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We Say Yes

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

A few years ago, God put my faith listening ears and my trust in Him to the test.  He asked me to step outside my well-built comfort zone based on the pride of working.  For an unknown period of time, He directed me to feed the homeless with 100 lunches once a week.  He told me what to make and where to take the food.  He tested and challenged me week after week to put my complete faith in Him.  To stand resolutely with Him.  For almost a year I experienced a relationship with God like no other.  

As I wrote the other day, sometimes God asks us to stay silent.  Other times, like during His 100 Lunches Project, God asks us to step up and say, “Yes!”  And if we aren’t paying attention, aren’t tuned in to His character, aren’t sure that He is directing us, then we miss out on great gifts of intimacy with Him. 

The actual making of the first few weeks of lunches wasn’t so far out of my comfort zone.  I had enthusiastic helpers and a husband who supported my venture.  But as time passed and God kept calling, I was faced with having to be resolute in following Him.  For one, my husband thought this would be sort of a “one and done” activity.  Not a financial investment and something that would take up room in our already full garage.  He also was concerned for my safety as I ventured into potentially dangerous areas, at times alone.  I could have easily agreed with him on all counts and shut the program down.  But I knew God wanted me to stand firm.  So, as I explained to my husband, God was directing this project, not me, he relented with a few requests.  One being that if I didn’t go with someone that I would regularly check in via text.

And then there was my work schedule.  At the time I was a long term substitute in a school office.  I prided myself on always being on the schedule to work at one school or another.  It was my source of “happiness” that people needed me.  The direction I was getting from God was to give out lunches in the middle of the week.  Doing that would require me to tell the school I currently worked I couldn’t be there that day for an unknown period of time.  My fear was they would let me go.  And so, I prayed to God.  Asking Him to guide me and bolster me.  The day I spoke to the office secretary I told her, “I’m doing this lunch project, directed by God.  And I can’t work Wednesdays anymore.”  A weird thing to say,  for sure.  Especially in the more liberal area that I live.  The response?  “Sounds good.  We will take you any day you can work for us.”

That’s how the year went.  Door after door opened.  And some closed as needed.  I watched and listened for His Word.  And I did His work in His name.  It was glorious!

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

The greatest lesson I learned that year was about trust.  Trusting in that when God speaks to us and gives us a challenge He will provide.  And any obstacle that is put in front of you, you can stand firm in who has your back.  That year I had many people scoff at what I was doing.  Family, friends, policemen, strangers.  But when you know that your mission is God-sent nothing should stop you.  You can be resolute.

So many of us Christians are sitting and waiting for God to call us to something special and yet we haven’t taken up the directions already laid out before us in God’s Holy Word.  We don’t need another whisper to tell us to be kind or forgiving.  We don’t need a tap on the shoulder to know how dangerous our gossiping tongue can be.  It’s all there in the Good Book waiting to be lived out.  We just need to take a stand for God.

The process of sanctification starts with the basics and moves on toward more and more challenges of trust.  When He sees we are obeying the small things He places more of His banquet in front of us.  But like the process of knowing when to stay silent we must be able to discern it is God, not our flesh, directing us.  I knew it was God asking me to embark on this grand project because it asked me to do things so in opposite of my own desires and yet followed perfectly His.

When you act for God you will have detractors.  You will have people that call you crazy.  You might even have people who get angry with you.  You might have to ask God to confirm you are on the right path.  And I’ll tell you, brothers and sisters, when you are on that path, the work you do for Him will be seen by people who need to see it.  You just may never realize it.  

There were so many lessons for me in that year of 100 Lunches (which grew to about 300 per week!).  And one day in December of that year God said to me, “You are done. It’s time for something else.”  He closed that door and told me to stop.  Even then I needed to be resolute.  People chastised me for not continuing.  Someone got quite angry with me.  My response?  “This wasn’t my project to begin with, it was God’s.  He told me to be done so I am done.  But you are free to serve in my place.”

I mentioned in my last post about the story from Sparkling Gems from the Greek and listening to God’s voice.  I’d like to share with you the prayer from that day.

Lord, help me follow the Holy Spirit’s leading whenever He impresses me to do something.  I know there have been moments in my life when the Spirit was leading me to do something.  But because I didn’t understand it, I didn’t obey – and later I was always sorry.   Please help me become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to trust Him when He speaks to my heart.   I want to be obedient and to experience the supernatural life that He wants to give me!  I pray this in Jesus’ name!

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She Loves Like Jesus

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

Jesus sees you. The first lesson of this miracle is a welcome one. You and I aren’t invisible. We aren’t overlooked. Jesus spots us on the side of the road, and he makes the first move.

Max Lucado

There are three women in my life that I count has having a significant influence on me.  Two of the three will probably never know me.  That’s the power of having an outlet to reach millions of people either through the radio, books, television, etc.  My long commutes as a young working woman were filled with life wisdom dished out with a borderline harshness by Dr. Laura.  She made sense to me and helped me to see different perspectives in relationships both personally and professionally.  Later, my faith life received a much needed injection of God’s truth from the formidable Joyce Meyer.  Her devotional, “Power Thoughts,” was Dr. Laura on faith steroids.  But again, these two women and I will probably never cross paths.

