Saturday, January 31, 2009


For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Psalms 33:21 (NASB) There are a lot of absolutes in Scripture. I don't mean moral absolutes - that's a given. I mean "all or nothing" absolutes. Absolutes like not being anxious about anything, doing all we do for His glory, and praying about everything with thanksgiving, just to name a very, very few. Another absolute struck me today, though, and that was the absolute of trusting in His holy name. We assign a lot of names to our God, as did the great believers of Scripture, based on how He has shown Himself to us. He is the God who sees, our Provider, God with us, and on and on. But, when asked by Moses what His name was, He simply said, "I AM!" Do you realize how absolutely inclusive that is? Nothing is excluded from such a name. God has really been stretching my trust in Him lately. He has been showing me how shallowly I trust Him and how much deeper I must go to truly trust in His holy name. This morning is an example. There was a deposit we had to make no later than today, but we had been waiting for the check. We knew if the check came by today, we'd be fine financially. Well, the envelope arrived in plenty of time, and inside we found not one check but two. No problem. We deposit checks by scanning them into our computer and transmitting them electronically to our bank in San Antonio. Here's where the problem came. One check transmitted. The second one wouldn't. Sometimes that happens, and when it does, we try a couple more times (frequently with the second try it works) before sticking it in the mail. So, after the first failure I prayed and tried again. Still no good. At this point I said, "Lord, You know that we need this deposit, so I trust You completely to make this work." And I really, truly did. I wasn't worried. I trusted He would make it work. During the third attempt, though, He spoke. You trusted Me to get the check to you, but then you chose to rely on the fact that you had money in your hands instead of trusting in Me to continue to provide. Do you really and truly trust Me in this, or are you trusting this money? Before I had even begun scanning the back of the check, I knew that it wasn't going to work. I knew I had to put the check into that envelope and stick it in the mail. Sure enough, the process failed. I took the check, stuck it in the envelope, and said, "I trust You, Lord. You alone!" I know this is not a typical challenge post, but I think the story shows better than anything else I could write exactly how God is challenging me on the trust issue. And it won't stop here. Today's issue floats at such a surface level of trust. There is still an ocean to dive into. There are still depths I cannot begin to fathom. So, I am challenged to take a deep breath and dive. I must trust in the name which excludes nothing. I must trust in I AM.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chore Book List

There are a few books in the Bible that tend to be a chore to go through. Maybe I'm the only one who feels that way, but there are times when I don't exactly look forward to a book that I'm supposed to read yet again as I progress through the Bible. I must be honest, though - the number of those books is dwindling for me. This year 2 Chronicles obviously moved off that list as I discovered the riches found in the book that I had never seen before. Today I felt the urge to pray that Job would be removed from the list. Don't get me wrong, Job has a lot of awesome things in it. I love the story and the truths represented in that book. But, to actually move through it is tedious for me. As I started reading it today, I dove in with intense prayer. I read the introductory narrative today, but tomorrow I will begin with the arguments. My prayer is that the Lord will open my eyes as He never has before as I read through Job. My challenge is to make sure that I don't just trudge through it, but that I go into it each morning with prayer, a readiness to learn, and open eyes and mind. My challenge is to take Job off my "chore" list. What's your chore book? I would challenge you to prayerfully consider tackling it this year. Ask the Lord what He wants you to explore, because only His leadership will open your eyes to things that have eluded you before. Join me as I accept the challenge to knock one more book off my list!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


