Amazingly Grateful

Throughout this year the message I keep getting from every Christian source is to grow in my faith I need to learn about God’s character.  And to know God’s character we need to go to the one true source – His Holy Word.  The Bible is the most amazing reference book.  It changes every time you read it.  I’ve looked at the same passages at various times this year and discovered something new each time.  Even the simple verse, “Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10) carries so much information.  It’s about trust, it’s about slowing down, it’s about getting quiet.  It’s also about placing God above all and realizing He is God and we are not.  

When viewed not only in context but also within the historical perspective the meanings grow even more.  Today in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving – a now much maligned holiday.  To some it’s been twisted to represent the killing of native Americans.  To others it’s about the first Europeans working with the natives to survive.  While others simply celebrate the opportunity to be with family.  Here’s a bit of this day’s true history:

“Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Native American who greeted them in English. 

Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days.”  — History Channel

You see, we can make up what we think the first Thanksgiving is about but when we truly are interested in finding out the facts and the historical perspective it takes on so much more meaning.  Taking a national day to “Give Thanks” didn’t become official for many years later and it was more about just that – giving thanks for the blessings God has bestowed us.

I asked my friends and family to share verses from God’s Word that have special meanings for them on this day of Thanksgiving.  To show appreciation and to give thanks for all the blessings God has bestowed on us these thousands of years – written in His Holy Bible.  Take a moment to look each one up and see if you find something new that speaks to you! And feel free to add your own in the comments.


“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2 

I have had this written on my cupboard door since the beginning of my cancer trial this year.  To me says it all and I was cured!! Thanks be to God – Beverly

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When the trials come, I know I can endure them because Jesus has already overcome the world. – Brennen

“Be still and know I am God.” Psalm 46:10.

It’s very intimate to me. – Janet

“To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.” Isaiah 54:9

Gods covenant of love and peace with us! – Madison

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

This is one of my favorite scriptures but a little ironic in a funny way because it’s said during Catholic mass, followed by the priest’s instruction to “show one another a sign of peace,” or in other words, say hi to the person sitting next to you. This always caused me anxiety at church because I’m kind of an introvert, but once I just let the words flow over me, especially in times of stress in daily life, I can sink into the peace of God’s love which is His gift to every single one us. – Laurel

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; Do not be discouraged, For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

When I recite this, I am reminded that I am not alone and I can feel strength from God coming back into me! – Betsy

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Prov. 3:5-6

This is comforting to me. During my immature Christian days, I thought God expected me to solve my own problems. Thankfully, he does not expect me to do this alone! God designed me to depend on Him and wants me to pray to Him because he knows what is best and will gladly answer my prayers and guide my decisions. I trust God more than anyone else when I need direction and answers. He knows me way better than I know myself . . . . what a relief and comfort! – Anita

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

It’s a promise of hope and joy and peace not only to just survive but to thrive.  God wants us to thrive and enjoy life. – Todd

“My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me.” John 10:27

Because Jesus knows me! Little ol’ me. He knows me by name and I am special to him. — Andrea

Amazing Directives

Saul’s Conversion

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

 The men traveling with Saul stood there amazed; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.

Acts 9:1-6


These last 11 months my BSGs have completed four different Bible studies. We have to laugh now after every question that asks something along the line of, “What does God expect of us?”  The answer is always to obey.  If only we humans could figure that part out.  Yes, at times Jesus’ teachings seem a bit fuzzy.  In fact, during His last few hours His disciples were very confused.

At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”

John 16:17

And as Jesus continues in John 16: 28 with, “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father,” the disciples reply with “Ah, now you are speaking plainly!”  So often we may think that Jesus is only the figurative speaker.  And we need to pray on and discern what He may truly want from us.  But by studying the Word and therefore the character of Jesus we find His is more the plain speaker than not.

