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Rescue Me!

Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.
Psalm 44:26

I’ll admit I’ve had a bit of a rough relationship with God the last few weeks.  I have an on-going health issue related to my sinuses.  For years I’ve suffered through swollen sinuses, infections, allergies, clogged ears, excruciating headaches and more.  I’m in my third year of allergy shots and recently had a second sinus surgery.  And I feel worse.

A few weekends ago I spent most of the time feeling like my head was either in a tight vise or underwater. Conversations were muffled and my eustachian tubes felt as though a needle was being jammed in them.  I got on my knees and started praying desperately for God to heal me.  While at church I prayed continuously for healing.  And the pain continued.

Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?  Rouse yourself!  Do not reject us forever.  
Psalm 44:23

Have you ever felt the way the psalmist did when he wrote that verse?  Like God just isn’t listening?  That Sunday evening, I sure did.  I was in tears.  And so, I cried out to God even louder to please heal me.  For a brief moment I even felt myself being pulled back into my old way of thinking that God didn’t care about me or worse, maybe didn’t even exist.  But my faith journey has brought me too far to let me slide backwards.

There is no relapse where Christ heals; no fear that His patients should be merely patched up for a season.  He makes new men of them; He give them a new heart and He puts within them a right spirit.  

Charles Spurgeon

My knowledge of God has led me to a place of greater wisdom.  Instead of asking God to “wake up” I started asking Him if this was to be my thorn, my constant affliction to cause me to rely more and more on Him.

It also led me to put my pain and suffering in perspective.  While my issues are painful and irritating, I am not debilitated.  I can still rise every morning and serve Him and the people around me.  And through a pounding headache I can still go out for a walk and experience a beautiful day.  I put my troubles up against my mother-in-law’s, who through a year battling cancer and diverticulitis has managed a smile each time I talk to her.  Yes, at her lowest she has cried.  But I’ve watched her turn back to God in faith, searching for His hand in all things.

I want God to take away my pain.  I know He can.  He can heal me as I write this.  And it is not for me to know why He doesn’t.  

I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  
2 Corinthians 12:7-9

I would prefer not to be held to the same spiritual standards set by the Apostle Paul.  To seek God’s goodness when I feel my worst.  To feel His presence when my head is pounding.  To do the work required of me when the pain is almost overwhelming.  At times I just can’t.  That’s when I beg God to help me, to rescue me.

I’m not going to stop asking for healing.  But I’ve decided that I trust God that there is a reason He hasn’t.  And I know for certain, that in trusting Him, one day we will all be free from affliction and experience His amazing glory.

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Always With You

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 
Isaiah 43:2

Early in our marriage my husband and I started a lifelong habit of calling each other at the end of our workday.  We’d let the other know ahead of time if we would be late or what our ETA was.  When we both worked it served as a way to talk about our dinner plans.  After 32 years of marriage my husband still calls or texts me when he is on his way home.  It was borne out of an incident when he didn’t call me.  My first reaction was to think he’d been in a car accident.  And as the time slipped by my worries grew.  By the time he got home I was in tears from fear of his demise.  He couldn’t understand why I was so upset.  He’d just been out surfing after work with some friends.

So, while the habit of touching base became a good thing it also became a bit of a fear-based obsession with me.  My husband spent many hours driving for his work.  He frequently drove the more than 200 miles to and from Los Angeles.  I worried constantly he would be killed in a car crash.  I lost sleep over it.  I fretted when he didn’t arrive exactly when he thought he would.

I finally realized one day my fears were a result of the fear of being left alone.  I was certain if I lost him no one would ever love me again. 

The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. 
Deuteronomy 31:8

We hear the words that God is with us always.  A Christian friend, who was struggling with marriage and family problems, confessed that sometimes we need a real, physical hug.  We need to feel like we are loved and belong.  That we haven’t been orphaned.  Frequently in my prayers for people I ask God to help them feel his hand on their shoulder.  I realize it’s what I really need when I struggle – to feel and know His physical presence in my life.  

