What Will You Give?

Easter Week Easter is a few short days away. We will worship on Good Friday and rejoice on Easter Sunday. We know the story: Jesus came, was crucified, and rose again. The grave would not be his final resting place. No, Jesus would take his rightful place at God’s right hand. Days before Jesus’ crucifixion, religious leaders were yet again challenging Jesus’ authority. It is here, in the days before the cross, I have been challenged. Give It Away My husband and I are inconsistent about reviewing our budget. We know our expenses, and they do not change much month to month. I know how much to pull out for the upcoming month. We have tried, oh we have tried, with spreadsheets and conversations, to be diligent in this task. I promise we have. But, we are consistently inconsistent. There is one category, and only one, we have agreed will only see an increase: our giving. We give above the ten percent, but I wonder, are we giving as much as we could? Learn From A Widow And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4) She gave all she had to live on: two coins worth very little. Yet, to the Savior? She gave a...

Why It’s Important To Forgive, Even When…We Don’t Want To

I can almost hear the sighs of exasperation. You are probably thinking to yourself, “seriously, she’s going to talk to me today about forgiveness? She has no idea what I am going through, what’s been done, what’s been said or how far off track things have gotten lately.” You know what, you are absolutely right! I don’t know what you are going through or have been through. I don’t know how bad it is gotten in your world lately, nor do I need to because I can tell you this, it has been a doozy of a run in my world too. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I have stamped my foot (a lot here lately) and cried out to God that this just isn’t “fair”. This is just as hard for me to write as it is for you to read because I have been wrestling with God over this one and here’s what I’ve come up with. but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 ESV (underscoring mine) But. I never thought about it that way. But..if you do not, neither will your Father. But…I don’t want to. I still hurt from it. Oh my friend, you have no idea how much this pains me to write, but here it goes…we need to forgive much because we have been forgiven much. There, I said it. This is not to say that you agree with what has happened, but that you are cancelling that debt against you. When we hold on to that anger, resentment,...

Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up, Part 4

I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen you may believe. John 14:29 Jesus repeatedly declares “so that you may believe.” He continually reminds us to submit. We choose to follow over and over again. We choose to believe Him over and over. We choose to trust Him over and over. Faith isn’t a one-time commitment. We don’t get to check the box and move on. Knowing the pure meaning of submission is important to our lives. It reflects the truth. It makes a way in and for life. It’s persistent, just like God Himself. On a regular basis, do you fully take advantage of Jesus’ reminders to believe? How well do you listen to what He has told you? What then? Are we any better? Not at all! For we have previously charged that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin. Romans 3:9 Submission positions us to see the truth alongside hope. We don’t arrogantly claim we’ve received, accepted, or achieved something others haven’t. Humility prompts us to want what we have for others. If we ever point out a lacking, it is only because we see our own and can encourage someone. We can help them see the possible hope. But the moment we let pride taint our attitudes or efforts, we weaken. Submission strengthens us. When have you thought yourself better than someone else, particularly in faith? How did you move on, or how can you now? Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We...

Are you ready for action?

Prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13, NASB) Peter is my favorite. I know, we should not have favorites. But alas, I have one. Of all the apostles, Peter is my favorite. While many people gravitate towards John or Paul, I find myself drawn to Peter. Peter, the fisherman turned apostle. He left it all to follow Jesus. Peter, the first to proclaim Jesus the Son of God. Yes, he was the one who walked on water towards Jesus. Passionate Peter who declared he would die in Jesus’ place, then denied knowing his divine friend. Although his foot was often in his mouth, Peter was often the spokesman for the disciples. The day after Pentecost, Peter is the first to preach. I am drawn to his passion. I read through Scripture and find myself shaking my head as Peter, once again, speaks without thinking. His zeal is admirable, but his words often tumble out in a jumbled, thoughtless mess. Yet, I also see the fierceness of his love for his Savior. Peter rejoiced in the day of his death because he would then be reunited with Jesus. He asked to be crucified upside down because he claimed he was unworthy to be crucified in the way Jesus was. Peter, the lowly fisherman became a mighty fisher of men. I too find my foot squarely in my mouth. I too have spoken with passion and vigor while forgetting the flesh and blood standing before me. Like Peter,...

Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up -Part 3

Pure Submission: Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up is now available at Amazon and PurePurpose.org, but we’re giving you a taste here at ICD! Through a series of posts, you’ll get several taste tests to whet your appetite for pure submission. Set the junk aside! Such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites. They deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words. Romans 16:18 It’s easy to declare things about “such people.” We separate ourselves from them, because we can always find someone who does something more or less than we do: whichever we need in order to prove that at least we have not done that, gone that far, stooped that low! Only “such people” would do that. But we are such people. As soon as we think of ourselves as better than someone else, we let pride get a foothold. We can see people’s weaknesses with humility: wanting to help, being willing to pray, refusing to gossip or judge. If we don’t, we’ll be faced  with the reality that we are “such people” too. Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my adversaries; make Your way straight before me. Psalm 5:8 In our submission, we trust God to lead us well. We don’t insist that He lead us the way we want to go, the most convenient way, or anything else that places confines around the way He leads. After all, that’s not submission. Submission is trust in His authority, wisdom, and guidance. In what areas do you doubt God’s authority, wisdom, or guidance? What...

