Sunday, February 28, 2010


For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you.  Rom 1:9-10

There is so much in these two verses, but a couple of things really grabbed me immediately upon reading them this morning.

  1. What am I passionate about?  Do my passions revolve around honoring God with the fullness of my energy, or do they reflect an attachment to the things of this world? 
  2. Do I pray unceasingly for the fulfillment of those passions?

As I look back over the recent years of my life, I am excited to find that my passions are increasingly Christ-centered, revolving around my desire to honor Him.  I still have much to learn and far to grow, but I can see progress, and that is encouraging.

When I look at how I handle the waiting, though, I am much less diligent.  Sometimes I faithfully pray in the waiting, but other times I am easily discouraged and frustrated.  I am not faithful to continue praying unceasingly.

I am challenged to continue to grow in the focus of my passions, and I am also challenged to be much more faithful in the prayerful waiting. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010


…among whom you are also the called of Jesus Christ;  Romans 1:6

I am called of Jesus Christ.  Personally selected and chosen.  It’s not just that Jesus died for the world and I happened to be in it.  He chose me.  Died for me.

But, in the process, He also entrusted me.  Paul has just spent the first five verses of Romans detailing what his own calling means – his own bond-servant submission to Jesus Christ.

There have been times in my life when I have been entrusted with great tasks and responsibilities by people I respect.  It has been an honor, and I have sought to fulfill those responsibilities with the best I have had to offer. 

Do I respond the same way to the tasks and responsibilities entrusted to me by the Lord of the universe, the Almighty Savior of my soul?  I shouldn’t just give the best I have to offer – I should give my all.  Everything I have and everything I am.

And so I go into today challenged to rise to the calling – to submit my all and to pour my every breath into the tasks and responsibilities set before me by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

All while leaping for joy and singing in praise of the one who called and chose little ole me. 


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hiding Me

Romans 1:1-6 really got me this morning.  I'll be blogging about it on the thoughts blog before too much longer, but I just had to share it here today.

Paul is introducing himself to the Roman church, and it is a pretty long introduction before he gets to the recipients in verse 7.  But, the thing that grabbed my heart this morning was that, although Paul was introducing himself, the introduction was not really about him.  It was all about who he was in Christ.

I am so incredibly self-centered, and I suffer the consequences of that selfishness.  Oh, to be like Paul.  Oh, to realize that nothing is about me - not even an introduction to who I am.  Who I am should be so completely wrapped up in Christ that I cannot even talk about myself without talking about Him! 

My challenge in coming days is to totally re-evaluate my self-introduction.  I know who is more visible right now - me.  Totally and completely.  I am challenged to change that.  Christ should be most apparent. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

His Day, His Plan

It was hard to get up this morning.  It's been hard to get up many mornings.  But, we did it anyway.  As I looked at my full to-do list for today specifically and then at the number of things that need to be done soon whether they fit specifically into the daily schedule or not, I wondered once again how in the world I would be able to rise and meet the demands of the day.  Of the week.  Of the preparation for next month. 

And then there was a gentle nudging.  A reminder that the days are not mine.  They are God's. 

At first I asked the Lord to put aside my plans and put in place His own.  Then I realized why it was that I phrased it that way - put aside.  I still wanted to keep my plans intact.  I wanted to hang on to them.  I wanted to make sure they were in the background so that I could always come back to them if I finished His plans first.  Ludicrous, I know, but true nonetheless.

So, I rephrased.  I asked Him to throw out my plans and replace them with His own.  Totally and completely.

Shortly after that, He began to impress upon me the ways I needed to refocus the day.  And within a short time, He revealed to me that my well-laid plans would have been wrenched from my control had I not surrendered them willingly. 

I do go through phases where this is the way I start my days - surrendering to Him.  But, somehow, I never do it with enough consistency to form a habit.  My challenge is to avoid being sporadic.  I hunger to make every day a submission to Him.  If the things on my to-do list really need to be done, He will make a way to get them done.  Otherwise, they're not really all that important anyway.  And, if I would seek Him before I make that to-do list, I might not even be distracted by what I think must be done!  Oh, may I make daily submission to His plan my permanent mindset!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Shake it Off!

But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand.  However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm.  Acts 28:3, 5

Paul was a prisoner.  He had been so for quite some time.  Meanwhile, he had been on a sea voyage that had been a struggle pretty much from the very beginning.  And now, here he is, shipwrecked on the island of Malta, just working to help everyone dry off and get warm. 

And a poisonous snake comes out and bites him.

