Tuesday, September 14, 2010


In an effort to consolidate my writing a little bit, I’m going to switch things around – at least in experimental fashion – beginning tomorrow.  I am going to move Ann’s Challenge posts over to my thoughts blog (www.annhibbard.com).  When I get back into the discipline of writing a challenge every day, it will mean quite a few weekly blog posts in one spot, but I will try to make sure that the challenges are easy to separate out. 

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing you on Ann’s Thoughts!

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Benefit or His Glory?

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were seal in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.  Eph 1:13-14

Over the past few days, I have been processing through the “spiritual blessings” that Paul introduces in Eph 1:3 and then outlines in Eph 1:4-14.  And, what a contemplation that has been!  If I were to walk daily in the fullness of even one of these spiritual blessings – oh what greater fullness I would experience!  And yet I barely scratch the surface of any of them.  So, naturally the challenge has been before me to actually walk in these blessings.

But, as I reread verses 13 and 14 this morning, something else struck me.  Do I live such that all the spiritual blessings I received are accepted with an attitude of glorifying the Giver?

I am rather selfish when it comes to blessings.  I want them.  For me.  Yes, when there is a tangible “extra” blessing – a powerfully answered prayer, a surprising material gift, etc – I can’t wait to share the news.  But, those aren’t the blessings listed in these eleven verses.  The blessings listed here are the foundational blessings of our lives as children of God.  Do I live out each of those for His glory?  Or do I simply take for granted the truth that I am His child?

I’m afraid I have a tendency toward the latter.  My challenge, therefore, is to change that tendency.  To not live from one excess material blessing to another, but to live the reality that these foundational blessings are far more incredible than I could ever truly discover in a lifetime.  And to live them out for the glory of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and Him alone. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Faithful Daughter, Given Grace & Peace

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus; grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Eph 1:1-2 NASB

I intended to write yesterday and didn’t, so I’m going to share two thoughts today.

1. To those “who are faithful.”  Do we ever really stop to ponder that?  Do I?  God speaks to His children, but sometimes I think I desire a good and encouraging message from the Lord more when I’m stubbornly clinging to sinful behavior than when I’m actively seeking to walk in righteousness.  The things God says to me when I am walking in a sinful attitude are pretty straightforward, and they are not intended to encourage me to continue in that path.

I am His child for eternity, and my faithfulness or lack thereof will not change that fact.  Nor will it change the fact that He speaks to me where I am.  But, what He has to say to me is most definitely affected by my faithfulness.  Oh, that I may be counted among those who are faithful, for how I hunger to hear the words given to the faithful!

2. “Grace to you and peace…”  When I stop and think about those two words, I realize how frequently I do not live as if they apply to me.  God’s grace is given freely to me – to one who deserves it so little yet receives it so abundantly.  But, more often than not I live as if, since I don’t deserve it, I shouldn’t receive it.  And peace!  Oh, how amazing it is when I rest in it!  Yet so regularly I believe the lie that if I’m at peace then I can’t be praying enough or concerned enough about the seriousness of whatever situation it may be.   

Grace and peace are mine, without any doubt or question.  As a beloved child of the Almighty God, they have been given to me “simply” because of my adoption.  Will I scorn my place as a child of God by living as if I have no grace and peace?  Or will I walk in the grace and peace given to me, learning more each day what it truly means to be God’s beloved daughter?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Truth or Tradition

Yes, I’m back!  And it feels good! 

I’m in Galatians at this point.  Paul had some strong words for the Galatian church, especially in regard to being led astray by tradition and those who pushed adherence to it. 

This morning as I read Gal 5:7-12, two primary questions came to my mind. 

1. I am a teacher.  I cannot get away from that fact.  That’s one of the reasons I blog – if I am not teaching a class, I have to share what’s in my head somehow!  As such, I have to be very, very careful about what I teach.  Am I as certain as Paul that I am teaching Scriptural truth only?  Or do I mix in tradition and personal opinion and pass it off as holding equal authority to the Gospel message?

2. Even as a teacher, however, I am also always a learner.  I can never stop learning without invalidating my ability to teach.  As such, am I certain that I am adopting and holding to Scripture only?  Or do I esteem teachings of tradition highly and allow them to have a tight reign on me?

Tradition is not bad, providing it is Scriptural.  But if I teach or hold to tradition above the Gospel message of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then I am a false teacher who is herself being led astray.  May I be as confident that I am teaching and learning truth as Paul was!

Saturday, July 31, 2010


For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.   2 Cor 7:10 (NASB)

Paul had said some hard words to the Corinthians about their behavior and sinfulness.  The result was great sorrow in the Corinthian church as they worked to purge sin from their midst.  As I read this verse, I began to ponder the “practical” difference between the sorrow of repentance and the sorrow of the world.  What does it look like in the daily life of a believer?

Immediately the thought of my children came to mind.  I am trying to teach them the difference between being sorry because they got caught and being sorry because they sinned.  That is the difference Paul is discussing here.

Of course, I couldn’t process through that without questioning my own heart.  Many things came to mind.  When I disobey by stressing and worrying, am I more sorrowful because I struggle with agitation and disrupted sleep or because I am choosing to not trust?  When I slack in discipline in things like eating and exercising or maintaining my household, am I more upset because my clothes get snug and my house is a disaster or because I have defiled the temple and refused to be a good steward?  Where is my heart truly?

I am challenged to evaluate my own life and actions just as I am teaching my children to do.  My sorrow must be the life-giving sorrow of repentance, not the sorrow of worldly regret. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Life Debt

…and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 2 Cor 5:15 (NASB)

I must confess that, when I read this verse this morning, the mental picture that came to my mind seemed a bit silly.  The thought that came to mind was that of Han Solo and Chewbacca.  For any of you non-Star Wars folk out there, here’s the back story in a nutshell.  As the evil empire was cementing its foundation and giving the republic and the Jedi (aka the good guys) the boot, Chewbacca’s race – the Wookies – worked against the emperor to help the Jedi.  So, the emperor enslaved the Wookies.  Along comes Han Solo - a smuggler and scoundrel who, in the original movies, becomes a hero of the rebellion – who rescues Chewbacca from a lifetime of slavery.  Chewy pledges his life to Han and the two become fast friends.  Everything Chewy does revolves around his relationship with Han.  Everything.

Such pictures are not just seen in space fiction.  Life debts have been seen in true history – people who are so grateful for the help of another that they pledge their lives to their “saviors”, devoted to them until death. 

Then comes my story.  I was not saved from a lifetime of physical bondage to another human being.  I was saved from the eternal bonds of sin – an infinity of separation from God.  Yet, I happily move on with my life.  Living for  me and what I want.  More than Chewy or any real human being who has ever owed a debt to another person, I should be living my life for Christ and Christ alone.  He is the only reason I’m alive!  He is the reason I am eternal, and will get to spend that eternity with my Creator! 

I recently wrote about longing to be eternally minded.  This is definitely a continuation of that challenge.  Another perspective.  A progression of thought.  The step of living each day for Him and Him alone in my life debt to my Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010


The past two days I have struggled to really glean from the Word, but the Lord has definitely been speaking.  He's been using what I already know from His Word to guide my heart and prayers the last two days.  I can't say that I've been challenged with anything new, but there has been a new intensity to some of the challenges that have already been placed on my heart.