Sometimes He will show Himself in the face of a friend.  Sometimes it’s in words from one of my daughters.  He shows Himself in a song that comes on the radio. And sometimes the Holy Spirit will burn inside me.  When needed, I have felt His hand on my shoulder.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 
John 14:18

I was listening to a podcast the other day where the women spoke of this need to feel God’s love for them. They knew the scriptures and could easily quote them.  But they acknowledged that just knowing them wouldn’t suffice.  We need to repeat them and truly believe them.  The devil is constantly looking for ways to tear us away from God’s love.  So, when we feel that loneliness, that fear of being forgotten we need to refocus on God.  We may need to cry out to Him.  We may need to sit in quiet mediation to hear Him. 

There’s been a few occasions in the last couple months where I’ve felt rejected by people who should love me.  Thankfully, in my maturing faith, I’ve turned to Jesus more and more to remind me of the one who always loves me, no matter what.  And He has shown up to comfort me.

Here’s some beautiful scripture to remember and soak in today for anyone who might feel alone.  For anyone who might feel as though they have been left behind or forgotten.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5
But whoever loves God is known by God. 
1 Corinthians 8:3
Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! 
Psalms 66:20
Help me, Lord my God; save me according to your unfailing love. 
Psalms 109:26
No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 
John 16:27
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”  
Psalms 91:14-16
I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3
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
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Muscle Building

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 
1 Corinthians 9:25

I’ve been a member of various gyms over the years.  Each time, after that initial enthusiasm of “this time I’m going to become a flat stomached, toned armed, no jiggle mama” I fell into a boring workout routine.  And then I found excuses to not go to the gym – I was tired, I worked late, I didn’t sleep well, my kids needed me for something, etc.  Next thing I knew the gym was making money off a person that wasn’t even using their services.  

For some of us, at one time or another, our faith life and studying and living out His Word fell into that same pattern.  There were times when my on-line giving to my church showed up a heck of a lot more times than my physical body.

Running is a fitting pace for a believer. Jesus Christ deserves that we should run for him. 

Charles Spurgeon, The Unwearied Runner

How many of us got up this morning and thought, “I need to get in my God workout today so I can be ready to win that race!”?  We may not see our studies of His Word like a workout but that’s what it really is.  The “prize” is the ability to carry through the days of our lives as Christians who take full advantage of the fruits of His spirit.

Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.  
1 Corinthians 9:26-27

There are a few keys to successfully training for a big race or event and those same keys work for keeping our faith life active and effective.

Have a Plan

A plan is not, “I’m going to study the Bible” or “I’m going to be a good person today.”  A plan IS something that is measurable and specific.   For awhile I thought the Bible was something I just opened up to a random spot and expected to be told all the answers to a problem.  And although God does set before us scripture we need we also need to be able to figure out the true meaning.  A specific plan might be to pick one book of the Bible and find a five week study on it and do the study at a certain time each day.  Another plan might be to commit to one God-directed behavioral change like smiling and saying “have a great day” to 10 people each day for the next month.  Ask God to help you with your plan and He will surely answer!

Be Consistent

Any devotee of fitness will tell you that consistency, consistency, consistency is what builds endurance.  So even when you go on vacation you find a way to stick with your plan.  Just last year I started packing my devotional book when I travelled.  I brought my Bible study booklets on the plane to keep up with the chapters.  Each time we want to make an excuse for falling off our plan we need to remind ourselves of the benefits.  When I don’t want to go for a walk I remember the feeling I have when I am done – happy and satisfied that I cared for my body.  When we don’t want to take the time with God we must remember how that centering time helps us throughout the rest of our day.

To run is to be diligent. We should hardly call that running in which a man starts and stops, and starts and stops again. In some Christian works we are painfully conscious that the persons undertaking them, if they ever run, run only for a very short time.  

Charles Spurgeon, The Unwearied Runner

Shake it Up

When I was training for the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day I walked five to seven miles a day five days a week.  Occasionally, I would throw in a 14 mile walk.  I set aside most of a day to accomplish that walk.  And in our faith lives we need that same occasional change.  It might be that we go to a different church that has different music.  Maybe we move our morning devotional to the outside and watch the sunrise.  Or we write out our prayers for the day on sticky notes and put them around the house.

