Tuesday, March 31, 2020

See You Soon

The apostle Paul had a special gift for telling people he missed them. Sure, everyone misses someone from time to time, but Paul was good at expressing it.

In his letter to the Roman believers, he speaks of the blessing it will be when he is reunited with them:
"I pray that I will be allowed to come to you, and this will happen if God wants it. I want very much to see you, to give you some spiritual gift to make you strong. I mean that I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you" (Romans 1:10b-12, NCV).
In his letter to Timothy, he recalls the affection of his coworker and the joy his friendship is:
"Remembering that you cried for me, I want very much to see you so I can be filled with joy" (2 Timothy 1:4, NCV).
In his letter to the believers in Corinth, he states that he'll be visiting on his return trip so that he can spend more time with them. In the previous verse, he says he hopes to stay the whole winter, but he will act upon God's will:
"I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to stay a longer time with you if the Lord allows it" (1 Corinthians 16:7, NCV).
In his letter to the believers in Philippi, he expresses the deepness of his love for them:
"God knows that I want to see you very much, because I love all of you with the love of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:8, NCV).

In this era of social distancing, many are feeling socially isolated. Not just physically separated, they feel lonely and devalued. I have struggled with these feelings even though I live with three other people. We may not be in prison, like Paul, but we may feel trapped in our homes all the same.

Our communities need us to be Pauls, to be willing to put our hearts on the line, and expose our deepest emotions.  It's ok to miss people.  It's ok to remember good times. It's ok to have hopes for the future. However, it is better that these feelings be expressed to build each other up.

I'm starting now.  I pulled out some blank notecards and all the postage stamps I could find in my house. I am going to do what I can, what God allows me to do, to make sure people know they matter to me.

I hold on to the hope that God will allow me to see you soon.

Monday, March 30, 2020


Pandemic boredom has struck me hard this week.

I keep a pretty clean house, so I didn't have a lot of "catch up" work to do, and any I had was finished the first week we stayed home. I have been doing homework, reading, writing, and doing daily devotions more consistently. But like I said, pandemic boredom has struck me hard. So I looked for other projects:

I washed all my doors, inside and out.
I brushed the dog.
I washed all my baseboards.
I washed the walls in my bathroom.
I cleaned my kitchen cupboard doors.
I washed my ceiling fans.
I erased 4,000 emails in one sitting.
I hand polished my hardwood floors.
I cleaned my closet and one son's closet.
I trimmed two trees in my backyard.
I organized my cassette tapes, matching mixed tapes with covers.

It's all feels meaningless. On a day when it feels like there is not point to anything you do, sit down with twelve chapters of wisdom from a king who calls himself Preacher. Yes, today is a day for Ecclesiastes. Certainly if a king feels his actions are meaningless, I am allowed to feel the same. Wisdom, pleasure, possessions, labor, riches, and even life itself are all called foolish. That just about covers it all. I can imagine the Goodreads reviews if it were published today: Three stars. It had some good parts, but the Preacher needs prozac!

So what's the point?

Let's hear from the preacher himself: "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.  For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, NASB).

I am reminded of another part of the Bible that says, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve" (Colossians 3:23-24, NASB).

Even though it's all meaningless, it matters because we choose to follow or disobey God through it. We will be judged according to how our faith plays out in our actions. So, whether this time of sheltering in place is filled with busyness or boredom, I pray my actions bless the Lord.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

My 100

The number 100 appears frequently in the Bible. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born to him (Genesis 21). The courtyard of the temple was 100 cubits on the north/south side (Exodus 17). The Israelite army would be able to fight 100 men with only five if obedient to God (Leviticus 26). The penalty for slandering a woman after marrying her was 100 shekels and the inability to divorce her... #awkward (Deuteronomy 22). Jacob bought a burial property for 100 shekels, and Joseph was eventually buried there (Joshua 24). Saul requested a dowry of 100 foreskins from David, and was paid two hundred... #superawkward (1 Samuel). Obadiah hid 100 of God's prophets in caves to protect them (1 Kings 18). The unnamed man's offering feeds 100 people (2 Kings 4). There were 100 gold sprinkling bowls in the temple (2 Chronicles 4).

Jesus also used the number in His parables. Jesus says the Word is a like a seed that will produce a crop 100, sixty, or thirty fold (Mark 4). Jesus says that He, like a man who owns 100 sheep, would leave ninety-nine to fine one that is lost (Luke 15). Jesus compares human forgiveness to a servant whose master forgave his debt of ten thousand bags of gold but would not forgive his co-worker who owed him 100 silver coins (Matthew 18).

There's another 100 that doesn't get the same glory some of these other verses get. It's easy for me to read about Abraham receiving his blessing at 100 or even laugh about David's dowry payment, and I love to read Jesus' parables as both spiritual wisdom and well crafted literature. However, I don't often turn to Revelation when I open the Bible.

I took a New Testament class my second semester in college. As we approached Revelation, Professor Bob Smith told us that we would be reading the book in its entirety during class.  Instead of sitting at the desks of our basement level class, we would be lounging in the cafeteria to read it one sitting.  The other lectures all blur together; that one stands out.

In chapter sixteen, the seven bowls of God's wrath are poured out on earth. Terrible things happen, but the people refuse to repent and glorify God. It reminds me of the Egyptian plagues on steroids. If I'm being honest, I really struggle with this passage. I'm pretty stubborn, and I'm not sure that festering sores would make me worship God. I guess that's the problem: I don't allow difficulties to draw me to God the way they should.

