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

The Quiet Captain

My dear brothers and sisters, 
take note of this: Everyone 
should be quick to listen, 
slow to speak and slow to 
become angry. 
James 1:19 

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.


At my first professional job after graduating from college, I found myself in a new position in which the company heads wanted me to help get the entire company on a new course.  I was only 23 years old and immature in many ways.  The job entailed me meeting with the directors of each division of the company and educating them and guiding them through this new direction.  One particular gentleman was one of those types that doesn’t say much in meetings.  He needed to ruminate a while – go take a walk and a “secret” smoke – and then give his input.  He made me very uncomfortable.

After I would bring up a topic and give my input we would sit in silence.  That is, until I couldn’t bear it anymore and then I would start babbling.  And the more I babbled the deeper, as they say, into the weeds I would get.

Avoid godless chatter, because 
those who indulge in it will 
become more and more ungodly.
2 Timothy 2:16

When we feel the need to fill empty spaces with words we can find ourselves making promises we can’t meet, contradicting ourselves, confusing the issue, giving bad advice, or revealing more than we should.  I found myself doing all of these things in those meetings until one day a friend gave me the good advice to stop talking and let the man catch up.

You would think that lesson alone would’ve trained me in the art of being ok with silence but it hasn’t.  Just the other day I had to apologize to someone for interrupting her while she was sharing a difficult issue.  One of my walking buddies, with whom I have a very trusting relationship, has taken to saying, “That isn’t helpful for me right now,” when I am talking at her too much.

The root of this babbling seems to stem from a need to make sure people know my opinion.  So many of us want to make sure we are “heard.”  When in actuality God places more importance on the kindness of listening. 

I am getting better at this thing called silence.  My prayer life now includes the request of God to help me keep my mouth shut when I need to and speak only when I need to.  I have a feeling I’ll have that as part of my prayers for a long time.  Until I get it right, my ship will tack back and forth a bit until I can get it to smooth sailing.

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, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

The True Story of God With Us

Therefore the Lord himself 
will give you a sign: 
The virgin will conceive 
and give birth to a son, 
and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

At the time that Isaiah spoke this prophecy the nation of Judah was under a large threat from Assyria.  Alliances were being pressured and formed.  King Ahaz of Judah refused to align himself with the northern tribes because he had secretly made a pact with the Assyrians.  He didn’t grab hold of God’s past deliverances and trust God to save him and his people.  

Isaiah made his prophesy about the coming savior to the entire House of David as a warning to trust God and no one else.  God is with us (“Immanuel”) in so far as we are willing to trust and believe Him.

God is with me.  I hold on tightly to the knowledge that His Holy Spirit dwells in my heart, mind and soul.  It’s a promise completely fulfilled with Jesus.  And yet, I still occasionally fall into the trap of looking for a savior outside that promise.  A chance to make more money, a politician who scatters promises like birdseed, a new diet to get me “back on track” or a vaccine that will make the world “normal” again.

Promise made and promises broken

My BSGs just finished a section in our study of Everyday Theology.  It focused on scripture – its validity, relevance, purpose and origins.  We discussed how our modern times reflect Biblical times in so many ways.  Warring political factions, the lack of faith, and how the promises of God still stand true for today.  

Our world needs to grab on to the truths of scripture.  The Bible isn’t just some book some random guys put together.  It is what the study author calls, “God-breathed.”  There is no other book on the planet that has as much historical evidence to support what it says.  I asked the group why did the author choose to start a book about theology with the topic of scripture rather than say, God?  

One member responded quite rightly, “Because the Bible gives us the character of God so we can better understand who He is.”  

I gave the visual of using an encyclopedia book – yes, the actual book.  In the ole timey days we would hear about something and turn to the encyclopedia to learn more about it.  We knew what was written in that book was true.  No doubts.  After reading all about say, Marie Curie, we could be assured we knew just about everything we needed to know.

