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.

“Come to Me”

(Matthew 11: 28-30, The Message) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

If you have come to the place where you are so tired that you’re saying it every day, and you’re dreading doing the things that you once loved to do, then you’ve gone too far for too long. 

When we think about strongholds in our lives, our minds typically go to the “big” things like anxiety, depression, or addiction (to name a few), but did you know that being overtired can also be a stronghold over you?  A stronghold is something that is part of your life that you cannot seem to bring under control.  Strongholds are lies told by Satan, with which we have come into agreement.  These things take hold of parts of (or even all of) our lives, and we have adopted them as our norm.  Becoming too tired is a direct result of overcommitting and lack of self control.  We have to learn, at some point, to use wisdom when we are asked to do things.  We have to ask ourselves, “Is this too much for me right now?  Can I fully embrace this commitment with a Godly spirit of excellence?  Am I saying yes to this because of my flesh or because of my spirit?”  The lie here (that becomes a stronghold in our lives) is that if we say no we are not being good friends, children, spouses, parents, employees, or even Christians. 

The Bible reminds us in 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5, “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”  Every lie that Satan tells is evident when we recognize that if it is contrary to the word of God, if it keeps us from knowing and serving God with full and complete joy, then it is a LIE!  We have to expose these lies for what they are, and cast them down, as we have been given all of the power and authority by Jesus Christ to do! 

Being continually beat down, tired, sluggish and stressed is NOT part of God’s will for your life…nor for any of our lives.  It is bondage.  It keeps us from Him, it keeps our family lives in disarray, it tears down our physical wellness, and it slows our minds…leaving us vulnerable to spiritual and mental attacks from the enemy. 

So what do we do about it?  Well first of all, say no…and say it a lot, at least for a while.  Slow down and breathe.  Take time to enjoy things and people again.  Mediate on the word of God and ask the Lord to reveal the things in your life that have led you into bondage and allowed this stronghold to be built.  Then tear that sucker down!  Replace it with the good things that God intends for our lives, and make the Lord your fortress and shield against these kinds of attacks on your spirit. 

Remember 2 Timothy 1:7… “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  We have power over the enemy when we recognize his wiles and reject his lies. 

Today and every day, begin anew, with a refreshed spirit and a new perspective on how you intend to lead your life from this point forward.  We have to be our best selves if we want to make any sort of difference in this world. 

St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Do few things but do them well.  Simple joys are holy.”  There is something quite sacred about taking the time to experience joy, and to be clear and focused enough to do few things with great excellence.  The result is a tremendous testimony and a positive witness to the grace and blessings that come from God our Father.  Do not let Satan lie to you any longer.  You do not have to be so tired. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I cast down the strongholds of stress and exhaustion in my life and I replace them with joy and rest.  Thank you for making me whole, for giving me peace, and for helping me have the wisdom to see the lies of the enemy and the boldness to say no to the things that will cause me to become burned out and exhausted.  I embrace your perfect will for my life.  Amen.

It’s Not Fair!

“He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’ (Matthew 20:13-15)

When I was a child, I was very disturbed by what I saw as injustice. If my sister and I were not treated equally or if I were held to different standards from the rest of my friends, I would protest to my parents, saying, “It’s not fair!” As they can attest, once I had it in my mind that I was being treated unfairly, it was very difficult for me to let it go. In fact, at one point my father jokingly recommended that I become a lawyer because of my tendency to argue the merits of my case.  However, from a young age I knew that I could never have a career in law because I would not be able to handle the flaws of our justice system (seeing the innocent wrongly punished and the guilty unpunished). Even to this day, nothing frustrates me more than when something seems unjust or unfair, and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like this.

I think part of the reason injustice elicits such a strong emotion from us is because we are made in the image of a just God.  There is something in us that objects when things are not as they should be. This world is broken and flawed, and when we are confronted with that brokenness our spirits declare, “This should not be!” And we are right. The world that we live in is not the world as it was designed to be. Someday God will restore the world, redeeming creation from the effects of sin, but until that day we must learn to navigate serving a just God in an unjust world.

So what does that look like?

