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The First Priority

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-12

My Lord and Savior Jesus there is no other above you!  You are the touchstone for everything and person in my life.  Help me to place my thoughts first on you today, God.  There is nothing I should chase after that is placed greater than You. Amen

Misplaced priorities, oh how I have had (have) quite a few.  I can easily forgive myself for the years I wasn’t a Christian.  Even those years I was a baby Christian I look back upon with grace.  But today?  Today when I put my yearnings above God there’s really no excuse.  I know better.  And I find myself doing it anyways.  I’m getting better day by day.  As my friend Betsy calls it, I’m making imperfect progress.

“8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8

The apostle Paul was certainly a man on fire to give all glory and honor and praise to Jesus.  We “normal” folks can sometimes look at the very faithful and think, “I have family that’s going through (fill in the blank) and that needs my attention.”  Or even, “My job takes a lot out of me and it’s important work so I don’t have the same time as Paul to devote to my faith.”  We can list endless reasons why we aren’t on fire for the Lord.  Or worse, we just are ambivalent.   Paul was not a man with time on his hands. Although Bible scholars aren’t in total agreement, some believe that at one time he was married. He also had a thriving tent making business which he took on the road during his mission trips. Whatever his full biography was, he clearly placed his everyday activities secondary to God.

I’ve come to finally realize that once I have begun aligning my actions, yearnings, words and more to God’s priorities, life has gotten a lot simpler and clearer.  It doesn’t mean it’s easier.  However, knowing my highest authority is our Lord, my worries and thoughts get pulled into His ways and purpose.  

Friend, if you’re chasing a need or desire that places an earthly object, goal or person above God you are just spinning your wheels.  You may get the fame or the fortune but you won’t have the fruit.  God alone deserves the highest place of honor and glory in your life.  He has no rival; He has no equal. Pursue Him with great passion over everything else and you will see Him at work.

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Courage

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

There’s certainly a lot of courageous people in the Bible. After Moses’ death, God commands Joshua to take the Israelites into the promised land – not knowing what to expect.  God reminds Joshua that with every step, He will be just ahead of Joshua paving the way. 

The dictionary definition of courage is: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.  But that doesn’t really do “courage” justice.  There’s plenty of people who build up their courage to do really stupid things.  And without consulting God on our next steps how can someone really “withstand” fear and difficulty?  

Courage is one of those mysterious uniquely human gifts.  A gift that is frequently used wrongly when the Holy Spirit isn’t involved.  I find when I’m telling myself to be brave it’s a signal that I need to start praying.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24

Awhile back I challenged a group of friends and acquaintances to embark on what I called The Boldness Challenge.  I asked each of them to make a list of five things they’d like to accomplish.  And then, they were to start working on each of them, reporting in occasionally.  For some it was digging deeper into their faith. For another it was completing the John Muir Trail.  From starting a business to learning to fly, the lists were incredibly diverse!  One list included forgiving certain people in their lives. Each person had been putting off tackling a dream or a goal.  All of them would need God’s courage to move forward.

I’m so thankful that when I know I’m going to encounter a difficult situation or embark on a new and scary adventure I can count on God for the mysterious courage.  The Holy Spirit wells up inside me and gives me the strength to take that step forward.

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Persistence

Where do you place the idea of “persistence” in your life? In God’s realm it is one of the most highly touted human characteristics.
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Persistence gets us to grab hold of the life God wants for us. It molds us into better people. Persistence takes us over the finish line when we continually pray in worship, thanksgiving and petition.
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Persistence is not about never changing course. It’s about never taking your eyes off the ultimate goal — even if that means our course zig zags a bit. When I was learning to sail the first thing we needed to understand was reading the wind. Sensing it’s direction and using it for the most power and energy. Frequently that meant having to “tack” or sail in a zig zag. As a sailor you need to be fully in tune with the unseen in order to persist toward that spot on the horizon you’ve picked out as your ultimate goal.
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I have pleasing God as my ultimate goal. And through prayer, meditation, worship, and paying close attention to His unseen and seen ways I set my sail toward Him. It may mean I zig zag my way but through persistence I know I will reach my goal.
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Please join me in this adventure as I begin 30 Days of Praise starting July 27. Go to my blog (link in bio) and follow me to receive a daily praise and to add your own daily praise ❤️.
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I look forward to setting sail with you!
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Clear Eyes Open Heart

As I’ve gotten older my allergies have gotten worse. I’ve had sinus surgery and I’m currently going through the allergy shot regimen. And yet I still need to take allergy pills both in the morning and at night. In the early years of this battle I experimented with different allergy medications. Some made me incredibly sleepy and foggy. I saw a commercial for the brand Claritin. What caught my attention was the line “Claritin Clear.” The commercial shows a foggy view of the world. And after taking their product that foggy film is stripped away. That’s what I needed. What I didn’t realize at the time was not only were my allergies making my view of the world foggy but so was my lack of trust in God.

