Monday, December 05, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

It's been a while since I've taken the time to blog. There's a great deal running through my mind, so I may have a few posts in the works. But, before too much more time passes, I think I should take a moment and reflect on all of things for which I am thankful this year.

The last couple of years have been dotted with conflict and pain for me and my family. It's been a difficult process, but the Lord has been faithful to give us beauty amidst the storm. That's what I'm thankful for, most of all, this year.

I'm thankful for relationships that are renewed and stronger through lessons learned.

I'm thankful for a better understanding of what it means to "speak the truth in love" and why it is so important. I understand better why "beating around the bush" is not really loving or kind, even though we think we're trying to spare someone's feelings.

I'm thankful for modern medicine and doctors who can replace my Mom's knees. I'm thankful for hospitals and emergency room doctors and nurses who were able to treat my Dad's recent cardiac event. We are blessed to be able to have access to quick and quality medical care.

I'm thankful for my beautiful niece, Ansley Katherine, who shows me every day what it means to wonder at the world. Watching her grow and being part of her life is one of the greatest joys I've ever experienced.

I'm thankful for friends who have allowed me to cry on their shoulders and, on occasion, scream in their ears. There are several people in my life who truly deserve a title stronger than "friend". They are the ones I can call in the middle of the night. They show up with meals for my family, company for my mom, or with their work boots on without hesitation. I am richly blessed by amazing people who love me so well. It's truly humbling.

But, for me, this year has been largely about a story of reconciliation and redemption. In the midst of turmoil that seems to have no end, the Lord gave me something truly beautiful and full of hope on which to hang my heart. I could never have imagined the roads that lead us here. I am so grateful for a God who cares about the minute details of my story and has been weaving it together over the years.

I don't know what the future holds, but I do know that I have been given an immense blessing and measure of joy. And, I've been given proof that the Lord hears my prayers and His Word and voice can be trusted.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wide Eyed Wonder

It seems to me that the longer we walk on this earth, the more accustomed we become to its wonder. We can get to a place where we've "seen it all". Sometimes that is sad to me. When I'm stopped in my tracks by a beautiful sunset, I wonder how I've missed them every other day. Wonder is a beautiful thing and I try to keep that sense about me whenever I can.

Tonight, I witnessed something truly beautiful. Daniel and Katie took the opportunity to have a "date night" tonight and I spent a bit of time watching my niece, Ansley. We are currently sailing on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. This is her first cruise and she's absolutely loving it! While we were hanging out in her cabin, (watching Lion King, singing and dancing) I heard the music for the Aqua Show start. We headed out onto the balcony and watched as amazing performers put on an unbelievable show.

But, I could hardly take my eyes from Ansley's face. She was drinking it all in. She was entranced by it all and loving every second of it. I love getting to see her experience thigns for the first time. She has nothing about her that inhibits her sense of wonder. Unlike so many jaded adults, she has a fresh, clean palate upon which she can paint. It's truly beautiful to see.

I hope that I can remember to stop and wonder at the things around me. Watching Ansley grow up and experience life afresh has helped me to do that more. It's more precious than I can say. What a priviledge and treasure. I'm so looking forward to this week and the wonder it will surely hold!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Answer to Arguments

From "Grace for the Moment" by Max Lucado

"Get along with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13

Unity doesn't begin in examining others but in examining self. Unity begins not in demanding that others change, but in admitting that we aren't so perfect ourselves...

The answer to arguments? Acceptance. The first step to unity? Acceptance. Not agreement, acceptance. Not unanimity, acceptance. Not negotiation, arbitration, or elaboration. Those might come later but only after the first step, acceptance.

from "In the Grip of Grace"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Taking the "hit" for Jesus

A dear friend's mother shared this short devotional with me the other day. She shared a lesson the Lord had taught her long ago in hopes that I would gain wisdom from it. It's been reverberating through my heart and mind ever since. I'd like to share it with you.

This excerpt is from "My Utmost for His Highest (An updated edition in Today's Language)" by Oswald Chambers

Suffering Afflictions and Going the Second Mile

"I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also" (Matthew 5:39)

This verse reveals the humiliation of being a Christian. In the natural realm, if a person does not hit back, it is because he is a coward. But in the spiritual realm, it is the very evidence of the Son of God in him if he does not hit back. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but you must make it an opportunity to exhibit the Son of God in your life. And you cannot imitate the nature of Jesus - it is either in you or it is not. A personal insult becomes an opportunity for a saint to reveal the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not, "Do you r duty," but is, in effect, "Do what is not your duty." It is not your duty to go the second mile, or to turn the other cheek, but Jesus said that if we are His disciples, we will always do these things. We will not say, "Oh well, I just can't do any more, and I've been so misrepresented and misunderstood." Every time I insist on having my own rights, I hurt the Son of God, while in fact I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I will take the blow myself. That is the real meaning of filling "up in my flesh what is lacking int he afflictions of Christ..." (Colossians 1:24). A disciple realizes that it is his Lord's honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor.

Never look for righteousness in the other person, but never cease to be righteous yourself. We are always looking for justice, yet the essence of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is - Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this principle. It's very much against our nature to give up our whatever, but this perspective is very humbling to me. It's going to be working on my heart for a while.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

System Restore Point

Do you ever have one of those days, one of those moments, that you'd just like to take back? How many times have you wanted to return to the moment just before you made that choice, spread that gossip, ended that relationship, or crossed that line?

I've read a couple of books this week that have started my thoughts in that direction. I've started to think about and visualize that moment just before our lives change; that moment we completely take for granted. When we look back, we see it as the place we'd return to if there were any way possible. That fork in the road where things somehow got off track.

As I was logging into my computer this morning, I reached my maximum level of frustration with its performance and decided today is the day I spend time working to make it work properly. As I started the process of clean up and recovery, I came across the option to set a system restore point.

Wouldn't that be nice?

What would it be like if we could stop, in a good moment, and hit the save button? What if we knew, no matter what choice we were about to make, we could return to that safe place in time?

I don't know if I would want that option. My mistakes have made me who I am just as much as my good choices have. We learn (hopefully) when things go wrong and make better choices the next time.

And, although we can't have a clean reset like a machine, there are ways to get back to that restore point in human relationships as well.

What choice did you make that took you down an unfavorable path? Is there a way to get back?

Did you spread gossip? Make it right. Confess it, repair the relationships, and try not to do it again.

Did you end a relationship? Was that the right choice or do you wish it could be restored? Be brave. Make it right. Ask for forgiveness. Give forgiveness. Move forward.

Did you cross a line that you shouldn't have? Apologize. Deal with the damage. Make restititution. Make it right.

Make it right. It's possible. We can't get back to a clean restore point, necessarily, but I'm learning that if we just do the right thing, sometimes we end up in a much better place than we ever imagined. Sometimes a repaired relationship is stronger and more honest than the original one was.

What are those things in your life? Where would you set your restore point if you could go back and do it again? What's stopping you from making it right?

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Want The Healer

For the last couple of days, I have had the priviledge of leading worship from the Woods stage at Atlanta Fest just before Chad Wallace took the stage to share a message from his heart. It's been a beautiful experience and I'm looking forward to doing it one more time tomorrow. I have a few stories I want to share about this experience and how God is working, but I think I still need some time to process them myself. But, I do want to share with you a song written by Matt Jackson who shared just after us the last two days.

The chorus of this song is echoing in my heart and I hope will be resonating for the rest of my life:

"I want the Healer, not just the Healing. I want the Giver, not just the gifts. I want the Real Thing, not just Something. I want You. I want You."

Too often, we look for the healing and forget that the Healer is so much more than we could ever hope or imagine. I hope you'll let those words simmer in your heart, as they are in mine, and reach out the Healer, the Giver of all good things.

