Sunday, April 26, 2020


Last night I had the unfortunate experience of finding mold in my coffeemaker.  I am fairly committed to my daily cups of coffee, so this was a troubling experience for me.

I've only had this coffeemaker a few years, and it was moderately expensive because of several appealing features, like the "rich brew" setting and the ability to make one cup at a time without using pods. At the same time, I am avidly mold averse. To be fair, I'm not sure that there is anyone who likes mold, but what I mean is that my tolerance of mold is very low.  I have thrown away many things, because of mold sightings, that probably could have been cleaned.  However, I knew I could not throw away my coffeemaker.  Instead, I found a way to clean the machine (actually, to clean it several times), and I thanked God for letting me find the mold before it caused any harm.

But it also begged the question: what was I doing wrong? I've had the machine for several years, and I have never seen mold before.  I considered what actions had changed recently, and I decided to not do those things anymore so that my coffeemaker would remain clean.

In chapter 6 of 1 Corinthians, Paul addresses inappropriate behavior among the believers.  He encourages them to settle matters under the guidance of another believer instead of taking each other to court.  He tells them to consider allowing themselves to be wronged instead of wronging another believer.  These are hard words to accept.  Does God want them to be taken advantage of?  Shouldn't they want justice for these wrongdoings?  Paul further clarifies:
"Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, emphasis mine)
Paul makes it very clear: The believers were once one way; now they should be another way. God had washed the mold off their hearts and those moldy ways should no longer be practiced.

I was hesitant to write about my mold discovery.  I feared a friend would read this and never accept a cup of coffee at my house again.  Similarly, I am often fearful of sharing the stories of my spiritual mold, those parts that aren't so pretty and need God's touch, but I cling to the promise that Paul gave the Corinthians:  I have been washed, I have been sanctified, and I have been justified through Christ and the Spirit. Thank you, Jesus!

Friday, April 24, 2020

FMF: Perspective

I delayed participating in the Five Minute Friday writing community today because I couldn’t wrap my mind around what to write about. I suppose you could say my perspective wasn't right.  However, as He often does, God spoke to me when I least expected Him.

In my sociology class we’ve been learning about social standing. Sociologically, your status is the various characteristics that make you who you are. It's the "position a person occupies in a particular setting." For example, at home I am a mother, so I behave as one, but in class I am a student. I do not act like a mother in class because my position is different. Most also have a master status, something that carries across all social settings, such as "male", "felon", or "doctor".

In the New Testament church, the believers were struggling with the conflict between their statuses. The previously-Jewish believers and the previously-gentile believers were arguing about what mattered and what didn’t. Paul wrote to the church in Galatia that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28, NASB).

If we are believers, out master status is found in Christ. All of those other areas of our life shape us, but the single identifying factor is that we are believers of Christ. In that regard Christ has redefined our perspective of ourselves.

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

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Little Man

One of the things that I miss about church while we shelter-in-place is teaching our children.  It's sometimes exhausting, often surprising, and always a blessing.  I'm thankful that my church team is working together to remotely present the gospel to our youngest visitors, but it's not quite the same as being together in person. Today, I felt that void a little more than I have other weeks.  Our curriculum was on the Sunday School classic, Zacchaeus.  Oh, poor Zacchaeus.  He's the Napolean of the Bible.  We miss the wonder of his encounter with Jesus because we get wrapped up in one little detail: Zacchaeus was a wee little man (a wee little man was he).

The Gospel of Luke tells the story like this:
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1-10, NIV)

In modern days, we focus on the fact that he was short, and I understand why.  It's a great image to think of a grown man climbing a tree to see who's passing by in a crowd.  Like other gospel encounters, we read about a person who was curious about Jesus. I love how verse 3 says "He wanted to see who Jesus was." Maybe he wanted to size up (pun intended) this man he's been hearing about. Maybe he wanted to see one of His famous miracles.  Or maybe, just maybe, the message of Jesus was already beginning to do a work in his heart.  I'm thankful for the Zacchaeus-es of the world, who are willing to do silly things, undignified things, to see who Jesus is.

But the story isn't really about a short, wealthy man who was willing to climb a tree.  The story is about the Savior who was passing through Jericho, who was surrounded by a crowd, and who knew to look to an unlikely spot to find the man who was truly searching for Him. Jesus had previously promised the people, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8, NIV). Zacchaeus was acting on these words.

