Wednesday, March 23, 2016

An Easter Devotion

A few years ago, I wrote a Tabernacle Prayer for the ladies of our church. I continue to use this prayer guide during the Easter Season. Because I regularly need the reminder that Jesus is my Passover Lamb, my Great High Priest. That I have the honor of standing in the Presence of The Holy One. Something about this prayer stills my heart and strips me of pride.

I have shared it before, but wanted to share it with you again! My prayer for you is that your heart would be prepared for Easter. That you would approach His Throne. That you would be changed by His grace and His goodness.

Tabernacle Prayer

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Social Media Wisdom for Christians

Our social media culture has brought on an entirely new set of struggles and strife for Christians. Sadly, we look worse than the world most of the time, simply because of our social media interactions and reactions. We argue and fight with each other more than those who don't know Christ. No wonder the world has no interest in our message. If Jesus has made no difference in our lives then why would they have any need of Him? Follower of Christ, you can stand staunchly and even be right, but I'm afraid that looks far more like the Pharisees than Christ. When Jesus said to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, He meant social media too. We do not have the freedom to abandon our Christ-likeness on social media. The fruit of His spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control. When we get into social media soapboxes and rants and raves, we are loving ourselves more than Christ. And nothing about us is displaying His Spirit. I believe we have an incredible opportunity as Christians to display Christ to the world like never before through social media. But we are wasting it. Because we care more about being heard than proclaiming Christ. We act like victims and look for every way possible to get offended. "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another." No wonder they don't know.  

God's Word gives us wisdom, even for social media. Over the past few years, God has used the following verses to teach, convict and correct me when it comes to social media. I share out of love, not out of contempt.

-As much as it is up to me, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)
Please. Stop fighting and arguing. If you take notice of Paul's example, he was a master at engaging conversation and even speaking the truth without picking a fight. Facebook is no place to argue positions or to set each other straight. We spend so much time fighting each other. Do you realize that the lost can read your fight? And posting statuses? If you're fighting with a friend, let's just please stop the passive aggressive posting and learn some healthy conflict resolution skills. Further, if the world does something you don't like, say make a red cup or pass a law, just pause before posting. Paul responded the way he did to those who opposed him because he was guided by the Holy Spirit. We would be wise to just pause and pray first. Ask God, would this be wise? Will this help or hurt the name of Christ? Do you realize that you have people who follow you whose only frame of reference of Christians is what you post. Their eternity matters so much more than my voice being heard. As for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we don't have to fix them. If he or she posts something stupid let's just stop trying to diffuse their stupid by creating our own. Pray for him or her. Out of love not self-righteousness.  Trust me, I know. It makes me cringe too when a Christian posts something that is just off the wall or mean. Or different than my opinion. I want to scream too. And I want to fix it because I don't want those who don't know Christ to think that is how all of us are. In reality though, if I do try to fix it, I honestly just make it worse. Maybe they don't realize how it comes across. Maybe they had a moment of poor judgement. Maybe they have a perspective I need to consider. And yes they may be wrong. However. Let your life speak for itself. You are held accountable for you not them. God may lead you to graciously and lovingly send them a private message or have a face to face conversation to address it. And He may not. But public forum is not our place to resolve conflict with one another. In reality, it won't fix the problem but create a bigger one. And others are watching. We are a witness to others of the love of Christ simply by how we interact with each other on media outlets. 

-Turn the other cheek. (Matthew 5:39)
Can I just say that if Jesus didn't reply when falsely accused and walked to the cross, then I can keep my mouth shut. I can speak truth but do it in love. I can love my social media neighbor as myself. I do not have to get the last word. You do not have to prove your point. The way of Christ is to love others more than ourselves. That's the truth of the gospel. While we were still sinners Christ died for us. Because He loved us more than himself. He chose death so that we could have life. Somehow we've abandoned that when it comes to social media. We love ourselves so much more. We would rather make our point than pray for the other person. We would rather be heard than to hear the other person. We look on "them" with contempt rather than compassion. We want to be right rather than to know they are right with God. We love ourselves more than we love our neighbors on social media. I'm not talking about wavering from the truth of God's word. But nothing about our approach is like Christ. He saw people as sheep without a shepherd. Their posts and opinions show something deeper into their soul. If we would take our eyes off of ourselves and our hands off the keyboard, we might just see them as Christ does and be moved with compassion. God never separates truth and love. Why do we?

