bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

The Sword of the Spirit

For I am the Lord your God,
    who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
    the Lord Almighty is his name.
16 I have put my words in your mouth
    and covered you with the shadow of my hand—
I who set the heavens in place,
    who laid the foundations of the earth,
    and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”

Isaiah 51:15-16


When we picture warcraft during the United States Revolution we typically envision lines of soldiers from each side marching toward each other.  Here’s a description by the American Battlefield Trust:

“Under normal circumstances, 18th century combat entailed that two armies march toward one another, shoulder to shoulder, and usually in ranks of about three men deep. When the opposing sides were within range, orders were given to halt, present arms, to fire, and then to reload.

After several volleys, one side gained the upper hand, and they would begin to close the distance with the enemy, bayonets lowered. This typically culminated in a full out charge at close quarters; sabers, bayonets, and rifle butts were used to sweep the enemy from the field and claim victory.”

And how did one side get the “upper hand?”  The lines would break down either by death, injury or desertion.  The battle would be won or lost based on who could hold their line the longest.

We Christians have been in a similar battle since the time of Christ.  We link arms in communion and espouse the greatness of God to unbelievers.  We are tasked, by God, to go out into our communities and battle against evil through our works, our testimony, and our telling of the Good News of the gospel.  

However, from my, albeit, limited experience so many of us have chosen to desert our place on the battlefield.  I live in a very liberal state within the United States.  Church and Christians are not valued members of many communities.  In fact, we are frequently described as racist, hateful, bigots because of our adherence to the teachings in the Bible.  And that, I believe causes us to shirk our duties as soldiers for God.  

I know too many people who feel uncomfortable sharing the Word of God.  Some are afraid to even mention their faith in the course of conversations at work.  And yet, it is this responsibility that Jesus gives us.  We are not called to be closet Christians, afraid of what to say, how to say it and when to say it.  God himself promises to put the right words in our mouth at the right time.  We just need to be willing to do the one thing that we are called to do – obey Him.

My BSGs did a study on The Armor of God (Ephesians 6).  What stood out to me is the preparation we are admonished to complete before taking up the final Word of God.

Therefore, put on the full armor 
of God, so that when the day of 
evil comes, you may be able to 
stand your ground, and after you 
have done everything, to stand. 
Stand firm then, with the belt of 
truth buckled around your waist, 
with the breastplate of righteousness 
in place, and with your feet 
fitted with the readiness that 
comes from the gospel of peace. 
In addition to all this, take up 
the shield of faith, with which you 
can extinguish all the flaming arrows 
of the evil one. Take the helmet 
of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, 
which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:13-17

Once we have studied and learned the character and promises of God we need to pray to have Him send us out into the world and speak His words.  Each morning when we rise, we should ask God to place someone in front of us that day to whom He needs to say something.  And be watchful and ready for that moment.  He will give you the words to speak.

Do not merely listen to the word, 
and so deceive yourselves. 
Do what it says.
James 1:22

A few years ago, I held on to that promise of God’s words when my daughter and I were in a great battle.  We were pushing and pulling constantly.  She was off at college and her faith was growing by leaps and bounds thanks to the organization Athletes in Action.  But each time we would talk it would end in a fight or tears.  I finally prayed to God to give me His words to bring this battle to an end.

The mother-daughter battle is a timeless one.

One day as we talked, the Holy Spirit gave me these words to say, “I’m so glad your faith is growing.  I can see that you have learned how to give a lot of grace and forgiveness to your friends and teammates.  I know that I fail you frequently in trying to not hold on too tight to you.  What I’m asking for is some of that same grace and forgiveness.”

God’s words, spoken through me, began our path toward reconciliation.  I just needed to stop trying to speak my thoughts and my desires and instead let God do the heavy lifting.

God needs us to fill our spot on the battlefield line.  He can give us all the tools we need – including the right words to say.  We just need to show up and hold the line.