That’s how we should view the Bible – the true and relevant encyclopedia about God.  And know that it’s all true.  So, when Isaiah prophesizes the birth of Jesus hundreds of years prior to his birth, we can see it as confirmation of the whole story being true.

All Scripture is God-breathed 
and is useful for teaching, 
rebuking, correcting and training 
in righteousness, so that the 
servant of God may be thoroughly 
equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

And knowing it is true – that Jesus came to be our savior and the Holy Spirit would dwell in us for all time – should cause us to look toward Him and hold on to Him as our only savior.

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

A Promise of Triumph

The Lord will march out like 
a champion,like a warrior he 
will stir up his zeal;with a shout 
he will raise the battle cry 
and will triumph over his enemies.
Isaiah 42:13

Like you, I’ve dealt with a lot of difficult people throughout my life.  Whether it was at work, my children’s school, youth sports, or even my church, I encountered people who just wanted to be adversarial.  And I am certain I was someone’s “difficult person” at one time or another.  But I think the most painful experiences surrounding adversaries are when they are part of our family.

I was talking with a good friend of mine the other day about our two families.  We both struggle with difficult parent situations.  One day she and her sister had a heart to heart about a disagreement from a few weeks prior.  With my Christian friend’s kind and gentle approach she spurred the revelation that they had become their parents.  Each sister taking on the personality and fighting style of one of their parents.  That revelation started a healing process in both of them.  Truly a small victory.

In my own life I have transitioned through the stages of grief when it comes to my relationship with my parents.  I denied there was a real problem in my family.  When I finally recognized the problems, I became angry and fought constantly with my mother – trying to change her.  I even had my own way of bargaining to try and create a Hallmark-style mother-daughter relationship.  I would do things for her to help her see what a good person I really was.  But my expectations and hopes were always dashed.  I became depressed for awhile when I realized we would never be a family that loved being together. I just wanted to untie myself from my parents and let them go adrift.  All of this was before I finally surrendered.  I raised my white flag.  But not to any human.  To God.

But thanks be to God, who in 
Christ always leads us in 
triumphal procession, and 
through us spreads the fragrance 
of the knowledge of him everywhere.
2 Corinthians 2:14

Paul wrote this to the church of Corinth during a very difficult time for him and his relationship with this church.  They were angry with him for changing his plans about visiting.  Some had started false preaching about him behind his back.  And, as Warren Wiersbe states, “When Christians misunderstand each other the wounds can be very deep.”  Isn’t that true of our families as well?

During the last few years, I have experienced that Christ-given “fragrance of knowledge of Him.”  And as I have done so, I finally had to experience that last stage of grief – acceptance.  For us Christians that acceptance comes, more importantly, with forgiveness.  I stopped trying to change the situation by myself.  And I started to rely on God to handle the situation with my parents.  I hold on to the truth of who loves me for all eternity. And I’m learning how to stay tied to my parents without feelings of hurt and anger. As I spoke of this with my friend she announced very boldly, “And now you have VICTORY!”  

..so you should rather turn 
to forgive and comfort him, 
or he may be overwhelmed by 
excessive sorrow. So I beg 
you to reaffirm your love for him. 
For this is why I wrote, 
that I might test you and know 
whether you are obedient in 
everything. 10 Anyone whom you 
forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, 
what I have forgiven, if I have 
forgiven anything, has been for 
your sake in the presence of Christ, 
11 so that we would not be 
outwitted by Satan; for we are 
not ignorant of his designs.
2 Corinthians 2:7-11

I forgave my parents for not being able to provide me with what I was looking for in a relationship.  I realized they had never been the recipients of overwhelming love.  I stopped being angry and instead became thankful for the life which God has blessed me – a loving family of my own.  Had I given up at any of the other 4 steps of grief surely Satan would have won.  But like Paul, I am no longer ignorant of the devil’s designs.  

Thanks be to God for the triumph He has promised us. We can hold fast knowing that, not only will He have victory over those who would do us harm, but also over our own souls which get injured and hurt by the world.  We can have victory because the Spirit of God rests in us.

