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Stop Pretending

One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
    another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth. Proverbs 13:7

According to an article in Psychology Today the advent of social media brought about a terrible case of lying.  Lying about our weight, our age, our financial status, social standing, looks, and well, just about everything about ourselves.   In a study that reviewed 80 online daters, researchers found that two thirds of participants lied about their weight by five pounds or more. In a large sample of over 2,000 people in England 43 percent of men admitted to making up facts about themselves and their lives that were not true.  Most commonly, participants said that they only shared “non-boring” aspects of their lives (32 percent) and were not as “active” as their social media accounts appeared (14 percent).

Some might say, eh, what’s the big deal?  While we humans like to think we are individually responsible for our own health and well-being we actually are in a giant social contract with each other.  When a young teen looks at people online having the time of their lives 24/7 they may think, “why is my life so boring?”  Unhappiness, dissatisfaction, loneliness, or worse, thoughts of harming themselves are paths many may take when evaluating their own “normal” lives.

I remember having this very conversation with my youngest daughter her first year of college.  “Everyone else that went off to school seems to be so happy.  Why am I struggling?” she once said.  I reminded her that very, very few people post the other 12 or 18 hours of their day when they are studying for a test, sitting alone having lunch, or crying from homesickness.  


Our wise words today speak to how we show our wealth or lack thereof.  But in the larger scheme of things, it’s about pretending to be something we are not.  I can’t help but think this comes from a place of looking for love and affirmation in the wrong places. God loves you when you have money and when you don’t.  He loves you when you are doing boring things like taking out the trash.  He loves you when you are on a fabulous vacation or quietly reading a book on the couch.

Friend, God loves you when you are being true to your situation.  You don’t need to pretend to be something you aren’t.  So stop trying to keep up with the influencers who stood in line for three hours to get that perfect shot in Malta.  If all you can do for a vacation is take a hike in your nearby woods, enjoy every single minute of it.  God is with you and loves you right where you are.

Lord, help me shine for the person you made me to be right now.  I want to be thankful for the blessings you have given me.  I know you love me whether rich or poor.  Whatever you have blessed me with help me to bless others by being genuine and true.  Amen

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Patience In The Waiting

Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. Proverbs 8:34

Have you ever met one of those people that seem to calmly wait in long lines?  Like they’ve got nothing better to do?  That attitude has always seemed strange and foreign to me.  I mean, I’ve got stuff to accomplish. People to see, errands to run!  Patience has definitely not been one of my well-honed attributes.  But if I learned anything during the Covid years it was to slow down, way down.  In fact, when everything started opening up I could feel my body reacting to getting back in the busy flow of life, speeding up to meet the traffic.  The Holy Spirit whispered to me again to slow down, to wait, to watch and to listen.

While the verse today specifically speaks to waiting for wisdom and insight, I think we can all agree that patience really is a virtue in every aspect of our lives.  Oh, how many times in my baby Christian days did I jump into situations without first asking a few questions or even praying about them!  Those were the days of making decisions first then asking God afterwards to make those decisions work out for the best.

As I’ve worked on developing a more patient frame of mind it’s caused me to evaluate why I am impatient.  I mean think about it.  As you’re tapping your foot in line at the coffee shop what are you really contemplating?  Your time is so much more valuable than anyone else’s?  If you were in charge, things would be running a lot smoother?  The cashier obviously isn’t smart enough or cares enough about his job?  The root of all these is pride, lack of grace and humility.

Or maybe you tend to jump at opportunities like a new job, an investment, a free giveaway or a deal on a purchase.  If you don’t act now you might just miss out!  Is it that you’ve placed money as an idol, either saving it or spending it?  Or status and recognition before wise choices?

Friend, unless you are faced with an immediate life or death decision, wisdom asks us just for a few moments of time.  A chance to gain insight into the choice or attitude you are about to take.  So let’s all take a collective breath say a prayer.

Lord, I get so caught up in the daily comings and goings of my life and need your help to slow down and be patient.  Remind me today to give grace to those who need it and seek insight for my decisions.  Amen

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A Responsible Servant

Go to the ant, you sluggard;
    consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
    no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
    and gathers its food at harvest. Proverbs 6:6-8

Jack Hyles started preaching at several small Texas churches after he graduated from college in the early 50s.  Many of those congregations were small, under 100 members.  During his time at Miller Road Baptist Church that congregation grew from 44 to 4,000 members.  He eventually moved to Indiana where he took over shepherding the First Baptist Church of Hammond.  Membership grew from about 700 to over 20,000.  Along the way Hyles saw the need for better Sunday school programs and eventually, through his innovative Sunday bus program, grew a small Sunday program to one recognized as one of the largest Sunday school programs in America, if not the world.  

