Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Standing Up

When they had departed from him (for they left him very sick), his own servants conspired against him because of the blood of the son of Jehoiada the priest, and murdered him on his bed. So he died, and they buried him in the city of David, but they did not bury him in the tombs of the kings. 26 Now these are those who conspired against him: Zabad the son of Shimeath the Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the son of Shimrith the Moabitess. 2 Chron 24:25-26 (NASB) Joash was responsible for the death of the prophet who spoke against his evil deeds. But, there was not a single Judahite who stood up and was willing to avenge the death of the prophet! Instead we find the sons of two foreign women. Their fathers are not even mentioned, and we have no idea if there was even any Israelite blood running through their veins. Yet they were the ones to stand and avenge the death of the prophet of the Lord. Last night Doug showed me an article about an atheist who has stated that the only true solution for Africa is not more social reforms but the true heart change that can only be brought about by a relationship with God! I am convicted and challenged that oftentimes I am not the one standing up for my faith or for the things of God. Many times the people who really have no reason to put forward the message of my Savior are the loudest voices in His favor. Where am I? Why am I not standing up and taking action? I must be! I must take my stand and be bold for my Savior. It is my job, for I am His child.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Words of Encouragement

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Heb 3:13 (NASB) I have been greatly convicted of the need to be more "vocal" in my encouragement of others. When I know of a need, I am very quick to pray. Anyone can be assured of my prayers, that I guarantee! I find great delight in that. I love being behind the scenes, lifting people up and then seeing the answers to prayer and being able to rejoice in that. I'm not a call, write a note, sit with you kind of person. If I can shoot you a quick email, I probably will. Beyond that, though, I tend to stand back and just pray. God has been challenging me that I am not interacting with others as I should. When I pray for someone, that person needs to be told! If there is something specific that the Lord has laid on someone's heart to pray for me, and I'm seeing God work in that way, it is a huge boost to my faith to be told that someone was praying in that direction. I must do that for other people! I must verbalize the encouragement. That means stepping out of my comfort zone in a huge way to make phone calls and write notes at the very least. Sometimes it means going to someone. I am challenged to put social interaction behind my prayers.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Go to Him First

I don't have a specific verse this morning. Just read the second half of 2 Chronicles, and I think you can probably discern where a lot of my conviction and challenge is coming from right now. When faced with a challenge, I'm seeing the difference between seeking God first and acting or choosing other sources of wisdom first. God always works when we seek Him, no matter when it is, but His intervention is so much more amazing and powerful if we just seek Him first. And, when we go to Him before making any other decision, there is no rebuke. I am, at this moment, in a situation where I need to trust Him in this way. Are there ways I can try to solve this problem on my own? Yes, but once I've solved the immediate problem, there is still the long-term issue that has to be dealt with - an issue only He can ultimately solve. I must admit that I've gone over the "we can do this or this" solutions, but there is still a great deal of anxiety with those. Ultimately, my challenge is to realize that with the problem in His hands, I have so much more peace! So, I am challenged to make sure that I don't delve into human solutions first, but instead seek God and His wisdom and direction first. When I do that, it's up to Him to choose whether He allows it to be handled in a totally miraculous way or in a perfectly practical manner.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

He Will Strengthen Me

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. 2 Chron 16:9a (NASB) These words were spoken to Asa, king of Judah, after he chose to rely on the king of Aram for support instead of God. I've probably used this verse before, either on this blog or the thoughts blog, but it struck me again today, and I can't ignore it. There's more to the verse... You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars. 2 Chron 16:9b The Lord longs to strengthen us, but we look so many other places for our strength and support. I can't imagine why! Just as the Lord had strengthened Asa to conquer armies that should have massively overwhelmed his own, so the Lord could have strengthened him to conquer his most recent threat - the king of Israel. In the same way, I often rely on the Lord through one thing, but then falter in the next. The result is that I see great victory when I rely on Him, but failure in the smallest issue that I try to solve myself or with the world's help. I am challenged to make sure that I do not falter. I must keep my heart completely His, for He is just waiting to strengthen me. What a treasure!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Friend of God vs Slave of this World

