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God’s Flawless Words

“Every word of God is flawless;
    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”  Proverbs 30:5

In January 2020 I embarked on a faith journey of which I am still on today and will be for the rest of my life.  It was a simple journey, for which I only needed one book and the desire to converse with God.  I added a few new friends and a few old timers who understood God a lot better than me.  And so began my study of the infallible Word of God, the Bible.  I appreciate the way one of the “old timers” I’ve had with me describes this amazing book.

We have a more sure word of testimony, a rock of truth upon which we rest, for our infallible standard lies in, “It is written.” The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is our religion.”  

Charles Spurgeon

What I found, having researched the Bible’s origins and its mind-boggling consistency in truths over thousands of years and multiple writers, is that God is never wrong.  He’s never been mistaken.  He has never told a lie or broke a promise.  Most “confusion” over His Word is typically because we humans can’t understand a being that loves us so much that He hates sin.  Other issues with His Word abound because we don’t take the time to place the stories in context of the times or within their original language.

More importantly what I have found is comfort, peace, joy and hope.  Comfort that He never leaves us and is always teaching, guiding, encouraging, forgiving.  Peace in that He wants a relationship with us free from strife and He shows us how to live in this world knowing of the beautiful eternity to come.  The joy He brings is through His love of this place we call earth.  His creation is so gloriously beautiful and intricately woven together.  And of course, the hope that Jesus gave through the forgiveness of our sins.  Knowing that when the day of judgment comes, He will welcome us into the New Eden with open arms.  Hope that sees no pain or suffering.  No sadness or despair.

My friends, don’t let the unbelieving world define God’s Word for you.  Read it for yourself.  Study it with all your heart, mind and soul.  There is nothing else that will bring you such comfort and hope.  There is no other book that will tell you as much about the world, its people and its creator as the Holy Bible.

Thank you, Lord God for your infallible Word.  Speak to me in my confusion, my pain, my sadness, my joy and my hope through the pages of your book.  Amen

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Spread Good, Wise Words

A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word! Proverb 15:23

A few weeks ago, Associate Pastor Myron Wideman Jr. asked his Instagram followers to do something radical.  To spread a rumor.  Yes, you heard that right.  But here was the twist: it had to be about something positive.  We so often are quick to post that negative review on Yelp or comment to others about how bad someone or something is, meanwhile there’s blessings upon blessings going around us each and every day.  

Our sinful, flesh natures do love a good controversy, don’t they?  A little bit of whispering and gossip is all we need to get our juices flowing.  How about today or even all this week you take the time to send a text, email, letter or (gasp) speak directly to someone with a positive comment about them or their works?  If someone asks for your input or feedback start with as many positives that you can come up with.  Avoid the negative unless absolutely necessary.

Friend, God started out this beautiful place called “Earth” with words of great joy – “let there be light!”   And when He, through His words, created man in His likeness, the kindness He showed to us with a beautiful garden and all we would need was immeasurable.  It wasn’t until we were unkind to Him that something negative took place.  So, let’s work harder at a “Kindness First” approach as believers.  Spreading rumors and gossip of His love for all to hear.  Let’s put not only a smile on someone else’s face today but also on our Holy Father’s.

Holy Father, you are so kind to me, first with the gift of salvation, and then through the fruits of the Spirit.  Help me to remember to reflect your kindness through a positive and timely word to others.  Amen

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Less Babbling, Please 

"Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
    but the prudent hold their tongues." Proverbs 10:19

I was tempted to not write anything for this verse.  It surely speaks for itself.  It’s a lesson I should have tattooed on my wrist so I never forget it!  When I am nervous, angry, excited, or joyful, I talk.  I babble.  I had to apologize recently to a fairly new friend about my babbling.  She introduced me to her friends and I found myself a brook overflowing with silly words.  I walked away praying, “I did it again!  Why can’t I just be normal and stop talking??”  