The seven bowls are poured out, the kings meet together at Armageddon (after the sixth bowl, to be accurate), and a voice comes from the temple saying "It is done!" Don't get this confused with Christ's proclamation on the cross "It is finished!" This voice in Revelation is more like how we might say "well, that happened." Then come the lightning, thunder, an earthquake, and (are you ready for it?) 100 pound hailstones. Not a 100 pound hailstone - hailstones, plural. Not only did the people refuse to bless God because of these hailstones, they actually caused the people to curse Him.

I don't know if any of the difficult things going on in our lives are mini-bowls of wrath (shot glasses of wrath?). I don't know why things happen or why God operates the way He does. However, I know that every day is an opportunity to repent, to glorify God, and to seek His will in my life.

So on this, my 100th blog post, let me say: Don't wait for 100 pound hailstones.

Friday, March 27, 2020

FMF: Adjust

"The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, 'If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.' " (Exodus 16:1-3, NIV)

The Israelites were God's chosen people, and yet they found themselves in the dessert, the last place they expected. They did not adjust well.  They had fled Egypt under Moses' guidance, looking for a land promised to them by God. It was a place where they would have religious freedom, and they would establish a land that was ruled by God.

Things did not go as they planned, and the Bible says the "grumbled." I love this word.  It reminds me of Grumpy Old Men. Those guys grumbled.

If I'm being honest, sometimes I grumble. As if I suddenly opened my eyes, I see that my life is not where I thought it would be.  I'm stuck in the sand instead of the promised land.  I look back at the way things used to be, and I long for the days of slavery instead of the freedom I have through Christ.

No, things are not always what we expect. However, when we seek God, we are equipped to make the adjustments needed.  Without Him, we are are just grumpy grumblers.

This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday and was written in approximately five minutes. For more information, visit fiveminutefriday.com.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Dateline: Truth and Consequences

My husband and I love to watch Dateline. We love to hear the evidence, the alleged motivation, and the defense. A few years ago my former boss appeared on the show to talk about a friend who had died, and recently there have been several episodes detailing cold cases in our city, so that has been especially interesting. I enjoy Keith Morrison narrating, and I often find myself talking to the killer through the television screen. Over the years, we've learned a few things from the show. First and foremost: if you ever find yourself being investigated by the police, tell the absolute truth!

Ephesians 4:25 says "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body."

Telling the truth can be hard. In times of trouble, our instinct is to lie. A mother might ask who ate the last cookie, and her child instinctively knows to deny involvement. The child may even blame a sibling.

As believers, we must live in a way that only allows for truth. In his letter to Titus, Paul uses the word "blameless" (Titus 1:6, NIV) to describe who should be an elder, or as the English Standard Version translates the word "above reproach." I've always loved that translation. Yes, being blameless is good. However, to live your life in a way that people can't even accuse you of wrong doing, that is being above reproach. And that is powerful.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Useless Fires

"Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors,
so that you would not light useless fires on my altar!
I am not pleased with you," says the LORD Almighty,
"and I will accept no offering from your hands."
(Malachi 1:10, NIV)

There my father and I stood in the dark, using my cell phone as a flashlight, pumping and repumping the switch as we hoped to get the fire to take hold. It was no good. The water heater was broken, and we were very, very frustrated. As I relit the water heater for the tenth time, it finally dawned on me that I was lighting a useless fire. 

It seems unbelievable that God would reject an offering, but it speaks to who He is.  God doesn't need our offering. He doesn't give us credit for giving Him the things no one else wants. It's called a sacrifice for a reason.

I'm reminded of an episode of Friends ("The One With the Home Study") in which Phoebe and Mike have a hard time deciding if they should have a large wedding or donate the money to charity. They go back and forth several times before the charity clerk tells them, "On behalf of the children of New York, I reject your money." What? Don't charities need donations?  Yes, but not like that.

Neither does God want us to bring things to Him with the wrong motives. In the Old Testament, there were rules on what should be given, but the modern church struggles with what is appropriate. I don't just mean tithing. I mean giving our time to help those in need. I mean giving a kind word when an harsh one would be socially acceptable. I mean choosing not to do something so that you can give quality time to someone. I mean giving to charities and "non-church" organizations that do great work. If you, like me, ever think about these things, here are a few Scripture verses to help you figure out what God is asking you to give:

Give something.
"Some people give much but get back even more. Others don’t give what they should and end up poor" (Proverbs 11:24, NCV).

Give more than money, but also give money.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former" (Matthew 23:23, NIV).

Give in response to what you have been given.
"Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you" (Deuteronomy 16:17, NIV).

Give what you want, but how God wants.
"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7, NIV).

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Communion and the Coronavirus

Becoming an online student has come with a learning curve for both my children and me. Certain classes have been very straightforward with students checking assignments daily on Google Classrooms and then following the prompts. Other classes have left me wondering how the work will be finished. My older son is enrolled in a ceramics class. For obvious reasons, he won't be making projects at home. (My fire insurance carrier is thankful for that!) Instead, he was assigned to share the instructions for a "meaningful recipe," bake it, and then take a magazine-style photo of the food in the bowl he made last semester.

For every family, what has meaning is a little different. I once heard Ina Garten say that she makes a roast chicken every Friday for her husband.  Think about all the special moments that have been shared between them while eating chicken, especially considering she's been married more than 50 years! I recently heard Jeff Mauro tell a story about having a late night bowl of cereal with his son.  I remember thinking that when his son grows up he will likely think of his dad every time he eats cereal. Needless to say, I couldn't wait to hear what held a special place in my son't heart.

