Grace Stoppers


 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-23‬ HCSB)

      For the last six weeks, a friend and I have been studying the fruit of the Spirit together. We began with an overview of the Book of Galatians and a few a couple of weeks began to study each of the listed fruit, one per week. This weeks fruit: Patience; oh yes,I heard those groans! If only I had a dollar for everyone who has ever told me “Don’t pray for patience; you’ll get it, but it won’t be fun or pretty in the meantime.”! I would be sitting somewhere warm on a sunny beach enjoying the roar of the ocean and the sun beating down on my face as I write instead of looking out at glistening trees, a cold but gentle wind blowing, and a misty rain gently watering them. Oh how I miss the warm sunshine! 

      Hopefully that provided a little recovery time from the shock of that much dreaded word, patience. We are learning through studying this particular fruit that there are two types of patience mentioned in the New Testament. One is patience through circumstances and the other is patience with people. Patience with people is the type of peace referred to in the fruit of the Spirit. Interestingly, though we are studying this fruit, we first tackled the patience with circumstances and learned that hope is the key to having patience when facing difficult situations; hope coming from the Greek word elpis, meaning hope-the desire of some good with the expectation of getting it. That’s pretty straight forward. As long as we have hope, we tend to be able to press through the less than enjoyable aspects that we sometimes face. Without hope, we find it much more challenging!

     The second patience, patience with people can get much more complex, especially in those closest relationships. Hope may be important in these relationships but perhaps mercy is even more important when we endeavor to grow in patience with the people in our circles of influence and with people in general. Mercy or compassion can be a powerful tool especially when it comes to having patience with people. 

      Just an example from my own life: many years ago, my husband and I were having breakfast in a local restaurant. A customer comes in and is seated across from out table. From the very beginning, nothing went right in her opinion and everyone within a ten table radius was aware. People were getting up and leaving be cause of the scene. We had a birds eye view and could not help but hear as things escalated.  This young waitress did not deserve the treatment she was receiving. As we continued to witness this spectacle, I pointed out to my husband that even if she was performing poorly it was no way to treat her. Maybe she broke up with her boyfriend/spouse, had a sick child, a family member sick or dying. We have no idea what people are dealing with in their lives! We went to the register to pay and Kevin gave me his keys. Then he addressed the manager and explained that we had observed everything and the server had done nothing to deserve what was happening. He then asked me to wait in the car (which I did though it was a hard request to follow).  He said he then said a quick prayer and with the same compassion and mercy I had expressed for the server; he approached this lady sitting with her two adult daughters.  He was very respectful and asked if he could join them for a moment. Then my sweet husband who looked about eighteen with his ‘baby face’, proceeded to ask her with great respect if she’d ever considered that the young server might be struggling with some kind of life trauma or tragedy or had spent the night up with a small child that was sick and sleepless? (We knew this one well as young parents ourselves!)  Kevin said her daughters looked so relived and this lady’s whole countenance changed. They all thanked him and he started out to the car. I met him at the door where the manager thanked him…it had been a while and I must admit I was a little concerned and I decided I needed to check on him.

     In the end, mercy, compassion and patience triumphs! We may not always see results right away and it is possible we may not see results at all. Nevertheless, it is a seed that is well worth sowing! (Lord, please give me the grace and wisdom to remember this life lesson!) Why?  Because even if it does not touch the person benefiting from it, others see. Even if it doesn’t touch the lives of observers, it changes us! It is a sure way to teach us to be more Christ-like by walking in the Spirit and exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit; an intentional though momentary choice to live beyond that moment, beyond our circumstances and beyond our own little world in a place where grace flows freely.

      Grace flows freely where love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control abound.  Why Grace Stoppers then? There are also those things which clog and even stop the flow of grace. Let’s list just a few:

  • Hate, joylessness, discord, impatience, meanness, doubt, harshness, selfishness
  • Anger
  • Unforgiveness
  • Hopelessness 
  • Bitterness
  • Jealousy

Help us, oh Father God, to lay these down! Help us to walk by the Spirit, in the fruit of the Spirit 

and in the Mighty name of Jesus!

 Praying you are blessed with His grace, His peace and Fruit that remains!


 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.”(‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-23‬ MSG)

Days of Grace-Day 40

Today is Palm Sunday, the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt that had never been ridden. In obedience to the Father’s plan, despite knowing full well He was riding toward great suffering and pain; He entered Jerusalem to the crowds joyously crying out hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of The Lord. How quickly would the tables turn and the enemy seemingly take control. However, he was never the one in control. The enemy can only do what is allowed by God. God had a purpose that was much higher, the salvation of mankind through the restoration of a right relationship between God and man. Even today with the Word of God to explain it, it is difficult to understand and take it fully into our hearts and lives.  What Adam and Eve lost in the Garden of Eden, God was about to restore.

