picking up and putting down

 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. ~ Exodus 9:16

Jim Elliot asked if this verse would be in essence, an epithet spoken of him. Ultimately, it was.  His death on January 5, 1956 impacted the Christian community around the world. It challenged hundreds, even thousands, to enter the mission field and take up what Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed Mc Cully, Roger Youderain, and Pete Fleming had laid down.

What am I picking up? Habits? Thoughts? Ideas? Actions? Attitudes? Is any of it long-lasting or eternal? Am I choosing to honor God with everything or just some things? With part of my heart or all of it?

If I want to give my whole heart, how do I start?

Seek first God’s kingdom, not my own (Matthew 6:33). Why God first? Simple. God is the root of it all. He is where the very spring of life itself is found (Genesis 1:1). I need to remember that while my to-do list is important, it is only for a temporal world. God’s kingdom is eternal. His purposes are for the salvation of the world and a relationship with each person here.

If I want to follow God with my whole heart, my whole life, I will need to pick up my cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24) and put down the things that fill my time but don’t fill my soul. To be blunt, life is short. I am not promised tomorrow, neither are you.

Dear Ones, what choices are you making to leave a legacy for the Kingdom? We may not need to go into the jungles of Ecuador to make a difference, it may be as simple as crossing the street and getting to know your neighbors. The parents of your children’s friends. Serving once a month in the children’s ministry at church, or with the homeless ministry in your community. Or with a food pantry. Or a car ministry.

The point is, make sure that your hands are moving with an eternal purpose. Picking up and putting down as God designed us to do.

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take heart

Wait for the Lord;

be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord

(Psalm 27:14).

O Best Beloved, have you ever had prayers inside of you that were so deeply knitted to your spirit you could hardly form the words for them? Have you ever felt like the prayer inside would never come to fruition, but you prayed anyway? Did you falter? Did you fall as you waited? Did you stand firm in your faith while you waited?

So many of my prayers have been secretly started in my heart. An ache, a cry, a feeling of discomfort for a social injustice.  A desire to see healing in someone, restoration of relationships, mercy and grace in a certain situation. Each seed of prayer was dropped into my heart by something I heard, felt, or observed. Is that the same way with you?

When it comes to prayers, some are answered before Amen is spoken. Others, they are answered long after the initial prayers were spoken, sometimes years after the first words were lifted to Heaven. How do we keep that prayer alive?

Each morning, each evening, every time that person, situation, issue comes to mind, lift it to Heaven. I have learned that some things do not need flowery words of liturgy, some prayers just need to be passionate pleas to Heaven to hear us and answer.

Fill your heart with words of encouragement, reminders that our God is faithful, just, and desires to grow us in our walk with Him. Meditate on Scripture, find a passage and sit with it, read it daily, remind yourself that God hears His children, He loves them. He loves you.

Find courage Dear Heart, God has not forgotten what you have heavy on your heart. He hears you. We have been asked to wait and trust His timing, His purposes, His plan. Even if it doesn’t seem like He is moving. Remember He Lives and His timing is perfect.

I think of C. S. Lewis’ book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Aslan was only discussed, but had not yet been seen by the Pevensie children. We had hints of hope, hints of promise, hints of courage and joy and possibility that came from those who’d had experiences with Aslan in the past. They knew his power, how his presence could change the course of events. So when others faltered, they stood strong. They waited. They believed he would return.

So too, with me.

 I don’t know when, how, or even where God will answer my prayers. But I continue to pray. I know my prayers reach the ear of my Heavenly Father, I know He values my heart, my aches and hurts and desires to answer my prayers with the best answers.

So even when I don’t see Him, I will trust Him. I will take heart. For He will come. He will answer. He will meet me in my times of trouble and triumph and roar with His power and His strength in my life.

So I will wait. I will wait on the Lord. Will you wait with me, Dear One?

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hungry for more

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things (Psalm 107:8-9).

Each day of the week I spend a few minutes in the morning striving to settle my heart with God. I am not satisfied with Sunday mornings, Christian radio in the car, or an occasional prayer tossed up to Heaven. I need more.

