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!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

His Strength!

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matt 11:28-30 (NASB) I have been exhausted lately. I mean, utterly and completely exhausted. I could give you example after example, but just suffice it to say I have been tired! This morning I realized something. I am tired because I am facing certain issues in my own power. It is not so much that I have done the wrong thing related to those issues, but I have made decisions based on what I want and think is logical rather than on seeking the Lord. It is hard to do everything I do for His glory when I do not consult Him in the first place! This morning I laid my methods at His feet. I confessed my exhaustion. I asked for His guidance. I committed to surrender my plan and will in favor of His. Immediately, I felt peace. I cannot stress that enough. Immediately. Peace, confidence, and one more thing - energy! The same body that had barely been able to drag itself out of bed an hour before began to feel strength enough to make it through the day! I was almost giddy! And, that was before I changed anything! To be honest, most of what I was doing I believe I am still supposed to do. But, now I am doing it for His glory and through His strength and in His way. It is amazing the physical difference that can make! So, what is my challenge? To not do this when I am at the end of my rope, but to start each day this way! Without Him, I will be exhausted after a few minutes. With Him, I will have all I need to serve Him from the moment I awake until my head is laid on the pillow at night. I am ready to do it with Him! Thank You, Lord!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Not What I Deserve

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:10 (NASB) I gripe. A lot. This is frustrating. That is exhausting. Oh, how I wish this challenge or that difficulty would pass. I get in my head that I deserve a good life. Then I read verses like this one. Oh, how little room I have to complain! My suffering is just that - a little bit of suffering. Paul referred to it as "momentary, light affliction" (2 Cor 4:17) that is working in us to renew the spiritual beings within us - to restore us to our intended state of existence. And, Paul had room to talk! He was familiar with suffering. In fact, the least of his sufferings surpassed the greatest of mine. The truth is that I deserve to be relentlessly tormented unto death. I deserve for everything around me to crumble to pieces, and even then to have barely scratched the surface of the torment I deserve. But, I will never, ever receive what I deserve. Instead I will receive the great lovingkindness spoken of in Psalm 103:11-12. My goal, desire, and challenge are to live with David's attitude - when I do, I will, without a doubt, look at each day in a very different way.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Evaluating the Path

As I was reading my Bible this morning, I really did not think anything stood out to me as a specific challenge. But, then when I was typing out my thoughts on verses from Proverbs 14, I realized an overall theme that seemed to be standing out to me as I read and processed. The theme was self-evaluation. As is obvious from the posts on this blog, I really like to evaluate how the passages I read affect and apply to my daily life. But, sometimes I try to make those applications without really paying attention to whether or not I am in the right spot in the first place. That is when it can be a little tough to apply what I am learning. Today is a day when I believe I am where I am supposed to be, but I am not entirely sure I have started the day with my focus on the path. Today I have glanced at some of the enticing thickets around me - indulgence and laziness are a couple of them. I have not moved from the path into those thickets, but I am recognizing the tendency today. I am so thankful He challenges me to stop and consider the path! And, I am so thankful that He gives us everything we need to stay on the path!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wisdom of the Young

A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction. Prov 13:1 (NLT) Other translations use the word "son" in this verse, and I have always taken it to mean one who is grown. I know "child" can refer to a child of any age - I am still the child of my parents, even though I am a grown woman with a family of my own. But, as I read "child" today instead of "son," I saw something new in this verse. Do I really acknowledge wisdom in my children? I encourage my oldest child to read Proverbs every day, but do I allow her to grow in wisdom or do I automatically discipline her as if she were a fool? Does that affect the way she responds? I am learning more and more to work on the hearts of my children rather than just deal with their actions. But, as they have accepted Christ and have begun to walk in the guidance of His Holy Spirit (of which there is evidence in their precious lives!), I need to realize that He is growing them in wisdom. I need to acknowledge that my children can be wise. And, truthfully, even I can gain from their wisdom. No, they do not always accept my discipline. Yes, they do frequently act the part of the fool. (As do I!) But, if I show them that I expect that they are growing in wisdom, even at a young age, they will rise to that expectation and I will have the beautiful pleasure of watching that growth!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Poor in Spirit

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:3 (NASB) I have long pondered this verse. As a child I wondered how poor in spirit differed from being materially poor. When I memorized this passage as a teenager, this verse was the one of which I could grasp the practicality the least. Over recent years, though, I have begun to grasp more of what it means to be poor in spirit and thus inherit the kingdom of heaven. There is an idea here of clinging to nothing regardless of what, by the world's standards, we possess. The truth is that I have many possessions. I am not poor. True, I do not have the freedom to go buy whatever I want. We as a family have to watch our income versus outflow. But, we are not poor. But even with all of the "stuff" we have, I am learning to not cling to it. The stuff is here not to make me happy or to bring any sort of satisfaction to my time here on earth. Its purpose is to be a set of tools to equip me to serve the kingdom of heaven and do the Lord's bidding, bringing glory to His Name and guiding souls to Him. If I were to lose all of the stuff I have today, then tomorrow He would give me exactly what I need to continue to serve Him. After all, the riches of the kingdom of heaven belong to me, for I am His child! So, what is the challenge? To truly live as if I believe the above paragraph. To truly be poor in spirit. To truly have my eyes open to where my possessions lie and to not cling to these earthly possessions. Some days it is easy. Other days it is not. But, the more I let go of this stuff, the more freedom I feel. The more I let these possessions pass through my fingers, the more God is able to accomplish His purposes through me and through the possessions. So, I want more!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Matt 4:20 (NASB)


Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. Matt 4:22 (NASB)


The calling of the fishermen Peter, Andrew, James, and John, is pretty well known.  According to narratives from the other gospels, this is not their first interaction with Jesus.  They had seen who He was and what He was about.  But, I still have to wonder about their willingness to follow Him.  They did not process how to get out of their business. They did not sit down and plan it all out.  They left their nets, their boats, and their father and went with Jesus. 