Jesus was the means to this restoration but it meant great suffering, being misunderstood, plotted against by religious leaders who feared Him, betrayal, false accusation, being beaten almost lifeless and being crucified on a cross between two real criminals until His body hung there lifeless. Thankfully, that is not the end of the story! Three days in a borrowed tomb. Very early on the third day, the ladies went to the tomb…what is this? The massive stone covering the tomb had been rolled away. Placed there to prevent Jesus’ followers from removing the body and claiming He had risen, it was too heavy for someone to move and had been guarded by Roman soldiers to prevent tampering. Yet it was rolled back, the body was gone and the burial clothes neatly folded where His head should have been. Jesus was not there!

Jesus then appeared to Mary in the garden. She was overtaken with grief but when He said her name she recognized His voice. His sheep know His voice…. She was delighted to see Him. He told her to go and tell His disciples that He is alive!

Grace has made provision for each person, the question is will we receive and believe it has been provided for us and choose to follow Him?  Our grace verses today come from 1 Peter 5.

In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under His mighty hand by casting all your cares on Him because He cares for you. Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering. And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him belongs the power forever. Amen. Through Silvanus, whom I know to be a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, in order to encourage you and testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. (1 Peter 5:5-12 NET)

This is an amazingly powerful passage as we tie up forty days studying God’s grace running through the scriptures and look ahead to the Passion Week and the days leading to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. This wonderful thing call grace winds itself from Genesis all the way through Revelation and even when the specific word is not used there is example after example. We have looked at many examples of God’s grace and mercy to His people. It is all around us. The above passage piggybacks on yesterday’s saying many of the same things. God gives grace to the humble; He care for us greatly and when we humble ourselves before Him, He will exalt us in due time; His time.

Because of how He cares for us, He tells us to cast our cares on Him. Cease striving and worrying and lay them at His feet believing that He is able to see us through any situation that we face. Suffering is part of the world we live in and everyone has times in their lives that they experience it. God sees our troubles and assures us in this passage that He Himself will restore us; strengthen us; confirm us; and establish us. He cares for us beyond what we can comprehend. He is for us and desires the best for us always.  We have a real enemy who is fierce and is looking for every opportunity to steal the abundant life God has for us. The enemy seeks to bring fear and worry into our life, to tear down our faith and turn us away from God.  Our job is to resist him and to keep the faith, building ourself up in our faith by learning who we are in Christ and what His great and precious promises to us are. This passage tells us to resist him, stand firm in our faith never forgetting our brothers and sisters also face the same kinds of struggles we do. Peter is encouraging his brothers and sisters to stand fast in God’s grace. Just as Peter encourages those to whom he was writing and encourages us also; we too should encourage those around us. How do we do this? We share our lives, testimonies of how God has been there for us; freed us; delivered us; gotten us through difficult times. Sometimes it is just as simple as sitting and listening. Other times it may be a shoulder to cry on or a comforting hug. We all have been the recipients of grace in our lives at one time or another. Costly grace. God’s grace, freely given to us yet it cost His Son everything! We are a blessed people…blessed to be blessings to those around us!

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  May His grace, peace and blessings be abundant all your days!


The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’ (Numbers 6:24-26 NASB)



Days of Grace-Day 15

     Today’s scripture portion comes after Jesus earthly ministry was in full swing. At first glance, I was very curious where we were going to find Charis in this one because it is one of the most challenging teachings of Jesus for most people. In most of our scriptures it has been pretty obvious and easy to find.  For context, we will start a few verses before our main verse.  Let’s take a look.

      “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Luke 6:27-36 HCSB)

      Ok, be honest, do you bristle just a little at this one? I love that Jesus takes a time out right in the middle of the thought He is expressing to explain His thinking. He tells us to love our enemies, by the way the Greek word for love here is agapao. If loving your enemy seems hard, imagine when in it’s fullness it means: to welcome; to entertain; to be fond of; to love dearly. Many describe it as the God kind of love; others use the term unconditional as it’s definition. Agapao is a love that costs us something.  It is a love that gives, one that sacrifices. It is the same word used for love in the great commandment that Jesus gives us: 

     “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Matt. 22:36-40 (NET)

