Thursday, December 31, 2009

His Plan

But He answered them, "You give them something to eat!" And they said to Him, "Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?" Mark 6:37 (NASB)

Something occurred to me as I read this passage for the umpteenth time. Jesus did not expect the disciples to come up with the solution. He wanted them to come to Him.

Back up in Mark 6:31, He was leading his disciples to a secluded place so they could rest, get something to eat, and be recharged to start back up again. But, the people found out where they were going and beat them there. So, there was no chance to recharge. The disciples needed to learn something that I also desperately need to learn – He wanted them to learn to come to Him in the midst of exhaustion. He wanted them to seek His guidance when they were tired, frustrated, and totally out of options. He didn't want them to dig deep in their bag of ideas or even their piggy banks – He wanted them to realize that He already had a plan.

When challenges face me in times of exhaustion, I so frequently come to the Lord out of grudging desperation saying, “Lord, this is the only plan I've got, and it seems a bit ridiculous, but if that's what You want me to do then I guess I don't have a choice.” I don't come to Him with openness, ready for Him to strengthen and take care of the solution as well. I come to Him in defensive griping. There is no rest in that. There is no restoration. There is only more work.

He has a plan, and it is good. He has energy to give to accomplish the plan. And, He has every provision to accomplish all He wants to accomplish. I am challenged to make sure that I come to Him truly seeking the plan that He has – no defensiveness, no preconceived ideas. Just a hunger to do it His way.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Response

A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.Acts 16:10-11

And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. Acts 16:13

As I read this passage again this morning, I had to wonder how I would have reacted if I were Paul. I would probably have stopped and analyzed. Macedonia wasn't a city – it was a region. How could I just go to Macedonia? Wouldn't I need more information?

I can just hear myself, “ Okay, Lord, exactly where in Macedonia would you want me to go?”

While I was waiting around to hear the city name, I would study the culture, the language, and the plan of action for ministering to the Macedonians. I would try to find contacts in the area to help me out.

Paul and his companions set out immediately. They didn't waste a bit of time. They jumped right in with both feet, not even exactly knowing where they would begin to teach (see verse 13)! They just went.

Now, please don't get me wrong. Mission agencies all over do a great job of preparing missionaries for their work, and the planning and preparation phases are helpful and good. I'm not criticizing that.

I am, as is the purpose of this blog, challenging myself. I am challenging myself to act immediately. I don't do that a lot. I think, process, study, and frequently talk myself down or out of things.

I am challenged to choose to act, and to act immediately, when given direction. And somehow I have a feeling I'll be given more clear and frequent direction the more I'm willing to act on what has been given me already.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.  Acts 16:3 (NASB)

Something struck me this morning as I read about Paul meeting Timothy.  Paul, in most other circumstances, was pretty adamant about circumcision being unnecessary for salvation and ministry.  He wanted to fight against the insistence that anyone had to covert to Judaism in order to become a Christian.  Yet here he made sure that Timothy was circumcised before taking this young man with him to pursue ministry. 

Paul knew that Timothy, as a young man, needed all the credibility he could get.  He knew that he, himself, needed credibility in bring Timothy along. 

And so he convinced Timothy of the need to be circumcised.

Are there times when I'm willing to set aside some of my preferences for the sake of service to God?  Even those preferences that I cling to the most?  I claim that my desire is to do all things to the glory of God.  How far am I willing to go?

The Holy Spirit will never lead me contradictory to the Word of God.  Never.  But, sometimes, He will lead me contrary to my personal preferences.  Paul insisted that circumcision was not necessary for salvation, and he was right.  As such, he argued, why force circumcision on Gentile believers?  But, circumcision was also not a hindrance to salvation, and in this situation it was felt that circumcision might actually bring more people into the kingdom.  So, to Paul - and apparently to Timothy as well - it was worth it. 

It's one thing to stick to my guns, hold to my convictions, and be solid in my doctrine.  It's another thing entirely to hold my preferences as equivalent to Scriptural doctrine and Bible-based convictions.  I am challenged to be willing to set aside my preferences when the need arises.  And I'm praying for the wisdom to discern when to stick to them and when to put them aside. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

For His Glory Alone

As I have mentioned it many times before, my family thrives on routine and struggles when out of it.  So, after two months of being out of routine, we are ready to get back to it. 

This week is our week of working back to that point. There are a few things we need to take care of to get back into a routine, things like a bit of catch-up in school, some home organization, some re-evaluation of our family schedule, etc. 

As I made my list and pondered the week, the Lord laid something on my heart.  It really came from reading Ephesians 6:7, but 1 Corinthians 10:31 comes to mind as well.

Why am I really getting us back into routine?

I need to make sure that my reasoning for getting things back in order is for the glory of God.  If it's not, then I will struggle to maintain it.  If it's just for the sake of keeping my house in order, then when I am tired it won't be worth it.  When the kids are cranky it won't be worth it.  When other things creep in and look more alluring, it won't be worth it. 

It is my joy and delight to see my home and family run smoothly.  But, that delight is not completely fulfilled until I managed this household for God's glory and in service to Him.  So, as I get things back in order this week, I am challenged to keep my focused right there - doing all things as service to Him and for His glory. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.  Acts 15:41 (NASB)

So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.
They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."Acts 16:5-9 (NASB)

According to Acts 15:36, Paul's original intention was definitely to go and check on all the church's and strengthen them.  But, he also longed to share the gospel to many more who had not yet believed.  Twice, however, he was redirected in his attempts to preach the gospel until he was finally led to Macedonia.

I like to have direction and vision.  I like to have a plan.  And, oftentimes, God uses that sense of vision and plan to get me pointed in the right direction.  But, I frequently get going on my plan and then think I can just keep going on the plan.  It's not necessarily that I consciously think I don't need the Lord's hand on it anymore.  I just know the plan.  So, I'm okay, right?

Paul had to rely each step of the way to know exactly where God did and did not want him preaching.  He had to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in all things.

It's okay to have a plan, but it is so necessary for me to be sensitive to God's redirecting at any time.  I need to be more reliant on His voice for my next step than on my plan.  That might mean I can't be in my comfort zone of having it all laid out ahead of time, but it will also mean that it's not nearly as difficult for God to direct me through a turn and a change. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fruitfulness or Suffocation?