So, as I move into this new week - a busy VBS week around here - I am challenged to carry this intensity with me.  No matter how busy it gets.  No matter how exhausted I feel.  No matter how wrapped up I get in the little details.  I struggle greatly when I get tired, and I know this week will be one of those tiring weeks.  So, I suppose my challenge is to remember to keep going spiritual even when I have to stop physically. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Eternally Minded

As I have read and studied 2 Corinthians 4, I have noticed a common mentality theme running through it.  Paul was so incredibly eternally minded.  And I am not.

I like so often to think I’m eternally minded.  But, the truth is that I am bogged down by the here and now.  I think about the future when making decisions (often fighting against anxiety because of it), but it’s not an eternal future I consider.  Relatively speaking, it’s a much more immediate future. 

Everything Paul did, preached, taught, or wrote about pointed to eternity.  This life mattered little to him, save for the eternal impact he could make as long as he was here on this earth.

I want to be like that.  I want to be free of the insane cares of this world.  My challenge is to actively move toward that goal.  I have a long way to go, but I will never get there if I don’t start.  So, the journey begins today…

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Next Step

All of my life, I’ve heard that I need to have a regular quiet time.  And, I don’t argue with that.  Regular time reading and studying the Bible and spending time in prayer is essential to growth in Christ.  And so, I have striven to learn.  What does it mean to have a real quiet time?  How can I make it more than just being able to check things off the list?  Bible reading: check.  Journal writing: Check.  Prayer: Check. 

Over the past couple of years I have seen more growth in this daily devotional time than ever before in my life.  I’m where I always wanted to be.  It is regular.  It is meaningful.  I learn daily.  I pray regularly.  More than that, I’ve seen the impact it has had on life in general.  I hear the voice of the Lord more clearly throughout each day.  I have more confidence in decision-making, both small and large, which is a big deal for this gal who gets anxious over even the smallest decisions (like what to cook for lunch!). 

It seems I have reached a great place in my walk with Christ.  But, thankfully, I am not satisfied. 

There is no end to growth.  As such, even as I reach this milestone of learning and growth, my eyes are opened to the next step.   Areas of growth that never occurred to me before are rising before me as challenges.  How much deeper the interaction can be!  How much more intimate!  How much more real and ever present!  Oh, how much I need to learn about truly being a child of God.  A full heir.  A desired individual. 

So, my challenge is to take that next step.  To not think I have arrived simply because I’ve accomplished something I have striven for so long to accomplish.  To not think I need a break.  To instead keep going strong, climbing that next step. 

Monday, July 19, 2010


For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Eph 6:12 (NASB)

As I read 2 Cor 4:1-4 this morning, I was reminded of this verse in Ephesians.  So often I struggle through our role as a  ministry couple.  When it seems that we work and work and see few responses, we are discouraged.  But, these two passages remind me that we are never fighting against people.  We are fighting against spiritual forces that blind people.  Somehow, that is encouraging. 

Today I am challenged to remember this truth as I move through today.  When my fight is against spiritual forces, I know that I can still be in the battle – one battle of a war whose victory for my side is assured! – through prayer throughout today.  I can be effective even as I am cleaning my own home and teaching my own children.  I can make progress in fighting for the hearts of people who are being blinded by Satan.  I can still fight for their salvation and their growth.   It is when I lose focus of that truth that I am discouraged.  So, today I am challenged to keep sight of that reality – and to keep fighting.  As long as souls are perishing, I will keep praying!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech. 2 Cor 3:12

Reading this verse in the context of the whole chapter just overwhelms me.  Paul presents a comparison between the ministry of condemnation and the ministry of righteousness; a comparison between the veiled and unveiled heart.  We live with the new - the ministry of righteousness and the liberty of unveiled hearts.  Yes so often we live as if we are still under the old!  So often I live as if I am still under the old! 

I am most convicted this morning of my lack of boldness in my habit of prayer.  In recent days and weeks, I have not come boldly before the throne of grace (Heb 4:16).  I have come much more pitifully.  It is not so much that I believe God cannot work.  It is more that I doubt my own ability to make any sort of impact through prayer.  My heart aches for the needs, especially for the need for spiritual growth among many of the objects of my prayer.  But, my eyes are focused more on the hardened hearts than on the hand of God.  As a result, I do not come before God in prayer with boldness.  By extension, I do not move in boldness in ministry either. 

Much of what I have read of late, both in Scripture and in other challenging books and articles, has reminded me of victory, righteousness, and freedom from bondage because of the sacrifice of Christ.  What boldness that should bring - in prayer, in praise, and in all ministry and interaction with this world in which I live!  Oh to walk in that boldness!  That is my challenge.  May boldness begin today!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Know the Word

Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away.  2 Cor 3:12-13 (NASB)

As I read through these verses and the surrounding passage today, something occurred to me.  Paul expected that these Corinthians knew the Jewish Scriptures.  The story of Moses had been told and retold over and over again, but in very few of the retellings do you find reference to Moses' glowing face.  It's one of those little details that comes from actually going back and knowing the original story. 

When I stop and ponder that concept, I realize how much easier it is for us to know the finer points of Scripture than it would have been for the Corinthian Christians.  There were a few Corinthian Jews who were convinced of the truth of the Gospel of Christ and who would have been able to take their history with them to teach the new converts.  But, it was nothing like what I have around my house.  Every member of my family has a Bible with many extras to be had when needed.  There is no excuse for anyone in my house to not be learning the finer points of the Bible.

God has revealed Himself through this written word we call the Bible.  If I know it, if I am very familiar with it, then as the experiences of daily life come my way, I will have an appropriate filter through which to sort those experiences.  A way to evaluate them in light of the nature of God.  The Spirit speaks to my heart in so many ways - through life, music, my children, other people.  One look at my thoughts blog show that!  But, none of what He says to me will be contrary to the nature of God as revealed in the Bible. 

I suppose it all boils down to this: As each day passes and as I continue to grow, I am challenged more and more to know what Scripture says.  To commit it to memory or, at the very least, to familiarity.  To filter everything through what the Bible teaches me of God and His ways.  This is a challenge that has long been with me, but was just refreshed today.  There is no better way to know the living Word of God than through the written word that has been passed down to us through the centuries.  I hunger to know it more. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  2 Cor 3:2-3 (NASB)

This verse is found in the middle of Paul's reminder to the Corinthian church that he, unlike those who have been trying to teach them false theology, has no need for credentials to prove he is who he says he is.  His reputation among the churches and the apostles is sufficient.  But, as I pondered how these words apply to me, I wondered...what are my credentials?

My sphere of influence is nothing like Paul's.  It is much more limited.  But, as I look at those I do have influence over, I wonder what commendation do they provide?  Can people look at my children and know that I am reliable in spiritual matters?  My marriage?  My home? 

Ultimately, as with Paul, I am accountable to God.  But, also like Paul, those with whom I work are my "letter" - the proof of my faithfulness here on earth, so to speak.  What do their lives say of me?  My hunger is that they show me to be faithful and trustworthy.  My challenge is to hold up my responsibilities that I may not be discredited because of any lack of faithfulness. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sweet Aroma

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.  2 Cor 2:14-17 (NASB)

These verses have almost pursued me for several days.  I've wanted to read them over and over, to memorize them, to burn them in my heart and mind.  Why?  Because I want these words to be true of me.