When Jesus told Saul, “Now get up and go into the city” there were no ifs, ands, or buts.  Do it.  Obey.  Yes, Saul had the choice to do it or not.  Thankfully, he listened and obeyed Jesus’ amazing directive.   Twice I have had God speak to me in very loud, definitive terms. Once in hearing His actual voice convicting me to true action in my spiritual life.  And once in a vision directing me to do His works.  And I obeyed.  And yet there are many, many other times when I have heard His quieter voice directing me and I questioned or even ignored Him.

How many times has He clearly told you to stop and speak to someone and you refused?  How many times has you told you exactly what you need to do to lose weight, stop smoking, stop hating, stop doing something destructive and start living out His Word?  In one of my Bible studies this week a friend told me of a vision she once had.  Her relationship with Jesus has been tumultuous because of family issues.  She leans a lot on Eastern religions.  In this vision she was being loved as a baby and coddled by the Dali Lama.  And then Jesus approached and the Dali Lama handed her over to Jesus.  She screamed “NO!”  What I found so fascinating about this and all the times I, myself, have refused to obey, is how we humans so easily place ourselves above the Divine.  You realize that is exactly what we do when we ignore the amazing directives of Jesus?  We think we know better.  But we can never see the whole story of our lives.  We can never fully understand how interconnected all our actions or inactions are and the impact they may make.

About three months ago my friend Caroline was asked to obey an amazing Jesus directive.  While walking through the patio at church she saw a young woman sitting by herself.  Jesus said, “Go talk to her.”  Now, my friend is not some uber, outgoing person so this made her feel a little uncomfortable.  But because of the Bible study we were doing at the time she said, “ok” and sat down with the young woman.  During the conversation she found out that this young woman, who recently moved from out of town to go to college nearby, was in fact a college classmate of her own daughter.  She passed along her daughter’s phone number.  The tasks being obeyed, the young woman and my friend went about their lives.  Fast forward to yesterday.  This is the text my friend received from that young woman:

“Hi!! I know this seems so random but I’m actually heading back to Hawaii for Thanksgiving until January and I’ve just been doing a lot of reflecting on all the amazing people I met here in the last 3 months and feeling so grateful! I just wanted to say thanks for reaching out to me that one night, I remember feeling kind of uncomfortable but it was so special and such a gift from God that I was able to chat with you and see that we had so many connections already!! Anyways, just wanted to say thank you again and I’m so appreciative of that time that you took to chat with me!”

My friend obeyed Jesus’ directive of a simple act of hospitality and a life was changed.

Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees.

Life Principle 9, Charles F. Stanley

Jesus says to, “Follow me.”  It’s an opportunity for us to obey.  And as my faith journey this year has evolved, I realized my growth spurts have come each time I have listened to an amazing directive and obeyed.  Each time my trust grows is each time His trust in me grows.  Yes, His trust in me.  Because until we can be trusted to obey His small directives, like helping the person in the grocery store parking lot, He won’t entrust with something bigger.  And I don’t know about you but I want Jesus to trust me enough that I will do His amazing works till the end of my days.

Today when you hear that whispered directive from Jesus, obey.  You know His voice.  You know His character.  He and satan are clearly differentiated.  So stop questioning Him.  Obey.

Our Amazing Influence

Simon the Sorcerer

Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.”They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, amazed by the great signs and miracles he saw.

Acts 8:9-13


It’s my guess that before many of us heard Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:39,  “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”, we all thought we were some level of great. 

It’s okay, you can admit it. I will too. Before knowing Jesus, our lives were centered around the greatness of self. Achieving selfish desires and seeking after things that would fulfill and establish a name for ourselves. I know before I knew Christ, I was on a slippery slope of idolization of self-value and worth – mainly in what others thought of me. I so desperately wanted to be like Simon. I wanted to be looked upon by those low and high with great respect, reverence and awe. I thought that if I could just attain a certain level of status with those I looked up to most, then certainly, I would be fulfilled. 

