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Our Outward Reverence

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 3:18

“Holy Spirit, today as I stand looking into my closet in deciding what to wear today help me to not only have an inward Christ-like life but also an outward one so that I may completely glorify God in all I show the world. Amen”

I know it’s not fashionable or even politically correct these days to say things like, “the clothes make the man (or woman) but in the not too distant past this was understood as fact.  This well documented human behavior actually acknowledges a role in what our outward appearance says to the world.  You may think things have changed because of culture or “at home work” but human psychology is a pretty stubborn thing. Don’t take my word for it.  

“Through our clothing, we can send each other silent cues that signal to others how we expect them to treat us. This works because we tend to make very quick assessments of situations and people and put them into categories that we already understand. This cognitive shortcut, known as representative bias, saves us precious computational energy.” 

Sarah C. Newcomb Ph.D., Psychology Today

And in a 2012 study done through Northwestern University, researchers found that wearing certain clothes exerts influence through symbolic meaning.  So, when, as Christians, we leave the house each day do we ever consider what message we are sending out to our neighbors, the folks at the grocery store, at church or at the beach by our clothing choices?  That’s not to say we should be covered head to toe in some sort of hijab – the Bible doesn’t ask that of us women.  

“20 you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:20

Jesus wants us to present ourselves with honor in front of God.  That means we clean ourselves off and cover our private bits up.  When my youngest was home from college her last summer she wanted to find a modest one piece bathing suit.  Quite the change from her bikini days.  When asked why, she said she wanted to be more modestly dressed around her Christian boyfriend.  That’s the Holy Spirit work in a believer!  

Friend, when we leave our homes and go out into the world, we are God’s representatives.  And when we attend church, we should present our best as though receiving an audience in front of the king.  We glorify Him through our modesty of outward appearance and exuberance of inward love.

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Salvation

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

It seems there’s a lot of talk these days about “end times.”  Since the world received the words of Christ about eternal salvation and His return, people of all centuries have determined “this is it.”  And although I do agree with Christian teacher Joyce Meyer that “we are closer to the return than we were yesterday,” we can never know when that day  will actually arrive.   We can only prepare.  

During the last year I’ve enjoyed digging deeper into what the gift of salvation really means for us and what it doesn’t.  It isn’t something we can earn but it is something we must take action on to receive.   It isn’t something we can lose but it is something we are expected to behave like we have received.  It was given in blood by Jesus yet He gives us forgiveness and grace for having to shed it.  

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.  Isaiah 12:2

When we recount the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion, we can easily imagine the dirt and grime and blood. The sweat and the tears.  The pain and sadness.  A perfect man, our God clothed in flesh without blemish torn apart by the sins of those past, present and future. And as God always likes to do, He suddenly flips the script.  At Jesus’ last breath the veil between earth and heaven is torn wide open.  We who actively seek out the Lord and place Him as king of our lives now have an intercessor to present our dirty souls cleansed.  Not just our hands but our hearts will be spit shined for when we meet the King.   Sparkling creations meeting the glorious Creator.  Thank you, Jesus.

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Sojourners & Exiles

No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:4

We Christians are sojourners and exiles.  This is not where our ultimate allegiance lies!  

David Van Drunen, Politics After Christendom

We certainly aren’t lacking in opportunities to engage in political discourse these days.  From mask wearing to vaccine mandates and budget crises to abortion laws the world around us is in quite a turmoil.  But when, as Christians, are we to engage?  When are we called to join the fight and stand resolutely in our faith?  These next two posts will look at our life as Christians and the political realm.  First, starting with what role the church, and therefore Christians, play in our common citizenry.

But let’s back up a bit.  For those of us living in the United States we’ve seen a serious deterioration from our Christian-held values over the last 70 years or so.  Not long ago almost all businesses were closed on Sundays and you certainly couldn’t by alcohol on that day.  Now, a business that makes the decision to not be open on Sundays because of their beliefs is vilified.  I’ve heard different arguments about whether or not the United States was a special project by God.  Whatever stance you may take on that we can be certain that every single nation was formed by God.  Every single head of state has been placed in their position by God and therefore is subject to His expectations and final judgment.

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17

That the United States was founded with God and the idea of His sovereignty at the forefront should not, however, be in dispute.  Besides the federal founding documents, all state constitutions, except one, reference God and His oversight of said government in the beginning of those documents.  It was then left to the citizens, as it has throughout the history of the world, to maintain that stance.

