Monday, January 16, 2017

Spiritual Investments

I've been camped out in a passage of scripture over the past week.  Matthew 25 and Jesus' parable about the talents.  The man who owns property goes on a trip and entrusts his property to his servants in the form of money.  He gave his three servants different amounts based upon their ability.  The first two servants when he returned had doubled the money.  The third servant was afraid and thought he would play it safe, dug a hole and buried the money.  The man came back from his long journey to be delighted about what the first two servants did, taking risk and re-investing his money so that it would produce more.  He was furious with the third slave telling him he could have at the very least put the money in the bank so it could have earned interest with no risk, instead of out of fear burying it in the ground.  So many things Jesus wanted to push into the hearts listening and into mine in the past few days.

He has entrusted His property to us; His Spirit, His Gospel, His gifts,His kingdom, His investments.  His investments in our lives come in many different sums.  As I was thinking through my life I easily listed the times and places that He taught me or invested something in me through the many people He has brought through my life, churches that we have been apart of past and present, and the teaching of biblical truth from men and women who have walked many years with Him.

I realized that it just isn't the great or victorious moments that constitute spiritual investment, but it has also been the trials that have been His investments.  The times of grief and loss, the moments of crossroads, and the five years of wilderness.  In as much as each caused me to cling to Him, know Him more, and make Him known more, it is His investment. Each grew and formed and produced more of Him.

Playing it safe out of fear is not an option.

Recognize Who's you are....bondservant of the Lord

Recognize what you've been entrusted with....
     natural abilities + supernatural gifting + spiritual investments = kingdom multiplied

Recognize the time you've been given....
     we are in the in-between, He is returning from His long journey, our one responsibility is to be doing something with what we have been entrusted with.

The investment is directed to everything kingdom; gospel, salvation, discipleship, church planting, growing the next generation, using our resources accordingly, living faithful,  and living holy.

Faithful is He who calls you, who will also do it.  1 Thessalonians 5:24 (that's a good word)

Thinking 2017 will be a year of investment and probably some risk........

Still Learning,

Monday, January 2, 2017

Noodles On the Floor and Dust in Cracks

Years ago we traveled to visit friends.  While staying in their home I would rise early put on the coffee and sit for a few minutes of quiet before anyone else would get up. One such morning I had my bible on my lap and coffee tightly held in hand (my favorite posture, pajamas still on of course!) when I dropped my pen.  Getting out of the comfy chair to search for my pen under the chair, I discovered something, spaghetti noodles! Now my friend was a great housekeeper and I'm sure she had done everything that a hostess does before guest come for a visit.  But there they were, hard, indicating they had been there for awhile, and stuck to the floor. They were cemented like a statue erected to stand the test of time, a monument to a busy wife and mom!  As quietly as I could I moved the chair, got hot water, and began the process of scraping, scrubbing, and prying those noodles off of the floor.  I never told my friend of my discovery, certain it would mortify her and get one of her children that had clearly had an accident with a plate of spaghetti but didn't clean it up completely, in big dog trouble!  I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when I found a layer of dust in plain site in my home. I must have looked at it a thousand times but somehow missed it every time.  Our entire family once again squeezed themselves into our little cottage over Christmas.  I had scrubbed and planned for days in preparation for these moments.  We laughed, we cried, we sang, we played, we prayed and we gathered around the table.  Those are the ingredients that make the gathering of family for this mamma. Now let me clarify, lest you are thinking a "little layer of dust"or "write your name in it kind of dust"... OH NO!  It was take your finger and scrape large whole families of dust bunnies up, use a broom, or better yet a vacuum cleaner to get it all up kind of dust!

A few things ran through my mind.  First, I need someone who sees better than me to clean my house! (Pretty certain that won't happen) Second, my kids probably all saw the dirt and just gave me grace, like I did my friend years ago. A perfect house and a perfect life really isn't the goal anyway, or it shouldn't be.  Third, it's okay to let people see our noodles on the floor and dust in our cracks. It's taken me a long time to come to those conclusions, but living in community with authenticity has resulted in such freedom and growth in my life, and in many lives around me as we walk out sanctification together, that I'm not going back!  Back to the days of painting a picture of what I want you to see or giving the appearance of having it all together.  Yep, it's better this way.  

Another thought that ran through my mind is how many times I looked at that dust and dirt and didn't see it.  How familiar we become with our own lives and the dirt we let lie in the cracks.  After all who will see?  Push all of that stuff in a closet somewhere and shut the door! It's a new year, time to do a little house cleaning spiritually, physically, financially, and emotionally. (And clearly some actual house cleaning for me)  Maybe now is the time or this is the year to ask God to move the furniture and get the noodles of sin, idols, and unbiblical thinking unglued from our lives.  Maybe today is the day to ask Him to clean out the cracks and crevices of our lives, you know the recesses that no one can see, but you and Him know they are there?  The dust and dirt of unforgiveness, hurt, and selfishness.