The Holy Spirit, boy does He deserve a medal in trying to help me with this.  I think He sees progress.  I am being more discerning about keeping my mouth shut when others share their difficulties.  I’m not always jumping in and giving my personal or political opinion.  I’m also refraining from feeling the need to lash out when offended.  I’m seeing the fruit of zipping my lips.  Shocking, isn’t it, when we take God’s Word to heart how it seems to actually work?

So today my friend, here’s a challenge, unless asked for your opinion, don’t give it.  If someone is sharing a story, don’t add your own.  If you are confronted by a stranger, as Dr. Laura used to say, “smile and wave.”  Zip your lips for a day.  You just might find a bit more peace.

Holy God, although I know you enjoy a joyful noise on occasion, I also know you appreciate the beauty of silence.  Help me today to be silent when needed.  Amen.

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Taking The Easy Way   

 “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
17     “Stolen water is sweet;
    food eaten in secret is delicious!”
18 But little do they know that the dead are there,
    that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead. Proverbs 9:16-19

There’s a great debate raging in the United States today about achieving equity through stealing.  Where I live, a law was changed so that if you steal less than $950 and are caught you might receive a small fine.  As a result of this change, reported (much goes unreported) larceny as has gone up 3% in just one year.  Property crime has increased in 24 counties throughout the state.  Stores are closing in areas where shoplifting has skyrocketed.  As one woman put it in an interview, “If I need diapers or formula who is going to get it for me?  They aren’t out there arresting people for shoplifting and everyone knows it.”

Now this post isn’t a spotlight on political missteps or any particular point of view.  But there are consequences when we choose to live and make decisions outside God’s plan for us.  And one of the oft repeated admonitions in Proverbs is about laziness or taking the easy way out.  Some argue that being against allowing people to steal for what they call “basic needs” is racist or discriminatory.  But what really is at work in this particular issue is people who are not in need, such as politicians and activists, taking the easy path.  “Well, if we just let people steal without punishment that solves the problem, right?”

There are free needle exchange programs, safe drug taking areas, laws removed to allow for sleeping on the streets, money thrown at problems, etc.  None of these choices make us step back and take the harder, more intricate path.  Some would say they exacerbate the very issues we are trying to resolve.  As Christians we should be convicted to be more thoughtful and loving and wise.  To have the desire to help God’s fellow sheep be lifted from sin and despair.  


My favorite reality contest show was Biggest Loser.  Not only was the goal to lose weight but the show counseled participants on the root of their weight issues.  Many discovered their pain from abuse or loss triggered their unhealthy eating habits.  Without resolution of that pain, they were sure to continue on their destructive, “easier” paths.  

Friend, if in your own life you seek bandaids rather than true healing, if you try to avoid doing things the right way because it just seems easier, God is calling you to wisdom.  Stolen water is sweet but the dead live in that realm.  He is calling you to life and true joy.

Father, at times it seems simpler and less painful to take the easy path.  Please guide me to making better choices that effect both my own life and the world around me.  Amen

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Peace-Creating Discipline

For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly. Proverbs 5:23

Charles Spurgeon, one of the most prolific pastors of all time said just a few weeks before his death, “I look back, and remember what I might have done and have not done; what opportunities of usefulness I have not seized; what sins I have allowed to pass unrebuked; what struggling beginners in grace I have failed to help.”  A man who had spoken to millions.  Who brought the good news of Jesus’ healing lights to so many, this man in all humility felt he could have done more.  

How many of us can say we have used our time as wisely for the Lord?  How many of us have instead placed so many other activities ahead of helping others out of their darkness?  Of allowing the Holy Spirit to help us out of our own darkness?

When we hear the words “Christian discipline” it may cause us to cringe or to worry about what will be required of us or what we will have to give up.  It sounds harsh and monk-like.  Our thoughts on it may be borrowed from what the world may think of Christians – joyless, rule followers.  However, we are told throughout Proverbs that God’s idea of discipline is actually a lifesaver, peace creator, and joy maker.  

Because God loves all of us – believer and non – He yearns for us to live on the disciplined path.  One that seeks to keep us from the darkness of sexual immorality, greed, self-importance, violence, and more.  