Do you think Zaccheaus climbed the tree reluctantly?  I don't think he climbed it saying, "Well, I guess I'll climb this tree if that's what I have to do."  No, I think he was excited that a solution existed. I envision a movie moment.  Zacchaeus is being pushed and shoved in the crowd, maybe getting an elbow to the head.  He stands on his tip toes, but still can't see over the people around him.  Then the crowds part ever so slightly, and he sees the tree (maybe there is a light shining down on it). He pushes through the people to the tree, and he's thankful that he has the opportunity to climb the tree.

When I read a story like this, I usually ask myself what I am willing to do to see Christ.  I think a better question is what I want to do to see Christ.  Paul tells the believers in Corinth that "you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (1 Corinthians 9:7, NIV).  Similarly, God doesn't want us to climb the sycamore trees in our life "reluctantly or under compulsion."  We should love climbing the trees that let us see Jesus.

Friday, April 17, 2020

FMF: Another

“A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 
(John 13:34-35, NIV) 

"Another" is one of those easily ignored words in the English language.  We use it without giving it much thought.  It's something we say or write without having to look up the definition or remind ourselves how to properly use in a sentence.

"Another" has two meanings: Additional (like "Have another cookie") and Different (like "Pick another cookie").

When Christ tells us to "love one another" in Scripture, there are two types of people who we need to love.  Those who are like us, an additional person in our type.  Those who are different from us.

As Christ said in Luke 6:32-36, if we only love those who are like us, what credit is there?  Anyone can do that.

Today I will chose to love another person, whether it comes easily or with great sacrifice.
Today I will chose to love another person, whether they are family or strangers.
Today I will chose to love another person, whether I want to or not.

Then I will love another, and then another.

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

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Grain, Oil, and Wine

It's quiet at my house today. My husband is asleep.  My older son is walking the dog on one of the hour long walks to which she has become accustomed. My younger son is doing what can only be described as a prison yard workout in his bedroom for his PE class.

I'm working on laundry. I've already washed a load of delicates, which, upon finishing, I discovered could be hung out to dry because it is such a beautiful day. I have an eastern facing door that is perfect for drying laundry in the early part of the day. I felt the sun and gentle breeze come through that door, and soon all the other doors and windows were opened too. I heard it is supposed to rain later this week, but today is the essence of spring, at least the spring I have in my mind.  In reality, spring is transition from winter to summer and is often filled with rain.  The rain makes what I think of as "spring" possible.

Just after the Israelites received the ten commandments, there is a passage I often miss because it lives in the shadow of the law. The Israelites are told:
"So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today — to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul —  then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.  I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied" (Deuteronomy 11:13-15, NIV).
In a nutshell: If they obey God, He will send rain. He will take care of them. The command listed here is the essence of the ten commandments, "to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul."  This is THE law, and all other law provides guidance for people to fulfill this one. Is it any wonder why Jesus called this the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:34-40?  Love God, and He'll take care of me? That sounds like a great deal. However, things were about to get hard.

The difficulty is not in the exposition of the law, which would continue for several chapters of Deuteronomy and include everything from dietary restrictions to debt laws. Nor is the difficult part that these people were living in the desert. In fact, it is just the opposite.  The challenge would be moving back into the city.

In the desert, they had nothing but God to focus on. Yet, when their leader left to receive instruction from God, it took less than forty days to be led astray into worshiping a self-made golden calf (Exodus 32, Deuteronomy 9:7-12). Here in California, it has been 28 days since Governor Newsom issued our Stay At Home order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. There is uncertainty, and every day brings new questions. We are in desert land, and many feel helpless.  Some, I fear, have made themselves golden calves. If we are anything like the Israelites, the hard part is yet to come.

God repeatedly warns these people that they are about to go into a new land. They will move out of the desert, and to the life they dream of, the life they want. It will be even better than their time in Egypt because they will no longer be slaves.  They will be free.  They will be free to determine how their days are spent. They will be free to raise their children how they see fit.  They will be free to structure the details of their lives. When Deuteronomy 11:31-32 says, "You are about to cross the Jordan to enter and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you. When you have taken it over and are living there, be sure that you obey all the decrees and laws I am setting before you today" it is both a promise and a warning.