After some thought, he chose our Breakfast Cookies. Look at these beauties:
Photo Credit: Jacob Wills

I know that at some point I saw a recipe that inspired these cookies, but I've been making them so long that I don't know where.  Because they are so simple, I have been making them without a written recipe. Before you ask, I'm not one of those people that memorizes all her recipes. There is only one other recipe that I have memorized.

These Breakfast Cookies are made from just:
*2 overripe bananas, mashed
*1/3 cup peanut butter
*1/3 cup chocolate chips
*1.5 cups old fashioned oats

*Mix everything in a bowl until well combined, then scoop using a #50 scoop (about two tablespoons), and bake for 15-17 minutes at 350*,

There is another special meal we often share. I sometimes forget this tradition started at a dinner table because I usually call it by it's "church name." Communion, or Eucharist depending on one's tradition, started when Jesus and His disciples shared a traditional Jewish meal: Passover. This is what we are told in the Gospel of Luke:
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." (Luke 22:14-20, NIV)
I have taken communion more times than I can remember, but I do remember the ones that had significant meaning.

I first took communion when I was young, maybe four or five. I remember my mom explaining to me what it meant - both the symbolism in the bread and juice and that it should only be taken by those who have faith in Christ. I understood, at least as much as a child of that age can, and so I ate and drank. I consider that my first confession of faith.

I last took communion two days ago. It didn't look like the traditional bread and juice, but I believe it was even more special for that reason. I should tell you that we don't often have saltines or juice in the house, but I had picked up cranberry juice because my husband has been craving it recently and I picked up the crackers for no particular reason. No particular reason except, as I now believe, to have the elements for communion. When we sat down to watch the broadcast of our Sunday morning service, I had no idea it would include a time of communion. However, because God provides what we need, I had it all.

I remind you: We are socially distanced, but we don't have to be spiritually distanced. #cantstopthechurch

Monday, March 23, 2020

The Looking Glass Self

I've been studying the theory of the Looking-Glass Self. The theory suggests that we become the person we think others see in us. Basically, you are the mirror (looking glass) by which I see myself. Your perception of me (or the perception I perceive you to have of me) makes me feel a certain way about myself.

(Watch a short video from Khan Academy that further explains the theory HERE.)

Many times I have judged myself through the eyes of another or changed my behavior out of fear of that judgement:

What will it look like if go to the altar?

What will it look like if I don't stand up for myself?

What will it look like if I worship freely?

What will it look like if I forgive that person?

Instead of seeing ourselves through others, we should see ourselves as Christ sees us. There is no other person who fully knows us. Even better than that, Christ fully knows us and was still willing to give up His life for us. As Christ said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:14-15, NIV). There is no fear of judgement when we see ourselves this way.

What will it look like if go to the altar?
A person who is seeking God's will in her life.

What will it look like if I don't stand up for myself?
A person who is turning the other cheek.

What will it look like if I worship freely?
A person who is desperately in love with God.

What will it look like if I forgive them?
A person who recognizes the forgiveness she has received.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

You Complete Me

Last night my husband and I sat down to watch a movie together. As we started scrolling through Netflix, a movie caught his eye. "Jerry Maguire," he said, "let's watch that."

It had been many years since either of us had watched that movie. I remembered the story, but not the details: A sports agent gets fired from his job for wanting a more personal relationship with his clients, and an account leaves the company to work with him. He doesn't love her, but they get married. She comes to see the situation for what it is and releases him from the commitment he made. Eventually, he realizes he does, in fact, love her. In the final scene of the movie, he confesses his love to her with the words she'd been waiting to here. You complete me.

My husband and I are not sappy romantics.  We both rolled our eyes and giggled when we heard those words. However, the sentiment is truer than I'd like to admit.

First, God calls us to be one with Him:
Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:25-30, NIV)

Second, God calls us to be one with our spouse:
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man." That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-24, NIV)

Third, God calls us to be one with other believers:
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39-40, NIV)

In all these areas I struggle to give up my desires so that I can do my part for the other. However, God will continue to help me grow as I continue to seek His will in my life.

Saturday, March 21, 2020


We sat around the table, two elementary students and I, determined to play SkipBo together. Only I had played before, and it had been a while. When one of the students asked me about the functions of the SkipBo card, I picked up the instructions and read what it said. It didn't seem right to me, but I figured that in the past my family had played by house rules. We played for another ten or fifteen minutes when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the instructions again. They clearly said "Phase 10."

Somehow the wrong instructions had put in the box. Upon second review, I noticed that the instructions said Skip, not SkipBo.

That's the thing about instructions: they must be applied appropriately.

Much of the New Testament is instruction. Early believers had questions. Should we do this? How should we handle that? What's the godly response to this situation? How should I respond to that person? So they wrote letters to leaders, and leaders responded with instruction. Does that surprise you? It's right there, in many passages, like this one:
"As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 4:1-2, NIV).
My Paraphrase: We told you what God wants from you. You are doing it now, so keep on doing it.

Life is complicated, but sometimes we make it harder. We seek counsel from sources that are not applicable to our situation. As believers, our situation is one of faith in God.

Society tells us to hoard toilet paper (I can't wait until that is over), but Jesus tells us:
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV).
Society tells us to take this time to enjoy unlimited hours of television and social media, but Jesus tells us:
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:22-23, NIV)
Society tells us there are lots of things to be worried about, but Jesus tells us:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:25-27)
Society tells us we better be prepared, but Jesus tells us:
"For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:32-34).