As described in the text, Simon had great fame amongst the people of Samaria. Those who knew him even thought he was god-like. He had all eyes on him, all the time. He knew how to command a room and keep their attention with amazing and impressive acts of sorcery and magic. Surely, this was the peak of Simon’s life. He had great influence over those who looked up to him. The people listened to him and were continuously amazed by him. 

Are you looking for glitz to influence or God?

But one day, Simon found the attention of the people was no longer in the palm of his hands. Someone else was stealing the show…

Philip had stolen the attention of his audience with the truth of the gospel. Now all of a sudden, the people were more interested in hearing about Jesus, rather than seeing Simon’s sorcery, and Simon was too. 

Miraculously, Simon was also among the many who were touched by Philip’s faithfulness to share the gospel everywhere he went. Simon became a follower of Philip and chose to no longer be a chief producer of propaganda for himself, but a disciple of Jesus, and one who laid down his “greatness” to serve the one and only Great God.  

Many of us look at Simon’s life before Christ and think, “Man, he had it all.” I mean, being a magician is no noble or holy position, but he had the love and respect of the people — two things every human being deeply long for more than anything else. The fact of the matter is, the influence Simon had on those people was superficial, surface level and would only last for a while until they found their next source of entertainment. His influence didn’t have deep roots in their hearts, it wasn’t truth-centered. 

The same goes with the superficial influence many of us THINK will make a lasting impact on others. We want the status, the attention and the glamour, but in reality all of that, will amount to nothing. 

True, deeply-rooted influence on others takes time. It takes a gospel-centered approach that puts the others’ hearts and souls first. It takes laboring in love, sacrificing time and resources and really listening to what the other person has to say. Simon may have captured the attention of the townspeople, but it didn’t take much for someone like Philip, who brought both truth and love, to steal their attention. 

Now, loving others and sharing the gospel is certainly no popularity contest. But, establishing effective and genuine and amazing influence is key to making strides for the Kingdom. 

So, what kind of influence have you been attempting to have on others? Do you seek glitz and glamour like Simon? Or, have you sought genuine, amazing relationships that are truth-based like Philip? 

Consider those around you who look up to you and think of how you can take one step towards influencing them towards Christ-centeredness today. 

Amazing Presence

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

Luke 24:16-26


Depending on how Messianic scholars classify the prophesies in the Old Testament about the coming of Jesus, you will find between 200 and more than 400 statements about the Son of God becoming a man to teach us and be our ultimate sacrifice.  Given that information, which was taught throughout the Jewish faith, you have to wonder why anyone at the time of Jesus’ death didn’t understand what was going on.  It shouldn’t have been a surprise that He would also be resurrected.  Yet disciple after disciple, woman and man, we see either their disbelief or shocking amazement when Jesus stood with them after His death.

But we can’t be too hard on those people of old.  I mean we have 1,000s of years of Bible study, the hindsight of the entire New Testament, and more Bible scholars and preachers than we could ever count explaining the connections and the truths of this amazing story.  And yet so many of us, even Christians, have a hard time truly accepting that Jesus is with us, even today.  He stands in front of us with an open hand almost pleading with us to surrender and follow Him.  He stands next to us, holding our hand, as we take scary, daring steps of faith.  And He stands watch over us guiding and protecting us.  When we fully accept that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we can feel His constant, amazing presence.

I heard a sermon the other day by Joyce Meyer called, “What is Faith?”  In it she encourages those whose families are grown and left the nest, who have lost spouses, who feel as though no one loves them, to grasp on to the knowledge that Jesus is ever-present in our lives.  He is with us when we go to the grocery store.  He is with us when we sit and watch a sunset.  He is with us when we lie down, alone, in our beds.  

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

John 18:22-23

When we read the verses today in Luke 24, we might gloss over the fact that Jesus had already died.  What happened on that road to Emmaus could have just as easily been written today.  There was nothing special about the two men to which Jesus appeared.  They are you and me.  We can leave church or a Bible study waxing philosophical about the amazing presence of Jesus “way back when” and completely miss that He is walking right there with us!  

