Friday, August 8, 2014


Image courtesy of lkunl /
These words were spoken by Lot on the brink of imminent disaster.  Thank you for saving my life so far, but...  Here was a man living in a very sinful place, somehow managing it seems to pursue a righteous life in the midst of all the evil surrounding him, but yet he was almost unable to avoid utter destruction himself.  Had Lots eyes become so clouded with the typical things going on around him that he could not recognize the utter disaster about to fall upon him?  Lot's reasoning is something to consider here because it does seem as though he believes the disaster will happen, hence the fear of it consuming him before he can escape, but he doesn't seem to believe that God's messengers will provide him a way of escape, even though they have followed through on each promise up to these point.  So he haggles with them.  I can't go that far, but how about there.  He points to a place in the distance and asks if that will be alright.  What would have happened if he went to the hills as instructed?  What happens in the hills?  I am reminded of the Psalmist who looks to the hills for there his help comes from the Lord.  How would Lot's story have changed?  But he lingers, like he did a little earlier that morning when the messengers practically had to carry him out of the city.  What kept him stuck?  Fear of the unknown? trappings within the city?

There is so much here that I can identify with.  I like to read the story of Lot with an objective view, saying, "come on Lot, you know that place is no good, in fact God is going to completely wreak havoc and destroy it because of all the evil there.  I think this is a good time to get out of Dodge!"  What is the matter with him?  Why can he not obey the simple commands from God?  God has offered him a safe escape route, but he is still afraid he won't make it and will die. 

But I cannot look at this story from an objective third party distance because I see so much of me in this story.  How many times have I become so easily entangled with the trappings of the world, that I can sometimes not see where I end and my sin begins.  Sins of materialism, of greed, of envy, of worry, of fear all stem from the bottom line that I lack belief that my God will provide all I need every day.  He provides forgiveness and mercy that is new each morning and yet I hang on and struggle to release my failures and my missteps to him, embracing the forgiveness he so freely offers because of fears.  The voice in my head that says I have gone too far, there is no way God could still offer his loving embrace.  The voice that after I have sensed a prompting from God immediately tells me that it is not possible for me to do that and speaks to my vanity and fear of not pleasing everyone with its enticements that someone may not like me or it may be awkward if I step forward and follow through.

You see, I am in the same predicament as Lot.  I am living in a world that sin permeates.  The enemy hovers near and slowly speaks to us in ways that cause us to doubt the love God has for us.  Maybe that is why Lot feared he wouldn't make it.  Maybe he feared that though God had poured out his mercy thus far and brought him out of that city, that maybe God would change his mind halfway to the hills and Lot and his family would be toast.  Is that what I fear?  Am I afraid that if I were to move forward in whatever God has called me to do that midway through God might forget about me and I wouldn't fulfill his calling?

Friends, I do not know if any of you struggle with the lingering, but here this our God promises to never leave us or forsake us.  We can trust His truth.  Though the enemy may fill our minds with fears and doubts and worries, those are lies.  Remember the enemy is the father of all lies and his greatest joy is to keep us separated from God.  If he can master that, how rich are his spoils, but here is the truth, the God we serve has total and complete victory over the enemy!  Whenever we hear those whispers, we can cling to the truth God has given us, His word.  In fact, Jesus gives us tremendous insight into this very situation when he prayed for us:
"I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.  They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in the truth."  John 17:14-19 (emphasis mine)
 Once we recognize the true origin of these doubts and fears that keep us lingering and not trusting in God to move forward, we can move forward.  How powerful to know that Jesus prayed for us regarding this very situation and we know he continues to intercede for us to the Father in whatever situation.  We can cry out to God and know he hears us and loves us.  God has given us his word, his truth.  I bolded the words in verse 17 because it shows how we can be sanctified, grow more and more holy, Christ-like, by clinging to God's truth, God's word.  It is through studying God's truth that we recognize those areas of our life where we have allowed the enemy to construct lies that keep us in knots, keep us lingering.  Lies of what will bring true joy and peace because there is only One who brings true joy and peace.  This One longs to fill us with His joy and His peace if we will only trust in Him.  Christ came that we would have life and have it more abundantly.  Abundant life, not ridden with fear, but filled with hope and joy.  May we pause and pray for God to reveal the areas of our lives where we are lingering, where we are not pursuing God's call.  May we confess those areas and receive the abundant and merciful forgiveness He so richly provides and move forward in the life abundant, letting go of our fears and running for the hills he calls us to.  Remember, we do not have to figure out or understand all of this on our own nor are we expected to.  Our Helper will provide all that we need each step of the way.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills -- from where will my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."  Psalm 121:1-2 NRSV