The third woman God placed in my path couldn’t be more opposite in personality than the other two.  She and Jesus share a beautiful character trait.  They love all.  They have compassion for all.  They know just what someone needs at their darkest hour.  When Jesus was asked how the masses would be fed, He stepped up to the plate.  And so does my mother-in-law, Bev Shetter.

When I first would visit Bev in her hometown of Longmont, Colorado about 30 years ago, I would find myself frequently annoyed.  You see, like people surrounding Jesus on His way to an official’s home, Bev couldn’t get through one aisle at the local grocer without multiple people approaching her.  A quick trip for a loaf of bread turned into an hour.  

This was so foreign to me.  How could one person, not only know so many people, but know so many people so well?   She wasn’t some famous tv personality.  She didn’t write a book.  She didn’t operate the local bakery, or any business for that manner.  She wasn’t even head of any organization.  She was a housewife who occasionally worked part time at a flower shop here or a dress shop there.  And, a faithful member of her church.

She knows everyone’s name, their children’s names, their parent’s names.  She knows who is sick and injured.  She can share a joke with old and young.  She lets people know she’s praying for them regularly.  And at the end of a “short” trip for a few groceries I felt a bit like Peter, annoyed that we might be late for our next engagement because Bev needed to say yet another kind “hello” to an elderly woman.

She makes you feel loved, special, remembered. 

“It’s funny how God leads us to just the right person to guide us through life. Bev has been that trusted loving spiritual friend to me for some 40 years. She has modeled the commandment of Jesus to love one another putting into action all the teachings of Jesus. We have shared laughter, faith, tears, fears, and all that life gives us and I am so grateful to her for walking beside me and revealing Jesus to me.”  

Longtime friend, Jane Nelson

Jesus did that.  You knew you were in the presence of someone special because He made you feel special.  The disciples knew that when Jesus said, “Follow me” they would be well-loved.  They would be remembered.  He wasn’t famous when He first called His disciples.  He was an unknown.  Not a rich businessman or even mildly successful tradesman.  Yet He made sure to make people feel known and loved.

 “I pray for them.  I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” John 17:9

Even in His last physical days on Earth He remembered His friends.  Not just the disciples.  You’ll notice in the verse above He is praying for everyone that the Father sent to Him – that’s you, me, Peter, John, the tax collectors, the adulterers, the gentile and the Jew.  Everyone who has turned their lives over to Him.

When I committed myself to my husband, I was given the gift of moving into Bev’s large friendship circle.  It wasn’t easy at first.  We are also opposite in personality.  I was angry, unsettled, untethered to God.  I welcomed outrage in my life, judged harshly and forgave reluctantly.  But the thing about Jesus is when He steps into a relationship with a Saul He transforms the Saul into a Paul.  And when someone like a Bev enters your life, you can’t help but come out changed.

And so I watched and listened.  I saw the peace she had in her life that I did not.  I watched her minister to the homeless, the shut in, the sick, the needy, the hurt, the lonely.  I listened to her words of compassion and quiet, unassuming advice to her friends.  She opens her home to visiting missionaries, childhood friends, family and anyone else that needs a pillow to rest their head.  And I said, “I want some of that.”

Isn’t that what we do when listen to Jesus talk to a hurting person?  “I want to be able to love like that.”  Isn’t that what we pray for when we watch Jesus stop and pay attention to one person on the street whom nobody sees?  “I should stop and help them.”  Isn’t that what we long for when Jesus tells us He will never leave us? “I want to be loved and be remembered.”

“My grandma doesn’t wait around for approval, compliments or appreciation.  She has a keen eye for what people need before they may even know it themselves.  She is one to show up with a warm meal before your stomach starts to growl or a blanket before you start to shiver. 

Granddaughter, Haley Shetter

Jesus and people like Bev show us how to love and be loved.  They show us how to be the faithful and loving friend.  They aren’t looking for 10,000 “likes” on Facebook.  They stop in the grocery aisle and say, “Hello, friend, how is your mom feeling today?”  They give their time and prayers one person at a time.  And from that, Jesus and Bev have gained a multitude of loving and faithful friends.

“My sister Bev cared for my blessed mother for many years.  Her dedication in honoring God through love and service is selfless and enduring.  Many times her faith has been tested but never paled.”

Sister, Kathy Pisano

The people like Bev, who live out this Jesus character trait so well, don’t work hard to make friends.  They don’t work hard at keeping friends.  They work hard at loving people.  They look for ways to show compassion.  They know that even doing their little part will mean something for somebody.  People like Bev are remembered wherever they go, because the people they touch feel something special.

“From her I have learned to watch and listen to her ways.  This is not something you develop overnight but attributes you gain over time.  She surrounds herself with people who also have these qualities so they can act as a tribe, a community, to build and share their love.”  