"But they will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries." 2 Chron 12:8 (NASB) "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 15:15 (NASB) The first verse is found in one of the many stories of the rebellious kings of Judah. In this particular story, Rehoboam had decided to forsake the Lord and lead the people of Judah in that direction, so the Lord sent Shishak of Egypt to conquer Judah. Then Rehoboam and the people acknowledged the Lord, so He determined to not destroy them completely. He did, however, allow the people of Judah to become of the slaves of Shishak. That is a very brief overview of the politics of Judah at the time, but it's very interesting when compared to John 15:15. The truth of the matter is that God does not want us to be enslaved to anyone or anything in this world. There is a reason we are instructed to not worry, not covet, and to love instead of hate. Worrying, coveting, and hating, among many other things, enslave us to the prince of this world and the things of this world. How many times does our Father look down and long to see us in His service where He calls us His friends and reveals to us His very own thoughts? How many times does He instead allow us to see what it's like to be in bondage to our worry and stress? I will be honest - I am not going to abandon following the Lord like the Judahites did. I am convinced, as I have been for the last 25+ years, that there is nothing for me apart from my Lord. But, even so, I see the battle - as Paul did - between the Spirit within me and my flesh. I do succumb to worry, stress, anger, frustration, envy, and so much more. I am challenged, in light of this, to acknowledge quickly when those things begin to come over me and to actively fight them. I do not want to be in their service. I want to be in the service of my King, the One who does not call me His slave, but rather calls me friend.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Listen, O my people, to my instruction; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. Psalms 78:1 (NASB) This morning the thought occurred to me that I truly do desire to seek the Lord's wisdom and direction. I ask Him daily to speak to me. But, I wonder, how often to I walk away without truly listening? Am I like my daughter who asks a question only to ignore the answer? I am challenged today to make sure I listen to His voice, whether it be an unsolicited word or an answer to my question. I must stop and truly listen!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Several Thoughts

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 1 Cor 2:11-13 (NASB) (I selected these primary verses in 1 Cor 2, but I would recommend reading the whole chapter - if not more!) I have been incredibly struck this morning by three separate but interrelating thoughts. The first one is a phrase that tends to get kicked around every year around this time...Jesus is the Reason for the Season. Nice, catchy little phrase, but very limiting. Jesus isn't just the Reason for Christmas - Jesus is the Reason, period. He is - or at least He should be - my reason for absolutely everything I do (see 1 Cor 10:31). As I was mulling over that thought, I began to read 2 Cor 2. I was really focusing around verse 14 for my devotional reading, but I got caught up in the whole chapter. The significance of having the Spirit of God dwelling within me - the Spirit which knows the very thoughts of God and reveals them to me! - is overwhelming. If I flounder along in my thoughts and actions, it's because I am not surrendering to that Spirit which is within me. I have no excuse for following the ways of this world, other than that I squelch the Spirit. May it never be! May I be disciplined to do everything according to that Spirit within me. Then I read a blog post by a former pastor's wife this morning. I challenge you to click on the link and read it as well. I am challenged to not be a "typical" Christian. I don't answer to my denomination, my church, or anyone's concept of what a Christian should be. I answer to God - to His directions outlined through Scripture. I am challenged to be the Christian He has instructed me to be. Essentially, my challenge today is hard to define, so read the Scripture and the blog post and discern for yourself what the challenge might be. Think how our lives could be revolutionized to truly live the way Christians are intended to live!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The FULL Armor

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Eph 6:13-17 (NASB) I have realized that some days I go to put on my armor, but I don't get the full armor put on. I might forget to pick up that shield some days. Other days I might leave my sword behind. Scripture includes the word "full" for a reason - we do have a temptation to do it halfway sometimes. I am challenged to make sure I have every piece of my armor put on properly as I face the day. That is the only way I will be able to stand firm and be fully equipped to face what this fallen world will throw my way.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Move Over

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10 (NASB) "If we will but let our God and Father work his will with us, there can be no limit to his enlargement of our existence, to the flood of life with which he will overflow our consciousness. We have no conecption of what life might be, of how vast the consciousness of which we could be made capable." George MacDonald There is a depth of existence, the surface of which I occasionally scratch. I read through Scripture and biographies of people who were passionately in love with our Lord, and I see an abundance of life that stretches through every experience and emotion. That's what I long for. But, I know there is a great deal of "me" that has to get out of the way first. In order to receive the abundant life that Jesus talks about, I must forego my life. I am so greatly challenged this morning to get out of the way. Over the past few days my family has not seen Christ - they have seen me, and I have not been pretty. That's not abundant life, for myself or for those I love. I must get out of the way, permanently.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sweeter than Honey

The law of the LORD is perfect , restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.