Check out Matt Jackson at

And the link to "The Healer":

The Healer
Matt Jackson

I don't want to build this house in vain
I don't want to place another stone unless you show me where it lays
I don't want to do this on my own
I just want to be right where You are where I can see what's in Your heart
You are my life, You are my source
And I'm seeking You until all mysteries are known
You are my life, You are my source
And I'm seeking You alone

I want the Healer, not just the healing
I want the Giver, not just the gifts
I want the Real Thing, not just some thing
I want You, I want You
I want You

You have my life in Your control
And I am letting go and letting You tear down my walls
You are the Builder, I am the stone
You are breaking me and making me; it helps me to see
You have my life, You are my source
And I'm seeking You until all the mysteries are known

I want the Healer, not just the healing
I want the Giver, not just the gifts
I want the Real Thing, not just some thing
I want You, I want You

I'm giving You everything
I'll give it all
'Cause You've given me everything
I'll give it all

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Beauty of Redemption

If you know me, you know that I love a good story of redemption. Books or movies that fail to redeem something broken in the story line often leave me feeling flat and unsatisfied. I love grace and I'm so thankful for it (because Heaven knows I need it!).

And also, if you know me, or have been around me recently, you also know that God is weaving a beautiful story of redemption in my life. It's more than I could have hoped for and better than I dared to dream. I'm so happy and completely overwhelmed that God has chosen to show His favor and grace in the way that He is right now for me.

As a church, we've been reading through the Bible. Our plan is to read through it together in a year. We've just made it through Leviticus and I was struck by how many times the word "redeem" is used. From the beginning, God has been working for our redemption. He's been showing His grace and favor and giving us a way out. It's an amazing and overwhelming thing. The God of the Universe cares about the details of our life and how we find our way back to Him. Wow!

Do you see redemption in your story? How is God showing His grace and favor for you right now? Are you missing it? Take a moment to step back and find that thread He is weaving into your every day story. I bet you'll be amazed too.

Redemption is beautiful. Without it, how lost I would be.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mending Fences

This week I had someone who wanted to "mend a fence" with me over a situation. However, the way they chose to go about it was to just ignore that there was a problem and pretend like everything was fine. In small offenses, sometimes, I am willing to overlook things and just move on without sifting through the past. But, when it's something big, it's a different story.

I've had this picture in my mind regarding certain situations where the floorboards of a house have been broken, attacked by termites, or have become rotten and unstable. In those situations, the home owner would be foolish to merely try to fix what was left. It's important to remove the broken and decayed pieces before rebuilding the foundation.

The same is true in a relationship when things happen that shake or damage the foundation. It's important to address the problem, remove the decay, and begin afresh. In some cases, it may be as simple as saying "I'm sorry", or maybe the situation calls for restitution to be made. But, there is some amount of work that needs to be done if the relationship is going to be healthy.

I've been experiencing that in another relationship lately where much care has been taken to find out how we wound up at odds and how we can avoid it in the future. Humility has been shown from both sides and responsibility has been taken where appropriate. And, grace has been found in a beautiful measure. It's been hard to be honest with my mistakes, but I know that I can speak openly before this friend and be forgiven just as I myself have been forgiving. It's a really beautiful thing.

The best thing about it is that I know the rotten, decaying and broken wood that had found it's way in has been removed and destroyed and replaced with something clean, fresh and beautiful. The foundation has been repaired and a healthy relationship now exists based on truth and respect.

So, my questions for you are:

1. Can fences be mended without addressing how they were broken in the first place? Is that always important?

2. Are there times it is ok to just overlook an offense and move forward as if nothing is wrong?

I'd love to hear any thoughts on this as it's what I'm currently processing for myself!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Commitment vs. Distractions

It never seems to fail that once I start something new or make a commitment to a goal, distractions multiply and seem to come out of the woodwork!

Take today for instance...

Somehow, my alarm clock was changed to a radio station instead of an actual alarm (I'm sure it was something I did when setting the time). However, I was gently awakened by music and was 2 HOURS LATE to work! So much for trying to read my chapters before I started my day.

On my way in to work, I had to stop and run an errand, making me even later.

Once I got to work, I realized that today is the day I have a lunchtime Bible study in Fayetteville. AUGH! Why did I even come to Peachtree City if I had to turn right back around? At least the Bible study was a bright spot in my day and I read, studied and prayed with some lovely ladies. But, since our Bible study wasn't on Genesis 4-7, I still have my reading to accomplish!

Back at work, problem after problem found it's way to my desk. My inbox is overflowing (my literal AND my virtual inbox). When will I find the time to read?

Also, at the back of my mind is the fact that I'm supposed to see a movie tonight with some friends and really wanted to finish reading the book first. I still have 100 pages to read and only 4 hours before the opening credits.

And none of that takes into account the giant "to do" list I created this morning.

Have you ever had a day like that? You start out with the best of intentions, but when the day is over, you wonder what happened to the time?

Maybe I should take a moment, right now, and spend a few minutes in the Word on Route 66. Hold on. I'll be right back.


Ahhhhhh...Now, why didn't I stop and do that this morning? I need to learn not to let the distractions of every day life interfere with my spiritual health. If I'm hungry or thirsty, I stop what I'm doing and meet those needs. Why is it not the same for spiritual hunger? It should be the same.

Help me hunger and thirst after You and Your Word. Help me put aside distractions, frustrations, and anything else that stands in the way of my time with You. It's only by Your strength that I can accomplish what has been set before me. Help me.

And, I'll be praying for you, too! I'm glad we're walking this journey together so we can lift one another up when we're discouraged or falling behind.

Monday, April 25, 2011

In the Beginning

Genesis 1:

The first chapter of Genesis gives us a synopsis of the creation account.  I love that it opens with “In the beginning…” because, that’s really where everything began.  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit were already there as infinite beings, but this account is where we mark the beginning of time, the birth of creation, and the first steps on this journey of humanity.  In the beginning was God and He created the heavens and earth and all that inhabit them.

Day 1 – God creates light and separates it from the darkness

Day 2 – God creates the sky

Day 3 – God separates the water from dry land, seas from continents; He creates all vegetation

Day 4 – God creates the Sun, Moon and Stars.

Day 5 – God creates the creatures of the air and sea

Day 6 – God creates the creatures of the land; He creates man

I love that God created the world over the span of six days instead of in just a moment.  I believe He had the power to simply speak everything into existence in a  twinkling of His eye, but instead, He chose to demonstrate that not everything is built in a day.  There is a time and a purpose for everything.  And, there is a time for rest.  Order and balance are important and the threads of that are seen throughout the creation story.  

One of my favorite things to note every time I read this passage is that the Lord created light and darkness 3 days before He created the sun, moon and stars.  In our human way of thought, we tend to think of the sun and stars producing light and the moon reflecting it.  But, the Lord says they were given to govern the light that He already made.  Isn’t that beautiful?

Genesis 2
There is a time for rest.  Even the Lord of creation took a day to rest and appreciate His work.  God is always giving us examples of holy and healthy living.  He set aside the seventh day as the Sabbath, from the very beginning, so that we would see His example and take time to rest and reflect.  In our fast paced society, it’s difficult to remember how important that is.  It’s counter-intuitive to us, yet exactly how our Creator intended for us to behave.

The second chapter of Genesis is one of the most beautiful and nostalgic to me.  It is the brief moment in history when everything was perfect and right between God and His people.  This chapter zooms in on the creation of man and woman, like a well told story, so we may see our origin more clearly.  

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (2:7).  

It is because of the breath of God within us that we have a soul, that we have an existence different from the animals.  We were made in the image of God, formed from the dust of the ground, and life was breathed into us.  Isn’t that beautiful?

But, for the first time in the creation story, God looks and says that something isn’t good.  It wasn’t good for man to be alone (2:18).  And so he created woman from the rib of Adam and so began our journey as humanity.

“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (2:25).  And they felt no shame.  Sigh.  For one perfect moment, all was right with the world, we were rightly related to our Heavenly Father and to all of creation.  What a beautiful moment.

Genesis 3
And then came the fall.  Adam and his wife were living in a paradise more beautiful than we can imagine.  Brand new and completely fresh, they stood before the whole world and were rulers over it.  But, a seed of darkness crept into Eden in the body of a serpent.

The serpent came to the woman and planted thoughts of doubt in her mind.  He made her question whether God was really good or if He was holding out on her.  He twisted words and tempted her with the beauty of what God had placed out of bounds for her.  She longed for wisdom and to be like God.