I do not do that.  I process.  I plan.  I work out the details.  I should follow…immediately. 


What I need to realize is that if the Lord has something for me to do and there is preparation to be done, that preparation will be part of the task.  He says follow.  He does not say prepare.  He does not say tie up loose ends.  He does not tell me to get everything ready so that He can do His work.  He says follow.


I need to learn to do so…immediately.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Justice for Me?

For You have maintained my just cause; You have sat on the throne judging righteously. Psalm 9:4 (NASB) If I were to stand today being judged for my actions yesterday - standing between God and the world, with the world accusing and God determining justice - I would be in serious trouble. Now, keep in mind, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am covered by the blood of the Lamb. I am made righteous in His sight because of it. I am His, totally and completely. Nothing can ever change that, and I am firmly and securely convinced of that. But, yesterday was rough. I honestly did not show any of that covering of righteousness. I was ugly, mean, short-tempered, and irritable. I yelled. I was angry. I was not loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, or self-controlled (Gal 5:22-23). It boils down to this - I would not have wanted God judging me in righteousness yesterday. I could only have looked at Him and said, "My God, please have mercy!" Do I go through a day in perfection? Hardly! Does that stop me from making that my goal? Not even remotely. I long to be beautiful in His sight. But, more than that, I long to stand before this world and say, "Look at me, and you can get a glimpse of my Savior and His incredible love for you!" I cannot do that when I am so caught up in myself that I cannot even show Christ to my children. Today must be different. I want to be pleasing in His sight and a reflection of Him to the world. I may be mocked and persectuted, but if I am I want it to be because I look like Him, not because I claim to be His but act like I did yesterday. That is my goal for today, and then tomorrow, and then the next day - one day at a time on through eternity.

Monday, September 7, 2009

"How Can it Be Done?" or "He will do it!"

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?' declares the LORD of hosts. Zech 8:6 (NASB)

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. Psalm 9:1 (NASB) I see quite the contrast here. In the first passage, God is telling His people that they will once again see normal, every day life occurring in the streets of Jerusalem. It seems pretty far-fetched to them - pretty hard to believe. But, God is reminding them that it is not about what they can envision, but what He can envision. In the second passage, David is remembering the conquering deeds of the Lord. Psalm 9 ends with David expressing confidence in God to execute justice on behalf of himself and God's people. He is not sure how it will be done, or even when, but he knows it will be done. Why? Because it is in line with God's character and nature, and David is focused on God's character rather than the condition of life around him. Which perspective do I hold? There are many things before my family right now that seem utterly impossible. Some of them are related specifically to our family, and others are related to church. But, they are all tasks that, really and truly, cannot be accomplished in our strength. So often I am bogged down in the impossible and I forget to look at it from God's perspective. It is not too difficult in His sight, otherwise He would not have put the goal before us! If I keep my eyes on who He is, what He has done, and what He is able to do, I will be more like David, knowing that He will do and less like the exiles wondering how it can be done.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Complete Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Prov 3:5-6 (NLT) These are such familiar verses, yet they hit me hard each time I read them. I do trust the Lord and seek His will (or acknowledge Him, as other translations read), but I am realizing more and more that there is a limit to how extensively I do both. There should not be. I know this, and I realize the foolishness of it. But, when I truly examine myself, it is the truth. Why? Because I lean far too much on my own understanding. Doing so tends to derail my ability to trust the Lord with all my heart and seek His will in all I do. If I don't understand His ways, I struggle with trusting them. It is not at all about my understanding. It is entirely about His trustworthiness, which is total and complete. In another month I will come to these verses again. I will read them in a different translation, and the words will impact me afresh. But, my desire is to be closer next month to the goal of complete trust than I was this month. That is my challenge.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

From Questions to Rejoicing

I heard and my inward parts trembled, at the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will invade us.

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places. Hab 3:16-19 (NASB) Habakkuk is a book of questioning. The prophet pretty much raises to God the question of how He could be a good and just God and still allow such suffering - still call upon such ruthless people to execute discipline upon God's chosen people. God responds to Habakkuk, but the response is not necessarily comforting. God does not say, "Oh, you are right. This is not a wise decision - I need to be more gentle when disciplining My people." Instead, He illuminates the evil in the hearts and deeds of His children and says, "This is the way it must be." God's decree brought terror to Habakkuk's heart (Hab 3:16), but his next response was one I so incredibly need to learn from. His next response was the beautiful passage of Hab 3:17-19. He knows that everything is going to fall apart. He knows that everything is going to be very, very bad. He knows that suffering, death, and exile are coming because of the sin of his people. Yet, he has come to the point that he also realizes that God is still good. God is still love. God is still his strength and salvation. So, he commits to rejoicing despite the utter terror in his heart. I struggle with that. I do not want to rejoice when I am looking into a difficult time. I want to fuss and cry and whine and complain. I want to convince God to change His mind and bring immediate resolution. It is okay for me to question Him, but then I must accept His answer - not with resignation, but with rejoicing. He is still worthy of rejoicing, no matter what!