Words like "triumph" and "sweet aroma" grabbed me at first.  The thought of "sincerity" in all I do for Christ.  So often as I look at my own life before the Lord I think the opposite thoughts.  I feel like a failure, a stench, and one with selfish rather than sincere motives in what I do. 

Then phrases like "thanks be to God, who always leads us" and "as from God" struck me next.  The key here is that nothing was of Paul.  Paul, on very numerous occasions, referred to his position in his relationship with Christ: he was a slave, a bondservant.  His actions were not his own.  He was Christ's.

I so hunger to be a living testimony of these verses.  To be led by Christ in all things.  For my every action to be of God.  To walk in His triumph (which might not look very triumphant to many people) and to be a sweet aroma to Him.  To be sincere in all I do because my hunger is to do what I am instructed, and that alone.  From my first waking moment to my last. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chaos to Calm

After having little chance to post last week (or do several other things, for that matter), I have much floating through my head this morning.  I am seeing a huge list of things I'd like to get done not just soon but today.  NOW!  It's not that they have to be done today.  It's not that there aren't other things that do have to be done today.  It's that I just want to drop everything normal and calm the swirling thoughts in my mind by digging in and doing all of these different activities.  Writing.  Sorting.  Planning.  Organizing.  Disposing. 

I had a great time of Bible study this morning (and most of it had nothing to do with this challenge, by the way!), but before I ever launched into it - and during it as well - God revealed to me that the chaos in my heart and mind would not lead me to glorify Him today.  Diligence, good stewardship, and devotion to what He lays before me today is what will honor Him.  Then, in turn, just as He blesses my tithe of money with amazing financial provision, so will He bless my discipline of time and energy with a calm spirit and plenty of opportunity to work those other things out day by day and in due time.

So, my challenge is to intentionally calm my thoughts and energies and be a good steward of what is immediately before me.  To say it will be challenging is an understatement.  But, I have already begun to feel God's calming hand rest upon me, and I am ready to seek Him and follow what He wants of me today. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.  2 Cor 1:12 

This was the first verse I read this morning, and I almost could not go on.  There is so much here!  I think a thoughts blog post about this verse will be forthcoming, because there’s more here than I typically write for a quick challenge.  For now, though, I’ll touch on the basic challenge that struck me this morning.

Paul’s credibility had been challenged by the Corinthians on multiple occasions, but as he stood before them – either in person or by letter – he could state that he had never in any way led them through the so-called wisdom of the flesh.  In all things he had full confidence that he had drawn on the wisdom and holiness of God.

Wow.  I’ve been evaluating my life on multiple levels related to this verse, and there is no way I could make such a statement.  I am challenged to analyze my interactions and behaviors on a daily – even momentary – basis and make changes that will grow me to the point of this same confidence. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Bond of Prayer

…you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.  2 Cor 1:11

Circumstances at youth camp last night resulted in Doug being back in the dorm much earlier than almost everyone else.  Sitting there trying to wind down, he pulled out some “light” reading – Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxes.  He emailed me a few quotes on prayer.  All of them were very powerful and convicting, but one of them has been more powerfully on my mind than the others.

“Where a people prays, there is the church, and where the church is, there is never loneliness."

This quote comes from a man who felt human loneliness far beyond anything I can begin to fathom.  Yet he knew the power of prayer that strongly. 

So did Paul.  This verse is just one of many where Paul shares how he was encouraged simply knowing the love and prayer of his fellow believers. 

I hunger to know prayer that way.  I have caught a glimpse of it at times.  Praying for a friend across many miles brings unity of heart in a way nothing else can.  But, I don’t want to just experience that now and then.  I want to live that continually!  The very thought of such unity fills me to the brim with excitement and fervor.  May I be diligent to live that out day in and day out from this point on!

Monday, July 5, 2010


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. 2 Cor 1:3-7 (NASB)

As I read and processed these verses today, I began to evaluate my concept of affliction. 
  • Much of my so-called suffering is not for Christ.  Rather, they are self-inflicted because of my choices to live according to this world rather than according to the ways of Christ.  Those 1) don't count and 2) should dramatically decrease in number as I grow. 
  • My afflictions for Christ are not very numerous.  1) I should be thankful that I can live boldly for Him without the suffering that many around the world face for doing so.  2) As I grow more bold for Him, I should be prepared for the number of my affliction for His sake to increase.  
  • I am pretty selfish when it comes to suffering.  I gripe and complain about what I'm going through. 1)When it's the self-inflicted suffering mentioned above, I need to get over my pity party!  2) When it's true affliction for Christ, I should have Paul's attitude - praise because my suffering means someone else's comfort.
All of these evaluations boil down to this: I am challenged to grow in my attitude toward affliction and suffering and to have a more eternally minded view of the things I face here on earth.  If I intend to bring glory to God through everything I do, that much include affliction!  Lord, may You be glorified through me? 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Through, Not in Spite Of

I knew last Sunday was going to be a very full and crazy day - moreso than usual for the pastor's family, that is.  So, I steeled myself against it.  When it turned out even more intense than I expected, I was strong.  And, we made it through. 

As I woke up this morning, though, something occurred to me about last Sunday.  I might have gone in with expectation that the Lord would be my strength and gird me up in the long day, but I didn't go in with the expectation that I would see His hand at work.  There was no real joy in being strengthened through the day.
My concern was that I would have the strength to make it through the day, and it was all for the sake of myself.  The idea of having strength to glorify the Lord was furthest from my mind.

That grieves me this morning.  It also grieves me that it took a week for me to get it through my thick skull!

In Sunday school this morning we will be working through selected verses from 1 Cor 8-11.  A lot of the emphasis will be on the fact that it's not about us - it's about 1) glorifying God and 2) expanding His kingdom.  That should be our active intention.

Even as I type this, the Lord is showing me how He used the strength He gave me last week to glorify Himself and further His kingdom despite the fact that those were not my intentions.  It's so humbling and awesome to know that I can be used by Him even when my heart isn't completely in the right place!  Only God can do such a thing through us stubborn humans, and it's beautiful!  As I think on it, it fills me with a hunger and passion to actually cooperate with Him.  Oh how much more could He do through me if I would just cooperate!

So, my challenge is just that.  I long to intentionally and actively use what He gives me to bring Him glory.  I long for it to be something that happens through me, not in spite of me. 

Saturday, July 3, 2010


"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."   Matt 6:20-21 (NASB)

Two days ago I woke up with this verse on my mind.  For some reason I didn't get it written about that day, or even the next, even though I intended to do it both days.  But, it's still there, and it's still fresh on my heart and mind. 

Lately I've been very frustrated by the priorities of other believers.  They say they love the Lord, but it has seemed that their priorities lay everywhere other than in glorifying the Lord.  It'st funny how He always reminds me of my struggles when I grow frustrated with other people. 

The priority of my heart might very well be to honor and glorify Christ in all I do.  But, how many earthly treasures are holding me down from that priority?  How many things do I cling to that distract my heart and mind from my Savior?  If God were to call me to leave everything - and I mean everything - to step out in obedience, what things would I fight letting go of?  Whether possessions, relationships, or conveniences, I know they are there.   