And with that one bite, our relationship with the Creator was broken and a need for redemption entered the world.

The man and woman hid from the Lord.  They knew shame for the first time.  Their eyes were opened and I’m sure they desperately wanted to turn back time.
The blame game began and continues even until this day.  “It wasn’t my fault, I was tricked!  I was tempted!”  But, whatever the case, the perfection had been broken and they were cast out of the garden.  Everything became more difficult.  The serpent was cursed to and made to crawl on his belly.  The woman was given pain in childbirth.  The man was given the task of toiling for his food and survival.

And so it begins.  From the fall to the cross to the empty tomb to the day when the perfect is restored, we begin our journey of redemption.

Route 66: Journey through the Bible in a year

As a church, we are journeying through the 66 books of the Bible in one year. I've been asked to blog about the experience and my reflections. I'll be copying my blogs to this site as well. I hope you'll join with us!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Celebrating 59 Years of Marriage

Today is my Grandparents' 59th wedding anniversary. Can you imagine? Married to the same person for 59 years! I am in awe of such an accomplishment and so thankful I have a marriage like that to observe.

It's always so interesting to me when I talk to my Grandparents about all of the things they have done and observed over the years. There is so much wisdom to be found at the feet of those who have already walked the road.

My Grandpa has always been a hard worker and very good with his resources. He has always done what he needed to do to provide for his family and he is a skilled craftsmen at so many things. He's patient and kind and generous. He's a good, good man.

My Grandma is a very creative person. I love seeing how she chooses to express herself through her artwork. And, she has a passion for passing that love of painting on to others. She loves to teach and watch her students grow. She has, along with my Grandfather, raised 5 children and watched as they have had children and grandchildren. She loves to talk about Jesus and the things she learns.

And, I'm blessed because they both love me very much.

I pray that I one day have the opportunity to live life with someone for such a length of time. Although, my cousin did point out that even if we each got married this year, we'd be 91 when we attained this benchmark.

Congratulations, Grandma and Grandpa Solly! Thanks for bringing my Dad into this world and teaching him what it means to be a good parent. Thanks for loving me and being there for me when I need you. I hope my grandchildren can say the same of me one day. I love you!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Closing the Cirle: Unconfessed Sin

Below are the notes from my sermon this morning. Before I spoke, Mrs. Katie (as Corrie Ten Boom) read an excerpt from Tramp for the Lord.

Closing the Circle
The Power of Unconfessed Sin in the life of a Christian

James 5:13-20

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

In preparation for this message, I read through the book of James. This book has a lot of wisdom to offer for the Christian life. He tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance (James 1:1). And he also tells us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you (1:5). He teaches us that it is not God who tempts us but we are drawn away by our own evil desires and enticed by sin: “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”(1:14-15)
James talks a lot about sin, it’s effects and how to avoid it. He wisely says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (1:19-20)
He calls on us to be doers of the word (1:22) and to walk out our faith in our actions by caring for the poor, the orphaned, and the widowed (1:27).

In chapter 2, James instructs us not to show favoritism but to love equally and invite all to the table. And, again he tells us that our faith without works is dead. He wants us to show the fruit of our salvation.

Much of chapter 3 is devoted to learning to control the tongue. I’m learning a great deal about that particular spiritual truth and it is mentioned in most wisdom literature. Our words are powerful and we must choose them carefully. Wisdom comes from heaven and is pure, peace loving and full of mercy. That should be reflected in our words if we are the children of God.

In chapter 4, he talks to us about the fighting and back biting that can go on among us. All of these quarrels are rooted in sin and choosing to love the world and the things of the world. None of us is promised tomorrow, so we should live each day to the fullest and not pin our hopes on a future that is uncertain. One especially interesting point he makes in chapter 4 is found in verse 17: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” So, it’s no longer about the sins you commit, but also about a failure to be obedient. James has a lot of wisdom, but also some very tough truths for us today. We are called to a difficult road as Christians, but we are promised joy in the process.

The last chapter of James begins by reiterating some of what he has already said. Do not oppress the poor (5:1-6) and be patient in suffering (5:7-12). But, when we come to the summary regarding prayer, there is a portion we so often overlook.

James says if anyone is in trouble, he should pray. That makes sense to us. Easy.

Then he says, if anyone is happy, they should sing praise songs. Sounds good.

Or if anyone is sick, he should call on the elders to pray, lay hands on him and anoint him with oil. He says that the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. He will be raised up and his sins forgiven.

All of that falls very much in line with our Christian doctrines, beliefs and actions.

It’s the next portion that starts to make us a little squeamish.

“Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Confess my sins to someone else? I don’t know about that. That would be humiliating!

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” There doesn’t seem to be any gray in that, does there?

James doesn’t stop there, he continues in the same breath to say “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Are my unconfessed sins weakening the power of my prayers? According to James, yes. As you heard in the story of Ms. Corrie Ten Boom, unconfessed sin in our lives breaks the circle of protection the Father desperately wants to keep around us. By holding in those dark secrets, we allow Satan to get a foothold in our hearts, in our minds, in our spirits. We start to fill up with things that block the communication between us and God.

When I read the notes regarding what Pastor Greg wanted me to preach about today, I laughed out loud. The Lord has a funny sense of humor. You see, last week, as we prepared to take communion, Pastor Greg read from I Corinthians 11:17-34. Paul was addressing a situation in the church in Corinth where the Lord’s supper was being taken in an unworthy manner. Pastor Greg charged us to take a moment to examine our hearts and confess any sin to the Lord before partaking in the Lord’s supper. As I prayed in preparation, the Lord revealed some things in my heart – some sin that needed to be confessed. I took that moment to confess those things to the Lord and repent of them before taking the Lord’s supper. But, James says we must also confess our sins to each other and pray for each other.

I have a great network of support and accountability. My best friend has been my best friend since I was 14 years old. She knows me better than just about any other person on the planet. And, she loves me fiercely and with a grace I hope I return to her in any portion. She’s someone I know I can call and confess my sins to and she will love me, offer gentle wisdom and correction, and pray with me that I may have victory over whatever it is. I have found this to be priceless in my life; absolutely priceless.

But, as the Lord’s sense of humor is a complicated thing sometimes, He continued setting up His punchline for me. There is a situation in my life for which I’ve been praying for some time. Lately, I’ve begun to pray that the truth would just rise to the surface, but I haven’t seen any movement in that direction. But, since I’ve confessed the sin in my heart and to my friend, suddenly, truths have begun surfacing. It’s small, but to me, it was a confirmation of the truth the Lord was proving in my life.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16).

It was after all of this that I reviewed the notes for this sermon. I really couldn’t help laughing out loud at how the Lord works. He’d already walked me through this journey so that I could stand before you and be transparent and have fresh proof of His truth.

But, James also gives us proof. He references the story of Elijah from I Kings 17-18. Elijah was sent as a prophet to God’s people. He called down the judgment of God in the form of a drought. No rain, not even any dew, would be on the ground until Elijah asked the Lord. It was three and half years before the people again had rain.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Because Elijah was obedient to the Lord, he performed and witnessed many miracles. He saw a jar of flour and oil remain miraculously full while the drought remained. He raised a boy from the dead. And, he took on 450 prophets of Baal and proved that our God is real and powerful.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

In what areas of your life are you lacking power in prayer?

Are you feeling like your prayers are just bouncing off of the ceiling and not making their way to heaven’s ears?

What in your life may be weakening your prayers and opening the circle of the blood of Jesus in your life?

Dig deep. Don’t be afraid to search them out – there is healing in shining the light on the dark places. Find someone you trust and confess your sins and pray together. There is healing there.

James ends by giving us this truth: “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” (5:19-20)

There is life, healing, and freedom in the confession of sins. It’s a discipline that we don’t like to embrace. We don’t like to unzip our hearts and show the darkness inside. But, the Lord offers healing and power to those who are willing to close the circle and be surrounded by His blood.