Oh Lord turn on the Light, search us and try us and remove the noodles under our chairs and the dust in our cracks.

One more thought that ran though this overactive brain of mine;  how He uses the mundane dailies to continue to teach this hopelessly flawed woman. That thought delighted my soul......

Happy New Year!

Always Learning,

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Theology Is Our War Plan

I heard the phrase again this weekend, "theology is our war plan".  It resonated deep inside of me.  I believe this to the core of my being.  My fear is that in the culture we live in and even in our church culture we have become so celebrity focused that we go clamoring after the next book, bible study, and or blog that has the most popular name attached to it and leave behind the Name that is above every name.  We possibly are learning a lot about God through someone else's lens or life experience but we have failed to know God for ourselves.  I talk to women all the time that spend time reading books, blogs, and listening to pod casts and somehow equate that with the study of God's word and knowing Him.  It's not...  I too read blogs, books, and listen to podcasts but they are tools.  Nothing can substitute sitting long and often at His word learning to feast through the study of Him written on the pages of holy writ.

Theology is just that, the study of Him.  The knowing Him.  Practical theology is then knowing Him and acting like you know Him in the daily routine of life.  That's where theology being our war plan comes into play...the daily stuff like marriage and parenting, like work and church, like interacting with your neighbors and those crazy shoppers out there!  We need a war plan, a strategic and intentional plan to wade through our lives.

There has been one paragraph written in a book by Elyse Fitzpatrick titled When Life and Beliefs Collide, that was so pressed into my life upon reading it, I have it printed out and read it about once a month and I think I have included it in just about every bible study I've done with women in the past five years.  It resonates deep inside of me as well because it describes what it means to have theology as our war plan.

"The great women theologians I have come across cultivated the habit of using their theology in the here and now.  What set these women apart--kept them from sinking when everything else was going down and strengthened them to lend a hand to others--was their unblinking focus on God.  They were serous about knowing him and studied the scriptures with that intention.  They nurtured their faith on the truth of God's character so that, instead of starting over from scratch in each new situation, wondering if God's goodness had expired or if he had somehow lost control, these women fixed their eyes on him and actually put their weight down on the truth.  No matter what the challenge or the adversity, their ironclad conviction was that he is always good, is always on his throne, is always working, always knows what he is doing, and that his love for them never stops.  They were not passive with their knowledge but consciously took it up and confronted life with it. Their hearts were strong because they were sure of God.  It made a difference in their running, and what is more, because their eyes were fixed on Jesus, they were better wives, mothers, daughters, and friends."

What is your war plan?
Our husbands, children, neighbors, and world need women of theology.
Challenge: Know God and live like you know Him.

Always Learning,
Psalm 119:90-91

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Difficult People or God's Messengers

Let's get truthful....
We all have difficult people in our lives!  Can I get a witness?  The difficult comes in different packages and in varied ranges.  From the person who cuts in front of you at the grocery store, or that one who has 496 items in the 20 or less check-out. (that last one gets me EVERY TIME!) Or maybe your difficult person is in your family or a neighbor or co-worker.  This person could be one who is pushy, domineering, wants to control you, a know-it-all, inconsiderate, hurtful in their words, betrays your friendship, the list can go on and on and  the level of hurt can cut deeper and deeper.  They can be the person we have never met or they could be a person up close and personal, which is where the deeper and deeper scenerio comes in.  I have grappled with some of the same questions you have.  Jesus' words ringing in my ears to love God and love people.  Constantly asking what does that look like?  What does that kind of love say and do?  We are, as followers of Jesus, asked to deny ourselves, pick up our cross (identify ourselves with our Savior), and follow Him.  There is not a pat answer, oh how I wish there was, it is much easier for me to live with a list! If I have a list then I live by the list instead of by the One who made me and gave me the relationships.  I have come to believe that denying self sometimes requires saying nothing AND sometimes the highest form of love and denying self is speaking a hard truth for the sake of another. Speaking's motivation is always desiring God's highest good for another, which takes me out of the equation, my feelings and thoughts, and puts God's desires for another above my own.  I think it means granting access with authenticity and vulnerability with some AND creating boundaries. He gets to tell us what His will is in each situation and each relationship. But, if we are not walking with Him and our ear is not attuned to His voice then we will not hear His direction.  Hard?...yep.... Worth it?....Yes.