“A person who will not take care of the little things will not take care of the big things, for big things are but an accumulation of little things,” he once said.  You see, Mr. Hyles took Proverbs 6:6-8 to heart.  He was responsible, a good steward, of the gifts God imparted him.  He didn’t need an overseer in the church or a show of hands or even a committee to see how to build God’s kingdom here on earth.  He just did it.

I’ve spent many years volunteering in churches and sitting on committees.  It seems an unfortunate fact that many feel they need a blessing by their church to start a ministry.  You not only won’t find that in the Bible but you will find an urging to individually take responsibility for the treasure and talent you have been given.

The ant is part of a collective, yes.  But an ant also knows what its role is within the community.  To build, protect, and sustain. It doesn’t go to any one ant to get its marching orders.  It doesn’t sit around fretting about its greater purpose before acting.  It doesn’t fill out an interest survey to find out its “best suited place.” No, it just gets working.  

Friend, we all have been tasked with working for God’s church.  To build it, to protect it and to sustain it.  Don’t wait for the perfect time or opportunity.  He asks us to take care of the little things first.  You may find in washing a few dishes or folding programs that God has placed you right where you need to be.

Father God, use me as you see fit.  No matter where I am placed, I will work for your Kingdom.  Help me to be a good steward of your gifts imparted to me.  Amen

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Give Your Best, First

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.  Proverb 3:27

A 2015 study done by Money.com found that Americans donated around $358 billion dollars that previous year.  Of those donations, $115 billion went to religious related charities.  In addition, the study calculated that Americans devoted $173 billion in volunteer work.  Pretty impressive!  But here’s an even more interesting fact.  Americans weren’t in the top 10 list of being most likely to donate.  The top country? Myanmar.  A tiny land whose citizens frequently keep their country in the top spot with 81% of respondents saying they had made a donation in the past month.  The United States sits at 61%.  Still an impressive number, however.

On average, according to another survey, US Christians give just 2.5% of their income to their churches.  And while the message of the New Testament reminds us we aren’t under the old laws of tithing, the apostle Paul consistently tells us to give with a cheerful heart – not just to our churches but to those in need.

Too many times we look to see what is left over before we will uncurl our tight fists around our dollars.  But throughout scripture, God reminds us of two points. 1) To always give our best, first and 2) He owns everything already and we are just His stewards.  When we scrimp with our giving and with our time we are, in effect, holding on to what really isn’t ours.  We aren’t effectively managing the resources God has entrusted us to help His plan unfold.

Friend, while you should pray on how to best use your resources (money and time) for His Kingdom, you don’t need to pray night and day whether you should be more charitable to the people around you.  God has already given us those marching orders.  When we hear “He will provide” so often that means He is asking you to provide in His name to someone who needs to see a little bit of Jesus at work.

Gracious Father, you have provided for me in so many ways.  If I can only provide a few coins or hours of my time let it be so someone will know your name.  And if I can provide more help me to give fully with a cheerful and loving heart.  Amen 

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The Hope That Will Come

www.emboldened.net

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34

How many of you need to not just hear these words but soak them deep into your heart right now?  For the last few years, we humans have been through a lot of turmoil.  I won’t say it was the most difficult time ever because I realize the world has been around a lot longer than my 58 years.  In the two world wars alone, it’s estimated 120,000,000 people died.  That doesn’t include the folks who passed from ordinary daily illness, accidents, and old age.  

This year, as so many of us tried to go back to our lives post shutdowns and lockdowns, we found ourselves back in the ordinariness of trials, tragedy, human depravity, illness, lost dreams, violence, and political infighting.  And so, we cry out to God for peace, for healing, for freedom from suffering.

I’ve been pretty quiet this year with my writing as I also deal with the world coming at me from all sides.  With the sudden loss of my beautiful “other mother” I have felt so alone at times.  I scroll back over her last text messages to me and I can hear her voice so clearly.  Since that time, we have celebrated graduations, milestone birthdays, anniversaries, and now the holidays.  In addition, my husband’s business has yet to recover from the financial destruction the last few years have wrought.  We have seen future goals dissolve into mist.  And still we find joy.  We find peace and we find hope.