At this point, I’d be pretty frustrated.  I would be asking, “What next, God?!”  I’d be griping and complaining that I just couldn’t handle any more.  Little things would be getting to me – and this snake bite is far from a little thing.

But Paul just shook the creature off as if it were nothing more than a little hindrance to an otherwise perfect day.

Oh, how I need to learn to put things into the proper perspective.  I get so worked up about circumstances.  I want everything to flow perfectly.  But sometimes, God works most strongly in the situations that seem to be the most difficult. How can I be ready for His work if my attention is focused on how uncomfortable and frustrated I am?

Paul wasn’t phased by a snake bit.  I am phased by much lesser things.  I am challenged to learn how to just shake them off!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Just Obedience

There are some mornings when I really do hear God's voice, but it doesn't seem that there is anything that quite fits on this challenge blog.  This morning appeared to be one of those mornings.  I had a great journal entry, and Proverbs thoughts just seemed to flow.  But, I didn't expect to have anything to post here. 

But, as the morning has progressed and I have chewed on some of the things I read this morning, a segment of a sentence has stuck with me.  I don't like incomplete quotes, but the sentence from which I want to quote is an entire paragraph.  So, I will do my best to do it justice. 

"What, then, does the activity of knowing God involved?  Holding together the various elements involved in this relationship...we must say that knowing God involves, first, listening to God's Word and receiving it as the Holy Spirit interprets it, in application to oneself..." J. I. Packer from Knowing God (emphasis mine)

There is much more here, namely the whole discussion regarding the elements of the relationship between ourselves and God.  But, what has hammered itself into my heart and mind this morning was this quote and the reality that I don't always focus solely on the application of His teaching to myself.  I think, "Yes, this is awesome!  It will definitely help me grow!  Oh, and I think ________ needs to hear this, too!  I wonder how I can share it..." 

Please hear my heart and know that my motives are not bad.  It excites me to see people grow!  But, having good motives does not always mean that I have good practices.  Just as God can teach me in His own way, so He can teach others. 

God does work through me to impact other lives, if I am wiling to let Him.  But, it is through no responsibility or intentional action of my own.  The only intentionality I should express is that of taking His Word and walking in obedience to it.  Period.  God's usage of my obedience is what impacts others - not my words.

And the greater joy in this is that much of the pressure I put on my own shoulders can be removed because I am not responsible for others.  I am responsible for my obedience.  If my obedience is full, then others will come to the Lord and grow because of it.  If my obedience is lacking, so will the fruit of my life. 

So, my challenge is to no longer split my focus between my own obedience to the things the Lord lays before me and the sharing of those things.  My challenge is to focus fully on my own need to obey.  Not selfishly, but in a Christ-centered manner.  And the reward will be the delight of watching Him use me to impact others without the hindrance of my attempts to "help."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


A discovery was thrust upon me today, one which seems so incredibly plain as I meditate on it.  But, for some reason, up until now it has not even occurred to me.

For some time now, 1 Corinthians 10:31 has been a go-to verse of sorts for me.  Am I glorifying God in what I do?  If I am to be honest, I will admit that I do not ask that question with any sort of consistency.  But, it is my goal to ask it with greater frequency as each day passes.

But, what occurred to me today was that I have been asking the question wrongly.  I have been asking it of myself. 

“How can I glorify God through what I am doing right now?”


“What do I need to be doing right now that will bring glory to God?”

The questions might be correct, but how can I truly know what will bring glory to God unless I ask the question of the right Person?  I would never stand in the kitchen and ask myself what Doug wants for lunch.  I would ask him!  How much more ludicrous to analyze the heart of the Creator of the universe without at least consulting Him on the issue!

So, my challenge is to not only seek to more greatly glorify God each and every step of my day, but to direct my questions to Him instead of myself.  Maybe, just maybe, I will see more progress and success in actually glorifying Him in what I do.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Family that Rejoices

Rejoice in the Lord always;again  I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.  The Lord is near.  Phil 4:4-5 (NASB)

Something I have been challenged with for some time now is the need to grow as a family.  Although we have individual responsibility before God as we work out our salvation, the truth is that we are not really individuals.  We are a unit.  When people look at one member of our family, they make assumptions about the rest of us.

One of my primary prayers for my family as a whole right now is our joy.  That we would collectively overflow with an infectious joy in the Lord.  Not an attitude of always smiling and saying that life is great (regardless of the truth), but living the truth that nothing matters as long as we are growing in Christ. 

Of course, there is a very strong personal challenge here.  My children need to see this in action.  And that comes back to Doug and me as parents.  To me. 