-Whatever is true....think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Ladies, this is for us. Stop getting jealous. When you see "her" post that appears as though her life is perfect, think about what is true. Your life isn't worse than hers. (Yes, that is a generality. I know there are always exceptions.) You don't need to get franctic and try to fix your life to make it look like hers. Your husband may not have bought you that awesome thing that hers did for her, you may not have gone on her awesome vacation and you may not have made those adorable Pinterest gifts. Breath. It's just ok. Does your husband faithfully provide for you? Does he show his love in the quiet mundane of life? Think about the truth and loveliness of that. When we dwell on "these things" it keeps our minds from places they don't need to go. There was a time when I would post all of these family projects we would do. If I'm honest, I was probably posting out of insecurity I was dealing with and not even realizing it. I truly thought I was just sharing, not at all intending to brag. However, after a couple of other moms commenting on what a better mom I was than them ( I am so just not a better mom), I stopped with those posts. Because how I make her feel matters more than how I feel. And sweetie, your worth is so much more than the number of likes you get. Think about what is true-you are created and loved by God. That is the only opinion that matters. Stop dwelling on the approval of others. We have allowed social media to gauge the quality and value of our lives. Jesus has already determined that. Further, maybe we should use this verse as our rule of thumb when choosing whether or not to post something: Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell {post} on these things.

-Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought. (Romans 12:3)
Do not be wise in your own opinion. (Proverbs 3:7; Isaiah 5:21)
Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus... (Philippians 2:5)
One of  the blessings and curses of social media is that everyone has a right to an opinion.  The problem is that we all think our opinions are right. I think we need to go back to third grade and learn the difference between fact and opinion. As Christians, we need to follow the example of Christ. If He didn't think more highly of Himself when He had every right, then I absolutely do not have the right to think that everything I think is right. We are so arrogant. We act as if we have it all figured out. We think our thoughts and opinions must be heard. As Christians we have become victims in our mindset. We get so easily offended and call it injustice. Blogs are one of those things that I love and I hate. There can be so much to learn from others. And believe me, I need all the help I can get. What I notice, though, is that blogs have become our source of wisdom and information. We let the blogger do our thinking for us. Even the good ones. Don't let some blogger be the voice of God in your life. Read it and examine it and pray about it. And if you're the writer or poster, please remember that there is so much pride in thinking that what I think is right. Can I just pause right here and ask you to internalize that rather than think of "that other Christian" who needs to hear that? Christian, none of us have anything figured out. If we did, He wouldn't be God. Humility is the greatest sign of maturity in a Christian. So let's just get over ourselves and how smart and enlightened and spiritual we think we are. Christ took on the form of a servant. Let's start asking ourselves how social media can be used as a tool to serve God, not ourselves.

-Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. (Colossians 3:17)
Let's use the incredible opportunity of our time of being connected to the world for the glory of God. God placed us in this time and place for a purpose. He planned for us to live in this social media culture. What satan means for evil God means for good. Paul meant everything. As Christians in the 21st century, it means social media. We cannot rant and rave about how unjustly we are treated and our rights. First, because Christ never did. He says to expect to be hated. So can we just get over that? Secondly, if it's not displaying Christ then it's not glorifying Christ. The purpose for our lives is to bring Glory to God. Including social media. Instead of using it for your own personal platform, how about let's try leveraging it for the glory of our good and gracious God?  