Granddaughter, Haley Shetter

Bev and her “tribe” are truly special followers of Jesus’ command to love one another and be faithful to others.  I’m a living example of someone who can learn to imitate Bev and Jesus.  I may never achieve the level of her success but God knows my efforts.  

It’s important for us that aren’t more naturally inclined to be like her to know that Jesus still expects us to work at it.  I won’t be Bev2.0 but with her example and the guidance of Jesus I can be transformed into someone new.  

Bev (front left) with a few members of her “Tribe”

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Our Brother’s Keeper

Life Lesson #14: Your gift of salvation is not a private affair.  We are to be our brother’s keeper.

Be merciful to those who doubt; save 
others by snatching them from the fire; 
to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating 
even the clothing stained by corrupted 
flesh. 
Jude 1:22-23

When I first started going to church, I had two other friends who were also exploring their faith.  It was a great time when we gathered with our families and openly shared our questions and concerns about religion and our beliefs.  One friend became a devout Catholic – the faith of her husband’s family.  Another followed me into the Presbyterian church – which was my husband’s background.  At one point my fellow traveler baptized her youngest and we were honored to be his God parents.

Shortly after joining the church the horrifying event of 9-11 happened.  It drew many of us to church each week.  But as the months went by, my fellow faith traveler began to drift away.  As a new Christian I wasn’t skilled or knowledgeable enough to help draw her back in.  I felt it was none of my business.

And there lies one of the great debates of the Bible.  Are we our brother’s keeper or not?  Before we got to the message in 1 Thessalonians of caring for our fellow Christian’s state of faith we heard from Cain.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is 
your brother Abel?” 
“I don’t know,” he replied. 
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” 
Genesis 4:9

Setting aside the audacity of Cain speaking so flippantly to God, we see the immediate need to shrink from our duty to care for our fellow man.  Of course, in Cain’s situation, it was to cover for a great sin.  This is the “I have my own problems so why should I be concerned about anyone else’s?” way of looking at the question of are we our brother’s keeper.

God does not ask or require of us to take on all the burdens of our fellow man.  In fact, throughout the Bible it’s made clear that a heart change and therefore a behavior change is a very personal responsibility.  Something that can only be accomplished between an individual and God.  

No man can be his brother’s keeper in the sense of taking upon himself another man’s responsibilities.  

Charles Spurgeon

A friend once told me that after a long, difficult day of being a school counselor, in a particularly troubled area of town, she would go home and eat an entire pint of ice cream.  The stress of responsibility she felt was physically taking its toll.  God does not require us to be this heavily burdened with a person’s faith conversion.  But what if we took it at least as seriously as we do so many other things in our lives?  

Our responsibility is heavy enough without our exaggerating it; we are not men’s sponsors, and if they reject our Saviour whom we faithfully preach their blood must be upon their own heads.

Charles Spurgeon

So what of our verse from Jude today?  What is our responsibility to being our brother’s keeper?  So often, I believe, when we hear this phrase, we imagine ourselves constantly correcting and judging someone.  But a careful study of the Bible’s message about this topic leads to one conclusion – speaking the truth of the Gospel and nothing more.

My brothers and sisters, if one of you 
should wander from the truth and someone 
should bring that person back, remember 
this: Whoever turns a sinner from the 
error of their way will save them from 
death and cover over a multitude of sins. 
James 5:19-20

Wandering from the truth.  Remember my fellow faith traveler?  She is the person mentioned first in the verse today – “one who doubts.”  She wasn’t sure she believed in all that Christians teach.  She was being called back into the world daily.  What she and all new Christians need from their fellow believers and churches is special care and compassion.  

I love how my younger daughter’s church places new members (and even non-members) immediately into a small faith family.  That’s where they can share their questions without judgment.  They are welcomed weekly with open arms and open hearts.  On the opposite end, I’ve been in churches where small groups are barely mentioned and seem to be a place only for mature, involved Christians.

“It is much easier to instruct new Christians and keep them away from the false teachers than it is to snatch them from the fire.”  

Warren Wiersbe

Jude then goes on to admonish us to snatch others from the fire.  According to Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe, these are people who have left our Christian fellowship and are now part of an apostate, or false teaching, group.  What is our responsibility to them?

We might be led to think we have no responsibility at all.  “Who am I to tell them what they think is wrong?”  It’s a refrain I’ve heard from quite a few long-time Christians.  But who are we?  We are the recipients of the greatest sacrifice of all eternity.  A gift that has always been meant to be shared.

I tell you a cold-hearted Christian makes worldlings think that Christianity is a lie.  

Charles Spurgeon

I have friends who consider themselves “spiritual” but not “religious.”  What I’ve come to understand is the word “religious” is actually a substitute for believing that Jesus is the one and only Savior.  Usually in the same conversation I hear “who am I to say there’s only one path to God?” 

If we are not secure enough in our own faith and the Word of God, we won’t have an answer.  We may not be responsible for someone’s heart decision but it is clear that we are responsible for knowing that Jesus is the Way.  And that knowledge is not to be held in a lockbox.  Jesus isn’t for some people.  He is for all people – every race, creed, and nationality.