I do not write these words callously. These are hard times for many, and it looks like there will be hard times for a while more. However, I choose to put my hope in God. He will provide. He will be with me. He will comfort me.

Friday, March 20, 2020

FMF: Tomorrow

In these days, more than our current generation can recall, we recognize the uncertainty of tomorrow. There has never been a guarantee that things will happen a certain (excepting if God so desires), and man's will has never been able to deliver an outcome. But that's ok. That's how it is. We have known this for a long time, even if it has never seemed so. The Bible says:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” (James 4:13-15, NASB)
Prosperity and comfort give the illusion of certainty. When we are well invested, our finances feel certain. When we are well employed, our provision seems certain. When we own a home, our shelter seems certain. These are just molecules in the vapor of our lives. They freeze in the cold and evaporate in the heat. Eventually they are nothing.

We ought to, instead, put our faith in the God who was, is, and always will be (Revelation 1:8). He does not change (James 1:17). He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He has plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), and so let us trust Him for them and take part in them.

This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday and was written in approximately five minutes. For more information, visit fiveminutefriday.com.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Waiting for the Whisper

Confession time: It's 8am, and I don't want to wake up my kids. I'm sitting in my dining room, enjoying a cup of coffee, and knowing it will be the last quiet I experience for hours. There are no distractions right now. There are no requirements of me. Even the plants in my backyard are standing still.

When I read Scripture, I often turn to the big, theatrical moments that show God's power. The Flood (Genesis 6-8). The Four Men in the the Fire (Daniel 3). Elijah vs the Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). Those are huge stories that make being on God's team exciting. If I were giving out awards, this account of Elijah would get the award for Best Trash Talk in the Bible. [Insert award show clip of Elijah asking if Baal is using the bathroom.] He calls down fire from heaven. He kills the prophets of Baal. He prays the rain out of the sky.  Elijah is BA (Bible Awesome).

By the next chapter, Elijah appears to have lost his prophet-warrior status. He is a normal guy who has made enemies (they happen to be the king and queen), and he is scared. He runs to the desert, leaving behind his servant and eventually making his way to a cave on Mount Horeb. God asks Elijah why he is there. Elijah tells God that His people have turned against Him, he is the only one left, and they are trying to kill him. He's exaggerating a bit, but I fully trust that he believed what he was saying. Most of us are the same way. Think about how often fights include "you never" or "you always." This is when the story takes an unexpected, yet tender, turn:
"The Lord said, 'Go out. Stand on the mountain in front of me. I am going to pass by.' As the Lord approached, a very powerful wind tore the mountains apart. It broke up the rocks. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire came. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. And after the fire there was only a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his coat over his face. He went out and stood at the entrance to the cave" (1 Kings 19:11-13, NIRV).
Did Elijah expect to encounter the God who rains down fire, for whom the earth trembles? I think so. Instead, God reveals another part of Himself, the gentle Abba - father, daddy - who sits down next to His upset child, picks him up, and places him on His knee. God asks Elijah, again, why he is there, and Elijah's response is the same. The words are the same, but the conversation is different.

God tells Elijah to get back to work: anoint a king for Aram, anoint a king for Israel, anoint Elisha as the next prophet. Go get your squad, one might say. These were the guys who were going to support Elijah in the work God wanted him to do. #squadgoals.

Elijah would no longer be alone.  He had kings, a prophet, and 7,000 Israelites on his team. But more importantly, he had God on his team. Or, more accurately, he was on God's team. So, Elijah went.

Today, many people are shut in their homes, but their spirits are in a cave on Mount Horeb. To them I say, wait for the whisper.

Wait for the whisper.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020


I have this awful habit of starting things and never finishing them. I've been reading through old blog posts that I started, that were then left abandoned in various stages of completion. Some were a single thought; some were paragraphs long and only needed a proof read. Even the words you just read were a post I started in 2011, almost ten years ago.

Unfinished things bother me. Whether it's one bite of food remaining on a plate or a few pages unread in a book, I just want to finish it. I love to check things off a list. I love to throw things away (or give them away). One sip of coffee won't last long in a cup because I can easily finish it.

At the same time, things that matter go unfinished.  I start projects, like this Lenten focus on writing, but abandon them midway... unfinished. I have been on and off a journey to health for most of the last decade, but I still weigh about the same as when I started... unfinished. I attended college for two years after graduating high school twenty years ago, and I'm a student today... unfinished.

Thankfully, I believe in a God who finishes what He starts. There's a Greek word in the Easter story that we love to talk about at this time of year: Tetelestai.  It means "it is finished" as in "Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit" (John 19:30, NASB).

Tetelestai is known as the Word of Triumph. In Christ's most difficult moment, He declares that he has finished what needed to be done. I pray that God gives me the strength to proclaim Tetelestai in the challenges I face.

When I suffer for doing right. Tetelestai.
When friends have abandoned me. Tetelestai.
When I've done everything I should. Tetelestai.
In my darkest moment. Tetelestai.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

St Patrick's Day 2020: God is ____-er than me...

It started as one of those simple brotherly games. Josiah (5) was stating random facts to Jacob (10).  Jacob would respond with a DING if he was correct or an AAAA! if he was incorrect. Josiah would say things like "a bunny is bigger than a giraffe" and then receive an AAAA! from his brother.