I long for the joy I have felt when God opens up His word to my heart and shows me something new about His character.

I long for the peace that comes when I am battling through things and thinking I will never have an answer.

I long for the power that comes when I remember to plug into the Holy Spirit and I remember it isn’t what I do but what God does through me.

I long for the blessing of being in full community with Jesus in prayer, silent reflection, and knowing that I am a beloved child of the One True God.

When I do not make time to be with God each day, it’s as if I skip a meal.  Well, day-after-day, skipping a meal, skipping the very nutrients that help me move and function in life — it will make me grumpy, make me less gracious. Make me less like the Jesus I want to be.

So I pray.

Father, stir my heart to seek You daily, to honor You in words and actions. To serve others with a willing heart, to forgive quickly and love deeply. I pray for wisdom to understand others who are different than myself and to show Your love before my own selfishness. Thank you for Your mercies each day, may I share them freely with others. Amen. 

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armor up

For the past two days I have been feeling like I am gearing up for battle. I am ready to fight, ready to win. My fists are up, sleeves pulled back, feet planted firmly, ready for the first swing. I have been slightly testy and a bit short in tempered with people who aren’t ready to stand firm next to me — it’s a crazy thing.

I have been trying to figure out what the root of this really is and today I figured it out. I am going to war. To war with the lukewarm feeling in my heart, the willingness to allow “little things” to remain in my life that are not so bad but are really like little sins, ready to take root and grow (James 1:14-15).

Too many things that have been set aside to be dealt with later. Things, habits, behaviors, that have been allowed to stay long enough in my life that they have become pets instead of enemies.

During my lunch I was listening to some songs I downloaded and came across Petra, a favorite band from my early days as a believer. The words fit so well with the battle I am preparing for, I thought I would share them here.

May you be putting on your armor (Ephesians 6) and be ready to capture our thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5).  Let us stand side-by-side and prepare, remembering that though we are ready, the Victory belongs to the Lord (Proverbs 21:31).

This means war–and the battle’s still raging
War–and though both sides are waging
The Victor is sure and the victory secure
But till judgement we all must endure
This Means War! (Petra, This Means War)

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known issue

In our technologically-focused society, whenever the words “It’s a known issue” come up, we understand things aren’t working as they are supposed to be, but someone is working on it.

When it comes to relationships, there should be a sign we can wear when we aren’t operating within our best parameters. Whether we are battling against a destructive habit, an outright addiction, or just trying to stop doing something that annoys others, this sign would come in handy.

As a child, there was a t-shirt logo that was popular which said, “Be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” I think the “known issue” statement is an updated version of this.

I have been trying to understand an old way of thinking and striving to change it for the better. The thing is, the process is taking forever. I am getting frustrated and others in my life are beginning to wonder if there will ever be a change.

Justification of poor behavior or bad habits does not make it acceptable. Recognizing the bad behavior when it happens, or even better, recognizing the thought patterns that lead to the bad behavior to stop them is what I want to do. Trying to control things and make them seem better than they are does not help.

There needs to be a radical surgery in these cases, where the entire process, habit, action, is completely cut out (Matthew 18:8-9). Like a surgeon removing aggressive cancer cells before they take over the body, so too, does the “issue” need to be removed. Only then will the person be healthy, able to heal, able to start fresh (Isaiah 18:5).

Anyone who has undergone radical surgery knows that it is painful, something that would be gratefully avoided, but still was necessary for a healthy life in the future.

A favorite pastor used to say, “When it hurts too much to stay where you are, then you are ready to make changes.” Well, it hurts. I hate the look of disappointment, the feeling of failing the people I love because I have acted without thinking.

For perspective, many would see nothing wrong with what I am doing. I am not addicted to anything, I do not break the law. I just have a “broken” thought process. Even if it is acceptable in society, it isn’t acceptable in my circle. It isn’t healthy for me, for those I love. For my growth.

So, I am giving notice to this “known issue,” it is time. Time to be removed, to be re-booted, to be wiped clean and start fresh. A new operating system, new circuit boards, ultimately a new mother-board if you will, need to be installed.