With truth plus love we can stand for God in the face of our “spiritual” friends.  When the opportunity arises in conversation, we must see it as God’s open door.  And if we refuse to take the step through the door, we must then accept some responsibility for that person’s place in eternity.

If you want to destroy a man you need not teach him to drink or swear: keep back the gospel from him. Be in his company and never say a word for Christ. Be where you ought to speak and be sinfully silent, and who knows how much blood will be laid to your door. 

Charles Spurgeon

Our burden is to do God’s bidding.  Not for God to do ours.  How many times have you had the opportunity to speak God’s truth yet shrunk back in fear of reprisal or embarrassment?  

And so, we come to the last person described by Jude.  The person or people to whom we should show mercy mixed with fear.  Not many of us are equipped to deal with false teachers or with their ardent followers.  These days people have turned from the religion of God to the religions of the environment, of self-love, of wokeness, of the state, and so on.  And their followers are admirably zealous.  To stick a Christian toe into the mind of one of these believers can be quite dangerous.  But that doesn’t mean God wants us to forget about them.

The very fact that there is a Christ at all means that there was one who cared for others, and that our Lord became a man means that he loved his enemies and came here to rescue those who rebelled against his authority. 

Charles Spurgeon

I was praying the other day for something I realized later was wrong thinking.  I prayed that this blog would have a larger audience.  That same day I watched a video by a pastor from Colorado titled, “What does the Bible say about homosexuality.”  It was a great deep dive into related scripture.  And then came the comments.  I will summarize them by saying his responses to the vitriol were very Christ-like.  Notice the title wasn’t, “What I think about homosexuality.”  And yet the personal attacks were disturbing.  In reading his responses I realized that in no way am I prepared to dive into that pool.  

So, what is our responsibility in situations like these?  Again, if God opens the door, He will also have your back.  But if He doesn’t, He always asks us to pray for others.  Knowing who and what we need to pray requires us to be mature in our faith.  We need to pray fervently for the saving of souls.

And, you saved ones, you owe much to God, but do not think that you are saved for your own especial benefit alone. 

Charles Spurgeon

The gathering of souls for God should be every, single Christian’s mission in life.  Starting first in our homes, then amongst our friends, our neighbors and then the world.  We may not always have a one-on-one conversation but we can always pray.  We can give with open hands to mission programs.  Most importantly, we should always be asking God, “who can I help you save today?” And then walk through that door.

The Charles Spurgeon quotes used in this blog come from the sermon titled, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper.” Check it out and be energized for our mission of sharing the gospel!

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Pilgrim Not Citizen

Lesson 5: Walk in Truth through obedience to God

It has given me great joy to 
find some of your children walking 
in the truth, just as the Father 
commanded us.
2 John 1:4

I was reading a new book recently that said, “Today, America is rich but morally rotten.  Our heads and our hands have outrun our hearts. We have gained the world but have lost our souls.”  The author went on to describe the lawlessness and chaos that fetishism, polytheism and any number of ‘isms’ have wrought on our society.  I looked back to the beginning of this little book to see when it was published – 1969.  

I could take just about any paragraph from this book, “In Times Like These,” and you would surely think the author was writing about yesterday or today.  The frightening results of our demand for “progress” in all parts of lives are prophetically found in this fascinating group of sermons by Vance Havner, a contemporary of Billy Graham.

“The time is short, and the fashion of this world is passing away”

Vance Havner

For the Christian, we are admonished to live as people set apart from the world.  (Romans 12:2). And yet we have homogenized so much of what it means to be a Follower of Jesus.  I heard a pastor once say, “The world doesn’t hate ‘nice’ people.” Think about that for a moment. So many of us want, as our goal, to be seen as ‘nice, Christians’ — certainly not ones that cause waves like Jesus did day in and day out. 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers 
and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, 
to offer your bodies as a living 
sacrifice, holy and pleasing to 
God—this is your true and proper 
worship.
Romans 12:1

My BSGs and I were finishing up a week of Bible study about what the church means to God and to us as Christians.  We got into a discussion about how easy it is to be a Western-world Christian.   And although we’ve seen that challenged over the last year, we still don’t face the threat of death when choosing to worship. Prison, maybe, but not death.  (A little over a year ago I wouldn’t even have thought to write that last sentence).

At a church one of my Bible gals and I attended for many years, there was a pastor of Egyptian origin.  He would tell us of the inherent dangers of even wearing a cross or holding a Bible while travelling in Cairo.  He regaled us with stories of various mission trips back to his homeland fraught with intrigue.  And after an hour listening to his sermon and beautiful music we would go back about our “other” lives – not having risked anything ourselves.

We are promised an everlasting life, through faith and obedience to God. The type of obedience John writes about in 2 John.  “A walk in obedience to His commands.”  Earlier, John tells us of Jesus’ prayer to His father on the eve of His death. 