Psalms 19:7-11 (NASB)

The Word of the Lord has everything I need. I am reminded and challenged to hide it in my heart, to utilize it for daily life, and to allow it to be my connection to my amazing Father. He gave it to me that I may know Him intimately, and it is not just a bunch of words. It is Life. Sometimes I just have to be reminded of that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Word

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalms 119:105 (NASB) When I was in college I took a class called Biblical Interpretation. I can remember the assignments. "Take this passage/verse and write 20 facts about it." It didn't matter what the facts were. They didn't have to be spiritual depth facts - just information. Anything that made us truly look at the passage. We brought the homework back to the next class session only to be told to take it and do it all again, not repeating any facts. On the one hand, I remember it being a pretty difficult challenge that, at times, I'd rather not have to attempt. On the other hand, though, the challenge opened my eyes to things in those verses and passages that I had never noticed before. It was a revolution in reading the Word. This morning I was complaining a bit to the Lord. I have been tired and unmotivated to get up in the mornings, which has put a little strain on my times with my Savior - primarily because my choices have left me to spend that time with Him while surrounded by loud, demanding children! I realized, deep in, that I have temporarily lost my passion to be with my Lord. I am not truly relishing starting the day in total focus and intimacy with Him that will carry on through the busyness of the day. So, what reason is there for removing myself from the warmth and coziness of my bed? That is a lengthier background than usual for the challenge, but it was necessary to explain how the Lord replied to my complaints this morning. He reminded me that I was lazy. Not necessarily in the "I won't do any work" sense of the word, but in the "I won't truly take the time to dig deep into anything" sense. If the Word of God is to truly be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path - if I am truly to know the passion and drive to get up in the mornings just to dig into that Word because I truly hunger for it - then I must dredge up a few of those Bib. Interp. principles and truly dig into the Word of God. That means I've got to get up on time. Yep, I'm challenged today to truly get back into the Word. Even if it means limiting my reading to one verse so I actually have time to concentrate before the events of the day must begin, then so be it. Laziness must be put aside. A passion must be renewed. Lord, help me fall in love with You again such that Your Word and time with You are the things that make me want to jump out of bed every morning!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near . Phil 4:4-5 (NASB) It seems that I regularly need to be reminded to rejoice. I'll be doing well, and then I'll start to slack off. Then I'll have a rotten day - like yesterday. Many things seemed to go wrong from the get-go. I got up late, struggled with a "quiet" time because of the chaos of not being able to have that time alone with the Lord before the kids were up, didn't get as much done in the morning as I'd hoped, had a rough time in school with Olivia and her math, and then messed up an ornament we'd spent a good deal of time making. Stress piled up and I was frustrated. I did not rejoice yesterday. As I got up this morning (a little earlier, thankfully!), I was asking the Lord to show me how to make today better than yesterday. He reminded me that it's greatly in my attitude. Junk will show up throughout the course of a day, but how I face it determines how smoothly the junk is turned into blessing. So, today I'm reminded to accept the challenge to rejoice always. Oh, and the gentle spirit thing? Yeah, well, that wasn't very evident yesterday either - working on that one, too!

Monday, December 8, 2008


'I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance , and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary. 4 'But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Rev 2:2-4 (NASB) Whether we want to admit it or not, the outward expression of our Christianity is heavily influenced by our culture. Those of you who have traveled at all have probably seen this as you've observed the worship and daily expression of the faith of other cultures. American Christianity is greatly a works-based Christianity. We love the book of James and the idea of showing our faith through our works. Unfortunately, in making sure our works and actions reflect our faith, we often get caught up in the works rather than in the motivation from which the works should naturally flow. This passage in Revelation jumped out at me over the weekend, and as I have mulled over it I'm reminded of many other passages, such as 1 Corinthians 13 and John 14:15 where we are explicitly reminded that the motivation for all we do must be love. I am a task-oriented person. I am also a "do-right" person. I frequently want to do the right thing simply because the right thing is what I'm supposed to do. It appeals to my sense of morality, something that I've had for as long as I can remember. If I think anyone would think of something as wrong, I don't want to do it - even if it's an okay thing in my own mind. I am challenged to maintain my right choices, but to reevaluate my motivation. Am I acting simply out of that sense of morality and duty, or am I acting out of a passionate love for my Savior that manifests itself in my daily behavior? If I'm truly doing it out of love, then it won't even seem like work - it will be an outpouring of my love for my amazing Master. It will be an attempt to show the world, in a miniscule way, how much I love my Lord.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Words of the Wise