...then I put Hanani my brother, an Hananiah the commander of the fortress, in charge of Jerusalem, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many. Nehemiah 7:2 (NASB) I just reread this - I'd marked it over a week ago. Can I just saw wow?!! There's not much to add to this one, but I just had to share it. Here, in the Word of God, recorded for generations to see, an ordinary man's faith is stated. If there is anything I would want to be remembered for, it would be that my faith was strong and that I feared God in this way. What a legacy! What a testimony! Lord, have Your way with me that this may be my legacy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Ps 16:11 (NASB) I must confess, my mind is swirling this morning. God has laid seemingly individual things on my heart only to bring them all back together again. It started with a reminder last night from winter Bible study that this world is not my home. It's in our songs and our speech, but do we truly live that way? The Christian recording group Downhere has a song on their most recent album Ending is Beginning entitled "My Last Amen." Musically it's a strange song, but the more I've listened to the lyrics, the more drawn in I've become. Just a few days ago I heard one part of the song for the first time. Phrases like "the joy is in the waiting" and "it's good to be unsatisfied" jumped out at me as they sang of living the fullness of this life in order to fully anticipate what we have coming when we stand in the presence of God. To be honest, I haven't lived that way. I am a very visual person, and I cannot begin to visualize the reality of eternity in the presence of God. So, it's a bit frightening. What I have here is known. What I will have there is unknown...for now. My desire is to understand what's coming. Just this morning I read George MacDonald's thoughts on understanding versus obeying. It caught me quite powerfully. We can never understand before we obey. We have to obey first. Then the understanding will begin to dawn. I have been trying to grasp the concept of heaven first so that I can then truly long for eternity there. My challenge today is to step out in obedience - to live like this world is not my home whether I understand it or not! To long for that unseen city whether I can grasp the concept or not. As I do that, God will give me all the preview I need as He draws me closer to Himself day by day. What a joyous journey life is! A journey that just barely begins during this brief moment we can life and then continuous through eternity!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Keep Going

Are you ever tempted to just sit back and enjoy life for a while after you've come through some great learning or activity? I am! The truth is that sometimes learning comes naturally. Notice I didn't say easily, because I've never found God's lessons to be easy. But, sometimes they just flow. Other times I have to actively dig in and search out those incredible truths God wants me to learn. All too often after the natural flow of learning has slowed, I don't dig in my heels and keep going. Instead I bask in the learning I've done. As a result, I tend to get lazy. This morning it dawned on me that I've been greatly enjoying what God's been doing in me and teaching me, and what He's been doing in our lives. But, I haven't been actively moving forward for about a week now. I've been starting to lean toward that spiritual laziness. God gave me a little nudge...Keep going. I've got so much more for disciplined. So, I'm challenged to do just that. I won't stop. I'll dig. I'll explore. I don't have to be spoon-fed to learn! I know how to dig - I'm gonna get out that fork and knife and get back to cutting into my meat for myself. Woo-hoo! Let's go deeper together, shall we?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Acting on What I've Learned

I must confess - we are not in an easy time right now. We are being confronted with some things that God alone can deal with. There is no way we can engineer circumstances or work it out ourselves. It is not fun. It is not easy. At the same time, though, it's exhilarating! What a place to be - where God entrusts us with such a growing experiences. I am amazed at the peace I am experiencing right now. I know God's peace is beyond comprehension and His mercies are new every morning, but it's one thing to read that and another to experience that. Today I am challenged to maintain my trust in the Lord and in the fact that He will not contradict His character. His character is to keep His Word, and I do not even have to ask Him for that - He will not do otherwise. Period. Last week He led Doug to have us memorize this verse, and He has used it so much this week... 'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' Isaiah 41:10 This morning He reminded me of a verse I ran across a couple of years ago, and we will be memorizing it this coming week... When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. Psalm 94:19 He is challenging me to remember these things and to constantly keep them before me. He is challenging me to put into practice what I have learned about living my entire life devoted to Him and not caught up in the things of this world. Pray with me, please, to stand firm in this challenge!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obedience of Love

This is a rather undeveloped thought that came to me this morning as I was finishing Nehemiah. When Nehemiah was present in Jerusalem, enforcing the laws of God, things went well. When he left, things fell apart. The hearts of the people didn't change. How do I teach my children? How do I minister to those around me? I am challenged to make sure that as I teach, I teach a passion for the Lord. If we obey simply because we think it's the right thing to do, eventually that will fall away. If we obey because we are passionately in love with our Savior, then that motivation will carry us through. The Lord has been challenging me for a while to make that my own priority, and I know I am improving in this endeavor that will continue as long as I live. But now He is challenging me to make sure that is how I teach as well, especially when it comes to teaching my children. I must show them how amazingly incredible it is to be in love with their Savior, and the obedience is the best way to show that love!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Go and Tell

