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Category Archives: Scripture

Who’s driving your car?

So we have a new driver in the house.

Since about June. It’s got everyone riled up. And it’s not because she’s such a bad driver. It’s because we are all such control freaks. And we just want a smooth, adequate speedily ride without cause for ulcers and stomach disorders.

She’s learning and she will be a good driver one day. But usually I would just rather drive. Especially in the carpool lane and on the way to church. Two very key happenings that require speed and agility.

This morning I was thinking about the passenger seat and how hard it is for me to sit there with an inexperienced driver. It’s frightening. I’m not gonna lie.. I have stomped hard on the floor and beat on the dash on more than one occasion in the past few months.

I lack faith in the driver.

Now Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

What is Faith defined as? says this…



confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.


belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
When I send my loved ones out into the day I have Faith that they will return home later. I believe that I will see them in about 7 hours.
In fact if I were to doubt seriously that they would return to me I would never get them out of bed.
So Faith is believing in something I can’t see or prove will actually happen.
And God says, Without faith it is impossible to please me. Heb 11:6
So we can feed the poor, cloth the naked, visit the sick, care for our families, give all we have… But if we don’t trust him he isn’t pleased.
Is it easier for you to do something rather than believe something?
Could it be because by doing something we actually see and participate in the action?
In believing  something, while it still is action, can’t always be clearly seen. So we must have faith that it will happen as we have been told.
And this is a part of  the followers life that requires our being willing to look stupid to others for the sake of the call on our life.
Have you ever done that?
Something that seemed so foolish in your natural thinking but you know that God is asking you to either let go of something or walk in a direction that is not a popular decision. Even to other followers.
So in Faith you walked.
And now you still walk.
And you haven’t seen many results.
You are tempted to lack faith.
You may waver and start  asking for more specifics.

Hebrews 11 records the wall of Faith for us to look up to… Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses…. People of Faith. But verse 13 says… “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance”.

Does that strike you as odd?

These Wall of Faithers never got to see on earth what God had promised them.

It did not matter so much to our hero’s of faith if they had in hand what they were promised because they knew in their hearts they could trust God’s faithfulness.

So how did they continue in their faith?
Because “They admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they left, they would have had opportunity to return.” 14,15
Have you been thinking about a country you left?
Maybe not a literal one. But a situation that was comfortable. You kind of liked it there and God asked you to step out in Faith and now you want to return to the place you knew well.  Maybe it’s a lifestyle or a friendship. Perhaps it’s a job or church. Maybe it’s an actual place and you wish for your old life again.
Verse 16 says… “Instead they were longing for a better country~A heavenly one~ Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
Are you kidding me?
What an exchange!
It can’t get any better than that!
When we walk in Faith in all our situations. Listening for him. Being quick to obey his voice. Believing whatever he is allowing us to walk through is part of his plan for us that includes another city and a country that we belong to, we  Walk by Faith.
 I am just the passenger believing that as the perfect driver he will get me safely home.
He may take me on a route I may have not thought to go.
But he orders our steps.
I can relax with him in the driver seat. He needs no GPS.
Today what is he asking you to Believe him For?

It’s all good. He is trustworthy.

Maybe you are walking in faith and have been tempted to give up.
Your prize awaits you.

Rise up oh men and women of Faith.


I will follow you….

Several weeks ago in a sermon pastor Bill said this…. “Many people talk about their conversion experience as accepting Jesus. While I never find him to invite us to accept him, I do see in the New Testament that he invites us to follow him over and over.”
I thought it was a remarkable insight.

The difference between accepting someone into my circle and following someone is night and day.
I can accept you without accepting that you have anything of value for me. But if I follow you it indicates you have something I too desire.

I thought about the difference it would make in the lives of many people if they decided to follow Jesus instead of just accepting him.
While it is true we accept what he has done for us it can not end there. His grace is given freely, open for all to accept, but he didn’t invite the rich young ruler to accept his grace. Instead he asked the ruler to make a choice… Follow me or follow your dreams of riches.
In the old testament book of Zephaniah God is warning his people of coming destruction. He is angry. And his holiness can no longer withstand the choices the people were making.
Zephaniah 1:4-6
English Standard Version (ESV)
4″I will stretch out my hand against Judah
and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal
and the name of the idolatrous priests along with the priests,
5 those who bow down on the roofs
to the host of the heavens,
those who bow down and swear to the LORD
and yet swear by Milcom,

6 those who have turned back from following the LORD,
who do not seek the LORD or inquire of him.”

