same for all of us. No matter what the Lord is asking of us, big or small, the only way we will truly succeed is if our eyes stay on Him. We can trust when the Bible tells us  “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”” Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬ Also remember even when life is hard and your way seems unclear remember, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭ESV‬‬ The Lord will guide you in every step and every decision enabling you to skip from pebble to pebble, jump from stone to stone, and leap from cliff to cliff…but only when our eyes are stayed on Him.

Cheese and Crackers

The account of the loaves and fishes found in Matthew 14:13-21, has always resonated with me. Feeling I don’t have or am not enough, like the disciples obviously did when in verse 17 they said, “We have ONLY five loaves and two fishes.” (emphasis mine) Honestly, having loaves and fishes to offer would be a step up for me a lot of times. Most days look more like a cheese and crackers offering. And if you looked closely on particular days, you may have noticed the cheese has appeared to have slidden off my cracker!

I get so self-focused in whatever area of service I feel I’m lacking: deciding what to fix for dinner, blogging, loving my neighbor, bringing a collage in for my daughter’s preschool class…that I forget to focus on the verse Jesus says in verse 18, “Bring them here to me.” At times, I get so caught up in worrying about what I think God wants; experience, knowledge, money, love, time, etc. that I neglect to give Him what I actually have. He didn’t say “when you’re enough.” I’m thankful that when John gives his account of this story in chapter 6, he specifies the loaves were barley. Back in those days, barley was common among the poor. It encourages me that whatever area of service God’s asking me to step out in or give if I think I’m poor at it, I need not worry. He’ll still gladly receive it if I only muster the humility to offer it anyway.

Ten years ago God started prompting me to withdraw my two daughters from a perfectly good Christian school and homeschool them. I had no experience in education, had only taken a few college classes, and had not quite fully cooperated with the Holy Spirit the area of developing the fruit of patience. He gently prodded until I submitted to His plan. I can’t help but wonder if times like these are why He made sure that the miracle of the loaves and fishes was the one miracle that made it into all four gospels. He knew in moments when He asked us to do things so far out of our comfort zones, thoughts of not knowing or being enough, this emphasis on His ability to increase what we have if we just give it to Him, would be the encouragement that we needed.

As the years went on, my girls continued to learn, despite my lack of training. At the end of each year, I would feel we had not covered enough and didn’t go on all the field trips that would have been perfect for their age. Each year, they would do just as well on their end of the year test as they had when they were in a formal school. It’s said in verse 19 that when He had taken the offering, He blessed it while looking up to Heaven. Assuring us that if we’re courageous enough to present our meager gifts, they’ll be joined with blessing. Let’s not miss how Jesus modeled for us that we are to focus our eyes on whom we are dependent on for the multiplication. We still have responsibility after we hand over whatever He’s asked for. Maybe that’s part of the reason He asks us for things like that. So we are so completely aware of our desperation, our need for Him. There’s nothing like being fully aware you are over your head to increase your prayer life.

Last fall God showed me His desire to put those same two girls that I had ended up loving spending time with day in and day out, into a public high school. My heart was broken. For increase to take place, it also says He had to do some breaking (verse 19). Are you willing to let what you have be broken? Humility and breaking? Don’t panic just yet. Verse 14 states, “He had compassion on them.” Do we think He would limit His compassion to those so long ago? Or to only the one doing the receiving? He won’t stop at compassion either. “And they all ate and were satisfied (pleased). And they took up 12 baskets full of the broken pieces left over.”

As I went about doing what was necessary to enroll my girls in this school with actual classes and standards of measure that they weren’t used to, I again wondered, had what little I had to offer them been enough. How quickly fear steps in when our gaze shifts from the Savior to our efforts. Thankfully He loves me despite me. That was eight months ago. So, have my girls survived their major transition? While I would have been content for them to pass, He loves to give us more, to give us leftovers like He did that day so long ago. Tonight I will be watching as both of them are inducted into The National Honor Society. Praise to the God of increase! Praise that He does not ask us to offer something to leave us, or them, empty. Praise that He doesn’t waste anything. Praise that He does not leave us feeling used up when we give all we have.