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 1 Cor 9:16 (NASB) God has been doing so much in me lately and teaching me so much. I have come a long way, but I also have infinitely further to go. It does not tire me - it excites me. But, I am realizing something. I am not actively "preaching" the gospel! I am sitting here at home, teaching my children, which is exactly what God has led me to do. But, there is also a lost world out there - and there is a world of nominal Christianity out there. So, what do I do? I pray. I am challenged today to get on my knees with an intentional prayer - "Lord, use me to share Your gospel." I don't know how to do it in the life He has led me to live right now - I am at home with my children with no real outlet. So, I must be on my knees asking Him to place me in His situations, open my eyes to opportunities, open my lips to tell, and loose my tongue to speak the words of the Holy Spirit. I am challenged to increase my communication with Him that I am ready when the opportunity arises suddenly and without warning. I must pray.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Joy of the Lord

Then he said to them, "Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Neh 8:10 (NASB) I wondered for a long time if the concept of the joy of the Lord being our strength was truly in the Bible. So, several years ago I actually looked for it, and I found this verse. I feel that the context of this verse is important, and I am also impressed with the thought that the Lord is wanting to teach me some things through this narrative and passage. So, I believe that He is challenging me to explore it deeper and allow Him to teach and grow me through what He shows me. You might be able to read in coming days what He is teaching me - or it might take a while to truly discern what the Lord is teaching me. But, that is the challenge - to explore, and leave the results to Him!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


God has stopped me in the middle of my prayers a couple of times lately with a convicting thought. Are you praying what I'm leading you to pray, or are you just praying words because you know these people and circumstances need to be prayed for? At the moment I can't point you to a specific verse or passage that I can claim is the Scriptural source of that thought, but I have noticed something over the past few days. If I stop and ask, "Lord, how should I pray for this?" He inevitably responds with a direction. Sometimes it takes a moment of quiet listening, other times it's immediate. So, I am challenged today to make this a habit. I have even stopped at times to ask Him how I should praise Him, because I freely confess that there are definitely some days when praise does not flow naturally. This must become natural to me. It must be that I am praying His heart, not my own, for that is when the prayers are most effective.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hard to Put into Words

I haven't posted a challenge in a couple of days simply because it seems a bit vague to me. I know God is laying something on my heart, but I think it's more of a gradual dawning of some things that need to change within me. I know this for sure...I am challenged to not take a break! I have always gone through times of growing and then wanted so badly to just rest for a while. But my kind of rest is always rest from the growing, and it usually results in a pulling away from close communion with my Savior. Yes, I do need rest, but the rest I need is the kind of rest God Himself offers, and His rest includes a continuation of the growing process. I'm awaiting His daily instructions, whether to reinforce a challenge He's already given me or undergoing something new. Either way, some days the challenge will be something I can articulate and other days it will not. Meanwhile, right now as there seems to be a lull, I am challenged to learn what His rest means and how I am supposed to be growing through it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


A little calendar I created has a list of people to pray for each day of the month as well as specific things to pray over my family. This isn't my complete or exhaustible list - these are just the things and people that I pray over consistently every month. Then I add the current needs and requests to that. Today I opened my calendar and saw what I had listed to pray over Olivia for today..."Understanding that following God's will requires sacrifice, and sometimes isn't rewarded tangibly." Today I added that it's not always rewarded quickly, either. The verse I put with that is Ps 103:17-18, which reads, "But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them." Last night I acted in obedience. This morning my first thought was, "I did ________ last night; I deserve __________ this morning!" I immediately caught myself. I deserve nothing! I obeyed. If I seek to reward myself for that obedience, then I have my reward in full and I have sacrificed any reward the Lord might have had in store for me. I also hinder myself from continuing to follow in that obedience. Why? Because my rewards to myself are temporal. They are fleeting and are not true rewards. They offer no sense of continued motivation. God's rewards, on the other hand, are eternal. When He rewards us, we long to remain in that obedience. Sometimes we have to continue in obedience for a period of time before we even begin to see the reward, but often that in and of itself can be a reward - knowing we're walking in obedience. I am challenged to obey because I've been told to obey. I'm challenged to not try to pat myself on the back for obedience, or collect on a reward of my own creation or choosing. I'm challenged instead to wait on the Lord and realize that I have the honor and privilege of being chosen to be His child. If I am never rewarded in any other way, that is enough!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Temple

