fading away

We’ve been studying through 1 Samuel these past few weeks.  Israel was without true spiritual leaders.  Eli and his sons were in charge of the spiritual leadership of the country and yet, there was rampant abuse, physical, emotional, possibly sexual abuse — all in the name of power and authority of those who “cared” for the Temple. Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord (1 Samuel 2:12 NIV).

Enter Samuel.  A young boy brought to the temple by his mother, Hannah, who entrusted him to God and to Eli after answered prayer (See 1 Samuel). Samuel knew of the Authority of Heaven. He sought to honor Eli and ultimately, honor God.

Eli was met by a prophet who warned that he and his sons, his lineage, would die (2 Samuel 27-36).  Eli knew it was true, but he did nothing in response, he just accepted his fate (1 Samuel 3:18).

He accepted it. somewhere in Eli’s service to the LORD he grew weary.  Or maybe overwhelmed.  Whatever happened, he stopped living fully for the LORD. He did not rebuke his sons when they were young, when they were dishonoring to God and His Temple.  Over the years, Eli’s weariness grew and it became apathy. Yes, he still loved God, knew He was good and true.  But, Eli quit taking the next step which was to act on the love he felt for God.

His love started to fade.  Eventually, he grew old, blind, and large.  Old age is natural. His loss of eyesight was more than a medical condition, it was spiritual.  He lost the vision of serving God.  He grew fat on the ill-gotten gains from his sons’ extortion of those who brought their offerings to the temple.  He did not stand for God, but instead sat, as one defeated, allowing whatever would happen to happen (1 Samuel 4:12-18).

He faded away.

And so it is with all of us.  We grow weary in our daily battles for a better marriage, a better relationship with our children, better experiences on the job.  We start showing up to each event, each relationship-but we don’t engage.  We ride the past experiences and act like they are current experiences and eventually, even the past experiences are worn thin.

When we fade in our devotion we allow space for distraction, for alternatives to fill the emptiness.  It happens every day.  We just don’t catch it at first.  Suddenly a husband leaves his wife, a wife leaves her children.  Except it is not suddenly.  It is the slow fade.  We don’t see the tendrils of apathy growing when they are small, but suddenly, we are caught up and tied up, unable to move- except to fall- and fall we all do.

First Samuel 4 ends with prophetic words indeed, She said, “The Glory has departed from Israel… (1 Samuel 4:22 NIV). 

What would that broken marriage look like if the husband turned to his wife and admitted his feelings of disconnect?  What if the wife turned to her husband and admitted she was overwhelmed in the day-to-day activities of staying at home?  What would it look like if we woke up and realized our struggles and called out for help instead of listlessly drifting away?

Oh Heavenly Father, may our hearts not experience the departure described in 1 Samuel 4:22.  May we live a life as described in Ephesians 5:14, “This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” May we rise and shine for You– not listless, without a rudder or direction, but fully engaged. Fully devoted, living out-loud the life You died to give us.  Restore our marriages, restore our relationships with our children.  Restore us, revive us, re-ignite us, Lord Jesus. May we not fade away, but instead seek to engage daily.  Father, we need You. Hear our cries…

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before I forget…

My mom and I live in different states and don’t talk as often.  When we do talk, we have a mental laundry list of events, anecdotes, and other pieces of interest to each of us.  From asking if we knew about a recent engagement, to someone’s failing health, we share it all.  Often, our story will start with, “Before I forget…”

I started thinking about this phrase and how it applies to so much more than my chats with my mom.  What else do I need to remember- and not forget?

The Bible has 226 different places where the word “remember” is used.  Sometimes it is God “remembering” someone or the nation of Israel.  Sometimes it is a person remembering another person or event that God has commanded them to remember.

But, the thing about it is that in Scripture, if someone is remembering, then the next step is they are acting.  The memory lights the match and then the match catches fire and an action on God’s behalf occurs that cannot be stopped.

Throughout the Bible the steps are clear, first God remembers, then God acts.