What grabs me about this passage is this…
These are the chosen people. Just like us. They were his children. But he was willing to wipe them out for this reason…
They wanted to follow 2 gods.
And the creator will not compete for our affection.

We have the choice… We follow him or we follow something else.

So this is my question today…
Who or What do I follow?


How do I spend my day?

Who do I spend my time with?

What are my goals?

If I am desiring to follow Jehovah God how will I look different than these people did?

They were in fact still acknowledging him. They may have even gone to church.
But he was not their only leader.

And that’s what he wants his followers to understand.
He must be the only leader.
Or we can’t follow him at all.

Some will choose as the rich young ruler did to turn and walk the other way. I don’t believe It was so much about the riches but the man’s allegiance was the heart of the matter.

The following will require a sacrifice. But as a friend recently told me…The sacrifice is always worth it on the other side.

It’s no secret following him costs us.
It may be our wealth, family, reputation, friends, dreams, or comforts.

But I have made the choice.
I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back…
No turning back.

Above all else….

It’s a monday morning. My body is tired from too much running on the weekend. I pull myself from bed and trudge down the steps… calling out names and picking up laundry as I head down.
I pour myself a cup of coffee and wearily start fixing the lunches.
Children start arriving at the counter for some toast and cereal but not without some encouragement.
I quickly get my Bible and pick up where we left off on friday…
Soon I come to this verse and announce it as the verse of the day…
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Guard your heart above all else,for it determines the course of your life.

It reminds me of the movie…”Cheaper by the dozen”. One of the take away lines for me in that movie was when the punk boyfriend of the older daughter is all stressed out that someone may touch his car. It’s a Lebaron. As the children approach he yells, “HEY keep a perimeter around the lebaron”.
It made me laugh when I saw it the first time and it makes me laugh today.

We had some discussion about what it means to Guard our heart…
The perimeter factor comes up.
The children are quick to point out that we should guard our heart from evil.
There are many evils that we should be guarding against…
Examples for them are violent games and movies. Language and dirty jokes. Lieing, cheating and stealing.
It’s Very important for us to keep far away from things that sear our conscience and destroy our inner man.
But could it mean something beyond those obvious sinful choices?
Could this be talking about another griping vice that ties our hearts in knots?
Do we know what it means to be wise in the way we guard our hearts?

Do we confuse “guard you heart” with “harden your heart”?
It’s easy to mix those two up.
For example, I have learned to guard against certain sins. I can flee them rather quickly. I’m on alert and a radar goes off in my head and heart…RUN! Run as fast as you can.
My walls go up and I guard myself against the enemy’s trap.

However, God never asks us to harden ourselves to people.
We get hurt. And alarms start ringing in our heads…Ouch, Ouch run for cover. The walls are raised and the drawbridge closes.
We shut it tight. Peaking out only on occasion but never, never will we allow anyone to get that close again.
We call it guarding our hearts when actually we have taken the seed of hurt and carefully planted it causing a root of bitterness to begin to grow right there in our inner man.

And we wonder why the world seems so much dimmer inside these walls. We fear going back out while the vine grows tighter and tighter around our heart.
We reason that wisdom says stay aloof.
Don’t involve yourself.
Don’t be vulnerable again.

It’s tricky.
And it’s dangerous.

We change who we are. We see others with jaded eyes.
We become cynical and easily angered.
We doubt others sincerity and we question integrity.

It’s bitterness.
And we plant it saying we are “guarding our hearts”… But instead it splits our hearts in two.
And we are left with broken hearts.
Fortunately for all of us there is a healer.
He binds up the broken hearted and sets the captive free.
We just need to ask him to come.
It may mean that we have some tearing out to do first. Those roots can run deep.

Guarding my heart from all kinds of traps including bitterness will determine the outcome of my life.
Not just for today but for eternity

Who’s the wise guy?