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

Hanging By A Thread

Can a mother forget the baby 
at her breast and have no compassion 
on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will 
not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on 
the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
Isaiah 49:15-16

I just was having a bad day.  Nothing really seemed to fall into place.  My husband got some bad news from work which makes me worry about him and our financial situation.  And then we decided to go get my car washed.  My husband was vacuuming the back of my hatchback.  I decided to walk around the back in order to reach the passenger front window.  Unbeknownst to me he had pushed the button to close the hatch as he walked away.  I walked square into the corner of the door with the top of my head.  My husband was completely unaware as he was now on the opposite side of the car.  I bent over holding my head trying to 1) not cry like a baby and 2) stay conscious. 

I cried out to him like a mewling lamb.  My first reaction was to blame him and then I apologized, saying it was just an accident.  But that was the last straw for me that day.  I  wanted to sit down and sob.  It has taken so much out of me to stay in tune with God during the trials and tribulations of the Covid pandemic that I just wanted to give up.  No more joyful grasping for God.  No more peace resting in His Word.  I just was done.  

Come to me, all you who 
are weary and burdened, 
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

And God whispered to me, “I’m still here. And I still love you.  And I know you are having a hard time.  Come and talk to me.”  

I still find it so hard to pray when I’m truly struggling.  But God is so compassionate to us.  He knows when we are holding on by a thread.  He will take even the tiniest snippets of prayer from us to help us hold on.  Like the mother in the Isaiah verse today, He longs to hold us in His arms if we would just run to him – or even crawl.  

The process of sanctification this year made me realize quickly that I was shrinking away from not only God but my husband at that painful moment.  I didn’t want to burden my husband any more than he already was. But after a little while, I shared with him how I was feeling.  I know it’s hard for men to see their beloved wives in pain and not be able to fix our ills.  But he gave me what I needed — a listening and compassionate ear, and a hug.  

That’s what God wants to do for us too.  Although we shouldn’t turn our prayer time into a litany of complaints, we should bring him our pain.  

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, 
holy and dearly loved, clothe 
yourselves with compassion, 
kindness, humility, gentleness 
and patience.
Colossians 3:12

I like this visual of clothing ourselves.  The fruits of the spirit are God’s way of giving us that spiritual hug and listening ear.  He is compassionate, kind, gentle and patient with us.  And Jesus was certainly humble.  When we encase our minds and hearts in these gifts and then turn those fruit outward toward God’s people, we get them back tenfold. 

My husband is a godly man.  Because of this, God used him to give me the compassion and gentleness I needed that day.  And I was able to pull myself back on track. 

I could have easily given in to my despair.  I mean my head was killing me and felt like I had a concussion.  Nothing I could do would fix any problem around me.  But I have learned to grab hold of the promises of God for my rescue. 

Be on your guard; stand firm 
in the faith; be courageous; 
be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13

My head still hurts a few days later but I can almost (almost) laugh about it now.  I’m glad I don’t have to keep apologizing to anyone for losing it – since I pulled back my anger almost immediately.  My husband felt bad enough as it was.  And my compassion toward him helped me to stay in line with God’s Word.

I thank God for His promise to never forget me, always hold me tightly and guide me with the fruits of His spirit. 


Join me starting January 11 for my next series! Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help create a vision of you! The words we speak and think and pray have a great impact on our life. We will embark on a journey of praying changes into our lives. New Year’s resolutions have nothing on what God can accomplish when we ask for miracles to transform us!

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

The Promise of Wisdom

Then the eyes of those who see will 
no longer be closed, and the ears 
of those who hear will listen.
The fearful heart will know and 
understand,and the stammering 
tongue will be fluent and clear.
Isaiah 32:3-4

When I started going to church regularly about 20 years ago, I thought for sure I was the least knowledgeable christian in the sanctuary.  I knew, for certain, that all the hundreds of other church members in attendance certainly knew the Bible inside and out and they had zero questions about what the pastor was saying.  That also meant that there was no way I was going to share my faith with anyone.  I wasn’t even sure what my faith really was all about.  And people might ask me questions.  

