Saturday, December 24, 2005

Church Closed for Christmas

My heart aches as I read articles quoting believers condemning churches who are not having services on Christmas Day.

Romans 4 seems to speak to the issue of differences among believers. The thing that breaks my heart is that Satan is using good church leaders to make our differences a stumbling block for those who could be seeing the body of Christ glorified.

Matthew 18 gives clear instruction on how to approach a fellow believer when one sees a weakness that needs to be addressed. Even in that scripture, I don’t see any room for condemnation. Galatians 6 reminds those “who are spiritual” to restore their brother/sister gently. It also warns to be careful that you don’t fall into sin yourself in the process.

Why do we allow the secular media to make a case between those who are to be united by the One who is greater than all things? Maybe we assume that everyone is a believer.

I read James 4 this morning and realized why I get so upset at my children. My anger and frustrations come from not getting what I want. I read this chapter to my family and prayed that the Holy Spirit would do the instructing.

Throughout the day I have attempted to weave the lessons God spoke to me from James 4 into my children’s day. I ask them why they are arguing. It’s almost always because they don’t get what they want. I remind them to ask God and if they still don’t get it then they most likely are asking with wrong motives.

As for tattle-telling, James 4:11 says “do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother (or sister) or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?”

My kids are brother and sister. I don’t want them to tattle on each other. Not because I want them to get away with inappropriate behavior, not at all. I want them to learn to be united. To encourage each other in doing right. To recognize that they are two individuals with different interests, abilities, desires but together they are family. Bringing me into their arguments, causes division not to mention spoils the opportunity to learn from each other’s different perspective.

Perhaps that is why God gave us family. Family is not just for our pleasure. Our earthly family is God’s school room to teach us how his family should get along.

Remember when you were a kid and your sibling seemed to have a different version of the same story when you got in trouble? Most news stories don’t have enough time or space to get all the information across.

The next time you don’t understand why your brother or sister in Christ (or a mega church) is doing something different than you, call someone you know personally who understands that perspective. You might be amazed at how God can use another group of believers so differently from the direction he has led you.

The church I know that is not having services on Christmas will have outstanding celebration at Friday and Saturday services. Their desire is to reach out and introduce Christ to those who are seeking answers for life. That is not the mission of every church and they do not condemn churches whose primary purpose is to offer a gathering and teaching place for believers.

Five years in the midst of that mindset provided God’s training ground to teach me to worship God in unity with believers and in the midst of non-believers in everyday life so that the world will know God sent Christ. (John 17:23) Isn’t that really what Christmas is about?

Happy Holidays to all regardless of your faith. May you discover how Christ can make every day of your life merry as he has done for me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Give us this day our daily bread.

Do I mean it when I pray those words? Do I even know what a daily portion is?

In this wealthy culture we often hear people referred to as savers or spenders. It seems God works it out so those two opposites join together in friendships and in marriage. I have always been a saver. My husband is more inclined to appreciate the daily gifts as something to be applied daily.

Over nearly fifteen years of marriage God has united us in our use of his provisions. I have learned that saving money simply for the sake of saving is meaningless and lacks faith in God’s daily provision. My “spender” husband has taught me to enjoy today’s provisions today.
My husband has learned that spending only today’s portion is more enjoyable than trying to obtain tomorrow’s provisions today. Just like the Israelites manna from heaven, there are days that God gives more than a one day supply and it is intended to be saved for tomorrow.

I’m thankful for our combined personalities and our open communication that makes our God-designed differences benefit not only our family but those around us. It is a blessing to be able to share our “daily bread” with others. The daily bread encompasses much more than money and material possessions.

God’s mercies are new each morning. There was a time in my life where I stored up God’s mercy for myself. I have learned the joy of offering mercy to those around me.

Moses was the conduit for much of God’s provision to the Israelites. The birth of Jesus is God's provision for all our tomorrows. His Spirit has been given to those who truly believe that he is the only one who provides and determines our daily portions.