What if I started living this way?

What if my first step was to remember– remember to share a memory, a kind word with someone who is struggling, remember to honor a promise I had made? What would my life be like?

God remembers and then God acts.  Before I forget, that is the key. We remember His faithfulness in the past to help us trust Him in the future.  We remember the ways He has corrected us, to hopefully change our direction.  We remember the Amazing Grace He offers to us through Jesus’ death on the Cross and we seek Him for wisdom and direction.

Let us remember and then act– before we forget.

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One Thing

I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God (Isaiah 43:11-12 HCSB).

I sat down with a new friend yesterday and we shared our stories.  The struggles, the triumphs, the battles, the losses, and the skirmishes of our lives and our Faith.  We had eluded in previous conversations to these stories, but now we shared them in full.

When we parted ways after our conversation, I felt such a sense of gratitude.  God had been present at our table as we shared the broken places that He had healed.  He had been present as we shared how He moved in our lives, drawing us up and drawing us in.

These stories we told, the stories we tell, the stories we hear, are stories that give God amazing glory.  When we share what God is doing and has done, we share the character of God.

When we share these stories we share the One Thing we need most, have experienced most, we share the One Thing we that gives us Hope, Joy, Gratitude– the One Thing we love-Jesus.

We are God’s witnesses to all He has done, is doing, and will do in our lives.  When we shared our stories we encouraged each other for our next steps, our next journeys.

Are you sharing stories?  Are you sharing sadness, or are you sharing courage? Are you sharing the amazing power of the Eternal God? Or are you sharing how things aren’t going your way?  Have you ever thought that your way might be opposite to the Way God wants you to go, has planned for you to go, desires you to go?

Will you share the stories?  Will you share the courage, the struggles, and encourage someone else today?


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buying in

Today on the radio, I heard about family members and friends who have been offering large amounts of money to expectant couples in their family so that they can have a namesake.  Thankfully, many couples have declined choosing to name their children as they decided.

I shook my head at the underlying pride in the request, “I will pay you to make sure I am remembered in the next generation.”

Then my husband reminded me it wasn’t just money offered to name children, people have paid to adopt children for reasons of pride for years.

Pride causes people to do some crazy things.

We don’t ask for help, because we don’t want to be seen as weak.  We buy things we don’t need so we can seem “cool” to those around us.  We strive and strain for accolades and praise so we can puff our chests out a bit more.  We accomplish and shine and show off all the time –and then to make sure we have a bigger audience– we post these accomplishments on our news-feeds.

Why? When we all can quote the verse from Psalm 16:18, Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.   We all know pride is wrong, but somehow we also buy the lie that we aren’t being prideful.  We are just sharing our good news with someone.

Pride was a crucial part of the Fall in Genesis.  Pride is what made Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery.  Pride is what drew the Jewish leaders to seek Jesus’ arrest.  Pride is what makes us want to work for our salvation.  It’s what makes us dress up our “pigs” in lipstick and pearls.  Why?  Why do we think this is necessary?

Because of sin. We believe, all too easily, that if we pay to get into something we have clout and the ability to direct the actions taken by the country club, the company, and sadly, some believe, the Church.  And some allow, the Church.

We have been clearly told, that Grace is free.  Free for the taking, free for the giving.  Free!

The passage from Ephesians 2 says it best (bold mine):

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

 For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

We don’t deserve anything we get from God, except for wrath.  We are sinners in need of a Savior.  Plain and simple.  We cannot buy our way into Heaven.  It is a gift, from our amazing Father, Who loves us so dearly, so powerfully, that He gave His Son for us, to pay the blood atonement for our sins (Exodus 30:10).

This FREE gift from God was already paid for, by Jesus.  And that is a debt no amount of money can ever pay.

Don’t buy the lie that Heaven is something to be bought.  We cannot afford the bill.  Just receive the free gift offered by the One Who paid it all– for you and for me.


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who’s in charge?

