Under Attack?

This week, I have been thinking a lot about “The Battle.” I’m not sure that Christians take Satan’s attack on us seriously. The Bible refers to him as a prowling lion, looking for someone to devour. I recently discovered some interesting things about how lions hunt. Today, I want to share something that especially caught my attention, perhaps because this is something I can personally identify with…. Antelopes, while physically fast, are mentally not quite so sprightly and pay perhaps too little attention to learning from their mistakes. Sound like anyone you know? Sure does sound like me. In some areas, I am consistently strong and victorious, but in others…not so much. I read about a group of Thomson’s gazelles crossing a patch of thick bush in order to drink. That particular patch of bush was bristling with lions who instantly grabbed and ate one of the gazelles. The rest of the gazelles scattered to safety, but over the next few hours the same group of gazelles, having apparently forgotten the recent murder of one of their companions, tried not once, but twice, more to get to the water using the SAME route…with predictable results. Oh my goodness! How many times do I walk right into Satan’s traps? Much like those poor gazelles, I forget all too quickly that my enemy is lying in wait. Scripture warns us, even commands us, what to avoid. We all have that one sin that we love: that one thing that we don’t want to let go of. If we let our guard down, Satan doesn’t have to put forth much effort to ensnare us … he simply lures...

Dieting and My Christian Walk

Recently, my hubby said something in a sermon about people being willing to give God some of ourselves, maybe even most of ourselves, but until we give Him EVERY-thing, we won’t experience Christianity the way God intended. So I’m thinking to myself, “That’s sounds a lot like dieting.” (Probably because I would REALLY like a huge plate of nachos for lunch instead of the baked fish waiting on me.) The comparison occupied my mind for several days as I adjusted to my new diet. Each time I made a poor food choice, I was reminded how similar choices hinder my Christian walk. What if I eat mostly “allowed” foods, and give up all the “bad” foods except maybe one or two? Can’t I give up the extra pizza and sugary soft drinks with friends, but eat a pack of cookies in private? I mean, giving up MOST of the foods that make me fat counts for something, right? Surely giving up MOST every “forbidden” food allows me the right to a nightly bowl of vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate syrup and candy coated sprinkles. Of course not! I have to wonder why so many of us do the same with our Christian walk. We give up most everything, only holding on to those “little” vices that we “deserve.” Surely giving up most of our sinful desires counts for something. Giving up MOST of our “old life” gives us the right to hang on to one little part of it, doesn’t it? I can have all the tools to get healthy. I can join a gym, carry a gym pass on my key ring, pack my gym bag...

Little Things

  Tonight was one of “those” nights when everybody is ill and getting on everybody else’s nerves. I think I actually heard my little one say that her brother was breathing her air. It was more than I could stand. I thought I was going crazy, but just before I told my family that I was moving to Montana to grow Dental Floss Bushes, the Holy Spirit reminded me of something…. Trust that what Scripture says is true…like when it tells me:  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) Does this verse apply when my children are fighting over stuff that they don’t even care about? Does this apply when everyone gets on my nerves, when my feelings are hurt, or I’m misunderstood? Does it apply when I’m just grumpy? The verse doesn’t say “Pray about the big stuff.” It says to present EVERY situation to God. So, tonight I did. I ordered my two precious bundles of joy to get their bottoms over to the couch “Before I count to three”, threatened to sell them to the circus if they so much as THOUGHT of touching each other, promised to tape the mouth of the next one that spoke a word, and, with both of them staring at me with that “yep, she’s finally lost it” look in their eyes….I prayed. For their benefit, of course. I prayed because they need to know how to ask for forgiveness.  I wanted God to...