They had been playing for a few minutes when I heard Josiah say, "God is bigger than me."


So he tried again, "God is smaller than me."


Even at five, he had a basic concept of size. He knew what bigger than and smaller than meant.  Frustrated, Josiah asked his brother, "What then?"

That's when Jacob said "God is the same size as me."

I wanted to yell DING because he had just spoken some deep theological truth. Yes, God is bigger than me. He created the universe and "the train of his robe fills the temple" (Isaiah 6:1). He is small enough to know us before we are formed in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Don't think that's small? The human ovum is less than 4/1000 of an inch.

Yet, the real miracle of God is that He is also our same size: "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you— unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5, NASB, emphasis mine).

It reminds me of a portion of the Prayer of Saint Patrick:
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

May it be so.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Perfect Results

For years I attributed the quote "perfection is the ultimate bore" to one of my favorite books. I said it to friends, put it on social media, and generally smiled at the thought. Recently, my literary world was upset when I re-read that book and didn't find the quote. I couldn't blame editing or re-printing, I was reading the same twenty year old copy I had read several times before. My perfect quote was perfectly made up.

It's probably for the better because the sentiment is not in line with scripture. God's word says repeatedly that perfection is possible (Matthew 5:48), perfection is desirable (Romans 12:2), and is only attained through God's work in us (1 John 2:5, 4:12). If I've learned anything about being a believer, it's that it's not boring. Life in Christ is full, rich, and entertaining.

It is also challenging. Life is hard sometimes, and I truly believe that faith is not a Get Out of Jail Free card. The book of James starts this way:
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4, NASB)
Thanks for telling it like is, James!

Some translations show the word "endurance" as "patience." Patience is involved in endurance, but it doesn't express the full action. To me, patience is about waiting. It's the time between now and what is to come. However, endurance has a connotation of survival, of victory. God is calling us to be thankful for difficulty because our faith will increase through it. More than increase, it will be perfected.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Peace and Quiet

For many people, these are uncertain times. Their mouth may not utter it, but their actions reveal they are afraid. I admit that I have given in to some of these worries. I haven't hoarded toilet paper and water, but I bought some extra groceries so that my pantry is fully stocked. I am washing all clothes with warm water and towels are being bleached after each use. We are staying home as much as possible, and we are washing extra.

Paul's words to Timothy encourage me. He wrote, "I urge... that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior,  who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:1-4, NIV).

Start with prayer. Ask God for what we need. Give thanks to God. Pray for others: friends and family, but also leaders and decision makers.

Live in peace and quiet. And godliness and holiness. Let my faith be evident when I'm trying to get a grocery cart or standing in line. Don't pass along hearsay.

Share the truth. My security is not found in my health, financial security, or the normalcy of my day to day life. Christ is my source of hope and peace.

While we wait this out, I will make every effort to walk in the way God has instructed me. I will turn to Him, trust in Him, and be true to Him.

Friday, March 13, 2020


"Do you want to save these for firewood?" my mother asked as she held up some of the larger branches she had cut from a tree in my backyard. My husband and I had recently closed escrow on our first home, and we were working to clear the overgrown backyard.

I stood amazed at the fact that this was my tree. It was here for my pleasure and purposes.  However, I wondered how a tree could be so big and so dead. I knew the tree had grown large before it died, but, seeing how brittle the tree was, I could not imagine a time when the barren branches were lush. She stood there, waiting for my decision. Did I want the clippings for firewood?

No, I didn't want them; the branches served no purpose for me.

That day we trimmed as much of the dead tree as we could, but we were limited by our tools.  A few years later, the tree would uproot in a rainstorm and fall over. Fortunately, it didn't cause any damage, but it served as a good reminder to the difference between a fruitful tree and a withered one.

A fruitful tree is a benefit to those around it, but a withered tree is a danger to those around it.

A fruitful tree gives life to new growth, but a withered tree is a waste of the efforts put into it.

A fruitful tree changes with the seasons, but a withered tree is stuck in its unhealthy state.

Jesus knew something about branches too. He told His disciples “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned" (John 15:5-6).

Let it be a warning to all of us. The only source of life is to remain connected to Christ.

Thursday, March 12, 2020


What do you know about the Holy Spirit? No, it’s not a trick question. What do you know? If you are anything like me, you might be having a hard time answering. Maybe you have some ideas but you can’t formulate the right words. I was reminded today that the Bible holds answers for our questions about God, so I am taking this time to reflect on what the Bible says about the Spirit. Seeing these verses, I know two things: I love who the Holy Spirit is, and I need more of the Spirit in my life.

1. The Spirit of God lives in me.
“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NASB)

2. The Spirit provides me the ability to live the way God wants me to.
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:27, NASB)

3. The Spirit raised Jesus from the dead and also gives my body life.
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11, NASB).

4. The Spirit guides me.
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:13).

5. The Spirit brings me the hope of God.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Alphabet Robot

Today the Alphabet Robot came to our church's Wednesday night children's class. If you are not familiar with him, the Alphabet Robot likes to dance, but he needs to eat letter-batteries to keep up his energy. He starts with an A, dances for a while, then announces he needs the next letter. It's the children's responsibility to tell him the next letter. The two four year olds that were feeding the Alphabet Robot found it easy at first, but somewhere around E or F it became challenging for them to recall the next letter.