Immanuel. God is with us today. Wow. He gives us everything we need for life and godliness, today. How meaningless it is to try to accumulate his infinite provisions. How foolish to try to use tomorrow’s provisions as if what he gives today is not enough.

For both the spender and the saver God says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:25-35 (New Living Translation)
"So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.

"And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!

"So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalms 118:24

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Jesus, Jesus
Can I tell you how I feel?
You have given us your Spirit
I love you so

com·mun·ion (k-mynyn) The act or an instance of sharing, as of thoughts or feelings. ETYMOLOGY: from Latin, mutual participation

Communion is a part of every Christian church. Jesus instituted what we now call communion the night before he was crucified. Holy Communion is a time when Christ followers reflect on what Jesus did for them.

I have taken the bread and the wine (or grape juice) in remembrance of Christ more times than I can count. And most every time, it is a very personal experience between me and God. Even though there may be hundreds of others taking communion around me, I have not thought of it as an act of sharing or mutual participation. My thoughts focus on the death of Jesus. His body: broken and beaten for me. His blood: poured out for me.

Recently, I participated in a communion celebration where God opened my eyes to a new perspective. My husband and I were seated in the front row where we were a bit in the way. It was this awkward position that allowed me to see what I have never seen before.

The words of Jesus in John 6 have intrigued me for some time. In verse 25, Jesus begins talking about the people doing his work. Many of his followers turned away at the thought of eating his flesh and drinking his blood as a requirement for doing his work. Jesus compares himself to the manna given to the Israelites, God’s chosen people, when they were in the desert.

The manna which God provided to the Jewish nation gave them life. Without it they would have starved to death. If you don’t know the details, read it. (see Exodus 16) It’s a great miracle and depiction of God as our perfect provider. Other nations recognized the Israelites because of God’s provision and protection.

At the recent communion celebration, I saw communion as an instance of sharing the experience. In this group, everyone in line places their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. After taking the bread and the juice, they turn to place their hands on the next few who take the bread and juice after them.

Do you see the picture yet? Christ died so that we would live in communion with each other and with him. He is the source of life and He is the common element that makes us a community. Yeah, yeah. That’s been head knowledge for me for years. But the reality of it has just sunk to my heart. And, wow, is it cool!

Jesus instructed his disciples to remember him whenever they ate the bread and drank the wine in this celebration. This was extremely significant to the Jewish nation. He was saying “I am the awaited Messiah.” He had come to his people.

God was with the Israelites in the desert when he gave them manna. But now, he is with us in a different way. Because of Jesus, God gives us an internal source of life. The manna in the desert was external. The cloud and pillar of fire were external ways that God provided life and guidance. Those external elements set the Israelites apart from other nations.

Communion is not about Christ dwelling just in me. Communion is a reminder that the Messiah has come and he offers himself to any who will take him.

Christ died for our sins. We are restored in relationship with God through his resurrection. Jesus ascended into heaven so that the Spirit which was his source of life – as blood is to the physical body – could be Life to those in the flesh who unite to be his flesh today.

Christ alone was the fullness of God. Without Christ, I am nothing. And without communion with other believers, it’s going to be very difficult for others to see the presence of God today.

We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.

Ephesians 2:21

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Friendship - Luxury or Necessity

“I expect most people to want me for some specific task or assist, but are not really interested in me.”

Have you ever felt that way? I have for about 40 years but I want to stop thinking that way.

We are in the process of relocating about four hours away. This is the fourth time we’ve made this type of move in ten years. I enjoy change and this change has helped me see why I enjoy moving like this.

I don’t make luxury friends well but I can develop necessity friends fairly easy. Do you know the difference in those friendships? There can be a very fine line when the necessity friend has the full potential of being a luxury friend.