Join me starting January 11 for my next series! Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help create a vision of you! The words we speak and think and pray have a great impact on our life. We will embark on a journey of praying changes into our lives. New Year’s resolutions have nothing on what God can accomplish when we ask for miracles to transform us!

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Uncategorized

Love+Mercy=Deeds


When my youngest daughter began her college search 6 years ago she was determined to go somewhere far away from home.  Her preference was to play field hockey on the east coast.  After visiting six states and six colleges in the course of five days we still didn’t land on the perfect place.  And then out of the blue she got a call from a school in Missouri who wanted to recruit her.  Her reaction, “no way am I going to school in the Midwest.”  After a solo visit to the school and the team she changed her mind.  She loved it.  Set on the banks of the Missouri river, just 20 minutes from St. Louis is St. Charles.  It’s a quaint town mostly known for being the starting point for Lewis and Clark.  The school, Lindenwood University, fit all our requirements.  It also was a Presbyterian founded school.  Sitting on the board was the pastor for the large, local Presbyterian church.

The weekend she moved in I took a trip over to that local Presbyterian church.  It shared a fence with the university.  I asked to speak with the pastor and see what programs they had in conjunction with the school.  As I spoke with his secretary, he could see me from his open office door.  He could hear me speaking to her.  He never got up from his desk.  In fact, the answer to my question about the partnership with the university students brought a blank stare.  I asked what mission projects they do in St. Louis, and again I got a blank stare.  My heart broke.  Here was a large church, founded in 1818, and 1952 it formed a partnership with the college.  About 68 years later it has failed the thousands of students that pass through the college each year.

Lindenwood University was my daughter’s home away from home for 3 1/2 years

Why tell this tale?  James admonishes us to love our neighbors, not pass judgement without mercy, and to show our faith with deeds.  And yet this large church found it difficult to do all of these.  They were stuck in the success they already had and lost focus on their purpose – to always be bringing new people to Christ.  Like so many churches they waited to see who would show up for church.  The secretary told me they had once tried a Sunday evening worship designed for the students but hardly anyone came.  So, they gave up.  I asked her, “Did you try going to them?”  Another blank stare.

James 1 and 2 are all about shaking us awake.  Pleading with us to be “doing Christians” rather than pew-sitting Christians.  Real justification – a saved life – leads to a changed life.  He reminds us that serving our Lord may make us uncomfortable when we invite the poor or unknown to sit next to us.  He also points out that the rich or those we show favoritism to frequently are the ones that treat us the worst.

“Is it not the rich that are exploiting you?  Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?  Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him whom you belong”

James 2:6

A poor, lonely college student would jump at the chance for a free meal at a campus BBQ or an invite to dinner into someone’s home. They don’t have much to offer us, except their company.  They might not look like us, talk like us, or believe exactly like us.  They probably won’t find their way to a church by themselves.  The mere act of reaching outward and being a friendly face to those who don’t feel comfortable walking into our church doors shows them mercy.  Think about the last time you were at a social gathering and didn’t know anyone.  Finally, someone comes up to you and strikes up a conversation.  You are filled with relief that you are no longer alone. 

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

When we stand in front of the gates of heaven, expressing our thankfulness for the gift of salvation we will be judged.  Jesus may stand there smiling that gentle smile back at us.  And then say with sadness, “Why didn’t you ever open and use my gift?”  We beg for God’s grace, mercy, love and forgiveness.  And when we are bestowed all those, do we open them up for all the world to see?  I once asked my husband for a fancy mixer.  It could whip, grind, shred and all manner of cooking/baking related activities.  But if he had given me exactly what I wanted and I thanked him profusely yet never opened the box and used that mixer, wouldn’t my husband think I didn’t truly appreciate it?