"And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world , and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."   Mark 4:18-20 (NASB)

There are many ways to be fruitful.  When I see my children beginning to apply a new spiritual principle to their lives, I know I am being fruitful.  When I see a lightbulb come on in the mind of someone I have been discipling, I know I am being fruitful.  When I see a project come together or someone live out a lesson I have taught, I know I am being fruitful.  And, then there is the most obvious fruitfulness - when Christ's salvation is bestowed upon another life, and He has used me in the process, I know I am being fruitful.

 But, I look at these verses and I realize how many times I let the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things take over my heart.  Even things that seems noble, like justice and rights, grab ahold of me and choke out God's ability to work fruitfulness through me.

Just yesterday I inadvertently angered some people.  The truth is that at the beginning I had no idea I was frustrating anyone.  The further truth is that I was right in what I was doing and they shouldn't have been frustrated with me.  But, my immediate reaction was to stand up for what I considered to be my rights, and at that point I ceased being right.  It was a split-second reaction, and it was not a godly one.  So, in a situation where I could have shared the love of Christ and been a light for Him, I instead exacerbated the situation and caused the anger and frustration to grow. 

That's not bearing fruit.  That's killing it. And, that's not what the Lord wants from me. 

Prov 22:17-18 gives me the exact information I need to be fruitful - keeping the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord close to my heart and mind.  Will I choose to do what I need to do?  Will I be faithful?  Will my next encounter show fruit or will it show a life choked by the cares of the world?  My challenge is to fill my heart and mind with the nourishment of God that I may truly be a healthy, fruit-bearing child with no sign of worldly suffocation.

Monday, December 21, 2009


And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"  Mark 4:37-38 (NASB)

The last few times I've read this story, I've been struck by something - I might have even posted about it before.  Even so, this is what struck me yet again this morning, so this is what I will share.

In this story, the disciples didn't necessarily expect that Jesus would save them from the storm.  I'm not really sure what they wanted from Him - maybe they simply wanted Him to commiserate with them.  Maybe they were crying out in desperation, grasping at straws, but still not really believing they would be saved.

But He did save them.  He calmed those winds, and they were almost more terrified of His power than they had been of the storm!

When I cry out to the Lord at times, I wonder what I'm really asking for.  I wonder if I even know.  I wonder if I truly expect Him to work in an unfathomable way or if I just want Him with me so I have Someone to lean on through it all.

I want to learn to expect Him to act in His way. 

It's never going to be to just hold my hand through a crisis.  It may be that He calms the storm and shows His power such that many come to know Him. 

It may be that He does not calm the storm, but instead comforts me through it.  But, when He does, it's never going to be just for me.  It's going to be for His glory.  Matt Chandler and his family come to mind when I think of this.  They are being comforted by the Lord through the trial of his brain tumor and cancer diagnosis, but the reason his story is so powerful is not because of that comfort, but because God is being glorified through it in a very, very real way. 

Whatever the case, I want to be expectant.  I want to ask my Savior for His intervention and the expect that He is going to work in an awesome way that will glorify Himself.  I want to have the attitude of Paul in Phil 1:18-20, that no matter the outcome I will rejoice because He is being glorified. 

May He always be glorified in me!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.Acts 13:51 (NASB)

But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren.  Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.  Acts 14:2-3 (NASB)

There are times when I face frustration in serving the Lord. I don't see results, and I just want to shake the dust off my feet like Paul and Barnabas did Acts 13:51. But, then they went on to Iconium and had issues as well. Pretty severe issues. Two verses later we find that they had to flee the city because of violence planned against them.

But, up until that point, instead of making them move on from this city, the challenges caused them to become more bold and more entrenched.

What was the difference?

I think the answer can be found in the Christmas story. Check out Luke 2:26-27. Simeon had no idea when the Messiah would show up, or even how He would show up. So, he waited. Not only that, he was sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

I am challenged to be sensitive. To walk through my days letting the will of the Lord be my first priority with "my" day falling in line with the Spirit's guidance rather than establishing my day and then fitting God's will in when it works with my plans. Then I will know when to shake off the dust and when to entrench; when to stay home and when to go to the temple. When to look for a king and when to be ready for a baby.

Friday, December 18, 2009

For All People

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people...When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.  And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.  Luke 2:10, 17-18 (NIV)

What an amazing statement.  The lowliest of society was given the message "for all the people."  All the people were not told - just these shepherds.  In fact, the shepherds weren't even specifically told to tell all the people.  They were just told to go see and worship.  But, obviously they didn't have to be told what to do next.  They took the statement that it was for all people, combined it with their incredible excitement over the events of the evening, and went to spread the news.  And all people wondered at these amazing events.

I know excitement tends to wear off.  I know urgency tends to die down.  But, this is the good news!  This is the salvation of all mankind!  This is the source of all joy that life could ever hold!  Why do I let the excitement die down?  Why do I falter in the urgency to share this news that should be for all people?  All people have not heard yet!  I have to share!  I have to keep the wonder alive! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

God is God

And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword.  When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread.  Acts 12:2-3 (NASB)

I like precedences.  I like to look at the awesome ways God has worked before and use that as an assurance that He's going to work the same way again, showing Himself in incredible ways.

He has never allowed us to miss a bill.  He works that way for everyone, right?  He has given people new cars when they needed them.  He'll do that for us, right?  He has miraculously healed people of horrible diseases.  So, He'll do it for a friend I'm praying for, right?

In Acts 12, we see a completely different picture.  James was killed.  One of Jesus' inner circle.  One of His closest friends.  In a single unceremonious verse we are told of the end of James' life - he was killed by Herod.  Period.  The end. 

Not long after that, Peter is arrested, and the intention is to put him to death as well in an effort to please the Jews and make Herod's position a little more stable.  The rest of the story shows that, thanks to a divinely orchestrated plan, Peter does not die.  Instead he escapes and goes right back to work. 

Why did God spare Peter and not James?  Wasn't James being effective?  Obviously he was, since Herod considered him worthy of arresting.  Couldn't he have continued to be effective?  Couldn't his family have been spared the grief of his death?