Tramp for the Lord: Chapter 30

This is an excerpt from Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9

Chapter 30: Closing the Circle

It would seem, after having been a Christian for almost eighty years, that I would no longer do ugly things that need forgiving. Yet I am constantly doing things to others that cause me to have to go back and ask their forgiveness. Sometimes these are things I actually do - other times they are simply attitudes I let creep in which break the circle of God's perfect love.

I first learned the secret of closing the circle from my nephew, Peter van Woerden, who was spending the weekend with me in our little apartment in Baarn, Holland.

"Do you remember that boy, Jan, that we prayed for?" Peter asked.

I well remember Jan. We had prayed for him many times. He had a horrible demon of darkness in his life and although we had fasted and prayed and cast out the demon in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the darkness always returned.

Peter continued, "I knew God had brought this boy to me not only so he could be delivered, but to teach me some lessons too."

I looked at Peter. "What could that boy, Jan, so filled with darkness, teach you?"

"I did not learn the lesson from Jan," Peter smiled. "But from God. Once in my intercession time for Jan the Lord told me to open the Bible to I John 1:7-9. I read that passage about confessing our sin and asked the Lord what that had to do with the darkness in Jan's life."

Peter got up and walked across the room, holding his open Bible in his hand. "God taught me that if a Christian walks in the light then the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses him from all sin, making his life a closed circle and protecting him from all outside dark powers. But - "he turned and emphatically jabbed his finger into the pages of the Bible - "If there is unconfessed sin in that life, the circle has an opening in it - a gap - and this allows the dark powers to come back in."

Ah, I thought, Peter has really learned a truth from the Lord.

"Tante Corrie," Peter continued, "even though I was able to cast out the demon in Jan's life, it always crept back in through the opening in the circle - the opening of Jan's unconfessed sin. But when I led Jan to confess this sin, then the circle was closed and the dark powers could no longer return."

That same week the wife of a good friend came to me for counseling. After I had fixed her a cup of tea she began to tell me about all the people who had prayed for her, yet she was still experiencing horrible dreams at night.

I interrupted her conversation and drew a circle on a piece of paper. "Mary," I said, "do you have unconfessed sin in your life? Is this the reason the circle is still open?"

Mary said nothing, sitting with her head down, her hands tightly clasped in her lap, her feet together. I could see there was a strong battle going on in her life - a battle between spiritual forces.

"Do you really want to be free?" I urged.

"Oh, yes," she said.

Suddenly she began telling me about a strong hatred she had for her mother. Everyone thought she loved her mother, but inside there were things that caused her actually to want to kill her. Yet, even as she spoke, I saw freedom coming into her eyes.

She finished her confession and then quickly asked Jesus to forgive her and cleanse her with His blood. I looked into her eyes and commanded the demon of hatred to lave in the name of Jesus.

What Joy! What freedom!

Mary raised her hands in victory and began to praise the Lord, thanking Him for the liberation and forgiveness He had given her. Then she reached over and embraced me in a hug so tight I thought she would crack my ribs.

"Dear Lord," she prayed, "I thank You for closing the circle with Your blood."

Having thus learned to close the circle by confessing my sins, I wish I could say that ever since then the circle has remained closed in my life. It is not so. For since Satan comes against us so often, then it is necessary to confess often, also. Regardless of how old a person may be, or how long he has ministered in the Name of Jesus Christ, that man still needs to confess his sins again and again - and ask forgiveness.

This truth became painfully clear to me recently when I was invited to Washington, D.C., to speak to a luncheon of businessmen and women. I love to talk to businessmen and was very excited about the meeting. When I arrived, however, I found only women present. This upset me for I felt that men needed to hear the message of forgiveness also.

After the meeting a fine-looking lady came up to me. "I am in charge of arranging the program for the world convention of our ladies'group,"she said. "Some of the most influential women in the world will be present. Would you come speak to us in San Francisco?"

I was still miffed that no men had been present for the luncheon. It's not that I disapprove of women's meetings. But I am concerned when men leave the spiritual activity to the women. God is calling men. Thus, I gave her a short, discourteous answer. "No, I will not. I must speak to men also. I don't like this business of all women."

She was very gracious. "Don't you feel that you are the right person?" she asked.

"No," I said, "I am not the right person. I do not like this American system where men go about their business leaving the women to act like Christians. I will not come." I turned and walked away.

Later that afternoon I was in my room, packing to catch the plane. The Lord began dealing with me. "You were very rude to that woman," He said again, gently.

I argued with the Lord. "But Lord, I feel that Your message is for all people, not just the women."

"You were very rude to that woman,"He said again, gently.
He was right, of course. He always is. I had been speaking on forgiveness, but was unwilling to ask forgiveness for myself. I knew I was going to have to go that gracious woman and apologize - confess my sin. Until I did, the circle would be open in my life and Satan would be pouring in many other dark thoughts as well.

I looked at my watch and saw I had only enough time to finish my packing and get to the airport. It made no difference. If I left Washington without closing the circle, I would be no good anywhere else. I would just have to miss my plane.

I called the front desk and found which room the woman was in. Then I went to her room. "I must ask your forgiveness," I said as she opened the door. "I spoke to you rudely."

She was embarrassed and tried to pass it off. "Oh, no," she said, "you were not unkind. I understand perfectly. I, too, feel that men should be the spiritual leaders, not women."

She was returning my unkindness with kindness, but that was not what I needed. I needed for her to admit that I was wrong about not speaking to women, and forgive me. I know it is often more difficult to forgive than to ask forgiveness, but it is equally important. To withhold forgiveness often leaves another person in bondage, unable to close the circle, and thus open to further attacks from Satan. It is as important to forgive as it is to ask forgiveness.

This sensitive woman understood. Reaching out and tenderly touching my hand, she said, "I understand, Tante Corrie. I forgive you for your remarks about women's groups and I forgive you for being unkind to me."

That was what I needed to hear. In the future I would indeed speak to women's groups. I would also keep a watch on my lips when tempted to speak unkindly. I missed my plane, but the circle was closed.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Healing through Tears

I've been listening to this song, over and over, for the last couple of days. It has connected deeply with my heart and I want to share it with you.

by: Laura Story

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause What if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing through tears
And What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we can not feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd faith to believe

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
And what if trials of this life, are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win we know
The pain reminds this heart that this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
And what if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:8-9

We so often think we know what is best for us or how a situation should be handled. We ask the Lord, all the time, for things we don't understand. I love the line that says, "You love us way too much to give us lesser things." The plan the Lord has for us is so much greater than we could imagine, and yet we constantly ask to settle for less. "What if Your blessings come through raindrops, what if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near? What if the trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?"

What if?

What if the pain I'm experiencing today is preparing me for something down the road? What if I'd crumble without my experience now?

What if the disappointment I'm facing is God's grace for me in a way I can't yet see?

What if, when I pray for healing for a loved one, the Lord chooses not to heal or to call them home? Who am I to question that?

He hears me. I know that. His "no" is the kindest answer He can give, sometimes, even if we don't see it that way.

His ways are higher than ours.

His thoughts are beyond our comprehension.

What a blessing to have a Father who knows and sees all and is working all things together for our good. All things. Not just the things we think are good. All things. (Thanks, Daniel, for pointing that out). Romans 8:28.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Be Kind. Always Be Kind.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." - Plato

That quote has been rattling around in my mind for several days. I think it is one of the wisest and gracious things I've ever heard. I've heard it from time to time over the years, but this week, it really has penetrated my heart.

We don't know what goes on in the hearts, minds, and souls of the people around us. Sometimes, the ones who seem to have it the most together are the ones who are really grasping at a final thread. Sometimes, when someone snaps at us or is cross, it really has nothing to do with the person, moment, or situation at hand, but about the battle they may be fighting internally.

In dealing with difficult people, I often step back and ask the Lord to allow me to see them as He sees them. This approach has radically changed the way I deal with conflict. If someone offends me, says something hurtful, or acts in a way that is unpleasant, I try to see the root of their pain. I once heard it said that "wounded people wound people". In most cases, if someone is causing you pain, it is coming from their own internal pain.

How much more peace would we have if we all remembered to be kind and not assume that everything is completely about us?