I have been taking this year to re-read some of the words written by men and women that God has used in my life to mentor and disciple me.  One of those women is Elisabeth Elliot.  Her words on difficult people spoke to me once again as they did years ago.  "How can this person who so annoys or offends me be God's messenger?  Is God so unkind as to send that sort of person across my path?  Insofar as his/her treatment of me requires more kindness than I can find in my own heart, demands love of a quality I do not possess, asks of me patience that only the Spirit of God can produce in me, he/she is God's messenger.  God sends him/her in order that he/she may send me running to God for help."

Perspective?  or  Perspective Shift?

Jim has called people like described above as, "holy sandpaper".  The likeness is not lost on me, sandpaper is rough, abrasive, hard...(fill in your own adjectives) but sandpaper has a purpose, it's purpose is to sand off rough places of whatever it touches.  So the possibility exists that the difficult-sandpaper-people are sanding off rough places of me.

Oh that my perspective would be swallowed up in Jesus'.
Always learning,

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Jeremiah 29:12-14
"Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart.  And I will be found by you, declares the Lord..."

Matthew 7:7-8
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you shall find, knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

Moments in quiet solidtude this morning revealed the condition of my heart.  The condition of a soul that had grown cold in her love for her Lord.  Still going about the motions and yet lacking that warmth that only comes from long and often times at His feet being inraptured  with who He is and His amazing love and care over my life.  As a result my reach towards Him and others always becomes more dutiful rather than delightful and the fullness of the flow of His life eclipsing mine seems to be slowed because of the barriers of self sufficiency and task.  In confession and repentance He turned His grace towards me and kindled the fires that warmed this cold soul and sent the flood of His eclipsing life pumping through my spiritual veins once again with newness and vitality.  Oh the grace and goodness of our Savior.....

I have surrounded myself with a few of the books that made much impact in my own discipleship to re-read this year.  Today as I found myself in this position I picked up one of those books and found that Father was orchestrating my steps even through the condition of my heart, He knew what He would bring, He knew what words He would speak, and He knew He would capture my heart once again.  

A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God
"Why do some persons "find" God in a way that others do not? Why does God manifest His Presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle along in the half-light of imperfect Christian experience? Of course the will of God is the same for all.  He has no favorites within His household.  All He has ever done for any of His children He will do for all of His children.  The difference lies not with God but with us.... I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity.  Something in them was open to heaven, something which urged them Godward....Simply that they had a spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives."

Receptivity; having the quality of receiving, taking in, and or admitting, being quick to receive knowledge....

Oh that I/we would come, pray, seek, ask, knock, sit long and often, so that we would possess spiritual receptivity and that it would move and urge us Godward.

Challenge: Where's your heart? Has it grown cold?  How's your receptivity?

Always learning,

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Sunday School Answer

I grew up going to Sunday School.  Little wooden chairs parked at little wooden tables.  The room smelled of spilled apple juice, animal crackers, and play dough.  Week after week I was told stories about Jesus.  By the time I was out of the "little table and chairs" room I could tell you those stories by heart.  And yet they had not penetrated, the Jesus of the stories had not yet captured my heart.  By the time I went to high school I was a hit or miss church going teenager and delighted more in what the world could offer me than what Jesus could offer me.  Sunday School became unfashionable and even when I did go it was more about the entertainment factor.  I remember the teacher asking questions and someone giggling and saying, "Jesus" with an attitude of surely they had a 50% chance of getting it right with giving the answer of Jesus! 

From where I sit now, (in a big chair) Jesus IS the answer and I'm grateful for the room of little tables and little chairs. Through the years He has shown me that whatever I'm facing He is with me and He really is my answer. I don't apologize for those that think it is too "churchy" or not "relevant" enough.   I have experienced more darkness, emptiness, and chaos in my late forties and early fifties than I have in any other time of life.  I need to know Him as He reveals Himself to us in scripture and I believe those around me do as well.

We are walking through Genesis at our church.  How amazing it is to see God reveal Himself even in creation.  I'm doing a study also in combination to what we are teaching through,  The Promised One by Nancy Guthrie.  Thought I would share some of the thoughts that I have been pondering the last couple of weeks.  Because we all need to know that Jesus is our answer.

In the beginning God....  God in three persons.  God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit.  All present and all active!  

At creation:  illuminated the darkness, brought order to the chaos, filled the emptiness, revealed the image of God, and established a rest.

