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Retire From Self Care

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

“I believe Jesus died to deliver ourselves from ourselves.  How many of us are just fed up being ourselves all the time?”

Joyce Meyer

The darkness, fury and despair of the young woman sitting next to me grew with each passing minute.  We were so close I could feel her shoulder touching mine.  Sitting on the airplane we found ourselves in that strange world of invading each other’s personal space while pretending neither existed.  Her billowing cloud seem to want to seep over the dividing line of the armrest to pull me in.

This seemingly quiet, unassuming young woman opened her computer and began pounding on her keyboard like the devil itself was trying to escape her fingertips.  My eyes drifted to her brightly lit screen.  I couldn’t help but notice the many words in all caps.  And I was drawn to know what was causing her so much angst.  It appeared she was writing a complaint letter about a work environment.  As her fingers marched like Roman soldiers across the keyboard, pounding and erasing and pounding some more I couldn’t seem to tear my eyes away from the battle.  She was hurt and outraged.  She felt betrayed and abused.  Her past hurts served as the basis of why her employer should’ve known better.  And then those pounding fingers suddenly slammed the lid of the smoking computer closed.  Her fury still burned.  You could almost see the sparks coming from her.  

Over the course of three and half hours I watched this woman join the battle numerous times, editing, adding and pounding.  And then she started in on an email to her family.  I kept praying that she, once there was internet service, would have a change of heart and not send off the bombs she composed.  But alas, before deplaning, she picked up her phone and started, with the same fervor, sending off salvos via text messages.  I have never seen a person’s finger move with such speed and aggressiveness.  Like driving pass a car accident I couldn’t seem to look away.

I’ve come to realize that God puts me in all types of situations to test and teach me.  I was learning a valuable lesson.  You see, my tendency to get outrage over “unfair” situations is something I’ve battled with forever.  As I watched this young woman blow up at probably everyone in her life, I realized how much I need God to lead me out of my sin.  How much I need God to provide me with a different perspective.  How much I need to rely on God for peace.  What I wanted to do was turn to her and ask if she knew about Jesus.  I wanted to wrap Jesus’ love around her.  To somehow snap her mind off her problems and look up to God.  I could turn and look at this woman and see my own face looking back at me.  And I didn’t want to be “that girl.”

In 2019 there were more than 18 million self-help type books sold in the United States.  The number of unique titles rose nearly three-fold from 30,897 in 2013 to 85,253 in 2019.  That’s a lot of people trying to fix themselves!  Isn’t that, so often, what we turn to our friends, co-workers and professionals for – advice on fixing our problems?  

Aren’t we exhausted yet trying to fix ourselves?  As the world drifts farther from God it shouldn’t be surprising that so many people are working so hard to fix their own problems.  Jesus came to save our souls but I believe He also came to save us from ourselves.

“The only way we are ever ready for a change in our life is when we are tired of “me.”  When we say we cannot continue to do the work of trying to make ourself happy.  We are fed up.”

Joyce Meyer

When we stop striving, stop trying to control what other people think of us, stop trying to please everyone, stop shaming ourselves for our past, stop playing victim, and start putting God as our King, our Creator, our Lord we can release the yoke of our fleshly life.

"Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35

And follow Him.  Retire from our self-care routines.  Self-care as in trying to fix ourselves.  Certainly we take care of ourselves, our minds and bodies.  But God always calls us to take a new perspective in every aspect of our lives.  When we take time to mediate, what do we mediate on?  When we decide what best to eat or how to stay in shape, who do we do it for?  Why do we word vomit all over our family or friends trying to get them to see “our side?”  For ourselves?  Or for our Heavenly Father?

I’ve heard the evangelist teacher Joyce Meyer make this statement many times: “I was always on my mind.  I was so selfish.”  To change that she created these three steps:

Live to please God, not yourself.  You are making a Kingdom investment.  And you will always get a great return on your investment.

Refuse to have “me” on my mind all the time. I’m not thinking about what’s wrong with me all the time or how I can get people to do things for me.

Always use money and things to bless people.  Don’t use people to get money and things. 

Jesus frequently took the focus off Himself and placed it on God. He prayed for help in times of pain and trouble. He told the disciples to look to the Father. He guided new believers to putting away their shame and accepting forgiveness from God. The times He had to solidify His place as the Savior He seemed almost reluctant. The focus for Jesus the man was always God and how to best please Him.