Lift your Staff

Throughout Scripture, we see God using people who have tragic beginnings to bring about His plans. I was recently reminded that God uses us in spite of  (or even because of) our pasts. You can find this story in the Book of Exodus, but the very short version goes something like this: Moses was born an Israelite, adopted by an Egyptian Princess, murdered an Egyptian who was abusing an Israelite, was exiled to live the end of his life as a shepherd. Then God called Moses to service. God chose Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Pharaoh realizes that he has freed his workforce, and sends all his armies after them. The Israelites find themselves trapped in the wilderness between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army and they cry out for help… Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:15-18 (NIV) If the rod Moses carried was his shepherd’s staff, and many believe it was, then it represented his failure, his exile, and his fall from “Prince of Egypt” to “shepherd”. Satan would love for us to believe that our past makes us weak and useless to God....

As we approach Sanctity of Life Week…

January 15-22 is National Sanctity of Life Week. There will be much talk of the staggering statistics of abortion, and they ARE staggering… Over 56 million babies have been aborted since Roe Vs Wade. Statistically, 1 in 3 women have had an abortion. If you are one of the “1 in 3,” this is for you. Let’s face it, if the ONLY thing you wanted to do was go back in time and make a different choice, you couldn’t. Abortion is a permanent answer to a temporary situation that leaves you with the aftermath of a choice that you should never have needed to make. The fact that you chose to have an abortion is terrible. Letting Satan use that choice to keep you in bondage to shame and guilt for the rest of your life is an absolute travesty, and because we DON’T discuss it, Satan is able to whisper terrible things to your already battered heart. The truth of the matter is, what happened was and remains terribly wrong. Even so, there IS hope. For the non-Christian struggling with the aftermath of abortion, please know this… Forgiveness is available to you. Healing is possible. You CAN be restored. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all our sin. That includes all sexual sin and abortion. Nothing you have done is beyond His power to forgive and nothing done to you is beyond His ability to heal and restore. If you are searching for “something” to fill the aching and longing in your restless soul, that “something” is Jesus. Only He can quiet the demons you face. For the Christian....

My prayer for you this Christmas

As I prepared to write about the joy of Christmas, I was reminded of how HARD Christmas can be. I want all the family together. I want to give amazing gifts. I want to prepare mouthwatering recipes that will be requested for years to come. I want…well, I want “perfect.” Thing is, life’s not perfect. Families certainly aren’t. As if a “perfect” family Christmas wasn’t enough of a challenge, there is so much to DO in December: Christmas plays and concerts, visiting Santa, Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, company dinners and Christmas parades. The list of things to do and places to be is endless. Now, add to ALL that the social stress that comes with living in a country where not everyone celebrates the birth of Jesus. Christians are offended when stores promote “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”  We remind everyone that CHRISTmas is about CHRIST, but do we really believe that? Have we bought into the world’s version of Christmas? I’m afraid we have. I think that we have made Christmas about family, Santa, gifts and feasts. I think that we celebrate Christmas just like “the world” does…. and, I think that is the real root of all the stress and anxiety we feel at Christmas. Maybe you’re thinking “Not me. I know that Christmas is about Jesus.” If you aren’t sure where you stand on this,  here are the questions I asked myself earlier this week: If there was no tree and no twinkling lights, would it still feel like Christmas? If there were no presents, would it still feel like Christmas? If there was no family, would it still feel like Christmas? If ALL you had was...

A Season of Joyful Thankfulness and Deep Gratitude

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) November comes with all sorts of opportunities to express thankfulness. The things at the top of my “Things I’m Thankful For” list are not surprising. They include salvation, family, friends, church, home, and career.  These have not changed in years and I doubt they will change in the future. However, the things further down my list have changed significantly as time has passed. For example, my parents’ divorce ranks high on the list now. For most of my life, I considered myself and my family  damaged beyond repair because my parents don’t love each other. Divorce broke our family. That is for certain. Divorce is NOT God’s plan…also for certain. Even so, I have grown to be thankful, not for my parents’ divorce, but for what God did in spite of it and through it and even because of it. He gave me two sets of parents who love me dearly and four sets of grandparents who do as well. He gave me siblings, nieces and nephews I’d not have otherwise. While my parents’ divorce is something that caused me pain for years, I eventually saw the blessings that God has given me because of it and, while I would love for my parents to have had  a “happily ever after,” I have become deeply grateful for the family I’ve been given as a result of their divorce. The deep gratitude I feel for my parents’ divorce is very different from the joy-filled thankfulness I feel for my family and friends....