In Matthew Chapter 20, Jesus tells the story of a vineyard owner and some day laborers hired to work in his fields.  The vineyard owner goes out at several times during the course of the day to hire more workers and when it comes time to settle up at the end of the day, he gives a full day’s wage even to those who only put in a couple of hours of work. Of course, the laborers that worked all day are incensed, feeling that they should be paid more than the latecomers.  The owner’s response is given at the top of this post, but basically he says it’s his money and he can do what he wants with it.

When I first heard this story, I found myself agreeing with the angry workers.  It just makes sense that those who work harder and longer deserve a greater reward.  However, this story is important in helping us understand that sometimes our idea of justice is lacking something from God’s perspective. What our human understanding of justice leaves out is the dimensions of grace.  God, because of his goodness and mercy, desires to give us over and above what we deserve. I am so grateful that this is the case, because I know that I don’t deserve half of the blessings that God has placed in my life!

In light of this fuller understanding of justice, I must change how I interact with others. If my desire is to become more like God, that means I need to shift my conception of justice from giving others what they deserve to extending mercy and grace to them. Sometimes that means withholding consequences they do deserve (mercy) and other times it means giving them what they do not (grace). This can be very hard to do, especially when that very person has wronged you in the past.  It’s hard to extend forgiveness when the person is unrepentant and can’t even bring themselves to apologize, but that is exactly what we are called to do.

We may not be able right every wrong or reform our government’s justice system, but we can bring something better than man’s justice into a broken world. If we are obedient, we can bring the light of true healing and redemption!  The prophet Micah sums it up so well when he tells God’s people to quit over-thinking everything and, “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” (6:8)  It’s that easy!

Prayer: Father, you have placed a desire for justice in our very being, and through the teaching of Jesus you have shown us what true justice looks like.  Though it may not always be easy, help us to be like the vineyard owner in the story.  Free us from the trap of unforgiving attitudes and help us to shower mercy and grace on everyone we meet.  We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

It’s like sugar…

(Deuteronomy 15:7-11) 7 If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. 8 Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

If you work hard, and you still have very little, it can be truly difficult to give.  Generosity is not always a natural tendency.  It’s hard to let go of hard-earned money and resources, especially when our society tells us that the under-privileged are constantly looking for a handout. 

However, beyond what any media plays into our minds, past all of our fears and misgivings about the intentions of people who say they are in need, we are called to love.  Does love not encompass provision and care in times of hardship?  We are so quick to jump up and fix a meal for our church family member who is sick or the family who has just had a baby.  We readily make pies, cakes, casseroles and whatever else is needed for the church potluck.  We support fundraisers for the youth group and children’s department, and we give toward projects that better our facilities.  Please understand…these things are wonderful and we should continue to support such efforts, but I am also suggesting that it should be just as easy for us to respond to the need of a stranger. 

We can do more.  I can do more. 

In Jefferson County Public Schools alone, there are approximately 7,000 homeless students.  These students rely on SCHOOL to have shelter and food throughout the day.  They are the children who never miss a day because they have the guarantee of a full belly and safety.  I’m sorry, but when did this become the responsibility of the government?  Do we dare even wonder why so many look down on the church when, in the grand scheme of it all, we do so little?

Why do you think so many people were willing to listen to Christ, follow Him, face persecution possibly unto death for Him, and loved Him without question or condition?  It wasn’t because of a beautiful facility He was able to speak in, or because He put on fun social events…it was because He responded to the needs of people who were cast away.  He healed, fed, loved and nurtured the hurt, sick and poor people.  He responded.  If we are to truly be His hands and feet, His representation, His church, then we have to do better.  We can’t worry any longer about tomorrow.  Our faith tells us that tomorrow will worry about itself.

Matthew 6: 38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

It’s like sugar…

This passage always makes me think about when you are using brown sugar in a recipe and you have to pack it down into the measuring cup.  You may be measuring it with the exact same cup that you use to measure white sugar, but that brown sugar is able to be pressed down to the point that it far surpasses the amount of white sugar that you are able to get into that vessel.  When you give, maybe what you are able to do only amounts to a cup of plain white sugar, but if you give it in love and in good faith, expecting the best, God returns that cup with a packed down double blessing.  Just like that brown sugar, He will surprise you by packing your life with a more abundant blessing, and the sweetness of what He has ready to give, you can’t possibly understand. 