I once heard a woman in a Bible study say to the group, “How come God doesn’t talk to us like He did in the Bible?”  I found it fascinating that this person has somehow missed the prolific authors who have received urgings and messages from the Holy Spirit.  She somehow has ignored all the testimonials she has heard in church from people who have been miraculously saved.  She somehow missed my own telling, to that very group, of my Jesus vision.

“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” 

John 4:48

Are you ignoring Jesus’ amazing, constant presence?  Has he walked along with you, sat at your dinner table and you didn’t acknowledge it was Him?  Are you looking for a burning bush outside your door to speak in a Charlton Heston-esque voice to make decisions for you?  I’m not saying that won’t happen but Jesus’ character is a lot more quiet and gentle.  He wants you to have the “ah ha moment” like the men in our story today.  He leads you, tiny step by step to clearing the mud from your eyes and ears.  And if you will only accept the burning bush as “proof” of His presence you will surely miss Him along the path.

His Amazing Word

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1


This week, on one of the Instagram accounts I follow, the site owner posed the question: What good thing happened to you this year?  She added, “Let’s spread some gratitude vibes.”  My answer? That my faith has gotten so much more in-depth and stronger.  Amazing, given what’s all happened in 2020.   I no longer have a home church.  In fact, I haven’t been to church since the last weekend of February.  When I questioned my church closing indefinitely, I was met with some pretty nasty responses.  And when I asked to be removed from the rolls I received an email from the assistant pastor with a polite version of “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

So, it’s pretty amazing that without a body of faithful Christians to help in my growth that I am where I am today.  

When I looked over this week’s post by Madison and myself, I realized that my growth was reflected in the lessons.  The acceptance of God’s amazing interruptions – knowing He works all things for my good.  The acknowledgement of His amazing authority over all situations – yes, even the ones that don’t seem to make any sense.  The proof that He loves me by reading the Book of John.  And how much my picture of Jesus has changed these last few months – from a historical figure to a spirit that lives inside me.

My devotional this week had a day titled, “What to do when trouble comes.”  It’s based on 1 Timothy 6:17 which states, “Fight the good fight of the faith.”  It went on to say that trouble is a part of life, so we simply have to be ready for it. (Joyce Meyer, New Day, New You).  A friend told me the other day she wishes she could just fast forward to 2022.  My response? “Why? There might be a nuclear fallout that year.  So, you might as well find joy in today.”   

How do we, as Christians, get prepared?  How do we build up our amazing faith muscle for that day when trouble comes, because it most certainly will?  And looking at this week’s blog posts the answer is clear – steeping ourselves in God’s Holy Word.  

I find myself extremely blessed to have started a small Bible study group – they’re my BSGs (Bible study girls) – back in January.  I was encouraged by one of the members to re-start a study group.  On an urging by the Holy Spirit, I invited two other women from my gym. They eagerly said yes.  So, the four of us embarked on a journey we had no idea would be an anchor for us this year.  We started out with easy faith muscles and moved up to weightier topics.  These three women became my church.  My amazing sisters in Christ.  It wasn’t just about having women that wanted to get together.  We’ve put in the work.  We’ve been diligent in our faith workouts.  We’ve dug deep not only into His Word but into our own sins.

I’ve led other Bible studies before.  There’s always a few that blow off doing the homework and not take it seriously.  Then there’s others that aren’t willing to take the opportunity to open themselves up for conviction.  If we truly want to know God’s character, not ours, and God’s will, not ours, we need to use His Divine Word as our touchstone.  The world longs to cheat us out of the true, amazing, love God has for us.  The world plays a shell game with morality.  If we want to grab on to the more than 5,000 promises God makes in the Bible then we need to treat it seriously.

Did you need to re-read that last sentence? More than 5,000 promises.  How many of them do you know?  How many of them have you taken to heart?  Those amazing promises are sitting right there in that book.  

Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

Matthew 9:28

Let’s be a church together and dive deep into those promises.  Let’s be a church together that accepts His interruptions with joy and peace.  Let’s be a church together that places His authority over everything in our lives.  Let’s be a church that needs no other proof of His love for us than our own existence.  Let’s be a church together that sees Jesus for who He is – our Lord and Savior who loves us and wants for us to live apart from what the world throws at us.  Today we can open up His Word and find joy right there on its pages.

His Amazing Identity

The Boy Jesus at the Temple

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom.  After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Luke 2:41-50


Who have you believed Jesus to be? 

The world has so many depictions of what Jesus “looks like.” White Jesus, Black Jesus, Buddha Jesus, Italian Jesus — it seems as though everyone has taken their idea of Jesus and made it reflect their own image. This practice is a dishonoring habit by churches everywhere who spend so much time painting Jesus to reflect their faces, instead of painting themselves to look more like Jesus.

No matter where you are at in your walk with Christ, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had different perspectives of who Jesus is. For me, I’ve always thought of him as a Mediterranean- looking trim man with brown flowy locks. I can thank several movies and documentaries for that image. I’ve also thought of him as God’s Son who sits on a seat lower than God, answers to His requests and working as the hands and feet of God’s Kingdom — another misconception that again, devalues the full power and glory of Christ. Why? Because Jesus isn’t less than God or inferior. Jesus is God as a part of the Trinity. Three-in-One, Father, Spirit, Son. Jesus sits at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19) and was present at creation (Genesis 1:26). 

See, here in Luke 2, Jesus’ parents knew he was a seed planted in Mary by God, but they still couldn’t wrap their heads around what that really meant. When they lost Jesus in the crowds in Jerusalem, they searched tirelessly for Him everywhere but one place – the temple. If they truly understood who Jesus was, that would’ve been the first place they looked. But to them, all they could see was their young son who was just a little boy. Where could he possibly have gone? Once found, they were amazed at what they were seeing. That same little boy was teaching/preaching in the temple courts, communing with His Father. 

Duh, where else would He be? 

I challenge you to ask yourself this: What lies/misconceptions/myths are you believing about Jesus? And how are those misconceptions hindering you from being truly amazed by his power and presence in your life? Where are you looking for Jesus and missing Him, when in reality, you simply need to go to the Father to find Him? 

The best way to find out who Jesus REALLY is, is to read through His words and interactions with others in the gospels. Study His character and you will discover God’s character. Study His love and you will understand God’s love. Study His kindness, grace and compassion and you will see what an amazingly kind and compassionate God we serve. 

Knowing Jesus means knowing the Father – I encourage you to get to know Him today. 

Amazing Proof

Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

Luke 5:18-26


“Follow the science.”  “Believe in science.”  Sound familiar?  And yet throughout this year “science” seems to not be the concrete “savior” so many want it to be.  I once had a woman tell me she wears her mask to “show her love for me” because science says it’ll somehow save me that she is wearing a mask.  While I’m not here to debate wearing or not wearing a mask I can tell you that her wearing a mask doesn’t prove to me she loves me.  I’m appreciative when someone doesn’t sneeze or cough in my face but I don’t consider that a proof of their love for me either – it’s just courteous.

We are a people that love proof.  So often the proof we desire is that which validates our own opinions – even in the face of completely opposite proof.  My father is an atheist.  While I don’t expect everyone to suddenly be a Christian, the idea of not believing there is a Divine Entity that had its hand it creating us and the universe seems so, well, unscientific.  But just like the pharisees and teachers of the law in the verses today, sometimes we just have a hard time believing even when something amazing is happening right in front of our face.   They were so focused on their twisted version of the Law they couldn’t even allow the people to glorify God when faced with miracles.

And then Jesus.  Just the simple fact that the paralytic man’s friends knew that if they could just get him close to Jesus, he would be healed was amazing.  Where was their proof?  To passersby watching them up on the roof trying to lower him down might have scoffed and thought they were crazy.  But to the friends, they had only heard of Jesus’ miracles and put their faith in the unknown.  For the people inside the house watching Jesus heal the man they had all the proof they needed as to who He was.  And yet their sticking point was Jesus forgiving the man’s sins.  The healing proof still wasn’t enough for them.

