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What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate. ~Romans 8:31-39 (CEB)

I have been reading in Deuteronomy the last couple of days. Deuteronomy can get bogged down with details and repetitions sometimes, but if I fade out too much I can overlook some powerful scriptures. For example, “It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the LORD set his heart on you and chose you—for you were the fewest of all peoples. It was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” ~Duet 7:7-9

So it is not by anything that I have done, or anything I could ever do that God has drawn me out and loved me. He freely gave His love to me, not because I was anything special. In Romans Chapter 8:31-39 Paul comes at this topic from a different direction than being chosen by God. Instead he talks about how once we belong to God we can never do anything to be separated from that love.

Not by anything I have done did God choose to love me. Not by anything I could ever do would God choose to stop loving me….

So what should I fear?

Heavenly Father, sometimes I find myself lost in “what others think”. Help me to remember this day that the only thing that matters is that You love me. Help me not to get swept away or distracted by what other people think of me. May my eyes be only on You and Your will for my life. Amen.

A mustard seed

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The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. ~Luke 17:5-6 (NRSV)

Have you ever thought about what it means to have faith like a mustard seed? I have always been fascinated with that parable since I was a child but I haven’t before now really ferreted out just what it means to have “mustard seed faith”.

So many times people continue to act on the terms of what they really believe, not in the terms of what they profess to believe. Just because you say with your mouth that you believe in something but if in your heart you do not believe your actions soon will go where your heart has been all along. With only minor adjustments here and there, we always live up to what we feel in our heart but rarely do we live up to what we profess.

The only way we can grow in genuine faith is to put into practice what little faith we have. We have to have faith to begin to grow in faith. “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” (Roman 1:17) So faith as tiny as a mustard seed is all we need to grow into more faith. The reason that the kingdom of heaven is like the mustard seed is because it grows in us and around us.

So “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” ~Proverbs 4:23 (NRSV)

Heavenly Father, take this small seed of faith that I have planted in my heart. Please water it and encourage it to grow. Feed my heart and give me strength so that I may bloom for You. Amen

Scriptural prayers

In my distress I cried out to the LORD; I called to my God for help. God heard my voice from his temple; I called to him for help, and my call reached his ears. ~Psalm 18:6 (CEB)

Have you ever read Lamentations? What about Job for that matter! There is nothing enjoyable or pretty about these books in the Bible. I don’t normally peruse these scriptures unless I am being forced to for a particular reason. But sometimes there are jewels hidden in the things we don’t want to deal with. In the midst of the Israelite’s deep sorrow, among the verses telling of their ultimate destruction there are sparks of hope:

My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “Gone is my glory, and all that I had hoped for from the LORD.” The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for one to bear the yoke in youth, to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it, to put one’s mouth to the dust (there may yet be hope), to give one’s cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults. For the Lord will not reject forever. Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone. When all the prisoners of the land are crushed under foot, when human rights are perverted in the presence of the Most High, when one’s case is subverted —does the Lord not see it? ~Lamentations 3:17-36 (RSV)

So among the ashes of someone else’s story, I too can be reminded that there is hope for me. One nice thing about scriptures like these is when I do not have the words to express myself, sometimes I find them already spoken. I don’t have to search for them inside of me; I just have to claim the ones I have read.

I called on your name, O lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, “Do not close your ear to my cry for help, but give me relief!” You came near when I called on you; you said, “Do not fear!” You have taken up my cause O Lord, you have redeemed my life. (Lam 3:55-58) Amen.

Invasion of memories


So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. God has done what was impossible for the Law, since it was weak because of selfishness. God condemned sin in the body by sending his own Son to deal with sin in the same body as humans, who are controlled by sin. He did this so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us. Now the way we live is based on the Spirit, not based on selfishness. People whose lives are based on selfishness think about selfish things, but people whose lives are based on the Spirit think about things that are related to the Spirit. The attitude that comes from selfishness leads to death, but the attitude that comes from the Spirit leads to life and peace. So the attitude that comes from selfishness is hostile to God. It doesn’t submit to God’s Law, because it can’t. People who are self-centered aren’t able to please God. But you aren’t self-centered. Instead you are in the Spirit, if in fact God’s Spirit lives in you. If anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, they don’t belong to him. If Christ is in you, the Spirit is your life because of God’s righteousness, but the body is dead because of sin.  If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your human bodies also, through his Spirit that lives in you. ~Romans 8:1-11