And remember…all that you’ve acquired, or hope to obtain…it’s all just stuff that you can’t take with you when you’re gone…stuff that was never truly yours to begin with…so you might as well give a little…or a lot…if you dare.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me to have open hands and a softer heart when it comes to those in need.  Give me the opportunity and desire to respond accordingly.  I know that You will never leave me forsaken, as I endeavor to do Your work.  Amen.

“Well, what had happened was…”

(2 Samuel 22: 17-20) 17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. 20 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”


When I think of enemies, I do not think of human beings.  I guess to me, people are just people.  Yes, there are dangerous people.  Yes, there are groups of people who wish to do harm to others.  However, deep in my heart I understand that the only true enemy is the one who seeks to destroy souls.  Satan.  It’s okay.  You can say his name.  He’s just not that scary…he has, after all, been defeated.  Sure, he’s the enemy of our souls…but because of God’s word we have knowledge, and because of His word become flesh (JESUS) we have victory.

Just like with hope, we have to claim our victory.  Our thoughts and words are powerful, and when we use wisdom to control them, we are always a step ahead of the enemy. 

Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest. Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. (Proverbs 18: 20-21, The Message)

“You choose.”  That’s the love of God…freedom of choice…spacious places away from the deep waters…God delighting in us in the midst of our worst disasters.  So our words, they have to echo the love of God that is manifest in our lives.  Our words have to declare TESTIMONY.  That means we no longer keep it to ourselves.  We have share our rescue stories.  Imagine if you lived through a major tornado or hurricane, only to find yourself injured and buried beneath a pile of debris…but someone comes along, just when you have lost your voice and your last drop of hope, and piece by piece they remove the broken hunks of wood and shards of glass until at last you are gently pulled from the ruins.  Isn’t that a story you would share for the rest of your life?  Well, we have to quit thinking in physical terms!  You have a story to tell!  The testimony of Christ our Lord is exciting, and sharing it with others is how we overcome:  “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” (Revelation 12:11).  You see, our words work together with the blood of Christ to overcome Satan.  That is power, friends…power entrusted to us by the One who delights in us.  Our enemy is powerful, of that there is no doubt, but the same power that conquered death and hell is what dwells within each of us.  Even if you were the only one, you would still triumph.  Thankfully though, we are not alone, and together, sharing our testimonies, operating in love and compassion, praying for one another, using the wisdom and truth of God’s word to guide us, we win.


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for my testimony.  Thank you that I have a story to tell that can encourage others and spread hope.  Thank you that, through my difficulties and pain, You are made larger and your active love in my life is made evident to others.  Let my words be a source of everlasting life, and as You have delighted in me…I will delight in You.  Amen.

“Even When It Hurts”

(Job 5: 17-18)  17 “But consider the joy of those corrected by God!  Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin.  18 For though he wounds, he also bandages.  He strikes, but his hands also heal.


Years ago, one of my cousins was in a terrible mountain-biking accident when he was a young(er) man.  He was awfully disfigured and underwent numerous surgeries in order to regain a normal appearance…meaning — an appearance that wouldn’t cause people to wince and/or ask questions everywhere he went.  The doctors called it reconstructive surgery.  Throughout the process of these procedures, which took years to complete, my cousin had to endure a lot of pain both physically and emotionally.  The surgeries were painful.  He had bone removed from his skull and placed into his gums, so that he could have dental implants to replace the teeth he’d lost.  He had skin grafts and pins, and everything else that goes into reconstructing a crushed face.  I am sure there came a point for him when just the thought of going to the doctor was enough to send him into hiding, but he had to continue on through the pain to get the desired results…reconstruction.  He had to trust the surgeon completely.  He had to remember that the surgeon’s intention was not to harm him, but to make him whole again.  Sure, the surgeon’s hands wounded him, so to speak, but over those cuts and sutures were gently and carefully placed bandages. 