One very special luxury friend lives in Columbus Georgia. She has taught me a lot about friendship. She initiated our friendship with a wave from her driveway when we first looked at the house. She followed up with banana bread the morning after we moved in. She called, introducing herself as “your neighbor” inviting me to do daily stuff like trips to K-Mart and I went. She never assumed or intruded. Always offered her friendship openly without smothering. I want to be like that but something holds me back. What is it?

I have another luxury friend who lives in Ohio. Our friendship began more as a necessity friendship with “reasons” for the friendship. Our friendship grew during her role as director of the day care at our church. Because of our background – same high school, church, college - I had a sense of comradery with her. I volunteered at the day care for administrative and kitchen tasks.

The thing I enjoy about moving are the farewell visits with necessity friends that allow me to enter into luxury friendships for a brief time. With this move, I’m seeing that I’ve missed out on the opportunity for some potentially very special luxury friendships. How did I miss out? Attitude mostly.

It is the “they aren’t interested in me” attitude in my life that keeps me from offering my friendship. For me, the phrase was more like “She is too busy. I don’t want to be a bother. She’d think I was a pest to call for no reason. I’ll contact her when I have a specific reason to do so.” Sounds like humility but it is really pride – fear of rejection that will hurt my pride. I now recognize this scheme of Satan has not only affected me but our entire culture.

I strongly believe that scripture instructs us to be united. When the believers who are living by the Spirit unite, the world will see the Body of Christ in the flesh. God has created us to be in relationship – intimate, luxury relationship with each other. He has placed in me the essence of who I am. That is a gift from God. When I offer to reveal that with others, I benefit from what he has placed in me and what he has placed in the other person.

I spend far too much time on “necessity” relationships and far too little time on “luxury” relationships. It is the luxury relationships that are the true necessity. Necessity relationship may unite us in tasks but luxury relationships lead us to unity in our faith.

The abundant life Jesus offers is the best luxury of all. We don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it. And it is not a necessity for existence. But it makes life worth living.

This move will be different for me. No more waiting on a task oriented reason to make a friend. I’m going to offer someone the luxury of my friendship. Oh yeah, I might suffer rejection. Christ initiated a luxury relationship with us and was willing to experience rejection to a greater degree than I will ever experience.

To confide in someone, with who you really are, is risky. But there is no better gift than true friendship.

I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn't confide in his servants. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

John 15:15

To my luxury friends in Lexington – you know who you are. You have shared who you really are with me and encouraged me to be all that God has designed me to be. I will miss the look in your eyes when you have risked revealing yourself. It has been a blessing to accept the luxury of your friendship. It is a precious treasure. I will hold on to it as a delicate and fragile keepsake.

Friends are friends forever when the Lord’s the Lord of them. (Old song, great truth.)

Monday, November 14, 2005


"It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared.” Luke 24:34

Indescribable, uncontainable, all powerful, untamable, incomparable, unchangeable - I am awestruck.

There are no words to describe the experience of seeing Jesus. I can only imagine the emotions and thoughts of the two disciples that walked with him on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Just when they realized who he was, he disappeared. Their response: “were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us.”

I spent the last three days walking with Christ. Yesterday, shortly before leaving, I realized I was walking with Christ all three days. Oh how I wanted to cling to him and never leave. But that is not why he walked with me. The experience was not for me, but for you.

We use the phrase “body of Christ” in church to identify all believers as one. I have been in wonderful church bodies and comforted by some of the godliest people on this earth. But this weekend, I spent 72 hours with the Body of Christ – Christ in the flesh.

This Christ did not preach doctrine or argue man’s list of appropriate Christian behavior. This Christ showed love in a way I have never experienced before. The agape love from the Emmaus Community was a visible sign of how each of their pilgrimage experiences changed their lives. I have been given so much love, there is no way I can keep it from overflowing.

Another part of the Emmaus Community included me. Eight women seated at the Table of Mary were so covered in prayer because of the painful lose of one, that the entire table bonded into the likeness of Christ quickly. We took our place at the table Friday morning and this much time later (imagine index finger of each hand approximately shoulder width apart) our hearts became one.