This year, I quit

And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. 12 Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” (Genesis 18:10b-12). Sarah laughs as God tells Abraham of a son that would be born to them in the coming year. Upon hearing God’s words of a promised heir, old Sarah laughs. The childbearing years had come and gone, yet God says she and Abraham, in their golden years, will conceive? How insane! How ludicrous! In her disbelief, she laughs. After denying she uttered a giggle, God confronts her. “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” No, nothing is too difficult. The next year, Isaac lays nestled in Sarah’s arms. The promised son has come. Sarah quit laughing. 74 Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:74-75) Peter: bold and passionate Peter. He had been warned. Jesus told Peter he would deny Jesus three different times. “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” Peter proclaimed. Yet there you stood, Peter, hours later. The rooster was crowing and three times you had denied Jesus. Peter peered into the empty tomb. He later saw Jesus stand again in their midst. While out fishing, Peter began throwing off his clothes and jumping into the sea...

Do The Little Stuff

I’ve learned something along the way — more often than not, it’s more important to do the little stuff as it is to do the big stuff. Yeah, the big stuff gets all the flash and glamour, but the little stuff…ahh, well, my friends that is where life is lived. We grow up with these great big plans to conquer the world, or at least move out of our parents homes, and those are great. I am a huge fan of big dreams and diving head first into the dreams and desires that God lays on our hearts, but something I’m learning along the way is this…the little stuff is pretty important too. It’s so easy to take our family and friends for granted. We’re busy, they’re busy, and we rationalize to ourselves that they “know” how much we love them. I mean, I’m sure we’ve told them at least once today, or maybe once this week. Or have we? Yes, words are a big deal and can make a big impact in encouraging those around us, but what if we took it a step further and started to be more intentional about doing the little things to show those that are important to us how special they are. I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. John 15:11-12 MSG One of my favorite books is the Five Love Languages book by Gary Chapman. It’s not a...

Being Branded by Jesus

  (mallory ingram photo credit) I’ve heard a number of missionary presentations, but two are written with permanent marker on my mind. One was from a young family living in the Middle East, another from the jungles of southeast Asia. I was in wonder of how their talks were marked up in a hundred different ways by the bold grace, mercy, and sustaining power of Jesus Christ. These missionaries were living in surrender to Him, a stunning picture with the signature of the Risen Savior all over it. Despite their humanity, they reflected the image of a lowly baby, coming to us without flashing lights or applause in order to serve in dirt, along the fringes of society, among the outcasts and the sinners, and in rebellion of the proud shackles of man-made religion. Beautiful. Although I was still mentally scrambling to accept the lack of bathroom facilities and surplus of language-learning challenges, I recognized the Jesus-like standard in their testimonies – the marks of sacrifice, humility, and abandonment of all for His sake. Likewise, in the midst of life, ministry, and missions here in the US, we are called to daily surrender to the markings of Jesus on our lives, all over us, in our speech, our relationships, our families, and our priorities. The marks are universal, for all who bear His name. It makes no difference if we minister in rural Iowa or a jungle village. But what does an equally stunning picture, branded by Jesus, look like in the USA – the land bursting with indoor plumbing, automatic ice makers, three-story homes, and super-sized orders? I’ll...

Grab Hold Of God’s Opportunities For You

Soaked, two kids were packed under my arms. When angry kids are in tow it’s never easy to move the cattle. Rain makes it even more precarious. So, I kept a singular focus on the car and ran with all my might. Little did I know that this “rain run” was set to show me how so often I run right past God’s opportunities for me. No sooner did I lock them into their car seats than I noticed my daughter’s pink boot was missing. Why can’t they keep their shoes on! Why does this always happen? Along our four-block mad dash, the stinkin’ boot was lost! I stood, in the rain, feeling like a sopping mess – and probably looking like one too. I wanted to give up. To shut down. To let the rain take control.  So, when I saw a grey shadow approaching, embarrassed, I kept my head down. I tried to divert my eyes. I wanted to hide under the car…until, I noticed something in his hands… …something pink. This man stepped into the rain – to minister to my pain. He saw my plight – and was determined to make things right. He wasn’t worried about personal gain – and he kept me sane. He transformed my about-to-lose-it-moment into an I’m-so-blessed-moment. Because he let go of convenience and stepped into rainy inconvenience, he made the difference. Because he looked beyond comfort, to see not his iPhone, his to-do list or his worries, but me, a struggling mom. Willing. Ready. Available to help. Am I this way? It got me to thinking. How often do I miss God’s opportunities because I am too focused on insecurities, worries and incapabilities? How often am I too focused on my phone or my...

I Give Up! I Give In.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,    neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.   “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 NIV I give up!  I give in. It's time to throw in the towel and just sit down. For too long it has been a daily battle and I am flat worn out from it all. I give up!  I give in. The need to control, plan, strategize and manage all the spinning plates is just too much. One by one they start to fall and it hurts to watch them all come crashing down around me…but it is long over due. I give up!  I give in. It has been all about me for far too long and now I can finally start to see that it really is all about Him. Shifting my gaze from myself and my needs to Him and His will all while releasing control from; the calendar, the kids, the ministry, everyone else, my own selfish desire…and giving it all back to Him. Oh, it is something that I have known in my head for quite some time now, but it has slowly made its way down to my heart and as I pry my white knuckly grip off of every spinning plate in my world I am slowly peeling back the layers of my own control issues and can start to see more clearly than I have ever done before. You see, when I give up and give in is exactly the...