I have revealed you to those 
whom you gave me out of the world. 
They were yours; you gave them to 
me and they have obeyed your word. 
Now they know that everything you 
have given me comes from you.
John 17:6-7

The “knowing” then requires the “obeying” – a living out of what God expects from us now that His Word has been revealed.  But how many of us offer our entire lives over as a “living sacrifice?”  One of my friends and I have this now running joke that we have our “faith life” but then we have our “real life.”  Knowing that in God’s expectation those are to be one and the same.

“Devotion to Him (Jesus) must be so high and so deep and so intense that all other loyalties must seem in comparison as though they did not exist.”

Vance Havner

That takes obedience to a whole new level.  I fear that modern Christians read this and immediately assume we must be the rich prince of whom Jesus asks to give up all his possessions in order to follow Him.  (Matt 19:21-24)  And in fact, many a breezy, occasional, Sunday-only Christian has misinterpreted that to be the case.  But Jesus only ever asks us to give up what is separating us from Him.  What idols have we placed in front of Him so that it blocks our view of Him or our ability to obey Him?

The world is full of gadgets and facilities that are not wrong unless we make them ends in themselves or turn them to evil uses.

Vance Havner

For some that idol is time.  Or more specifically who or what gets our time.  In the 2 John letter, John calls out the “lady chosen by God” for her love of God.  And he knows of this love because of her obedience to the commandments.  She walks in love of God.  Even Satan knows God.  But the chasm between the lady in John’s letter and Satan is her obedience.  She most likely spent much of her day praying, guiding others to God, teaching her children about God, and working as God’s daughter.

“Christian love is not just some special emotion that makes us accept others.  It’s an act of will – treating people the same way God treats you.”

Warren Wiersbe on 2 John

An act of will.  That’s not some squishy, marshmallowey feeling.  It means 1) knowing the will of God and 2) committing our entire body to obeying His commandments.  It means living a life set apart from this world – and maybe even your current church or group of friends.  It means being in danger of getting called “weird” or “freak.”  It might even mean being labeled a “bigot” or “hatemonger.”  

Some of you may recall seeing the storm that descended upon New Orleans Saints football quarterback Drew Brees when he joined Focus on the Families’ call to “bring your Bible to school day.”   He was called all manner of hateful things and a call went out to shame and silence him.  For promoting bringing a book to school.

The time is nearer now than ever before to awaken in obedience as Christians. I read a comment that the Bible is a disturbing book. It “bids us to stir up the gift of God.” We are admonished to “gird our loins (Luke 12:35),” disrupt our sleepy scheduled lives (Rom 13:11) and grasp the seriousness of our times. We are closer to the coming of Christ than yesterday. And it doesn’t take much to see how anarchy and apathy are playing a role in God’s timetable.

When I started fresh out of college at my new job, I was just barely 22 years old.  I was given a lot of responsibility to set up a brand new marketing and public relations department.  The corporate culture was very resistant to the new ideas I brought to the table.  I was called all manner of terrible things.  But I learned a valuable lesson.  When the “big boss” has your back you can forge a path through any swamp, forest or desert.  As Christians we have the mightiest “boss” of them all – God.  We should walk in obedience to Him knowing that He has our back.  We should walk in the knowledge that we are just passing through this world and will do so as God’s children. We should look forward to making a few waves, in Jesus’ name.

I’m in it (the world) but not of it; I’m a pilgrim and stranger; I’m not a citizen of old Babylon, I’m looking for another city.

Vance Havner
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15 Transforming Prayers

I confess that I am free because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The shedding of His blood paid the ransom for me. The hold Satan used to have on me is broken, and I am liberated and set free! Now God’s divine power operates mightily in me, and I have authority over the enemy who used to control me!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

Sparkling Gems from the Greek

Prayer excerpts from Pray It Till You Make It series


A prayer to be deeply knowledgeable about God’s Word

Holy God, I confess that I have spent much of my Christian life hearing your Word and yet not absorbing and living out our Word.  I’ve sat in your Holy presence at church and listened, then walked out of the doors and turned my thoughts solely on selfish and worldly pursuits.  So I often, when I hear a conviction through your Word, I think of someone else who needs to hear the message – all the while it is me that needs to accept the correction.  I allow my endless “to do lists” to take time away from learning more about you, from soaking my soul with your loving spirit.  I allow my “study” of your Word to just be catchy verses that scroll by on social media. LORD, with your teaching and guidance I will proclaim that I am deeply knowledgeable about your character through your Word.  I will be your faithful student.  I lift this up in Jesus’ name, Amen.


A prayer to live a joy-filled life.

Gracious God your gifts and blessing to me cannot be counted.  And yet so often I turn to the negative parts in my life and place my constant thoughts in them.  When I rise I forget to be thankful that I have yet another day in which to serve you and be blessed by you.  And as I go about my day when you place joyful moments at my fingertips I take them for granted.   When I lay my head down to sleep I can easily recall all that went wrong in the day rather than what went right.  But your joy is there for the taking.  I want to live basked in your greatness, your beauty and your joy.  I can and will, with your help, find joy in every circumstance.  You are working for my good at all times and I just need to remember that promise.  Thank you for giving us your Son who implanted the Holy Spirit in us – a spirit of joy and of goodness.  I pray this in your Son’s Holy name, Jesus.  Amen


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.