The love was so strong that we drew a bit of attention a few times. Our roaring laughter to weeping in sorrow was nothing less than God’s heart in all of us sharing our joys and pains.

I have discovered that Christ still appears in the flesh today. Oh, yes, he has made his dwelling place in the hearts of individual men and women. But his flesh appears when those men and women join together as a body with one heart.

Claire, Jill, Dara, Kendra, Judy, Marge, Barbara – you are my new best friends.

De Colores!

They didn't waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: "It's really happened! The Master has been raised up--Simon saw him!"

Luke 24:33-34

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Church of the Tin Woodman

Warner Brothers left out some of the best parts of the original story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum written in 1900. You can read the entire book online at Chapter Five tells why the Tin Woodman wants a heart. The Woodman character came to mind as I read Revelation this morning.

Revelation 2:1-7

1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: "The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks among the seven gold lampstands says: 2 I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. 3 You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name, and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you: you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent. 6 Yet you do have this: you hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 "Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Do you see that in the church today? Do you see it in yourself? Just as with the Woodman, losing your heart doesn’t happen all at once. And, based on my experience, it is a daily battle to hang on to it.

In Genesis 29, Jacob begins working for the love of his heart - Rachel. Laban, Rachel and Leah’s father, pulls a bit of deceitfulness on Jacob. Instead of giving Rachel, he gives Leah (the older daughter) to Jacob in marriage. Jacob is disturbed but realizes to get what he wants, he must submit to the authority he is currently under.

Jacob abides by Laban’s stipulations because he remembers his first love. Jacob uses the time of the agreement wisely. He implements a shrewd plan of his own. Some may see it as deceitful but I see it as an intelligent business plan.

Jacob does not allow his 14 years of work to distract him from his heart motivation.

Jesus is another example of staying true to his heart. Can you imagine having the accusations thrown at you as Jesus did in those three and a half years of ministry and not being distracted from your purpose?

We’re talking about God in the flesh of one man here. Jesus Christ could have shut up anyone he wanted. He did not need to form a protest rally or have people sign a petition against the religious or Roman rulers of that day. He could have spoken a word and changed everything in the twinkling of an eye. But he didn't.

He stayed focused on his first love – the children of God. Ah, were you expecting me to say his first love was God the father? The fullness of God was in Christ; therefore, his first love was the first love of God the father. Jesus even asked the Father to forgive those who were crucifying him on the cross. He loved people - God's creation - God's children.

Jesus gave two commands, love God and love others. When we love God, he gives us his Spirit.

I sometimes want to focus my love only on God and wipe out all those who spit on the name of Christ. But to be like Christ is to keep my focus on God’s first love – his children.

Matthew 18:14

In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father's will that even one of these little ones should perish.

I am so thankful for those whose heart was focused on me 17 years ago. There were plenty of Christians who belittled me with their pious comments; who fought back when I questioned their “acts of love.”

But there were two who loved me and listened to me right where I was. They did not accuse. They did not pretend to be superior in knowledge or righteousness. They did not offer a list of dos and don’ts. They simply loved me. By their love, I discovered God’s heart.

Have you lost your first love? Are you made of tin? When you look around, do you see the wrong in people? Or do you feel the tears of God’s heart? Do you recognize that God sheds tears for you in the same way he sheds tears for those you protest against?

1 John 4:7-13

7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God – for God is love. 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us. 13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


What are you longing for? Do you ever have a sense that you can't quite reach whatever it is? Maybe you don't even know what it is.

My heart is longing these days. For what? I'm not exactly sure. A deeper relationship with God? Maybe. But that is so vague. What do I want from that relationship? Why am I longing for it?

Perhaps it's just friendship that I desire. My husband is incomparably my best friend and I have other dear friends literally around the world. I do sometimes wish for the neighbor-friend relationship I left in Georgia. But I recognize that was a special gift from God that can never be repeated.

But there is still something more that I’m longing for. Let's see if I can describe it.

