When, God?

Then I said, “Until when, Lord?” (Isaiah 6:11a) Great question! This follows some instruction from God after Isaiah commits, “Here I am. Send me.” God replies with words that include: Go, Say, Keep. But until when, God? When will I know when to stop what you’re telling me right now? When will I know when to move on from this job, begin a new project, reach out to someone else, and so on? God’s work is constant. There are unchanging threads that run through it, yet specifics alter along the way. Following him looks different in our lives over time. Maybe it’s not as complicated as it feels: Until when? Forever. Until when? For a little while. Until when? I will let you know. If you want to know “when,” you might have to listen. It’s not easy, but it’s...

When Glory was the hope of the humble

The heavy darkness of oppression had blanketed the Hebrew people for years. They ached for deliverance, for a mighty king to rise up and free them. Then, one ordinary day, an angel stepped in and promised a Messiah to a young, unmarried girl named Mary. And, startling enough, this world-redeeming King would grow within her virgin womb. Unbounded hope and raw delight must have filled Mary – that the Most High had knit her Messiah in her being. The fullness of God had been implanted in her and would grow to save her people! Yet, the Bible doesn’t tell us about exuberant announcements or joyful parties to welcome this prophecy fulfillment. Simply, she and Joseph continued on in faithful living, quietly proceeding with life and customs. In truth, the Bible says remarkably little about the pregnancy, delivery, or even the rearing of this God-child, Jesus. And, I wonder if that isn’t the point. Because, although they found favor in God’s eyes, this story could never, ever be about them. Yet, if there were ever grounds for spiritual hierarchy, it would be now – for who else could claim the status of being chosen by the Almighty Creator of the universe to birth and raise Jesus Christ, the Messiah? Was this couple ever tempted to insert themselves in this divine plan? Did they ever beat down pride, or wonder if being faithful to God’s ways really applied to them – after all, their child was God, prophesied by angels, born of immaculate conception. As far as we can read, their response seems to lack the stench of pride; it’s nearly impossible...

And all the other little ships…

“And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:35-39 (emphasis mine) Other little ships. I had not read any commentaries, blogs, newsletters, sermons or books on those three words; other little ships, but during morning devotions, it seemed as if they literally leapt off the page at me; why had I not noticed it before? Had I ever heard a minister talk about the other little ships? I don’t recall any, but surely in my lifetime of being in The Church, I surely had heard someone mention them. Why now, Lord? What is so important about all the other little ships? Setting the stage, for some know the story but others may not. Jesus was asleep in the boat when a fierce storm came up. The disciples were terrified because the boat was full of water and it seemed that all hope was gone. When they finally go to get Jesus (must admit here I do not understand why they wait until the boat is completely filled with water before they wake the Creator...

When God Isn’t There

Picture this: You’re at a party. The room is crowded with noisy yet familiar voices calling out. People are laughing, telling jokes, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. There are at least five people within arms length that you should feel comfortable reaching out to but you can’t. You feel alone and trapped. In fact, no matter how familiar a person is, you feel alone in life. Maybe it’s because you’re a minister who is struggling through a broken marriage, trying to find healing without compromising a reputation (or more). Perhaps the reason you feel so alone is because you just lost your best friend due to an ugly argument. For some, they may be harboring a secret so deep, so breathtaking that the idea of small talk scares them, for fear that somehow that secret will slip out. And for others, it’s a dark, indescribable wall of depression that separates them from their loved ones. Maybe it’s your past that resurfaces in your mind every six months, crippling you with guilt. We all find ourselves alone at some point in life for some reason if not several. A few weeks ago I was just coming back from my beautiful honeymoon. I was so excited to be in our first home together. With this marriage came a specific transition I knew would be hard for both my daughter & I… her first, solo bedroom. I’ve been co-sleeping with my baby since the beginning. Not that a mom needs to excuse this but I just didn’t see Korey coming into our lives so quickly and quite frankly enjoyed the company of my...

How To Get Your Heart Right This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and yet if I’m being honest there are days in this season of life when it is just plain hard to be thankful. Shocking, I know. I shouldn’t be saying that to you, I should put on my Patty perfect pastor’s wife hat and pretend to have it all together…but, I just can’t do that anymore. You and I both know that being real with each other is so much healthier than some pretend story of how someone else’s life is more put together than yours. Plus, it is a reality that many can relate to right now. I can count my blessings, I can try to be positive, but let’s face it–life is hard sometimes and it’s not enough to know that fact in your head, you’ve got to give it time to get your heart. So, what are you supposed to do when you should have a heart of thanksgiving but your heart and your head aren’t talking to each other? That’s a great question and I’ve found some incredible wisdom for us right here in this verse; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 ESV Let’s dig right in because this is just too good to wait on…if we are anxious then chances are we aren’t going to have a heart of thanksgiving, will we? We’ll be, well…anxious. Worried, frazzled, distracted and trying...