     Jesus challenges us to love everyone, even our enemies. He asks us to love them; pray for them. The word enemies in this passage means exactly what it does to us in our English language, just to clarify, it means:  hateful; odious; hating; hostile; opposing another or in our example one who treats us in these ways. Not only are we told to love our enemy, we are supposed to go the extra mile. “If they ask for our coat, do not hold back our shirt”… If they smack us on one side of our face, turn the other… Jesus said in our scripture for today, “if you love those who love you, what credit (Charis) is that?” Likewise, He asked if we lend to those who we know will pay back, “what credit (Charis) is that? His point is what? Anyone can be nice to those who are nice to them; love those who love them; and be generous to those who treat them generously but it takes a special person to be used; abused; or taken advantage of and continue to show love. It takes great strength and character to continue to love someone and be respectful towards them when they have said or done unkind things, have taken advantage or perhaps betrayed you. To respond lovingly, in spitein spite of being mistreated is very counter culture especially in America in 2014! In our humanness we may ask, “why should we continue to care after they ________?” (You fill in the blank)  

      It takes extraordinary grace, strong character and an even stronger will to put the incident behind you and continue to show love. Jesus modeled exactly that kind of love, character and grace for us on His journey to the cross. He loved when we/they mocked Him, He loved despite the beatings, betrayal, and abuse. He pleaded, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do!”  The obvious question, “what credit is that?”.  It was credited to Him as righteousness. It accomplished His mission. It made a way for us to have right relationship with our Heavenly Father through the righteousness of Jesus Christ if we will only believe and follow Him.  It made it possible to be empowered by the Holy Spirit of God to live a life of love, mercy, compassion and grace that is like a magnet making others wonder why and how we are so different than most.  The challenge is: will we? 

Preaching to myself! Grace to you my friends!

Days of Grace-Day 11

     We  have now spent ten days focusing of the Grace of God. I don’t know about you, but His grace never ceases to amaze me! Sometimes it seems to show up at the very last possible moment, just when you think you can not make it another day or another step. Other times it comes suddenly and unexpectedly. Sometimes it comes before you even realize you need it; or right in the midst of something; then He reminds you… remember, I have already made provision for that.  I don’t know about  you, but sometimes for me grace can be as simple as a glimpse of a rainbow that brings a big smile to my face and child-like joy and wonder in the middle of an ordinary or complicated day. “Why is that grace?” you might ask. These are just a few examples of things I just delight in: a rainbow; a beautiful cardinal or blue bird that lands on the rail of my back deck unexpectedly while I am studying or writing; a child’s laughter or children running and playing; a beautiful sunrise or sunset; a beautiful blue sky filled with fluffy clouds that form all kinds of shapes gently blowing over my head. Again, “why?” You see, I am one of those people (you might know one or be one,too) whose mind runs constantly full speed ahead and  rarely slows down or  takes a rest from thinking. Seriously the wheels are always turning! Even in my sleep, I have vivid dreams. It is always nice to get unexpectedly surprised by one of these grace moments when the glory of God shows up and my mind just takes a few moments to pause and relish in the moment of glory rather than rushing around and missing them. His glory is  all around us if we just take the time to notice!

     The scripture for grace today is a prophetic word from Zechariah found in chapter twelve. It is a prophecy for a future time. Commentators aren’t completely in agreement or completely convinced when it will take place but let’s look at it anyway and then we’ll talk about it just a little.

“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced ; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.  “In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.  “The land will mourn, every family by itself ; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves. Zechariah 12:10-14

     I don’t know about you but the Spirit of grace and supplication seems to refer clearly to the Holy Spirit because He is the one Who draws into belief in Jesus, the One they pierced. This gives us a good indication that the prophecy takes place in the future and after the time of Christ’s birth, death, burial and resurrection. Other than that, it could be hard to pin point. Many believe that this referred to the time in AD 70 when the Romans sieged Jerusalem and the second temple of the Jewish people was destroyed. Still others believe that it is a future event, and some believe it is a double prophecy depicting both.

     Since our focus is on grace and the Spirit of grace (Chen, meaning grace, favor, charm, elegance and acceptance) and supplication ( Tachanuwn, meaning supplication, supplication for favor with God or man); I think we can say for certain that this prophecy would take place after Christ’s return to Father God’s right hand and after the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to all believers in Christ. AD 70 seems like a definite fulfilling of this prophecy, because there certainly was great mourning in the land over the loss of their homeland and the loss of their temple. Will we once again see it fulfilled, in our lifetime or the future? Who can say but our gracious God.