Then Pharaoh said to his servants, "Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?" Gen 41:38 (NASB) Pharaoh and his advisors were in the dark. They were baffled by the wisdom and discernment of Joseph because their gods never truly provided that wisdom or discernment. In Joseph they saw a man who truly did have the attention of some divine being. They didn't understand God or his love for His children, but they knew Joseph was different. Many in our society today stand in high positions of power and authority and must uphold an image of wisdom and discernment. But the truth is that they are in the dark. They do not received wisdom from any of their gods. When they see people in whom there is true wisdom, they are amazed. Unfortunately, as Christians we spend more time complaining about the world's immoral behavior than we do living lives that show the wisdom and discernment that come only from our amazing God. I am challenged to be sensitive to the voice of the Lord. I am challenged to stand in this world as the light that Christ commanded me to be. There is a "divine spirit" in me - the Holy Spirit, God Himself - and the world needs His wisdom. I am a vessel through which that wisdom can flow. God's Truth will be proclaimed in this world, of that I am certain. My obedience or lack thereof, in the long run, is not going to stop His message. But, the truth of the matter is that I can refuse to be a vessel through which that message flows. I desire to be like Joseph. No, I don't want to be second in command of a powerful nation. What I do want is for people to see that I am connected to Someone who can truly answer their questions - not that I can do it, but that there is One who is in me who CAN do it. That is my challenge.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Isaiah 40:29 (NASB) I woke up this morning feeling less than well. I have the typical sinus pressure and gunk of this time of year, and I would rather be in bed right now. I don't want to face this day. I don't want to deal with responsibilities. Typically when I feel this way, I am not a very fun person to be around. I barely have what I need to deal with the basic aspects of functionality, and I don't need anything or anyone to add to my distress. That's a pretty selfish way to spend this day! God promises strength to the weary. If I don't feel well and don't have much in me, then maybe I need to back off of relying on what I have and step up in relying on what He has to give. He has promised to give me strength. He has promised to supply all my needs. He has promised to be everything I need. All I have to do is receive. I have to determine that I will not be selfish and holed up in my little pity party. I will accept the strength and provision He is offering. My challenge today is to put aside my own idea of how my day is going to be because of my physical condition and instead accept God's offer of strength and sustenance.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. Heb 11:16 (NASB) As a very visual person, I often cling to what I can see. The unknown is a bit terrifying to me, and often through my life that has included the unknown of spiritual things, including an eternity in the presence of Almighty God. But, the more I grow, the more I see that as long as all of my desires lie in what is here on this earth, no matter how noble, I will continue to be stunted in my growth. My desires must lie in longing for the things of God, both what He presents for my growth in this life and what He is preparing for me in eternity. The people represented in the chapter of faith had figured out that concept. They knew that they must long for something more than what they could see here in this life. As a result, God was not ashamed to be their God and to call them His people. I long for the same thing to be said of me. I am challenged to desire a better country, a heavenly one, and all that is related to it. I am challenged to no longer crave things of this life - I desire to only utilize the things of this world inasmuch as they draw me closer to the better country for which I am destined. I also want to share a quote. I have read Oswald Chambers off and on for years, and even though I don't always agree with his perspectives and ideas, I am also frequently struck by the power of some of his words. This quote greatly stood out to me today... "I am called to live in perfect relation to God so that my life produces a longing after God in other lives, not admiration for myself." (My Utmost for His Highest, Dec 2) This is my truest longing.

Monday, December 1, 2008

God First

"You shall have no other gods before Me. Ex 20:3 (NASB) Over the past week I have known God's presence in a beautiful way. He has been in everything, and He has shown Himself in every way. It has been a joy to be in His presence. But, I have to confess that I have not worked to make sure He was first. Holidays mean snuggling in bed until the kids wake up and then having them join us for some fun, sweet snuggles. Holidays mean a divergence from the normal schedule and routines of life. Holidays mean less discipline. So, frequently, holidays mean that I let my focus be distracted. I have noticed a greater agitation in myself as I've gone through my days. I've noticed that even though I have seen and experienced Him in so many ways, I have not necessarily been able to draw as easily on His strength and peace. I have let other things have a higher place in the use of my time, my thoughts, and my energies. So, I'm challenged today as we start December. I'm challenged to make my "days off" be days off from the alarm, from the normal routine off the day, but not from making sure I have no other gods before Him. I am challenged to have no other gods, period. I am challenged to make sure He's not just first - I must make sure He's everything.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Gal 6:14 (NASB) God is doing so much in me, and I want the world to know! I want everyone to see how incredible it can be to dive into the depths of obedience to my Savior - and then to know there are still infinite depths to explore. But, there is a danger. There is a danger of boasting in my own achievements. There is a danger of condemning those who are not recklessly abandoning. There is a danger of becoming proud. Then all will be lost. There will be nothing similar to my Jesus in that attitude. Sin is constantly tapping at my door. Satan doesn't want me to be victorious. How better to defeat me than to make me prideful in myself instead of in Christ? I am challenged to remain humble while not being afraid to take a stand and say, "This is what our amazing Lord and Savior intends for us!" It's not Ann - it's all God. That's my goal.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Late again...