How would we respond to insults if we realized that they may be coming from a place of great pain?

Would we take things less personally?

Would we hold fewer grudges?

I know that there have been times in my life where I have been in great emotional, mental, and internal turmoil. In those times, I know I have lashed out at the people who have only wanted to help me. It's part of our human nature and not so different from that of the animal kingdom. Imagine a dog who has been in a fight and is wounded. Even though he knows his owner loves him, his pain overrides that knowledge and reacts. He may snarl or bite at anyone who causes him more pain by trying to cleanse his wounds so they may heal. It's just his instinct, as it is ours sometimes in moments of great pain.

So, it bears repeating:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

You never know when you may need for someone to be kind to you.

Friday, April 01, 2011


I've had some thoughts stirring around in my head lately and have been struggling with how to express them. My first amendment right, as an American, tells me I have the freedom to speak my mind. And, this is my personal little corner of the blogosphere, so this is where I choose to do just that. No one is forced to read it. No one is under any obligation to agree with it. And, it is open for comments and rebuttals in the spirit of fairness and engaging conversation.

But, just because I have the right to say something and I feel like I want to, does that mean that I should?

I just finished a month of reading a chapter of Proverbs every day. Much of what I learned was about holding my tongue and not stirring up strife. So, as I thought about my blog post today, I thought it through to who might read it and how they might respond. This is usually my process in writing; it's always a good idea to consider your audience. I also consider the consequences.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone says something they believe in and then get angry at those who have counter arguments, or who "punish" them for their stance. It's always interesting to me when people claim their right to free speech while simultaneously wanting to inhibit others when it comes to voicing dissent. So, if I put something out there, I have to know that I am prepared for the backlash and that it is something important enough for me to fight for it.

Today I had to make that decision. I had in my mind a blog I wanted to write, but I knew that it would offend and possibly hurt some people. And, while I choose not to live my life in an effort to please others, this particular battle didn't amount to one I wanted to fight. So, because of my renewed vigilance over my tongue and the pause I give myself before posting, I thought through the writing process. It turned out that I didn't have to write it in a way that was offensive at all, but could concentrate on the beauty of the ultimiate point I had hoped to make. I think it was a much better piece because of my partial censorship.

Just because it is my right to post whatever thoughts tumble across my mind doesn't mean it's wise, good, or edifying to do so. Today I found a way to share my thoughts without making any of it seem personal to any of my readers. And, yet, it's personal to all of us because the themes are universal.

So, thank you, 31 Days of Wisdom for giving me pause and saving me (and others) needless drama.

The Beauty of a Bride

As a vocalist, I've been involved in more than my fair share of weddings. I've also had the honor of attending a number of them as a guest. And, tomorrow, I will be helping photograph one for the first time. So, as wedding season approaches and I prepare by learning new music, practicing the piano, and brushing up on my photographic skills, I've had the opportunity to think a lot about brides.

I love wedding ceremonies. I think they are beautiful. When I've had the honor of singing for a bride and groom whom I love deeply, I fight hard to remain professional and not burst into tears in the middle of a song. I love the beautiful dresses and the fragrant flowers. I love getting to be part of a day that means so much in the lives of two people.

But, what I love most about weddings is that they represent the relationship between Christ and His Bride, the Church. It's an earthly picture of that moment that awaits us when we are finally face to face with our Beloved. It's a glimpse of what it will be like to stand before our Savior, clothed in white, washed clean and brilliant from our sins, and be made complete in Him. It gives me chills to think of that day.

I've been searching the scriptures about this relationship between Christ and the Church lately. And, I've been searching them specifically for correlations between the husband and wife relationship. The more I read God's Word about how that relationship should be, the more beautiful it becomes to me.

Do you know what my favorite part of a wedding ceremony is? It's that one moment when the groom catches the first glimpse of his bride. I love to watch the expression on his face as he sees her coming toward him down the aisle. In that moment, she is as we will one day be when presented to the Bridegroom. She is clothed in white, radiant in beauty, fully in love, and preparing to join her life forever with her beloved. It's priceless.

I do hope the Lord gives me a husband while I am here on earth, but as I walk more with Him, my longing for Heaven grows stronger. I long for the day when I will stand before the Lord, part of His Church, and be welcomed as His Bride. In that day, I want to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant." Whether I get to be a bride here, I know that I am a bride who is waiting for the return of her Bridegroom and preparing for his arrival.

And, so that is why I love weddings; why they fill me with joy. The beauty of a bride is reflected in the love of her bridegroom and it's clear for all to see. It's a glimpse of what awaits, and it's beautiful.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

31 Days of Wisdom: Proverbs 31

Please visit the link below if you would like to read through Proverbs 31 before continuing.

Disclaimer: This is a personal journey of discovery for me. I am not claiming any special wisdom or exposition of my own, only sharing how 31 days of wisdom affect me and stir my spirit. I highly suggest, no matter who is speaking or sharing, that you check their words against the words of Scripture.

Proverbs 31

This proverb is the collected sayings of King Lemuel as taught to him by his mother. (v1)

“Listen!” It’s repeated again and again in Proverbs. Listen. Be wise. He instruction. (v2)

Women are trouble, especially wicked and contentious women; they bring kings to ruin. (v3)

Alcohol should be avoided by the wise; it affects behavior and alters memory. (v4-7)

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (v8-9)

The last portion of this chapter of Proverbs talks about the virtuous woman, the wife of noble character. The woman described here is surely an ideal to which we should strive.

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” She is rare and valuable and beautiful. (v10)

Her husband has confidence in her. She makes him proud. She blesses him and brings good things to his life. (v11-12)

She is industrious and works hard with her hands. (v13)

She does what she has to, goes to any lengths, to feed her family. (v14)

She is the first to rise and the last to bed; she makes all of the preparations to take care of her family. (v15)

She is a shrewd businesswoman; a good investor. (v16)

She works hard and intensely; she is strong enough for her work. (v17)

She makes sure that her business succeeds and she has what she needs. (v18)

She is skilled at her work. (v19)

She takes care of the poor and is kind to the needy. (v20)

She is prepared for the snow, so when it comes, she is not worried. (v21)

She makes her own clothes and linens. (v22)

Her husband is respected in the community. (v23)

She sells her wares for a profit; she scouts out business. (v24)

She is strong, full of dignity and she is prepared for the future. (v25)

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” (v26)

She is watchful and not lazy; she takes care of her household. (v27)

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” (v28-31)

I’m a little tired just reading how industrious, efficient, and hard-working this woman is. It’s surely an ideal, but one that is worth reaching toward. It’s interesting to think about how much like a modern woman she is. She works hard. She takes care of her family and also runs a business. She is a shrewd investor and a wife and mother who is deserving of praise. I wonder when she sleeps.

Dear Father of Wisdom,
Help me a wife who brings honor to my husband. Help me be diligent and disciplined. Help me be a mother who raises wise children. Help me be like the wife of noble character and bring You glory. Amen.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

31 Days of Wisdom: Proverbs 30

Please visit the link below if you would like to read through Proverbs 30 before continuing.

Disclaimer: This is a personal journey of discovery for me. I am not claiming any special wisdom or exposition of my own, only sharing how 31 days of wisdom affect me and stir my spirit. I highly suggest, no matter who is speaking or sharing, that you check their words against the words of Scripture.

Proverbs 30

This proverbs is the collection of Agur the son of Jakeh.

He cries out to the Lord that he is weary and feels beaten. He is in need of wisdom and understanding that only the Lord can give. (v1-4)

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” (v5-6)

He wisely asked the Lord for wisdom and understanding. He asked for only what he needed knowing that if he had too much he would forget the Lord or if he had not enough he would dishonor the Lord.” (v7-9)

“Do not slander a servant to their master, or they will curse you, and you will pay for it.” (v10)

There are people in the world who are foolish. They do not listen to the wisdom of their parents and they are proud and arrogant. They are never satisfied and never have enough even though they devour the poor. (v11-17)

“There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a young woman.” (v18-29)

The adulterous woman sees no problem with her sin. (v30)

He continues to list things that are amazing to him. His lists echo much of what we still find amazing or incomprehensible.

“Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up: a servant who becomes king, a godless fool who gets plenty to eat, a contemptible woman who gets married, and a servant who displaces her mistress.” (v21-23)

“Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; hyraxes are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; a lizard can be caught in the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces.” (v24-28)

“There are three things that are stately in their stride, four that move with stately bearing: a lion, mighty among beasts who retreats before nothing; a strutting rooster, a he-goat, and a king secure against revolt.” (v29-31)

You should keep quiet instead of play the fool; hold your hand over your mouth if you must. (v32)

“For as churning cream produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.” I know this one very well lately; “like churning cream” as you keep stirring up anger, it creates something new – strife. (v32)

Dear Father of Wisdom,
Keep me from being one who stirs up strife by allowing my anger to be churned and churned and churned. May I be an influencer of peace and a speaker of quiet answers. Amen

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

31 Days of Wisdom: Proverbs 29

Please visit the link below if you would like to read through Proverbs 29 before continuing.

Disclaimer: This is a personal journey of discovery for me. I am not claiming any special wisdom or exposition of my own, only sharing how 31 days of wisdom affect me and stir my spirit. I highly suggest, no matter who is speaking or sharing, that you check their words against the words of Scripture.

Proverbs 29

“Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy.” There is a penalty for ignoring the rebukes of the Lord and of the wise. Don’t push it too far or you may be destroyed. (v1)

The people are joyful when the ruler is righteous, but a wicked ruler oppresses them. (v2)

“A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders wealth.” (v3)

A just ruler makes for a stable country, but one who is greedy and underhanded is its downfall. (v4)

Flattery is not kind; it traps a person. (v5)

“Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.” Your sin will catch up with you, it’s only a matter of time. But, the righteous can be joyous and full of peace. (v6)

The wise and righteous take care of the poor; the wicked do not care about the poor at all. (v7)

“Mockers stir up a city, but the wise turn away in anger.” (v8)

If you take a fool to court, he is just going to make a scene and there will be no peace. (v9)

“The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright.” (v10)

It’s the business of a fool to vent and spew their rage all over the place. A wise person is a calming influence. (v11)

A ruler who is easily swayed and listens to lies will corrupt those who work with him. (v12)

“The poor and the oppressor have this in common: the Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.” (v13)

A good king will judge the poor with fairness and the people will love him. (v14)

“A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.” (v15)

When the wicked and sin thrive, sometimes it seems hopeless, but the righteous will see their collapse. (v16)

“Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” (v17)

When there is no revelation of wisdom, people become unruly. Where wisdom reigns, the people are blessed. (v18)

Words are not enough for correction; there must be consequences. (v19)

Be slow to speak, a fool has more hope than one who can not control his tongue. (v20)

If you pamper a person instead of instruct and discipline them in the ways of wisdom, they will turn out to be trouble. (v21)

“An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.” (v22)

Pride is the downfall of people, but humility brings them favor. (v23)

If you help a thief you can not tell the truth without getting yourself into trouble. (V24)

“Fear of a man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” (v25)

Many people try to appear before rulers of men, but true justice comes from the Lord. (v26)

The righteous and the wicked hate one another for who they are. (v27)

Dear Father of Wisdom,
Help me be one who brings calm to a situation. I don’t want to be like the quick tempered, uncontrolled fool. I want to speak peace and wisdom into every situation. Help me know Your ways and speak Your words. Amen.

Monday, March 28, 2011

31 Days of Wisdom: Proverbs 28

Please visit the link below if you would like to read through Proverbs 28 before continuing.

Disclaimer: This is a personal journey of discovery for me. I am not claiming any special wisdom or exposition of my own, only sharing how 31 days of wisdom affect me and stir my spirit. I highly suggest, no matter who is speaking or sharing, that you check their words against the words of Scripture.

Proverbs 28

The wicked are always running, but the righteous stand strong. (v1)

If you see a country that is out of control, you should look at its leaders to see why. (v2)

If you keep pressing people, you get to a point where you kill any chance they have of producing. (v3)

“Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked, but those who heed it resist them.” (v4)

The wicked can not understand what is right, but the righteous can. (v5)

It’s much better to be poor and righteous than rich and wicked. (v6)

“A discerning son heeds instruction, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.” (v7)

If you gain wealth by cheating the poor, it will be given to one who actually does take care of the poor. (v8)

“If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable.” (v9)

If you deceive the righteous, you will be caught by your own trap; but the blameless will receive their reward. (v10)

“The rich are wise in their own eyes; one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.” (v11)

There is a great celebration when the good prosper, but the people fear when the wicked come to power. (v12)

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (v13)

A hard heart brings trouble, but the one who is soft before the Lord is blessed. (v14)

“Like a roaring lion or a charging extortion, but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign.” (v15)

A good ruler can expect a long reign. (v16)

A murderer who is tormented by his guilt make seek to kill himself for relief. (v17)

The innocent will be kept safe while the perverse will be caught by their own schemes. (v18)

If you work hard, you will be filled; if you are lazy, you will be poor. (v19)

Faithfulness leads to blessing; there is no quick fix for poverty. (v20)

“To show partiality is not good – yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread.” (v21)

“The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them.” (v22)

Although, at first, you may seem like an enemy if you rebuke someone, in the end you will be known for having loved them well. Someone who flatters instead of telling the truth is not a friend. (v23)

To steal from your own family but then justify it makes you a partner with the wicked. (v24)

“The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.” (v25)

If you put your trust in yourself, you put your trust in a fool; but the wise walk in the way of wisdom. (v26)

If you give to the poor, you will be blessed. If you ignore the poor, you will be cursed. (v27)

REPETITION: “When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.” (v28)

Dear Father of Wisdom,
Help me see the opportunities to help the poor. May my eyes be open to their need and my heart soft to their situations. May I care for them as You would. Amen.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

31 Days of Wisdom: Proverbs 27

Please visit the link below if you would like to read through Proverbs 27 before continuing.

Disclaimer: This is a personal journey of discovery for me. I am not claiming any special wisdom or exposition of my own, only sharing how 31 days of wisdom affect me and stir my spirit. I highly suggest, no matter who is speaking or sharing, that you check their words against the words of Scripture.

Proverbs 27

None of us are promised tomorrow; so don’t count on what may come. (v1)

Don’t brag; let others brag on you. (v2)

Don’t fight with a fool; it’s not worth the heaviness to your soul and body. (v3)

Jealousy is worse than anger. (v4)

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” (v5)

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” It’s better to have a friend who will gently correct you than an enemy who will kiss up to you
but be dishonest.” (v6)

“One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.” (v7)

“Like a bird that flees its nest is anyone who flees from home.” (v8)

The heartfelt advice of a loving friend is as beautiful as a lovely fragrance. (v9)

“Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you – better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away. (v10)

If the son is wise, it validates the teaching of the father. (v11)

“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” Be wise. Look down the road. Head the warnings. (v12)

Don’t take the word of someone who pledges for a stranger; hold collateral. (v13)

Do not speak loudly in the morning; it is the same as cursing. (v14)

There is nothing that can be done about the incessant nagging of a quarrelsome wife; avoid her in the first place. (v15-16)

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We are to challenge, encourage and sharpen one another. (v17)

“The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit, and whoever protects their master will be honored.” (v18)

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” What you believe and who you are is as clear in your life as the reflection of your own face in a mirror. (v19)

“Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.” (v20)

Gold and silver are tested by fire, but people by their praise. (v21)

No matter what you do to a fool, he will remain foolish. (v22)

Watch over your wealth, it is not guaranteed. Watch over what you have so that you will not suddenly be found without what you need. (v23-27)

Dear Father of Wisdom,
May the reflection of my heart be close to Your own. Lord, when people look into my life, may they see You. May I continue to gain wisdom in order to be a pleasing daughter to You and bring You honor. Amen.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

31 Days of Wisdom: Proverbs 26

Please visit the link below if you would like to read through Proverbs 26 before continuing.