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Image courtesy of patpitchaya /

Fear is an issue I struggle with daily.  In fact, much of the time it keeps me frozen.  I don't speak for fear of upsetting someone.  I don't act out of fear of doing something the wrong way.  I don't try because I am afraid to fail.  Oh fear, how you have my number.  And yet, Scripture teaches us over and over again not to fear, not to worry, not to be afraid.  I've wanted to take time and work through all of these passages for myself and I think this might just be the perfect place to do that, so over the next weeks, months, years (I hear there are a lot of these Scriptures!), I will be spending time writing about these different passages.  Hopefully, this system will not only help me be organized, but also accountable. :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Letting Go of the American Dream

A Harvest of Blessing

Today, I'm joining Madison and Chantel's linkup for building community.  
This post is something close to my heart.  Thanks for stopping by.

I read this article last week and it has stayed with me since.  The article describes how the American Dream is no longer affordable.  My next thought is...has it ever been?  When I speak of affordability, I'm not talking about papers in a wallet or coins in a pocket that can be exchanged for goods in a marketplace, but rather our mind's focus, our heart's beat.  Has it ever been affordable to pursue the American Dream at full gusto if we neglect those around us and furthermore the One who gives all in the first place?

This article shook me because growing up I felt it was a goal to be a financial success, to have the car, the house, the career, the family, the whole nine yards and I don't think in and of itself, it is a bad thing to set goals, to have vision, to pursue your best.  The trouble is, though, that sometimes our focus on goals can shift our hearts toward something different than it was created for.  It is so easy to let the stirrings so embedded in our culture spur us on for more and more that we neglect the pause and rest we need to pursue the dreams our Creator has gifted to us.  These dreams may very well include the house, the car, the family, the job, but what if they don't?

The article I read caused me to pause because it describes an idea that has been woven in the American culture practically from the beginning and for much of the time, it was a dream that for many people became attainable.  However, even in those years of prosperity there were many for which it was far from affordable.  And now, the reality hits that for the majority of Americans, this idea will always be out of reach.

What do we do with this?

We can chain ourselves to the dream anyway and pursue it with abandon, hoping that one day maybe we will be counted among the few that taste its sweet reward


we can let it go.

What does that look like?  How does that feel to turn around and face the cultural and societal norms that are screaming so loud that sometimes we can hear nothing else and say no?  Saying no to looking a certain way or having a certain thing.  Saying no to feeling empowered because of where we rank in the societal order or feeling distraught because life hasn't measured up to all we hoped.  Saying no to measuring success and failure by stuff and position.  Saying no to these societal traps and cages that bind us and keep us from living the life God has created us for.

And in letting go of the American Dream might we be embracing the true hope that many sought when they journeyed from other lands to find solace here?  Freedom.  Before manifest destiny took over the hearts of men and women, before shots were fired and blood was spilt due to envy and greed that seeped into our pores.  Before all of that, wasn't freedom the hope?  Wasn't it the reason so many sold everything they had to escape whatever oppression and tyranny they faced in their home country?

It seems that same oppression and tyranny has followed us here, but perhaps instead of being dictated to us through a governmental power our outside entity, it has seeped into our minds and souls until we claim it as our own.