     This I do know, both from personal experience and based on the history we have traced over the last week and a half: God has this and He will provide His people every ounce of grace and mercy needed if there is yet another fulfilling to come!  His grace is sufficient for everyone; His love is unending; His mercy endures forever; and He is enough for any and every situation that we face in our life! Skeptical? Just give Him a try! He is who He says He is! He is faithful even when we doubt Him and when we are not faithful. His promises are true even when they are not in our timing and His timing is always right on time because He sees things from a much bigger perspective than we do. In every trial, difficulty or loss that I have experienced in my life, He has proven this true. It may have taken more time for me to see it than I would have liked, but never-the-less it is true!

Grace and blessings to you, my friend! Until next time…

Leaving the Old Behind; Pressing Forward

I am betting there are few of us who have not experienced a hard year; one to which we are ready to bid an eager good-bye. Other years we close reluctantly because it was a year full of mountaintop highs. Then there are those ‘normal’ years where life was average with only a few swings in either direction. No matter what our experience in 2013 has been, time marches forward. Now that we are of the cusp of a new year, I can not help but be a little excited and filled with wonder at the possibilities which might manifest in 2014. I find myself looking at a blank canvas, where will I begin? What do I want to make of it? Will I color in the lines others have drawn for me or that I have drawn in past years? Will I retrace the same comfortable image of past years? You know the ones practiced and repeated over and over because it is easy and comfortable, familiar.

Perhaps this is the year…is it possible? The canvas will be fresh, clean, new…dare I? What would it look like to live this coming year wide open, fully engaged moment by moment, authentically, fully focused on what is important without worrying or complaining and holding nothing back? How about a year of only speaking life and blessing over those around me and releasing every word that is not life and blessing that I am tempted to speak or that is spoken over me rather than letting it play on a loop in my mind? While I am dreaming, maybe I could take all my concerns, fears, worries, disappointments, hurts from the careless words that slip from someone I love immediately to my Father, who can handle them appropriately and is the only One who can truly do anything about them. What will this upcoming years canvas look like? How will fit together in the puzzle that is the mosaic of my life?

Will I take a moment to seek a scripture verse for the year and listen for Him to lead me to it? Will God in His sovereignty give me a word for the year that is to be my focus for 2014? Will I immediately understand it’s meaning? Or will understanding unfold as the year progresses? Perhaps the word given will resonate immediately and gradually unfold over the year to have a much deeper meaning than I ever would have imagined! As 2014 approaches and is already right here knocking at the door, I have many more questions, many hopes and dreams and much anticipation!! Yes, I am ready to leave behind 2013 and begin a new and exciting year; a new adventure. With me I will take all the memories of this year, I will treasure all the wonderful and wonder-filled memories and all the rest I will do my best to learn from them, let them go and move forward stronger for them.


My prayer as we enter this New Year is that we will find ourselves fully alive, fully engaged in life drawing closer to our Creator, Our God; that we find balance between our being and our doing, after all we are human beings. We often live at an impossible pace and when we do we loose our peace, sacrifice our health and relationships, and carry more stress than was ever intended for us to bare.
I pray we choose life and blessing for ourselves and encourage all around us to do the same.

3 John 1:2 (NIV) Dear friend, I pray that you may prosper in every way and be in good health physically just as you are spiritually.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Hebrews 12 (HCSB) 12 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

Grace Gifts – Pondering the Precious

I no longer feel as I once did the tremendous pressure to perform or produce, oh it stills rears its head from time to time but it does not haunt me moment to moment as it once did! Why? Because I finally understood…I ran across Psalm 139 a number of years ago. The realization became clear. Jesus, God – knowing me fully before I was ever formed – loved me, loved us. Knowing before either you or I was formed EVERYTHING about us in advance – still He formed me, formed you. He knew I would fail, He knew I would blow it – just like now two days behind again  in my Christmas devotional reading, or something stupid or hurtful that I carelessly said to someone dear. Still, He loves me; He loves you! Knowing everything about us, in advance of our first breath, He lovingly formed us with a purpose, a plan…a specific place in time in His mind for us where we would be placed purposefully.  Knowing we would go our own way at times, get off track…yet He, in His great love, called forth my life and has walked every step with me  – the good, the bad and yes, even the ugly! Even before I was aware of His Presence, He was right there whispering, “Perform no more, walk with Me and be free to become who I created you to be… not someone else’s image or destiny but your own unique calling unlike any other – no cookie cutter image here!” He provides grace for the gaps; and there are gaps! Times of self-doubt; times of difficulty; times of comparison; times fear slips in that I am not enough, unworthy, unloved. He always steps in, His Words chase me with grace; compel me; woo me; draw me closer… His grace whispered… love lavished…drawing me back, closer… reminding me of His love – unconditional – the love He created me in, you also!