Jesus as He walked on the earth:  
Declared He was the Light of the World, John 8:12
He ordered chaos, Mark 4:39
He filled things John 2:1-12, John 6:1-14, Luke 5:1-11, John 4:7-43 (Jesus is about filling emptiness!)
He revealed God, John3:7-8, John 1:18, Hebrews 1:3
He offered an invitation to rest Matthew 11:28

"The Spirit must hover over the void in our lives just as he hovered over the dark waters at creation.  The Word must go out, shining the light of the gospel of Christ into the darkness of our lives so that we can see his true beauty and worth. And when that Spirit breathes new life into our very being and when that Word convinces us of who he is and what he accomplished for us on the cross, we receive the Living Word.  And we are made new" N. Guthrie

For those of us who are His, He desires to be active in our lives in these same ways as He revealed Himself.  First and foremost in bringing His salvation to our lives!  But then as we walk this life out with Him.  

Do you need His Light to dispel darkness in your life?
Do you need Him to bring order to the chaos in your life or in the world around you?
Do you have emptiness that you need Him to fill?
Do you need Him to reveal Himself to you?
Do you need rest?

Ask!  He delights in answering!!

Always desiring to spur you on to love and good deeds.
Always learning....
Much love,

Monday, August 29, 2016

Stationed on the Wall

Father has been pushing on my heart in recent days truth on prayer and my role in it. Many of the thoughts and truths are not new thoughts and for sure not new truths, but fresh once again for my learning.  I have been challenged and convicted.  My prayer life is one of those areas that I don't ever think is what it should be and one area that I am certain I will be growing in until I breathe my last!  You too?

Prayer for us as believers is how we participate, let me re-phrase that, its how we GET to participate with Father as His will is accomplished in our lives and the lives of those around us, the people we love, our cities, and our world.  So what a privilege it is to get to do this thing called prayer and I wonder why I become weary and slack in it?

Every year we travel to Thailand.  The city we go to is ancient.  The original city has a moat around it and just behind the moat are the city walls and it's gates.  Every year I do something that has become a very sweet part of my trip; I physically climb up on a section of the wall to pray. As I sit up on the crumbling ruins I pray over Thailand and the beautiful people that live in it's land of smiles.  I pray over the city that the walls belong to and those that walk it's streets.  The scripture that is pressed into my heart during these moments is, Isaiah 62:6-7 "On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen all the day and all the night they will never be silent.  You who put the Lord in remembrance take no rest and give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth."  In context the prophet Isaiah is talking to Jerusalem, calling God's people back to God, telling them that God still wanted to be their God and He wanted them for His people.  And, those that were talking to God on their behalf needed to keep talking, to keep praying day and night before God until He did what only He could do and that is to make them something that was praiseworthy to Him!  On this side of the cross God still has His people, us the church.  He still desires to show Himself mighty on our behalf so that He can show Himself as our God and we as His people. When we are known as His, He will be able to show others through our lives that He is faithful, good, and a God that saves.

On the day I was praying I thought of how many other walls besides these physical walls in Thailand I should be stationed on, walls that I need to be a watchman on and to not stop talking to God about until they become something that is praiseworthy to the Lord.  That's really what its about, isn't it, that He gets honor and praise?  Some of the walls that I know God has stationed me on are, my marriage, our children, and our grandchildren.  The church, the church that I'm in and the global church, that she would be salt and light; light in the darkness and be the salty preserving agent in a world that is decaying.  I thought about other people's marriages also, I believe we need to station ourselves on the walls of marriages that are crumbling, to stand and fight in prayer for them.  Also, other people's children who are wandering away or are yet to come. What an encouragement it would be to enter into standing on the wall with a mom and dad that are battling for the life of one of their children. God has appointed us to this kind of prayer.  It is not a watchMAN but watchMEN, plural.  Giving me the picture that this is something we do together, shoulder to shoulder, or should I say knee to knee.  

Jesus told us twice in the gospels to watch and pray.  I think the two go together and are a prayer plan directly from Jesus.  If we are not watching, if we are not alert, or if we are so caught up in our own world, then our vision is limited and short-sighted. We then don't know what to pray.  Being watchful, being alert, and being a watchman on a wall gives us the vantage point to know what and how to pray.  It is a powerful word picture!  Someone who is stationed, who is praying, never keeps silent, and who is not going to climb down but stay on point talking constantly to God.

A watchman on the wall, to stand for my city, my country, people groups that have not yet heard the good news, to stand against evil in these days of travail, and not keep silent. It's not that God needs me to remind Him, its that He wants me to be seeking Him with and for the people and situations He has allowed my eyes to see.

What are the walls you have been appointed to be stationed on? Do you view them as walls to keep a watch over and to pray continually over until God does His work in each?  He is worthy of our marriages, our families, our churches, our cities, our countries ,and of peoples from every tribe, tongue, and nation to one day stand around His throne and ascribe to Him all praise and glory.

Still learning AND Stationed on the wall,
P.S. would love to hear about your walls and would count it an honor to stand with you