It is time.

O Best Beloved, is it time for you to go under the knife for something that is broken in your life? Who do you have that can walk alongside of you? A friend, family member, a counselor, a pastor? Don’t let the “cancer” be inside any longer.

It is time. Join me and let us walk together unshackled and free.


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Here in the United States we are just weeks from the presidential election. Many of us, if not all of us, are over the mudslinging, vindictive speeches, and negative campaigning we have heard in the media. I am ready for some quiet, some peace, and simplicity. For wisdom, certainty, and clarity. My whole being cries out for it.

One of the things I realized, was how often the candidates strive to hold themselves up as “better than” the other candidates. Nothing but chest-beating and puffed up words.

Then I look to Scripture. God is clear about His position. He is the only one who deserves to be held up, glorified, or exalted. He alone is worthy of our praise, honor, of the position He holds. No one else will ever be greater, no one else will ever be stronger, no one is wiser, more discerning. No one.

God alone knows the world’s heart. He alone knows the future. He alone knows who will win battles, lose wars, win skirmishes.

Only God.

It won’t matter who becomes president in November. Not really. Yes, policies and laws will be written, changed, removed, etc. But God, who deserves all praise, glory, and honor forever will still be on the Throne, still be listening to His children’s prayers, still changing hearts, still empowering believers to move mountains.

God is worthy of being exalted because He is God. But I rejoice in exalting Him because of who He is to me.

My Savior, Messiah, Redeemer, Friend, Comforter. My all in all.

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under and over

Jim Elliot really pulled no punches in his prayer life. As he studied the Old Testament he wrestled with deep truths that apply to our walk with Christ. His study of Exodus chapter 1 was no different.

 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt (Exodus 1:8). Israel had been blessed richly and deeply by Egypt while Joseph was alive, but eventually a ruler was born who didn’t know the stories of Joseph and his God. This new pharaoh decided that the Israelite had grown too numerous and might rise up against them. So he chose to oppress them (verse 11).

But God cannot be oppressed (verse 12, 17). the Israelites continued to prosper while they were under oppression. God’s hand was on them and  He would not remove it, even if the heavy hand of the Pharaoh wielded a whip above their heads. God was still in charge.

When the Pharaoh told the midwives to kill all the newborn boys at birth, they knew it was wrong. They feared God more than man and the midwives saved the boys.  So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.  And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own (Exodus 1:20-21).

Jim Elliot recognized that the oppression actually helped the Israelites. It united them and grew them into a strong nation. He wrote in his journal on February 16, 1948:

“Because Israel was fruitful, she was feared. When persecuted, she prospered. The more she was afflicted, the more she went abroad. Their lives were bitter, but their number still increased. Lord. . .we need some affliction to unite us in our purpose, to make us prosper, to scatter us abroad. –Should I ask for a pharaoh who knows not our Joseph and is antagonistic?”

I wonder if our present-day Church recognizes that we have grown fat on our Egyptian foods. Do we recognize that we have been lulled to sleep with our carnal needs met, while our spiritual needs starve? Maybe Jim Elliot’s perspective was right. The Church has lapsed in its intensity and has forgotten that we grow best when oppressed.

The underground church in China is a prime example. They are not praying that the oppression stops, they are praying they have the strength to stand up under it.

Will we wake up, Church? Will we stop eating the fatty foods that prevent us from thinking, praying, and acting like the God we say we follow? Maybe we need more locusts and camel hair.

O Best Beloved, we are to be a part of the Church Jesus spoke of to Peter, And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matthew 16:18).

We are called to spread the Gospel to the lost and dying world we live in- as aliens- (1 Peter 2:10-12) not be drawn into it. Second Corinthians chapter 4 is full of challenging words that encourage us to remember being persecuted and oppressed is an opportunity to squeeze out the foolishness and grow more like Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body (2 Corinthians 4:7-11).

We are over-comers (1 John 5:4-5). May we not be asleep on the job any longer, but fully alive, awake, and actively serving the lost.