“It may sound paradoxical, but no man is condemned for anything he has done; he is condemned for continuing to do wrong. He is condemned for not coming out of the darkness, for not coming to the light, the living God, who sent the light, His Son, into the world to guide him home.” ~From Creation in Christ, by George Macdonald

“Condemnation is a heavy burden to bear. No matter the source of the condemnation and no matter the reason, condemnation crushes the life out of us all when given the opportunity. Many of us live our lives condemned because we have been unable or unwilling to permit that burden to be removed. Sometimes the condemnation is self-imposed, and we just cannot forgive ourselves for what seems to be, in our own estimation, some great failure. Sometimes the condemnation comes from outside ourselves for failures in the eyes of others. Whether these failures are relatively insignificant or enormous, the burden of condemnation is hard to bear. Therefore the words of Jesus- “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again” (John 8:11)- are music to our ears. To know that we do not need to carry the failures of the past into the future is good news indeed. Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save the world (John 3:17). The good news for all of us declares that the chains binding us to past failures can be broken; we can be set free to live all our tomorrows without condemnation.

Stop and think for a moment about all those memories that keep invading your consciousness to convince you that you are condemned. And then remember these words of the New Testament; “Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us” (Rom 8:34). There is no condemnation for those who walk with Christ.~Rueben P. Job, A Guide to Prayer for all Who Seek God

All my crushing moments I give to You today O Lord. The memories, the shame, the self-destruction I give to You. No longer do I want to lug around these burdens. I want to come out into the light, please scatter all my shadows. Amen.


Simon Peter told them, “I’m going fishing.” They said, “We’ll go with you.” They set out in a boat, but throughout the night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus. Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” He said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” So they did, and there were so many fish that they couldn’t haul in the net. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around himself (for he was naked) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they weren’t far from shore, only about one hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire there, with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you’ve just caught.” Simon Peter got up and pulled the net to shore. It was full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three of them. Yet the net hadn’t torn, even with so many fish. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples could bring themselves to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. ~John 21:3-13 (CEB)

For three years Peter spent his time with Jesus. He was even one of his most sacred, hand-picked inner circle. He was not just a disciple but a friend. But in one moment he goes from overreacting and attacking a guard in his anger to denying Jesus three times in a panic. To fall so far.In Peters confusion, he returns to his old way of living.  It’s not that his past life was wrong, it’s that he forgot the truths that he had learned at Jesus’ feet. Peter had gone to a dark, unwelcoming place.  Jesus was crucified before he had a chance to reconcile.  No opportunity to right the wrong. No space for an explanation. With his confidence shattered he goes back to the life he had had before.

The night of fishing lacked it’s previous satisfaction, but the dawn of a new day brings with it new mercies. The man who should be dead stands on the shore. After asking about their success from the night’s fishing and telling them to cast their nets on the other side John turns to Peter saying,  “It’s the Lord.” Peter, the one who had failed Jesus the most can’t wait for the boat to reach the shore. He jumps in and starts swimming.

I too find myself at times confused as to what Christ has called me to do. In my panic, I find myself in old habits. In my anxieties I find myself returning to my old way of life. When I find myself where I don’t want to be, I remember what Jesus told Peter before all this took place. “You will be sifted when you return to me help your brothers. When you find your way again share the good news.” Jesus came looking for Peter in his old way of life,  not to ask why or tell him he must earn his favor back, but to remind Peter who he was.

My failures do not define me. In Christ, my failures can redefine me. Jesus comes looking for me and calls me to a greater task. Fear can no longer define me.  Love must prevail.

I am thankful Lord that when I find myself fishing again, you come to the shore to find me. Thank you for always seeking me out to remind me who I am. Amen.