This fearful possibility reminds me of that show “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.”  When a contestant was unsure or downright stymied by a question, they could use a lifeline.  My favorite was to “Call A Friend.”  I always wondered what my reaction would be if I was the friend that got called.  I mean, you could be asked any random question and your friend’s chance at a million dollars could be on the line!

If only there were an encyclopedia-type book that was like that lifeline and it gave us answers about God.  You know, a book that would help us gain wisdom about God’s character and His promises.  A sort of history of how God has worked throughout the ages.  If there were such a book then I bet all christians would memorize it from end to end.  Their eyes would be opened to the majesty of God’s authority.  Their hearts would know how He wants the best for us and we would stop being fearful.  We would gain wisdom to be able to fluently and clearly share the Good News about salvation and eternity.  And, of course, we know such a helpful book exists – the Bible.

I have a christian friend who believes the Bible is just “some book written by men.”  And yet we could say the same about our very own selves.  We are in fact created by a man and a woman coming together and creating us.  But that doesn’t negate God’s Holy hand in our creation.  To dismiss the Bible as having been divinely commissioned is truly to dismiss God’s hand in all of creation.  And yes, we can nitpick over the specifics of a word – be it the Greek translation or the Hebrew – but even when we do that we are led to even greater understanding of the Almighty.  He promises that if we take the time to get to know Him, he will bless us tenfold. Ah, there’s that covenant, that agreement.

I spent the first 15 years of my christian life barely cracking open this amazing lifeline to the promises and wisdom of God.  It started when the church I was attending began encouraging us to pick up the pew Bible and start taking notes in it.  Oh, the heresy!  It’s funny now to think how uncomfortable so many people felt taking this action.  

This year, my BSGs have made it a point to select Bible studies which require us to do just that —  actually study the Bible.  We’ve done studies which focused on one chapter in one book (Proverb 31).  We’ve studied 1 & 2 Kings and discovered how much of the land around Jerusalem is still the same today.  And we’ve spent time in studies which take us on a broad spectrum of verses about what God wants from us as believers.  We’ve gnawed and chewed and scribbled in and soaked up our Bibles like never before.  We’ve grabbed a hold of our chance at a priceless prize – the knowledge of God and His unfailing love for us.

The Bible is an amazing, almost magical creation.  It seems to change each time I read it.  I believe when we grasp a Bible lesson, God, like the game show host, brings us up a notch and presents us with more chances to gain wisdom.  We get deeper as we learn not just about the basic words but how the people of that time lived, how the politics of the time were playing out, and the values they held dear.  We get insight when we see the more than 4,000 connections between the Old and New Testaments.

The people of the Bible were at a disadvantage.  We get to see the beginning, middle and end of the entire story.  But so often when the possibility of sharing His Word arises, we look like that contestant who’s been asked about nuclear physics.  

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now 
what I am doing, but later you 
will understand.”
John 13:7

Today is later.  That book on the shelf is God’s promise of wisdom for us.  One of the other lifelines on “Who Wants to be A Millionaire” is called “ask the expert.”  And while it’s good to have christian friends that can be a resource isn’t it nice to know we have an expert waiting to speak to us day and night through His Holy Word?  That sounds like a winning strategy to me.

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

His Promised Freedom

“I, the Lord, have called you in 
righteousness;
    I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people
    and a light for the Gentiles,
 to open eyes that are blind,
    to free captives from prison
    and to release from the dungeon 
those who sit in darkness.
Isaiah 42:6-7

In the United States, during particularly heated political disagreements, you’ll hear a lot about an issue’s “constitutionality.”   The United States Constitution is our country’s guardrails.  It’s our safety net and our guiding path for laws.  To many, it was a divinely created document.  The wisdom and foresight our founding fathers had when creating it was nothing short of amazing.  