That's when one of them began singing the alphabet. I had learned in a language class that kids know the alphabet song long before they know the actual alphabet. It sounds strange, but think about any child you know who is learning the alphabet. Almost all are taught to sing it before they are taught to recite it. Singing worked very well for us tonight except that each time they needed another letter they had to sing the song from the beginning.  However, the Alphabet Robot is patient, so he waited for each next letter. Surprisingly, this impromptu game lasted until the letter "elemenopee." You know, the letter after K.

Songs play a special role in God's story.
  • After making it through the sea on dry land, the Israelites praised God by singing “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him" (Exodus 15:2, NIV).
  • In Deuteronomy the Israelites were instructed to sing this song as a witness: "I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he" (32:3-4, NIV).
  • The book of Psalms is filled with songs; this one was recorded in 2001 by the band Third Day almost verbatim: "Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise" (Psalm 47:6, NIV).
  • In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were praying and singing to God when an earthquake strong enough to break the prison hit them, eventually leading to a midnight baptism.

I've felt some powerful things while worshiping, but never a physical earthquake. (I've also never attended an impromptu midnight baptism. I have seen an impromptu baptism, but it wasn't at midnight. Can you image if that were our tradition?) I have felt and seen earthquakes of the heart, when an impossible chain is broken and the doors of freedom are opened. Maybe that's the power of singing, it aligns us with God in a way nothing else can.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020


Romans 12:15 says "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." As far as Biblical mandates go, at first glance this seems like an easy one.

My church's sanctuary holds about 250 people. Though showing some signs of age, it has a feature that attracts many would-be brides: a spiral staircase at the front of the sanctuary with a stained glass window as its backdrop. It offers brides an entry like no other.  I have literally never seen anything like it. In the almost sixty years that our church as been at this location, we've hosted a lot of weddings.

We also do a good amount of funerals though not for the same reasons. I've yet to see a casket carried down that spiral staircase. (However, if someone stumbles across this blog as they are planning my funeral, please, please, please consider it. That'd be awesome.)  Instead some chose our facility because our pastor feels passionately about offering funeral services for free. You read that right, free. He meets with the families, comes to work on his days off, and doesn't get paid for them.

You might think the two events are vastly different. After all, one has the promise of days to come; the other looks back at what used to be. However, they are more similar than most imagine. Both are centered on hope: hope of a life to come and hope of a life now lived in eternity. Both are filled with family and friends and stories that start with the question Remember when? Both are filled with laughter and tears. Both have music, and food, and hugs. Both center around a time of togetherness and a shared spirit.

But what happens if you are the unfortunate person attending a wedding after having a major fight with your spouse? Rejoicing with those who rejoice isn't as easy then. What happens if you attend a funeral the morning you were supposed to leave on vacation? Sure, you still mourn, but a part of you is looking forward to leaving on your trip.

The command in Romans 12:15 is found in a section my Bible calls "Love in Action." In modern lingo, we might call it sympathy, a common feeling between people. When believers come together, it is so much more than that. It is "doing life" together, as the modern church loves to say.  It is community. It is bringing hearts together in worship to God. It is the Spirit of God in me joining together with the Spirit of God in you. It is beautiful.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Water Words

Why is it so hard to say good things? When I open my mouth there seems to be an endless supply of complaining, criticism, and discouragement. I can think of so many times when I haven't thought about what I was about to say, so it came out in a way I later regretted.

Have you ever had your hot water run out on you? Maybe your water heater was broken, and you didn't realized it before you got in the shower. I've been there; it's not fun. Or maybe you were the last person taking a shower one morning, and there wasn't enough hot water. I've been there too; it's equally as frustrating. In both situations, my instinct was to turn the cold water knob a little less and, if that didn't work, turn the hot water knob a little more.

Maybe the problem with my words is that I'm turning the wrong knob. The solution to my negativity is not to be less negative. The solution is to fill my mouth with the things worthy of being spoken.

The book of James deals with such practical, real-life topics that it is hard to believe it was written two millennia ago. James compares our words not to hot and cold water, but to fresh and salty (and you thought salty was new slang). He writes, "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water" (James 3:9-12, NIV).

James would tell me to stop trying to turn down the cold water of "cursing" and start turning up the hot water of "praise."

Or he might tell me to stop trying to pick olives off a fig tree. The fig tree in my back yard has just started leafing. In the last two weeks it has gone from barren to a healthy growth of leaves, some already as wide as three inches. It's much too early for figs, but in another month or so, as summer gets closer, I'll become impatient and start checking the progress of the figs more often than is needed. Some years are lean and some years are plentiful, but in all the years this tree has been in my back yard I've never once found an olive growing on it.

Jesus himself also compared our words to fruit. In Luke 6:43-45 He tells the crowd, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."

According to Jesus, my mouth speaks negativity because my heart is filled with it. Ouch.

Like my fig tree, I believe in personal leafing. What seems barren can produce fruit. To say it another way, when properly connected, God can provide endless streams of hot water to our soul by warming the cold reserves in the tank of our heart.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Wise Counsel

Many Proverbs talk about the wisdom of keeping good company, specifically staying near to wise counsel.  "Wise counsel" feels pretty proper, but that is how I know these verses. During my teenage years, when I was first immersed in scripture, I used a NKJV translation, so I still remember them this way:
  • Proverbs 1:5 - A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
  • Proverbs 12:15 - The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.
  • Proverbs 19:20 - Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.
  • Proverbs 20:18 - Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.
  • Proverbs 24:6 - For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

I've been thinking about my favorite Bible story of wise counsel, and one of my favorite stories altogether, the story of Esther. The book of Esther has everything a reader could ask for: a king, a beauty contest, a murder plot, and (spoiler alert) a victory by the underdog. Our leading lady, Esther, has acquired information that could save a group of people, her people, from the pending genocide. However, her intervention could mean her own death. She turns to her uncle, Mordecai, who tells her, "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NKJV)

Such a time as this. I hear those words sometimes when I'm facing a difficult situation. Maybe I'm here for such a time as this.