When you get deep in to C.S. Lewis’ great Christian apologetic book, Mere Christianity, you’ll find the concept of a Moral Law.  Through every empire, every phase of human existence we turn to this moral law for guidance.  We know what basically is wrong (ie: killing another human for gain or pleasure) and what is right (ie: helping a widow or orphaned child).  And, as Mr. Lewis argues, no matter your faith or lack thereof those concepts have been placed in our hearts and minds by someone.

But as a society drifts further away from a common faith, as in the case of much of Europe, North America and South America, we create new ways of working around what we know to be right and wrong.  We bend the moral law to fit the desires of our flesh and we seek to be accepted by the world.

You cannot make men good by (man-made)law; and without good men you cannot have a good society.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

And so, as Christians we watch as one of the last bastions of religious freedom, the United States, which also built upon that with many other freedoms, begin to crumble.  And we can so easily misplace our fears on our elected officials and the laws they create. 

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. 2 Timothy 1:8-9

At the time Paul wrote this letter to Timothy the Romans ruled with an iron fist.  Anyone that did not submit to their laws was imprisoned, tortured, killed, or pushed out of everyday society.  And Paul reminds not just Timothy but all of us who read this message that we have one commander to whom we must be most concerned – God and His son Jesus Christ.  We are set apart to be holy and live a holy life.

We are reminded that our role in this world is a sort of dual citizenship – to the country we call home and the home that waits for us.  It’s a balancing act that the disciples knew all too well.  We are to obey the laws of our government as good guests yet remembering we have limits based on God’s expectation of our adherence to His moral laws and knowledge of the final judgment.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles,to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:11-12

It may come as a surprise to many Christians in the United States but it isn’t our role to create a “just society.”  It is our role to seek justice for those in need in our communities but we can’t right every wrong.  We need to be comforted that God is in charge and we can, as individuals and corporately do His good works.  But Jesus, time and again, never sought regime change.  He sought heart change. He sought obedience by His followers to God’s expectations.

Being a sojourner did not require isolation from surrounding societies.  Abraham seems to have understood the need to exercise prudential judgment about how, when and with whom to share common activity.  One approach did not fit all cases.

David Van Drunen, Politics After Christendom

So does this mean we shouldn’t try and affect our government’s choices or laws?  No, it’s just remembering who we serve first, resolutely.  It’s remembering the difference between violently protesting a wrong and speaking out within the framework of how God wants us to act.  It’s figuring out where God and the church stands on an issue (ie: abortion) and where something may not be biblical at all (ie: the federal budget).  It’s making sure our heart and mind set firmly with God, not the world.

Believe me, I’ve struggled with these issues a lot.   I’ve stood on street corners waving my country’s flag and promoting a candidate.  I’ve stood up to politicians who have demonstrated a lack of moral character. Neither of which are wrong for a Christian.  I vote in every single election. Which is, in a way, expected as a Christian. But as my faith progresses, I’m taking a new view of my place on this big blue planet.  When I firmly set King Jesus as my authority, as my hope, as the Lord and Savior not just of my world but of every single human that has existed and will exist, my perspectives change.

As Christians we cannot continue to say we trust God, we know God will judge in the final conflict and still scream in outrage at people who disagree with our political opinion.  That message speaks loud and clear to non-believers that we don’t trust God.  That we haven’t set Him as our authority. That we have no concern for eternity. 

It’s time, fellow sojourners, to pull out our passports and remind ourselves of our future travel plans.  To stand resolutely with the one King that will judge everyone for all ungodly acts.  He has not appointed us commissioners of that judgment.  Yet, we are also not called to be passive in our worldly citizenry — sitting back and watching the world fall around us. He has appointed us as soldiers to exhort others to follow Him before it is too late.

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Praise The Lord

Sing the praises of the Lord, 
you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
Psalm 30:4 

A prayer to constantly praise and thank God

Mighty God, I admit that when things go wrong in my life I am quick to ask for help.  But when my life is running along smoothly or even when a prayer is answered I’m equally quick to forget to thank you.  Each and every morning when I rise, I commit to thanking you for what you will send my way that day – even the “not-so-good.”  Because even in those times I know I have the opportunity to grow in my faith.  And throughout my day I will remember to thank you even for the little gifts you send my way.  LORD, at the end of my day I’m frequently so tired.  But you are never tired of hearing my praise for you.  I will, before my eyes close, remember the ways you revealed yourself to me that day.  Whether you acted as my counselor, comforter, King, creator, or protector, I will praise you.  In your son’s name I pray, Amen.


In the late Spring of 2020, I was led to learn more about how to pray.  Using what The Navigators call, “The Prayer Hand,” I learned the five parts to highly effective prayer.  That’s not to say we can’t or shouldn’t pray short, on-the-go prayers throughout the day, but the Prayer Hand revealed to me what was missing from my prayer life – praise.