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Preamble, United States Constitution

The precursor to the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, was a bold statement by many of the same people.  For some, it was like signing their own death warrant.  But the goal of both was not to create a new kingdom where one man would rule the peasants.  No, it was to place God firmly as the head and the people to organize and live in His ways.  Lest anyone try to convince you different, a visit to the highest court in the United States – the Supreme Court – will show images of Moses and the Ten Commandments in both sculpture and engraving form.  Enshrined on the bronze doors of the Chief Justice of the court you will find these same images.  

And although the Ten Commandments and the US Constitution have the commonality of “do not” in their directives, so much of what they are purposed to do is about freedom.  The Constitution, unlike many world government founding documents, is about limiting what the government can do to its citizens – giving a wide berth to freedom.  And the basis is that our freedoms are given by God and God alone.  

Likewise, God’s plan and promise for us is about freedom.  When we accept Him as our safety net, our guiding path, He removes not just the past sin, but puts us on the path to removing the future desire to sin.  He takes the alcoholic and the drug addict and the sexually immoral out of their old ways and leads them to freedom.  He opens our eyes to His love and compels us to live in our new selves by loving others as Christ loves us.  He removes the fears and anxieties that imprison us by giving us eternal life.  

I lived a lot of my life as a “woulda,” “coulda,” shoulda,” person.  It was a prison of my own making.  And the world was happy to hold the key.  I never felt good enough or kind enough or smart enough.  I looked out of my prison bars at people that seemed happy and fulfilled.  I allowed competitiveness and outrage and hurt and worldly desires take control of my heart, mind and soul.  I sat in the darkness of the dungeon.

By all accounts I looked to have a perfect life.  A very busy and active life.  But I prayed constantly for joy and peace and lightness of spirit.  Yes, you got that right – I was a believer and still felt this way.  And one day I realized I believed but I didn’t follow.  You see, we can believe in all kinds of things but then not pay much attention to them.   There are many people in the United States that understand the laws and Constitution but choose not to follow what it says.  That leads to tumult and strife.  I believed in God but I didn’t believe God. I read the Bible but didn’t put my full faith and trust in its directives and lessons.

Therefore, if the Son makes you free, 
you shall be free indeed.
John 8:36

The day I decided to grab hold of God’s safety net was the day He smiled at me and said, “Finally.”  It set me firmly on His path to removing the old me and old lies and refocusing my sights on what God wants from me. It was freeing.  My eyes are truly open and my prison bars have melted away. I have chosen not to dance around the hard lessons of the Bible, His Word. And in doing so I have found my life so much simpler.

For those who are led by the 
Spirit of God are the children 
of God. The Spirit you received 
does not make you slaves, so that 
you live in fear again; rather, 
the Spirit you received brought 
about your adoption to sonship.
Romans 8:14-15

We are so good at disobedience — since the beginning of time. And we don’t like people to tell us what to do. And for many, following God is seen as taking away freedoms. It’s true, we aren’t to engage in any number of sinful behaviors. But time and time again society proves that so much of that behavior creates bondage rather than freedom.

When we follow the laws of our communities, we find ourselves in safer and calmer environments.  When we follow and believe God, He opens our eyes and unlocks our prison doors.  He promises a life of joy, a love greater than we can ever know, and eternal salvation.

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

Grip The Promised Path

And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Isaiah 35:8-10

For many years my favorite vacation was to travel to San Francisco and hitch rides on the cable cars.  I can still remember the smell they make when the cable operator would grip the underground cable and off we’d go!  We would hop on and off at various famous stops and drink in the beautiful vistas of the bay.  But did you know that unlike its counterparts, the trolleys, cable cars don’t have motors? 

The San Francisco cable car system is made up of miles and miles of undergound cables which all intersect at the large cable car powerhouse.  There you will find giant wheels operating the cables.  Each cable car has a grip which clamps down on the moving cable.  It’s the cable itself which moves each car.  When a cable car needs to stop it releases the cable and applies its wheel brakes.  Without the constantly moving cable, the cars are motionless.  