God has surrounded me with amazing provisions.  I am thankful for them.  I desire to utilize them with good stewardship.  But, I cannot cling to them.  They are tools.  If I use them for the sake of glorifying Christ, they are good.  If I cling to them as my treasures, they are not.    So, my challenge is to see them for what they are, tools not treasures; to hold them loosely; to make sure I am using them for the glorification of Christ rather than for the building up of my own treasure trove.  Only then will I truly learn to have treasure in heaven. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

For Whose Sake?

This morning I was in 1 Cor 8 in my Sunday school preparation for this week.  As I was studying through and reviewing the whole chapter – but especially 1 Cor 8:9-13 – I began to wonder about my own attitude toward things that I think of as forbidden or taboo.  Things that I view as the idols of this world.  What is my motivation behind avoiding those things?

Examining my heart, I realized that my motivation is similar to Peter’s in Acts 10:14.  I avoid things to keep myself pure.  I truly long to grow in Christ, and I don’t want to do anything to stunt that growth. 

But that should not be my sole motivation.  Yes, I long to grow, and yes I must have becoming like Christ as my life goal.  But, when it comes to whether or not I participate in certain activities, how frequently is my concern for the growth of others?  More often than not, my concern is selfish.  That ought not be!

I am challenged to be more outwardly focused.  I am challenged to think not only of my own growth, but of that of those around me as well.  My every action should be to glorify God through, and a great deal of that is bound up in the furthering of His kingdom.  Oh, my I not be so concerned about myself that I miss the ways I can be concerned for others!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Eternally Minded

Why are we also in danger every day? I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.  1 Cor 15:30-31

In this entire chapter, Paul is combating teachings that introduce a denial of the resurrection.  He is reminding the Corinthians that if there is no resurrection, there is no reason to be followers of Christ. 

I wholeheartedly believe in the resurrection.  I agree that my faith is worthless if Christ is not raised, alive and sitting at the right hand of the Father to this very day.  But, as I read these two verses this morning, I had to ask myself:

Do I really live daily like I believe in the resurrection?

The resurrection is not only about Christ being raised from the dead in a triumphant conquering of sin and death.  It’s also about the reality and the promise that I, too, will be raised.  How much of my daily life reflects that? 

If I truly believe in the resurrection of all believers, then will I not live as Paul did – dying daily?  Do my daily activities reflect an eternal mindset or a temporal one?  Actions that promote the eternal kingdom of God or that simply sustain daily life here on earth? 

I am challenged to grow in an eternal mindset.  And, although I must care for the day to day earthly needs of myself and my family, I am challenged to make daily earthly sustenance secondary to that eternal mindset. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Coming Back...

For some reason, posting on this blog has just fallen by the wayside.  I miss it.  It seems that I haven't been able to compose thoughts well enough to share them.  Even when I do, I just don't get around to getting them typed up.  But, I want to try to change that, starting this week...tomorrow, to be specific.  I don't feel that it's something I have to do, but I think I process better when I take the time to share at least one thing every day from my daily devotional time.  So, that's my challenge - to get back to intentionally seeking a challenge! 

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, June 24, 2010


So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church. 1 Cor 14:12 (NASB)

The context of this verse is a discussion on spiritual gifts, especially prophecy and tongues.  But, the thought that stood out to me was instead more focused on the idea of being zealous of something.  For all their faults, the Corinthians were at least zealous of spiritual gifts.  Maybe they just wanted the excitement, but sometimes even a zeal that has faulty initial motives can lead to growth in truth.  

I had to stop this morning and ask myself - am I zealous in any way?  Over the past few years I have read so many biographies of zealous believers, especially from the past two centuries.  Beyond that, the Bible is full of people zealous after God.  And where there is rightly placed zeal, awesome things happen.

Some of those awesome things are quite painful.  The story of Joseph in the Bible is not unique.  When people follow God, some rough things happen.  But, in each of those rough things, God brings about something beautiful and brings great glory to Himself.

At best any zeal I have is rather mellow.  I am zealous as long as it doesn't interfere in the life I think I want.  So, maybe I am zealous for my desires.  Whatever the case may be, Paul informed the Corinthians that their zeal needed to be for things that edified the body and brought glory to God.  Herein lies my challenge - to be zealous for the things that glorify God and edify the body.  May I grow immensely in such zeal!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Suffering & Rejoicing

…so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.  1 Cor 12:25-26

What is my concern for the other members of my local body of believers?  Do I have this level of care for each and every member?  To be honest, the answer would have to be no.  It isn’t that I look at certain people and just say, “I don’t care about you.”  It’s more that I don’t make it a point to truly know what they’re dealing with. 

As I pray through our church members every morning, there are certain names that really stand out to me.  I know their needs.  I know their struggles.  I empathize with them, and pray whole-heartedly for specific needs.  There are others, however, who I lift up by name but often have no idea how to lift them up specifically.  I life up their names and ask the Lord to draw them closer to Him, but I am, in truth, neither suffering nor rejoicing alongside them. 

The members of my church may or may not be open and forthcoming about either their sufferings or their rejoicings.  But, if my heart is focused and dedicated in prayer for these fellow believers, the Lord will guide my heart as I pray for them – and in turn possibly begin opening the relational doors with them as well.  My challenge is to be intentionally sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in prayer for my fellow church members that I may truly learn to care for each one. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Body

The passage today is long, so I won’t quote it all here.  But you can place your pointer over the reference to read it. 

1 Cor 12:14-26 is a very familiar passage.  It is often preached and taught to try to stir people to action.  Pew warming isn’t Biblical!  Be an active part of the body!  The minority of church members do the majority of the work!  Let’s change that!  Let’s share the load equally!  Let’s be a unified body!

I can rattle off all of the things (besides being the pastor’s wife) that I do as part of the body.  I’m not a pew-warmer.  I am an active participant.  Those were the thoughts running through my mind before I even began to read this morning.  I knew the passage.  I knew what it said.  And, to be honest, I didn’t want to read that rut into it again.  So I prayed for an open heart, eyes, and ears. 

In all honesty, it opened more questions for me than answers.  But, one thing I did feel convicted of was this: my attitude.   As I read this familiar passage again this morning, I realized that how we view one another in the body is more “the point” than how active or inactive we are as individuals.  What is my attitude toward other members of the body?  Am I a member who encourages and motivates each member to have the courage to fulfill their role  or do I doubt their capabilities?   Do I draw out the gifts of others or does my presence and attitude lead them to believe they will never measure up to some unseen standard?  Do I really even see capabilities in others or do I just see where they are now and decide in my mind that that’s where they’ll stay? 

Being a part of the body of Christ, local or universal, is not about working the hardest.  It’s about working in unity.  And that just might take a bit of an attitude adjustment on my part.  My prayer is to receive and follow the Lord’s leadership regarding the adjustments I need to make, and my challenge is to take action to make those adjustments. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Look at Me?

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.  1 Cor 11:1 (NASB)

As I read this, I don’t see a cocky statement of perfection.  I see a passion.  I see a man whose heart is fixed on his desire to imitate Christ.  Paul admits in other places that he is not perfect.  He admits his own struggles – the war that rages within him.  But his heart desires a steadfast relationship with Christ, and his goal is full imitation of the One who saved him. 

Where is my heart?  Could I ever say, “Imitate me, just like I imitate Jesus Christ”?  Would I ever dare?

To be honest, I don’t want people to imitate me.  That is just too frightening a responsibility.  But, whether I desire it or not, it happens.  If with no one else, there are three little ones living with me who will imitate me without even consciously making such a decision. 