As we have received wise counsel from people in our life, we should seek to be wise counsel for those we can. We may be in their life for such a time as that.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Tearing Down Buildings

Have you ever watched a building being torn down? Until recently, I never had the opportunity. Up to that point I had pictured a very specific scene: dynamite strategically placed throughout the building with a single lever that brings it down neatly while onlookers celebrate with champagne and streamers. As I type this, I am realizing that the image may be a scene from CSI, except that it was a casino being torn down.

It turns out that what really occurs is equally interesting but not nearly as fast. Last week I found myself standing outside my school’s library, unable to take my eyes of the machinery as it chipped away at what was once a group of sprawling red brick buildings. Nearby a student played “Leaving on a Jet Plane” on her guitar, and another student attempted to recruit participants in the library’s open house. Two sheriff deputies parked their patrol car in the shade of a tree on the quad and began to set up a table to be filled with their hiring information. Yet none of it held my attention. All I could watch was the building being deconstructed, knowing it would soon be gone and eventually a new building would hide any traces that it had ever existed.

I have some old buildings in my life that need to be torn down. Some are big, some appear beautiful because they are familiar, and some are right in the middle of the action of daily life. They are buildings that I constructed at different times of my life, and some are buildings that were passed down to me. Some were constructed over years, and some appeared as quickly as the one that landed on the Wicked Witch of the East.

They are buildings of my own construction, and they are meaningless. Psalm 127:1 says that ”Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” God is purposefully tearing me down - sometimes brick by brick and sometimes by implosion - just like the buildings on campus. I can’t wait to see what the new ones look like.

Friday, March 6, 2020


I never intend to stop running. One day I'll be tired. The next day I’m busy. And before I realize it, the weeks, or months, have slipped by, and I get winded jogging a block. It feels like failure. All the stamina I had built up is gone, and I promise myself I’ll never do it again. Repeat cycle endlessly.

Running is not the only habit that suffers from my inconsistency. My diet does. My house cleaning does. My relationships do. My spiritual disciplines do.

I hope I’m not the only one.

I’m pretty certain I’m not alone in this struggle because even Christ told His disciples “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23, NIV). There it is: daily.

I take comfort that Christ has modeled perfect behavior in His faithfulness. As the psalmist said, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens” (Psalm 68:19, NIV).

Thursday, March 5, 2020


Back when my kids were smaller, they loved to sleep in bed with me. My husband has often worked night shifts, so our king sized bed was especially inviting to their small bodies. One evening when my boys were probably about nine and five, they wanted to have a "sleepover" in my bed. When I told them no, my older son tried to "buy" the sleepover by paying me with hugs. Three hugs, in fact.

There were some problems with this.

First, it was he, not I, that decided three hugs was sufficient payment. What if I wanted five hugs?  Or what if a hug was not what I wanted at all?

Secondly, he wasn't a great hugger. Seeing those words in writing, makes me feel like a really bad mother, but the fact is he was awkward. My older son would lean in and kind of pat my back, whereas my younger son would throw his entire body weight on me. (I would like to set the record straight that both my sons are great huggers now, and even if he was still a terrible hugger I would love to get any kind of hug from either of my sons.)

Those two issues mostly sum up the problem with us trying to make offerings to God. At this time of year, many believers give up something to try to please God. God already loves us. He doesn't want us to try to please Him; He wants us to obey Him because we love Him. There is no spiritual-hug that we can offer God that will buy us a sleepover if that is not what is best for us. I should stop. This analogy is getting weird.

1 Samuel 15:22 says, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams" (NIV).

Stated plainly, our offerings to God are not as good as obedience. No sacrifice we make will atone for our disobedience. As we move daily closer to Easter, I pray that I can remember Jesus Christ made the only perfect sacrifice, and my faith in Him allows that sacrifice to cover me.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Random #1

Dear Reader,
I'm one week into my Lenten commitment to draw close to God by writing a blog post every day, and I've hit a snag. I'm tired. I don't feel inspired. I waited to the end of the day. Did I mention I'm tired? Nothing feels quite right tonight. So, I went to the internet to see if there is a website that randomly generates scripture. Of course there are. There are actually a few. The one I used can be found HERE. My randomly assigned Bible verse was "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8).


This week at school I met a classmate who is a social media promoter. She gets paid a few hundred dollars each month to promote her employer. For an eighteen year old, this seems like a great job. I didn't get the opportunity to ask her the specifics of what she posts, but I would guess it includes interesting things about her boss, services they offer, and all the reasons one might want to do business with the company.

Yet when Jesus sends out his twelve disciples, He doesn't tell them to make posts that could go viral or start a trendy hashtag (#cleansethelepers, oh wait, someone is already using that one).  He doesn't tell them to find people who might make a large donation or to tell everyone they meet about the craziest thing Jesus ever said. No, they are instructed to go out and serve. At the beginning of the chapter Jesus "gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness" (10:1). These powers were given freely to the disciples, so they were to be used freely.