I find myself sometimes stuck in the quicksand of doubt, fear, anxiety, jealousy, depression, and agony over whatever situation I find myself that didn't follow this construct I have built in my own mind for how life should be, but it is in those moments that I pause and am learning to say no because sometimes I forget I have a voice.  Sometimes I forget there is another option.  Sometimes I forget there is another way, in fact, the only Way.  Sometimes I forget that if I will let go of whatever dreams I've constructed through society's lens, I can run fast into the arms of my Creator and Redeemer and begin dreaming through His lens, which is the only one that will bring true clarity to God's plans for me.  With that view I remember what is important and if I will begin there and seek my solace and my freedom in Christ, I will always find Hope.

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat/

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cool Down

As I was finishing up my run/walk adventure around the neighborhood this morning, I looked down and found a loose shoelace taunting me with its intention of being completely untied at any moment.  I paused the "Couch to 5k" app I was using, tied the shoe and kept walking.  I had finally reached the cool down phase of my workout -- my absolute favorite part -- when I noticed the need to pause the timer and tie my shoe.  Well in my haste to get on with my morning, I realized that I never restarted the timer after tying my shoe, so by the time I thought I had reached the end of my workout, I looked down to find I still had 3 minutes left!  My first response was irritation -- which is so silly, but true.  I thought I was finished and here are 3 more minutes to go, but my next thought was maybe I do need 3 more minutes of a cool down!  This simple illustration just struck my heart this morning with the idea that I so often seek to rush ahead and strive to do things on my own without pausing in the "cool downs" God provides me.  And how sometimes the things I need the most are the things I struggle against.

This verse has been on my mind all week and I find as I seek to do what God wills for my life, I too often overlook the one thing I should focus on -- God is doing the work in me!  I find myself struggling with trying to determine if I am following His footsteps in the way He wishes, but if I will put my focus and trust in God and find rest in Him, His guidance will be a natural outpouring of our life together.  The enemy strives to take my focus away from God each and every moment.  The worst part is I don't recognize what is happening until after my focus has been so riddled with stress and anguish that I forget where my focus was intended in the first place.  

Praise God for His grace and forgiveness.  Praise God for the peace He provides.  Praise God for the love He has for each of us.  Praise God for the ways He desires to use us for His glory.  Praise God.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

God is Enough

I will admit that my peers have been known to call me a "Pollyanna" from time to time.  I tend to see the glass half full, hope for the best and love donning my rose colored glasses to look at every situation, but when I read the verses that precede the ones above in Lamentations, even I can see that things are bad.  The lamenter is in a devastatingly tough place.  Have you been there?  I know I have.  

I think what the lamenter is experiencing is what makes his words in verse 22 and beyond so powerful.  He knows no matter what situation he faces, no matter how dire, his confident and assured hope is in the LORD.  This is not a pie in the sky, wish upon a star kind of hope, but a true deep abiding hope in the constancy of the love, mercy and faithfulness of our God.  It does not fail.  Whatever we face,  

God is enough.  

The enemy, however, may try to convince us otherwise.  He may whisper that God isn't enough as he distracts us with other glittering options of his own.  That's what he did in Eden with Eve and that is what he dangles for us, empty promises that will never fill the ache inside us that only God can fill.  The enemy tries to convince us that we are wrong about God's love and our circumstances are hopeless, but the enemy is wrong.  He wants nothing more than for us to despair, but look back at the lamenter and see that no matter the dire and difficult circumstances, the lamenter turns to God.  He praises God for his faithfulness and unceasing, never-ending love.  God is beyond our circumstances and will provide for our needs.  He is our portion, our Daily Bread.  God will walk with us each step of the way no matter how difficult the path.  We can trust in God no matter what we face.  Have you embraced the abundant, all encompassing love God has for you today? 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Be Still

In the hectic pace of life, these words from one of my favorite verses of Scripture speak to my soul, but what do they mean, really?  How do we follow this command to stillness?  This verse came to mind as I was reading in Exodus Moses' command to the Israelites to "keep still".  How interesting that this encouragement to stillness is not found just once in Scripture, but multiple times.  Perhaps that signifies the fact that God knew His people would need a reminder of this for all time.  How intricately He knows our hearts and our struggles.  