I listened as my neighbor recently listed all the tragedies that have befallen his family over the past year and I heard the pain in his voice.  What I didn’t hear was how Jesus is helping them cope.  They are going it alone.  On the flip side I sit with my friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  And she is hope-filled.  She is finding joy and goodness in the face of something so scary.  She sees God working in every corner of her life, bringing the right people to her and watching her diagnosis heal broken relationships.  While her earthly doctors will work to heal her body, her faith is also healing her.  Healing her soul and heart.  Comforting and bringing peace to her mind.

I was recently asked in an Advent study to write what I hope for next year.  More importantly it asked how I would react if none of those hopes came to fruition.  It then asked this: list the things you can find hope in that you KNOW will come to pass because of Jesus Christ.  And here’s my answer.  I know that Jesus will never leave me or forsake me.  I know that Jesus has a better, more beautiful place waiting for all of those who believe.  I know that whatever I go through next year God loves me and he loves you.

So I’m starting next year closely tethered to the hope I know will come to pass.  Beginning January 1, I invite you to join me on a 31 day journey through God’s words of wisdom.  His playbook for a life lived as best we humans can.  He is not a god who keeps secret how to more smoothly navigate through the trials and tribulations of life.  No, besides the Book of Proverbs He has given us so much wisdom and insight into the Christian life.  A life that may at times look very different to the rest of the world but a life that is intended to bring about goodness, grace, mercy, and love.

Please join me for 31 Days of God’s Wisdom and invite your friends, families and neighbors.  Be sure to have them sign up at www.emboldened.net to receive their daily email.  In this way you can be a part of spreading His message around the world!

God bless you and Merry Christmas.

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His Mercy

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” Proverbs 25:2

Heavenly Father, King above all kings, you know my sinful heart and yet you love me.  You know my sinful ways yet you love me.  You know my idolatries that I struggle to get out from under yet somehow you forgive me and love me.  I reach out to you Lord in all your mystery and glory and thank you for the mercy only you can give.  Amen

I was asked in a study to write down all the reasons why I pray.  I listed thankfulness, requests, intercession, praise and repentance.  I was then asked to circle the reason that comes up most in my prayer life.  I have to admit “repentance” wasn’t one of them.  Thankfulness is probably the most frequent expression I find in my prayer life.  And it’s usually related to blessings – not for keeping me from the fires of my sinful ways.

A few years ago, I finally grasped the concept of God’s mercy with this helpful saying, “Mercy is when you don’t get what you deserve and grace is when you get something you don’t deserve.”  Boy, should I be constantly thanking God for His mercy!  

"Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions." Psalms 51:1

The problem is we sometimes lack of awareness of our destructive swaths we create through sin.  Realizing that, we should find it even more amazing that God gives us believers His mercy.  He doesn’t always save us from earthly consequences but we know that when Jesus returns to judge the earth we won’t be thrown into the fire.  What a glorious and loving God!

God has not asked us to wander bewildered by our transgressions and consequences.  From beginning to end He has set the stage for our success.  Through first giving us the Law, therefore defining sin, then sending Christ to teach us about God, how to live the Christian life and best of all, cleansing us of eternal punishment, He has taught us how to align ourselves with His ways.  The Holy Spirit, which He left to dwell in us, provides us a daily conduit to keep us on track.  

Friend, He thought of everything because He is our Glorious God!  His mercy is our safety net.  He knew we would struggle, and boy do we ever!  Maybe you, like me need to tune in better to the Holy Spirit before we pray today.  Ask Him to search our hearts and minds, like only the King of Kings can do.  Have Him show us those corners of our life that seem blind to us.  Let His glorious light shine to cleanse you.

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Open Communication

“Then Moses said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded you to do, so that that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.” Leviticus 9:6

Holy God, it amazes me that you, in your infinite and powerful ways wants to talk to me.  That the God of the universe wants me to come to you each and every day with my needs and my fears.  Today I come to you with praise and thanksgiving that you love me so much.  Amen

I heard a description of an early  “church service” the other day.  The first half was open to anyone and featured scripture reading and the teaching of the gospel.  Then the pastor would call out, “the doors, the doors” and it was the message to those who were not baptized or confessed believers to leave.  The doors would then be closed and the second half of the service commenced.  This is when the holy gift of communicating with God began.  The church membership would have an “upper room” type meeting with breaking of bread and prayer to the Most Holy One.