I may not have been given the power to heal leprosy*, but I have specific God-given talents. They have been given freely to me, and Christ expects me to use them freely.

I pray that the Holy Spirit gives me the power to do the work He has enabled me to do.

It appears He has today. I trust that He will, again, tomorrow.

_ _ _
*I have never met a leper, so I can't be totally sure of this. However, I believe God would have made it clear if I had received this particular gift. =)

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Dream Bigger

Back in 2013 the California Lottery had a marketing slogan that bothered me quite a bit. I recall thinking that the lottery was offering more hope than the modern American church. It was a simultaneously ridiculous and accurate notion. Our country was still battling the effects of the Great Recession: record high unemployment, government instability, threat of war, and general skepticism of the structures of our society. In the middle of that turmoil, the California Lottery was telling us to Dream Bigger.

It wasn't a bad message, except for the fact that it was being delivered by an organization with more than a 99.9999% failure rate. Not great odds.

There are two kinds of dreams. One type of dream occurs during sleep. Scripture is filled with people who heard from God while they were sleeping:
  • Abimelech learned through a dream that this wife was married to another man (Genesis 20).
  • Joseph had a series of dreams that set into motion a chain of events that would save his family and move the people of Israel to Egypt (Genesis 37).
  • Solomon had a full conversation with God in his dreams: God asked Solomon what he would like from Him, Solomon asked for understanding and discernment, and God promises that he will receive what he asked for as well as riches (1 Kings 3).
  • The wise men were warned in a dream not to return to King Herod (Matthew 2).
  • Joseph, the step-father of Christ, had a dream to marry Mary, then had a dream to take the young Christ to Egypt, and then had yet another dream to bring his family back to their  native land (Matthew 1-2).
  • Because of a troubling dream she had, Pilate's wife knew that Pilate should not get involved in the crucifixion of Christ (Matthew 27).

The other kind of dream is a dream of the heart (we sometimes say plans, goals, or ideas).  I haven't traditionally associated these heart-dreams with God. It's not that my dreams were evil; it's that I never allowed myself to dream much. I see, now, that it was a lack of faith. I'm thinking of one particular dream I have (but please forgive me, I am not ready to share it yet). When the idea first crossed my mind, it actually made me sad. Instead of thinking, "Yes, God. Let's do that!" I was filled with sorrow that "That will never be me." It's been at least ten years, and I still don't know how that dream would happen, but I have faith in God that it can.  No... I have faith in God that it will.

Monday, March 2, 2020

The Joy of Paying Your Debt

Our society has a strange relationship with debt. I don't know anyone who likes having debt, and yet it seems most people have credit cards, student loans, or car loans. A few years before we bought our home, I was tired of feeling enslaved to my debts, so we began to pay them off.  It took years of effort. Some decisions were easier, and some were harder.

At first, it seemed impossible.  There were so many debtors, and I longed for one, just one, to be eliminated.  Month after month the checks were written and mailed, and the amounts inched downward painfully slow. Then there was some momentum. We took out a personal loan to consolidate the smaller loans, so then the monthly payment moved us forward foot by foot instead of inch by inch. After some more time, my husband got a new job, and foot by foot became block by block.  Then I got a new job, and it was mile by mile.

In those years, I felt a rush of joy watching the number tick down even slightly. To be honest, I still track our debt. Even though we only have a mortgage, every few months I update a spreadsheet that shows our net worth (it's still negative, but we're plugging along). Despite how good it feels to pay down my own debt, you know what feels better?

Someone who will pay it for me.

There was nothing as exciting as the day we received a settlement and I used it to pay off half our car loan. That was amazing!

Scripture compares sin to debt. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He instructed them to ask God to "forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12, NASB). Christ did, in fact, pay our debt when He died for our sins on the cross.  If He has paid that debt, we are no longer enslaved to sin. There's no dread when I bring in the mail of life because my debt has been paid by Him. I'm thankful that "if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36, NASB).

Sunday, March 1, 2020


It feels like I'm going through a phase in my life where God is calling me to do scary things. Recently I've been presented with situations that will grow my faith. I know that our lives are filled with opportunities to grow our faith, but there's something going on right now that I'm excited about. That's how, today, I did something scary.

On Sunday mornings my pastor has been preaching out of 1 Corinthians. This is a familiar passage and a well loved passage by many believers.  Can I confess to you that it's never moved me in the way it moves some people? I feel terrible writing those words.  I believe this chapter, and I try to live out this chapter, but it would not land on my list of top 10 favorite passages.

The focus today was verse 4: "Love... does not envy." My pastor said that he didn't recall ever preaching on envy, and I wondered if I had ever heard a sermon on envy. It's not a very glamorous sin, and it can be hidden so easily. That's why it's so sneaky. The one thing he said that would not leave my mind was that if love does not envy, "you cannot love someone and envy them at the same time."  I knew immediately what God was asking me to do. I had to apologize to a friend for the feelings I've had, so I gathered up all my nerve... and sent her a text. (Hey, it's the world we live in!)

Her response was more gracious than I could have imagined, "I sensed you were struggling with something, and something was off, but didn't really know what to do about it... Thank you for being so brave and sensitive to the Lord in sending that text. I know it's not easy." This friend gets me, and it's one of the reasons I love her so much.

You know what happened next? Life continued. She texted me like she normally would, and I texted back like I normally would, but there was one thing different.  I had not let sin come between us.

I thank God for the opportunity to receive forgiveness, and I pray that I am equally as generous when someone asks me to forgive them.