So, the challenge comes down to this – who do I imitate?  Do I imitate my culture and the world in which I live, or do I imitate Christ?   Oh, how it must be Christ, for otherwise I can never bear the weight of the responsibility of motherhood. 

Friday, June 11, 2010


All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful, but not all things edify.  Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.   1 Cor 10:23-24, 31

I have long clung to verse 31 as a reminder in my daily life to focus on God’s glory in all of my actions.  I have so far yet to grow in that area, but it truly is my heart’s desire.

But today it went a little further.  I have long realized that there are certain things that I don’t feel are a problem for me, but I abstain from them so as to not offend.  Yet, what is my foundational motive for such abstinence?  When I was confronted with that question, I realized it was not the motivation that is outlined in this passage.

My motive has long been people-pleasing for personal profit.  I want to be well thought of.  I want to be respected.  I want my life to be a positive example of others.   According to these verses, however, the profit is not my own! 

Ultimately the profit from my choices comes down to verse 31 and the glory of God.  But, the process of that is actually the profit of others – of my neighbor.  My neighbor’s salvation glorifies God in the furtherance of His kingdom, therefore my actions should be useful to God in drawing my neighbor to Himself.  My neighbor’s spiritual growth glorifies God in the furtherance of His kingdom, therefore my actions should be useful to God in encouraging the growth of my neighbor.  It isn’t just about my profit in the relationship between myself and my God.  It’s about the profit of my neighbor. 

My challenge is to broaden my understanding of glorifying God to include how best to profit my neighbor – and consequently be even more effective in glorifying my Savior!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Trying the Lord

Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did , and were destroyed by the serpents.  1 Cor 10:9 (NASB)
I missed finishing my "series" over the weekend, but as I am still working my way through it all, I'll go back and catch up.

When I think of "trying" the Lord, I think of my own children and how they try me sometimes.  In those moments, nothing is good enough for them.  I do for them, and they complain.  I give to them and they want more.  I place beauty before them and it might as well be the ugliest thing on earth. 

I would love to say I never try the Lord, but I can sit here right now and think of ways I try Him regularly.  I fuss because He doesn't provide the way I wanted Him to.  He blesses me abundantly in so many ways, and I argue that His blessing is not what I sought.  He places beauty before me and I long for beauty of a different kind.

My challenge, naturally, is to identify specific ways in my day to day behavior that try the Lord.  Oh, may I accept wholeheartedly what He places before me!  What He provides is always best - may I never seek anything else!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day;  1 Cor 10:8 (NASB)

In continuation of yesterday's challenge, today I am pondering verse eight.  These days it seems we automatically connect immorality to sexual impropriety of some sort.  And, that is an accurate connection.  One of the definitions of immoral is licentious or lascivious.  Both of those terms do tend to focus on sexual immorality.  And, naturally I'm not sexually immoral, am I?  Maybe not, but in a culture so heavily bombarded with sexuality, I do need to remember to compare my perspective to God's Word rather than to an American standard of morality.

But, as I thought more about what it means to avoid immoral behavior, I was reminded that there is much more to morality than sexual purity.  Dictionary.com (yes, I'm lazy - I went online instead of pulling out the hardback dictionary in the school room) gives this as the first definition of immoral:
  • violating moral principles; not conforming to the patterns of conduct usually accepted or established as consistent with principles of personal and social ethics
It's very easy to consider myself a moral person relative to the standards of culture and society in which I live.  God's concept of immorality, however, is anything that does not conform to the ethics established not in our culture or society but in His Word.  Therefore, my challenge for today is to re-evaluate my standard of morality.  Is it in line with God's Word or simply with the standards of American society? 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, "THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY." 1 Cor 10:7 (NASB)

I'm not sure I'm very thrilled about the challenge laid before me not only for today but for the rest of the week.  I honestly thought I was done with 1 Cor 10:1-11, but yesterday the Lord slowed me back down.  There was a very strong impression that there was more to these verses than I had processed through, and I needed to stay with them for a while.  So, yesterday I read them again.  Then today.  And today I very distinctly felt the challenge to carefully consider 1 Cor 10:7-10 and evaluate it in comparison to my life.

Today the focus is on verse 7 and on idolatry.  This is a subject I would love to gloss over with the gleeful naivety of one who can limit idolatry to the Biblical picture of bowing down to images made of gold, silver, stone, or wood.  But, truthfully I have many idols.  If God called me to pick up and move to the ends of the earth to fulfill my one goal of glorifying Him, what things would tie me down?  Even beyond the physical possessions, what emotional ties would bring me anxiety in such a situation?  Those things - physical, emotional, and otherwise - are my idols. 

The beauty is that God does not want to strip me of all that is pleasurable.  On the contrary, He desires my full and complete freedom to enjoy the pleasures He has given me.  And He knows full well that my freedom will not come until my life is stripped of idols.  Will I surrender them freely or have them taken from me?  Will I utilize the tools of this world without being tied to them?  Will I love freely and passionately without being hindered from service by that love? 

In light of these questions, I embark on the challenge that will begin today and end when I meet my Creator face to face: to identify and put aside the idols that are hindering my full and complete allegiance to Christ and then live in freedom from those idols.

Monday, May 24, 2010


All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Cor 6:12

The first part of this verse is hard enough – utilizing discernment to determine what I should leave off simply because it is not profitable for the furtherance of the kingdom of God.  But, then comes the second half of the verse.

How many things do I allow to master me?  Emotions.  Schedules.  Activities.  Desires.  Food.  There are so many things that I want or need.  There are so many things that are a part of my day.  But, the question comes down to mastery.  Am I mastering all of these things, utilizing them as I seek to glorify my Savior?  Or, are these things mastering me?

Far too often, I become the slave.  Slave to my earthly desires.  Slave to food.  Slave to a schedule.  Slave to the computer.  Slave to the expectations of someone other than my Lord. 

Paul is pretty determined – I can almost hear emphasis in these words.  “I will not be mastered…”  I am challenged to have the same determination – no master but Christ Himself. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Delight, not Anxiety

When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.  Ps 94:19

Is that not an awesome verse?  Imagine that – delight instead of anxiety!  I love the thought!

And yet, when it comes to practicality, this verse seems pretty far-fetched.  This morning as anxious thoughts multiplied rapidly within me, I opened my prayer notebook to find this verse staring at me.  I began to ask the Lord to pour His consolations over me – I was ready for a delighted soul.

The problem came, as it frequently does, when I began to argue with Him over His consolations.  They weren’t what I wanted.  They weren’t promises to make life lovely and exciting.  Instead, they were consolations that He would be with me in the muck.  That’s not really what I wanted today.

The thing about God’s consolations is that they are not focused on this brief interlude of life that we think is so huge.  We get so caught up in our time here on earth that we forget that life – and therefore any related hope – is eternal.  So, when God’s eternal consolations begin to pour over us, we get frustrated because they don’t meet our earthly circumstances head-on.  Instead, they remind us of the need for an eternal viewpoint. 