Today, I run

If I did want to brag, I wouldn’t make a fool of myself because I’d tell the truth. I’m holding back from bragging so that no one will give me any more credit than what anyone sees or hears about me. I was given a thorn in my body because of the outstanding revelations I’ve received so that I wouldn’t be conceited. It’s a messenger from Satan sent to torment me so that I wouldn’t be conceited. I pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me alone. He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” So I’ll gladly spend my time bragging about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power can rest on me. Therefore, I’m all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassments, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ, because when I’m weak, then I’m strong. ~2 Cor 12:6-10 (CEB)

When I was eight, a tumor was found on my leg. You know how it is, one moment you are going about your normal life, the next you don’t recognize your life anymore. Even though it was determined that the tumor was not cancerous, we were still left with a frightening unknown. The doctors couldn’t remove it without injuring my leg. They determined the least harm was to allow it to remain since it was non-cancerous and to reevaluate the situation after I had stopped growing. But we always had to watch, and if it changed in any way, they would reassess the situation sooner.

So I was sent home to live my life. I remember standing in the hall in school wondering how noticeable this bump on my leg was to everyone around me. Even into my teen years I still prayed for the tumor to “magically” disappear. In the evenings when the 700 club would come on, and prayers were said for healing I couldn’t help but hold my breath that I just might be healed too. I struggled with guilt about wishing the tumor away and trying to be thankful that I was really okay despite my feelings. The fear of the tumor “mysteriously changing” into something bad haunted my dreams.

As a result of the tumor, my leg did pain me from time to time, and my parents didn’t push me towards activities that greatly strained my leg. Looking back I almost feel that I was discouraged from doing anything that might stress my leg. We had been conditioned to baby it. Although I have always been active, there was the underlying fear of injuring that leg.

I lived my life like that for 30 years, always with the shadow of this lump on my leg changing into something frightening but trying to be thankful that I didn’t have cancer. I couldn’t help praying from time to time for the tumor to just go away. What do you do with heartfelt unanswered prayers? Personally, I kept putting the issue back on the shelf since I had no answers then taking it back down again from time to time. Then one day something strange happened. I developed this unexplainable desire to run.

For two years I tried to be happy with just hiking and biking and long walks, but the desire to run would not leave. Finally, I decided I would join a running club and just see how things went. By that May I participated in my first 5K. I felt so elated when I crossed that finish line. First that I didn’t embarrass myself by collapsing but also that I had managed to do what I thought I would never be able to do. Run.

I often think of Paul in the Bible. His words often speak straight to my heart. This tumor was just one of many thorns that God has not removed from my life.  In the five years that I have run there have been so many life lessons I have learned. First, it was struggling through those beginning miles about endurance and determination and that it is still okay to have dreams and go after them. I have learned that life is so much like running. There is pain. You have to learn what to work through and what to avoid. I have learned that sometimes it is frightening and overwhelming, but the rewards, in the end, are great. God did not remove this tumor, though I was faithful in prayer. He chose to show me through this tumor that with Him, I could conquer a long-ingrained fear. His grace really is enough.

I don’t take for granted that I will always be able to run. With each run, I am ever aware that it might be my last. But that last is not today. Today, I run.

Heavenly Father, I stand amazed at Grace. Instead of removing a deeply ingrained fear, You choose to help me work through it enabling me to be able to dream bigger. I thank You for Your plans for me to prosper. I thank You for giving me hope and a future. Amen.

Good friends

People brought to him a man who was paralyzed, lying on a cot. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man who was paralyzed, “Be encouraged, my child, your sins are forgiven.” ~Mat:9-2 (CEB)

Good friends, everyone should have some. These friends did for this man what he could not do for himself. Jesus, seeing their belief healed him. I can think back to paralyzing moments in my life that friends stepped in or stepped up when I could not.

A pastor friend of mine tells a story of a kid he knew who had gone through some hard times. He told Bob that he had friends who saw the way he had been living. If only they had said something about his life style he would have turned back sooner. They knew the choices he was making and had remained silent.

That story makes me sad every time I hear it. How often have I remained silent when a friend might have needed a gentle reminder of who they are and whose they are? Was there a time I thought maybe it was none of my business and turned the other way? Did I not have enough faith?

Lord, forgive me for my sins of omission!

Heavenly Father, please give me the courage today to say the things that must be said. Forgive me when I am weak and remain silent. Amen.