I know I'm very late this morning. I have to be honest - I have nothing new. But, the truth is that none of this is new. It is just a sense of growing in what God has told us in His Word. Today my challenge is prayer again. I have been both physically on my knees during my focused time with my Savior this morning, and I have been spiritually on my knees as I've gone through the day. Even while talking to one of my dearest and most intimate friends this morning, my heart was constantly before the throne of God as He impressed on my heart words of encouragement to share with her. I have a one-track mind, and sometimes it's hard for me to multi-task. But, I am convinced that I have to learn to multi-task better in one area - praying at all times, in all things, without ceasing, and no matter what else is going on. I see so many times when His voice comes through in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this activity or that conversation. If I can't hear Him, I miss that chance to share a word of encouragement or guidance, or I miss that instruction as to how to go about a certain activity. He's always speaking and working, and again and again I am challenged to make sure that my heart and mind are tuned to hear His voice and see His hand that I may be in line with His work right here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal 5:22-23 (NASB) I am challenged today to make sure I make no excuses when I am to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, which is always! If there is something against which there is no law, then that means it is something I am to observe at all times. That means it is something against which I have absolutely no excuses. There is not a person or a circumstance in existence that can tell me I cannot exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. I must allow the Spirit to flow through me at all times, bearing fruit always.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No More Sin!

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace Eph 1:7 (NASB) I am challenged today to truly consider my choices. For the past two days, among other things, I've lost my temper with my children - I have taken for granted the forgiveness that is offered to me, and allowed myself to proceed with sinful behavior with the full knowledge of forgiveness. If I stop and truly think about my day-to-day choices and behavior, whether conscious or unconscious, I will realize that much that I do takes advantage of the forgiveness of Christ without taking into consideration the cost. His amazing love - the love that drove Him to suffer the physical agony of not only crucifixion but the unimaginable pressure of the sins of the history of the world - should compel me to do all within my power to make choices based on a deep desire to be like Him. A passion to be blameless and pure, not simply because of His blood covering me, but because of my desire to offer my life a living sacrifice.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No People Pleasing!

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Tim 2:15 (NASB) This verse stood out for me months ago when I created a prayer calendar for my own use. It's kind of funny how God will have a verse or passage of Scripture apply to our lives one way at one point and then in a totally different way later. When I first saw it, my heart was receiving the instruction to be well-equipped in the handling of the Word of God. Today I had just been praying over my tendency to be a people-pleaser. I'm doing a lot better, but still many of my decisions are based on what people will think rather than on what God will think. This verse put a different spin on it. It's more than just needing to please God rather than people - it's the fact that if I God approves of me, there is no reason to be ashamed before anyone else! Many times I go ahead and do things God's way, but I feel like I have to justify my actions before people. That's completely untrue! If I am doing things God's way, then I have no reason to justify myself or be ashamed. Period. That is my challenge today - to not be ashamed of anything as long as I am being obedient to my God.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I have been less attentive lately to praying through the day in an intercessory manner. We know Scripture is full of the call to pray continually and intercede on the behalf of our family. Today I am challenged to return to a sensitivity to the things the Holy Spirit is desiring to lay on my heart. I have been there before, but I have been lax. I am challenged to discipline myself to remain focused in this area regardless of other challenges and areas of growth.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Everything for Him

As I was getting dressed this morning, it occurred to me that I was thinking the wrong way. I'm realizing that the things that "occur to me" are much more frequently the Holy Spirit speaking than just my thoughts rambling through my head. So, this morning I was thinking about getting dressed, having my time with my Lord, and then going through my schedule. That's where the thought stopped me. It's not my schedule. We often hear that we are to put Christ first in our lives. If that were the case, then having a "quiet time" in the mornings would be sufficient. It would gird us up for the day and then we could take care of our stuff. But I'm realizing that thinking that way is dividing my allegiance. I'm serving Christ and my schedule. I have another god. Ouch! It's all about Christ. Nothing else. If the schedule set before me is done as unto Him and with His approval, then great. If not, then I need to figure out why I'm doing things. So, my challenge today is to do it all for His glory. Period. For some things, that's easy. For other things, I'm not so sure. For instance, am I choosing my clothes and putting on my makeup to honor Him or to satisfy my vanity? Who am I pleasing? That's just one example, but throughout the day I will be faced, I'm sure, with the question "why am I doing this?" If it's not something that will honor Him, then why am I doing it?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Resuming Monday