It’s amazing how an eternal focus in and of itself can change those anxious thoughts.  Then God still pours His consolations out on top of that!  Today I am challenged to surrender my anxious thoughts to His perspective, all the while excitedly anticipating the delight that will fill my soul as His Word fills my mind. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Christ, Not Comfort

To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.  1 Cor 4:11-13

These aren’t the happiest verses in the Bible, to be sure.  In context, they follow up a bit of sarcasm as Paul is trying to make a point to some very self-assured and arrogant Corinthians.  And in the context of my life this morning, these words tugged a bit – no, a lot. 

What am I willing to endure personally in order to minister?  If I am honest with myself, not much, especially if the ministry situation is not an easy one.  I have frequently found myself saying that if I can just have a nice haven at home, I can endure much more in a difficult ministry situation. 

In other words, “Lord, make me comfortable at home, and I’ll do whatever You ask with whomever You ask.” 

In truth, I don’t want to be uncomfortable.  I want our home to be a shelter and a haven in the midst of the struggles of ministry.  But, I am challenged to be willing to surrender all comfort for the sake of the gospel, whether it is in ministry to the poorest or the richest, the most open or the hardest of hearts.  That is not an easy challenge to consider, and it is one I’d rather just silence and put aside.  But I will not.  I will pray instead that my family learns to find a haven in Christ Himself regardless of our circumstances.  For the truth is that a comfortable home is fleeting, but the arms of our Savior will never fail. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Him First!

This morning several verses have been prominent in my mind.  They are very familiar verses.  They are verses God has used many times to knock me out of selfish mode.  And, it is needed today as well – very greatly needed. 

1 Cor 10:31 Whether then you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Ps 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Matt 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Today I am hungry – finally not for the desires of my heart or the things that will be added to me if I seek Him first.  No, today I’m hungry for Him.  I want to truly honor Him.  I want to do everything for His glory.  I’m tired of the selfishness that has overcome me.  It has affected my eating, my diligence around the house, my stewardship, my craving for more stuff – and being overwhelmed by that stuff.  I’m done!  I want Him!

How thankful I am for You, Lord!  For Your Word that stirs me.  For Your love that will never let me stay put.  Please grant me nothing more or less than what I need to glorify You today!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Eternal Significance

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.  If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  1 Cor 3:12-15

What drives the things I do each day?  There are certain things I can’t get away from simply due to the fact that I have a family – cooking, cleaning, maintaining our home.  But, even those things are not without eternal significance.  Even through those things I can either choose to simply do them because they are expected and needed for our survival or I can open my eyes to the eternal impact those activities have.

But then there are other things – things that I spend much of my time trying to accomplish.  Are they eternal?  Even as I type this, I am challenged to consider my computer tasks.  Do they have eternal significance? 

In the end, any of my hard work that is only accomplished for earthly purposes is like wood, hay, and straw.  It will not survive the test of fire.  It will burn away.  I am challenged to do what I do with God’s kingdom in mind, not this earth.

Lord, please open my heart and mind to have your view of the tasks before me each day.  May I learn to have an eternal kingdom mindset that all I do be in line with thoroughly enjoying You and furthering Your kingdom.  

Monday, May 10, 2010

Whittling Away the Limits

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?  Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God… 1 Cor 2:11-12
The Spirit of God dwells in me.  The Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God.  God, through His Spirit, gives those thoughts and His wisdom to me.  So, why do I continually feel so lacking in wisdom and understanding?
I was challenged this morning to ask the question: How do I limit the flow of wisdom from the Holy Spirit in my heart and mind?
I immediately sensed a couple of areas where I lack in focus and true attentiveness – areas that would prevent me from hearing and receiving.  So, today begins the process of working on those areas, knowing that tomorrow He could bring up more areas needing work.
It’s a bit overwhelming to think of the continual nature of this challenge.  I realize that I not only have to work on the things of this morning, but I also must continually ask today’s question that He may continually whittle away at the things that limit the flow of wisdom.  But, it’s worth it to me, knowing that the more He whittles, the more I look like Him.  And that, after all, is the ultimate goal!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Weakness, His Strength

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.  For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.  1 Cor 2:1-5

I have always firmly believed that if I’m going to be someone other people turn to for advice or help (something I have always loved to do), I have to be strong myself.  What person would go to a counselor who is falling apart in his own personal life?  What advice could that person truly give?  So, I have tried to live my life with an air of togetherness.  If I have it all together – if I seem perfect – then people will be able to trust me.  If I air my own struggles, then they will not find me reliable.

Paul had the opposite opinion, and he had it right.  Human strength has limits.  Human wisdom has confines.  Human understanding knows bounds.  But, God’s does not.  Paul recognized that no one needed anything he could give, because his own giving would have limits.  Instead, they needed what God could give.  Yet, Paul also knew that he could still be a vessel! 

God has been chipping away at my “strong” image lately.  He has let me know in no uncertain terms that I must show vulnerability and need.  I have been so frightened of doing so – would people ever be able to trust me again?  Yes!  And more!  Why?  Because it is not my human frailty in which they will be trusting.  Instead, they will see that I rely on the unending supply of God’s strength and they will know that they, too, can rely on Him.

Being there for others has, in truth, been about me helping them up until now.  But, that must change.  If it isn’t about them coming to know Christ, either for the first time or in a more intimate way, then my help is useless.  So, I must come in my own weakness so that God’s strength will shine beyond a shadow of a doubt. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Bold Fool

Where is the wise man?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.  For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  1 Cor 1:20-24

It’s funny the things that strike me when I read certain verses.  When God is working on my heart on a specific issue, it seems to be illuminated everywhere. 

That has definitely been the case this morning.  God has reminded me of how easily I tend to be intimidated.  Intimidated by intelligence, “wisdom”, and a good argument.  I feel that I can’t hold my own because, to be honest, my brain doesn’t seem to dredge up information at the appropriate time.  It always seems to wait until at least thirty minutes after the fact, and then I’ll think of all sorts of brilliant things to say!

So I frequently say nothing at all.

I am not called to be a brilliant debater – to have all of the words at the right moment.  I’m called to proclaim the truth to the world and allow God to work His wonders upon the hearts of those whom He has called.  As long as I speak and shine His message in truth, it really doesn’t matter how foolish it sounds to this world.  In fact, it should sound foolish to many.  If it makes sense to the world – if it is arguable by their standards – then it is not His truth.

Oh, Lord, may I have the boldness to proclaim and not worry about being foolish!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  1Cor 1:4-7

I’m not really sure I like what stirred in my heart as I read these verses this morning.  You see, I’ve been in a bit of a slump.  A general blahness, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  And, naturally, the more tired I get of it, the more I cry out to God to get me out of here.

But then I read these verses, and I realize that I’m a lot like the Corinthian church.  I’m here by choice.  I’ve been given everything I need, just as they had been.  But, I have chosen to not utilize those tools – not draw upon the grace, knowledge, and gifts that have been bestowed upon me.  Instead, I try to skate through life utilizing my own resources.  It’s like trying to subsist on crackers and water from one little drawer when there is a whole storehouse full of amazing food just waiting for me to consume!

Today I’m challenged to remember that I have been enriched in Him and given everything I could possibly need.  I have been given full access to the throne of God!  What could I be lacking?  I must draw on His resources rather than trying to subsist on my own.  It’s practically impossible to be in a blah slump when I remember whose I am, where I belong, what my purpose is, and what resources are available to me.