“If you have trouble with authority here on earth, you can bet you have trouble with the authority of Heaven,” –Bryan Clark, pastor.

These words have echoed inside of me deeply.  I often think of myself as compliant, obedient, respectful of those who are in authority over me.  But as I have let the statement steep inside, I realize my quiet defiance has been building inside for years.

I may have chosen to abide by the rules of my parents growing up.  Even staying off the phone (when they weren’t home to know the difference) because I had been restricted from it for whatever reason.  Now, I think I stayed off out of compliance to their rules, but my heart may not have been obedient. Truly obedient.

I am seeing that true obedience, wholly and completely surrendered, means not allowing my wants and needs to impact my actions to get what I want.

I think of the times when I have been told– as an adult– recently– of a decision made that I will need to follow, only to hear my inner voices start to look for alternate solutions.  Alternate ways to get what I want and still make it seem like I have obeyed their decision.

My reality is a lot uglier than I thought.

As I looked back at the times when God had prompted me to do something, or when a situation had completely different outcomes from my plan I see a child throwing a tantrum for not get her way.


Time and time again, I am reminded of conversations, arguments, and silent treatments I have had or given because I have not been able to get what I want. And what I want hasn’t always been a bad thing like too much candy or no nap.  It’s been as simple as approaching something from a different view than the person whose decision I need to honor.

It’s a control thing.

Double uggh.

If I am to be obedient, honoring the directions and decisions of people in authority over me– and ultimately, my Father in Heaven, then I have work to do.  I don’t have a simple answer, a switch to flip, or a simple act to make.  This is going to take time.  It took time to get into this and it will take time to get out.

Heaven help me. Thank you that all I need to do is ask and You will meet me where I am at and guide me to my next steps.  I pray for an honest heart, even when it isn’t pretty, to grow and be stretched.  To repent, to acknowledge, and ask for forgiveness from those I have been defiant against again and again. I know all things are possible through You and I pray I will lean into You for Your wisdom.  Which is always true and perfect. Amen.

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loss, love, and the other side

As our house renovation/restoration is underway we have not connected our television or had Internet connected.  I have gone without the images of newest “must have items” and the “blockbuster” movies of the summer.  I don’t feel like I have any gaping holes or a sense of being left out.  I have learned to be more content with what I have and enjoy it more.

I haven’t watched all of the political commentaries for our upcoming Presidential election-more than a year away.  My heart and mind are quieter for it.  I know what matters to me and I can do without the bluster and finger pointing.  I have found I am at peace and content with my life more without this noise.

My time has been filled with time with my sons, time with my husband.  Our relationships have been found again.  Conversations, laughter, honesty, healing, forgiveness, and growth have happened in the hours that were once spent with computers and television.

Our days are spent constantly on the go with school, work, or activities and every moment I get to spend with the loves in my life is a treasure to my heart.  I cannot get enough time it seems, with these men in my life.  My sons will leave soon, too soon for my liking.

I think of the families with the empty place at the table, the candle lit in remembrance of the treasured person who is missing from the laughter.  I think of the children who are missing a parent, the parent who is missing a child.  And my heart hurts.  I want to hug my husband, my sons, and never let them go.

We often talk of Heaven as being “the other side” of this world. Yesterday, nearly a dozen people stood on the other side of this world because of another shooting in the United States.  I didn’t watch the television footage of people gathered in groups crying and hugging, or people speaking through tears at the television camera asking “why” knowing an answer will never satisfy their sorrow.

I have no answers.  I could give the “pat” answer that God’s plans are not our plans.  But that is not a pat answer.  It is truth, it is reality.  God’s plans are not our plans, but His plans are to give us a hope and a future.  He is not the author of destruction and death.

I can only pray.  Pray for those who are left behind, those who are in need of physical healing and emotional healing.  For a nation, once again, in the throes of pain and searching for someone/something to blame.

I can only pray for God’s amazing love to be experienced by those who need to know that amazing love and healing that can only come from the other side.

