Yes & No

“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No” be “No,” lest you fall into judgment.” (James 5:12)

Recently, William asked if I would be willing to play a board game with him but I was busy at the time so I gave him the canned “Dad” response—“We’ll see.”  This satisfied him for the moment and off he ran to find something else to do.  Then, I overheard him talking with Ben, telling him that I would be playing a game with him later and would he like to play as well.

“What did he actually say?”

“We’ll see.”

“That’s ‘Dad’ for no.”

Ultimately, we DID play the board game, but it appears that whether I intended it to be that way or not, the boys had learned to interpret my words in different ways.

The people we interact with learn our patterns of speech and behavior, and whether the two line up. It’s a natural part of human psychology, to find patterns in our environment and use them to predict future interactions. This means that if we desire to be known as a person that can be counted on, as a person of integrity, we must carefully choose our words and then follow through with our commitments. 

It is very easy to over-promise and under-perform, especially when we are feeling pressure to commit to something that we don’t really want to do in the first place. You feel guilty so you agree to something, and then procrastinate because you don’t want to do it.  Then you feel guilty for procrastinating, and you rush to get it done at the last minute.  That’s not how I want to live my life, but I’ve found myself in that situation so many times!

It would be much better if I just did as James instructed…Let my “Yes” be “Yes” and “No” be “No.”  What might that look like?

  • No — Sometimes we just need to say “No” and that can be very hard to do if we don’t want to upset someone.  In some cases, we must say “No” to something that is good and worthwhile so we can say “Yes” to something that is more important. To accomplish this, though, you must have a very clear understanding of your priorities, so you can evaluate between things.
  • Yes — If you do commit to something, follow through!  It doesn’t help if you say you will do something but then flake out on the person asking for your assistance, and it just makes you look bad. 
  • Maybe — There is nothing wrong with saying, “Let me get back to you later.”  This prevents you from making a commitment before you’ve had a chance to consider it.  But if you do this, make sure to follow up with the person and let them know your decision.

It is important that people be able to trust you and your word. It goes beyond social standing and responsibility. As a believer, each of us is a witness to Jesus Christ. Everything we do should point people to him.  If you have gained a reputation as someone who cannot be counted on with small things, how will they ever trust you with subjects of eternal consequence?

PRAYER: Father, thank you for being a God that can always be counted on.  Your word is faithful and your promises sure.  Help us to follow your example…to be trustworthy people of integrity.  In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen!

“Let faith rise up. Oh heart, believe.”

(James 4: 2-3, NLT) …Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. 

Recently, some dear friends of mine received some amazing news — a blessing that is a direct answer to prayers, and an open door that only God could make happen.  I am so overjoyed for my friends, and I can’t help but reflect on who they are in Christ — faithful, humble, kind, generous, selfless, and supportive.  I can’t think of a couple that bears more evidence of spiritual growth and maturity, so it makes total sense to see them reaping the harvest of the seeds that they have sown. 

We all have desires and goals.  We all have those things that we pray over, and I think many of us are looking around for open doors — for answers.  I know that in my own life, I have asked God “why” and “when” a million times when it comes to the desires of my heart.  His response:  Why?  When?  He turns it right back around to me, because it truly is about motives. 

For the longest time, I thought what I needed was another child.  This was a time in my life where I walked through real darkness — truly the valley of the shadow of death.  I felt utterly helpless and very, very alone.  People around me — my peers, unmarried people much younger than myself, and even my fellow “infertile Myrtles” — were all getting pregnant like it was an epidemic to which I was somehow, heartbreakingly, immune.  Talk about disheartening.  So I, of course, began to question God.  I put Him on trial and I badgered Him like an angry lawyer!  God, WHY can’t I have another baby?  WHEN are You going to answer MY prayers?  I’m faithful!  I demand answers! Only to be met with total silence…

So I quit asking God for anything.  Oh, I prayed, but I left my requests in the recesses of my heart.  I had resolved that God was arbitrary and supplications just don’t matter.  He’s gonna do what He’s gonna do anyway, right?  That was the way I felt!  I thought God was being silent because I was somehow undeserving of an answered prayer, but it was during this time that I came across the above verse in James 4, “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”  Well, there was my answer folks.  I was humbled in that moment.  I realized that God’s plan for me is not always what I think I want.  It’s not about me!  I had been selfish.  I asked myself, “Why do I want another baby?  When have I truly set myself aside and given my all — my focus, my heart, my ability — over to the will of God?” 