-Set your minds on things above. (Colossians 3:2)
We get so lost and caught up in life. Does proving your point on a post eternally matter? I do not like the super spiritual guilt driven posts, you know the ones: you better post this or you're denying God. What about everything else I'm posting? What about my attitude and actions outside of that post? I can post all the "spiritual" posts I want but if the rest of my life and my posts are not matching up then there is a problem. If we do have a mind fixed on eternity, we will post out of love. Not out of anger or debate or proving our point, no matter how right we think we are. We will pause before we post. We will care more about people than positions and posts. We will see their soul not just their stance. There is so much more to life. Most of our social media problems would be resolved if we just lived this way. Eternally minded. One day, I'm going to be gathered around the throne of God most high. I want as many people there with me as possible. Really, that's just all that matters. 

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to "stir one another to love and good deeds" not strife and conflict and contempt. Let us begin to use social media to encourage one another, to bring unity in our diversity of thought and most importantly to make much of our Savior.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Valentine's Day: A Word to the Wives

*This is a long post because it was originally written as a devotion for the Monthly Mom's Ministry I lead at church.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Harvesting Happy Holidays....A Simple Thanksgiving Tradition!

I actually came up with something before and without Pinterest! There are so many times that I think, "How did I not think of that all ready?" when pinning. The other day, I was looking at our family's favorite Thanksgiving tradition and thought, "Wait! I thought of this-5 years ago! I had an idea without Pinterest...." Yes, the happy dance proceeded then I gained control of myself. Anyway, it's nothing earth shattering, but when I say that my family loves this tradition, I mean they love it! We began this tradition in 2009; it's simply a Thanksgiving Tablecloth. I am a tradition junkie, just ask my family. Traditions are what bring delight and memories to childhood. They bond our hearts as a family. For our Thanksgiving Tradition, we had been simply making a Thankful List, but as it is typical with me, I knew I could come up with something a little better. I suppose I could have made a binder to keep up with our annual list. That just didn't seem as fun, though. I honestly cannot remember the moment this idea popped into my brain, but I knew it would work perfectly for what I was wanting to accomplish: something that would be multi-functional as decoration, displaying my kids' handwriting and hearts as they grow, would constantly have the reminder of "Thanks" throughout the month, and finally would create a not so ordinary, yet simple tradition for us to enjoy together. The Thanksgiving Tablecloth has worked wonderfully and this weekend we will add 2013 to our Tablecloth. In the words of Veggie Tales, "A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart" and our hearts are truly, deeply happy as we sit and recall God's bountiful blessings. I hope this sparks an idea for a simple tradition that your family can enjoy during this holiday that is often passed by.

Here's a picture of our tablecloth (please overlook my pitiful writing-my sister took all of that skill and left me with none!)

I bought a cheap solid cream tablecloth for around $10 at Walmart (in 2009) and I already had paint pens in my craft supplies.

First, I (meagerly) added our family name and a verse to the center of the tablecloth. Each year we begin by reading the previous years' lists (I think this is our favorite part!). Then we go to work! Each year, we pick a spot, I write the year then we begin writing our lists under the year, using paint pens. It is very simple, but we share so much joy hearing each others list of Thanks.

I hope this inspires you to begin a simple Thanksgiving Tradition. And remember, keep is simple! Simple makes it special not stressful!