We, too, will eventually leave this desert and return to a place that feels much more familiar. We will be presented with pleasures that feel long forgotten.  We are the ones who saw God's hand at work, and we must decide if we will receive the grain, oil, and wine that God is supplying.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


We had a very unsettling experience at our house recently. My husband, who works a swing shift, had just gotten into bed, and I was waking up for the day. In my sleepy-eyed state, I wandered into the living room and looked out our sliding glass doors. It took me a moment to register what I was seeing. There, in the remnants of the overnight condensation, were hand prints. Someone had been in my backyard and looked into my home. I immediately checked all the other doors and windows; everything was locked, and there were no other signs of disturbance. The gate was not tampered with, and nothing appeared disturbed. Still unsure if what I was seeing meant what I thought it did, I asked my husband to come to the living room. We stood there hypothesizing about what else it could be and reviewing the timeline of the night before: what time my husband came home from work, what time he had gotten in bed, and if he had heard anything unusual while he was in the living room unwinding. Though I felt a deep sense of invasion, I thank God that no real harm was done.

Theft is nothing new. In fact, Christ spoke of theft (technically burglary) as a parable regarding his second coming:
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will" (Matthew 24:42-44, NASB).
This is a portion of a larger teaching in Matthew 24-25. When reading scripture, it is important to remember that chapters and verses were added for organization and do not always reflect proper breaks. To read only Matthew 24:42-51, the section titled "Be Ready for His Coming" in my Bible, would be to miss that Jesus' words stem (pun intended) from the previous section in which he uses a fig tree to make a point. As the pastor of my youth would have said, When you see the "therefore" in verse 42, you need to see what it's there for.

Jesus had been speaking about the signs of his return and compares the signs to a fig tree.  When you see the leaves appear on a fig tree, you know that summer is coming.  I love when my fig tree starts leafing. I am reminded that winter will not last forever and that summer is coming.  I understand that you may not know that, but those who are familiar with fig trees know this. I think that is one of the important lessons we should learn here: not everyone will recognize the signs, but Jesus wanted the disciples to be prepared.  Like leaves on a fig tree, there will be signs that point to his return. Signs, however, are not a calendar. They can prepare you, but they do not tell for sure.

My good friend recently gave birth to her third child. Because of previous complications, she had a c-section scheduled.  She knew the time her child would arrive.  Historically, most expectant parents cannot predict when their child will be born. When I was pregnant with my first son, I recall being told to pack my hospital bag earlier than I thought necessary because labor could come at any time. (The idea of labor pains is part of Jesus' teachings here, too.  See Matthew 24:8.) The day my son was born, I woke up and quickly recognized the signs of his coming, but even that close to the event I could not predict when he would be born. In the same way, those who are looking for Christ's second coming will see the signs but will not know exactly when he will come.

I'm not going to lie to you. For several days after I saw those hand prints, I was on high alert. Every shifting shadow in my backyard caught my attention. I checked the locks on doors and windows as night came. I even slept in pajamas that would be suitable for running out of the house in the middle of the night. I thought that was a brilliant decision at first, and then I was concerned that I might be a little too worried.  However, I take comfort in the fact that Jesus thought it was a good idea for me to sleep in a bra.  As he said in the revelation: “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame” (Revelation 16:15, NASB).

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Empty Tombs and Churches

An empty tomb is always something to celebrate. My husband's grandfather was very financially responsible.  He was never indebted to anyone and used his money wisely. When he looked into buying a burial plot, he found that he could get a better price if he bought in bulk.  So he bought ten, one for him and his wife and one for each of his children and grandchildren.  A few years ago, I was at that cemetery for a funeral, so I decided to visit his grave. I looked at the names of my husband's grandparents, and I thanked God for the way they lived their lives. What really caught my eye were the empty spaces next to them. Each of those empty plots represented a cherished family member, someone alive. Yes, an empty tomb is something to celebrate.

When my father died, my mother and I went to the cemetery to buy his headstone. In a time of sorrow, headstone selection feels like it is filled with endless decisions: What color stone, what font, what image, and what remembrances.  We wanted the headstone to be attractive and to properly reflect his life. However, when I was younger I couldn't fully wrap my head around that symbolism. It made me uncomfortable to walk through a cemetery because each headstone I saw reminded me of what was happening underneath the ground. Jesus used a similar metaphor to hold the religious leaders of his day accountable:
“You are like tombs that are painted white. Outside, those tombs look fine, but inside, they are full of the bones of dead people and all kinds of unclean things.  It is the same with you. People look at you and think you are good, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and evil" (Matthew 23:27b-28, NCV).
When the women went to the tomb that first Easter morning, they did not find what they expected. Unlike the religious leaders who had pretty outsides and ugly insides, the outside of Jesus' tomb had been disturbed, but the inside was perfect. It was empty.

Like Christ, we who are believers are being resurrected.  We are being called out of our tombs to a new life. That life does not exist in the buildings we call churches, but rather the body we call The Church.

