30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

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.

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

Forever & Ever

“To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen” Philippians 4:20

“Jesus, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to live in me.  I can turn to you at any time, day or night, in times of joy and of sorrow and you are with me guiding me, convicting me and loving me.  Forever and ever.  Amen”

When I married my husband 34 years ago, we promised to be there for each other till the day we die.  I plan on keeping that promise, and I’m certain he will too.  However, I also recognize that we are both human.  We will disappoint each other.  At times we’ve felt betrayed by the other.  We’ve been angry and hurt.  We’ve also loved each other deeply.  And although I hope that our promise we made all those years ago stays true, you just never know what strange turns our sinful human nature may take.

In all our relationships there is only one that we can know without a doubt, that we could place a million dollar bet on and know it’s a “sure thing.”  And that’s the one we have, as believers, with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. 

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17

Before the glory of Pentecost the Holy Spirit only came and “visited” man.  He would come and direct various people in the Old Testament to do God’s work.  But Jesus made it clear that He would no longer make us orphans.  When He left He would step aside for the Holy Spirit to come and live IN us believers forever.  How beautiful, loving and glorious is that?  God – this magnificent, mysterious, expansive, all powerful being wants to be a part of me and you, always.  While we are taking a shower, making dinner, at work, running errands He is with us. 

“You have often left God.  Has He ever left you?”  

Charles Spurgeon

I’ve had friends that no longer talk to me.  I’ve turned my back on some myself.  I’ve even gotten pretty mad at God.   With one of my funnier moments telling Him, “I’m not going to believe in you anymore!” (Ponder the irony of that statement for a minute) But God has stayed true.

Friends, look at the very best relationship you have.  The one that brings you laughter, joy, loyalty and more.  And magnify that by a billion.  That’s God living with us and in us through the Holy Spirit.  I don’t know about you but I think that’s certainly something for which we should glorify and give thanks.

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, religion, Uncategorized

The Healing Power of Forgiveness

Lessons from Cherith

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Matthew 18:21

He’d been a drug addict and alcoholic for at least the 35 years I knew him.  In fact, this lost uncle was my husband’s main reason for why he never touched drugs in his college days.  My husband saw the path of destruction his uncle created throughout their family.  This uncle, my mother-in-law’s youngest sibling, took the road so many addicts follow.  They demand help, make others feel guilty for not rescuing them, promise to do better then start the cycle over and over again.

In my visits to my husband’s hometown, we’d have infrequent contact with his uncle.  But we would hear of his begging his own mother for money and complaining of how “lucky” and “privileged” everyone else in the family were because they weren’t always so down on their luck.  To be fair, this man bore the brunt of being the youngest child of an alcoholic philanderer.  As for my in-laws, they gave money, moral support, food, and more for much of his life.  But after a number of run-ins with the law and intolerable behavior toward my husband’s grandmother, the uncle found himself eventually with backs turned.  Enough was enough.

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:22

Let’s face it, we are only human.  We get our feelings hurt.  We often seek to protect ourselves from harmful relationships.  We don’t want to be taken advantage of and have our kindness thrown back at us with vitriol.  Like many of Jesus’ expectations of us the concept of forgiveness is not so easy for us sinful humans.  We get to the end of our rope.  We have no more tears to shed.  

I remember when my loving, caring mother-in-law said to me one day a few years ago, “I’m done.  I’m tired of being blamed for his problems.  I’m tired of being taken for granted that we will always help.  I’m angry how he treats our mother.”  And really, could anyone fault her?  But the thing is, I knew deep down she didn’t mean any of it.  I knew if her brother came again with hat in hand she would help.  Because she knew that Jesus would do the same for her.

25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:28

We can be thankful we haven’t been assigned the task of God’s prophets to administer final judgements like Elijah had to (although one day two of us will be called to do just that). In the Old Testament, we see time after time the people turning their backs on God after so many warnings. And he sent his prophets to speak truth and judgement. His final truth-speaker was His Son, Jesus. But this prophet came to tell us when we seek forgiveness and to forgive we receive eternal forgiveness from God, even when we mess up over and over. You see, Jesus doesn’t just want the one who needs forgiveness healed, he wants us, the forgiver to be healed.  Because when we place our own lives under God’s microscope, we each have a heck of a lot that needs forgiving.  We each are blessed with the incredible gift of coming with our own hat in hand to the Lord and asking, “One more time, please Lord.  Forgive me.” And He does.  