I see a triangle. A three dimensional equilateral triangle. I guess that would make it a pyramid. Geometry is not my strength. Ok, at the top point is God. The rest of the triangle(s) consists of God's creation. Every person and thing in the pyramid knows and fully understands God’s supremacy as well as knowing that without him we all are just a formless mass.

Do you see it? God brings unity and purpose to the formless mass. The people and things that make up that mass understand their significance to the structure. They don’t try to reach the top - that’s God’s spot. All the rest of the spots are equally significant with each other in the formation of the pyramid.

Pyramids are fascinating. Although it is the shape that draws one’s attention, it’s the stuff inside and the question of “how’d they do that?” that is most intriguing.

Here’s an interesting site on pyramids:

What’s my point? - No pun intended. I feel like part of a formless mass. I want to know that I’m part of the pyramid. A pyramid not built by human hands and human reasoning.

I’m in search of a living pyramid whose only focus is to lean toward the top point and for the sides to lean on each other. A group of individuals who are more concerned with the formation of the mass than with their own personal formation. A body that encourages others to climb on top of them so we, together, can be a visible form in this world – causing people to look to the point. The point of our pyramid. The point of being.

I don’t think I’m alone in this search. I sense there are many who desire the same experience. The question that I have yet to answer is similar to the question historians have about ancient pyramids of Egypt. It seems like an enormous task. Far beyond our current human knowledge. So, how is the pyramid built?

I don’t have the answer but a good starting place is an interview with God.

The Interview With God
from the "Get Inspired Now Team"

Monday, October 03, 2005


“So a course was fixed and a start was made.” The Hare and the Tortoise

“Let us keep on running the race marked out for us.”
Hebrews 12:1 (NIrV)

“God Time[1] with the kids this week is on determination. My 3rd grader quickly applied this thought to a book report due this week and a pioneer project due next week. For my daughter, well – she’s 100% girl, we applied it to getting out the door for school this morning.

The 53 words offered in this little devotional where packed with challenge. To avoid copyright issues I’ll not type them out but the essence is determination requires only two things: first decide, then do.

How do we decide? Hebrews 12:2 says “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus.”

The Passion of the Christ movie opened my eyes to the meaning of the word passion. It is easy to claim we are passionate about something when we are applauded for our efforts. One of my biggest fears/frustrations is being misunderstood. I want others to grasp my passion or at least understand it enough to appreciate my efforts.

Hebrews 12:2 goes on to say “He [Jesus] was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward.”

We know that Jesus agonized at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:26-42) over his upcoming death. One of my favorite lines in The Passion of the Christ is just before Jesus is flogged. He says “my heart is ready.”

His focus was on God’s will not on his physical circumstances. I must remind myself of that. I must decide before I do. For determination to carry me through, I cannot focus on my current position. My focus must be on the goal – the path Christ has set before me.

The Tortoise decided from the beginning to make it to the finish line. The Hare took off and decided along the way to take a nap.

Are you determined? What is your goal? Where is your focus? Are your eyes fixed on the author and perfecter of your faith or on the people and circumstances around you? Do you decide before or after you do?

Be determined - act based on your decisions. The path can get rough. Making decisions along the way will greatly affect your finish.

Now it's time for me to determine to clean house. That definitely requires focusing on the goal.

[1] Children’s Ministry material from 252Basics

Friday, September 30, 2005

I'm Free

My husband dreamed about being Free. It was unusual in that he felt it was more about his being rather than his doing something in the dream.

He dreamed he had a bucket that appeared fairly clean. He turned the bucket over and a bird plopped out. He turned the bucket back over and it was spotless. He then stood on a chair in a classroom setting similar to a scene in Dead Poet Society, and exclaimed “I’m free.”

Few people understood what he was shouting about. Later he went to work where a man approached him and said quietly, “I heard you are free. So am I.” There was a sense of being understood, a common bond.

If you don’t see the spiritual implications of this dream, well, chances are, you are not free.