Maybe you have been asking God for something, to no avail.  Maybe you’re like I was and feeling defeated and alone.  Please know this — YOU ARE NOT AT WAR WITH GOD!  If you feel defeated, it isn’t because God is keeping you under His thumb.  Don’t you for one moment believe that lie.  He loves you, and He has something beautiful and perfect planned out for your life.  It may not match what you have dreamed up in your human and imperfect heart, but when you let go of that stuff, when you relinquish the control to God, when you set your heart on being faithful to His commandments and precepts, He will begin to open those doors so wide that there will be no mistaking that it is Him and only Him! 

It’s funny how, in retrospect, things almost always make sense.  This past summer, it became evident to me that a former student of mine (a 9 year old little boy) needed a stable home and a family to raise him and provide for him.  Now, I work in public education in an inner-city elementary school, so I do see this a lot, but this time I felt that unmistakable pull that only comes from God.  This child would not get out of my thoughts and God would not leave me alone.  The door had opened, folks.  It all made sense.  We brought this child into our home, and we haven’t looked back, not even once.  All of my questions have been answered.  I asked God why — because…if I had another child of my own I would never have been receptive to opening our home to this little boy.  I asked God when — when everyone was ready. 

Like my friends, who stayed the course, whose focus was always on serving God and growing in Him — and like my own situation — when we are able to shift the focus from self to serving, when our motives are pure and selfless, that’s when things start to happen.  The doors begin to open, and we have but to walk on through them.  Sometimes we have to endure blind faith, but God is never going to leave us behind.  He’s carrying you.  I promise.  Keep your heart steady and pure.  He’ll do the rest.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I thank you that even in my doubt and hurt, when I could not see past my tears and frustration, You were there waiting and ready to meet me with every answer.  Help me to never forget what I have learned through the darkest times of my life, and help me to continue to walk in that wisdom.  Amen.

Suit up!

Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. (Genesis 6:9, NLT)

We all know about Noah, how he built the ark, and whose righteousness saved the human race (and every other living creature today) from being completely obliterated by a disappointed, frustrated, and fed-up God.  In the midst of much ugliness, God looked upon His corrupted creation with disgust, to find but ONE righteous man among them all…Noah.  Thus the story of the ark unfolds, and because of such, our existence was enabled.

But I don’t want to talk about the ark and the flood.  When I think of this piece of history, I sometimes forget that Noah was the ONLY blameless person living at that time!  Think about that for just a moment.  In an earth full of people, only one had maintained his relationship with God in such a way that he was considered righteous and blameless in the eyes of God.  That is huge.  It says a lot about Noah, but it also says a lot about what was going on in the world at that time.  No wonder God was so angry, and so ready for a clean slate!  Can you imagine?

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” But Noah found favor with the Lord.  (Genesis 6: 5-7, NLT)

Today we are not too far off from this level of wickedness.  I don’t have to name it all off…we can each take a look and see the evil around us for what it is.  And I can’t help but wonder, if it came down to it, would I be the ONE?  Would I be considered righteous and blameless enough to find favor in His eyes?  Would my life, and the lives of those I hold most dear to my heart, be spared?  Being 100% honest here, I have to say no.  I don’t think I’d be the ONE person who had remained SO faithful, SO true, and SO righteous, that I could be chosen as the saving grace of the world!  But…I can be thankful in knowing that it will never come down to that again.  In Christ, we have a better hope…God’s promise of grace and mercy is fulfilled, for Christ is the ONE…chosen and given as a sacrifice for my (our) sins.  So no, we don’t have to worry about total obliteration, but it does bring up the very important subject of righteousness.  What is it exactly?  Why do we need to pursue it?