I’ve been fortunate to witness the healing power of forgiveness in a few people’s lives.  My friend Andrea will forever be changed simply by forgiving a family member for past hurts and asking for forgiveness for how she has hurt others.  My own relationship with my parents has required me to forgive them.  And although the situation can still be painful, I now have the healing strength which forgiveness affords to help me pray for them each day.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

I started this message about a man so broken from addiction.  A man who most would say was without hope, without the peace from God.  But God is a miracle worker as we all know.  So, after another stint in prison about a year ago, my husband’s uncle finally said, “Enough is enough.”  He turned to God for forgiveness and healing.  When he got the news that his oldest sister was now riddled with cancer he came immediately to be by her side.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have the same opportunity to watch such a beautiful miracle unfold before my eyes.  To see God’s hands work like no other.  To experience the full promise of God’s grace and love descend upon a room.  We met in the lobby of the hospital, just the uncle and I.  His mind and eyes were clear. He looked so healthy!  His demeanor was clearly different.  I took him up to his sister’s room and we sat and chatted.  I felt like I should leave the room and give them some alone time when suddenly he took her by the hand and with tears streaming down his face he asked for forgiveness.  He asked to be forgiven for the destruction he caused, the pain, and for all the lost years that could’ve been different.

My mother-in-law thanked him immediately.  She said, “I needed to hear this.  It hurt so much when you blamed me for your troubles.”  And they wept.  For the next two weeks I witnessed this man stand guard outside her room, praying and participating in her last days.  I listened as he asked the rest of the family for forgiveness.  And saw them weep from the healing love of God.  I watched as he helped lift his sister’s lifeless body onto the gurney for her final road toward home.  He was in pain but was healed.  He was washed in sorrow but cleansed from forgiveness.  And he knew he was loved.

Who do you need to forgive right now?

Who do you need to ask for forgiveness?  

It’s time for healing.

PS: Happy Birthday to my amazing, handsome, loving, forgiving husband 🙂

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, podcast, Uncategorized

Music

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:18-20

There’s no consensus in archeology as to when humans first started creating music.  One theory is that it must correlate with the creation of language.  When you think about it that makes sense – we go about our days humming, whistling, or like my dry cleaner, putting our conversations to some mysterious tune.  Scientists have found ancient flutes dating back around 300,000 BC.

What scientists will never answer is why do we have this thing called music and from where does it originate? From a Christian point of view, we know that God gifted us with so many human-specific attributes (although birds do have lovely songs!) such as the creation of music.  The first known “hymn” detailed in the Bible dates from somewhere around 1500 BC.

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
“I will sing to the Lord,
    for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
    he has hurled into the sea.
“The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.  Exodus 15:1-2

That praise song to the Lord goes on for 16 more verses!  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we had a recording of the exiles singing this?   As I write this, I’m listening to a beautiful Spotify playlist called “relaxing piano Christian.” What continues to amaze me is that year after year, decade after decade, and century after century this beautiful gift of music finds new ways to stir our hearts and minds.  I thank God for the notes He has placed out in the universe for us to sing, to play and to hum.  And I look forward with anticipation for each new song’s foray into His mysterious ways.

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, podcast, Uncategorized

The Power In Us

…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13

How glorious would it have been to live when Jesus was physically here on Earth?  To sit at the Sermon on the Mount and hear His words directly from His mouth?  To be in a busy marketplace and bump into Him – turning to see directly into His face?  Isn’t it amazing how He spent so little time here with us yet the impact has been so astounding that even our days are marked by when He arrived?  And when He ascended, the gift He left behind is something for which we can never be thankful enough.

“If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  John 14: 15-17

When you study the Bible you see how Jesus and the Holy Spirit touched lives even before the time we say God became fully human.  Their presence is woven throughout the Old Testament.  So it’s not as though they were created suddenly.  God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all spoke the world into creation and have placed their holy hands on our lives throughout history.