A prayer that I would share the Gospel with others

Merciful God, your Word has healing power for the sick and your Word gives hope to the downtrodden.  Your promise of eternity is a promise for all who believe.  But I allow my worries and my fears about worldly judgement guide my discipleship.  I keep your holy and powerful gifts to myself, not sharing them with those who need them.  LORD, our one true purpose here on earth is to serve you and by doing so we are asked, even required, to speak of you to all who will hear.  Help me to succumb to your strength and guidance rather than that of the world.  I know you will put the right words in my mouth at the right time.  I just need to be willing to speak them.  Each day place someone who needs to hear from you in front of me.  With the strength of the Holy Spirit urging me on I will be faithful in spreading your gospel of Good News.  In Jesus name, Amen


I rest my worries in constant prayer

LORD, I confess that I can cite Philippians 4:6 quite easily but it is the actual doing that I struggle with.  In fact, when I get very distressed, I forget about you and turn inward to try and solve my problems.  Or I call friends and family to lay all my worries upon.  Too often it seems you are my last gasp when all else fails.  Thank you for giving us your Son to remind us that you are the only source we need to turn to in times of trouble.  With His guiding words I will place you front and center of my difficult situations.  Through constant prayer and communion with You I will find everlasting peace.  I lift this up in Jesus’ name.  Amen


A prayer to speak only when needed

LORD, I would like to make this brief but I seem to have an issue with words.  They flow freely from my mouth without filters.  At times I gasp at myself for the words that exit me.  James is so right when he shows me that my mouth is like the rudder for my ship.  And I want to be on the right course with you, God.  Sometimes I need the entire trinity to help me grab hold of my rudder.  But I know with practice, your grace and the urging of the Holy Spirit I can and will be the quiet captain of my ship.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


A prayer to keep my body strong and dedicate it to serve God

Heavenly Father, I regularly make the commitment to keep my spiritual life active and strong.  However, when I make choices about exercise or my diet, I rarely see that as part of my devotional life.  My spirit, my soul and my body all belong to you.   You ask us to be your warriors in the name of Christ.  And warriors are strong spiritually, mentally and physically.  Starting today, LORD, I recommit my entire body to you.  When I am weak and want to forgo exercise or eat food I know just isn’t good for me I ask that your Holy Spirit remind me that I need to be strong to accomplish all that you have planned for me.  I lift this up in your Son’s Holy Name, Amen.


A prayer to live without regret

Holy God, it’s been many years since I accepted your gift of salvation, which along with that gift came forgiveness.  And yet, so often I am unable to forgive myself.  My heart still twinges when I think of the times I lived in sin.  And once saved, I look back at the years I realize I wasn’t fully committed to obeying your Word.  I’ve wasted enough time, however, not accepting your grace.  I am learning how much you love me, LORD.  And with that, I’m working to accept that I am a new person because of your son Jesus.  The old me can’t take up any more precious time when you are filling up my heart with overwhelming love.  I admit I sometimes need stern admonishment from you to keep me on track.  But at other times please send me a gentle kiss or unexpected hug to remind to live in today, not the regrets of the past.  I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.


A prayer to act when directed by God

Dear God, I used to think that my faith was solely a personal, spiritual pursuit.  But I keep hearing the word “obey.”  I admit that obeying isn’t a comfortable word for me.  It implies me giving up something for someone else.  In your covenant world however, “obey” just means holding up my end of the bargain.  You are always faithful, LORD, and I need to be faithful as well.  James said it best when he admonished us to be “doers of the Word, not just hearers.”  Sometimes I allow the world to drown out your Holy Spirit who speaks your will to me.  Or I worry that I’m not worthy or ready to do your work. But I’m tuning in to you and listening, watching, and anticipating for your direction.  Give me opportunities to be your hands, your feet and your heart.  I will obey.  In your Son’s name I pray this.  Amen


A prayer to always speak kindly of others

Merciful God, so often when I think of sinful behavior, I rarely attribute my own tendency to gossip and tear down others.  And yet throughout Jesus’ time here on earth he reminds us to love one another.  Help me to remember to love not just with deeds but with my words.  You speak so kindly of me, LORD, and I have many, many flaws.  Not only do I need your help in not speaking unkindly, but also in being your servant to exalt your people.  I know that a kind word is all that is needed to cure so many of our world’s ills.  Guide me in controlling my lips so that they drip with kindness rather than bitterness.  In Jesus’ name I lift this up to you.  Amen


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.