Christian discipline includes these aspects: spiritual, social, physical and mental.  Each, when practiced close in hand with Jesus, is intended to live the full, beautiful, peaceful and joy-filled life God wants for us.  When we stay in His Word and prayer, when we are careful and loving with our relationships with others, when we are good stewards of our bodies, and when we keep our thoughts free of lust, greed and self, we will find our paths simpler.  Our decisions about life get easier.  That’s not to say we won’t encounter push back from the world or even trials.  But in the midst of all that life will throw at us, our Christian discipline will keep the path forward clear.  

Heavenly Father, help me to develop a disciplined life that aligns with your Word so that I may become more like Jesus and experience the life you intend for me.  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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Miracle Worker

23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 21:23

Father in Heaven, you are a God of miracles.  You bring light when I am in darkness through your healing powers and in ways I can never fully understand.  Help me to see even the tiniest miracles that you perform throughout my day so I can lift up my voice in glory to You. Amen

If you were asked if you believe in miracles, what would you say?  Your answer would probably depend upon how you define a miracle.  Some might call it a rare event.  What if instead, you changed your perspective and recognized that God works miracles in our lives every single day?

A standard definition of a miracle is  “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.”  And again, how would you define “extraordinary?”  As I’ve grown closer to God and understanding His ways, my view of the world has certainly changed.  When seen through the lens of creation being the work of God, we can find any number of impossible things made possible.

37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

I’ve been blessed with being pregnant and giving birth twice.  Each time I marvelled at what was occurring in my body.  A tiny human being built from microscopic pieces of the universe in a body that itself is the perfect factory for human creation.  The parts all fit perfectly, just about every single time for thousands of years, millions upon millions of instances.  You don’t need to know statistics to grasp how impossible that should be.

Many say “that’s just science.”  Of course it is!  Science is the study of God’s amazing work – where the impossible happens all the time.  But let’s set human biology aside.  I can state for a fact that miracles happen regularly because I have experienced them.  Oh, if you had only known me 30, 20 or even just 10 years ago. You wouldn’t have seen Christ in my life.  You would have seen a woman desperate for peace.  Longing for joy.  Fearful of not being loved or appreciated.  A couple of years ago, a friend who has known me for some time commented how she could now see the work of Jesus in me.  Truly a miracle.  I’ve seen the same work in a few friends.  Ones I thought would never change.  And the change that has occurred is one that only the hand of God could’ve accomplished.

When you think “miracle” do you only think of cancer being healed?  A death avoided?  A financial windfall?  If so, you need to rub the scales from your eyes.  Just the fact that the sun rose again today was God’s miracle of creation.   His glory is revealed in so many ways.  Some include our continuous acts of human creation.  While other times through the medicines He has placed here for us to “discover.”  His miracle work is revealed each time a sinner recognizes their sin and asks God to change her and He does.  And yes, whenever we are blessed financially when we need it most. 

Friend, God’s glorious miracles are at work right now in your life.  Like our future Eden, He doesn’t need any outside source to cause the light to shine because He makes impossible possible.

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Everyday Glory

“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11

Holy Spirit, whatever decisions and choices I make today help them to be in service and glorification of God. Amen

I read an Instagram post the other day that asked this question: “Are you doing what makes you happy or what glorifies God?”  I would venture to say on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour basis we probably lean toward what makes us happy.  Sure, when it comes to bigger more difficult decisions, we may seek God’s counsel.  But how often when we are choosing what to eat, what to do with our free time, when we go about our chores and errands, before we open the door to enter work or school do we think, what’s God say about this? What could I do in this very situation that would make God happy?  What could I say to my spouse/friend/adult child that would sound like a word from the Lord?

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

We can take this piece of scripture and use it as a sort of “out” when it comes to our everyday lives being aligned with God.  We can never know all that God is thinking so we just go about our lives as best we can, right?  That may be true if we never study scripture or pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom.  Because when we do those two things, God will constantly be on our minds and lips.  He may even want that mundane day you have planned turned into something that glorifies Him.