Don’t Try to Do It All at Once

A good overall workout plan focuses on different parts of our body on different days.  My daughter once was on a swim team.  Some days were “land days.”  On those days they ran.  In the pool they practiced endurance on certain days and others it was technique.  I have a lot of behavioral changes I need to make to align myself closer to Christ.  And if I think about fixing them all at once it’s overwhelming.  So, I ask God to help me with just one thing at a time.

Rest

There are always rest days in a workout routine.  Time to let our muscles re-group.  The same is true with studying the Word.  You might think that’s Sunday – but that’s another day of study, isn’t it?  Hearing the Word from our pastors, taking notes, and being challenged to go out into the world is part of our workout plan.  For me, my rest from study is Saturday.  I’ll read a devotional to get me focused for the day and that’s it.  Yes, I put into practice the different lessons I’ve learned for the week.  But I also just rest in the beauty of God.

So run that ye may obtain. So run that the great cloud of witnesses may applaud. So run that the King may say, “Ye did run well.” 

Charles Spurgeon, The Unwearied Runner

Our days here are short.  If we chose to lollygag and be distracted by the world we miss out on all the glorious wonders of God.  If we strengthen our spiritual muscles through a consistent plan we can be God’s instruments for the day.  He will look upon us as fit warriors, ready for any heavy burden, ready to stand firm, ready to be his standard bearer.

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Out of Our Minds

If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, 
it is for God; if we are in our right mind, 
it is for you.  
2 Corinthians 5:13

There’s a lot of criticism of Christians these days.  We get called any manner of names from freaks to racists and dumb to science deniers.  And we shouldn’t be surprised.  No one ever said this would be easy.

I wonder if that’s why so many people, including parents, choose not to share their faith?  Yes, I said including parents.  A friend of mine grew up with a mother who considers herself a Christian.  Yet she never shared her faith with her two daughters.  Never encouraged them to come to church.  Never explained what her faith meant to her.  I’ve heard parents say, “I’ll let my kids decide when they get older as to what they want to believe.”

But think about all the things in life we are either willing or even feel compelled to share and teach others.  I, for one, have a lot of advice in me to spread about the world spanning any number of topics!  From a parenting point of view do we “wait till they decide” when it comes to teaching our kids about healthy eating habits?  Do we wait for them to figure out on their own how to read or write? 

How did we get to this point in our faith journey where we are so hesitant to share our faith out of fear from what the world would say about us? Out of fear we will get called crazy and “out of our minds?”

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him 
stand on the highest point of the temple. 
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, 
“throw yourself down from here. 
Luke 4:9

Right out of the gate, before Jesus can even start gathering up disciples, our friend, the devil, comes along and tries to tear down Jesus’ confidence.  He tests Him multiple times to see if Jesus is who He says He is.

Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not 
put the Lord your God to the test.’” 
Luke 4:12

I always love Jesus’ responses to those who would say He was “out of his mind.”  He never fails to give me a Perspective Change Moment.  He doesn’t argue with the devil about the dangers of jumping off a cliff.  He doesn’t present genealogy charts and Old Testament verses from Isaiah about His coming.  He just says, “Don’t even test me.”  He doesn’t sound angry or offended.

Ah, to be like Jesus.  When I was contemplating this post, I got convicted of something I had done the night before.  My husband and I were flying home from a visit with family.  As we sat in our seats on the plane my husband dropped one side of his mask while trying to adjust his hat.  A woman was making her way into the seat in front of us and turned and stared at both of us.  Then she looked at my husband and said, “Sir, put your mask on.”  

And boom, my hackles (whatever those are) started to rise.  I laughed at her.  I had all manner of comments I wanted to make but some supernatural force shoved me back in my seat and clamped its hand over my mouth.  I sat there steaming, irritated.  Very un-Jesus like.