Righteousness is defined as: the quality of being morally right or justifiable.  Biblically, and in a way that can be applied to our spiritual lives, there are many examples of righteousness, but in the New Testament, James reminds us of who actually set the bar for righteousness…Abraham.

21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.  (James 2: 21-24, NLT)

Righteousness is right relationship with God by a faith expressed in works.  It is not only “talking the talk” but also “walking the walk,” so to speak.  When we line our actions up with the word and commandments of God, we can be confident in our pursuit of righteousness.  When we say we believe it, and we back that proclamation up with dedication and love shown by what we actually do in our lives, then we are walking in the truth…in righteousness.

So what do we do?  If righteousness is an alignment of faith and action with God’s word, then I can’t help but go back to the full armor of God.

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  (Ephesians 6: 10-17, NLT)

Righteousness is our spiritual body armor – or breastplate.  It protects our very core from wounds.  It is a covering for the most vital parts of who we are as children of God and followers of Christ.  When we live our lives in right relationship with God, honoring His word with faithful works, we are covering our lives with the protection and grace of God.

So…suit up! Though we do not face the same things that Noah faced, you can be sure that darker days are coming in our world.  We are not promised that things will get better, or that life will be easy for us, but we are promised grace and mercy to carry us through every battle that we face.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I am not always the righteous one.  I falter, and I waver in my faith, but I am so grateful that You sent Your son to die for me, so that in my times of failure I am covered and redeemed by Your grace.  Help me, Lord, to be more committed to my own pursuit of righteousness.  If I am to be more like You, if I am to please You, then I must do what Your word tells me to do.  I am trying, but I need Your help…every day.  Amen.

Angry Responses

Be angry, and do not sin.
Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And put your trust in the Lord.
(Psalm 4:4-5)

Anger is a part of the human experience. We all feel it occasionally bubbling up within ourselves and have to figure out what to do with it. Like a switch, it can turn off the rational part of our brain, causing us to say and do things that we would not normally do. It drains us physically, taxing our willpower and making us feel ill due to increased blood pressure and tension. It’s not fun.

We also find ourselves on the receiving end of someone else’s anger from time to time. Whether we have done anything to deserve it or not, interacting with others means we will have to deal with the angry people. It can be frustrating, and ruin an otherwise good day.

Anger is a natural emotional response to the circumstances of life. God designed us to have this emotional capacity within us, yet the Bible repeatedly cautions us regarding how we cope with our anger. This is because anger is volatile, and can quickly take us to a place we do not want to be. So what should we do with our anger? Psalm 4 gives us a few tips as to what we can do to process our anger in a healthy manner:

  • Do not sin — Whatever our response is to be, there must be limits to how far we will go. Even when we are in the midst of an emotional response, we still are responsible to live and move within the limitations of God’s laws. It’s important that you establish boundaries for yourself before emotions get high, because in the heat of the moment is not when you are likely to exercise restraint.
  • Back off and keep things in perspective — Closely related to the first point is the ability to keep a proper perspective of the situation at hand. Sure, that other person mistreated you, or cut you off, or said something nasty on Facebook, but is it really worth the fight? Is rising to the challenge really going to have a positive impact on your day, circumstances or relationships? When we back up and take a “big picture” view of the situation, we’ll often find that the thing we are all worked up about is not as big a deal as it seems when we are in the middle of it.
  • Do the right thing — Sometimes we have to force ourselves to do the right thing. It can be extremely difficult to do when we are upset, but we must stay true to the vision of character and integrity that God has called us to pursue. Sometimes we have to forgive and overlook an offense. Other times we have to follow through on commitments we have made long after the desire to do so has gone. God sees and rewards our faithfulness.
  • Put your trust in the Lord — God has promised over and over in Scripture that he will take care of us. He sees when you have been wronged, and has promised judgment upon evildoers. Vengeance is his, another passage says. And in the meantime, he WILL provide for you and take care of anything you may need.