I have been reading the Proverbs with my kids for the past 2 weeks.

It has been good.

In fact there is something so exciting about reading words straight from the Bible like…” My son listen to your father’s instructions. Take heed to your mothers warnings”.  They look at me like I may have inserted those words on my own.

One of the things that I pray for more than anything else in my personal life is for wisdom and discernment.

We need it so badly.

I need it so badly.

Every day in every situation. I am constantly weighing the decision… is it wise? So Proverbs is just the book to read when talking about Godly wisdom.

The thing is, wisdom isn’t something we buy, or decide we’re going to have. It’s not a commodity. True wisdom can only come by asking the living God to give it to us. “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” proverbs 2:6

Proverbs repeat this over and over…Search for wisdom and understanding like a hidden treasure.

But this is the caution…

Proverbs 3:7

New King James Version (NKJV)

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and depart from evil.

So if I ever think I’m kind of smart. A little bit wise. Pretty full of understanding…

I am not.

True wisdom says all the credit goes to the one who gave it. 

And I am not that one.

As I was reading the words to my boys yesterday I became increasingly fascinated with this thought.

What would our world, our churches, or neighborhoods look like if we were all looking for wisdom like buried treasure. IF we all sought understanding from our creator. If we asked for wisdom more than we ask for health, wealth, healing, or protection.

Not so we could be the wise guy but so he would be honored in us.

What if?

What if we trusted God with all our heart and didn’t try to lean on our own understanding. And in all our ways we would acknowledge him….He promises to direct our path. proverbs 3:5

I have some paths that need straightening right now.

Do you?

I could use wisdom for making some large decisions.

How about you?

I think this is God’s message  to me  today…

Relax in me. Ask for my wisdom. Don’t rely on what seems rational in your thinking. I will direct your path. I will make a way for you. In fact,Trust me.

It’s really the wisdom I’ve been asking for all along.

That’s it.

True wisdom is understanding I can’t know it all but I am friends with someone who does and he will lead the way. 

In fact he not only leads the way but sometimes he makes a way in the desert.

He gives words when we need it.

He gives grace to endure it.

He brings light to dark situations.

He. Is. the wise guy!

The new Circumcision

I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law. 4-6I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior:faith expressed in love. ~ Galatians 5:2-6~ the message

Were you taught certain things as a child that you believed to be true. It was what everyone in your circle practiced.And anyone who didn’t practice these things was an outsider.  They could be reached but you must not step too close or you may get sucked in to their belief system that was unlike your own.

In the church, we are especially “good” at this.

And it looks like the church of today is not that far from what the Galatians were struggling with. Paul is telling them essentially throughout the whole letter… Stop it! He’s even rebuking other leaders…such as Peter. Some important church leaders were requiring circumcision for those who were not of Jewish decent.

The Jews knew circumcision. They were raised on it. It was of utmost importance. God had said so. So for generations their people had practiced it. It had always been done this way.

And here comes Paul telling them it’s not the most important thing. It’s in fact a side issue. No longer the main player in deciding who the people of God were. And it was troubling to many.

It prompted me to start thinking about what the new circumcision is for the church today?

Maybe its style of worship. Maybe its certain programs in the church that are “sacred cows”. Things that are fine and good in themselves but have become  too important in your body. Maybe its dress. Perhaps it’s a fruit of the Spirit such as Peace, Or Feeding the hungry, or Prison Ministry. Maybe it’s clothing poor people or taking in orphans. Perhaps it’s visiting the sick or helping widows. Maybe it’s which denomination you are a part of. Or how you interpret end times. Perhaps it’s tongues or words of prophecy.

What would Paul say to your church? Would he tell you that you have exalted something above Salvation through Faith in Christ alone.

Do we get “disappointed” with each other because someone isn’t following the traditions (some are very good ones) that I have been taught and hold tightly to. Maybe people don’t know the language we were raised with so we discount one another. Reasoning if they were truly saved they would not say such things. Or they would know how important these teaching are.

What are we doing?

We are making those things as important as the circumcision was to the Galatians and early Jewish Christian. We have in essence made a mockery of  Christ’s death. And Faith through Believing in him alone.

While we may not say certain things save us. We live as if they do.  We condemn and look down our noses on others who haven’t seen the light.