Monday, May 3, 2010


…and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform.” Exodus 36:5

One of the struggles in every church I’ve ever attended has been having enough.  Enough people.  Enough money.  Enough provision.  I see in Exodus 35 how God stirred the people’s hearts.  In these chapters, there are two distinct actions – God stirring and the people responding.  They are separate.  Just because God stirs does not mean that the action will be automatic.  Otherwise there would be no such thing as sin or disobedience.

When I look at the condition of churches in general and my church specifically, it is obvious we lack the abundance, whether in manpower, finances, or resources in general.  Somewhere there is disobedience.  Many places, actually.

The challenge for me today, though, is this.  Am I personally being obedient to the stirring inside me?  I can’t cover all of the provision, but so often I let that discourage me.  If there’s no way to handle it all myself and no way to ensure that everyone else is going to be obedient, how in the world can such a massive task be accomplished? 

In truth, that is God’s job, not mine.  Mine is to obey, and if I’m not doing my part then I hold responsibility for the shortage. 

I don’t know if I’m doing all that God has stirred within me to do, probably because I haven’t stopped to consider it.  So, today my challenge is to do just that – consider my own obedience.  If I am being fully obedient, then God will take care of the rest.  If I am not, then it’s high time for me to fix it! 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Glow

Exodus 34:29-35 shares a beautiful story.  The story is that of Moses’ interactions with God.  When Moses descended from the mountain of God with the Ten Commandments, his face was glowing.  In fact, it was glowing to the extent that the people were scared of him!  So, he covered his face with a veil. 

Some days I wonder if there is any indication of my being in the presence of God.  I want there to be!  I want other believers to look at me and see the tell-tale signs that I have been with Jesus – much like mothers can look at a woman and just know that she has that glow of pregnancy (sometimes before the mother-to-be even knows herself!).  I want non-believers to look at me and see that there’s just something strange and different about me.  Even if it’s annoyingly so! 

But, I long for something else, too.  I long to be so caught up in my interactions with Jesus that I don’t realize there’s visible evidence of that interaction.  Moses had no idea his face was glowing until the people were scared of him.  I want to be focused on Jesus, not on how I look to others. 

Even as I am typing this, the joy and excitement are welling up inside me.  I am ready to be in His presence all day.  Oh, Lord Jesus, please teach me how to truly abide in You!  This is where I so incredibly long to be!  Please may I learn to not falter as the day wears on!  Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You desire my company! 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Motivated by Him

It seems I am pressed on all sides with the critical and vital importance of making my words and actions truly be relevant.  This morning I read Romans 14 and finished a chapter in Knowing God about the justice of God.

Essentially, the question before me today is motive.  Much of what I do is right and obedient to God, but do I do it because I desire to honor God or because it is what I want to do?  Even then, however, a great deal of what I do has nothing to do with God’s will.  How it has crushed my heart this morning to realize how many things I do without even once considering my Savior and His desires, will, or guidance! 

This morning my heart is exploding with the desire to make everything about Him.  Everything from the most mundane daily chores to the most obvious acts of service.  Oh, how much of a mindset change I need in order to become that type of person!  Oh, how much growth needs to occur!  But, it will never happen if I do not start.  So, today I am seeking the Lord to show me how to begin.  How to take this ordinary day and turn it into a day lived to intentionally honor Him. 

The joy of that thought is as explosive as the desire to live that way!  Just to think of walking that intimately with Him is beautiful!  And, I want to do it!  I hunger and ache to do it!  Lord, teach me today!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Put on Christ

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.  Romans 13:14 (NASB)

Whenever I think of putting something on, I think of how visible it is.  The biggest example is clothing.  So much can be discerned from our clothing.  Personality.  Attitude about materialism.  Priorities.  And, even more immediate things such as our plans for today or our current emotional condition.

This verse in Romans talks about putting on Christ.  Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ should be as visible of a display as putting on my clothes each day.  When I live my daily life without Him visible in all I say and do, then I am not putting on Christ.  I am instead making provision for the flesh.  I am showing my priorities clearly – namely, me.  I am showing my attitude.  I am showing that my plans for the day are to please myself and the desires of my flesh, not to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

This morning I put on a Sunday dress.  Soon I’ll be adding dress shoes, make-up, and an appropriate hairstyle.  If a stranger were to look at my family about an hour from now, it would be obvious that we were headed to church.  I am challenged to make putting on Christ that obvious.  Day in and day out.  I want to show that I am making no provision for the flesh, but only for the reflection of Jesus in all I do. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bold Communion

There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.  Exodus 25:22

The Holy of Holies had to have been a fascinating place to consider.  I think of the things that I have heard about but never seen, and I feel that sense of mystery and awe that comes with the unknown.  I can only imagine how the Israelites must have felt about the Holy of Holies.  A place where God Himself met with His people.  What a concept!

So few after Moses were truly able to enter the place where God met His people.  It was a greatly limited place.  A place of great fear and trembling.  A place where God’s people could only go after much cleansing.

But Jesus’ sacrifice changed that.  He opened the presence of God to me!  I do not have to journey to the temple and walk through to the Holy of Holies – nor do I have to stand outside while the high priest intercedes on behalf of an entire nation.  I can meet God right here where I sit in my living room! 

Oh, how I take that for granted!  So often, I hold back from prayer as if it were a forbidden room.  I don’t open my heart and truly commune with God.  Oh, how I snub the sacrifice of Christ simply by the fact that I do not truly pray!

My challenge and heart’s desire is to truly learn how to pray!  Heb 4:16 expresses our freedom to come boldly to the mercy seat – oh, may I be bold!  Oh, may I truly dive in to the full privilege of entering the presence of the most holy God!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  Rom 12:1-2 (NASB)

We all want to know what God’s will is, but are we really willing to live lives that prove His will?  That means literally surrendering all rights to ourselves. 

Meanwhile, there’s the actual description of God’s will.  It is “good and acceptable and perfect.”  But, in whose estimation?  That’s where we frequently get caught.  It is not “good and acceptable and perfect” according to my estimation, but according to God’s.  That makes an incredible difference. 

It presents quite the challenge to me.  First, to open myself to be searched, to see how I am refusing to surrender myself as a living sacrifice.  I know the ways are many, but it’s so much easier to just glide through my day without truly surrendering to that examination.  Secondly, to surrender my concept of what is good, acceptable, and perfect.  To identify only with His estimation of those qualities. 

I know I am not going to like what I see as I open myself up for the digging.  But, it’s the only way I can truly become a living sacrifice who proves the will of God through my daily life.  And that’s honestly where I want to be.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Even so, I will rejoice.

I’ve been moving so slowly through Romans.  It has been coming alive in my heart as never before.  It’s like awakening to something that has been there all along but has just never registered in my heart and mind before. 

This morning I finished Romans 11 after being here for a few Edays.  When I arrived at verse 33, my heart was right with Paul.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Rom 11:33 NASB)

Wow.  After what I had just read – and the thoughts stirred up within me from it all (which I might share someday soon if I can get them together) – this perfectly expressed my heart.  It is all to incredible for me to truly grasp!    Sometimes it all seems so conflicting.  How could a God of love do that.  And yet, how could God love me that much?!

I suppose the challenge of my heart for today comes down to this – I must remember to rejoice in it all.  Even when it is mind-blowing.  Even when I just can’t wrap my mind around the extremes of who He is.  Even so, verse 33 must flow from my heart in great exultation and praise. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Attitude Check

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among who you appear as lights in the world…  Phil 2:14-15

I’ve done a lot of grumbling lately.  About family.  About church.  About the state of our country, our world.  Most of it is behind closed doors, but it still has an effect.  It affects my attitude, and therefore keeps me from appearing as a light in this world. 