Anger is an issue that will have to be addressed, whether within yourself or others, and ensuring that we approach it in the correct way will help you to walk in the abundance of God’s blessing.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for providing wisdom on how to best live our lives. We desire to live in a holy and righteous manner, which means we must have a firm control of our emotions and responses. Help us to control our tongues, to maintain a heavenly perspective on our circumstances, and to choose righteousness when everything within us is screaming otherwise. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen!

“I’d Rather Have Jesus”

(Luke 23: 18-21) 18 Then a mighty roar rose from the crowd, and with one voice they shouted, “Kill him, and release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas was in prison for taking part in an insurrection in Jerusalem against the government, and for murder.) 20 Pilate argued with them, because he wanted to release Jesus. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

What is your Barabbas?  What’s the thing in your life that represents your willingness to trade just about anything to replace Jesus?  What do you continually release into your life that pushes Him into the corners of your heart and mind?  What is it…the thing that crucifies Him time and again?   

You already know what it is.  I am guessing it popped up in your mind almost immediately.  That’s the thing about sin…it’s a problem that we know we have in our lives.  Everyone has a Barabbas or two.  We’ve all compromised at some point.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  All.  That means every person — you…me…your parents and grandparents…even Mother Teresa and the Pope!  By our very nature, humankind has a sin problem. 

Jesus said (in Luke 9:23-25), “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?”  He hadn’t even been crucified yet, but Jesus knew what was to come, and He also knew the burden that would sometimes come upon us as a result of following Him.  He knew the weight of the cross before He ever carried it, and He knew that in our human weakness we would at times get sick of that weight and drop the cross in the middle of the road.  That’s why He said to take it up daily.  Every day is a fresh start. 

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,  for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3: 22-23)

We don’t have to start over from the beginning.  God is merciful.  We are able to pick up where we left off, never looking back at what we left behind.  His mercies are new every morning.  Each time the sun rises, both literally and figuratively, we have a clean piece of paper on which to begin writing the next chapter…brand new…but we still have to carry that cross.  Serving Christ requires a sacrifice of self…of sinful nature and the desires of our flesh.  We have to start crucifying our own selves…putting that “Barabbas” on the cross where it belongs…and stop sending Jesus back to His cross.  He’s already made that sacrifice, and once was enough to cover every sin…ever.  We have to stop trading Him in for what we desire in the moment.  Romans 12: 1-2 tells us, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

The choice is completely in our hands.  Because of God’s love and grace, we have been given the freedom to choose Him, or to keep Him at arm’s length with our sin.  So think about your own Barabbas, and you decide. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, when my cross gets heavy, I know that you will help me carry it.  When I drop it, You will right there beside me…to help me pick it back up and keep moving forward.  I see my “Barabbas” for what it is.  Give me the strength and courage to choose You every single time.  Amen. 

It’s a Slippery Slope Indeed

(1 Samuel 18: 12-15) 12 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul. 13 So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. 14 In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him.


As we grow older, it’s inevitable that someone younger will come along who threatens our status in some way.  Maybe they will be better looking, smarter, funnier, more talented, sharper, more charming, have better ideas, or create successes in our areas of failure.  However it happens to manifest, there always comes that time when we are no longer the latest and greatest at what we do.  For some people this is unbearable, and it slowly begins to breed negative thoughts and feelings such as envy, jealousy, resentment, and even hatred.

Jealousy is nasty business.  It’s not a sin to FEEL jealous.  It’s not a sin to FEEL threatened and cast aside.  We are human beings and God gave us our feelings.  However, when we begin to allow those feelings to take root and bear their ugly fruit…that’s when sin is born and latches onto us like a hungry baby, feeding off of our every whim like sweet milk.   