In my study on Revelation, I was asked the question, “How does the fact that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords affect our everyday choices and decisions?” In other words, getting ourselves, off our own minds and onto the Creator.   I’m finally leaning more on Him as my wise counselor.  He is my exercise coach, my nutritional advisor, my mental wellness guru.  When I see my mind and body as belonging to Him, I realize the responsibility I have to keeping myself focused on what He wants for me.  I fail frequently.  And when I do I come to Him seeking and receiving forgiveness.

I encountered the young, angry, hurt woman at the end of my trip.  Before it had even started however, I failed to grab on to God’s promised peace by my favorite method of failure –outrage.  The TSA officer and I had a bit of a confrontation.  I blustered and was rude.  As I walked away, I realized I was wearing my silver cross around my neck.  I may have flushed in embarrassment.  I failed to show grace and patience and forgiveness.  I took the situation personally.  It was all about “me.”

The difference for me at that moment was instead of adding it to my Vault of Shame I lifted it up to God.  I had a counseling moment with Him.  I felt His disappointment and His love.  It set me on course to be more aware of my behavior choices while in the crowded airport.  

“We are in the middle between hating sin and sinning.  When we aren’t accustomed to making good choices it’s hard.  The devil is working against us.  The more often we make those good choices it becomes easier.”

Joyce Meyer

And so, on my return flight, as I sat next to the woman with fire bursting from her fingertips, and like lava flowing out on her family, friends, co-workers burning bridges left and right I wanted to be like Jesus.  To be able to look her in the eye and know her hurts, her overwhelming pain and say, “follow me.”   

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Cor 5:15

It wasn’t a counseling moment for her.  Although I prayed for her.  It was a reminder message to me.  To live for Jesus.  To place my thoughts on Jesus.  To release my pain and hurts to Him.  To stop trying to defend and take care of myself.  To trust that He wants the best for me and will guide me to whatever that looks like.  To take my mind off me and have the mind of Christ.


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Are You Prepared?

Lesson #12: God’s kingdom will be established and we need to be prepared.

“But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; 
it will be holy.  Jacob will possess 
his inheritance.” 
Obadiah 1:17

My current BSG Bible study focuses solely on Easter and the days leading up to Jesus’ death.  The other day we were asked to read Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, and Luke 22:19-20.  And if you do, you’ll find almost the same words written in each about Jesus’ instructions to the disciples in His final hours.  As Christians, we should be very familiar with what took place – the breaking of the bread and the pouring of the wine.   What I love about actually studying the Bible is you see all the ancient links back and forth and the promises for the future, supported by those fulfilled promises.  

While they were eating, Jesus took 
bread, and when he had given thanks, 
he broke it and gave it to his disciples, 
saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 
Then he took a cup, and when he had given 
thanks, he gave it to them, saying, 
“Drink from it, all of you. This is my 
blood of the covenant, which is poured 
out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  
I tell you, I will not drink from this 
fruit of the vine from now on until that 
day when I drink it new with you in my 
Father’s kingdom.”  
Matthew 26:26-29

“When I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  Jesus is drinking from the traditional third cup of the Passover meal – the one representing the blood of an animal sacrificed for sins to be “passed over.”  He establishes not only himself as the sacrifice for all eternity for our sins but then gives us the promise of reuniting with us.

“The kingdom of God has come near.  
Repent and believe the good news!” 
Mark 1:15

You’ll notice throughout the Bible that we humans are warned of how we should behave, what the punishment will be, and in the end those who believe will receive great reward.  In the prophesy of Obadiah, the people of Edom received their warning of destruction because of pride, gloating, treachery, thievery, and violence.  Yet, they did not listen.

“Just as you drank on my holy hill, 
so all nations will drink continually; 
they will drink and drink and be as 
if they had never been.” 
Obadiah 1:16

Obadiah warns the people that what they sought for so richly would be turned against them with voracity.  Imagine now our current world.  And imagine all the sins turned against us two-fold.  The killing of millions of unborn children alone must make God so angry.  I can only imagine that we would be struck barren and childless in an instant.  And therefore, unable to continue creating new generations.

Thank God gives us the warnings.  And in heeding them we can then receive the glorious inheritance.

“Before we can pray, “Lord, Thy Kingdom come,” we must be willing to pray, “My Kingdom go.” 

Alan Redpath

Yes, our kingdoms.  So many of us have built our own kingdoms on the hill – just like the people of Edom.  We look down on our fellow man with a smugness that “we have it all under control.” Our bank accounts are satisfactory, our marriages are holding together, our homes protect us.  And yet we are warned all this will be “stubble” (vs 18).  How many of us live with the anticipation of “Thy Kingdom Come?”