Thursday, October 31, 2013


A few weeks ago, I had the incredible joy of visiting the Arkansas State Maximum security prison for women. I must admit, I went with a, I’m coming to bless you, attitude. Which might sound good. But that’s just a pretty way to say, I think I’m better than you so I’m going to grace you with my presence. I did feel good about myself. It didn’t take long for my heart to be completely humbled. About 5 minutes after entering the prison. The first thing I heard was from one of the inmates who shared her testimony of the life changing grace of God. “I was in prison before I ever came to prison.” And she could stand before us, wearing a white jump suit, but clothed in the righteousness of Christ and say, “I did murder someone. And I’m thankful God brought my rebellious heart to this physical prison because it’s where the prison of my heart was set free. I am thankful to be in prison because it’s where I found Jesus.” Before you even let your thoughts go here, let me tell you that this was the most real testimony I have ever heard. Do not let yourself think for a second that this was some jailhouse religion. This was from the heart of the most joy-filled woman I have ever met. A woman who had already been in prison for 15 years and would be there until the day she dies. And she is content. At peace. Simply because she has Jesus. She wasn’t a victim. She didn’t try to justify or blame. She owned her sin. There were about 10 of these women who shared the same story and the same Grace. And I was completely humbled at the reality of my own heart. My heart that, in all honestly, becomes so discontent with the most petty things. And I was overwhelmed by this thought, I wonder if Jesus looks at my heart and says, “you white washed tomb?”
What I realized is that we are all prisoners of something. Pride. Appearance. Approval. Prominence. Prestige. Privilege. Perhaps us “free world-ers” are even more imprisoned than these prisoners. Because we have “goodness” to hide behind. It struck me that day how much more us good church going, pew sitting Christians are like the Pharisees than Christ-followers. And these real life prisoners? Well, they are so much more like the woman at the well. And the adulterous woman. And the Mary who washed His feet with her hair. Sure, their sin was more visible. And detestable. But they knew they weren’t good. They had nothing to hide behind. Their shame is what drove them to Jesus. But we would rather stay hidden behind our self-conceived goodness. So we miss Him. Because we are too busy looking at her with disgust just to feel better about ourselves. I didn’t murder anyone. I didn’t commit adultery. I cannot imagine how she got herself into that state of sin. Yet, I’m the one to miss Jesus and she’s the one to experience Him. Because she is desperate and I’m good with good. I am a prisoner to my pride. And this real life prisoner, she is a prisoner to nothing. She is free. She is free because she knows she has nothing to hide behind but Him. And she isn’t trying to, unlike me.

This verse has been constantly coming to mind since this day, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.” Yet I realize, I am comfortable in my captivity. I would rather hide behind my pride than admit my mess. Those of us who sit in our pews, in our pretty clothes, with our hearts dirty with pride, don’t realize that we are blind to our need for Him. Don’t you see? We are still trying to be depend on ourselves. Our good. When there is none. He alone is good. We either clothe ourselves in His good, rejoicing in His grace, or we are still enslaved. My eyes were opened the day I visited these free women in prison. They were opened to myself. To us. Christ exchanged my disgraceful state for His goodness. Yet, I am still trying to be good and good enough. These women? They walked in His goodness. They were free and I’m the one who is the prisoner.

I know this brings the question, “Aren’t I supposed to live a life that is good?” I’m so busy trying to look good and what they realized is that Christ makes me good. The goodness of my life is based on who I am in Christ. I do not have to earn “goodness” because it is based entirely upon Him. Our pretty little lives result in the same thing it did with the Pharisees. You look at the captives set free by Christ. You look at those who encountered the life changing power of Christ. Those who came to Him sinners and walked away saints. They came admitting their mess and realizing their need. The Pharisees were so blinded by their “good” that they didn’t see how desperately dead their hearts were. They were trying to make outward appearances be their good. Those who truly encountered Christ allowed Him to get to their heart and their lives were radically changed as a result. And that’s the point. Looking good doesn’t make me good. That’s what I learned that day in prison. This life in Christ is not about living a “good” life. It is living from the overflow of my changed heart. That alone will result in a life that gives glory to Him. Otherwise, I’m just a white-washed tomb.

Here’s the reality of things. There are no felonies and misdemeanors in God’s justice system. We are all a mess and it’s all death sentence. We just don’t have to pay our penalty because we’ve been pardoned by an Innocent Person. My reality is that I don’t really have any goodness to hide behind. But I am covered by His perfect goodness. That’s what these women understood. That is their freedom; I am not good, but He is. They choose Grace and I choose my self-constructed good. What a lie. What a pity. And I just wonder how many hearts I’ve murdered with my unkind words and condemning attitudes?

Hearing 200 prisoner’s praise with the following words was life-changing. And they gave me the greatest glimpse of the work of Christ:
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more. Where grace is found is where You are. And where You are, Lord, I am free. Holiness is Christ in me…. (Matt Maher, I Need You)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

God is Real

God is real. This thought captivates my heart as I sit in my quiet house this morning. God is real. Oh sure, I know this intellectually. I know this in my heart. But I really do not know that I know this fully. If I did, how differently I would live and think. Move and breathe. 

