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)