I so frequently see things in nature, not just the amazing ecosystem God created for us humans to survive, but also the heart wrenching beauty and think, “How can anyone not believe there is a God?”  What more proof do they need?  Our bodies are fine tuned to this earth.  The circular systems of creating breathable air, water to drink, food to eat, and sunshine and darkness for our bodies to succeed are really all the proof we should need.  

My husband and I got four baby chicks back in March.  They are now big, beautiful ladies that lay eggs daily.  I asked my husband the other day, “Is there any other animal on this planet that works so hard to feed us humans?”  The chicken, according to the Smithsonian, dates back between 7,000 to 10,000 years.  It’s mentioned both in the Old and New Testaments.  And if you look up a picture of the innards of a chicken you’ll see it is quite simple.  In fact, it seems its sole purpose it to lay eggs.   There’s really nothing fancy and yet they are amazingly fascinating.  The process by which an egg ends up being an egg seems magical.  And yet it happens every, single day.  Each time I collect eggs I thank the ladies for their hard work.  Because I know the next step for that egg will be something delicious – nourishment for my husband before he heads off to work, a small but important part in homemade cinnamon rolls, the key ingredient to a souffle.  The chicken was made specifically to lay eggs – fertilized or not.  And we were made to eat them.

And yet we still want proof.  When I hear non-believers ask for proof I just smile.  They are their own proof.  Their amazingly complicated body system – the most complicated of all the animals on the planet – that’s their proof.  Every breath we take, that’s our proof.  And the fact that we are the only species to yearn for a purpose on this globe, to question why we are here, is even more proof.   Sometimes the proof we seek is in the absence of something.  For the pharisees, they wanted proof that Jesus could forgive sins.  And yet they witnessed a God-given miracle right in front of their faces.  

Goose bumps evolved to make our ancestors’ hair stand up, making them appear more threatening to predators.

As you breathe, most of the air is going in and out of one nostril. Every few hours, the workload shifts to the other nostril.

Your tongue is made up of eight interwoven muscles, similar in structure to an elephant’s trunk or an octopus’s tentacle.

On a genetic level, all human beings are more than 99 percent identical.

25 Amazing Facts About the Human Body by Mental Floss

How much amazing proof are you overlooking every day?  Every single minute of every single hour we take a breath, God proves His existence.  The “science” surrounds us.  It is us.  We are His amazing proof.

Amazing Authority

Jesus Drives Out an Impure Spirit

Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.

 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Go away! What do you want with us,Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!”Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

Luke 4:31-37


I always like to imagine what it would have been like to be in Jesus’ presence on earth. To hear his voice and feel the power that flowed from His fingertips. 

Throughout Jesus’ time on earth, we see many instances where he is able to command an entire crowd, heal someone with simply a few words and cast out demons just with his presence. There is no doubt that being in the presence of Jesus meant feeling an indescribable authority. As described in Luke 4:32, it says that His word “possessed authority.” Those listening didn’t quite know why or how – but they knew that He had a level of authority that was bigger than themselves, bigger than even the Chief Priests they bowed down to. 

Recognizing Jesus’ amazing authority is pivotal for us. It’s pivotal when we read scripture, its critical when we pray, and it’s important to remember when we find ourselves with a tight grip around the so-called “handles” of our life we think we have. Jesus’ authority trumps all. The Lord’s Word trumps all. The authority that Jesus spoke with here in Luke 4 was noticeable to the crowds because it was the mighty power of God that was flowing through Him, touching the deepest parts of each individual’s hearts and souls. 

But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home.

Matthew 9:6-7

When we read God’s Word, we mustn’t forget that it still – and always will – possesses the same level of authority that Jesus spoke with that day in Capernaum. When He says “love your enemy,” He commands that with authority. When He says “blessed are those who are persecuted,” He speaks that with authority. And when He says “you must lose your life before you gain it,” He means it. 