This story reminds me yet again that - guess what - God is God!  His ways are not my ways!  His thoughts are not my thoughts!  (Isaiah 55:8-9) He has a plan that I cannot comprehend.  Sometimes grief comes.  That doesn't mean His hand is not in it.  Sometimes wonderful things happen.  That does not mean He's only working in those times. 

My challenge is to remember this and to rejoice always.  My week hasn't been a super one.  There have been a lot of discouragements and frustrations.  But, He's still God.  He still loves me, and He is still in control.  He's still working, both in me and in the world around me.  His will is going to be accomplished - will I rejoice in His will whether I'm ecstatically happy or crushingly grieved? 

Monday, December 14, 2009


About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, "Cornelius!" Acts 10:3 (NASB)

On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance;  Acts 10:9-10 (NASB)

I would like to think that if I saw a vision in the middle of my prayer time, that I would respond to it and then immediately act upon it afterward.  But, sometimes I fear that I would be more like Ebenezer Scrooge, blaming the vision on some underdone food, rationalizing it all away once the vision was over.

Which brings me to the real thought I had about these verses.  They are really less about the visions and more about the idea of being interrupted in certain tasks.  The goal in both situations was prayer.  (It isn't specifically stated in verse three that Cornelius was praying, but verse two had just mentioned that Cornelius prayed to God continually, and the ninth hour was an expected prayer time for Jews.)  In both situations, these men are interrupted in their prayer time. 

But, what strikes me the most is not the interruption of the visions as much as Peter's first interruption during his prayer time.  He was hungry.  So, he got up and asked for food to be prepared, and then he went back to praying.  Acknowledging the hunger allowed for two things.  First, the vision was less about food and more about breaking out of tradition, and acknowledging his hunger allowed Peter to consider the meaning of the vision.  Secondly, the fact that food was already being prepared allowed for the entertaining of unexpected guests!

God used an average, everyday need in the middle of Peter's prayer time to accomplish a purpose.  I have a lot of average, everyday interruptions in the middle of my prayer times and Bible reading.  Whether it's a child, a wailing cat, a growling stomach, or some other mundane need, I rarely see it as God's hand.  Instead, it's just an interruption.  Often I get agitated and allow myself to be distracted.  Sometimes, I just throw my hands up and say, "That's it!  I give up!" 

Now, tell me, how can God use that? 

My challenge for today is see God's hand more than I see the devil's (oh, he's just really trying to distract me today! - yep, we all say it, don't we?), and to allow God to work through interruptions knowing that they just could very well be specifically ordained by Him to accomplish His purpose through me!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Memorial Before Him

And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, "Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.  Acts 10:4 (NASB)

Just to give the context, this is the story of Cornelius, the Roman centurion who was a devout follower of the Lord but knew nothing of Christ.  God used Peter to fill that gap.  It's a great story - if you're not familiar with it, head over to Acts 10 and take two or three minutes to read it.

What struck me this morning was verse 4.  I hope to blog more in depth about it soon on my thoughts blog.  But, for now, I want to share the thing that hit me the most.

Cornelius did everything he knew to do to honor the Lord, and in doing it all with his whole heart, he greatly honored the Lord.  When the time was ripe, the Lord then showed Cornelius what he needed to do next.   But, the beautiful thing is that at this point Cornelius was doing everything he knew with his whole heart. 

My amazing Savior has blessed me so greatly with a knowledge of Him and with clear instructions regarding what He expects of me.  Am I faithful to Him in what He has shown me?  Am I obedient to those things?  Do my words, actions, offerings, and prayers rise up to Him as a memorial?  As a sweet incense?  As pleasing to His senses? That is my challenge, and I accept it with great delight!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Standing Out

Now Saul , still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.  Acts 9:1-2 (NASB)

I've read these verses many, many, many times.  But this morning I noticed something.  Luke specifies that both men and women have attracted Saul's attention. 

I had to stop and chew on that one.

In New Testament times (and even now in many countries), women had no rights.  They were meant to be wives and mothers, and without a husband they typically could not support themselves.

Having that in mind, it makes sense that Luke would have to specify that women were being targeted as well as men - otherwise the automatic assumption would be that the men would be the only ones targeted.  Why mess with the women too?

These women were targeted as well because they were being just as bold an effective in sharing the truth of Christ as the men were!

And that is what got me. 

So often I live my life in such a way that I would easily escape notice.  I don't make a big splash.  I am not a "danger."  But, oh, how I want to be.  Not in a way that makes me the center of attention.  That's not really what I mean.  I don't like to be the center of attention.  I would truly rather be effective in the background.  Sure, I like credit for what I do, but I don't like the spotlight.  So, I can honestly say that the "big splash" I want to make has nothing to do with being in the spotlight.  But, if someone is going to come through and target those who are truly making a difference for the kingdom of God, I want my life to be lived in such a way that I would be a target! 

Right now no one is targeting people who are making a difference for Christ in my proverbial neck of the woods.  So, now is the perfectly safe time to stand out!  I know it will not always be safe, but I want to be in the habit of standing out so that when the safety is gone, the habit is firmly entrenched.

Here's to standing out!

Monday, December 7, 2009

No Pauses

But Philip found himself at Azotus , and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.   Acts 8:40 (NASB)

Yes, I'm still in this story!  Didn't I say I loved it? 

This morning the very last verse really grabbed me.  Something absolutely extraordinary had just happened to Philip.  First of all, an angel had appeared to him and told him to go to this specific road.  Then, he met a man who was just itching for good news Philip just so happened to have available to share.  So, he shared it, baptized the man, and then disappeared into thin air! 

The image of Star Trek comes to mind.  "Beam me up!"  I can't help but wonder how it felt to Philip to suddenly and supernaturally be transported from the presence of the eunuch to Azotus.  To just have "found himself" there.  I can only imagine how I would have responded to such an event.

But, what did Philip do?  He kept right on preaching!  I'm sure this most recent experience was used as an illustration in at least one sermon, but he just moved right along and preached. 

So often there are things that happen unexpectedly in my life.  I find myself in new situations or new circumstances.  I find my expected plans interrupted.  And, it seems I always have to have a bit of an adjustment period to work back into normalcy. 