Disclaimer: This is a personal journey of discovery for me. I am not claiming any special wisdom or exposition of my own, only sharing how 31 days of wisdom affect me and stir my spirit. I highly suggest, no matter who is speaking or sharing, that you check their words against the words of Scripture.

Proverbs 26
The foolish person is nothing but trouble to you. Stay away from him. Don’t trust him. Do not put anything in his hands. Do not get on his level or listen to any “wisdom” from him. (v1-12)

“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly. Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” (v11-12)

The sluggard is as bad as the fool. He is too lazy to accomplish anything and sits back to watch others handle things. (v13-16)

“Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.” Mind your own business. (v17)

“Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, ‘I was only joking’!” Be honest. Speak truth. (v18-19)

“Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” Don’t gossip or pick fights, it only fuels drama and pain. (v20-22)

Those with silver tongues lead you to death. Be wary of someone who is too smooth. (v23-28)

“Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them.” (v27)

Dear Father of Wisdom,
Help me keep my mouth shut and stay out of other people’s business. I do not want to be counted among the foolish. Amen.

Friday, March 25, 2011

31 Days of Wisdom: Proverbs 25

Please visit the link below if you would like to read through Proverbs 25 before continuing.

Disclaimer: This is a personal journey of discovery for me. I am not claiming any special wisdom or exposition of my own, only sharing how 31 days of wisdom affect me and stir my spirit. I highly suggest, no matter who is speaking or sharing, that you check their words against the words of Scripture.

Proverbs 25

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. As the heavens are high and the earth is deep, so the hearts of kings are unsearchable." (v2-3)

If what is spoiling the progress is removed, a great feat can be achieved. (v4-5)

Be humble. Do not exalt yourself into a position that is not rightfully yours. It is better to be praised than to praise yourself and have to be put back in your place. (v6-7)

Do not be quick to take things to court as it may cost you more than you know. Be careful to keep confidences. All of these things could bring you shame if you are not careful. (v8-10)

“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruler rightly given. Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear.” (v11-12)

A trustworthy messenger is like a cold drink on a scorching day. But one who brags about things that never happened is like a blustery day with no relief. (v13-14)

“Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.” (v15)

Be moderate with everything; with eating and drinking and with the company of friends. (v16-17)

“Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor. Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble. Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” (v18-20)

If your enemy is hungry or thirsty, help him; this is the best revenge. (v21-22)

“Like a north wind that brings unexpected rain is a sly tongue – which provokes a horrified look.” (v23)

Stay away from the quarrelsome wife if it means you have nothing else. (v24)

“Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land. Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked. “(v25-26)

It’s not good to overindulge in anything, even searching out deep matters. (v27)

“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”(v28)

Dear Father of Wisdom,
Teach me to control my tongue, my desires, my heart, and myself. Lord, I want to be wise and I want to be a place of refuge for my friends. Amen.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

31 Days of Wisdom: Proverbs 24

Please visit the link below if you would like to read through Proverbs 24 before continuing.

Disclaimer: This is a personal journey of discovery for me. I am not claiming any special wisdom or exposition of my own, only sharing how 31 days of wisdom affect me and stir my spirit. I highly suggest, no matter who is speaking or sharing, that you check their words against the words of Scripture.

Proverbs 24

Do not be jealous of the wicked or wish that you were their friend; it only leads to trouble. (v1-2)

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”(v3-4)

Wisdom and power go hand in hand; victory comes when there are many advisors. (v5-6)

Fools should keep quiet since wisdom is out of their grasp. (v7)

“Whoever plots evil will be known as a schemer. The schemes of folly are sin, and people detest a mocker.” (v8-9)

Hold fast; be strong. It is for you to stand in the gap for the weaker and those who are being lead away. God will hold you responsible for it even if you say, “I didn’t know”. (v10-12)

Wisdom is sweet, like honey, and is to be sought after and desired. (v13-14)

Do not hang around and wait for the righteous to stumble, they will always rise again; but not so the wicked. (v15-16)

“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn His wrath away from them.”(v17-18)

“Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked, for the evildoer has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out. “ (v19-20)

The Lord and the king are able to bring swift wrath, so be respectful of both. (v21-22)

It is not good to be a biased judge; there will be penalties for those who subvert justice. (v23-25)

“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” (v26)

Make sure you have an income and established position before you build your house. (v27)

Do not speak against someone or arrange for revenge; it will not go well. (v28-29)

The lazy person sleeps while everything goes to ruin. Poverty comes like a thief to those who are lazy. (v30-34)

Dear Father of Wisdom,
Teach me the value of discipline and of obeying Your word. Teach me the way of the wise and to avoid the path of the fool. Keep my heart soft and away from the idea of revenge. Amen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

31 Days of Wisdom: Proverbs 23

Please visit the link below if you would like to read through Proverbs 23 before continuing.

Disclaimer: This is a personal journey of discovery for me. I am not claiming any special wisdom or exposition of my own, only sharing how 31 days of wisdom affect me and stir my spirit. I highly suggest, no matter who is speaking or sharing, that you check their words against the words of Scripture.

Proverbs 23

Be careful not to crave things that are out of your price range. (v1-3)

Don’t work for riches or wear yourself out for them; they are fleeting. (v4-5)

Don’t go where you aren’t wanted or where someone begrudges what they give you. (v6-

“Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.” (v9)

Do not cross boundaries; they are there for a reason. (v10-11)

“Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” (v12)

If you love your child and wish to save their life, you must discipline them. (v13-

A father rejoices in a son who is wise. (v15-16).

Don’t be jealous of sinners; be jealous for the Lord and you will have hope. (v17-18)

Listen to instruction and be wise. Do everything in moderation. (v19-21)

Honor your parents and treasure their wisdom. The truth should not be sold for any price. (v22-25)

Stay far from the adulterous woman. (v26-28)

Stay away from alcohol; it causes nothing but trouble. (v29-35)

Dear Father of Wisdom,
Teach me to love the things of Your kingdom and not the things of this world. Teach me to keep my eyes on You and not be envious of others. May I be a joy to my parents. Amen

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

31 Days of Wisdom; Proverbs 22

Please visit the link below if you would like to read through Proverbs 22 before continuing.

Disclaimer: This is a personal journey of discovery for me. I am not claiming any special wisdom or exposition of my own, only sharing how 31 days of wisdom affect me and stir my spirit. I highly suggest, no matter who is speaking or sharing, that you check their words against the words of Scripture.

Proverbs 22

A good name means more than anything. Guard your reputation. (v1)

The Lord is the common ground between all of us; He is our maker. (v2)

The wise can see what’s coming and prepare, but the foolish don’t pay attention and they pay the consequences. (v3)

If you are humble, you will be rewarded. (v4)

Walking in the way of the wicked is dangerous; stay far from it. (v5)

Raise your children in the way they should go and they will stick to it. (v6)

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”(v7)

If you are a person who thwarts justice, you will come to ruin, it will not go well for you. (v8)

"The generous will themselves be blessed for they share their food with the poor."(v9)

If you get rid of the one causing the problems (the fool), you will have no more insults and strife. (v10)

One who is pure and gracious will gain favor even in high places. (v11)

"The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but He frustrates the words of the unfaithful. (v12)

I'm not sure the lesson in this one. "The sluggard says, 'There's a lion outside! I'll be killed in the public square!'" (v13)

The adulturous woman is a trap; the unjust fall into it. (v14)

Disciplining a child will rid him of his folly; it's for his best. (v15)

"One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich - both come to poverty." (v16)

Pay attention to my teachings and take them to heart; they will make you wise. (v17-21)

Take care of the poor and fight for justice. (v22-23)

Do not be friends with someone with a hot-temper or who is easily angered lest you become like them. (v24-25)

Do not take or give things on credit. (v26-27)

"Do not move an ancient boudnary stone set up by your ancestors." (v28)

If you are excellent and skilled in your work, you will receive honor. (v29)

Dear Father of Wisdom,
May these sayings of wisdom sink deep into my heart. May I be a person of wisdom, grace and knowledge. May I represent You well by being gracious and having control over my actions and words. Amen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Who's really in charge here anyway?