Praise is different than “thanksgiving” I learned.  When we praise someone, such as our children or a friend we compliment them for what they themselves have done, created or just are such as their patience or sense of humor.  When we thank them it usually involves something to do with our relationship.  We thank people for helping us or making things easier in a situation.  The same is true for our praise and thankfulness toward God.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving 
and his courts with praise; 
give thanks to him and praise 
his name. 
Psalm 100:4

This concept was so foreign and awkward for me  — it seemed that “praise” was so flowery and silly – that I dove headfirst into figuring out how to “do” it.  And so, I created my 30 Days of Praise blog series.  I took all the different characteristics of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and set about praising them for well, just being the amazing Triune God.  

And although that 30 days was pretty awesome, I still struggle with daily praising Him.  And that has revealed something else about me.  I have a hard time praising others (and myself to be honest).  I’m great at thanking people when they help me out. But just unabashedly praising people?  I realized that effort and awareness requires me to look outside myself and my own “things I gotta do right now” world.  I need to pay attention to the human beings around me.  I mean really pay attention.  To the salesclerk, the deli guy, the mailman, my neighbor, that person I see walking their dog every single day, my husband, my children, my friends – I need to look at them and see them and praise them.  Why? Because they too are God’s creation.  And I can praise God for putting them in this world.

Praising God means honoring Him for the rain, the sunrise, the puffy clouds, the air we breathe, the Son He sent, the joy He provides, the Word we read, the awesomeness of the universe.  We praise Him from whom all blessings flow!  I love the doxology I used to sing in a previous church and it takes on full meaning to me now:

Praise God from whom all 
blessings flow, Praise Him 
all creatures here below, 
Praise Him above ye heavenly 
host, Praise Father, Son and 
Holy Ghost, Amen

I will keep working on my path to praising God each and every day.  I want to be His thankful daughter.  I seek to find ever more reasons to praise Him.  And in doing so my eyes are moved off me and onto Him.

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

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Amazing Authority

Jesus Drives Out an Impure Spirit

Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.

 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Go away! What do you want with us,Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!”Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

Luke 4:31-37


I always like to imagine what it would have been like to be in Jesus’ presence on earth. To hear his voice and feel the power that flowed from His fingertips. 

Throughout Jesus’ time on earth, we see many instances where he is able to command an entire crowd, heal someone with simply a few words and cast out demons just with his presence. There is no doubt that being in the presence of Jesus meant feeling an indescribable authority. As described in Luke 4:32, it says that His word “possessed authority.” Those listening didn’t quite know why or how – but they knew that He had a level of authority that was bigger than themselves, bigger than even the Chief Priests they bowed down to. 

Recognizing Jesus’ amazing authority is pivotal for us. It’s pivotal when we read scripture, its critical when we pray, and it’s important to remember when we find ourselves with a tight grip around the so-called “handles” of our life we think we have. Jesus’ authority trumps all. The Lord’s Word trumps all. The authority that Jesus spoke with here in Luke 4 was noticeable to the crowds because it was the mighty power of God that was flowing through Him, touching the deepest parts of each individual’s hearts and souls. 

But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home.

Matthew 9:6-7

When we read God’s Word, we mustn’t forget that it still – and always will – possesses the same level of authority that Jesus spoke with that day in Capernaum. When He says “love your enemy,” He commands that with authority. When He says “blessed are those who are persecuted,” He speaks that with authority. And when He says “you must lose your life before you gain it,” He means it. 

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Mark 1:17-18

All Jesus needed to do was extend a hand and Peter dropped his nets and abandoned everything to follow Him. His presence commanded authority and His voice was one of love, grace and comfort. Authority doesn’t have to mean “dictatorship” – it can also mean trusting, strong, stable and yes, comforting. 

God wants to have amazing authority in your life because He wants to relieve you of the control, the worry, the anxiety and stress in which you toil. He wants to be the guiding light, the north star and compass that shows you which way is right. And when we give God total authority in our lives He does indeed show up in mighty ways. He takes control and leads us down paths we never thought we could venture down. His authority is the greatest thing that is available to everyone and anyone – all we have to do it trust him with our lives.

I don’t know about you, but I am often relieved when I remember that it’s King Jesus on the throne and not myself, not someone else, not idols or things. King Jesus is in control, and I’ve never felt more content in that truth – no matter what may come my way. 

The very word “authority” has within it the word “author. ” An author is someone who creates and possesses a particular work. Insofar as God is the foundation of all authority, He exercises that foundation because He is the author and the owner of His creation. He is the foundation upon which all other authority stands or falls.

R.C. Sproul