Oh Lord Father God, Jesus meet us in our brokenness.  Our neediness.  Our pain and bewilderment.  Meet us and lead us to find the peace only you can provide.  We may never be fully whole here on Earth, but may we find comfort in the promise that one day we will know all that comes from being on the other side. Amen. 


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promises, promises

During my life I have heard so many people “promise” something to me.  I have promised to accomplish a task in a timely manner, change a habit, break a habit, forgive someone for something. I am sure you can create your own list of promises you have made.

The question is, how many have you broken?  How many times have you failed to keep the promises?  I am not throwing rocks, I have a long list of times when I have failed to keep a promise.  Friends, family, my sons, and my husband if asked, could speak of the times I didn’t hold up my end of the deal.

I could hang my head in shame, criticize myself, shake my head and call myself names; worthless, failure, good-for-nothing, stupid, etc.  But instead, I turn to my Heavenly Father.

My Heavenly Father who promises in Lamentations 3:22-24 (HCSB);

Because of the Lord’s faithful love

we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
23 They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
24 I say: The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in Him.

My Heavenly Father says, Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5 HCSB).

Isaiah 43:1-4 says He will not abandon us in difficult times:

Now this is what the Lord says—
the One who created you, Jacob,
and the One who formed you, Israel—
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; you are Mine.
I will be with you
when you pass through the waters,
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
when you walk through the fire,
and the flame will not burn you.
For I Yahweh your God,
the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior,
give Egypt as a ransom for you,
Cush and Seba in your place.
Because you are precious in My sight
and honored, and I love you…(HCSB)

Psalm 91 reminds us that He is with us and will empower us to face trials:

Because you have made the Lord—my refuge,
the Most High—your dwelling place,
10 no harm will come to you;
no plague will come near your tent.
11 For He will give His angels orders concerning you,
to protect you in all your ways.
12 They will support you with their hands
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the young lion and the serpent.

14 Because he is lovingly devoted to Me,
I will deliver him;
I will protect him because he knows My name.
15 When he calls out to Me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble.
I will rescue him and give him honor.
16 I will satisfy him with a long life
and show him My salvation  (HCSB).

We may fail, in fact- we will fail.  We are finite, wrong-side of Heaven’s gate human beings. We may make elaborate promises, with pinky-swears, blood oaths, and marriage licenses.  The reality is without God in Heaven by our side we will never succeed.  We need Him.

His promises are true, His promises are time-tested, Faith approved, and eternal.  These are the promises I turn to, the promises I lean on, I stand on, and I kneel on daily.

May you find the same comfort and rest that come from these promises today.

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free for the taking, free for the giving

There was once a farmer who had a bumper crop of sweet corn.  He decided to go to the nearest crossroads and sell them a dozen ears of corn per bag.  After he loaded up twenty bags, he drove to the crossroads, set up the bags on the tailgate of his truck and waited for customers.  One hour became two, two became three, and not one person came to buy the corn. Not a dozen, not an ear.  He saw car after car, but not one stopped.

So he loaded the corn back up, drove the truck back home, put away all twenty bags in the cellar refrigerator and decided to try again the next day.  So back up the cellar stairs he carried each bag, loading them into the truck, back to the crossroads.  This time, he set up in the late afternoon, thinking people might be more willing to buy corn on the way home for supper that night.  One hour became two, two became three, and not one person came to buy the corn.  Not a dozen, not an ear.

So he loaded the corn again, drove back home, putting all the bags back into the cellar refrigerator, to try again the next day.

The third day he changed locations, thinking maybe this would change his luck.  One hour became two, two became three, and not one person came to buy the corn. Not a dozen, not an ear. A third time, he loaded the corn, drove back home, putting all the bags back into the cellar refrigerator.

He felt discouraged.  He couldn’t sell the corn.  He was only one person, he couldn’t eat all of the corn.  What would he do with it?