Today our churches are as empty as the tomb was, but I thank God that Jesus is alive.  And so is The Church.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Strange Chocolate Bunnies

Sometimes I'm strange. I think that's ok.

The Bible is full of strange things. Balaam's donkey had to talk sense into him (Numbers 22). Esther uses her status as a royal beauty pageant winner to save the Israelites (Esther 1-9). Jesus healed a blind man by spitting in the dirt and then rubbing the mud in his eyes (John 9).

Sometimes my prayers are strange.  I don't mean that I pray in tongues (1 Corinthians 14), my thoughts are strange.  A few days ago I found myself telling God that I am a chocolate bunny. My husband had gone to the grocery store with me, and, as we went down the seasonal aisle, he caught me looking at a huge chocolate Easter bunny. "Come on," he said, "it's hollow inside." I knew he was right. Though I knew it was only a chocolate shell, I was drawn to the treat. I laid in bed the next night and confessed to God that sometimes I am a chocolate bunny. I look solid, but I am weak. I look complete, but there is something missing. God, help me.

Today I found myself lost in the strangest worship. I was driving to the grocery store, listening to Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now." I prayed to God as I sang "It was so long ago, but it's all coming back to me." There's something in me that I've lost, but it's coming back.  I pray God honors what my heart was saying.

I recently found an old Bible up on the top shelf of a closet. It was actually at the bottom of a pile of Bibles, still in the leather case I carried it in. I had other Bibles before it and after it, but the one I found was special because it was the first meaningful Bible I had. It was a Teen Study Bible. It had bright colors and illustrations, and it was falling apart. I carried that Bible to church on Sundays and Wednesdays for years. I underlined and highlighted it. I filled it with bulletins, book marks, and even a leaf. I couldn't help but notice my current study Bible looks a little different. It doesn't reflect the same passion that other Bible does.

There's an older gentleman at my church that calls me "Sweet Amie." Sometimes I have to paste a smile on face when I hear him say that. I am not always sweet. I am a chocolate bunny, but I'm trusting God to fill me.

*If I said bunny enough times to make you think of the classic VeggieTales song, you can enjoy it HERE.

Friday, April 10, 2020

FMF: Patient

When I participate in Five Minute Friday writings, I always think about the prompt for a while before I actually start writing. If I only have five minutes, I need to have a good idea of what I want to say before I start. I often look up Scripture, and think about how the prompt applies to what is going on in my life right now.

As I looked up the word "patient" I was surprised to see that it is only in the NASB translation twelve times. That just didn't seem right to me. Patience, as they say, is a virtue. I was sure it was in the Bible more than that.

Then I looked up the word "wait." Yes, that's more like it: 142 times. That makes more sense because the story happens in the wait. Patience is a skill already attained; it is acquired in the waiting.

Today is Good Friday, but the event that we remember, Christ's crucifixion, did not seem very good. Those early believers did not know they only had to wait until Sunday.

We know Sunday is good. Sunday is very good.

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

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Prayers in the Garden

Little words matter. Sometimes I don't notice them, but that's a mistake on my part. I'm almost forty years old, I've attended church my entire life, and I've taught children and teens most of my adult years, so I've read the Easter story a lot. I'm not bragging; I'm confessing that I have read something so important so many times and still missed so much.

Each of the four gospel accounts tells the story of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. In John it is called the garden across the Kidron Valley. In the Gospel of Luke, it is called the Mount of Olives, at the bottom of which the garden is located. Luke tells the shortest account, just seven verses:
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.  “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (Luke 22:39-46, NIV)
As I read this tonight, I noticed some words I've missed many times before.

As usual...
Jesus had established patterns in his life that kept him close to God. After the Last Supper, the story transitions to the garden by saying, "Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him" (Luke 22:39). It doesn't say that Jesus realized he should pray for a while because he knew something difficult was about to happen. It says he went "as usual." Previously in Luke, the writer says that "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed" (5:16).  Jesus chose his last actions as a free man to be prayer because that's what he did.  He was a man of prayer.

More earnestly...
Jesus prayed a lot, and yet in his darkest days he found an even deeper level of passion and conviction. We read that "being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground" (Luke 22:44). Jesus knew what was coming next, so he spoke to God more passionately. He did not try to hide his heart; he laid it all on the line.  Jesus was able to do this because he fully trusted God's will for his life.  As Timothy and Shauna Gaines write in their book, Kings & Presidents, "When you don't have a vision for how God is saving in the midst of hardship, your recourse will be to blame God and sink into despair. You can either ask God to help you see something others can't, or you can blame God for your circumstances." Jesus was able to see the situation in a way others did not. His heart was in tune with God. 