“Shower the People You Love With Love”

Last month I wrote about Tyler, who was killed in a car accident in August. We buried him on a Monday. On Tuesday, a childhood friend took his own life. On Wednesday, my friend Jane lost her battle with congestive heart failure. That was a hard week. My heart still hurts. My heart hurts because Tyler felt unloved and unpopular while he was living. He wasn’t here to see the outpouring of love in the days after his death. I wish he’d known how many people loved him. Jane and I worked together for almost fifteen years. She was proud to be a Jesus follower and always ready to share her faith. The day she died, our office was filled with stories about her strong faith and infectious laugh.  She was an encourager, helpful and dependable. She was a tremendous asset to our office. Many of my coworkers said they wish they’d let her know these things. Now they can’t. Riley took his life. This absolutely wrecks my soul. What hopelessness he must have felt to think that death was the only way to soothe his heart. And I wonder… did he know Jesus? That question steals my breath. His family’s social media is full of memories of Riley’s smile, of his sweetness, of the mark he left on people’s lives, and of how very much he will be missed. Did he know that so many people loved him? We spend so much time looking at what needs to be fixed in people. We focus on how they disappoint us or let us down. Too many times, it isn’t until someone dies that we realize their value, their strengths, their gifts, and how...

Our Mission Field

Brian (my oldest) and Tyler are seniors. Tyler works at Sonic and the only time I see him these days is when I go for a half-price milkshake, but there was a time when he was a big part of my life. Tyler and Brian played little league baseball together when they were boys. Tyler lives with his grandfather just down the street from us, so many times the boys would ride to and from baseball together. After baseball, they’d climb trees and race bikes and do whatever little boys do on Saturday afternoons. In Brian’s words, they were “tight.” Now, Brian had a system when he was little. When he realized that one of his friends didn’t know Jesus, he’d invite him to spend the night on Saturday so they could go to church with us on Sunday. He’d just keep inviting him to spend the night until we had opportunity to talk to them about Jesus. This was easy with Tyler because he usually came home with us after baseball anyway. Eventually, we’d pick Tyler up for church when he didn’t spend the night and, when my kids decided it was cool to ride the church bus, the bus picked Tyler up too. His mom was deployed back then, so when Tyler got saved, we waited until she could get leave to come home for him to be baptized. It’s amazing to me how things worked out… all because our boys just “happened” to be on the same little league team. When the boys hit junior high, Tyler went one way and Brian another, but Tyler is one of several boys that hold a special place in my heart because...

Why do “good” people suffer while “bad” people prosper?

Recently, a co-worker gave me a wonderful perspective on this dilemma. Maybe the seemingly unfairness of “bad people” appearing to be blessed while “good people” suffer is evidence of God’s love for those who do not know Him. MAYBE He is allowing unsaved people to be blessed now because HE truly understands how terrible hell is and knows that their eternal fate will be horrendous. MAYBE  He knows that the only joy they will have will be in this life and so He, in His abounding love, allows them joy and success here on earth. Likewise, He truly understands how utterly incomprehensibly amazing Heaven will be and MAYBE He allows the saved people to suffer here because He knows that their faith in Him through trials will lead others to faith in Him. He sent Jesus to die so that we could be saved from Hell; it makes sense to believe that He would allow His children to suffer so that others would come to know Him. Besides that, He also knows that they will spend eternity in perfect peace, comfort, and joy, forgetting the troubles of this life in an instant.  If we really believe that Heaven, hell and eternity are real, then we must believe that this life is a mere blip in time and neither the blessings nor troubles in this life will compare to what we experience for eternity. If we, as Christians, truly believe that Heaven, hell, and eternity are real, then we should be wrecked over people not choosing to live for Jesus, rather than lamenting the seeming lack of justice of this life.  It is natural to be discouraged by the...