As followers of Christ and born again children of God, we are free. Unfortunately, it seems there are many who profess to be Christ followers that are not free. They look at those who are free with a puzzling face. Those who are free find themselves holding back because so few seem to understand. We might even begin to question our sense of freedom.

Then along comes someone else who is free. Oh, what a thrill to be with someone who understands. Someone who knows true freedom in Christ! There is an instant bonding. A unity beyond earthly comprehension even if we have never met before.

I experienced that recently on a trip to Colorado. Heidi from Michigan and Cindy from Louisiana are free. The three of us bonded instantly.

I wonder… are the Children of God frustrated and are non-churched individuals confused because a lot of “Christ followers” have not been born again?

Jesus prays in John 17:20-21 (NIV)

"I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Maybe we need to quit trying to unite with those who aren’t free so the world will know the source of freedom.

Just a thought.

For some interesting Barna Group statistics check out

For another blog, another time - John 3:3 “Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” What does it mean to be born again?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Mission or Ministry

Who is influencing your decisions? In our desire to minister to the mass we often focus more on the mission than the ministry. This applies to the work place as well as volunteer work. The definition of minister is to give help to somebody in need. Mission refers to a particular task given to a person or group to carry out.

It is human nature to want to help someone in need. The difference for the Christ follower is why we are helping. Is it for the comfort of the individual in need? That is not a bad reason to help. But the Christ follower has a greater cause. That cause is to bring glory to God.

As a ministry leader, people like to give me their opinions of what we should be doing. Since I am somewhat rebellious and more of a people irritator than a people pleaser, I can easily brush off suggestions. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. God sometimes uses the voices of others to guide us in his will.

Whether you are managing a data center or leading women’s ministry, to experience life to its fullest our ultimate influencer must be God. It is not a matter of getting it from God first. It is a matter of spending time alone with God where you can hear and recognize his voice. You can then test the spirit and confirm that God is the influencer by knowing that your decision will in some way (perhaps beyond your full understanding) bring glory to God.

God has given our women’s ministry the mission to function in a non-traditional way. It is our desire to address only the unique needs of women in order to assist them in finding their place in the full body of Christ. This requires careful evaluation of every thought and how we carry out ideas. Without God's influence on every decision, we will easily slip into the traditional ways that are familiar.

Many women enjoy the traditional role of women’s ministry. There is certainly a place for separating women out from the men to encourage and build up that portion of the body of Christ in ways that only woman to woman relationships can. But are we ministering under God’s influence or are we accomplishing a mission to provide pleasure for women based on tradition?

God’s ministry will ultimately unite the body of true believers and bring glory to his name. When we allow God to influence our ministry, we can trust that he will guide us where we need to be. We don’t need to spend time fretting over whether or not we are meeting the needs and desires of every single person we come in contact with.

It is ok that we, as individuals or as a portion of the body, do not meet the perceived needs of everyone. The full body of Christ, influenced by God and for God, will meet the true needs according to God’s will when we seek first the kingdom of God and not the comfort of man.

The next time someone offers you a suggestion for your ministry or you are struggling with issues at work, allow God to be the influencer of your decisions. Then, whatever you are doing, whether in word or in deed, you will be ministering for God’s glory and not to accomplish man’s mission.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Will Satan talk to me less as I get closer to God?

Bedtime is a special time for me with my kids. It was at bedtime a couple year ago that my now eight year old son asked Jesus to be in his heart. Since that time, our conversations have gone in many directions in regard to who God is and where he is.

My son recently told me he was struggling with prayer. He said it embarrassed him to pray. It seems the embarrassment was related to his comment that it is hard to believe in God because he can’t see him. Isn’t it amazing how Satan can cause even the most sincere child to be uncomfortable with God?

My response was to encourage him to talk to God alone when he thought about it even if he didn’t feel comfortable with it. It’s like a new friendship. The deepest of friendships often begin with some awkwardness especially if one individual has obvious superiority and respect in some area. I assured my son that he would feel more comfortable with God as he spent more time talking to him.