Exhausted from sorrow...
I've often wondered why Jesus was so hard on the disciples for falling asleep. Some believe this account occurred after midnight, a time late enough to warrant fatigue. Like it so often is, the truth is hidden in plain sight. Notice the cause of the disciples fatigue according to the gospel writer: "When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 'Why are you sleeping?' he asked them. 'Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation''' (Luke 22:45-46). The disciples weren't tired from a long worry; they were exhausted from a long worry. Jesus received power from his prayer time. His intimacy with God did more for his body and spirit than sleep did. Don't misunderstand me, sleep is important. However, sleep would not protect any of them from what was about to occur, only pray would. His prayer time was an expression of his faith as much as any of his miracles were.

With just a few days until Easter, I think about the unique situation that the disciples found themselves in. They didn't realize that they would soon witness history or that their actions would be studied and scrutinized by millions of people for thousands of years. Most people can't predict which of their actions will be remembered and which will be forgotten, and no one knows what will happen at midnight.  We can, however, determine if Jesus finds us asleep or in prayer.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Two Days Silent

I have been two days silent,
but you will hear me soon.
Calling from the darkness
To prove from death I am immune.

I have been two days absent
but my face again you'll see.
I'll come back for Didymus
So that even he'll believe.

You've been two days mourning,
living in defeat.
By my stripes you were healed.
By sin I was not beat.

You've been two days waiting.
Now you're back to see the tomb.
You ask the angels seated there:
Has his body been exumed?

The day has come. It's finally here,
but wait just fifty more.
My Spirit will spread like fire to you
behind your closed door.

So go back to the brothers,
And with your lips you shall proclaim:
He is not dead. He is alive.
Jesus called my name.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Palm Sunday

Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road,
and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. 
The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!”
(Matthew 21:8-9, NASB)

Today is the first Palm Sunday that I've ever spent at home. There will be no palm leaves waved and no shouts of Hosanna from the crowd. There will be no crowd, at least not as we have known the crowd, but don't be fooled: A crowd is gathering. A crowd is shouting.

There's an interesting phenomena called herd mentality, or mob mentality, that social scientists love to study. Oversimplified, the idea is that a person might do something in a crowd they wouldn't do individually. It's part of what makes people flash strangers at Mardi Gras celebrations or break store windows during riots. It's every mother's worst fear; yes, your child probably would jump off a cliff if enough of his friends were doing it. The crowd feels safe, and we can lose ourselves in it. We don't think about what we are doing, we just do it.

I suspect there were some people in the crowd that first Palm Sunday who didn't really know what was going on. They saw the crowd, they were curious about who was coming, and they found themselves shouting and celebrating. Hosanna!

These are hard questions, but please hear me out: Do we ever fall into the crowd at church? Is our worship ever a result of social expectation instead of our love for God? Is service to others a result of earning status as a servant instead of love for God? Is our tithing inspired by tax deductions instead of our love for God? Do we take communion because we fear what the crowd might think about us if we don't? Do we carry our Bible, wear certain clothes, or say certain words because that's what the crowd does?

The crowd is fickle. It is easily influenced. In Matthew 21 the crowd shouted Blessed is He, but in Matthew 27 the crowd shouted Give us Barabbas!

This Palm Sunday is an unprecedented opportunity. We can worship God without the influence of the crowd and know that our actions are intended only to bless Him.

Today I will re-evaluate my motives.
Today I will pray that my actions are solely to worship God.
Today I will celebrate at home.
Today I will sing and shout Hosanna in a crowd of one. 

Saturday, April 4, 2020


I've been working my way through a daily devotional that was published in 1972 called Every Day with the Psalms by Mendell Taylor. I don't remember where I picked up this book, but my guess is that it was from someone in my church who was downsizing their book collection. To be honest, what probably attracted me to the book was the teal leather cover with its understated design and gold debossed letters.