As I read this verse from the psalmist in several different translations, I saw some unique words that described this idea of stillness even furtherIn the NASB, the beginning of the verse reads: "Cease striving and know that I am God."  And in the Message the entire verse reads, "Step out of the traffic!  Take a long loving look at me, your high God, above politics, above everything!"

"Cease striving"

"Step out of the traffic!"

"Be still"

Oh the power these words convey.  How they speak to my yearning, aching heart that is striving ever so much more than stilling.  Looking at the words from the Message, they seem to be a caution, a warning.  Danger!  When we are not still are we placing our very lives at risk?  I think of the parent racing to grab the child who in her play is wandering much to close to a busy street.  By continuing in our frantic pace, are we also wandering into that traffic filled way?

So what do we do?  How do we become still in the midst of our busy days that are filled with good things as well as struggles?  The first good news is God does not ask us to do this on our own.  In fact, the second part of the verse reminds us of who God is, "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." NASB  This all-powerful God who loves and cares for us more deeply than we can every fully comprehend or imagine is strong enough to guide us into this stillness.  When we bring our cares to Him as He asks us to and trust Him with whatever burdens are keeping us from the stillness He commands, He will help us through each step.  I struggle at times (much of the time, really) with giving over a care or concern to God only to take it back almost immediately as I let it go, so my stillness tries are more sputters and starts than smooth sailing.  I pondered how could I fully release this things and not try to take them back on.  How do I keep these burdens and cares from continually filling and clouding my mind?  And it was in January 11th's Jesus Calling devotional that these words penned by Sarah Young spoke powerfully to my heart:
"When you bring Me prayer requests, lay out your concerns before Me.  Speak to Me candidly; pour out your heart.  Then thank Me for the answers that I have set into motion long before you can discern results.  When your requests come to mind again, continue to thank Me for the answers that are on the way.  If you keep on stating your concerns to Me, you will live in a state of tension.  When you thank Me for how I am answering your prayers, your mind-set becomes much more positive.  Thankful prayers keep your focus on My Presence and My promises."
Trust.  Thanksgiving.  Perhaps these are the paths to stillness.  Thank you, Lord, for guiding my life and reminding us that You are constantly at work on our behalf.  Praise be to God for His amazing grace and mercy.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Grip of Fear, Part 2

Yesterday, we explored Moses' words to the children of Israel as they discovered themselves to be in a very uncomfortable sandwich situation between the sea and Pharaoh's army.  Today, we look at the very next verse, God's words to Moses:
"Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why do you cry out to me?  Tell the Israelites to go forward."  Exodus 14:15 NRSV
It was in this verse that I found great conviction.  So often I let the fear of what is ahead keep me from moving my feet.  Rather than a frozen response, God urges a faithful response.  As I sought out more meanings for the word "still" in Exodus 14:14, I found the word "silent" in other Bible translations, which spoke to me in new and fresh ways about continually giving over my whir of worry and anxiety to God.  I wonder if it is in that stillness and silence we submit completely to God, trusting that His plan is best even when it is too murky to understand, even when sometimes we don't know how, but trusting in His All Knowing guidance.  Because here's the deal, brothers and sisters, and one I know I lose sight of far too often, He never tells us to move forward by ourselves.  God is with us each and every step of the way.  Each step of faith we take when we may only be able to see one foot in front of the other or even when we cannot see that much ahead, He is with us.  And not only is God with us each and every inch, He desires to be with us.  We are His creation and God longs for us to live out the abundant life He has called us to. 