Unapologetically

My daughter has a paint spinner. It pushes and flings colors in streaks and droplets. They puddle and spill over the edges, sometimes bleeding through the paper. The thrill of her work is that no two images will ever be the same. By design, neither will we. I am dormant in a bed of thorns. The unmistakable pounding in my chest, tightness in my throat has returned. Anxiety. Depression. Every single one of us can feel anxious: melancholy. Yet, to have it as a condition doesn’t require being shaken or stirred to wake it up. It comes from behind, squeezing the life out of precious moments, while you are strangely still physically present. You fidget and laugh, adrenaline rushing to your bones. You wipe your sweaty palms on your jeans as you change positions, hoping to relieve the dizziness and plaguing feeling to throw up. You wait out the moment, only to sink into a series of depressing afterthoughts about what happened. You wish you could control it…get rid of it. But, you can’t. I certainly couldn’t. That’s why I decided to get help. I began taking medication. Friend, if you’re suffering from anxiety and depression, I’m not offering advice on what to do. My message is simple. If you are struggling, you’re not alone. And, it’s going to be okay. “But you, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the {lifter of my head}…[Psalm 3:3 AMP] When we are not of sound mind, God keeps His complete word to us. He empowers us to live unapologetically where we are. THIS is the thrill of the...

Have you learned to rejoice?

 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) No, I do not rejoice always I did not rejoice when my daughter went to the emergency room. Five months later, there was no rejoicing when my husband took a trip there. The following year, when I took my own trip to the ER, there was no rejoicing. No, I did not rejoice when a friend’s husband walked out on her and their children. Rejoicing was nowhere to be found when I found out a dear friend was given a diagnosis of an invasive, aggressive cancer. In these moments, there was heartache. My head spun, and my emotions were a train wreck. But rejoicing? None was found in the middle of those moments. During the disagreements and disappointments in life? No, I do not rejoice. Seriously, Paul? Did Paul honestly mean to say we are to rejoice always, and to give thanks in all circumstances? Surely, he wrote that on a good day: a really good day. But alas, I have looked and I have studied, and I cannot find a loophole in Paul’s words. Trust me, I have tried. Paul, who was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, and imprisoned again, tells us to rejoice always, pray continually, and to give thanks in all circumstances. Do you know what this means? We are to rejoice, even on those hard, horrible days. And, we are to pray, not just during our morning quiet times. We are to give thanks in all circumstances. What? All circumstances? Yes, all means all. When...

What is my Reputation?

“I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.” 3 John 1:9 Ouch! This verse hits home. Would anyone want their reputation to be that they put themselves first? I can be selfish. I often seek the best seat, first crack at the food, or to be first in line. I fall so easily into the trap of thinking putting myself first is the way to be happy. That’s a lie! It’s one tool our enemy, Satan, uses to lead us away from Jesus. It feels like putting self first makes us happy because it does: momentarily. For the moment, we enjoy the comfort, recognition, or convenience self-promotion brings us. But what are the fruits over time? I have found that although I may enjoy indulging self at the time, my selfish cravings are never satisfied. It becomes a black hole that can’t be filled. Self always wants more. Self starts wanting to always be first. There is always another craving. I can’t think of a time that my flesh (as opposed to my spirit) was completely satisfied. Jesus said that anyone who wants to follow Him must deny him or herself daily. (Luke 9:23) Self-denial sounds painful. It doesn’t feel good. Paul goes on to say in Philippians 2:3 that we should consider others as better than ourselves and challenges us not to do anything from selfish ambition. This is the opposite of what the world teaches. But what are the results of living this way? Denying self may be painful for the moment, but choosing to...

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I’ve been thinking a lot about the promise in Psalm 139. Specifically, verses 13 and 14: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well. God’s ability to create infinitely beautiful things overwhelms me. I am left breathless by the majesty of the world around me. The intricate details on the wings of butterflies and flower petals completely amaze me. The sensation of warm sunshine on my skin in spring and cool breeze on my face in the fall remind me of the gentleness of my Creator. Waterfalls  are my favorite things in nature. I could sit at the base of a waterfall and listen to the crashing water, the birds, and all the other sounds of nature for hours. I love the smell of damp earth and decaying leaves. I love the way the sunlight dances through dense foliage. I love the way moss sways to the rhythm of the current. I love the contrast of a boulder’s roughness against the softness of my skin. All this gives me an indescribable sense of peace while at the same time reminding me of my own fragility compared to these majestically destructive forces of nature. So then, it stands to reason that I would celebrate Psalm 139. The same God that created all these wonderfully beautiful things that bring me such joy also created me…my inmost being…knit me together… actually took time and created… me. I believe that God created me exactly the way He wants me to be. It just doesn’t FEEL that way. I don’t feel fearfully...

A Fast from WHAT?

Judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13 It sat in my inbox for nearly a week. The title simultaneously stirred me and scared me. I knew I NEEDED to read it. I knew simply by the title of the email that I needed some time to prepare to enter this ring. The other day, I felt like a boxer prepared to fight. I opened the email. The email with the subject header: A Fast from Judgement. This could take awhile. We are undeniably a culture of JUDGEMENT and this was a challenge to fast from judgement. I was hoping for coffee. I was convicted not only to read it, but study what the Bible really says about it and take a long, hard look inward. It doesn’t take much to see that we’re caught up in it y’all and it’s making us a hot mess. It’s destroying what Jesus died for; the heart and soul of mercy and grace. Okay. It may be just me, but my judgement comes in the form of THOUGHTS and unspoken ATTITUDES rather than vocalized social media commentary and since it’s just between ME and JESUS, it’s justified, and considered discernment, right? Uh, no. It’s still merciless. It’s conclusive without ever seeking Jesus. The unspoken thoughts and attitudes are just as relevant, destructive and sinful as ones openly expressed and for me, a fast was in order to expose the weakness of my flesh and to draw me into Jesus. Let’s be clear. There seems to be some confusion, especially in a social media obsessed,...