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Mark 1:17-18

All Jesus needed to do was extend a hand and Peter dropped his nets and abandoned everything to follow Him. His presence commanded authority and His voice was one of love, grace and comfort. Authority doesn’t have to mean “dictatorship” – it can also mean trusting, strong, stable and yes, comforting. 

God wants to have amazing authority in your life because He wants to relieve you of the control, the worry, the anxiety and stress in which you toil. He wants to be the guiding light, the north star and compass that shows you which way is right. And when we give God total authority in our lives He does indeed show up in mighty ways. He takes control and leads us down paths we never thought we could venture down. His authority is the greatest thing that is available to everyone and anyone – all we have to do it trust him with our lives.

I don’t know about you, but I am often relieved when I remember that it’s King Jesus on the throne and not myself, not someone else, not idols or things. King Jesus is in control, and I’ve never felt more content in that truth – no matter what may come my way. 

The very word “authority” has within it the word “author. ” An author is someone who creates and possesses a particular work. Insofar as God is the foundation of all authority, He exercises that foundation because He is the author and the owner of His creation. He is the foundation upon which all other authority stands or falls.

R.C. Sproul

Amazingly Interrupted

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”  For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Luke 5:1-11


I think a lot of us feel like 2020 has been one giant interruption in our lives.  We had beautiful weddings planned, vacations to experience, new jobs on the horizon, a blossoming business, a full retirement schedule.  And then February descended upon us.  To put it mildly it’s been one giant cluster.  Recently, I saw an Instagram post by the Christian women’s group Proverbs 31 that addressed our need to rely on God during these tough times.  One of the commentors posted a very distraught list of what she has been dealing with, including the loss of a loved one.  She said she was having a hard time seeing God in the middle of everything.  And yet He is right there if we truly know His character.  He’s the one interrupting our plans.

In the verses today Simon, an experienced fisherman, had just pulled his boat in after a long, hard, unsuccessful day of fishing.  He sat and listened to Jesus as he preached to the masses on the shore.  Suddenly, Jesus asks for a ride out away from the shore to better speak to everyone.  I’m sure Simon had a mix of emotions.  Here he was, probably dead tired but still might have been honored to have the famous rabbi use his boat.  And then Jesus really interrupted his plans to get home, have dinner and finally get some sleep.  The experienced fisherman was quite sure that another few hours out on the lake would produce nothing – he should know he’d been a fisherman on that lake all his life.  Jesus wasn’t even from a fishing family!  But something about the rabbi made Simon comply.  And as the story finishes, we see Simon and the other fisherman completely interrupting everything about their lives and deciding to become disciples.

God frequently tries to interrupt our “bright ideas” and “best laid plans.”  The question for us is when we hear or feel His Holy Spirit urging us to take a new direction are we like Simon, willing to comply?    Or are we like the rich king, unwilling to give up what we have and know?  So many of us say we want God to speak to us but do we really?  

A couple years ago I was amazingly interrupted by Jesus.  I worked as an administrative substitute in our local school district.  I was very busy.  And I wore that busyness as a badge of honor.   I had jobs assigned five days a week.  And then Jesus interrupted me.  He urged me, through a vision, to take specific action each week and feed the homeless for a year.  This was not in my plans.  But it was something I had asked for.  I had been praying for growth in my trust in the Lord.  I kept asking for direction.  Feeding the homeless in our large downtown was never on my radar.  What also wasn’t in my plan was giving up working a few days a week to accomplish Jesus’ vision for me.  It was an amazing interruption. 

 

He said, “Do this for me.”  And I did.  The lessons I learned during that year were ones that no sermon or Bible study could ever teach me.  My patterns of worry, distrust, control, over-planning, pride, feeling alone, all were tested.  It was never about feeding the homeless.  It was about God finding a way to snap me out of destructive patterns – interrupting me and re-setting me.

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters.