How grateful I feel for God’s gift, His ultimate gift… Salvation! Right standing, a chance for real life, full and abundant life… Not just about heaven, the after life. No it is not just about avoiding separation from God, or a fiery hell and eternal punishment. No, His salvation is so much more… It is about life, true life.  Full life, living water flowing in and through me; through you, overflowing that we might love  others with a love that is greater than ourselves. A love like His! Pure love, unselfish love. His salvation is about working it out in our lives while we are alive, Philippians 2:12, with fear and trembling.  Fear? Doesn’t perfect love cast out fear? Yes, this fear has a rich deep meaning of reverence and respect – not being afraid but a deep reverence and respect for the One who created us, loves us.  He is for us, Jeremiah 29:11. When we understand and believe His Word, when we know He is for us and not against us, then we are able to see God as a perfect and loving Father who is always seeking our best as we walk this planet; then the reverence and respect He desires from us follows naturally. It is then we stop seeing Him as the great rule maker; we stop seeing Him as out to limit our fun, control us. It is in this place we begin to see His loving and gentle hand protecting us, guiding us to be the best we can be; to reach toward our destiny. We begin to live life to the fullest and most abundant progressively moving forward in love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

Salvation and eternal life are found in Jesus, but it does not stop there! We work it out (Philippians 2:12) in our lives by seeking the Father and walking with Jesus by means of the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our life – hearing God’s Word directing us in what He created us to be, wooing us, drawing us into the dance of our lives. His salvation is not just for eternity but for life here and now!  He makes it so simple a small child can understand, yet we complicate it. He loves us indescribably, exponentially!! Yes, He like any good father wants us to be obedient but not for His sake or for His satisfaction but for our protection, for our good so that we can have the richest and most satisfying life possible. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” He would not have taught them this if it we not possible, in fact all things are possible with God.  What would it look like if every one of us who God calls son or daughter walked in our destiny and fully understood who we are in Christ.   Can we even imagine? What would His kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven look like?

I am betting that just one glimpse and not one of us would ever be the same!!

Living in the Now

It is amazing what can happen in the span of three days! This weekend my husband and I celebrated our anniversary, took care of a work related chore, spent a few hours exploring a nearby town, enjoyed a great time of worship at church, spent some time with family members and even had a visit with some friends we have not seen in about 5 years. This morning, I was reflecting on the last few days, a message I heard Sunday morning as we got ready for church, and life in general. I did some quick calculations. More on that in a bit, but as I calculated, the memory of the message the t.v. pastor was giving came flooding back to mind. His topic was on the Power of Now, and was one I really needed to hear! In fact, I went online to listen again this morning. The main theme was enjoy now, don’t get bogged down in yesterday and the past and don’t spend all your time longing for tomorrow.

Ok, back to the calculations. I have been married for 64.6% of my life! Wow! That makes me sound old! Guess that’s what happens when you get married at 18. When most people our age have teenagers or college students, we have adult children and six beautiful grandchildren between the ages of new-born and almost seven! The point, time flies! Yes, I know! everyone says that especially to young parents starting out! They, like we did, will smile, nod and probably roll their eyes just a bit thinking we are young and have our whole life before us. We sure did! I smile thinking about that and the one or two that said all those years ago that “we were too young, it’s puppy love; they will never make it!” They underestimated our tenaciousness to keep our vows to each other and to God.

Tenaciousness, the gentler and more controlled side of stubbornness is a great quality when channelled properly and can be very beneficial to us as we endeavour to live ‘in the now’. Life happens fast! sometimes it comes at us like a freight train and if we let it, it can barrel over us and leave us flat on the ground! Two cars, both needing repairs in days of each other, having to rent a vehicle to get to work and back, sickness, busyness, and any number of other things vying for our money, our time, our attention. We may focus on why we didn’t prepare better, save more in the past….if we had been more thrifty, saved more for a rainy day; or we may focus on the what-if’s… What if insurance premiums double or triple, what if this sickness is really serious, what if it is something major wrong with the car?