A prayer to not be judgmental of others

Holy God, we live in a world that judges us on a photo that gets scrolled by in an instant, our decision at the ballot box, the type of car we drive, or even the color of our skin.  I am guilty of making snap judgements about the people I encounter throughout my day.  But in your world, LORD, we are all equally loved.  I have discovered the uniqueness of your message through Jesus – that you are the father, king, counselor, protector of ALL people.  You are at work in all of our lives, believer and non-believer.  Through the life lessons of Jesus and the prompting of the Holy Spirit I will be the type of person who loves first, rather than judges first.  I want to be loved and accepted for who I am uniquely made to be and I will see others in that same light.  I pray this in your Son’s name, Amen


A prayer to avoid using coarse language

Holy Father, it has become so easy for me to use your name in un-holy ways.  There was once a time that when angered or frustrated I would just say some silly old saying.  But as I drew closer to the ways of the world my language followed.  I want to be closer to you instead, LORD.  I want to speak like your son, Jesus.  I know that anger, impatience, laziness, and bitterness are all roots of my use of foul language.  Help me, Holy Spirit, to cut out those roots so that out of my mouth comes praise, prayer, forgiveness and grace.  I will use my mouth, with your guidance, for these rather than obscenity and coarseness.  Amen


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.


A prayer to love myself

Heavenly Father, so many of my perceived short falls come from my poor sense of self-worth.  I look in the mirror sometimes and to be honest I don’t always see what you see – a beautifully, wonderfully made daughter of God.  And I confess that my lack of love for your creation can spill over to my inability to openly love others without judgment.  But I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit any longer.  My heart, body, mind and soul were created by and belong to you, LORD.  With the reminders found in your Holy Word to love my neighbor as myself I will look into that mirror with newfound love and admiration for your creation.  Thank you for my life, thank you for making me uniquely me.  I lift this up in Jesus’ name, Amen


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

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!

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

Promised Hope In The Grind

Hope — what is hope really? It’s usually paired with “dreams” as in- — “Hopes and Dreams.” But, that combination phrase lessens and cheapens the real power and impact of hope defined in the Bible and promised by God. A dream is whimsical, theatrical and imaginary. Hope, from a Christian perspective, is rooted in a foundational promise from God. Hope is ambitious, assertive and seeped in God’s hope for his people. Nothing locks in the promise of hope for me better than an Old Testament verse like this one:

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

Grinder. Amongst my friends, that’s a title earned by time in the pressure cooker of challenges and battles. A badge of honor accomplished and proudly worn from difficult and trying times in life, in business, and under fire. The Bible tells us that those times will come for all of us. We know and have been taught in scripture that extreme heat and pressure are the only things that can shape and sharpen iron.

I’ve got a friend who offers this charge to me when I’m in it deep: “The only way through it, is through it.” Short and sweet — put your head down, grind it out, do what needs to be done for as long as you need to, and you will come out the other side. No shortcuts, no substitutes, no opt outs, no procrastinating. Do what needs to be done, do the best you can, and take care of business. Make the pain and suffering work for your benefit to make a strong you for better days ahead.

That’s hope. If you do the work, grind it out, it will get better. It’s a process and a promise, but you gotta do the hard work. It won’t stay bad or hard forever. That’s God’s promise for all of us. Do the work, put in the time. Stay connected to the Lord and make the commitment to hold the line. Stay the course, stand firm in your convictions and commit. Remembering, most of all, that God works on His timeline not ours. The New Testament is full of hope delivered through Jesus’ teaching and promises lived out amongst his followers.

Who’s a better example of a grinder than the Apostle Paul? He is the New Testament Super Grinder. Once Saul became Paul and the scales fell away from his eyes, his life became a one-man testament to grinding it out for the Lord’s promise of salvation. Shipwrecked, arrested, beaten, imprisoned and tortured. There was no quit in Paul’s mission of spreading God’s promise. Some of the most empowering texts in the Bible come from the hands of Paul and the promises of God’s hope, power, salvation and renewal.

Paul inspires Timothy to stay strong of faith and strong in conviction in the battle for hearts and minds. Paul encourages and challenges Timothy to hold the line for God’s promises for his congregation. Paul is a mission-purposed driven machine. An example for all of us of a grinder for God.

Therefore, since we have been 
justified through faith, we have 
peace with God through our Lord 
Jesus Christ, through whom we have 
gained access by faith into this 
grace in which we now stand. And 
we boast in the hope of the glory 
of God.  Not only so, but we also 
glory in our sufferings, because 
we know that suffering produces 
perseverance; perseverance, 
character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:1-4

With hope comes the everyone’s desired outcome: peace. Isn’t that the goal of our aspirational yearning and grinding? 

A place of deserved rest: peace, comfort and love. And isn’t that end goal, that accomplishment, always much sweeter when we have earned it with hard work, perseverance, suffering and clenching on to the promise of God’s reward for our lives?