The simple things in life


Whoever is faithful with little is also faithful with much, and the one who is dishonest with little is also dishonest with much. ~Luke 16:10 (CEB)

This verse came across my computer at a very timely moment. But that isn’t unusual when you go looking for answers to prayers. I have been struggling with the in-between times of things. I know that God has a purpose for me. I know that that purpose is in front of me but that purpose is not right now. I struggle with what I am to do in the waiting. Waiting for the moment I am to carry out what God wants me to do. Waiting is not one of my strengths:

“The largest part of Jesus’ life was hidden.  Jesus lived with his parents in Nazareth, “under their authority” (Luke 2:51), and there “increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and with people” (Luke 2:52).  When we think about Jesus we mostly think about his words and miracles, his passion, death, and resurrection, but we should never forget that before all of that Jesus lived a simple, hidden life in a small town, far away from all the great people, great cities, and great events.  Jesus’ hidden life is very important for our own spiritual journeys.  If we want to follow Jesus by words and deeds in the service of his Kingdom, we must first of all strive to follow Jesus in his simple, unspectacular, and very ordinary hidden life.” ~Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey

Ok, I know this truth. Living my simple, ordinary unspectacular life is still in God’s will for my life. Being ready for the moments He calls me to service is important but even more important is just living everyday life to the best of my ability. My greatest claim to fame may be how I live my hidden life. It is those moments that only God sees that show our true character. So when we are faithful with the small hidden parts of our lives then He knows we are ready for something bigger.

Heavenly Father, Help me in my times of waiting. Help me in this in-between time of searching for Your will in my life. May I continue to grow in wisdom, stature, and favor with You. Amen.

Holy, Holy, Holy

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” ~Isa 6:3 (NIV)

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” ~Rev. 4:8 (NIV)

What do we mean when we say that God is holy? It is not that we are naming an attribute among many others such as love and mercy and wisdom and power. No, we are attempting to find something that collectively gathers and applies all His attributes. When we say God is Holy we are saying that He is unchangeable. Nothing about Him changes; His love never fluctuates; His mercy is inexhaustible; His wisdom cherishes all that is truly good; His power can always be trusted.

From One who never changes, I do not need to wonder what will be the response when I turn to Him, whether in the dark of night or in the light of day. It matters not who I am or who I will be. It matters not where I have been or where I will go. I can seek Him in my strength and in my weakness. He is always God.

There are days that I fail family and friends. No matter how hard I try I cannot always be what they want me to be. Sometimes my failure may seem to push them away. They feel deprived of what they should have from me. But nothing is missing from God. Only He can handle all our high expectations. He will never disappoint. He knows the true desire of the heart and He answers those prayers.

Heavenly Father, I am so thankful that Your love never changes, Your mercy inexhaustible, Your wisdom timeless and Your power my only strength. Only You are Holy. Amen.

Companions for the road

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Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” ~Matthew 26:36-38

“When Jesus begins his public ministry, one of the first things he does is to find companions, those individuals who will share his life and ministry in a special way. Whenever Jesus faces a difficult situation, he gathers these companions around himself- sometimes all twelve, sometimes only a few. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, needed the companionship of others. Even he, as strong and powerful and food as he was, couldn’t go it alone.” ~From Abundant Treasures by Melannie Svoboda

Isn’t that comforting? The Son of God did not go through his time here on earth alone. He was not intended to. If one of the Trinity, who had a part in the creation of the world, needed friendship and companions don’t you think we need this too? It is so easy to fall into a trap of believing that I need to do this journey called life on my own. Then get mad because I fail miserably.

We were not meant to face the challenges of life without the support of others. The need for companionship is not something to be ashamed of. It is part of the very fabric of our human psyche. This need for others is not about being weak, or immature. This need for others is one more way that we are made in the image and likeness of God.

Jesus didn’t include everyone in his personal business. He had lots of followers, but only 12 were in his inner circle. There is wisdom in this as well. Just as we were never meant to travel through life alone, it is also best to not disclose every detail of your personal life with everyone you come in contact with. Not everyone can be trusted. Even in his inner circle, Jesus knew who he could trust. Only Peter, James, and John got the privilege of seeing Jesus for who he truly was, the Son of God (Mark 9:1-8).

There is much value in seeking friends to walk life’s journey. They help center us, encourage us and support us. It may seem a weakness to seek out companionship, but remember; when we are weak we are strong.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for companions you send to travel this journey with me. May I add strength to others journeys too. Amen.

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