If we are not careful, we can worry our entire life away by choosing to focus on the past or focusing of futures worries. Days or weeks can be lost in this type of thinking and that basically was the premise of the message. He quoted John 10:10, ” The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. (John 10:10 NET). This is one of my favourites, though I have never thought of it quite like he presented it. He presented it in reference to time. My summery, when we get all caught up in our circumstances whether it is not letting go of the past or whether it is worrying about the future, we loose! We miss out on the now, in our lives! Yes, we should be responsible and deal with our past properly and prepare responsibly for our future, however if we are not careful, we will be robbed of our today in the process. The problem with that is once today is gone, we can never get it back! What is more, we are not promised tomorrow. My goal; focus on the now! Whether I am dining with my friends who I have not seen in years; attending a seminar or conference; working; or chatting with friends or family, I want to be fully present and in the now. Anything less is cheating myself and cheating them of the fullness of today and the abundant life God meant for His children.

My prayer for both myself and all who may read this: Lord, may we learn to forgive  and let go of the past whether it is ourselves or others and may we trust you fully for our futures letting go of doubt, worry and unbelief and cling to faith and trust in You. Help us to fully engage in today, in our now because if we don’t we will miss it and possibly miss You in the process! Strengthen us with Your Word, I pray!

Hebrews11 Now, faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. 2 For by it the people of old received God’s commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible. 4 By faith Abel offered God a greater sacrifice than Cain, and through his faith he was commended as righteous, because God commended him for his offerings. And through his faith he still speaks, though he is dead. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he did not see death, and he was not to be found because God took him up. For before his removal he had been commended as having pleased God. 6 Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, when he was warned about things not yet seen, with reverent regard constructed an ark for the deliverance of his family. Through faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.



This morning as I begin my day, I looked to see what my s.o.a.p chapter for the day would be. (Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer).  It would be Deuteronomy 34, the last chapter and one of my favorite stories of the Old Testament. Next, I opened You Version, an electronic app for Bible. Up on the screen popped their verse of the day. My thought was alright I will read this real quick and move on to my s.o.a.p, reading. I was stunned by what I read next:

Proverbs 3:7,8 Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.

Don’t assume that you know it all! Run to God! Run from evil!  Your body will glow with health, your very

bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own;

give Him the first and the best.

I am just going to be completely transparent as I begin. I have been wrestling with somethings for a while. this last week it intensified and it has consumed larger chunks of my days. After trying to reason things out and get answers mostly on my own, I finally wised up and sought council with the Only One that could actually give me both insight and wisdom on the matter. I can’t say that my prayers got a quick and fix all answer, but gently and lovingly over the last few days God has been guiding me in His Word and leading me to answers. I will share a bit of that today in hope that it might help someone else who is struggling…

To get back on track, I was stunned by this verse because first of all in the struggles I had been pondering two or three directly affected me (one was health related) and the rest affected some of my loved ones and this verse quickly and concisely addressed what I had been doing…trying to figure out things on my own. Oh yes, I had prayed about them on the surface but until Wednesday, I had not truly prayed over them asking and seeking real answers and furthermore never left them at the feet of Jesus. Instead, even though I should know better, I would pick them right back up in a few minutes or a few hours. Now I have to admit I had a mixed response at first: “Oh wow, this verse popped up just for me”; then, “no, they have a verse everyday, it is a coincidence it speaks to me on these specific issues in my life”; lastly, ” no, not a coincidence, it is too personal to what is going on in my life,  it addresses both my trying to figure things out, seeking God out instead of reasoning  that these both lead to health which in my case is suffering a little right now.” Yes, I was reasoning and over-thinking again already! As I told myself, stop; I felt a nudge to go and read the full chapter. Amazing… would you believe it was just what I needed to hear?

Do I have all the answers to the questions that I have been struggling with? No, some are more clear and others, not so clear.  There was not instantaneous answer to everything, but there was aclear-cut mandate: God has this, “don’t loose a grip on Love and Loyalty”, trust Him from the bottom of your heart and DO NOT try to figure this out on your own, seek Him!! Listen for His voice in everything you do and where ever you go. These will bring health and a viberant life. Seek wisdom and insight for these are the tree of life to those who embrace them, holding onto them bring blessing! Clear thinking and common sense are where we need to live; worry, wondering, speculating on what may or may not be are not helpful and do not add but detract from our lives.

My take away today is to recommit myself to these principles, quit trying to figure out things on my own and seek God for wisdom and for understanding on these things, lay them down and trust in Him to bring the right answers, direction and guidance. When we wait on God and His timing, He will answer.  I fully believe that God was able to speak to David through Nathan; Balaam through his donkey; to the people of Israel through the prophets; and to us today  by any means He chooses. After all, the Word of God says He is the same yesterday, today and forever!! Our job is to trust, believe, hope in Him; read His Word; seek Him and His guidance; and listen and act on what He says as long as it agrees with His Word.