Does that mean that works aren’t important?

They absolutely matter.

13-15It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?

If we are saved we should be showing more fruit this year than we did last.

But the fruit doesn’t save me.

And it doesn’t save you.

The fruit is an expression of our walk.

But so often we take the fruit or perhaps the tradition and we make it our walk. We make it a test of faith for others.

16-18My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

If I live by the Spirit I will not make the Law my salvation.

I will allow Christ to live through me so the law can still be my guide. But not my salvation. ~So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. gal 3:24…meaning the law was a child guide bringing us to Christ.

It’s tricky. And it seems we get it turned around.

If  I live to my flesh this is my result…

19-21It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

   This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

And when we are walking in the spirit our fruit looks like this…

 22-23But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

All good things right? But when we take anyone of those and make it the star of the show…

We have made it the new circumcision.

Faith in Christ alone.

We start there. And when we truly grasp what he saved us from…..When we truly give our lives in surrender….. The outpouring is lives that want to bring him honor. Lips that speak of what he has done. Hearts that love more compassionately than they did before.

25-26Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

That my friends is so exciting!

You can be exactly what Christ called you to be.

Not comparing ministries with your neighbor. Not deciding your call is what everyone else should be passionate about. But living out your walk in the way his Spirit directs you.

It’s liberating to know that he has called us to be free in Christ. 

Free not to live a lifestyle that is hurtful to ourselves and others. But free to live for him.

Not under the law of circumcision but not apart from it either. It was that which led us to Faith.

Anything that sets itself up as most important. Anythingno matter how good can replace our worship to God.

It’s not about what others think of us. It’s not comparing ourselves with each other.

It’s about being changed from the inside.

It is about Faith alone. 

Anything other than that takes  credit from the one who freely laid down his life so we could live.

What’s that smell

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It’s six days before Passover, a week before Jesus will be crucified. Jesus arrives in Bethany where Lazarus lived. Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead in the chapter before. There was a dinner party thrown in Jesus’ honor. In Marks account it is recorded that it was in the home of Simon the Leper. So a former dead man and leper were throwing this party. I think that’s kind of cool.

Martha served, Of course, Lazarus reclined at the table with Jesus, and Mary the one who seemed to always be at his feet, brought an expensive jar of perfume. She poured it on Jesus feet and wiped them with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas, the one who was stealing from the wallet and was also about to betray Jesus, objected to this.

He asked, “Why wasn’t the perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages”. He didn’t care about the poor, he wanted her to donate the money to their collective pot so he could have it.

In Mark when this story is told it indicates that more than just Judas were rebuking Mary.

“Leave her alone”, Jesus said, “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

This was Pastor Bill’s sermon last week. The text is John 12.

My heart was stirred. I have heard this story so many times. I have sung the song that preceded the sermon numerous times…dating all the way back to high school…”Broken and spilled out”. And yet God’s Word revealed pierced my heart yet again.

Who am I? Am I Mary at the feet of Jesus worshiping the one who raises the dead and heals all my sorrows. The perfect one who came to earth for the sole purpose of saving me from death. The one who I can trust my heart to?

Or am I Judas…None of us like to think of ourselves as a thief. Or people of wrong motives.

But think of this, Judas and the others…The closest followers of Jesus… were critical of the worship sweet Mary was offering to Jesus. To them, her worship seemed extravagant and over the top. Weird. Unnecessary. They were not impressed with the outpouring of her gift.

These rebukers of the worshiper no doubt were judging her wisdom, intellect, motive, action.

Am I the one who stays at the feet of Jesus, offering what I have no matter how strange I may appear to even others who know Jesus. Am I the Mary, who brings my best in reckless abandonment to pour out whatever he has given me. My life. My most costly possession.

Or am I the one standing in the back of the room whispering to the person next to me how foolish the offering appears. Because I lack understanding. Because perhaps it’s not the way we usually do things. Or maybe I, along with the others in this room, listen to negative talk about someone and start to believe it and chime in with my own criticisms because it makes me uncomfortable. I have a hunch these men weren’t feeling at ease with this woman being so emotional in their presence. Awkward.