I have been challenged in joyfulness before, but there is something even more frightening about living a challenge out before my children in such a way that they can truly learn it, too.  That’s where my challenge is today. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The End Goal of Learning

To say I have struggled lately would be an understatement.  It has seemed that no amount of prayer or study has been effective.  It’s just been routine, going through motions.  It’s a place I’ve been many times before and, as before, I am not thrilled about now.  I’ve been crying out to God, asking Him to get me out of this place!

And He is working on it.  Oh, what joy!

You see, I have been trying to learn and grow for the purpose of pouring out.  I want to teach.  I want to encourage growth in others.  I want to be the tool God uses to draw others to Him.  It is a desire that is in line with God’s Word, but I have been approaching it badly.  I have been approaching it as the reason for my learning.

This morning the Lord used a book I’m reading – Knowing God by J. I. Packer – to point me back to some incredible truths found in Psalm 119.  The reminder was like a river of cool, fresh water pouring over my parched soul. 

Psalm 119 emphatically proclaims that the reason for my learning is not about growing others.  It’s about growing my relationship with Christ.  Ministry to others does not pour forth from my learning – it pours forth from a vibrant and growing relationship with my Lord and Savior.  So, if the ministry is my end goal, then I will truly wither, as I have been.  But, if knowing and becoming like Christ is my end goal, then my life will flourish and the ministry which holds my passion will flow naturally.

And as I feel restored, so I feel challenged.  Thank You, my Lord!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Joyful Lights

…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…  Heb 10:24

I know this verse applies in context to the church family, but I have felt very strongly that verses like these can apply just as appropriately to the nuclear family.  And, that is where my challenge lies this morning.

I have noticed something about my family lately.  There tends to be a lot more whininess than joy.  It is something we have just become desensitized to.  We just respond that way without even thinking about it.  It’s not just my kids – we all do it.  And, it is not glorifying to God!

We are the light of the world (Matt 5:14).  This is not a command to be the light of the world – it is a statement of fact that this is what we are.  What sort of light is my family shining?  How can we truly be glorifying to Christ if we are whining all the time?  In fact, Phil 2:14-15 reminds us that we do appear as lights to the world, and we have to put aside that whininess so we will be pure lights.

So, my challenge – and the challenge I will place before my family – is to consider how to stimulate one another to good deeds, and especially to stimulate one another to good attitudes.  May we become a family known for our joy and rejoicing! 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

To Whom Do I Listen?

I’ve been reading in Acts about Paul’s return trip to Jerusalem as he is closing out his third missionary journey.  I remember knowing that he had been warned multiple times of the arrest awaiting him in Jerusalem, but I don’t know that I ever realized just how much warning there really was. 

I guess the biggest thing that is hitting me, especially as I have read chapters 20 and 21, is the different responses to the warnings.  Paul seems to be the only one who receives it as preparation.  Everyone else perceives it to be a warning for Paul to avoid the danger.  But, he goes with his own perspective and walks straight into his arrest in Jerusalem.

If I am honest with myself, I much confess that I don’t listen to the Spirit well.  I can’t help but think that, if I were in Paul’s shoes, I might not have gone on down to Jerusalem.  So many were saying, “Don’t go!”  I think I would have been inclined to listen to them and take their advice rather than listening directly to the Spirit.

This definitely challenges my growth.  It challenges me to greatly improve the direct lines of communication between myself and the Lord.  True, He does use His people to interact with me, but the only way I can truly know if I am hearing Him or simply the whims of others is to be in close communion with Him.  I so greatly need to grow in that communion.  Only then can I discern what He is truly guiding me to do. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

No Words

Sometimes I think that if I’m silent on here, that must mean I’m not learning.  Why?  Because I assume that if I’m being challenged, I’ll be able to articulate it clearly.  I haven’t been able to do that for a few days.  But as I look back over the last few days I can see that God is definitely working on me.  Quite intensely, to be honest.

There are some days when I can’t really define a challenge or put it into words.  But, it’s on those days that I’m reminded that my purpose for this blog is more to help me articulate my own thoughts than to really put a challenge forth for anyone else. 

So, I think my challenge for today is to learn to mull over things without being able to define them.  To learn even when the learning isn’t clear enough to put into words.  That’s hard for me.  I’m a lover of words.  They help me think.  Abstract concepts just make my head hurt.  So, I just have to trust that the Lord is going to take these abstract ideas and bring them together into something clearly defined in His own good time.  In the meantime I’m going to trust – and learn without clear words.