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God , and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Cor 6:19-20 (NASB)

There are many ways God has challenged our family to look more like Him in recent months. He has worked on our finances, our priorities, our perception of needs, our tendency to problem solve without consulting Him first, and so much more. We have a long, long way to go, but the last big stronghold to the next step seems to be honoring Him with our bodies. It's that age-old battle of weight and love for food, but it's so much more than that. It's surrendering to Him and making sure we honor Him with how we care for our bodies - not for our sake or our health, but for His glory.

So, I'm starting that exercise routine yet again, and I'm commiting to honor Him with my body. That is my challenge. Not a New Year's resolution or a diet - it is a challenge to honor Him. I covet your prayers!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I am reading in Ezra right now. Haggai was a contemporary of Exra, so there is cross-referencing between the two books. Because of this, I ended up reading Haggai 1 as well. As I read through this chapter, my first thought was, "This is us! This is American Christianity today!" Americans as a whole have a great "me first" mentality, and we as Christians have followed suit. We want to make sure we have our houses in order, have our vehicles, have all of our needs met, and then we give whatever time, energy, and resources are leftover to building the house of God. I'm not talking about our church buildings - I'm talking about the body of Christ around the globe. Now, I don't believe that God wants us to do without our needs. In fact, I'm sure of it! But, I seem to recall a few verses that might deal with this exact issue... But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matt 6:33 (NASB)

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalms 37:4 (NASB) God didn't tell the people that they had to lack necessities for His sake. He just told them to put His kingdom first and let Him take care of them! He tells me the same thing. I have a strong passion to see His kingdom forwarded, but I have long and frequently hidden behind the needs of my household. I know that if I put His kingdom first, it could be that nothing changes in the actual daily details of our lives - then again, everything could change! But, what definitely must change is my focus. I am challenged to be concerned first with forwarding His kingdom and building the body of Christ. If I do that, He will ensure that the door is opened not just for my family's needs to be met, but for me to have the interaction with my family that is needed for us to follow and serve Him together.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Image of God

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Gen 1:27 (NASB) Something I read this morning didn't settle well in my mind. The indication was that God does not think of Himself, because that would be selfishness. Instead He thinks only of us and our welfare. I would argue that this is not true. God's perspective so greatly differs from ours, and He knows that what He has and is greatly supplies all our needs. He knows that any action or behavior which focuses all attention and glory upon Himself is the best action or behavior for us. This is not selfishness on His part; it is perfect wisdom. The thought that was truly born out of this morning's reading was that all too often we see a good character trait in mankind (i.e. unselfishness and thinking not of ourselves but only of others) and automatically say, "Oh, that must be what God is like!" No! God is infinitely more! Scripture never says that the good we see in ourselves is the character of God; rather that we are made in His image, an incomplete portrayal of His mind-boggling perfection. Whatever good we see on this earth is but a reflection of God, not a completion of His character. So, I come to what I am challenged with today - to not see what is good on this earth and make that be the character of God, but take the character of God, as presented in Scripture, and compare the things on this earth to Him. As a result, my perception of earth will probably grow much less pleasant, but my perception of God will grow phenomenally more incredible - and more accurate.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Imitating Christ Alone

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 1 Cor 11:1 (NASB) I have so many thoughts running through my brain about this topic - I think it might have to be a thought as well! But, for now, I will try to limit it to my challenge. There are so many things of this world that we as Christians try to imitate or turn into something good. I am challenged to imitate nothing of this world! I am not trying to be friendly with the world. I am trying to share the Truth with the world. How can I do that if I am copying what the world does and just give it a "Christian" twist? Then what do I really have to offer? I must imitate Christ, period. I am called to be nothing less than a "little Christ." How can I do that if my focus is on changing things of this world? Things of this world are just that, of this world and therefore of death. Things of Christ are living, pure, perfect, holy. That is my source. That is my goal. I must imitate Christ, and Christ alone!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Child

"Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." Luke 18:17 (NASB) My little Steven is in that two-year-old stage where he loves to pray and to thank Jesus for everything! Yesterday the girls were chuckling at some of the things he was thankful for, including his lunch plate. We reminded the girls that that's the way our Savior wants us to be! Like a little child. How quickly the innocence fades! Olivia is only seven and Angela only five, yet they are already outgrowing some things that were so precious when they were younger. I read a poem by George MacDonald this morning, and the first stanza grabbed my heart: I would I were a child, That I might look, and laugh, and say, My Father! And follow thee with running feet, or rather Be led through dark and wild! My first thought was, "I am a child! I can be this way!" What an amazing thought! I can be just like Steven in the arms of my Father. Steven trusts me so explicitly. One kiss and even the worst of boo-boos are all better. Five minutes of focused playtime, and the world is right. One story, song, and prayer before bedtime, and the night passes peacefully. I am challenged to rest in my Father that way. I am challenged to be purely simple and totally trusting in my Lord. In this world, we have to grow more and more independent of our parents and more competent on our own. In the spiritual world it is the opposite: we have to grow continually less dependent on ourselves and more and more on God. May I be a child today!

Monday, January 5, 2009


"But they will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries." 2 Chron 12:8 (NASB) Today I sense a challenge and a burden to invest in friends more. I have a tendency to stand back sometimes, not avoiding friendships so much as trying to stay behind the scenes in a lot of things. I am feeling burdened to be bold. To be willing to say what needs to be said. To love recklessly. God is bringing a lot of people to my attention right now who truly are or simply claim to be Christians but are quite blinded by the influence of this world. They are not living the incredible life of service to their King, but are instead learning what it is to be in servitude to this world. Some of these people are new to me, but others are old friends. I am feeling so challenged to greatly invest in them. It's scary. I've made people mad before by sharing something I felt strongly about. I don't like that! So, I'm challenged to make sure that I am speaking only what the Lord tells me, and that I'm loving them like crazy in the meantime. I'm challenged to be a vessel through which friends can see what it's like to be in the service of the King of the universe rather than the prince of this world.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Be Challenged

I don't have a verse for today - or even a reference to a chapter. I just have an impression. I love a good challenge. It energizes me. It helps me grow. But, I also am realizing something about myself - I like a challenge that falls within the scope of fitting my personality. I do not mind being stretched and pulled out of my comfort zone, but I want it to be something that makes me better at what I do and who I am now. There are challenges that start something new. They develop a skill never explored. They open doors never opened. Some people thrive on those challenges. To be honest, I am scared of them. As I type and mull over this thought, I can't see a specific challenge before me that falls in this category, but I do wonder if I am soon to be led in that area. I think the challenges I have received so far have been stretchings. So, today I am challenged to go beyond being stretched to a place of being opened to something new. It is a frightening thought, but I am reminded that I am not to have a spirit of fear but of power, love, and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). So, here I go! Lord, help me to be faithful wherever You lead!

Friday, January 2, 2009


I'm reading 2 Chronicles, and I am being challenged by it like never before. I actually have typically been kind of ho-hum about reading through the Chronicles because they've always seemed to be a repetition of Kings. But, they are not! There is so much more! The thought that is coming to me as I read 2 Chronicles is how easily people can be swayed by a leader and how quickly people can return from being raging pagans to claiming that they belong to the Lord when they need Him. I am challenged by this in two ways. First of all, I'm challenged to be a leader. Regardless of how much they buck against the things of God, the truth is that people around me are truly looking for the beauty of the life they could find by submitting to Him. As much as I would prefer to just live my life and let others live theirs, I must stand as a leader and example of the life I have in Christ. Secondly, though, I must stand in truth. If I stand as a leader but am not consistent in my devotion to the Lord, people will follow me to their downfall and mine. This is one of the reasons I would rather stay in my own little world. But, I cannot. In the end, each of us must answer for our own decisions, but I definitely, as a believer in the God of the universe, have a responsibility to lead others to the truth that I know.