I could’ve used the opportunity to be a peacemaker, a practicing Christian.  A Christian who shows what Jesus is about rather than what the devil is all about.  I could’ve been “out of my mind” with grace and apologies rather than defensiveness.  I didn’t act like I would’ve a few years ago but I didn’t act like the person I want to be. Imperfect progress as my friend Betsy likes to say. Yes, my husband had removed his mask for just a minute.  But this woman was clearly fearful and needed a bit of Jesus, not the world.

I told my BSGs the other day that if there was one thing I could try to erase from Christians’ minds it is the idea that “sharing our faith” doesn’t mean standing on a street corner screaming about Jesus.  It means that when, given the opportunity by God, we behave like Jesus.  We speak like Jesus.  We seek peace like Jesus. We teach like Jesus.  And we stand firm like Jesus. We step out of our own worldly minds and into Jesus’ mind.

But we have the mind of Christ. 
1 Corinthians 2:16

God will give you opportunities today.  It may be with your children.  It may be with your neighbor.  It may be with a stranger on a plane.  And yes, we need to act as though we are out of our minds with the love of God.

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A Tiny Message #1

Did you know that Paul was a small, in stature, man?  In fact, some of the Corinthian leaders thought less of him because of this.  

You are judging by appearances.  
If anyone is confident that they 
belong to Christ, they should 
consider again that we belong to 
Christ just as much as they do.
2 Corinthians 10:7

We have the benefit of history and knowing the impact of the apostles, unlike the Corinthian leaders.  But who have you looked at and thought, “She says some good stuff but physically she really puts me off.”  That is exactly what they said to Paul. (2 Cor. 10:10). The name “Paul” even means “little one!”  Yet we can all agree he was certainly mighty among men.  

Is there something about you, physically, that is holding you back from fully doing God’s work? Are you uncomfortable being a greeter at church because of what people might think of you? Do you hide your smile because of your teeth? Do you not volunteer for something because of your weight? Here’s a confession I read that might help you:

“I proclaim that regardless of what I look like in the natural realm, I am a menace to the devil in the spiritual realm.  In that sphere, I am anointed and powerful, with the ability to pull down strongholds from people’s lives and minds.  I am so mighty in the Spirit that the devil and his forces flee when I resist them!  I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!”

Sparkling Gems from the Greek I
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Tiny Yet Mighty

Throughout the Bible we are taught how the least becomes the most, the youngest becomes the greatest, and the weak become strong.  In my journey of studying the Bible I’ve flipped past seemingly insignificant books as I searched through the powerful messages of the Gospels and the insightful letters to the Corinthians and Ephesians.  And we all know from popular culture about Noah, Moses and even Job.  But what about those tiny books with odd names like Philemon, Obadiah and Jude?  What can four short paragraphs in 3 John even tell us?

When you do a Google search for “the shortest books in the Bible” you find five books:

  • 3 John: 219 words
  • 2 John: 245 words
  • Philemon: 335 words
  • Obadiah: 440 words
  • Jude: 461 words

They are all tiny yet mighty books placed purposefully by the ancient church in our Bibles.  They are fascinating to read, not just in their lessons but for their glimpses into the real lives of the prophets and disciples.  They speak of trials, friendships, conflict, success and failure.  They show the good work of the people of God – spreading His love and messages.

These five books remind us that as one tiny person in a world of millions we can play an integral part in God’s plan.  We can switch from saying, “who am I?” to “I am here, Lord, send me!”  Their lessons include picking role models, how to deal with conflict, true hospitality, forgiveness, social change, handling false teachers, and so much more.

Please join me in this five-week study as I glean life lessons from these powerful, yet tiny books of the Bible.  Each week, starting February 15, three lessons will be discussed from one of the books and posted on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Be sure to follow emboldened.net to receive your posts via email.  I look forward to having you join me on this Tiny Yet Mighty adventure!

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A Tug-o-War

“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
    you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
    you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 1:18-20

Sometimes I feel like I’m in a bit of a tug-o-war with God.  He’s trying to get me over that line and I keep resisting – pulling back to my way of doing things.  Like a two-year old saying, “I can do it myself,” I resist the pull of God because I think I know better.  