Or have I tried to give my life as Mary did, pouring out her precious perfume  but after being rebuked by others for lack of understanding I have pulled away from the Master’s feet into the corner where it seems safer.  Have I believed the Judas and his band of critics?

Have you?

I think it’s easy to see myself in any of these roles. I have been each of these people.

I want to be a Mary with a heart that doesn’t count the cost of reputation. Without thought to how it appears to other people…even other believers.

The perfume smelled sweet.

But to the critics it stunk.

Who did it smell sweet to? Jesus.

Who was she doing it for? Jesus.

Does it matter if it stinks to the crowd? Does it matter if no one else understands? Does it matter if everyone around doubts the integrity of the gift?

Who is the gift for?



It’s for Jesus. And so when it smells sweet to him, you and I have accomplished what he requires.

A mind that believes fully in him. An undivided heart that shares him freely. The life that  has been changed radically by his grace.

I want to be careful not to be the critic. The one who judges heart and motive. I may have an opinion about how certain things should be done but I am not God. I cannot read hearts. I cannot know motive. It is very destructive to others when I am fault finding and cynical.

If it smells sweet to him I want to sniff the same aroma.

Think of the position of Mary.

I think Mary had the best spot at the table.

The one at his feet.

It’s where I want to stay. In complete adoration of “the friend of sinners”. The one who offered me grace and forgiveness.

If I’m at his feet it’s a lot harder to be standing in the back or sitting at the head in judgement of those around me. I can’t really see others when I’m looking at his feet.

An act of worship that involves my most costly gift.

My life and all I have been given.

I offer it up to you Master.

It’s all I got but I believe you when you say…it’s all you want.

Love God. Love Others. The end.

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Isn’t it cool how the words of long ago are still alive today?
I love that I can read something in the word and it beams a light on situations I may be facing.
It’s one of the best things about following Jesus.
He speaks through his written word.
If I let him.
Sometimes…. I confess I don’t want to hear it.
It may hurt.
I may have to change.
But when I surrender and realize he is speaking to me….
I do change.
And everyone is pleased. 🙂
Especially him.
And really shouldn’t that be who I want to please?
This morning he spoke to me from these words of old…
The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12

Love God.
Love others.
The end.

Sounds simple right?
So why is it so hard?
We, of course, say we do… And we may try. But when it’s so cut and dry I wonder if I’m doing it right.
And I see that I have room to grow.
What Does loving God look like?
Dependence. Obedience. Relationship. Trust. And….Faith
Not just a law keeper but a true believer. Someone who walks by Faith.
He says “step out” and I say “I will”.
He says “be still” and I say ” I will.”
He says “wait” and I say “how long”…what? I meant “I will”.
By Faith.. looking to the one who began a good work to complete what he has started. In his time.

And then we’ve got the tricky little loving others as we love ourselves.
What does this mean?
It means my speech will include only things that I would want someone to say of me.
It means I will recognize needs around me and reach to help.
It means I will share your burden as I would want mine to be carried.
It means I will forgive you as I would want you to forgive me.

If I focus more on how I am helping others than how they are helping me…I will not fall into the snare of  loving others only so they will love me.

If my perspective remains on speaking only things of others outside of their presence as I would with them in the room… It helps me to remain pure in my speech.

The heart issue is this…do I have pure love for God and people I rub elbows with?
They go hand in hand.
Remember that Sunday School Song…
JOY JOY must be…JESUS first…Yourself last…Others in between.
It’s true.
When I live my life like this…it brings joy.
When I live to please myself first and then squeeze everything else in when I get around to it, I become selfish and me centered.

Living in  this way…
Waking up with the thought, “God what can I do today that will bring you the most Glory?”

This  normally, automatically brings others to mind.
Who does he want me to love on today?

What pleases him is that we have a listening relationship to him that recognizes his great love for all mankind and we in turn can love the people he created.

Today this is my hearts cry…Make me a lover of all people. Not just the nice ones. But the hard ones to love. The ones who hurt me. And the ones who smell. The ones who I don’t get. And the ones who don’t get me. Let me love with pureness of heart. Forgive me for my lack of love. Forgive me for my self focus. Fill me with your power that I may love as you do!
Give me a heart like yours O God!