Our lives sometimes bring us into places where we are wounded beyond recognition.  Our choices lead us into situations, though at times out of our control, that disfigure our spirits…and we have to be lifted into safety and undergo some tough reconstruction.  We have to trust God in that pain.  We have to understand that His hands sometimes have to wound us in order to correct us.  Like the locked jaw that has to be broken, then wired shut for a time, before it is mended and corrected.  It’s not fun, and it hurts, but we have to trust that the process is worth the outcome. 

10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.  (Hebrews 12: 10-11)

When I was little, I was the kid that needed some (okay…a LOT of) spankings and discipline.  I constantly had to be reminded (because of my impulsiveness, impatience and quick temper) that I was making poor choices.  My parents had to, at times, strike me (usually on the butt), but were always quick with a loving hug and healing words of grace and encouragement.  Well, I’m 37 years old and I still need those reminders…only now they almost exclusively come from my Heavenly Father.  He sometimes has to lovingly reach down and (figuratively so) slap some sense into me!  And I desperately need those reminders.  Maybe it comes in the form of embarrassment, or internal conviction…sometimes it’s having hurt feelings…or causing them.  However it may come to pass, I recognize my Father’s discipline for what it is, and though I don’t enjoy it (not by any means), I am able to reflect back on it and be thankful that He loves me enough to help me learn from and correct my mistakes. 


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I thank you for your eye of concern that is always fixed on little ole me.  Help me to love the process, even when it hurts.  Amen.

Consistency is Key

(Galatians 2: 11-13, NLT) 11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. 12 When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. 13 As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

Inconsistency of character can be very damaging…not only to our personal reputations and growth levels, but also to the spiritual lives of those over whom we have influence.  Whether we believe it about ourselves or not, we absolutely have an impact on the people with whom we choose to spend our time, and we must be good stewards of this leverage that we hold in the lives of our friends and loved ones.  There comes a point in life when we have to step beyond just thinking inside and about ourselves.  We must evolve to a place where we recognize that there is a certain level of responsibility that comes with carrying the name of Christ…as His child, as His disciple, and as His ambassador to the world.  We are representatives, and we must take care to always present Him in the best possible light that we can…because He is worthy of that.  He is worthy of our best!

Consistency is no easy feat though.  We are so used to our many masks that we wear, sometimes switching between them numerous times in one day!  Those masks are our comfort zones, and we hide behind them because it is easy…and it feels good.  Some of us hide our true feelings for fear of ridicule or persecution from others, some of us are private and standoffish in a crowd or new setting, and some of us are simply unsure and indecisive…we don’t know who we are or what we want!  Whatever the reason may be, we all have the parts of our lives that we keep hidden…and we all pull out our different disguises to fit the various situations of our lives.  As we grow in Christ, however, we must learn to tear down those barriers and become more consistent and transparent with others.  You never know who is looking at you and watching what you are doing…especially when you live your life as a Christian!  There is a fine line between privacy and hypocrisy, and if we are not careful we can step over into the realm of deception and insincerity and subsequently crumble the foundation of any influence that we may have established.

It may seem hard at first.  The thought of being open to the judgement and criticism of others is often intimidating and somewhat scary, but as a Christian you have to bear it…because part of loving others is allowing them access to your heart and life.  When others can see who you are, when they feel as if you are the same person in every area of your life, they will trust and respect what you say and your circle of influence will grow.  And isn’t that the goal?  Loving, influencing, and winning souls for the cause of Christ…  He did His part…and is doing His part still.  So now, we must pick up our own crosses, crucify our own flesh, and experience our own resurrection in Him…becoming new creations…growing, changing, and magnifying Him with our lives.  It is no small thing.  So…be mindful of your influence, and take care to never cause someone else who may be weaker than you to stumble and fall.  Instead, make yourself available to others and work hard to get yourself on an even keel.  After all, if God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, shouldn’t we too strive to be just as peaceful and fluid in our own lives?  Let Him do the work in you, calming the storms and smoothing out the wrinkles, and He will be glorified and magnified by the words and deeds that are testified through your transparent and consistent life.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I recognize that my inclination is to hide from others and to keep parts of my life protected and safe behind my barriers.  I pray that You will do a work in me, and help me to cast those walls in my life down so that I am not hidden from view.  Help me to become, instead, a bright light that will draw people to You in me.  Thank You for Your grace as I grow.  Amen.