I am a reflection of something.  If I grumble and complain I am a reflection of irritability.  If I rejoice in all things, I am a reflection of Christ. 

There is no doubt that there are things in my family, my church, and my world that are just not right.  But, grumbling about them accomplishes nothing.  Today I just need an attitude check – a reminder of my responsibility to pray continually with thanksgiving and to rejoice in the Lord.  I desire to appear as a light in this world – will I do what is required to accomplish that goal? 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sacrifice & Surrender

What I am willing to surrender for the sake of obedience to Christ?  I honestly have no idea what is soon to be asked of me.  All I do know is that as I read in both Romans and Exodus this morning, I knew I was being called to willingness.  Primarily to a willingness to make changes and sacrifices if that is what obedience requires. 

I don’t sacrifice well, to be honest.  Whether it be time, will, possessions, family, rights, beliefs – whatever it may be.  If I have any inclination that it belongs to me, I like to cling to it.  I am hesitant to surrender.  I am reluctant to release. 

And that attitude must go!

There have been times in my life when my reluctance to release has resulted in God ripping the very thing to which I cling from my tight grasp.  I can testify that when I require God to grow me in that way, it is infinitely more painful than any surrender or sacrifice.  Upon reflection, I inevitably regret not releasing my grip willingly.

I have no idea what God will be calling me to surrender.  There is no doubt that the command is forthcoming.  Not because I am feeling challenged today, but by the simple fact that I still have much to learn and far to grow.  Learning and growth are not possible without at least some measure of surrender – usually a great measure.

My challenge, therefore, is to cultivate an attitude of willingness.  To be prepared to surrender and sacrifice whatever He requires of me.  Regardless of the specific instruction, the act is one of the will.  Here and now I can be willing.  Here and now I can surrender my will. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Is it Seen?

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:36-39

My most recent readings in Packer’s Knowing God have really challenged and broadened my perspective on the love of God.  Some of Packer’s thoughts reinforce, solidify, and clarify what has been growing in my own heart and mind.  Others, however, are very novel to me, driving me to want to study them more. 

But, this morning’s reading was nothing novel or fantastic to my mind.  It was simply challenging.  At the closing of a very powerful chapter (which I have been reading for quite some time) on the love of God, Packer asks this question, “Could an observer learn from the quality and degree of love that I show to others – my wife? my husband? my family? my neighbors? people at church? people at work? – anything at all about the greatness of God’s love to me? 

Wow.  I don’t think I can answer that question positively.  I cannot see how my actions toward others could ever truly express even one tiny morsel of the magnitude of God’s love for me.  His love for me made me an adopted heir to His eternal kingdom through the sacrifice of His one and only natural Son.  How can I begin to express His love for me through my actions toward others when my actions are so immersed in selfishness?

It is my prayer that by some miracle an observer could catch a glimpse of the love of God through something I do.  And, it is my challenge that my actions become more greatly reflective of God’s love each and every day that I live. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rejoice and Persevere

Even as I have been silent on this blog, my heart and mind have not been silent.  They have been working quite strenuously, in fact, to process what I have been learning and reading.  But, I can’t really put any of what I’ve learned into words.  And that bothers me. 

Sometimes when I work and work but cannot really show anything for my efforts, I get discouraged.  I begin to slack and become lazy.  It shows in my spiritual life, my interactions with the kids, the maintenance of my home, my diligence to fulfill obligations – essentially in every aspect of my life.

This morning as I was praying, I asked the Lord to remind my heart how to keep working – how to not become discouraged through this time of not being able to really put my thoughts into words.  One word came to mind.


I’ve heard that word so many times!  I know the power of rejoicing!  I know the freedom that comes from it!  Why do I stray from it so frequently?

Today I read Romans 8:18-25.  Much is swirling through my mind related to this passage, but the last verse seemed so relevant to my prayers this morning.  Verse 25 says this, “But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

I am not working toward enough understanding to write, whether it be in my private journal or on a blog.  I am not working to maintain a clean home.  I am not even working to educate my children or effectively participate in the ministry of our church.  Instead, I am working toward an eternal hope – something I cannot see or put into words.  But, something that should fill my heart with exceeding great joy and hope when I ponder upon it. 

So, even when I have nothing in the here and now to show for my work, I will rejoice.  I will persevere.  I will hope.  And even as I think of it, my soul is lifting and I am beginning to anxiously desire to get going with this day – and rejoice.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Continuing Story

As I ponder the beauty of this morning, so many things are flooding through my mind.  The joy!  The power!  The love!  Oh, He is risen!  Reading Romans with the beauty of Easter fresh on my heart is powerful indeed. 

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

How can my heart not just explode at the very thought of it?!

What has also been on my mind, though, is the disciples.  They spent the whole weekend in the most confusing, horrific, grief-filled, challenging upheaval imaginable.  No, it was beyond imagination.  No wonder they had trouble wrapping their minds around the fulfillment of what Jesus had been telling them!  No wonder they had a hard time accepting Jesus standing before them!

The thing that tugs at my heart with the greatest power is the continuation of the story.  In Luke 24:47-49 we see a tiny glimpse of what Jesus said and taught in His last days on earth.  Essentially, He told them that because of His suffering the world would have forgiveness.  But, there’s more!  Because of their presence through it all – because they suffered through it, too – they would be the vessels by which the news of that forgiveness would begin to spread through all the earth.

The very foundation of their lives changed.  Jesus’ resurrection took them far beyond the lives they had lived before.  These men and women are truly the picture of the old man passing away and the new man coming.

In the words of a Veggie Tales character, “The Hope of Easter changes everything!”  Thanks to that Hope, I was forgiven about this time of year 24 years ago, but the transformation and growth in my life can’t stop there.  I am still not what I need to be to help spread the story of forgiveness to the ends of the earth.  How challenged I am to surrender everything I am in order to be His vessel.  To cling to nothing but the resurrected Lord.  To continue the work of the disciples to proclaim these things to all mankind. 

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!  May the world hear that truth through me!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Live Like I Believe

Yesterday was a rather busy and crazy Sunday.  But, as I went through both preparing for all of my obligations for yesterday and then proceeded through meeting them, I was continually faced with a powerful question.

Do I truly believe God’s Word.

My gut reaction is to say, “Of course I do!  Why would I not?”  But, when it comes down to the reality of some of the things I’ve been learning lately, do I really and truly believe them?  If I do, then I should live them out.

Do I really believe what Paul writes in Romans 6 about being free from sin?  Do I believe Jer 29:11 and Rom 8:28 and their promises of what’s best for my life?  Do I believe what I read in Jer 1:9-10 recently about the power of God’s words in a simple man? 

Yesterday morning I taught a Sunday school class about living in such a continual relationship with Christ that we don’t miss a beat when challenges arise.  Last night I taught teenage girls about the incredible nature of prayer.  Today I am wound up myself by the things I taught others.  I am energized and enthused.  I am hungry to truly live the things I taught. 

I am challenged to not just say I believe God’s Word, but to live like it!  Wow, what a life I could live if I were to do so!  And that is the life I long to live!