I was convicted today that I need never take an adjustment period before getting back to the ministry of the gospel.  Life might be "interrupted."  What I consider my normal routine might be challenged and changed.  But, there should be no pause in ministry.  No pause in sharing the gospel.  No excuse that should keep me away from serving the Lord fully.  No matter how extraordinary the circumstances.  I just need to get right back to sharing the gospel!

Friday, December 4, 2009


Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31 And he said, "Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Acts 8:30-31 (NASB)

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. Acts 8:35 (NASB) I absolutely love this story (Acts 8:26-40). I've been reading it for several days, and will probably be in it again tomorrow. There are so many things that draw me to this story.

  • Philip's sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
  • The fact that God sent an angel to give Philip specific direction.
  • Philip's unquestioning and immediate obedience, such that timing was perfect.
  • The eunuch being right where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there.
  • The fact that Philip was ready.
It's those last two that really got me this morning. First of all, Philip was not responsible to make sure that the person he was to meet was there. In fact, Philip wasn't even told what he was supposed to do or who he was supposed to meet. He was just told to be on the road. He was never told to reach a specific destination - just to be on that road. It was God's job to arrange the meeting. It was God's job to take care of the eunuch. Philip was just called to be obedient. So often I don't just obey. I have to try to ensure that everyone else is obeying, too. Otherwise, how in the world can God work in their situations? How am I to be useful if the person I am to talk to doesn't get to the right place at the right time? Guess what? It's not my job!!! It's God's. I want to live like that. Secondly, Philip had no idea who he was going to encounter or what type of teaching that person might need. He had no clue who he would meet. He just went, and he was ready. He was ready with an understanding of Messianic prophecies in Scripture. It is easy to step back and say, "Oh, when I have need, the Holy Spirit will guide me." On the other hand, it's easy to study, study, study and rely on the results of that studying alone - my own human understanding of Scripture. There must be a balance. I must have a balance. I need to be very familiar with the Word and I need to be very sensitive to the Lord's leadership as I study and learn. God has granted both His Word and His Spirit, and I need to be growing in both. Essentially, today, I was challenged to just be ready. Be ready by growing in the Word. Be ready by being willing to be where God has placed me. Be ready without manipulating the readiness of others. Just be ready to be used.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


"To be the joy-bearer and a joy-giver says everything, for in our life, if one is joyful, it means that one is faithfully living for God, and that nothing else counts; and if one gives joy to others one is doing God's work; with joy without and joy withing, all is well...I can conceive no higher way." Janet Erskine Stuart I read this quote this morning in Come Let Us Adore Him by Robert J. Morgan as I was reading the story behind the writing of the beloved Christmas hymn "Joy to the World." To say I was captivated by these words would be an enormous understatement. Can you imagine this being said of you? Can you imagine a better compliment than this? Oh, to be truly called a joyful person! To truly see myself in that very light! What an awesome, amazing, wonderful, incredible challenge to take on - to live faithfully for God and to give joy on to others simply by nature of who I am. I know that I do that at times, in moments. But, to truly live this way! To give joy on a daily basis to those who surround me, starting here at home with my family and moving on from there. Yes, that is where I desire to be. Oh, the joy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him. Mark 1:16-20 (NASB) Mark is the immediate Gospel. Everything in Mark happened suddenly or immediately. I have always found the urgency very, well, urgent. I do have to wonder - would I have followed immediately? I like to weigh my options, to think through things, and to process. I like to list pros and cons and make decisions based on careful deliberation. I over-think things. Even little things like what to wear or eat. Are there good reasons to wear or not wear that? What are the implications of planning that particular meal for that particular day? I know, it sounds a bit ridiculous. I have gotten better over the years, and now I'm trying to (figuratively speaking) beat the extremism of this type of behavior out of my eight-year-old. But, the truth is, my nature tends toward stopping and processing. It's not always bad. Although I still make impulse purchases, I am inclined to stop and process at least a little bit. Although I like some spur of the moment excursions, I am enough of a planner to make sure those spontaneous events don't supersede something scheduled. But, there are times when I need to be more immediate. The Lord puts me in circumstances at times that require action, immediate action. So, my challenge is to grow in the willingness and ability to follow my Savior immediately. To change plans spontaneously simply because He puts an opportunity in front of me. To let the plans that He has laid from before the foundation of the world take total, complete, and immediate precedence over anything - no matter how long my plans have been determined or how abruptly He informs me of His long-established plan. His comes first. Immediately.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for Treasure

Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. Psalms 119:11 (NASB) As I think of all the things I am thankful for today - those things I consider my treasures - this verse greatly stands out to me as a combined reference point and bit of conviction. Where does the Word of God stand in my list of thankfulness? My heart overflows with thankfulness to my God for the incredible treasure that is His Word. I long to truly treasure it in my heart, that I may never lose it no matter what my circumstances may be. Thank you, Father, for Your Word! Thank You for its life. Thank You for its guidance. Thank You for its power. Thank You for the freedom I have to read it as much - or as little - as I choose. I pray for those who do not have that freedom. May Your Word still reach their hearts in beautiful and miraculous ways. Thank You for the small ways You have allowed us to be a part of that miracle. Thank You!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankfulness with an Upright Heart

I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments. Psalm 119:7 (NASB) I'm back! It has been so long. The Lord has given me so many awesome challenges over the past month of craziness, and I have missed sharing them. Hopefully I'll get to go back and do so. I will confess, though, that the entire month hasn't been so smooth. This last week, in fact, has been a struggle for me spiritually. I have struggled in my Bible reading and prayer time. I have missed a couple of days of even trying. This morning I felt truly desperate as I sought His renewal once again. And then I opened the Bible to a portion of my Sunday school lesson for this week - Psalm 119:1-8. Oh, how it melted my heart! How it reopened the stream of communication between my precious Savior and me. With this being Thanksgiving week, verse seven was especially appropriate. Yesterday I was able to list so many things I was thankful for, but I don't know that I truly was able to have a heart of thankfulness. This morning, though, it seems thankfulness is just blossoming within me! It doesn't take much for my focus to drift and my heart to struggle with intimacy with my Savior. But, when I surrender to His Word and acknowledge His righteous judgments, He fills me with His thankfulness. What a beautiful treasure!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Temporary Interruption