James 3:16 says, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

We can’t allow jealousy to exist.  Instead we must cast it down with the truth of God’s word, knowing that because we have the spirit of God dwelling within us, we have power over our minds.  “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Instead of allowing jealousy to lead us into sin, why don’t we try reevaluating our roles in the lives of others?  If we are called to love, then let’s truly do that.  In the body of Christ there is no room for competition and envy.  We have a responsibility not only to the world, but also to one another.  We must take part in the spiritual growth and development of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and consider doing so a privilege. 

So encourage each other and build each other up… (1Thessalonians 5:11)

When we are focused on love and encouragement, we become willing to take a back seat to someone else for a change.  We begin to realize that being an usher for the a new generation of leaders and “doers” is an honor.  When you have taken the time to feed into the life of someone else, when you have been willing to be humble and truly crucify the flesh, when you have resolved to walk beside (and yes, sometimes even BEHIND) someone with similar gifts and talents…that’s when you begin to conquer the “green-eyed monster” within.


Prayer:  Father God, I recognize my own tendencies to allow jealousy to become more than just a momentary feeling.  I see its potential to cause harm and all of the ways that it can damage lives and relationships within the church.  Help me to love and support my spiritual family and to remember the beauty and blessing that comes from sowing seed and watching it flourish in the lives of others.  Amen.

You Want Me To Do WHAT??

(John 13:12-15) 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

Feet can be very gross.  Unless you have just been for a pedicure, your feet are probably kind of rough and maybe even sweaty and stinky.  I don’t know of anyone, beyond maybe a person with a weird hang-up with feet, who would just think, “Man, I really want to get on my knees and scrub those dirty feet!”  It’s an awkward, uncomfortable, and undesirable thing to think of doing!  Well, serving often means doing the stuff that no one else wants to do.  It is having the humility to go beyond your talents and the things you’re comfortable with, and just doing what needs to be done.  Jesus was a gifted teacher and somewhat of a celebrity…everyone knew who he was.  To his disciples, he was Teacher and Lord — their rabbi.  Jesus would never have been asked to wash their feet!  No one had to ask, because he selflessly volunteered.  He was doing what all good teachers understand is necessary — he was modeling the desired behavior.  Did Jesus mean that we should all literally get down and wash one another’s feet?  Well, yes and no.  Yes — because sometimes an old-fashioned foot washing can be a symbolic and spiritual way to show humility and love toward someone else, just as Christ did when he washed the feet of his disciples.  No — because Jesus wasn’t just modeling physical behavior.  He was showing his disciples (and ultimately us) what it means to humble and to have the heart of a servant. 

Galatians 5:13 says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”  Because of the love and the sacrificial blood of Christ, we have been set free.  When we use that freedom to serve our own flesh, we are squandering the priceless and precious blood that was shed — the blood that paid the price for our freedom.  Serving others takes on many different shapes, colors and sizes.  It changes and shifts as we grow and mature in the Lord.  Sometimes it looks like ugly feet waiting to be scrubbed (you know…like changing poopy diapers and rocking crying babies in the nursery on Sunday…like scrubbing church toilets and floors…like pulling weeds and stacking chairs…), and sometimes it looks like that thing you’ve always wanted to do (you know…that thing you know you’re good at…that thing you feel called to do).  I’ll be honest, there’s a lot of the dirty feet…and more dirty feet means more hands are needed to wash them!  Literally, figuratively…either way, there’s work to be done.  If Jesus Christ — Savior of the world, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Alpha and Omega — could get down on his knees and wash the dirty feet of his followers…if he could suffer humiliation and pain like nothing we have ever known…then surely there is nothing that any of us is above doing when it comes to serving one another.  We are the church…we are family…brothers and sisters in Christ…joint heirs with Jesus.  It takes a village, friends.  When we come together in love, humility, and with a spirit of commitment and purpose, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, it is by You and through You that we are free.  May we never waste that freedom on selfish motivations.  Instead, help us to find joy in serving…however YOU see fit for us to do so.  Give us willing hearts, and humble spirits, so that we reflect You in all that we do.  Amen.