Our schedule has been different the past couple of days. I'll get back to posting challenges on Monday. Thanks!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! 2 I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.Psalms 146:1-2 (NASB) I am challenged today to make sure I go through my day in praise to my King. I don't actively praise Him on a regular basis. I thank Him and praise Him when I actually see His hand or when I am challenged and must come before Him. But, I don't just praise Him regularly. I am challenged to change that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


(I typed this up at 6:45 this morning, but we had no internet connection! So, here it is, finally...) 16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Cor 5:16-17 (NASB) When I was a teenager I read the book In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. That book terrified me and still haunts me to this day. The characters in the book felt the challenge to totally change their perspective on life, and the very core of their existence was changed. But, according to Scripture, that’s what we’re all expected to do. The Scriptural terminology is whether or not we live “according to the flesh.” If we put that in modern terms, it has to do with our worldview – secular or Christ-centered. My challenge today is to analyze my worldview. How many things do I still view from a worldly perspective? Do I truly see life, Christ, and people around me through the eyes of my Lord and Savior, or do I see them the way the world sees them? I know there are many areas over the past few years where God has greatly changed my way of looking at things, but I’m sure there are many, many more areas that need to be changed. So far I’ve done my changing pretty gradually, but Scripture indicates it should have been done the moment I received Christ! I accepted Him as a seven-year-old, but I still grew up with a very worldly concept of life in general. How greatly is my life going to change this week because of this challenge? That’s still a rather daunting thought, but God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and discipline (2 Tim 1:7). So, here I go…

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No Procrastination

I'm late on today's post. For any of you who read it, I apologize. This morning my challenge didn't come from reading or remembering a Scripture, so I have none to give you. I think the principle is in many stories and challenges in Scripture. It primarily came from my devotional reading, a thought regarding the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. But, it definitely fit into the scheme of what God was leading us into today! The challenge is this - to not procrastinate. Seems simple enough, doesn't it? But, is it really? I procrastinate in chores I don't like, and I'm seeking to do better about that. But, this is on a different level. Many times when God lays something on my heart to do, my first response is to plan it out. I have to think through it and create a course of action. Several times in Scripture, we read of God telling one of His children to do something, and they just set out to do it. He took care of the planning - they just had to obey. I can think right now of several times when God has laid something on my heart, and through the course of planning I began to feel foolish about it and either followed through with a greatly watered down action or no action at all. Doug and I have been praying about my daily schedule. It's not working. Today he suggested an idea that has come from much prayer on his part, and I really think it's going to work! Typically, though, I would have spent the day putting all else aside while I planned and outlined it. God had already convicted me of the need to get to work! So, while I still need reminders and a schedule, I was ready to get to work and jot down notes as I went through the day rather than try to sit down and figure it all out (and then have the reality fall apart because it wasn't practical). Pray for me as I undergo this challenge. It really goes against all I've ever done! But, it's what I must do to truly turn my days over to Him.

Follow-up from yesterday

As I was praying through and trying to live out the practical application of yesterday's challenge, I was challenged even further to take it beyond possessions and finances to the family I call my own. In truth, they are not mine. I am so blessed to be a part of this family and to say they are mine - and God grants me that privilege. But they are all His. In May many mourned with Steven Curtis Chapman and his family as they grieved the loss of their five-year-old daughter Maria. Through the summer here in Monticello an extended church family lost their beloved wife and mother. Several car accidents took the lives of several young people in the community. One month ago today a college friend lost his wife unexpectedly to a sudden illness. At any time, some circumstance, some illness, some incident could separate the members of my family here on earth. I think, though, that the story that challenged me the most was one Doug reminded us of in church Sunday night. It's the story of a Christian woman in Jordan who, upon the death of her husband was taken to court by her husband's Muslim brother. The brother challenged in court that the woman was unfit to raise her two sons because of her faith. He won, and she lost her sons in the wake of losing her husband. I remember another story - and since I don't recall the details, I'll just briefly summarize - of a couple who lost their only son. They thought him dead, but in truth he had been adopted and raised by an enemy, a man who sought to destroy their Christian heritage. Instead, through the witness of this young boy, this man and his family became Christians and the young boy became a powerful evangelist. The expansion of my challenge was to evaluate how I raise my family. Am I concerned with how they act each day - how they do their chores, how they do schoolwork, how they behave toward one another - or am I concerned with ensuring they surrender to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ? If they surrender to Him, the other things will fall into place. But, if I were to lose my husband or one of my children tomorrow to death, to a challenge of my parenthood, or because of my own departure from this earth, would the result be a powerful work of the hand of God in the midst of grief, or simply a story of tragedy? Would my children allow God to work through them to change a hardened heart? That is how I must raise my children. That is the full extent of yesterday's challenge. Lord, please help me do this in Your strength and according to Your direction! There is no other way.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It all Belongs to Him