I’m fascinated with how so many everyday activities in our lives reflect our relationship with God and His Holy promises.  Without Him operating without ceasing, keeping our lives safely along His chosen path for us, we can so easily find ourselves stuck, a cable car without power.  

A good friend of mine and I were out walking one day and we were discussing how easy it is to lose our grip of God’s promises.  We get so distracted by the fears, anxieties and paths the world puts on us.  The things we “should do” because the world expects it from us.  But lately I’ve decided I need to be like the cable car operator – pulling back on that long lever and gripping the life-giving cable of God.  And gripping it tightly.  

As so many people know San Francisco is also famous for it’s steep hills.  And the cable car operators find many challenges in navigating those hills.  They need to know exactly when to grip at the right amount in order to make it up the hill or else they must release the cable and slide backwards to try it again.  And on the downward slope they need to apply the right pressure on the cable while using their wheel brakes.  Each operator must become an expert, not only about the cable car operation, but the individual pitfalls of each hill.

And like those operators, as Christians, we need to be as well versed on the character and promises of God.  He promises to lay out a clear path for us.  We need to place our full effort and attention on Him and that path.  His path doesn’t remove us from the dangers of the hills and valleys, rather He helps us to weave our way up and around and down them. 

I have given them Your word; 
and the world has hated them 
because they are not of the world, 
just as I am not of the world. 
I do not pray that You should take 
them out of the world, but that 
You should keep them from the 
evil one. 
They are not of the world, 
just as I am not of the world.
John 17:14-16

When we wrestle with God, at best, or at our worst completely ignore Him, we will find ourselves stuck at the bottom of our great hills.  Or, plunging recklessly toward the bottom.  The “highway is there” for us.  It is the way of His righteousness.  

A cable car operator who cannot successfully operate his car, and therefore protect his or her passengers, no longer has the privilege of that esteemed and famous job.  And when we refuse to pay attention to the promised path which God provides for us and grip a hold of it, we miss out on the joy and gladness.  The covenant of a promised path requires us to study His Word and hold fast to it.  

Cable car cable grip

In reading up about cable cars also discovered that all the miles of cable have a “sacrificial lubricant” that allows the grip to not wear down the cable itself.  The lubricant wears away similar to a pencil eraser wearing down, rather than the paper it’s being used on.  It’s that burning lubricant that gives the San Francisco cable cars it’s unique and memorable smell.  

Jesus is our “sacrificial lubricant.”  He ripped the curtain away and opened up our direct communication with God.  He sent the Holy Spirit to walk with us at every moment.  His teachings, when gripped, help us to live on the promised path set out for us.

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, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

A Promised Foundation

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;

    he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.

He will be the sure foundation for your times,

    a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;

    the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.

Isaiah 33:5-6

I don’t know about you but I sure can use some stability this year.  As a child my life, viewed from the outside, looked very stable.  My parents were married, we had a nice home, two kids, dogs, cats, a little garden in the backyard.  I was a Girl Scout and did well in school.  And I felt so alone.  

I blamed all my family problems on moving from the Los Angeles area down to San Diego when I was in 4thgrade.  Everything seemed to change.  My mom was extremely unhappy and angry so often and my father rarely spoke.  My brother was fast approaching a time when the hidden timebomb of a manic-depressive disorder would take over his life.  My parents weren’t what you might call a “team.”  Having the benefit of hindsight, I realize now it had nothing to do with the move and everything to do with a lack of a solid rock within our family unit.

Not being raised in a Christian (or any faith) environment I found myself searching for stability through my parents and then friends and boyfriends.  As my mother’s own mental health issues began coinciding with my brother’s, the atmosphere around my house became so volatile so I searched for peace and love through insecure friendships and lopsided romantic relationships.  This led to competitive relationships and risky sexual behavior.   All the while I longed for a firm foundation to set my hopes, my fears, and my need to find joy.

