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.