The he heard of a gathering friends were having soon.  He called the hosts and offered them the corn, for free, just because he wanted to share what he had. It didn’t cost him any more than the corn he had already harvested and eaten.  It was extra, it was a bonus.  To the host, it was a blessing.

This farmer realized, it filled his heart more to give away the surplus, the extra, than it would ever fill his wallet.  So, he changed his tactics.  He no longer sells his corn. Now, to whomever he meets, he offers the bounty of his garden.  A tomato or two, a five-gallon bucket of cucumbers, bags of spinach and romaine lettuce.  Whatever he has, he offers. Which blesses both the giver and the receiver.

Isn’t that just like Grace? Grace is offered- for free- no fees, no charges, the payment was “Paid in Full” on the Cross and we get to benefit from blessings and bounty of Heaven.

Our Heavenly Farmer is offering abundant life, eternal life, everlasting joy, never-ending love, and mercies upon mercies to us all.  We just have to choose to receive the gift.

Have you chosen to receive the bountiful life?  Have you shared this bountiful life with others who are hungry?

It is free for the taking, it is free for the giving.  So give. Share. Bless others with the bounty of Heaven, just like someone else blessed you.

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listening to the Spirit

“Never, ever, ever, ever blow off a prompting from the Holy Spirit.” ~~Bill Hybels

God has shown Himself to be the kind of God Who does not stomp, pout, bellow, or shake us as His followers.  He is a jealous God, that is true (Exodus 20:5), but He is also a God Who whispers.

God whispered to little Samuel, asleep on his mat (1 Samuel 3) and when Samuel answered, God moved mightily through him.

How many of us have had a thought that was not our own, a thought that seemed so wild, yet grounded in Scripture, and we have found a reason to dismiss it? We were too busy, we didn’t know how we would start the idea, we didn’t know who to talk with about the idea.

So we dismissed it.

What would happen if we listened and responded to the Holy Spirit?  What would our marriages look like, our relationships with our children, family, our friends, look like when we stopped to pray for someone that God brought to mind “out of the blue” during the day?

What would our purpose here on this earth look like?

As I listen to the ways God has moved through the Church in the past 2000 years, I see that He moved because people responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

How will you respond to the “still, small voice” of the Holy Spirit today?

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The God of old is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms
(Deuteronomy 33:27).

During my early walk with God I used to listen to Elisabeth Elliot speak on her radio program, Gateway to Joy.  I didn’t know what she meant when she spoke of the “everlasting arms” of God.  It was foreign, kind of “out there” for a new believer, but I knew she was a strong believer and spoke with wisdom and truth grounded in Scripture.  So I listened.

The concept of everlasting is not an easy one to grasp in today’s society.  I think that is what makes this character trait of God so hard to embrace.  We live in a culture where things are expected to break down, fall apart, get tossed out after a few uses.  Nothing seems to be created to last-let alone last forever.

Marriages last only when things are going well.  Then somewhere around year four or five, things get tough and one or both spouses decide this isn’t what they signed up for and so they sign their name on the line and end the marriage.

Relationships are treated more like handi-wipes.  Use once and done.  Toss it out, there is always another one available when it’s needed.

Parents become estranged from their children.  Instead of fighting for reconciliation, they fight against the child that doesn’t conform to the way they think their child should behave.

And yet, at these very experiences God must weep.  He designed us for forever.  We each have these ever-living-never-dying-souls that will stand before Him one day.  Will we each know the joy of hearing Him call to us, My child, come, enter into the Everlasting with Me?  Or will we know the true sorrow of being told, Go away from me, I never knew you?

May this verse below be the Truth we each know…

I will give them, in My house and within My walls, a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give each of them an everlasting name that will never be cut off  (Isaiah 56:5).

Such a promise for us from the Everlasting God (Isaiah 40:28) Who poured out His love for us at Calvary.  This kind of Love, this kind of Grace, Mercy, Joy, and Covenant can only come from a God Who will truly be there for all Eternity.

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