What I like about this is that shows reverence to the second greatest blessing God bestowed on us (the first being Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins) – a loving, two-way path communicating with God.  A gift given to believers by Jesus and spurred on by the Holy Spirit that lives in the children of God.  I’m not suggesting only believers should pray, it’s just an acknowledgement of the seriousness of this gift we’ve been given.

In the Bible verse today, we see the seeds of God’s desire to communicate with us in the priestly ministry of the ancients.  God spoke through Moses on how to address Him through sacrifices and other holy activities.  He tells the priests in training that when they take these steps, they will see God’s glory revealed to them.  The same is true with the gift of prayer.  

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1

The disciples, just as in Moses’ day, desired to learn how to communicate with God.  How to open up the heavens so they could see the glory of the One Almighty.  And so Jesus taught them the prayer I mentioned yesterday, what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.”  It starts with reverence, placing God in our hearts and minds rightly where He belongs.  It moves on to acknowledging God as the provider of all our needs and our submission to Him.  We then ask for forgiveness and to forgive others.  And finally for daily guidance.

The gift of prayer is God’s message to us that we are not believers of a god who is unable to do all things, or a god who can’t be trusted, or a god to whom we need to beg to hear us.  Before we pray we need to be fully informed of how we view Him.  If we don’t believe He is merciful then we might believe He will punish us if we bring our sins to Him.  Our prayers should always include a request for wisdom about Him so that when He answers our prayer – which He always does – we will understand the answer and see the glory in His ways.

Today, I want to leave you with this beautiful prayer from King David showing us how to glorify and praise God in all His magnificent ways.

Psalm 63

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.
Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
    they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
    and become food for jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God;
    all who swear by God will glory in him,
    while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
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Our Father

“ In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:11-12

Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen

Awhile back I was listening to a podcast that broke down how and what to pray.  They started with what we call “The Lord’s Prayer,” (Luke 6:9-16) the beginning of which was my prayer for today.  They looked at the use of the word “Father.”  Our Christian faith is so unique in this view of our most Holy God.  We don’t pray to some mysterious, unattached, non-relational being.  In fact, one of Jesus’ missions while on earth was to show believers this new relationship – that of a loving father.  

I have read other people change the word “Father” to “Daddy,” and that seems to go a bit far as the pastors on the podcast also agreed.  It’s almost too familiar, without the reverence God deserves.  While others who have been terribly hurt by fathers or father figures may go to great lengths to dismiss even using a father reference at all.  But God is always seeking to realign us with His kingdom – not the world of sin.  Jesus draws us into this new relationship showing us what God’s glorious Eden will look like when we arrive.  And it is full of love, kindness, grace and forgiveness.

20 “So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20

I’m not sure if there’s any better story in the Bible to describe God’s role as “father” to His adopted children than the one told of the prodigal son in Luke 15.  When I heard a pastor speak on it, especially verse 20, it transformed me.  You see, the father didn’t meet his son halfway, he didn’t make him come all the way to the house.  He didn’t even first require repentance or repayment.  “While he (the son) was a long way off…”  When word came, probably from people on the outskirts of town, that this wayward son was coming home, his father lifted up his tunic so he could run. He ran to his son – filled with compassion and love.  

God seeks us.  He yearns for us to believe – without needing us at all.  How beautiful and glorious is that?  I recently read in a study that we aren’t all God’s children.  Yes, you read that right.  We are all made in the image of God; but can’t all call Him “Father.”   We must at least start that journey back to Him as the prodigal son did.  He realized he needed the protection and blessings of his father. 

Friend, the day we told God, “I believe in you and I believe you sent your Son to free me of my sins” we received our adoption papers.  He wrote us into the will for the inheritance.  Whatever type of father you’ve had on the earth pales in comparison to the one who has adopted you into His heavenly kingdom.  I, for one, count that the most glorious blessing of all.

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At Home With God

“Yet he (Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.”  Romans 4:20

Holy God, everything I have belongs to you — my home, my car, my food, my marriage, my family. Help me to use them in service to you each day so I can proclaim Your glory and the wonderful work you have done in my life. Amen

I’d have to say one of the first obvious signs that I was submitting to God and giving Him authority over my life was years ago when my brother-in-law came to visit us and wanted to bring his girlfriend.  We had two small children and my husband and I decided we needed to model God’s morals by telling his brother that although she could come, they couldn’t sleep in the same room together.  He laughed, thinking we were joking.  But when we affirmed our decision, he asked how we could decide that when we, ourselves, had lived together before marriage.  It’s an easy answer actually.  We were now Christians with children to whom we were responsible for modeling God’s will.