1 The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.

Psalms 24:1 (NASB)

This has been a challenge to me for a while, but I was reminded of it today - I think I'd become lax in that way of thinking. Everything is His. Everything. I must be reminded of this especially on the level of the things I tend to call my own - "my" home and all that's in it; "my" family; "my" car. This can also be taken to a more figurative level with time, energy, etc., but that's not where today is going...that one is in the back of my mind, but the other is in my face today.

Everything in this house is His - it's not stuff He's given to us to use according to His glory. That gives us possession. No, it's kind of like they way we tend to think of the things that the girls use in this house even though we paid for them - God provided everything we use, and it's still His. We are still to use it for His glory, but it's still all His. "My" finances fall under the same category. It's not that I look at God and say, "Thanks for the paycheck - I'll give you my tithe and then meet all of my financial obligations and then do whatever You want with what's left." It's not even, "Lord, after I pay all of my outstanding debts, I will be free to let You do what You want with my income." I always thought that as long as I paid my tithe, that was the way it should be. I'm convicted otherwise. It's all His in the first place. "Lord, I give it all to You. You know what financial obligations I have incurred - You know that some of them, like paying for shelter, warmth, and food are what I need for the survival of this family You've blessed me with. You know that others are debts to other people based on my lack of trust in You or my own selfishness. For those I ask Your forgiveness and I seek Your help in being faithful to pay those debts and be free from that bondage. I commit it all to You. Please do with it all as You please. Show me how You want me to operate the finances You've allowed us to use and the material possessions You've placed in our path. May I honor and glorify You in the use of all that is Yours."

I pray that you will join me in restoring our hearts to the place of claiming nothing for ourselves but using every possession and penny according to His will and direction. Besides, it's all His anyway!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Keep it Up

How did you do last week? I know I have a long way to go. I feel challenged today to just review. To take a deep breath and evaluate where I am. I want so much to be invisible - to let Christ be the One who is seen in my life. Ann is too obvious right now. I think that's what these challenges are all about. So, will you review with me? I am hoping that something has changed in me this week.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Willing to Truly Learn

Sorry I'm late today... 1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 1 Cor 3:1-3 (NASB) Bible-believing churches, especially in the US, are acting like babies who refuse to do anything but nurse. It is an epidemic throughout our churches, but it starts with individuals. If I refuse to consume the depths of God's Word and His teaching to me, then I hinder the body as a whole. I must be willing to accept not just the teachings that I like and that make me grow at my own speed, but the truths that make me mad or cut me deeply. I must be challenged to not just taste but eat what I've never tried before.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 (NASB) 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,Eph 6:18 (NASB) 16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess 5:16-18 (NASB)

To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess 1:11-12 (NASB)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near . 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension , will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:4-7 (NASB) I realized today that I've been struggling a great deal with prayer over the last few days. I just put a few verses here about prayer, but prayer is scattered abundantly throughout Scripture. I have to pray! My communication with my Lord is at the foundation of my relationship with Him. I can't be intimate with someone without communicating with them. Prayer is not a choice - it is a necessity. I am challenged to not just say words that pass for a semblance of a prayer, but to have a restored heart of prayer. To truly be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leadership that I may know how to lift up those around me in prayer. Not just now and then, as I have been doing, but a constant, continual state of prayer.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Get Rid of It!

8 "If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. 9 "If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. Matt 18:8-9 (NASB) 1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:1-2 (NASB) Last night I had to take some things away from the girls - things that were keeping them from being obedient and respectful to the family. I explained to them the verses from Matthew and encouraged them to see that when things distract us from obedience, we need to put them aside. Nothing is worth keeping if it keeps us from growing and obeying. Of course, the whole time I was teaching and working with them, the Lord was working on me, too. His challenge to me today is to evaluate anything that distracts me from Him and determine what I can do to lay aside those encumbrances that I may run with endurance.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Friend or Enemy?