Last week, my husband said to me, “I’m learning to look at things from Heaven’s throne rather than my perspective.” I’ve been thinking about that. And this reality, God is Real, is invading me. You see, I struggle. I struggle with “being in the ministry” being enough. I’ve sacrificed enough. Given enough. Believe me, I have my laundry list of what I’ve given up, so I’m not willing to give up more. More comfort. More strongholds. More idols. More other than Him affections. More sacrifice. I’ve gone far enough with Him. And I’ve stopped Him from asking more of me. I like my comforts and my control. But I’m learning I have none. Because of this thought. God is real. Every hero I have in His Word knew this. It occurs to me, they were no hero’s at all. They simply knew this one thing. God is real. Abraham left and sacrificed. Joseph. Moses. Nehemiah. David. Hannah. Daniel. Ruth. Mary. Peter. Paul. Matthew. John. They didn’t need to know anything else because this one reality removes everything else from our hearts. Every fear. Every doubt. Every limitation and stipulation we put on Him. Everything. God asked of them what was most dear to them and they said yes to Him.

God is real. In my gut, I know it. For some reason this, real as the chair I’m sitting in, reality changes everything. Suddenly, I see the places of my heart I’m holding. And He’s not reigning. And it overwhelms me to realize that I really don’t believe He is real. If I did, I would hold on to nothing. Nothing but Him. The control I want to have of my life. From the throne of this Real God, that is stripped away. And the status and success and approval and validation I seek, they are merely dead idols created by my human hands. In my church going, ministry living, good girl life, how have I missed this? How am I just learning this? Of course, this pastors’ wife knows God is real. I’ve given up my life for Him. But for the first time, I see that in my own heart, I do not live as if He really were real. Because in my heart, there is still dead. There is still comfortable captivity. My soul has been saved but my heart has not been whole. In my heart, I’ve been the rich young ruler. Those things that I hold most dearly. I’ve let those other things reign where only He should. He has said to my heart, let it go. You know so much about Me, have lived for Me, given up for Me, but I am not fully Lord. So these other than Me things that you most treasure, give them up. And I’ve said no. Just like the rich young ruler whom I’ve chastised so many times. In the depths of my heart, I have not believed that He is real. Otherwise, I would let go. I would walk away. I would give it up because this is Christ, the real God, calling me. But I’d rather have my dead gods. 

Just. Stop. God is real. Can you even begin to wrap your mind around that?  The God who spoke and it was. The God who died so you could live. He is real. The most real thing that exists. Of course He is, but do you really live that way in your heart? Where you worry and fear? Where you have stones of anger and rocks of bitterness? Where you try to control or impress? Where you still seek the approval and the favor of others? Where it matters to you how you measure up to the success and status of those around you? Where opinions dictate your decisions? Because if He really is real, in your gut, that all becomes dead. This one reality makes your heart whole and wholly set on Him. He is real. And this throne view of life changes how I live. If He says go, I go. Because He is God and He is real and I see life from His view not my own. Staying would be death and going is life. I cannot stay. If He says give. Serve. Sell. Sacrifice. Get into the mess of others. Love to the death of self. Comfort becomes uncomfortable. Safe becomes dangerous because He is not Lord of safe.   

In my mind, surrender has been to a circumstance. I’ve lived in fear of what that circumstance might be. So I’ve said No. Enough. But surrender is to Him. This real God. That’s what I’ve missed. The rich young ruler walked away because He did not know that He is real. Surrender was about a thing not the real God. When surrender is to Him, our response is never, No. It’s never, I won’t go that far. I won’t give up that attitude. That sin. That desire. That approval. That comfort. Even the good things, the things I think I’m supposed to do as a good girl, if they have dethroned Him and become my comfort, my security, my focus, my pride, are dead gods reigning the throne of my heart. When those other than Him things matter more, He is not really real to me. But when He truly comes alive in my heart, all else dies. And my answer is Yes. Because He is real.