Job 42:12-13

I’ve told many people about this experience.  And, at the same time I tell them they should pray for something equally amazing to interrupt their lives.  So many of them either look scared or even voice their fear of such an occurrence.  That’s why I ask, “Do you really want to hear from God?”  Because I can almost guarantee that what He says to you will be unexpected and will challenge you to interrupt your life.  But like Job whose life was severely interrupted, the amazing blessings you receive will be immeasurable.  God has interrupted my life a few more times since my vision. And each time has brought me closer to Him. I urge you today to pray for interruption.  To pray to do God’s work.  To pray that He asks to guide your boat out into the open water.

An Amazingly Balanced Life

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 5: 6-11


Looking back over mine and Madison’s posts this week I kept hearing one word whispered to me – balance. Not just balance in our own lives but balance in the universal sense.  Balance as in how God works throughout our lives.  I tend to cringe a little when people throw around the phrase, “Not of This World,” because taken out of the context of truly understanding our relationship with God it may sound dismissive of our everyday problems.  God didn’t just put us here to wait for the bus to pick us up for the hereafter.  He wants us to live out our lives in His name as we go about this thing called “life on planet earth.”  And He wants us to do it knowing He is waiting for us.   It’s His amazing love for us that calls us to live a balanced life, in His name.  Balanced with conviction and grace, humbleness and exaltation, watchful and trusting, broken and healed, and persecuted and restored.

The verses today in 1 Peter show this amazing balance.  We are to be humble so God may exalt us.  We are to be watchful and yet trusting that God will care for us.  We will suffer and God will restore us.  And we are to do all this right here during our time in this place.   Each day we are admonished by God to find this balance of living our everyday lives – parenting, cooking, cleaning, working, being citizens and neighbors – all the while with Him in mind.  We seek the healing hands of doctors yet pray in Jesus’ name for healing and wisdom for the healers.  We are to work hard and take care of ourselves and our families while keeping our eyes on Him – not placing idols up in front of Him.

And then there’s conviction.  So often the concept of conviction is misunderstood as condemnation.  For many we grasp for the joy and the good without the acknowledgement of the things making us out of balance.  There’s the “good” and the “not as good.”  That leads us to tricking ourselves into thinking there’s “victim-less” actions and sins.  There are no “victim-less” sins in God’s world.  That’s because He loves each and every one of us.  He has a purpose for each of us.  So, if we give in to drinking, drugs, sexual immorality, etc it means we aren’t doing the true work He has for us.  And by ignoring the very words of Jesus we can ignore that each of us are sinful people.

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.

John 15:22

When we walk around with blinders on it’s easy to see the world from a very limited perspective.  It may even feel comfortable.  But here’s where balance comes in.  Without the conviction of sin there is no need for His amazing grace and forgiveness.  Satan doesn’t want us to be convicted and receive God’s grace.  He wants us to feel condemned and guilty.  Conviction calls us to change direction.  Conviction is needed for growth.  And if we hear what God wants of us and ignore it, we allow satan to work in our lives.  We know the sin.  We then choose to embrace it or work it out with God.  That choice decides our balance.  

How many of us leave our communing with God and finding that balance until a more convenient time?  We are so tired at the end of the day we struggle to finish a Bible study, to journal, to do a devotional, to even pray.  My BSGs were tasked to discuss a time they felt pulled away from God.  For me it was during my kids’ sports years.  Weekend games and tournaments meant not attending church.  And I certainly didn’t bring along any God-focused reading material.  And yet, I have to say that’s a time in my life I needed God the most.  I was really out of balance.

When we seek that balance God desires for us in all things we find we don’t need to binge eat, be constantly fearful, obsessive, overly emotional.  We live in the center, squarely in His love.  We keep our work and play on His track.  We balance our fears and concerns about this world with the knowledge of what He has in store for us after our brief time here on earth.

I thank God for helping me seek a balanced life.  For I know that every time I fail in this world I can look to Him for His grace.