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself and enemy of God. Js 4:4 These are pretty harsh words to start the day, but they really stood out to me today. We as Christians look just like the world. Don't believe me? Check out our divorce rate, our debt, our possessions, what we spend our time doing, how often we suffer from stress-related diseases, how we raise and teach our children, what fascinates us. What we see among Christians matches what we see in the world. I have been feeling challenged for a while to be different - to LOOK different. Today God reminded me of that challenge very, very strongly. He reminded me that I have to be different, I have to stand out. I am praying He will show me what ways I need to specifically do that today. I'm asking Him to reveal things in me through the course of this day and days to come that look more like the world than like Christ, and I'm asking Him to show me specifically how I need to change those things.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Focused Mind

8 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. 9 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. Phil 4:8-9 (NASB) The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 (NASB) 16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit; 1 Thess 5:16-19 (NASB) I woke up this morning with the struggle for my mind already begun. Focus during my time with the Lord was difficult, as was my prayer time. Today I am challenged to actively refocus continually throughout the day, disciplining my mind to stay focused on the things of my Lord. I am challenged to not let my mind wander to unnecessary things, and to make sure that even the mundane shows a focus on the things of the Spirit.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He wok walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. Ps 15:1-2 Today I am challenged with truthfulness. I don't like to confess this, but I have followed the ways of the world in the area of truthfulness, not the ways of my God. I have allowed the world to determine what is the whole truth, and frequently that means being slightly less than truthful, twisting words to make myself look better, or speaking those "little white lies" that the world says are harmless. Today I am challenged to change my perspective of truth until I stand pure and truthful in God's eyes, not the world's.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Seeking Him

My goal will be to typically get this challenge up first thing in the morning - well, as soon as I finish my morning time with the Lord. As today was Saturday and our schedule is much more relaxed, I'm just now getting to posting. Thanks for your patience. The Lord had given Israel the Law. Moses was in the process of giving to the people the words of their God. He had just told them that the time would come when they would fall away from the Lord their God and be scattered, taken away by the pagan nations around them. Then he gave them a hope, a promise of what would happen after they'd been taken away into captivity... 29 "But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. Deut 4:29 (NASB) I am challenged today to hold nothing back. I am challenged to seek Him with everything I am, asking Him to reveal the areas where I am seeking the things of this world instead. Where it is hard, where it is easy, where it is mundane, I will seek Him. I know this is not a one-day challenge but a life challenge. Lord, I long to seek You! 9 "As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind ; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. 1 Chron 28:9 (NASB)

Friday, October 31, 2008

What I've told you to do...

There are several things the Lord has already laid on my heart to do. It's not so much that I've just flat out said, "Nope, not gonna do it!" It's more that I've not been disciplined to follow through. When I asked for a challenge this morning, the Lord's answer was to practice following through with the things He has already put before me. Imagine that! 27 A lazy man does not roast his prey, But the precious possession of a man is diligence.Prov 12:27 (NASB) 11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. Prov 20:11 (KJV)

17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

Psalms 90:17 (NASB)
Whatever you do, do your work heartily , as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Col 3:23-24 (NASB)
Challenge for Today...I must use my daily time with diligence. I must spend my day working for His honor and glory, not choosing selfishly how to spend my day. My time is all His, and I must be willing to spend every minute of it according to His will and not my own, doing His work and not my own.


As I said in the description, this is a public expression of the challenges God presents to me each day. I have a tendency to grow in secret. I accept a challenge from the Lord and then try to do it all without sharing it with anyone else. If I succeed, the world sees the results. If I fail, no one has to know. Often, though, when I see growth someone else has made, I want to know how they got there. I want to know the process. What challenges did they work through to get there? What Scripture did they use to back up the choices they made? How were they tempted to fall away from the commitment? What struggles did they have along the way? If all we ever see is the result of the growth and not the process, we don't necessarily know how to even begin the process on our own to see our own growth. So, this will be part of the process of my growth. Please comment. Please share. If you've already come through some of these areas, please share your process. If you're going through it with me, share with us how you're doing. If you've never even thought of these challenges before, share with us what thoughts are being stirred up within you. I'm hoping that this will become not just my challenges, but a group of us growing and learning together. Thanks for being a part!