Because it will come.  You may be fortunate to be in a church where that is a focus of the teaching.  Where you are tasked to constantly be in a mode of preparation.  Where you are admonished to gather up as many people as possible for the kingdom.  I have yet to be in such a church.  And yet the entire Bible is a warning of the coming kingdom.  

If this last year, during the great pandemic, has taught me anything is that our earthly time is limited and we are tasked with no more greater act than preparing our hearts and minds for the coming kingdom.  Situations in which I find myself that are not godly become glaring reminders of the coming of Jesus.

How about instead — “Are you prepared?”

Throughout this last year we kept hearing the teaching, “Faith over fear.”  And yet fear held most of us captive.  And fear of what? Death?  If that was the case, as Christians we should have been at the front of the line shouting “hallelujah, our time has come!”  The signs on our churches should have asked, “Are you ready?”

And what of that readiness and our own kingdoms?  

The underlying foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possessions; not making decisions for Jesus, but having such a sense of absolute futility that we finally admit, “Lord, I cannot even begin to do it.” Then Jesus says, “Blessed are you…” (Matthew 5:11). This is the doorway to the kingdom, and yet it takes us so long to believe that we are actually poor! The knowledge of our own poverty is what brings us to the proper place where Jesus Christ accomplishes His work. Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers

God has issued His warnings.  Just like with the people of Edom, He has called us to prepare for the onslaught of His power and might.  He has promised us the inheritance of the kingdom.  Are you in constant training?  Are you ready to be called up in an instant?  Which side of the battle lines will you be on?  

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The Ripples of Pride

Lesson #10: Make Jesus the King of every aspect of your life, especially the parts you grasp tight control over.

“The pride of your heart has deceived 
you, you who live in the clefts of the 
rocks and make your home on the heights, 
you who say to yourself, “Who can bring 
me down to the ground?” 
Obadiah 1:3

My BSGs (Bible Study Girls) now know each others’ longstanding mini-kingdoms that we like to control.  When we are asked questions in various studies about our sins we laugh and say, “Oh, I can answer that for you!”  This is why I love these ladies.  We have opened our lives to each other in trust.  And, we expect to be held accountable for growth in our troublesome areas.  I, for one, had an epiphany a month ago about one of my mini kingdoms which brought me a bit of embarrassment along with conviction.

These last few months I’ve really struggled with how angry I become when I head out for all my errands.  My irritation and annoyance with people in general was heightened with the COVID related rules and fears.  I’d see a person alone in their car with a double breather mask on and wanted to roll down my window and scream at them.  The one-way rules for the grocery store aisles frustrated me when I found myself accidently going the wrong way and got dirty looks.  People were either too slow, too lazy, or too dumb – in my opinion.  I kept it all bottled up and would arrive home in turmoil.  And then one day, while doing my Bible study, it hit me.  My problem was pride.  

“When pride comes, then comes 
disgrace, but with humility comes 
wisdom.” 
Proverbs 11:2

Yep, I was being the queen of “Miss Know It All” land.  And I had to admit it to my group.  It wasn’t until that conviction hit me that God could then begin the re-building process.  I’m now praying each day I leave my house that the Holy Spirit will remind me to live as a loving, compassionate, forgiving person.

In this week’s small Bible book, we hear from the prophet Obadiah.  As prophets go, he’s not all that well known.  In fact, there’s quite a lot of disagreement about who he was and about what time period he prophesized.  But what we do know was he came to warn the people of Edom about their prideful ways.

Edom was a city from the line of Esau.  You might remember him as Jacob’s brother.  And ever since Jacob illicitly received Isaac’s family blessings there was enmity between the two brothers.  One of the great, longstanding feuds began that day.  

So, hundreds of years later we find ourselves in Edom, who conspired with Judah’s enemies to overthrow Jerusalem.  And God is not happy.

“Though you soar like the eagle and 
make your nest among the stars, from 
there I will bring you down, declares 
the LORD.” 
Obadiah 1:4

Throughout the Old Testament we see God’s people, some of whom actually had the cloud of God living among them, attempt to take control over every situation.  They conspired with enemies, took the opposite path, demanded earthly kings, worshipped other idols to bring favorable weather.  We have the benefit of looking through the entire Bible and shaking our head in disbelief.  “Why didn’t they just do what God directed them to do?” one of my Bible study questions asked.  I can only look at my own life and ask myself the same question.

“For everything in the world – the 
lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, 
and the pride of life – comes not from 
the Father but from the world.” 
1 John 2:16

When we build up our own mini kingdoms, be it about finances, our care and keeping of our children, our jobs, our social life, our health, and so on we seek to place ourselves higher than God.  Our pride tells us that we know better.