As for Deuteronomy 34, I made it there but that is a story for another time!  Be Blessed!!

Circumstances, Grace, and Gratitude

How fascinating when several avenues in our life converge and it results in a new understanding of who we are or of who we are meant to be, when they come together and totally change our perspective or our trajectory. Lately, I have been emerged in a study of Gideon, a Biblical hero of faith listed in the book of Hebrews. He did not start out that way! When first mentioned in Judges, he is hiding in a wine press threshing wheat. This is a very unconventional place to thresh wheat but Gideon is hiding in order to protect the wheat from the enemy who is oppressing his people. Meanwhile he is visited by an angel of The Lord with this message, “the Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” From our perspective, Gideon is fearful and hiding; from God‘s perspective he is declared a mighty warrior (Judges 6:11-12); and finally from Gideon’s perspective he is the weakest and the youngest (verse15). Whether we like it or not so is our lives. People see us from one perspective, we see ourselves from another, yet God sees us beyond those perspectives. He sees us for who we are, who He created us to be, and our unlimited potential in Him.

I don’t know about you but I am not that different from Gideon. I tend to be hard on myself and to be insecure, though some have said they see me as confident and strong, I rarely qualify. They only see the outside, my actions and have no idea what is in my heart unless I share it. Again, from God’s perspective, He sees the real me, the good, the bad, and the ugly. He also knows the destiny He created me for and the potential that I have, especially if I walk with Him. He has a plan and purpose for us; he also allows us free will to choose what path we will take.

Imagine our lives as series of roads, for this purpose we will picture if we can three roads. One is a beautiful road with flat places shaded by the covering of pretty trees at times, further along it meets with fields of flowers, rolling hills, and even the rougher terrain along the way is beautiful and pleasing to the eye.  We will call it God’s Grace. The next road is direct and straight for a long-span, it divides and goes different directions at a certain point and from there tends to meander and wind at times. It’s name is Circumstance. The last road is a perimeter like roadway, each of the other roads intersect with this road at some point and this road ALWAYS circles back to God’s Grace. This road is called Gratitude. All of these roads intersect each other at different places and each has an impact on the other.

Our lives are often lived in our circumstances. We are walking or driving along straight and smooth, something happens, a bump in the road, a sickness, or a tragedy and we are at a fork in the road. Which way will we choose to go? Will we go with the west fork or the east fork? For those of us who know God and have trusted Jesus, will we trust His promises? Will we see His grace and allow it to take us to gratitude? Will we take a turn on gratitude, knowing He is good and trust Him until we reach the path of God’s Grace. Will we possibly take the more winding path of West Circumstance taking the long way to God’s Grace and eventually finding our way to Gratitude. There is also the option of just staying on the road of our circumstance, east or west and continuing on their long paths and totally miss God’s Grace and Gratitude.

For me, I have chosen different options including the absolute longest roads back to His grace and to gratitude in a few cases. Trust me that one is not a healthy one!  After many trials and troubles and tragedies  it is my desire to take the shortest, straightest route to see Him bring grace and glory from both the good circumstances and the bad. Do I want difficult circumstances? Are you kidding me, no! Can I give thanks in a hard time? Maybe, maybe not. Can I believe that despite tragedy God is always good? Yes, He has proved it again and again. Can I believe He can take the worst circumstance and bring something good from it or despite of it? Yes, I have seen it and personally experienced it.  I write this today with a broken heart. Our small town has experienced tragedy today. While I was writing this, a wonderful man, a friend that owns our local jewelry store was viciously gunned down as four males decided that their desires and wealth or lack of was more valuable than his life. Three of them are on the loose. Tragedy!!! Heartbreak!!! Be assured, this does not change God’s Goodness!! This is a product of a fallen world and a culture that has come to value things and use people, a culture where wrong is accepted as right and right is judged as wrong. We can not blame God for these things when we are the ones who choose our own paths! We can strive to make good and right choices and teach others within our influence to do likewise.
I am not an artist, but they might look like this:


Which Mountain Will You Choose?

Have you ever experienced a period of time where it seems everywhere you turn the same word or phrase keeps turning up?  Lately the words life, blessing, focus and the phrase “choose life”  seem to keep turning up and sometimes in the most unexpected places and at most unusual times. This has been going on for some time now and it is beginning to come together with some understanding.