Obviously, I'm not getting the chance to post much on the challenge blog these days with our out-of-town trips and our move. Many of my challenges are coming from my thoughts on Proverbs which I am trying to type up when I have the chance. So, for the one or two of you who have enjoyed and missed these posts, head on over to Reflections on Proverbs and enjoy the thoughts shared by myself and a couple of others on our daily Proverbs readings.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Psalm 73:21-22 (NASB) This Psalm begins with the Psalmist acknowledging that he had begun to stumble because of envy over the success of the wicked. They disregarded the Lord continually, and yet seemed to prosper. He, meanwhile, struggled and suffered while being diligent in obedience. Then, in the verse that really stood out to me yesterday, he came into the presence of the Lord and truth was revealed to him. When his eyes were opened, he was not only able to see the future of the wicked in clarity and truth, but he was also able to see himself. He saw that he was "senseless and a beast before" God. There are so many times when I am restless and dissatisfied. I want. I crave. I long. I feel as though others have everything and I have nothing. Even what I have I cannot appreciate because it's not what I think I want. That is how I am when my heart is wrong. When my heart is envious and embittered. In those times, I must enter the Lord's presence! I must be willing to not only get my focus straightened out so that I realize I have everything because I have Him, but I must also be willing to see myself for who I really am. I must be willing to be exposed before Him that I may also be cleansed and restored before Him. We don't like to be examined and evaluated, but that is the key to being restored. That is the key to being yanked from our bitter misery. I must be willing to see others and myself through His lens. Then and only then will I be free from my embittered outlook.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Radiation of Peace

Every now and then the Lord challenges me in a strange way. I always go back to His Word to ensure that the challenge is in line with Scripture - otherwise it isn't from Him and isn't valid. But, the challenges aren't always initiated by what I read in His Word. Sometimes they come from other directions. Today's challenge is just such a thing. Yesterday I felt overwhelmed by chaos. Everything seemed out of control and I seemed to be spinning that direction as well. I really needed a reminder to be at peace. As the day ended, I felt the Lord bringing me back under control as I opened myself up to Him. But, in the night He seemed to increase that peace even as I slept. Last night I dreamed about some dear friends of ours. I dreamed that we were able to go and spend some time with them. That's a pretty big deal because they are thousands of miles away! As much as I would love to go visit them, it's even less conceivable than getting to go visit my parents in Jordan, which is a pretty difficult prospect itself. So, the sudden image of being with them, of visiting in their home, was one of great delight. But, the feeling I had that came from just being their their home was even more incredible. As soon as I walked in their front door, I was overwhelmed with peace. Everything about their home and their beings radiated the peace of God. And, yes, if you were to know the family, you would know that they are like that in reality, not just in the dream world. They are a family of peace and have a home of peace. Are they perfect? Do they live their lives without conflict and stress? Not by any means! But, they crave and hunger for peace, and that shows. So, I woke up not only overwhelmingly blessed but also immediately challenged. I want my home and my family to be that haven! I want people who hunger for peace to find it here. I want it to radiate so greatly that just dreaming about being with us brings that peace.

Monday, October 19, 2009


When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end. Psalms 73:16-17 (NASB) The Psalmist is speaking here of the pondering of why wicked people seem to make all the progress in life while the righteous struggle. But, as I read these verses, I realized that many ponderings can fall into this category. I struggle to figure things out. Whether it's figuring out how to do something, what decision to make, or why something is happening, I strive – often in my own mind or with people around me – to make sense out of it all. How many times do I struggle for no reason? I think it's many more times than I would care to admit! Like the psalmist, I need only to enter the presence of God, and suddenly the things I struggle to understand will become clear to me! I need only to get my focus off the issues and onto Him. Then He gives me clarity of sight regarding my struggles. Oh that I would just go to Him much striving and struggling would be resolved from the very beginning.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Responsibilty, or His?

When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Prov 16:7 (NASB) If I were to begin seeing threats to my life in one way or another and were asked by those investigating these threats if I had any enemies, I would probably say no. But, the truth is that there are people who just don't like me or the way I do things. As a result, frustration, discord, and yes, even enmity sometimes exist between myself and others. As someone who has to fight the tendency toward being a people pleaser, this is a hard thing for me to deal with. But this verse brings both encouragement and challenge to me. The encouragement is in the fact that the only one I have to please is the Lord! If I can be pleasing to Him in all I do, He'll take care of the rest. He will work out the relationships. He will restore peace where my actions have caused enmity. The challenge, however, lies in the same fact- I have to please the Lord! If I see a struggle or tension between myself and someone else, can I stand before Him with a clean conscience? Or, is there something I need to confess and deal with, both before Him and before my "enemy"? If I am clean before Him, peace-making is His responsibility. If I'm not, then it's mine. To be honest, I'd much rather the responsibility be His! He's much, much better at it! So, my goal? To live with a clear conscience before Him that He may be the peacemaker in my relationships!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Satisfying Needs

So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. John 4:6 (NASB) Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." But He said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." So the disciples were saying to one another, "No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?" John 4:31-33 (NASB) These verses wrap around the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, and it fit so well with what I felt God challenging me with yesterday. God knows what will satisfy my need, and He will guide me to that satisfaction if I wait on Him! I believe the Bible when it says that Jesus was weary. But, unlike His disciples, Jesus knew that His restoration was not going to come from food. It was going to come from being where His Father wanted Him to be - from doing His Father's work and will. When I feel a need coming on, am I willing to wait, listen to the Lord, and let Him satisfy my need His way? Or do I just assume that it is a fleshly need with a fleshly solution? He knows me better than I know myself. I must let Him guide the fulfillment of my needs!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Soul Satisfaction

The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want. Prov 13:25 (KJV) What do I crave? Do I truly crave soul satisfaction, or do I crave satisfaction in other areas of my life? To be honest, there is frequently stuff that I so greatly want that I just don't think I can live without. I crave food that I know is not good for me and that will not help me with my health goals. I crave time off, and it never ends up being enough. I crave more sleep and then always end up just as tired, if not moreso. I need to focus on satisfying my soul, not my flesh. When I do, the other things will be satisfied - either because the wants will no longer exist or because the desires line up with the ultimate goal of glorifying God in all I do. That's where I want to be!