So, today specifically I praise God for the gift of the Holy Spirit and for being our constant intercessor, our inner voice, our God whisperer.  

It is the Holy Spirit that helps us to pray when we don’t know what to pray – because the situation has gotten so dire.  It is the Holy Spirit who whispers to us to get up and do God’s work.  It is the Holy Spirit who partners with us when we need rescue.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  Romans 8:26

I shared with my BSGs in the past that when I’m really stressed or worried I have a difficult time praying.  My mind is so jumbled and full of negative thoughts I can’t seem to quiet it down.  One of my BSGs responded saying, “I’ve just cried out, “help me!” when I don’t know what to say.”  That’s great advice.  It says it right there in Romans 8.  The Holy Spirit will help us pray.  Will give us the words to speak to God. 

Friends, God is so beautiful and loving that He didn’t leave us orphans.  He didn’t leave us grieving because He left us with a piece of Him inside of each of us.  I once heard a Christian teacher say that we don’t need to attain patience, kindness, love, etc.  We already have all those imputed through the Holy Spirit that lives in us because we believe.   We just need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us release those gifts.  To help us pray the words to fight back against the devil.  To whisper to us “love this person right now.”

We need to believe that God has given us the access to this awesome power.  And once we do that, we should pray to unleash it with all its glorious might.


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

Our Inner Wizard Of Oz

Be completely humble and gentle; 
be patient, bearing with one 
another in love.
Ephesians 4:2

A prayer to be a patient person

Faithful Father, I get so caught up in the busyness of life that I forget that my needs and desires are not the same as everyone else’s. When I’m running late, I want to yell at the drivers in front of me for not moving quickly enough.  The slow grocery store bagger receives my glare when she doesn’t work at the same speed which I expect.  Or when a friend doesn’t respond to my text as prompt as I need, I get frustrated.  I’ve come to realize, LORD, through your holy Word that my impatience is an outgrowth of my lack of humility.  Your admonishment to love one another needs to be on my lips when I feel that frustration and anger well up inside me.  LORD, I know there is nothing more important to you than having your children express compassion and love for each other.  Rest your loving hand on my shoulder as a reminder for when I forget this.  Quell my impatient heart and mind and replace it with grace.  In your Son’s name I pray, Amen.


When my children were younger, I found myself praying daily for patience.  My youngest had the unique ability to press all my “hot buttons” at one time.  But patience seemed to allude me.  I heard a pastor during this time give the advice to stop beating our heads against the wall if something we prayed for wasn’t manifesting and to pray for something else.  It made me realize that maybe God wasn’t answering my prayers because He had other work still to do in me.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve finally come to realize, through God’s nudging and conviction, that I first needed to figure out why I was always so impatient.  And as the verse in Ephesians today tells us we need to be “completely humble and gentle.”  It was a hard pill to swallow when I pulled back the curtain to see my inner Wizard of Oz working away trying to control everything.  And when people aren’t acting as I want them to, I become angry and impatient.

Whoever is patient has great 
understanding, but one who is 
quick-tempered displays folly.
Proverbs 14:29

Great understanding.  Understanding of our why’s – not just because we obviously have somewhere much more important to be than everyone else – but our “why” of why we think that.  Why do we think our time and our talent or even treasure is so much higher on the scale of importance that we need to tap our feet in obvious disgust?  Or we need to blare our horns and use our fingers in un-godly ways.  If we are late, who’s fault really is it?  If we are up against a deadline, who needs to truly take responsibility for that situation?

God’s Word is great at convicting, correcting and revealing our “why’s.”  The next time you find that old foe called “impatience” welling up inside you stop and dig deeper.  Pull back the curtain on your wizard and ask God to show you what’s causing so much distress.  He will show you.  And then He will test you, over and over.  

We see you Mr. Wizard!

If we all can learn, through a renewed humbleness, to be patient and bearing with one another in love just think how much kinder this world will feel.  I’m asking God to start with me.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!

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

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.