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second place

My dad was a football coach when I was young. I spent many Friday nights cheering from the stands and hearing the crash of the helmets as the players fought for control of the ball. When the movie Facing the Giants came out in 2006, I was smitten. Faith and football, what could be better?

During the course of the movie the question is raised, “Will you praise God anyway? No matter the outcome, will God still be worthy of praise?”

It is such a huge question to ask ourselves. Do our situations and circumstances take precedence over our faith and hope in God and the praise He deserves, just by being God? Do I allow my daily circumstances to run my day or do I run to God with my day?

My morning was a perfect example of this question. I had a sweet time with God this morning, grabbed my things for work, a bit late, but nothing to worry about. I got in the truck only to find my son didn’t fill the tank and now the fuel light was on. Living in the country, fifteen miles from the nearest gas station, means having a bit of faith to drive.

I could have been frustrated, cranky, and allowed that inconvenience of stopping for gas shade the rest of my day.

But I remembered the sweetness of my morning and that God was with me. Whatever happened in my day was second place. God was in first place in my heart, my mind, my soul. Right where He belonged.

Dear Ones, how do you approach your day? Do you let the events dictate your response? Or do you allow our Heavenly Father to take First Place – no matter the events, the news, the sorrow, or the joy?

Let us pray for each other to keep God first place in our lives, not just in the good times, but all the time.

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better than…

I received a good “Gibbs’ smack” to the back of the head today. A young woman passed by me. She was well-dressed, hair coiffed, the whole manicured picture. On the other hand, I am wearing a t-shirt, flannel, jeans, and gym shoes. I don’t go to get my hair done anyway, I generally don’t wear nail polish, I might wear mascara…you get the picture.

I admit that I do not understand dressing that way, it isn’t part of my world at all. Plus, high heels would be foolish on a farm. At that point I should have just let the differences pass, but my mind went further.

I started to criticize her. I don’t know her, her story, why she was dressed the way she was today. She is a stranger to me.

But, wow, I started digging into her with a sharp spade. Each thought I had was darker, meaner, than the next. That’s when I felt the smack.

I was looking at her as being less than me in some way. When I realized that my heart was acting so ugly I asked God to forgive me. She was just as important to God as I will ever be.

When my heart starts looking at people as less than me, I am in danger of thinking that I am better and somehow deserving of God’s grace and mercy in my own life.

Very dangerous thinking indeed.

I am reminded of Jesus’ story about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14 and who I really am when no one is looking.

 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

O Best Beloved, what is your perspective? Are you looking at the world as the Pharisee or are you being honest? We don’t deserve anything good from God. We aren’t good at all without Him in our lives growing us to be more like Him.

We can find the right way to see this world when we see it through the life of Christ.

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11).

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There is nothing missing when it comes to God. He is not absent from my life, my experiences, or my world. I may choose to not include Him, but He does not remove Himself from me. As His child, He will not remove Himself from me (2 Timothy 2:13).

The same thing comes with prayer. When I pray, even if I think my words are hitting the ceiling and dropping to the floor, the reality is my prayers will not return void because prayer contains the power of God.

When God is moving there is no way to stop Him. He will open doors man cannot close and close doors man cannot open (Isaiah 22:22, Revelation 3:8). He will act in ways we cannot fathom and He will turn things from one thing into another at His bidding.

He is God. There is nothing unfilled, no emptiness He cannot fill, nothing void of His presence.

This day is full of God. It’s just a matter of looking for Him. Of being still and allowing Him to talk with you and your heart.

Isaiah 55 is full of images that fill me when I forget the God I follow. Verses 11 and 13 talk about the difference of God versus man. We speak words that fill silence, take time, and yet fall short of depth, breadth, and meaning most every day.

But God’s words… they are not lacking. They fill every nook, every cranny, every crevice of our dry, depleted hearts– if we will allow it.

So my prayer is that God will pour into my spirit all that is lacking, so I am filled to overflowing with His plans, purpose, love, grace, mercy and joy. That I will not be unfilled, but instead, filled and pouring out on others. It is the same prayer I have for you today.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”


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