“You May Not Know How, You May Not Know When”

(Psalm 126: 4-6, The Message) And now, God, do it again—bring rains to our drought-stricken lives. So those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest, So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.


Summer, 1988…I was 7 years old, just out of second grade.  We lived in South Carolina and we were in the midst of a typical southern summer…muggy, scorching hot, and days so long you might find yourself praying for the sun to set.  At 7 years old, I didn’t understand what drought meant.  I heard about it on Good Morning America while I munched on my PopTarts and sipped my Tang from a crazy straw, but I didn’t experience it…other than being asked not to leave the hose turned on in the yard.  At 7 years old, I saw TIME magazine in the dentist’s office, and I knew there were farmers in trouble…fires burning in California…but I didn’t experience that.  My daddy was a preacher…I didn’t depend on the rain to ensure my livelihood.  To me, rain meant mud and thunder and a cool-down from the summer heat.  I never considered it a source of LIFE.  I didn’t know, because I hadn’t lived without it.

A drought sort of creeps up on you.  It’s not like a tornado, which is sudden and quick.  It’s not like a hurricane or flood, which is expected and passes soon.  A drought starts slowly, so slowly that maybe you don’t really notice how dry it’s been until things around you start to wilt and die, and when it’s in full swing, a drought devastates every component of our domain.  It is a genuine hell on earth. 

Just like the land becomes dry and thirsty, our souls go through times that seem like a dusty hell on earth.  However, in seasons when it seems useless to even try, we cannot lie down in the dirt and give up.  Instead we must continue on, in faith, and we must proclaim, “And now, God, do it again.”  He’s done it before…and that word “again” implies our faith in Him.  So what is a drought to us?   It’s a trial.  And what does the Word tell us about trials?  “7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”  (1 Peter 1:7 NLT)

So welcome the drought, and continue to plant your crops…even in despair…because it is through being forced to go without the things we’d never just give up on our own that our faith is perfected.  No trial lasts forever…no devastation is beyond repair…and when God allows drought we must keep moving in faith with arms open wide in expectation of the harvest and blessing ahead.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  (James 1: 2-4, The Message)

The drought of 1988 lasted well into 1989 and impacted our entire nation.  It was the worst natural disaster to take place since the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s and was so until Hurricane Katrina hit in 2004.  To the people directly affected, it must have seemed like eons passed before the rains finally fell and rejuvenated the earth.  Yet in the larger scope of time, it was but an instant.  It is a part of history, from which we are able to learn and use that knowledge to face similar difficulties in the future.  Experiences give us wisdom, and they are the foundation of our faith.


Prayer:  Father God, I trust You in all things.  Thank you for teaching me what it is to be without, and for helping me to understand that YOU are my source of life.  Amen.

But I Don’t WANNA!

(1 Samuel 3: 11-18) 11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’” 15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.” Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”


Obedience is hard.  It just is!  Even when we’re grounded, and we’re fully committed, being obedient is difficult because it requires something substantial from us…humility.  For most people, humility is a personal sacrifice because to submit to someone else means that you have not only given up “ownership” of your life, but you have also said with your actions that you are not the one who matters most.

I’m sure it was more difficult than one could imagine for Samuel to share with Eli what God had shown him.  After all, it was harsh, and Eli had been Samuel’s surrogate father, his teacher, and his mentor for most of his life.  We know that Samuel laid awake until morning, seemingly in dread of having to be the bearer of such a “hard word” (as they say).  He didn’t want to do it.  His flesh resisted obedience, just like it all-too-often will.  However, when Eli demanded to know all, Samuel’s response was of the highest regard and the greatest humility…he held nothing back. 

Shouldn’t this be our response too, not only to God but also to those who have been given authority over us?  For in truth, if we are humble, then it’s not about ourselves anyway, and personal sacrifice then comes into play.  Fears are set aside, comfort is surrendered, we give our all, we tell the truth, we love by serving, and we OBEY. 