It's recently been brought to my attention that I may have an inaccurate view of what "Spiritual Leadership" looks like in a relationship. In fact, I saw my own views reflected back to me and it was a bit unnerving. So, I did what I do whenever I have questions; I asked.

First, I asked the Lord by reading about it in His Word. There are two main passages that talk about submission: Ephesians 5:21-33 and I Peter 3:1-7

And then, I asked several of my married friends how it works in practice. As a yet unmarried person, I have no personal experience with what spiritual leadership within a marriage actually looks like. I can only guess and relate to it in whatever ways I can. But, I believe the Lord calls us to help and depend on one another, especially to see the truth, so I polled my friends.

The answer I found is that I indeed have a limited understanding of what the looks like based on Scripture and my wise friends. It seems that one verse that is often overlooked is Ephesians 5:21 that says we should submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Submit to one another. That sounds like a much more beautiful relationship than what I had sometimes pictured. In submitting to one another, it doesn't sound like there's a "Boss" or one who is "in charge" of the other.

In my reading and conversing, I've come to see this "Spiritual Leadership" as a complex and beautiful dance. So much is required of us as believers in how we behave towards one another. The marriage relationship is to mirror Christ's relationship with the Church - His Bride. What an awesome responsbility. What beauty is held within that idea. A marriage is a living, breathing representation of how Christ loves His Bride. I want a marriage like that.

And, so, I'm sure I have a ton left to learn on this and I'd love to hear the input of others. How does it work in your relationship? How have you seen it out of balance? What wisdom can you pass on to this still-single girl who wants one day to be a wife that honors her husband and glorifies God? I'm all ears.

31 Days of Wisdom: Proverbs 21

Please visit the link below if you would like to read through Proverbs 21 before continuing.

Disclaimer: This is a personal journey of discovery for me. I am not claiming any special wisdom or exposition of my own, only sharing how 31 days of wisdom affect me and stir my spirit. I highly suggest, no matter who is speaking or sharing, that you check their words against the words of Scripture.

Proverbs 21

The Lord controls the ways of kings and nations. (v1)

“A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (v2)

“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” The Lord doesn’t want rote obedience, He wants us to do what is right and just and good. (v3)

“Haughty eyes and a proud heart – the unplowed field of the wicked – produce sin.” The wicked do not till the earth of the heart. (v4)

Diligence leads to success while impatience and hastiness lead to poverty. (v5)

Ill-gotten gains disappear like the wind. (v6)

“The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right.” (v7)

If you behave in a devious manner, you are likely guilty, while the innocent are known by the upright ways. (v8)

“Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” Spouses have such a large impact. To have a spouse that likes to fight is to live in an unhappy home. It’s better to have nothing but a small patch of earth than to live with such a person. (v9)

“The wicked crave evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them.” The hearts of the wicked feast on evil, they chase after it. Their hearts are hard with no room for mercy or compassion. (v10)

You can learn from other people’s mistakes and consequences; you don’t have to experience them yourself. (v11)

The righteous stand up against the wicked; they fight for justice. (v12)

“Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.” You reap what you sow. We see that principle over and over again in Scripture. (v13)

“A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies
great wrath.”(v14)

The righteous rejoice with justice, but it frightens the wicked; they wonder when it will be their turn. (v15)

Stay on the path of righteousness, straying from it leads to death. (v16)

If you are in love with pleasure, not wisdom, you will waste your wealth. (v17)

“The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, and the unfaithful for the upright. (v18)

Again, it’s better to only have a patch of dirt than to live with a quarrelsome and nagging wife (or to be one). (v19)

The wise prepare for what is ahead. They think ahead. They plan. The poor gobble up what’s in front of them with no thought to the future. (v20)

“Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you. (v21)

“One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty and pull down the stronghold in which they trust.” (v22)

Keep your mouths and tongues in check. It will save your life. (v23)

“The proud and arrogant person – ‘Mocker’ is his name – behaves with insolent fury.” (v24)

The things the lazy want will be the end of them; they do not prepare for the future or even support themselves in the present. (v25)

You can not satisfy the longings of the lazy. (v26)

The Lord hates the sacrifice of the wicked, especially if they bring it with a wicked heart and intent. (v27)

“A false witness will perish, but a careful listener will testify successfully.” (v28)

The wicked hide behind false bravado; but the upright are thoughtful and careful about their way. (v29)

“There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.” (v30)

We can prepare and plan all we want, but the victory belongs to the Lord. (v31)

Dear Father of Wisdom,
Please prepare me to be a wise and good wife. Lord, may I be a jewel to my husband, and not quarrelsome and contentious. I want to learn Your ways. I want to be master of my tongue instead of ruled by eat. May Your words of wisdom seep deep into my bones that I may be counted among the righteous. Amen

Sunday, March 20, 2011

31 Days of Wisdom: Proverbs 20

Please visit the link below if you would like to read through Proverbs 20 before continuing.

Disclaimer: This is a personal journey of discovery for me. I am not claiming any special wisdom or exposition of my own, only sharing how 31 days of wisdom affect me and stir my spirit. I highly suggest, no matter who is speaking or sharing, that you check their words against the words of Scripture.

Proverbs 20

“Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” Alcohol complicates life and makes people make bad choices sometimes. Only the unwise allow alcohol to have that much control in their lives. (v1)

It is unwise to anger a king, or anyone who holds the power of life and death over you. Be careful how you treat those in authority over you. (v2)

“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Those who jump into an argument out of heated passion and don’t stop to think are found among fools. It’s best to stay away from fights and drama. Don’t pick fights. Don’t be easily offended. Avoid Drama. (v3)

If you’re too lazy to plan ahead then you shouldn’t expect to reap at harvest time. (v4)

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” There are things we keep very close to the vest; deep within our hearts. But, a person of wisdom and insight can see past our walls to the heart of what we intend, hope, and desire. (v5)

Just because you claim to have unfailing love doesn’t mean you can truly promise that will always be true. It is in our flesh to be unfaithful; none of us are perfect. (v6)

“The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.” (v7)

Evil is perceptible to the wise. A judge who is faced with evil all of the time knows it when he sees it. (v8)

None of us are perfect; we were born that way. We battle our flesh, but we don’t always win. None of us can say we are pure, clean or without sin. (v9)

The Lord detests dishonesty. (v10)

Have you ever heard of “The Terrible Twos”? Even children show their sinful nature. None of us is perfect, pure or upright. (v11)

The Lord hears and sees all. (v12)

Don’t be lazy or waste your life in sleep. (v13)

“’It’s no good, it’s no good!’ says the buyer – then goes off and boasts about the purchase.” (v14)

We think that gold and precious jewels are hard to find, but what is really hard to find is a wise person with lips that speak knowledge. (v15)

Don’t trust someone who puts up his name for a stranger; hold his property as a pledge. (v16)

Ill gotten gains seem sweet at first, but they turn to rocks in your mouth. There is no long term pleasure in them. (v17)

“Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.” (v18)

“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.” Anyone who will gossip to you will likely gossip about you. Choose carefully in whom you confide. (v19)

There is a harsh punishment that awaits the one who curses their father or mother. Don’t forget that one of God’s top ten rules is to honor your father and mother. (v20)

“An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end.”(v21)

The Lord will avenge you; don’t worry about enacting revenge yourself. (v22)

REPETITION: The Lord detests dishonesty. (v23) (see also v 10)

Our paths are directed by God, so they won’t always make sense to us. (v24)

Don’t vow quickly; you trap yourself. If you make a vow without thinking, you are trapped by it and must uphold it. (v25)

A king who is wise will see through the schemes of the wicked and pluck them out. (v26)

“The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being.” (v27)

“Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure.” Interesting that it doesn’t say by “fear”. If people love a king they will serve him well. (v28)

“The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.” (v29)

“Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beating purge the inmost being.” (v30)

Dear Father of Wisdom,
Help me remember that no one is perfect, upright, or pure. We have all sinned and fallen short of Your glory. Help me to see into the hearts of people and see with Your eyes. Lord, I know you are the giver of all wisdom and discernment. I want to walk in Your path. Amen.