And the Edomites thought they knew best.  They were going to destroy Judah through alliances with her enemies.  Meanwhile the Edomites, who built their city high up in the mountains as sturdy fortresses, were sure that no harm would come to them.

“But how Esau will be ransacked, 
his hidden treasures pillaged!” 
Obadiah 1:6

The thing about God though is that so often instead of an outright destruction of our mini kingdoms we get hit from the flank.  We demand or beg to be in charge and He sits back and says, “Ok, have at it.”  And we think we’ve won the battle.  And then the stress comes, the destroyed relationships, lost sleep, ulcers, and more.  And yet some of us hold on tighter because our pride won’t let us release our drawbridges and welcome God into our kingdom.

When we hold on to the sin of pride it creates ripple effects throughout our entire lives – and maybe even beyond.  We pass down family hatreds and attitudes toward others.  We teach our children to “never give an inch” in situations.   We divorce because we couldn’t see the other side and therefore create broken homes.

My friends, the people of Israel were promised, while still in the desert, a great year of Jubilee.  In that year, all debts would be forgiven, all slaves set free.  It was to be a year-long celebration of God’s love for His people.  And it never happened.  Before they could even get to the promised land, they decided they knew better.  Thousands of young men died because they wouldn’t trust the God who had taken care of them.  The God who created food out of nothing and gave water from a stone.

God wants you to experience His Jubilee – a freedom from the slavery that pride brings.  Jesus paid the price to release us.  It’s already done.  It ourselves that have re-shackled our hearts and minds.  I read this story the other day that I hope will bring you your own epiphany.

“There was a farmer that got word that one of his sheep had been stolen and lie dead in a ditch outside town.  He headed out to retrieve the carcass.  Once he arrived, he realized the sheep wasn’t dead.  It appeared as though its legs were still bound together although no rope remained.  The farmer called to the sheep to get up but the animal laid there as though unable.  He smacked the sheep on the backside to get up and yet it remained.  He realized the sheep still thought he was tied up.  So, the farmer pulled the animal’s legs apart to show him he was no longer bound.  And finally, the sheep hopped up and ran up the hill.”

Are you that sheep?  Jesus has already released you from all bondage.  But are you still acting, out of pride, as though you are still a prisoner inside your own mini kingdom?

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A Mustard Seed

Do not repay evil with evil 
or insult with insult. On the 
contrary, repay evil with blessing, 
because to this you were called 
so that you may inherit a 
blessing. 
1 Peter 3:9 

A prayer to be a blessing to those around me and my community

Holy Spirit I get so wrapped up in my everyday problems and to-do lists I forget to pause and look at the world around me.  I rush out in my car and don’t stop to say “hi” to my elderly neighbor.  I see the trash someone has left behind at the nearby lunch table and I assume someone else will pick it up.  I watch the mother with two kids struggling to get her groceries in the car and I think, “thank goodness that isn’t me.”  Oh, how I know you keep whispering to me to stop and do your work.  But I prioritize my list and sometimes you aren’t on it.  LORD, I say I want to be a blessing to others and yet I let so many opportunities pass me by.  Today, I will be that blessing.  Today I will recognize the need to slow down, reach out, and do your work.  I will be your mustard seed and help build your Kingdom into all it’s glory.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.


One of my neighbors is a quiet, older gentlemen.  He lives by himself in the largest house in our development.  He and his old dog, Scooter, are fixtures in our community.  And yet, most people probably don’t know that he supplies all the doggie poop bags for a dispenser in our neighborhood.  For Christmas, he always gives me and my dog, Tucker, a box of our own doggie bags.  You could say he’s in the dog poop ministry!  An unlikely blessing to so many of us.

In the same way, let your 
light shine before others, 
that they may see your good 
deeds and glorify your Father 
in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

No matter how many Bible study groups I’ve been a part of or how many churches I have attended, the one thing about “ministry” people seem to fear is being called to give up all their possessions and move to the outback of Africa.  And yet, Christ calls us to be a blessing starting in our own homes and neighborhoods.  If all of us would just start there, imagine the transformation that would take place!

If you really keep the royal 
law found in Scripture, 
“Love your neighbor as yourself,”
you are doing right.
James 2:8

At the beginning of the Covid pandemic I was called to start what became The Joy Challenge.  I invited my friends, family, Bible study groups, and neighbors to take part in a variation of Max Lucado’s effort to raise the joy level of 100 people over 40 days.  About 20 people said, “yes!”  It was fascinating to hear people struggle with the idea of being that tiny mustard seed who could affect others.  Some said, “How can I do anything if I’m locked away in my house?”   Others said, “But I don’t really know anyone.”  While even others said, “I can’t afford to buy things.”  