In reflecting on Psalm 44:3, Taylor writes "What sunlight is to the physical world, that is what the light of God's countenance is to the spiritual world." More modern translations, like the following, capture the poetic beauty but miss the Hebrew idiom Taylor is using:
God, we have heard about you.
Our ancestors told us
what you did in their days,
in days long ago.
With your power you forced the nations out of the land
and placed our ancestors here.
You destroyed those other nations,
but you made our ancestors grow strong.
It wasn’t their swords that took the land.
It wasn’t their power that gave them victory.
But it was your great power and strength.
You were with them because you loved them.
(Psalm 44:1-3, NCV)

Other translations say their victory was by "the light of your presence" (NASB), "the light of your face" (NIV), or "the light of Your countenance" (NKJV). It is His very being, His presence, that is victorious. The word "light" in Psalm 44:3 is the same word used when we read the first few sentences of the Bible.  Light was the first thing God spoke into existence, and it was good. Upon creating light, He separates it from darkness (Genesis 1:3-5). Darkness cannot exist where light is. Or as John said it:
...God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:5-7, NASB).
I pray that God will show me what His light looks like. May there be no confusion between light and dark.

Friday, April 3, 2020

FMF: Now

My pastor closes his sermons with this benediction:
"Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV).
At first I thought it was a strange selection. It sounded to scholarly. Who uses words like "equip" in everyday conversation? Most don't, but the writer of Hebrews did. As I continued to hear these words week after week, I realized how appropriate they are.

I want the GOD OF PEACE to EQUIP ME WITH EVERYTHING GOOD FOR DOING HIS WILL.  What better blessing is there to give to people?

I am just one of the sheep, and JESUS is THE GREAT SHEPHERD OF THE SHEEP. He guides me, protects me, and provides for me.

I want God to WORK IN US WHAT IS PLEASING TO HIM. It doesn't matter what is pleasing to me.  Ultimately, I live as Christ's representative, so what he wants is what I want.

I can only do these things THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, and he deserves GLORY FOR EVER AND EVER. None of this is about me.  Or, at least, none of this should be about me.  Help me, God, when I lose track of You.


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

Thursday, April 2, 2020


In 2018 I went through a period in which God showed me that our lives are like a story. I love stories.  I mean, I really love stories, all kinds of stories: mystery, young adult, historical, and many more.

Stories are meant to be told to others. I share little parts of my story when I write, sometimes only implicitly and only the portions that allow me to remain feeling in control of what others might think of me. Some stories are easier to tell than others.

Four years ago my dad had a seizure in the middle of the night. He was taken to the hospital, treated, and released. For about two months he ate healthy and tried to take care of himself. Then my mother called me one day, but it was not really just ”one day”. It was, in fact, my birthday. She left me a message that said “Your dad is having bad headaches, so we are going back to the hospital.” The next day I found out my dad had a brain tumor.

God spoke to me very clearly at that time, reminding me of a story found in Daniel 3. When faced with the possibility of death, three men proclaimed, “Our God is able to save us, and He will save us. But even if He does not, we will worship only Him” (17-18, paraphrased). For the next three months that was my prayer. “God, You are able to save him... But even if You do not, I will worship only You.”

And then my dad died.

And I had a choice: To live out the prayer I had been praying or to abandon the God to whom I prayed.

That is the core of many stories. The main character has to make a decision. Edward or Jacob? Volunteer to face death or let my sister face death? Believe I’m a wizard or stay where I am? [Hey, I warned you I like young adult fiction!]

I hope my decision is evident. I still pray. I still believe. I remember that chapter of my story, knowing that God was with me in the fire, just like he was with the three men in Daniel 3.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The body. The braid.

During a Sunday morning service last May, I found myself thinking about that girlhood rite of passage: the sleepover. Forgive me, Pastor Josh, if you are reading this.

Our pastor had just explained that the proper translation of Philippians 1:6 is a plural you. Where we read "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in YOU will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (NASB), it would more properly be translated “He who began a good work in Y’ALL...” (as they might say in the south).

He had just made this statement when I noticed two girls in front of me sharing a moment of spiritual sisterhood. They were tenderly, messily braiding each other's hair. The jokes about girls getting together to braid each other’s hair are almost cliche. Nobody I know gets excited about braiding their own hair. Some even consider it a chore. Yet many times I've seen one woman start braiding another woman's hair, almost instinctively. Why is that?  Why is there something special about braiding each other’s hair?

I suspect it’s not too different from what my pastor was saying that day. We are made to be a people. God promised Abraham a son, but also a people. It was God’s people, as a collective, who were punished with 40 years in the desert, not just the ten spies who doubted their ability to conquer the promised land. It is why Paul missed his fellow believers when he was away from them, which I wrote about yesterday, and you can read HERE. Like three portions of hair come together to make a braid, we make up a body of believers. Don't forget, the braid is a Biblical concept.
"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NASB).

Be the body.  Be the braid.