Last night at Bible Study our topic was John 10:10, one that has been key in my life for the last several years. Before talking about it, we went back chapter 8 and began reading to get the full context of what was going on around this time.  In chapter 8 we see the story of the woman caught in adultery and Jesus telling her accusers, “whoever is without sin, cast the first stone.” One by one they all walked away because Jesus was the only on qualified as without sin. Jesus did just what His Father would have Him do. He said to her, ” I don’t condemn you either. Go! From now on, don’t sin.” Next Jesus speaks to the Pharisees about His Father. There is a good bit of contrast between the religious practices of the Pharisees and those things that are truly important to God and that are modeled by Jesus.  He points out the differences in what the Pharisees practice and the true desires of His Father for those who want to be His disciples. This debate or exchange of ideas which are opposed to each other leads to anger and the threat by some to stone Jesus but He slips away safely. As chapter nine unfolds Jesus heals a man born blind and an inquisition ensues. First Jesus is questioned, then the blind man, both tell the truth and their stories are the same. That is not good enough to satisfy the curious minds so the parents of the blind man are brought in. Fearing the repercussions of their words, they would only reveal: yes this is our son, and yes he was born blind. Then they told the people that he was an adult and could answer for himself. They inquire of the previously blind man again and when he answers him the same, he is thrown out of the synagogue. In His compassion of this man, Jesus reveals Himself to him and explains that:

39 Then Jesus said, “I have come into this world to judge: Blind people will be given sight, and those who can see will become blind.”GWT

The Pharasiees responded:

40 Some Pharisees who were with Jesus heard this. So they asked him, “Do you think we’re blind?”GWT

Jesus went on to explain:

41 Jesus told them, “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be sinners. But now you say, ‘We see,’ so you continue to be sinners.GWT

Next we see the story where Jesus explains His role as Shepperd and how to tell the true Shepperd from an impostor. This is were John 10:10 comes into play; 10 A thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But I came so that my sheep will have life and so that they will have everything they need.’ GWT

Now the Bible makes it clear that Satan is our enemy and that he is the father of lies. Here we see his purpose is always to steal, kill and destroy. Whether it is our joy and peace or our very life, he is out to wreak havoc and destroy (bring about destruction and death) but Jesus came to bring life and every thing that we need for life! What a great assurance! Now as I am pondering the wonder of this once again the phrase “Choose life” returns to me and my thoughts go to the Old Testament and the discussions of the blessings and cursings discussed with the Israelites in the later chapters of Deuteronomy and God’s declaration:

Deuteronomy 30:15 See, today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 For I am commanding you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, statutes, and ordinances, so that you may live[ and multiply, and the Lord your God may bless you in the land you are entering to possess.(HCSB)

     From the both the old covenant and the new covenant expressed by Jesus Christ, we can see that God has given us a choice. In every wonderful event and in every tragedy, even in the most mundane things in our life we have a choice to make. We can choose life or we can choose death, we can choose blessing or we can choose cursing. We can not necessarily choose our circumstances but we can choose how we respond to them. When we choose life and blessing we always win in the long run!  My friend Katie Brown put it this way earlier today, “There are two mountains, only two, and we get to choose which one we will spend our time on. We want to choose life. If we find ourself on the wrong mountain, it is time to move!”  So the question I am pondering now is how will life be different if I make a decision to weigh every situation or circumstance on this scale before responding or reacting to it? Is it an accurate statement to say that when I respond, I am choosing life and when I react I am choosing death?
    I will bring these thoughts to a close by sharing my S.O.A.P. verse for today:
Mark 4;24 He went on to say, “Pay attention to what you’re listening to! Knowledge will be measured out to you by the measure of attention you give. This is the way knowledge increases. 25 Those who understand these mysteries will be given more knowledge. However, some people don’t understand these mysteries. Even what they understand will be taken away from them.”

As I thought about this scripture, I realized the more I pay attention to the Word without allowing other thoughts, worries, concerns or any other intruder to interrupt or distract me, the more God will speak to me through it and the better I will be equipped  with what I need to manage well and thrive in life. It will enable me to choose life. Wisdom and knowledge are in the Word and the Holy Spirit brings the understanding, but if I am burdened down by distractions, questions, concerns, etc.; I will miss out on part or all of what He is trying to teach me. Therefore, I must learn to set aside all the cares of this world when spending time with Jesus  and in the Word; hand them over to Him! Then I can focus on the whole of what He has for me each day! The choice between life and death is a gift from Him. We get to choose! Distractions are from the enemy and diminish our peace, our joy, our contentment, and our fruit! May the Lord teach us to choose life, laying down all those things that lead to death and destruction and allowing the mind of Christ to dwell richly in each of our lives!