My friend and I were out for a walk and I was struck with the fact that she has taken God’s allergy medication. For one, three different devotionals she read that day pleaded the same action: Trust in the Lord with all you heart and all your mind and all your soul and lean not on your own understanding (Prov 3:5). I told her sometimes God whispers and sometimes He shouts and shakes us! Both are to get us to open our eyes and ears to the truth of our lives — to be God Clear. For another, she’s leaning into God’s grace of that medicine and surrendering.

But the work is not done. In fact the clearing of our eyes can be painful. Just like my twice weekly allergy shots (I hate shots), growth often starts with pain. If we stop because of the pain we can never fully achieve our greatest gifts from God. He wants so much for us — a life free of self doubt, self loathing, and turmoil. But we must first peel away the lies that Satan so readily whispers to us.

Where are you at in this process? Have you tried trusting God but it seems too scary, too painful? My friend a glorious, clear life awaits you. Trust in God’s holy medicine to bring you through the pain.

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Put One Foot In Front of the Other

When I was a kid back in the 70s and 80s cartoons had messages for both children and their parents. It’s why these old Christmas shows like “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer,” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” still have such a large viewership when the season comes around. In “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” a young Kris Kringle melts the heart of the evil Winter Warlock. The warlock asks Kris how he can change his life and Kris replies, “to just “put one front in front of the other!” And you know what happens next? “Soon you’ll be walkin’ out that door!”

There’s no magic to being bold. Fortunately, Christians do have the strength, truth, and encouragement of God’s love for us to help us in living out our bold steps. There are, however, some reasons why people don’t pursue their dreams and take those steps. According to Amy Morin, author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” two stumbling blocks are:

Saying “Someday

Without a timeframe and schedule of steps you are more likely to keep putting off even taking that first step. Wishful thinking didn’t build anyone’s dreams. God doesn’t wish and hope that one day you will open that teen center or even just start studying His Word. If it’s on your heart and it keeps popping up there’s a reason!

When You “Feel Ready”

In Matthew 14: 27-29 Jesus is walking on the water toward the disciples’ boat. Peter says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus replied, “Come.” Then Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Notice Jesus didn’t say, “Hey, when you’re ready, come over here.” And Peter didn’t have to sit around mulling it over until he felt just right about it. When Jesus said, “Come,” Peter went.

Our feelings are deceptive. They lean toward all the lies the devil wants to whisper in our ear — you are too old, not talented enough, too poor, too young, or the best one, too busy. If we wait till we “feel ready” rather than stepping out of the boat, stepping into our dreams, and God-given goals we will watch others sail by and wonder “why not me?”


So here’s something scary I did last week to, as they say, “practice what I preach.” I made a phone call. Sounds simple, right? But boy was I putting off that call. In fact, I’ve been putting off that call for about 30 years. I was walking with a friend and we were talking about being bold. I admitted that I was too afraid to actually take the steps to learning how to fly. When I was about 19 years old I took the ground school classes at my community college. But because I didn’t have an extra $2,000 laying around I couldn’t afford the lessons. I am now 55 years old and the dream of flying has never left me. When I see small planes flying over me I think wistfully about being up there with them. So, I put it on my Boldness List. And it kept staring at me. I mean, I’m too old to fly. It’s probably too expensive. I doubt that I’m smart enough to remember everything. I’m not good at math. The ground school class was really hard before. And yet, it’s on my list. So last week after praying about it I finally called a flight school. And God put the right one in front of me — an all women’s flight instructor school. The owner was so excited to hear I’ve had this lifelong dream and we set up a date for an introductory lesson.

And today I took my second step toward my dream — I flew.

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Bold Steps

What bold steps have you taken? It’s time to rejoice. It’s time to re-ignite. It’s time to be honest. What steps have you taken toward your bold goals?

As a born “doer,” the Book of James really speaks to me. James writes, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?…As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” For many of you, fulfilling those deeds means having to be bold. And yet something is holding you back from having full faith that God has your back. For others, you have taken the step forward and are experiencing a revitalization.

You may be at a crossroad. I encourage you right now, at this very moment, to say a prayer and take that step forward.

IF YOU HAVE TAKEN BOLD STEPS PLEASE REPLY SO WE CAN CHEER YOU ON! IF YOU NEED ENCOURAGEMENT PLEASE REPLY SO WE CAN PRAY FOR YOU!