Here’s the thing, Christian, it’s ok, even necessary in God’s act of progressive revelation, to change our minds.  To grow in our faith.  To set up new boundaries.  Especially in our own homes.  For Abraham, mentioned in our first verse today, he struggled to align his entire household with God.  He made bad decisions about his wife, he had to make peace among his family, he was faced with the prospect of sacrificing his son to the Lord.  But He kept moving forward in his faith.  With each step he learned more about God’s expectations of him and he guided his family and home toward God’s promises.  He set history on the right path by giving glory to God over and over. Joshua carried this forward when he assembled all the tribes of Israel.

"15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

Our home spaces are the perfect place to glorify God.  Why? Because when we stand in our home, every blessing we can see belongs to Him.  The home, apartment, tent, condo, all belong to God.  The food in the cupboards, the furnishings, the beds, the indoor (or outdoor) plumbing – yes, all belong to Him and should be used in His service to glorify Him.

My two oldest friends are unfortunately not believers.  And over these last few years I’ve had the Holy Spirit convict me of my behavior when I’m around them.  I need to show them the work God has done in me.  When they are at my house, I must model God.  That means I shouldn’t allow certain behavior or speech within the walls of my house.  I fail at times when I let myself be pulled into the world of unbelievers.  Sometimes I forget to pray over our meal, I drift into outraged political discussions, and I gossip.  My first step was realizing what I was doing doesn’t honor God.  My second step is to be more consistent in application.

Friend, if the Lord has blessed you with a comfortable place to lay your head each night, a place to make a life for your family, a home to provide hospitality to others, we need to remember it was all given for a purpose.  If we struggle to honor God in our home, how can we be expected to receive further responsibility from Him outside our homes?  So today, stand in the middle of the place you call home and proclaim it is all for His glory.

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Let’s Eat

“So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  1 Corinthians 10:31

“Blessed God, we praise You for who You are. You are the God who cares for our needs. We see this meal before us as a demonstration of Your wonderful grace to us. We glorify You for the day we have had. Thank You for the family gathered here and for every blessing we enjoy. Amen.”

When my kids were little we started praying at dinnertime.  We found a simple prayer that they could take turns saying.  “God is great! God is good! Let us thank Him For our food. Amen.”  It was an easy way to add glorifying and thanking God into our daily lives.  The problem was it became rote.  After awhile, there was no feeling, personalization or even love behind the prayer.  It was just something we did – quickly – so we could start eating.  For some of us we never even pray before meals.  Or we pray only during certain meals.  But Jesus gave thanks at every meal, glorifying the Father for being a provider of needs.  

“30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.” Luke 24:30

The beauty of this scripture is what came next.  You see, the disciples had been walking along with the risen Jesus chatting with him, not realizing who he was.  For whatever reason they urged this stranger to come stay with them and join them for dinner.  After they gave thanks and broke bread, “…their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him.”

It wasn’t until 2020, when the Covid pandemic hit that the love and glorifying act of praying before meals finally sunk in for me.  Each evening when my husband came home from his job of caring for senior citizens exhausted, we decided to pray.  Before dinner we prayed for anything good that happened that day, we prayed for help, we prayed for the health and safety of his employees and residents.  We prayed for our leaders.  We thanked God for providing.   And my eyes were opened to Jesus.

“Lord God, not a sparrow is not known by You. Not a lily is not clothed by You. You know what we need, and we are thankful that You have provided the meal set here for us. Keep us from worrying about tomorrow but to be grateful for what You have provided us this day. Amen.”

A friend of mine has encouraged me to start praying before every meal.  Even yes, in public, which in the area where I live you just don’t see much.   Friend, at mealtimes we can see the obvious work of God in our lives.  Whether what’s on our plate is a feast or just enough to sustain us for one more day – we need to give all glory to Him who provides.


The prayers from today’s post came from https://connectusfund.org/25-beautiful-prayers-for-meals where you can find more prayers for meal times.  But I encourage you to just talk with God before you eat, having it come from your heart.