We will never be fully satisfied with making our own choices about our lives.  It may appear that some people who have fame and fortune without God “have it all.”  As Christ followers we know true satisfaction, however, comes from the only constant thing in the world – God.  He knows what’s best for us.  He knows what will work in our lives to glorify the kingdom.  

Friend, when we change our daily thinking to God’s plan, not ours, we will also enjoy the fruits of the spirit – peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. And that sounds a lot better than anything I might’ve planned for my day.

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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.

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A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.  A time to be born and a time to die.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

As a kid living in southern California, I had the opportunity to go to Disneyland a number of times.  Before each visit my brother and I would plan out how to strategically use our tickets – yes, back then we had ticket books for rides.  That’s where the saying, “It’s an E ticket ride” comes from, meaning the best ones.  In the ticket book there’d be loads of A tickets for the kiddie rides and shows.  But only a few, valuable E tickets.  I imagined how much fun I was going to have spinning around the tea cups and travelling through the Haunted Mansion.  But when I got to Disneyland all I could think of was the next ride.  And the next.  When we would leave, I felt a sense of disappointment.  Like I hadn’t really been there at all.  So, I looked forward to the day we could go back and begin the process of yearning for something better around the next bend all over again.

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Proverb 27:1

That has been a lifelong problem for me – always looking for tomorrow to bring me joy and peace.  It’s also brought me a lot of worry.  And although God wants us to be good stewards of our life, planning and preparing, He doesn’t want our hearts and minds to be absent from today.  Or worse, trapped in the past.  During difficult seasons we can so easily project our life to what we hope it to be or catastrophize our life to what we are worried it will be.  We often also wish we could just go back to the way things were.  Back home, back to a perceived better or safer time.  

On my rides home from the Magic Kingdom, I would wish I could go back.  Go back and relish each ride, each experience to its fullest.   And while I was doing that, I was probably missing out again on what was happening right then and there.  I can only imagine Elijah, a quiet, rugged mountain shepherd on day 50 or 100 or even 200 in Cherith Ravine letting his mind wander back home to Gilead.  Being just a man, he probably once or twice longed for his old way of life where kings and queens weren’t threatening his life.  Where he could pick berries and drink fresh goat milk each day instead of relying on ravens for food.  But God needed him right there, right at that time paying attention.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

It’s a hard lesson when we are in pain, suffering through bad news, or being persecuted.  We are admonished to trust in God for tomorrow and not yearn to go backwards to home.  And yet, in the midst of my Cherith I found myself doing just that.

Both my children had returned to their own homes after saying their final goodbyes to their beloved grandmother.  My husband too had returned back to a job that needed his presence.  That next day, after a particularly hard few moments and, to be honest, watching my brother-in-law’s little family gather closely together, I needed to escape.  I felt so alone and incapable of the task of helping shepherd my mother-in-law through her final days.  I took my eyes off the Lord and placed them back on myself.  A phone call home had me crying out to my husband, “I can’t do this.  I’m not strong enough.  I want to come home right now.”

I wanted to go back to before the cancer.  I wanted to envelope myself in my comfortable routine back home.  Fear and loneliness wrapped around me like a heavy blanket.  And then I remembered Elijah.  I looked toward the majesty of the Colorado Rockies and remembered God can do all things.  And He needed me right there, right now.  Not longing for home or better times.  Not worrying about the future. Instead, paying attention to the beautiful moments and lessons He had placed before me for today.

22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:22

I still will battle looking for the next “better thing” around the corner.  But the time between that search and remembering to enjoy this day has reduced to mere moments as I pull my thoughts back to looking for Jesus right now.  There is a time for everything. To prepare and to sow, to cry and to laugh. To keep and throw away. To mourn and to dance. When we step outside God’s timing we find ourselves at odds with His plan. But when we live in His moments, His seasons, we find ourselves in harmony. That is God’s promised peace.  And that my friends, is exactly where the joy is.