Have you ever been in a tug-o-war and the other side decides to completely let go?  Your side is pulling so hard you all tumble to the ground.  Even though the other side knows they’ll lose they think it’s hilarious to see the results.  It’s a dirty trick.  Thankfully God promises to never let go of His end.  His grace and forgiveness keep me upright even when I pull on that opposite end with all my might.

When I am weak and give in to my earthly ways God gives me grace and forgiveness.  I want to resist and rebel.  He works in so many ways to pull me back toward Him.

But he said to me, “My grace is 
sufficient for you, for my power 
is made perfect in weakness.”   
Therefore, I will boast all the 
more gladly about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

The context of that verse is Paul writing to the people of Corinth and sharing a constant pain he endured.  He pleaded with God three times to remove the thorn in his side (we don’t know exactly what the thorn was).  And God replied that His grace is sufficient.  How many times have we complained, maybe just today alone, to God to remove something from our lives?  That’s not to say that He won’t.  But He reminds us that sometimes we must be weak to truly rely on Him.

Sometimes God does meet the need by substitution (ie health instead of sickness); but other times He meets the need by transformation.  He gives us His grace so that the affliction works for us and not against us.

Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Commentary, New Testament 

At times when we pray for God to remove something awful in our lives and He doesn’t perform the way we expect, we then enter into that tug-o-war game.  Pulling into our own ways of “fixing things” ourselves, complaining, or even turning our backs on God by letting go of our end of the rope.  We give in to our idols, our wants and needs.

We should remember the saying that God, through grace, gives us what we do not deserve, and in His mercy, He does not give us what we do deserve.  So, when situations do not turn out as we have directed God, we need to pray to God to help us see what He wants us to see.  To help us understand what He wants us to understand.

God does not require us to understand His will, just obey it, even if it seems unreasonable. Life Principle # 5

Dr. Charles Stanley, 30 Life Principles

When we allow God to pull us back toward Him, He showers us with His mercy and forgiveness.  He cleanses our crimson souls to be white as snow.  And another covenant agreement is balanced at both ends of the rope.

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God Woos Us


During my years of attending church and going to bible studies I have heard many scripture verses surrounding love:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son.” John 3:16

“Love is patient, love is kind.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

“And now these three remain; faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

There are scriptures about how God loves us, how we are to love God and love our friends, neighbors and enemies.  We don’t, however, always equate this “love” with romantic love.  And yet, by all descriptions, the love the Holy Spirit has for us and wants in return is just that.  Intimacy, thoughtfulness, honesty – an embrace, a tight hug, and sweet kiss – isn’t that what we long for in our “romantic” relationships?  And the Holy Spirit is all about that kind of love.


A pastor at one of my previous churches wrote, what some considered a controversial book about the Holy Spirit, called, I’m In ❤.  Controversial because he is part of a corporate-style faith where we worship, but not too exuberantly.  We pray but not too boldly.  We love but out of reverence.  In the first chapter of his book he writes:

“Spirit wants to woo you into her arms in order to embrace you and whisper intimate truths.  Spirit offers to tutor you in vulnerability and joy.  Spirit welcomes you to trust her.  Spirit kisses you.  But this kind of love takes time to grow.  Will you let Her court you?”

Rev. Dr. Bruce Humphrey

So many of my conversations with my Christian friends focus on creating a personal relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Let’s face it, when you are intimate with someone you know exactly what they expect of you and if it’s a mutually respectful relationship you want to meet those expectations.  The Holy Spirit is who whispers to us.  Who winks so that we both are “in on the joke.”  She holds my hand when I am afraid to take the steps Jesus laid out for me. This “controversial” pastor goes on to write:

“Here is the truth: romance requires slowing down, listening, and spending time.  As mysterious as it is, there are some basic ingredients for love to flourish.  Romance requires intentionality.  Love is a choice.  You can decide to accept the Spirit’s love, or you can reject her embrace.  She will not force or compel you.  In other words, love takes commitment.

Rev. Dr. Bruce Humphrey

God is fully committed to loving you. Through the words of His son Jesus and the great counselor, the Holy Spirit, love abounds from the heavens.  Are you ready to embrace Him just as intimately? Share how God shows His love for you in the comments below!