Open, open, open

When we don’t judge people for their age, what they wear, how they talk, what their background is, their politics, etc., and just accept people as we encounter them, they are open to our love and our message of God’s love.  Imagine that church in St. Charles holding a first weekend BBQ for anyone who wanted a free hotdog and an invite to a worship service.  Or,  a helpful church team assisting parents and students moving into the dorms along with a care package with a card welcoming them.  A contact number to call if they need help.   And each month having an outreach event to just say, “we are here and we love you.”

You see, when we accept the challenge of loving our neighbors and showing them mercy, God opens the doors to all the best deeds.  And even if just one person responds, that’s one more person on God’s side of the ledger.  We should all be praying regularly for opportunities like this to be placed in front of us.  When you become God’s co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9) you lose count of all the blessings that unfold.   As for my daughter, the Christ-centered group Athletes In Action met regularly on campus and another student invited her to come.  It saved her in so many ways.  She eventually become a leader and a speaker who told her testimony to many other student-athletes.  She also met her future husband through the organization.  As a parent living almost 2,000 miles away, I still remain ever thankful there were Christians who took up James’ challenge.

If you know a Christian athlete who is in college, encourage them to look up Athletes In Action

Will you take up James’ challenge this weekend?  Pray for your eyes to be opened to opportunities to show your faith by your deeds, love and mercy. Click on the photo and listen to this song by Danny Gokey and Mandisa called “Tell Somebody.” It’s a great song about opening up that gift!

30daysofpraise, christian encouragement, Uncategorized

Praise At The Ready


Day 12

You never know when you will have the opportunity to share your faith.  God will place people in your lives that He wants you to share your love for Him.  We must always be ready.  And although you are not responsible for the path they eventually take, God calls us to take even the smallest part in that path. When my youngest was in college she became best friends with a beautiful, smart, funny young lady from Belgium.  They were field hockey teammates, roommates, and now lifelong friends.  We sent my daughter’s car out to her their sophomore year.  It gave them so much freedom to explore the St. Louis area and beyond.  

As my daughter grew closer to Christ through the Christian athlete organization Athletes In Action, she also began discipling other athletes.  But her best friend didn’t seem interested.  However, one of the many things they did have in common was their love of music.  I saw many a video of them driving along singing at the top of their lungs to a popular song while they cruised the streets of St. Charles, Missouri.  Their favorite was “Africa” by Toto which had experienced a renewal at that time. And while they played upbeat, fun, pop and country songs my daughter also played songs about her faith.  Beautiful Christian songs.  Songs that spoke of her love for Jesus.

One day her friend hopped in the car and said to her, “Play some of those good, sad songs.”  My daughter was confused.  Her Belgium friend, while fluent in English, had a funny way of using the English language with her French/Dutch accent.  She said, “You know, those Jesus songs.”  And my daughter was ready to serve in God’s name.

My daughter Madie (L) and her friend Rou (R) taking “Sandy”, her car, out for another favorite activity — milkshakes

I suppose many Christian songs may sound “sad” to some but so many of the lyrics speak to our deepest needs.  We express our longing and our hope through these “sad Christian songs.”  Most of my favorite songs fall into this category.  Music gives us a beautiful channel to lift up our voices to our Father to say, “I love you” or “I need you.”  We might also say we are hurting or we have been healed.  I have plenty of shout out loud “praise the Lord” songs in my “Inspirational” playlist.  But I frequently play the ones that tug at my heart.  

I have a friend that doesn’t want to go back to her church right now because they have decided not to play music and sing songs.  She has said, “I can listen to a sermon anywhere.  I miss the voices being lifted up to God.  I miss the worship.”  

Sometimes we need a good “sad” Christian song.  That beautiful expression of our love for God can bring so much love and peace to live in us.  I’d like to share with you one of those songs.  “You” by Fellowship Creative, shows the need for God our Father, God our Counselor.  It praises God for His ability to mend all brokenness.  I hope you enjoy listening to it.

What’s your favorite “sad Christian song” and who can you share it with today?  Let’s praise God with our beautiful (and not so beautiful ) voices.