Monday, October 12, 2009

No Fear

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? Psalms 56:3-4 (NASB) We often work hard to gird ourselves up for the hard times. We read verses like these in the good times, and then try our hardest to dredge them back up when we are going through the rough patches. We are thankful for the comfort of the words of David when we are going through hard times because we struggle with coming up with the words ourselves. David, however, wrote this in the middle of a very rough time. He had been captured by the Philistines, and was truly doubtful as to whether or not he could escape with his life. The Philistines did not like David. Why would they let an Israelite hero who had struck a huge blow against them escape with his life? In the middle of these circumstances, David wrote, "What can mere man do to me?" The "mere man" he referred to could take his life. That's what they could do to him! Oh, how I long to have the faithfulness of David in the midst of a challenge. This is how I want to be! This is how I want to live! Oh, may I be able to say from the depths of my heart... In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pretense of Righteousness

So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor. Luke 20:20 (NASB) But He detected their trickery...Luke 20:23a (NASB) When I first read verse 20 this morning, I scoffed at such a ridiculous move. As I've read through the Gospels, I've seen multiple examples of Jesus knowing what was in the hearts of the Pharisees, scribes, and teachers of the law - times when He could discern their thoughts. They had experienced this, and yet they still "sent spies who pretended to be righteous." Come on, people, how dumb can you be! But, as I was making a few notes on these verses in my journal, I was hit hard with the reality of my own pretenses. How many times have I come before the Lord in my prayer time, Bible reading, and even in public situations with a pretense of righteousness, knowing deep in my heart that I was not walking in communion with the Lord? He can see right through me, but I still put up my pretenses. I still claim to be all that, even with that uneasy feeling in my gut that reminds me He is not fooled. The spies walked away amazed and silenced because of their foolish approach to Him. As His child, that is not what He desires for me. I am His. He has chosen me and drawn me to Himself. He desires for me to relate to Him. To sit at His feet and hear His voice. He knows my junk. He knows my unrighteousness. He knows my sin. But, He chose me anyway, and He cleansed me. I don't have to put up pretenses - I just need to be in His presence. No more pretenses of righteousness, before Him or anyone else!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The View of My Sin

I'm studying Psalm 51 this week for Sunday school. The first thing that slammed me in the face was do I view my sin? So often I view it as "not so bad." David had a very different perspective. He viewed it as a horrid blemish that he couldn't escape. It was continually staring him in the face. He viewed it as something that separated him from God. He viewed it as something from which he needed to be purified and cleansed. I have had to stop and think about how I handle my own sin. And, I'm sure I will have to continue processing and growing in that area. I do know that God has walked me through some "dealing" with my sin this week. Being honest before Him. Recognizing my sin His way. It's easy to brush some sins aside as trivial, but all sin is separation from my Savior. All must be dealt with. All bring about the necessity of purification and cleansing. So, I'm reminded again to honestly allow Him to seek me and cleanse me from all sin.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mindset of Slaves

Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, “Come immediately and sit down to eat”? But will he not say to him, “Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink”? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, “We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done." Luke 17:7-10 (NASB) This whole concept bucks against our western mentality. We would argue that no one should be treated that way. We argue against it in our churches, our workplaces, our homes, and our marriages. Once we have performed some major duty or job, we feel as if we deserve a break, or at least some recognition. In our marriages, we have this mentality that we do so much, and our spouses need to at least contribute their part, if not wait on us hand and foot as reward for all we do. We teach our children that they deserve reward for obedience, rather than simply teaching them that obedience is their responsibility, whether they receive reward or not. I know I live with this mentality. I know my gut reaction is to say, “Yes! Give that slave a break, get out of that chair, and get your own supper!” But, that is not a biblical attitude. The attitude presented by Christ Himself is one of continued perseverance, without reward and without rest. He teaches endurance to the end – and frankly, the end just doesn't come on this earth. I am challenged to have this type of mindset. I am challenged to work with no thought of reward or rest. I am even more challenged to teach my children this concept starting right now that they may not have to retrain their hearts and minds as adults. Oh how we as individuals and as the church must have the mindset of slaves!

Monday, October 5, 2009


And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings. He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Luke 16:9-13 (NASB) I realized this morning that somehow I have never read this passage in NASB, which is the translation of my current primary Bible. Or, if I have, I've not really paid attention to it. I have only really been attentive to this passage in translations that refer to the wealth mentioned as "worldly wealth." So, when I read it described as "unrighteous wealth," it really stood out to me. It's easy to brush "worldly" off as simply being not heavenly. It's of this world. Well, of course wealth is of this world. The wealth of heaven has nothing to do with money! But, when it is labeled as "unrighteous," it introduces a shift of thinking. Not only is it of this world, but it is also not neutral. It is not something that can be good or bad. It's just unrighteous. But it can be used for righteousness, and that is what we are called to do. I am reminded of George Muller. This amazing and incredible man of God had literally millions of British pounds flow through his hands, but he continually lived in such a way as to only hold back for his day to day needs. Every bit of what he didn't need immediately flowed through his hands to someone who did need it. That is what dealing righteously with unrighteous wealth is all about. And that is how I am challenged to live. Faithful with unrighteous wealth that I may be trusted with true riches. Lord, grant me wisdom! May I prove faithful with Your guidance!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Desiring His Green Pastures

