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...

When Glory was displayed in the disgrace

Once upon a time, a young girl named Mary found favor in the eyes of God. And, on the brink of one of history’s greatest leaps of faith, this girl said simply: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) Mary thus entered into the plan of God with a bowed head, willing to carry within her the presence of God in order to birth His glory into flesh. Yet, in Matthew’s gospel, we get a wider picture of the drama surrounding Mary – when she was found to be pregnant and unmarried. In these words, we start to understand the cost of Mary’s surrender. We begin to see the human heart exposed in the midst of divine work. “And her husband, Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” (Matthew 1:19) Shame. Disgrace. Maybe even a touch of scandal. An unmarried girl, suddenly pregnant. What did people think? Did they jump to conclusions, whisper about her, share their disapproval? And we’re left to wonder – why would a holy, perfectly pure God choose to use this scarlet thread of disgrace while weaving His eternal plan? “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 Prophecy declared it, yes, but certainly God Almighty could have engaged a staggering variety of means, outside of such a publicly disgraceful situation, to accomplish it. Truth is, I think we are all left a bit shaky at this unfolding – broken pieces of moral standards...

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 Glory was birthed in a barn

“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:6-7 There, Salvation was nestled among animal food. And, we wonder over God, this God who stepped off His throne and into human skin, laying Himself into a mere animal trough. Glory Himself was birthed into baby cheeks and tiny hands by a young, scandal-surrounded girl. How is it that we find the King of all in such a place? How is it that the Almighty God, the great I Am, bends Himself into a world of labor pains and dirty animals? And, it’s at times like this that I find myself both awestruck and inexpressibly moved by the story of Jesus’ birth. Of course, it’s a familiar one, and most of us can see the story line from miles away. But what consistently moves my heart? It’s the common. Each year, I find myself analyzing the details, trying to imagine what it must have felt like to witness the great and awesome God stepping into the everydays of some simple folks. Because, it’s natural for us to attach the concepts of splendor and power and mind-blowing radiance to our God. We exalt Him. We praise Him for the attributes we can hardly understand – His sovereign ways, His unsearchable wisdom, His unfailing love. His stands far above us, and we marvel, speechless at His majesty. Therefore, it is not without near bewilderment that we...

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...

Christmas without Shame

    “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3.17 NIV). Every Christmas, I feel God giving me a personal theme of what He wants to resonate in my soul for that season. This Christmas, God is practically shouting to me, “Therefore, there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus” (emphasis added) (Romans 8.1 NIV). Why is this Truth so difficult for us to grasps? Why do I still wake up every morning having to engage in a mind battle to capture every little negative thought that comes into my mind and bring it to obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10.5). “You didn’t work hard enough yesterday.” “You said that stupid thing to your friend.” “What makes you think you can be a Christian communicator?” “You messed up as a wife, mother, friend, daughter, etc.…” Each morning, it’s like Satan is just waiting for me to wake up, so he can throw accusation at me. The funny thing is that no matter how perfect I try to be, he will always find some way to accuse and shame me. The Bible says that our accuser is ALWAYS at work shaming us (Revelation 12.10). I would always grin and bear it until God showed me recently that I was so busy playing defense to the enemy’s schemes that I was losing my offensive advantage. Every Christian has the offensive advantage through Christ. “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater...

The Power of Your Words

“Your words have power…” We have all heard that statement a million times. We have all had this information presented to us before through; sermons, books, devotions, blogs, and countless testimonies.  I feel like, for the most part, we have blocked out the truth behind that statement because of the responsibility it carries. When we realize that we are responsible we also realize that we may have to change. Change is often scary and requires effort so for most people it is easier to block out the truth and just not deal with reality. How do you speak about yourself? Do you say statements like; “I am so sick and tired,” “I am going to just die,” “I can’t do this anymore,” “I am ugly,” “I am stupid.” The negative statements we speak on a daily basis create mindsets and a belief system that we begin to build our lives around. For instance, if you are constantly saying, “I am not smart enough” or “I am stupid” your mind will begin to believe it as truth creating a mindset that will cause you to start to behave the way you believe. Your words create truth in your mind. God created your brain to believe that you speak the truth. So when your brain hears you speaking things like, “I am ugly” or “I am stupid,” then it actually believes what you are saying. Your brain creates belief systems all the time. It is constantly filing data. The data that you install in your own mind creates the reality that you live in. It is a viscous cycle. Your negative...

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...

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...