But the ideas began rolling in.  Some started writing little notes to friends and neighbors.  One lady painted smiley faces of all sorts on rocks and placed them in her yard.  My walking buddy just started waving and yelling “hello” and “have a great day” to an endless supply of UPS, FedEx and Amazon drivers.  Some had their kids write chalk notes out in front of people’s houses.

And me? I thought I had a great “in” on some toilet paper from China.  When it arrived, the rolls were tiny travel rolls about 3” in diameter.  After a good laugh I decided God wanted me to give these little rolls way so, I tied a note to all of them with a funny quote and randomly dropped them off at people’s doors along my walking route.

Months later one of those neighbors stopped me and said, “Aren’t you the lady that gave us that toilet paper roll?  We saw you on our security camera!  Thank you so much – we thought it was hilarious!”

It shouldn’t take a world-wide pandemic for us Christians to seek out ways to spread joy and be a blessing to our neighbors and our community.  I’m re-committing myself, no matter the busyness of the day, to be on the lookout for ways to be someone’s blessing.  It might mean I take an extra minute to roll my neighbor’s trash can in or I stop and pick up that plastic bag that’s rolling down the sidewalk.  It’s a mustard seed.  And I know each one I plant will help build His Kingdom.

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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He Prepares The Way

This is what the Lord says to his 
anointed,to Cyrus, whose right hand 
I take hold of to subdue nations 
before him and to strip kings of 
their armor, to open doors before 
him so that gates will not be shut:
I will go before you 
and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze 
and cut through bars of iron.
I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons 
you by name.
Isaiah 45:1-3

When I was 17, I moved across the country, away from my family to the Midwest for college. I was unsure what God had planned for me there, but I knew that I needed a new adventure and was excited to strike out on my own. It is difficult to describe with words that first feeling I had when my parents dropped me off at school and drove away into the distance to go back to California. I watched their car drive out of my university and eventually out of sight. For the first time, I was truly on my own. I felt my stomach drop and tears welled up in my eyes. Reality hit and I began to immediately doubt my decision. 

One more hug from dad!

Those first months away from home were difficult. I spent many nights deep with sadness, missing my old life at home. Other nights I would be filled with joy at the exciting new venture I had bravely took head-on. Amidst the rollercoaster of emotions, I always had one underlying questions – What did God have planned for me here? 

I wasn’t really a believer at the time, but I had gone to church my whole life and *generally* knew that God had a plan for our lives. Being from San Diego, I knew it was no coincidence that I ended up in Saint Charles, Missouri. It was random and I had zero connections to the area other than being recruited to play field hockey there. Despite not proclaiming Christ as my Savior yet, something inside of me knew there was a reason God brought me to this place. 

St. Charles — A Water Tower Town

Rewind back to the initial verse I kicked off with. Isaiah 45: 1-3 discusses a prophesy of Cyrus, who is a pagan leader God chooses to deliver the Israelites from their captivity. These verses were written 200 years before Cyrus was born. Meaning, Cyrus’ life was already planned out way before he was ever a thought in his parent’s minds. God had a plan for Cyrus’ life – He has a plan for yours too. 

God planned to use Cyrus in mighty ways, even though he was no mighty person. God chose him, predestined him to be the deliverer of God’s people. God wasn’t particularly favoring Cyrus, rather he was caring for His people as a whole by providing them a way out of their suffering through Cyrus. 

I know that God loves me, cares for me and sees me as beautifully and wonderfully made. But just as much as he sees me as His child, He also sees me as an instrument to His Kingdom, a vessel for which he can work through me. Just as he did Cyrus. 

I quickly found out that God’s plan for me in Saint Charles was to find salvation in His son Jesus Christ and to dedicate my life to serving Him – no matter where I was living, working, etc. God saved me so that He could use me on my field hockey team, amongst my roommates and in my workplace. Just as Cyrus’s plan for his life was written 200 years before he was born – so was mine, and yours. 

When I look back to my years in college, I am reminded of the good and perfect plan God had for me during my time there. Every day was certainly not good and perfect, but the things He brought me through and the lessons He taught me showed me that He truly is a good and perfect God. 

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
Psalm 119:105

God has already prepared a way for us. This truth alleviates me from worry and stress about tomorrow – something to which I still occasionally fall victim. God wrote the story of our lives generations ago, and has every intention of carrying out His good and perfect plan for us. All we must do is surrender control and open our hands to His authority.