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. Psalms 23:2 (NASB - emphasis mine) I know that this might not pass an exegetical test, but as I reread and studied this well-known and beloved Psalm this week, I was struck by the word "makes." What do I crave, and does it match up with what the Lord wants to give? Does He have to make me receive what is good for me? Doug and I have been trying hard to really concentrate on healthy eating. We have realized that even though we as a family had healthy eating habits in general, there were still many things that we consumed that were not healthy choices. We've improved on that a great deal. But, still, there is frequently the craving for those foods that aren't good for these temples. Sometimes my body needs a fantastically delicious meal of salmon, broccoli, and rice, but I would much rather sink my teeth into a huge bacon cheeseburger with a mound of cheese fries. I think there are times I do that spiritually as well. I wake up blah or restless, and all I want is to get in the van and go somewhere, or find a way to spend money, or eat chocolate to my heart's content. The true answer is to immerse myself in the incredible presence and Word of the Lord. In that moment, I'm ashamed to say, it seems so "un-fun" to sacrifice my road trip, shopping spree, or chocolate binge to be in the Word. But, if I actually do make the effort to enter His presence, I find that my desire becomes for Him and I am surrounded by the most incredible satisfaction imaginable. And, to be honest, sometimes He has to make me go there. Sometimes He literally has to drive me away from the inferior weedy grass that I think I want and move me to the beautiful green pastures that I truly need. Oh, that He wouldn't have to make me! Oh, that I would just choose His presence first and foremost every time! Oh, that nothing else would even hold any sway over my heart and mind! That is where I long to be.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Luke 12:35 (NASB) But if that slave says in his heart, "My master will be a long time in coming," and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk... Luke 12:45 (NASB) How do I live my daily life? Do I live in readiness? Or do I go about life as if I assume my Master is going to be a long time in coming? I should be living with an urgency, but I don't really. I live as if I know this world will keep on turning. In some ways, that's okay. I mean, I can't just give up and stop paying my bills and educating my children because I'm convinced that Jesus might return any minute. I must persist in living. But, in the ways that matter, it's not okay. I cannot just sit on what I know! I cannot just go through my life in my self-centered way thinking that someday I'll get out and tell. I have to be ready now, today. I have to be bold and vocal now. My challenge and my passion is to live like I am ready and to spur others on to readiness as well, whether it be believers around me or the lost world.

Friday, October 2, 2009

No Persuasiveness Required

"Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men." But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement. Luke 9:44-45 (NASB) I have always been a bit lacking in the boldness department. I think maybe it has hinged on the concept that I have doubted my ability to be persuasive. This can be a great hindrance to witnessing or to proclaiming the truth into any situation. Earlier this year, though, as I read through the prophets, I was reminded of something that I have really always known but have not always lived out. It has nothing to do with my persuasiveness and everything to do with my obedience. Jesus knew that. He was in tune enough with His Father and with His followers that He knew they were not going to understand. He knew that the truth was being concealed from their hearts. But that didn't stop Him from saying what He had to say. Why? Because He knew that at some point it would make sense to them. At that point, they would remember and the words would make an impact on their lives. I have to remember that, too. What I say may or may not be received. It may or may not be persuasive. It may or may make any sense to the receiver. I may or may not even be heeded. But, that has nothing to do with me. That's God's business. My business is to say what He has for me to say and let Him do the rest. Grace is a pretty awesome, isn't it? The fact that God is ultimately the One who is in control of it all is pretty freeing, isn't it? Now, to "simply" adjust my life that I may truly live this way!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12 (NASB)

I am ashamed to say it, but it is so easy for me to neglect focused prayer. Oh, I pray. I lift up prayers throughout the day. I pray in the mornings during my quiet time. But, I often neglect really stepping aside from normalcy and being secreted away in concentrated, uninterrupted prayer.

Jesus did this frequently. True, sometimes He went to do it and was distracted from it. But, He still is recorded several times to have pulled Himself away to the point of no distraction.

In this particular instance, it seems to be specifically related to selecting the apostles. But, there are other times that it is a general refueling.

When I really allow myself to step aside from life's busyness and focus on interaction with Him, the conversations are amazing! It doesn't mean I have to totally drop everything – sometimes I can dig into deep prayer while I'm folding clothes or washing dishes. But, it takes effort. It's not just running through a prayer list – it's true interaction, conversation, and listening. I must devote my mental energy to that much more frequently than I do.

This true, deep communion with my God is incredible. I am challenged to be willing to expend the energy to accomplish it!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I read Luke chapters four and five today. As I did, a thought really began forming in my heart and mind – a personal theme of sorts from these two chapters.

As Jesus interacted with His audience in these two chapters, He did some things that He rarely did elsewhere in His ministry. In His hometown of Nazareth, it almost seems as if He was picking a fight – saying things that He knew would goad them into being angry with Him! And, it worked!

Meanwhile, when the paralytic is lowered through the roof in chapter five, Jesus' primary audience is Pharisees from around the region. (I personally think that's why the friends couldn't bring the paralytic in through the door – the Pharisees weren't about to move to make room for the common people to take center stage!) Before healing the man, Jesus tells him his sins are forgiven. That is not for the man's benefit – that is for the benefit of the Pharisees, and they didn't like it!

In both situations, there is one significant commonality – Jesus has discernment and sensitivity to His audience.

I have a passion for sharing through teaching, speaking, singing, and individually counseling. But, I frequently get caught up in my methods. I have a way of sharing things. I have certain habits. I do things in certain order. Sometimes it's great, but other times the message and the messenger both fall flat on their faces!

I am challenged to be less caught up in my methods and more submissive to the leadership and discernment of the Holy Spirit. That does not by any means indicate that I should put aside those methods. It also is far from meaning that I should just close the Bible and “let the Spirit lead as He will.” Not by a long shot!! He leads through His Word, and nothing will contradict that! What I do need is to hold less tightly to my methods and pay a little more attention to what the Spirit is telling me about the audience He wishes to reach.

Oh, and on a side note – in neither of these situations did Jesus tickle their ears. He didn't make it easier on His audience. Instead, in both situations, He made things more difficult for them! I want so much for people to be pleased with what I present. But more than likely when I am following the leadership of the Holy Spirit in presenting His message the truth is that although some will be broken and some will be encouraged, many will be downright mad! I have to be able to accept that and realize I have not failed just because people don't like what I have to say!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Boldness and Confession

Two verses from Proverbs 28 really impacted me today, and I wanted to go ahead and share both as challenges.

The wicked run away when no one is chasing them,but the godly are as bold as lions. Prov 28:1

As I read this verse, I was reminded of my own lack of boldness in so many things. I hug the wall, clamp my mouth shut, or hide behind the safe doors of my home or so-called responsibilities to my family. It is so easy as the homeschooling mother of young children to step back from many things, using my responsibilities as an excuse. The truth, though, is that I feel anxious just thinking about certain prospects. I am hiding. I am lacking in boldness.

The boldness is not mine – it is the Holy Spirit's. He has all I need, but I tend to squelch His freedom by surrendering to my anxiety. Scripture tells me to not be anxious or fearful for a reason!!! I am called to be bold in Him. His Spirit is not timid, and He wants His Spirit to shine forth in me!