A few verses later in Exodus, we see God's constant guidance with the Israelites:
"The angel of God who was going before the Isrealite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them.  It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel.  And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night."  Exodus 14: 19-20 NRSV
 What a picture of God's provision and guidance, knowing exactly what the Israelites needed at the time and providing it.  God continually leads the Israelites in this pillar of cloud and fire to guide and direct them.  In fact in Exodus 13:22 we see the power of God's continual presence:
"Neither the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people."
 And here again in Exodus 14:19-20 we see God's cloud of protection that has gone with the Israelites each step of the way moving behind the Israelites to protect them and as they look ahead, what a glorious display of God's eternal power in front of them, the parting of the sea!  God made a way when many of the Israelites might have thought their situation impossible.  God was with them in the fear, guiding them to faith.  Will you trust Him with whatever situation you find yourself in today?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Grip of Fear, Part 1

Oh the fear that freezes, keeping us incapable of action, too timid to take the first step.  The fear the fills our mind with anxious thoughts and worries, cluttering any attempt at clarity of thought and vision.  The fear that builds excuse upon excuse until we forget what we were initially afraid to do.  Oh this fear, I am so well-acquanted with it, far more than I hope or wish.  Are you?  Have you experienced the grip of fear?  If you have, my friend, we are not alone.

Exodus 14:1-31 was the key passage for Day 6 of the She Reads Truth: Fresh Start devotion and it spoke to me profoundly about this concept of fear and it's grip that leaves me immoveable at times.  In this passage, Moses has freed the Israelites from bondage in Egypt and they are starting their journey.  As they get closer to the sea, Pharaoh's army is quickly approaching behind.  Panic fills my heart and mind just thinking about it.  The Israelites have reached the veritable rock and hard place and immediately they long for the previous bondage.  How often do I do that?  Do we do that?  The fear of the unknown grips us and we long for what we have known before even if it wasn't pleasant at all.  There seems to be comfort in the knowing.  But what does Moses say when they start crying out to him in anguish, in fear?
"Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the LORD will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians you see today you shall never see again.  The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to keep still."  Exodus 14:13-14 NRSV
As I read this words of comfort, a command to not be afraid and stand firm, the last phrase caught my attention.  What does it mean to "keep still"?  I looked through several other translations to see if a different word was used and lo and behold, another word for still is silent.  In fact, the New American Standard Version says, "The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent." v. 14 and the Message proclaims, "God will fight your battle for you.  And you?  You keep your mouths shut!"  Well, that certainly caused me to pause and think about how much do I "talk over" what God is trying to tell me?  How often do I let worried and anxious thoughts cloud my mind, so that finding time and place for silent reflection is impossible?  How often are my prayers a personal monologue and not a true conversation with the One who knows all things?  The discipline and practice of silence, here it is in Exodus for the Israelites and here it is for us.  No matter what rock and hard place we find ourselves in, we can rest and trust in the knowledge that God is with us each inch of the way, guiding and directing us and in our stillness and in our silence, we sense His guidance more deeply than before.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Out of Darkness

"The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." Genesis 1:2 NASB

Do you ever feel like a formless void, unsure of who you are or what God has called you to be?  Those were the thoughts that flitted through my mind as I read Genesis 1 almost as if for the first time.  Do I feel like my life is a chaotic whirl around me?  And then, almost as quickly as those thoughts entered in, the vast comfort that if I am feeling that way, who more wonderful and powerful than the Almighty Creator of the universe who brought light from darkness and order to chaos to guide my heart and my life.  He is the Creator of all things and the giver of life.  He has complete authority to guide and direct me.  He loves us and wants us to live the fulfilling life He has promised to us.  These ideas are not new and fresh, but when received in a moment of whir, oh the peace they bring.  It is amazing how easily I lose sight of the One in whom all things come together.  I let the bits of my life that overwhelm easily entangle me, when if I step back and seek Him first, calm and order thrive.  Our bodies seem to crave order and structure.  As children, when we have a consistent routine, life seems to work better and as I read this first chapter of Genisis, this idea of the
importance of order does not surprise me.  It has been so from the beginning.  God knows what is right and good for us -- separating water from sky.  Water is a great place for fish to dwell, but not so much for people.  He provides the proper environment.  God knows how we need to breathe.  God knows exactly what we need because He created us.    He is Provider -- each day of creation we see this.  God makes a way for us and other living things.  His plans have purpose.