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

Heart Lessons


Before I became a Christian and even when I was a “baby Christian” I’d hear a lot of phrases from the Bible thrown about by believers and non-believers.  Passages such as “judge not, lest you be judged” (Matt 7:1) and “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13) are frequently taken out of context and misused.  And then there’s the quotes that aren’t even in the Bible such as, “God helps those who help themselves,” “God will never give you more than you can handle,” and “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  While all those sound good, we must always be careful not to put words in God’s mouth.  Along with all of these I think one of the most misunderstood concepts people have is about being wealthy.  Non-believers will use this against successful Christians.  And believers sometimes think having wealth is a sin.  When Jesus said,

“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!  Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Luke 18:24

This was in response to asking a wealthy ruler to give up all his power and wealth and come follow Him.  The ruler was very sad because he was very wealthy and he wasn’t all that honest.  It’s necessary to know that no one is saved by giving up all their wealth.  What Jesus was really asking of the ruler was to be honest about what he coveted.  There was much more going on in this story than a man being told to give up his wealth to follow Jesus.  This is why I keep hearing over and over these days to not just read the Bible but to study it.  Take, for instance, this famous poem by William Wadsworth:

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze …

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

If we were to just read it for what it basically says we would think he was a lonely man who thought he was a cloud.  And when he saw some flowers he thought they were actually dancing.  Sounds like someone on drugs.  But when we study the poem, we find a beautiful short tale about a man who loves nature and finds joy whenever he sees daffodils. Therein lies the need for great Biblical teachers and pastors. 


As we explore the last chapter of James, we find him being very angry with the wealthy members of the church.  Not because they are wealthy, but just like the ruler Jesus admonished, they have turned their wealth into their god.  They have cheated and lied all in the name of increasing their wealth.  How many of us today covet our bank account in lieu of helping those in need?  As an American, even our poorest are considered wealthy in relation to other countries.  Just having a home, a steady job, owning one or two cars, having three meals a day, a closet full of clothes, a tv and more, far and away exceed what others have.  And none of that is wrong.  James condemns the wrong use of riches – using wealth as a weapon rather than a tool to build others up.  I’ve heard so many people over the years actually worry that Jesus will ask them to give up all their money and become a poor missionary.  I say, if that’s truly what you are worried about then be careful, that just might be what God asks you to do!  

How many times have you heard people say they’re worried God will ask them to be another ‘Mother Teresa?”

James doesn’t stop there.  Our lack of patience, our lies (both little and big), our lazy prayer life, and our lack of desire to help our fellow Christians grow and be their best in the eyes of Christ, are all on display this week in James 5.  

If we aren’t careful so much of James can turn into one of those misused verses or phrases.  If we remember two things as we work on the final week of this study let them be this: 1) it is always about what is in our heart that Jesus cares about and 2) thankfully we are given grace each and every time we confess that we have forgotten the first.

30daysofpraise, christian encouragement, Uncategorized

The Man With A Plan


I don’t know if you’re like me but when I go into any situation, I’m always asking, “what’s the plan?”  There’s that Martha popping up in me again!  I’m an action-oriented, goal-centered, outcome-driven creature.  That’s not bad.  Through numerous human resources training sessions I’ve come to realize the different characters in a well-oiled team.  And, as a person comfortable with leading, I’ve needed to see all the beautiful ways people contribute toward accomplishing a goal.  You have the worker bees, idea creators, empathizers, suspicious minds, change resistors, change lovers, and number crunchers.  But there always needs to be a “man with a plan.”  Of course, not necessarily a man.  But a person who has a vision – an overarching goal or purpose to why we all have gathered.  Apple founder Steve Jobs was one such leader.  On leadership he said,

“Technology is nothing.  What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”

Steve Jobs

At the end of Mr. Jobs’ life I don’t know how he felt about God but he was channeling God’s leadership ideas.  God is the Man with the Ultimate Plan.  Praise God that He is our fearless leader.   In Romans 8:28, the disciple Paul writes: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Notice God calls meetings and has a purpose in mind?  As believers we are working in concert with God’s purposes.  He pulls together teams to accomplish His visions for His world.  So, when we are called into the office, we bring our various talents and characteristics. 


It’s a dangerous mistake for us to look at other Christians working for God’s purpose and compare ourselves to them.  Yes, we can all learn from each other about how to better trust and obey God.  But being a believer doesn’t erase our basic tendencies or talents or abilities.  At my most recent church I volunteered for the Come Build Hope team.  This program facilitated building an average of 10 houses in Mexico each year.  In the bulletin was posted the need for a registrar.  That was right up my alley.  I’m very organized, computer savvy, and communicate well with volunteers.  The other two key members of the team were grateful because those aren’t their talents.  One was a building specialist.  One was the vision and money person.  We made a great team.  Mostly because we were also God-centered.  Our big and many small decisions were based on Jesus’ teachings.  He was always on our minds and hearts.  It’s not that everything went smoothly, it’s that we were able to work out all problems great and small as a team.   

I’ve found when I place God as my team leader and look to Him for guidance, comfort, encouragement and peace my life seems to go in a much clearer direction.  It’s when I try to wrestle back control that it jumps the tracks.  I also know that when circumstances around me start to go awry I can look to Him to take me through the storm.  There are many major companies that have failed to weather financial, political or other storms due to lack of good leadership.  Trials and tests will come to everyone. When I put my faith firmly in the capable hands of God I know He will work all things for my good.

I love this new song by King & Country. I was fortunate to hear this song in concert before it was released. The idea of working together, for His purpose, is so important right now. As Christians we need to band together as God’s team to bring light and hope to our world. Click on the photo to watch the video of Together.