Thankfully, through God and a wonderful husband, I have found that “sure foundation,” as written by the prophet Isaiah.  The promise God makes in this passage is that He is our solid rock, He is the stability for which we all yearn.  He is the same today as he was yesterday.  And He will be the same tomorrow.  There’s no rug pulled out from under us.  There’s no switching of loyalties.  There’s no character flaw that suddenly comes to light and bites us.  He is perfect.  He is solid.  He is the “rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge.”

Lest we miss the agreement part of this promise let me remind you of the last sentence of Isaiah 33:5-6: “The fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.”  There’s that other half of the covenant.  Our part in this relationship requires us to exalt God and respect His place in the universe.  He is God and we are not.  And when we try to place others above Him, they will surely crumble, at some point. 

I was reading today about an astronaut’s “lifeline.”  NASA (the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration) considers there to be two lifeline systems for astronauts:

“From lift off through landing, the astronauts aboard the Shuttle along with the thousands of people supporting the flight on Earth depend on NASA’s team of experts to manage this complex communication system. Maintaining good communications is critical.  The lifeline is comprised of two systems – a ground-based network composed of communication stations, and a space network operating orbiting satellites. As the Shuttle orbits the Earth, the NASA team monitors and continually adjusts the communication pathways to ensure that command, tracking, telemetry, video, and voice communications are clear and secure. “

I like that visual – a large team of incredibly talented people making sure our astronauts in space are able to accomplish their mission goals and come home safely.  As Christians we have our own talented team that makes up our solid rock – God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. 
You believe in God; believe also in me.
John 14:1

When we live in constant communication with our Holy team, they can continually monitor our progress, provide a firm foundation, and keep us on the right track – completing the mission and bringing us safely home. 

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

His Promises Are A Covenant

The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.”

Isaiah 26:7

My BSGs (Bible Study girls) are currently doing an advent study.  In it we are reminded of the many promises of God through Jesus Christ.  These are the promises that so many Christians are most familiar – hope, peace, love and joy through trusting in the Lord.  And even though I’ve been a Christian for some time now, being reminded of the Peace of God through righteousness is so necessary in this broken world. 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give 
thanks in all circumstances; for this is 
God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 
Do not quench the Spirit.  
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

We humans need constant communication with God, constant reminders of His promises, constant reminders of the reason why He sent us His son, Christ Jesus.  Why? Because we are constantly bombarded with opposite messages.  The chaos of this world desires to bring us to our knees in fear and worry.  It never stops.  But God’s peace, love and joy are solid promises.  

I’ve been led to call this process of constant communication, “holding the line.”  We have a narrow path which God wants us to walk with Him.  For some of us it means constantly looking down at that line and grasping tightly to His promises.  For others the line is a gentle garden path in which they easily stay within the boundaries.  In discovering the many promises of God, we can grasp them tightly as we work our way through those bombshells thrown at us by this broken world.

"Suddenly a great company of the  
heavenly host appeared with the angel,  
praising God and saying, 
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, 
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  
Luke 2:13-14 

Notice the very last line of this glorious verse?  “To whom His favor rests.”  When I read this recently, I realized that last part is frequently left off.  “Peace on Earth.”  Taking this out of context changes the meaning of this promise.  Yes, God has promised to never leave us, but so many of His promises are actually a covenant.  

Covenant:

“a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action”

“Between two or more parties.”  That means God promises and we promise back.  An agreement.  Throughout the Book of Isaiah we read of two worlds – the broken agreements and the renewed ones.  God’s promises can only come to completion when we do our part – when we grab hold of that line and follow Him. 

I’ve heard there are more than 5,400 of those promises in the Old and New Testament.  In this new series I want to remind us of just 25 of them and help to bring to the forefront our role in our heavenly handshake.

God is doing 10,000 things in your life and you may only be aware of 3 of them.

John Piper

Join me, along with my guest writer, Todd Shetter, in Isaiah, these next few weeks as we learn how to “Hold The Line” and prepare to celebrate the gift of God’s greatest covenant with us – the gift and promise of Jesus Christ.