And God provides not only order and proper environments for us, but also the idea of renewal and the ability to begin again.  The seed bearing fruit He creates in verse 11 is not limited to one season, but is created with the capacity to reproduce its fruit each year.  God provides renewal for all of us with his creation of different lights in verse 14 and how they will allow seasons to change.  The changing of seasons fills my heart with refreshment and as one season turns to another, I feel a fresh and new energy to face the day ahead.  Variety finds a home in God's order, too.  Not only in seasonal change, but in the variety of plants and animals He created.  I remember my first trip to Central Market with my grandmother, wandering through the produce aisle almost as if I were walking through a museum, seeing so many varieties of fruits and vegetables that were completely new to me. I know that was just a taste of all the varieties of things that find a home throughout our world.

God's process is true and powerful.  We may not know what each day will bring, but we can trust that the One who created us will walk with us through it.  We need only to trust and allow our gaze to fall continually on Him for guidance, not racing ahead, but maintaining His pace until it becomes the very rhythm of our heart.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Five for Friday: Favorite Devotionals

Happy Friday, Everyone!  I'm so happy to be linking up with a few of my favorite bloggers (NatashaDarciApril, and Christina) to talk about five fun things this week.

One of my resolutions/goals from this post was to listen and part of that specifically was to listen more to the Lord when I spend time in prayer and Bible study.  This goal led me to start considering some different quiet time methods, so I thought I would list five of my favorite devotional resources for my Friday Five this week.  Some are recent finds and others I have used in the past.

1.  Jesus Calling

Sarah Young's book is by far one of the most powerful tools for reflection and drawing closer to God that I have ever read.  God uses each day's writing to inspire and apply new insights to different situations I am experiencing in my life.  After the devotional thought, she lists related Scriptures and I find these to be very useful for further pondering and reflection.  Another nice feature is the app you can purchase for different devices.  It is nice to know this resource is ready at my fingertips!

2.  She Reads Truth

This online resource offers a variety of devotional plans to subscribe to with the added advantage of community discussion.  The plans are also available through the free YouVersion Bible app, which is such a great way to keep up with the daily posts.  Some plans go through books of the Bible and others are topical studies ranging from women in the Bible to the recent advent study.  I have found these studies to be both convicting and comforting and am always eager to see what the next series will be.  I think the next study begins next week!


The Denison Forum on Truth and Culture is hosting this daily yearlong devotional series that emphasizes the importance of spending time with God each and every day.  The first week's focus is describing the different components of what the First15 is all about.  I also enjoy reading Dr. Denison's daily emails that discuss current events through a theological lens.  You can sign up for those emails here.

4.  My Utmost for His Highest

I remember reading this class text by Oswald Chambers when I was in high school and how powerfully it impacted me with each page.  I just saw that there is a website that posts the daily readings.  I have linked it above.  If you are looking for a devotional guide that has stood the test of time, I highly recommend this one.

5.  M'Cheyne Bible Reading Plan

And finally, for the very disciplined, a year-long Bible reading plan.  I confess that I have not made it through the entire Bible in a year, though I have tried several times before.  I'm hoping that I can do this at some point, but feel a 3 year plan might be more my speed.  The M'Cheyne plan is a 1 year plan and it divides the texts up over chapters in several different books each day.  I just did a google search for a 3 year Bible reading plan and found several, so I might have to look into this.  I think it is so valuable to spend time in all of Scripture and these yearly plans allow you to read it all.

I hope this list was helpful.  Sometimes my biggest struggle with daily devotional time is figuring out where to start and these different resources have certainly helped me in that area.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!