Sometimes part of serving God is submitting to the unpleasant.  We have to realize, like Eli, that the Lord is sovereign.  The Bible tells us that a man reaps what he sows, and unfortunately (even under the grace of Christ) the repercussions of sin must come to pass.  Consequences are absolutely unavoidable, but as God’s children we must recognize that He is the father and as such we must give to him the trust and respect he is owed.  In the words of Eli, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”

1 Peter 5:6  tells us, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”  When we have been able to come to a place of humility and obedience, we become malleable in the hands of the Creator, who desires to make something marvelous and incomparable out of our lives…so that when He has completed the work within us, He is able to lift us up over His head as if to say, “Look at this masterpiece!”

(Psalm 25:9) He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”


Prayer:  Father God, I realize that without you I am nothing.  I accept your will and I recognize your providence in my life, even when I am facing consequence and hardship.  Help me to be humble in all ways, submitting myself as a servant to your call on my life.  I know that this is what you require of me if I am to be shaped and taught by you, my Creator and Lord.  Amen.

“Promises, Promises”

(Psalm 119:147-148) 147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. 148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.

When the weight of life begins to fall
On the name of Jesus I will call
For I know my God is in control
And His purpose is unshakeable
Doesn’t matter what I feel
Doesn’t matter what I see
My hope will always be
Your promises to me.
– “Your Promises” by Elevation Worship

Because of humanity, because we are a mess, because of SIN…life is a guaranteed trial.  I don’t care what you say, who you are, or what you do…your life will not always be easy.  It just won’t!  We’ve been given many promises by God, and no, that’s not one of them…it’s just a consequence that we must endure for a time.  Into our lives, sin brings chaos and hurt, and there’s no stopping it sometimes, but as children of God we have been given all of the wisdom, power and authority needed to rise above. 

In every situation we have hope, but the thing about hope is that you have to take ownership of it and once it is claimed you then have to decide where to place it.  You can place it in other people, you can place it in your career, you can place it in your church and all of the “good” things that you do to support it, but none of the above will ever hold out for long.  People fail us, jobs and careers can be lost, and yes even churches fall apart.  Do as you wish, but there is only one placement for your hope that is sure to stand above the waters and that is God’s word. 

As a believer you lay claim on His word, by your faith, that it is true.  So…when you read it and meditate on it, you are ingesting THE TRUTH.  God’s word is filled with many things, all of which benefit our walks through life in some way, and every word is perfect and established.  Therefore, we have what we need in order to pilot our way through this expedition.  Through His word we have our history (which gives us His plan), we are given our commission (which is our purpose), and we have access to the countless promises from God (which give us HOPE). 

Without hope, purpose and plan fall apart.  2 Peter 1: 3-4 tells us, “3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” When we are able to place our hope in the promises, the “very great and precious promises” of God, we are empowered to fulfill the purpose and the plan set before us from the beginning. 

Gaining access to these promises does, however, require something from you.  It requires discipline.  You will have to read, you will have to meditate, you will have to actually CONVERSE with God, and you will have to make time for these things.  Yes, it is all easily accessible, but acquiring strength in spirit is a lot like building physical strength…you have to put in work.  It is a commitment, and what we all eventually learn about commitment is that sometimes it just doesn’t matter how you are feeling at the moment, or how things look through your natural eyes, because the foundation of a covenant is the promises that were made.  When the anxieties, hurts, and disturbances of life make you feel things that are contrary to the truth, if you will go back to the Word…to His promises…you will find that your Heavenly Father is deeply committed to loving you, blessing you, and ensuring that you fulfill your purpose. 

(Jeremiah 29: 11-14) 11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the hope that is found in Your word.  Help me to remember it when my feelings take charge and my sight is skewed, so that I do not hinder my role in Your purpose and plan.  Give me strength to be more disciplined in my pursuit of You and my commitment to Your will.  Amen.