People who conceal their sins will not prosper,but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Prov 28:13

I have been convicted lately of my tendency to gloss over my sinfulness. Oh, I confess, but I don't truly examine my heart. When I do finally come before Him in openness and honesty, I realize that I have – sometimes consciously and sometimes without even thinking – simply ignored certain sinfulness, claiming it to be no big deal.

If I gloss over anything in my life that is not 100% in line with the Word of God, then I am concealing sin. I must be willing to submit to the Spirit's conviction on all things, big or little that I may confess them openly and receive the fullness of His mercy.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Focus of My Meditations

On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate. Psalm 145:5 (NASB) Where does my meditation lie? There are so many things that roll through my mind on any given day. Are they worthy? Are they useful? Do they truly point me to Him, to the splendor of His majesty, and to His wonderful works? The more I work to take my thoughts captive, the more I realize how flighty they truly are! I am challenged to keep working - He is truly worthy of my continual meditation! May I be diligent to make Him my focus!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Belief, not Doubt

And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time. Luke 1:20 (NASB)

Doug and I discussed this verse a bit this morning – we discussed the stories of Zacharias here and Abraham back in Genesis. Abraham doubted just like Zacharias, but was not punished. What was the difference?

Although there were several things we discussed, the one that stood out to me the most was this – Zacharias knew the story of Abraham. He knew that God was capable of doing such a thing. And, according to Luke 1:13, Zacharias had prayed for this! Here was a messenger from God informing Zacharias that his prayers were about to be answered, and he doubted. He well knew God's powers. He well knew that such a thing had happened before. Yet he doubted.

I have even more of the Word than Zacharias did. I have even more evidence, for I have written proof of the saving power of Jesus Christ – the very power that dwells within me in the form of the Holy Spirit. And yet I doubt. Sometimes I wonder why I am not continually under discipline for my disbelief. My challenge is to truly live in belief and not doubt. My challenge is to realize all that God can accomplish through a willing heart. My challenge is to be that willing and believing heart. I don't have to be anyone phenomenal – just His child. Oh how excited I am to be His vessel – oh, how ready I am to walk in belief!

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Great Lord!

For I know that the LORD is great and that our Lord is above all gods. Psalms 135:5 (NASB) I know this is true in my head and in my heart. He is incredibly great. He is phenomenally great. But, do I live like this is true? Do I live like I know that my Lord is great? Do I live like I serve Him? I know I am growing in this, but I have a long way to go. I speak with defeat so frequently. I get caught up in the world's junk so often. I miss the chance to encourage others with this truth on so many occasions. I am so excited to know that He is growing me in my knowledge and understanding of His greatness. My challenge is to truly live out what He's teaching me!! Yes, I know that my Lord is great! Praise His Name!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small. Prov 24:10 (NLT)

I had two thoughts as I read this verse this morning. First of all, failure proves that strength was limited in the first place. Secondly, succeeding increases strength.

So, if you have to have the strength in the first place, how do you succeed so that your strength can be increased?

This is the thought that drags me down. There are days when I feel that I do not have the strength in the first place. So, why even try?

I forget so frequently that strength comes from the Lord. That's what Matt 11:28-30 is all about! It almost needs to be a daily reminder for me - otherwise I try to float along on yesterday's strength and end up weary once again, wondering what I've done wrong this time!

God's strength is never too small - mine always is. When I fail under pressure, it is pretty obvious whose strength I am relying on in the moment of pressure! My challenge is to remember to rely on His strength, whether it's on a normal day or a pressure-filled day. As I grow more in the habit of relying on Him, I will notice the pressure less and less. Oh, how wonderful it is to be able to go to Him!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


What started out as a challenge this morning turned into a bit more, so I posted it on the thoughts blog. Check out Amazed on Ann's Thoughts for today's version of the challenge.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praises to His name, for it is lovely. Psalms 135:3 (NASB) Do you ever have days when you feel that you cannot do anything right? When everything you attempt seems to fall apart? I have those days, and I hate them! I will admit, so far today is not one of those days, which just might be why this verse stood out to me in this way. When I am in the middle of those days, I struggle to process such beautiful nuggets in God's Word. But, today this thought occurred to me - when I cannot seem to do anything right or well, there is something that will always have perfect results. Praise. "...sing praise to His Name, for it is lovely." Now, I don't know if in the original text the "it" here is referring to His Name or the praise itself, but I guarantee that if I truly praise Him, that praise will be lovely. It will be a right accomplishment. I just cannot go wrong. So, my challenge is to remember this verse and keep it close to my heart as a tool for those rough days. Then when it seems I can do nothing right, the Lord can bring this verse to my mind to remind me of the one thing I can accomplish well. Maybe, just maybe, the rest of the day will turn around as well!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gaining Insight

...for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened. Mark 6:52 (NASB) When I read this verse, my heart just shuddered. How often is this me? God has taught me so much, and there are many times that I face a new challenge with the wisdom and understanding gleaned from the previous one. But, there are also times when this verse is true of me. I move from one display of God's love and power to another without gaining insight. I know that I am growing in this area. Of that I am confident. But, I know I have much more room to grow. My prayer and challenge is to keep this verse in the forefront of my heart and mind - and to have the sensitivity to know when I am ignoring insight and allowing my heart to be hardened that I may change such behavior.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bless the Lord!

Bless the LORD, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word! Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will. Bless the LORD, all you works of His, in all places of His dominion; bless the LORD, O my soul! Psalm 103:20-22 (NASB) Why do I obey and serve the Lord? Is it so that things will go well with me? In all honestly, yes. That is a big part of it. I want life to go well. If circumstances are not great, I want the joy of the Lord to gird me up through it all. And, the best way to guarantee that is by being in a right relationship with my Lord. Jesus told us that if we loved Him, we would keep His commandments (John 14:15). So, I obey. But, these verses from Psalms show a different perspective on obedience. When we obey, there comes upon us a right, privilege, and responsibility to bless the Name of the Lord because of that obedience. What a perspective! What a reason to be diligent in obedience! And what a challenge... Obedience is not about me. It results in certain benefits for me, but that is not the focus of obedience. The focus of my obedience is God's glory, and that must be my priority. Come, let's bless the Lord today!