This week, after confirming that talking to God in your mind is prayer, my son informed me with a great deal of enthusiasm that he’s been praying more. He said all his doubts are gone and he feels much closer to God now. Then came the question: “Will Satan talk to me less as I get closer to God?”

That sounds logical but reality is just the opposite. My son and I then entered into the conversation of how to distinguish God’s voice from Satan’s voice. My logical son gave me an example of Satan’s voice – mean and rough with a scowl on his face.

Again, that seems logical but not reality. Satan is called a liar and deceiver. His desire to rule in place of God drives him to use many schemes which most often appear “good” – at least initially or for a “good” cause. How easy it would be to choose God’s way over Satan’s if every “evil” temptation were obviously mean and rough and caused us to have a scowl on our face.

God is not human. The deity of Jesus Christ was not in his humanness, it was in his Godness. The easiest way to get to know God is to read and study his written word – the Bible. Every thought God places in our minds will be in line with his character which is revealed in scripture.

Fortunately, my son likes to read. But the Bible no longer has to be something of dread to read for any age. I still prefer The New International Version for my everyday reading but often go to The Message or New Living Translation when I’m studying a topic or section of the Bible. has a good article to help understand the large variety of Bibles to choose from today.

I recently bought my son a New Testament called “Magnify”. It has a fun cover and full of games and even has Codes to read with the 3-D glasses included. I gave him the same suggestion I give adults. Start with one book – I recommend the book of John – read it like you would any other book. Read for enjoyment. Stop when something jumps out at you. Meditate on those words and talk to God about them. What do those words tell you about God and his relationship with you?

The way to recognize the ideas of another person is to get to know that person. The Bible is God’s life story. Enjoy getting to know him in print so that you can recognize his ideas planted in your mind.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I would die for you

Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

On my walk with God this morning, I told him I would give my life for him. His response, “Would you give your pride for me?” Ouch!

Until recently, “to die is gain” has been the more attractive option of the above verse. But over the past year or so I’ve experienced a deeper understanding of “to live is Christ”.

It is overwhelming to attempt to comprehend that Christ lives in me. I want everything I do to be Christ’s work not my human efforts. Obviously that is easier said than done. But the concept is wonderful.

I’ve been basking in this new enlightenment for several months. I thought I’d given up my pride because I have stated I am willing to look foolish (in my or others opinion) for the sake of Christ. I’ve stated I am willing to fail (from the human perspective) in order to see God’s perfect power through my failures and weaknesses.

I thought I was over what my husband and I have titled “prideful humility.” That’s the pride that says, “Oh, you go ahead, I don’t need that, you can have it.” Or “I’ll just be unseen; you go ahead and do it your way.” It’s the pride that makes you feel like you have put others first when in reality you’ve simply said, “I’m better than you because I can do without.”

Truth is: without Christ, I am nothing. That truth applies to everyone. When God sends someone in my physical path that thinks they need something more than Christ, am I willing to give up my pride and allow Christ to live in me at that moment?

An issue came up yesterday that greatly irritated me. My prideful humility would say “just let the idiots do it their way and don’t stir up anything that will make them think I need more Zoloft.” But that’s not what I heard God saying in my walk this morning.

Ignorance most often stems from inexperience or just the need to have someone show (not tell) the person how the thoughts apply to their life.

Telling others my thoughts is not too difficult. But, I tend to withhold some thoughts if I sense rejection. Showing takes more time. It takes willingness to listen and understand the experiences of the “ignorant” person (no offense intended). Then I can relate my thoughts and experiences in a way that they will see how it applies to their life and not just mine.

I don’t know exactly what God is leading me to after this. I was pretty proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone a year ago. The pride of that has worn off. I’ve settled into another comfort zone. I guess it’s time to step out again. Maybe I’ll leave the pride behind this time. Oh, that’s a scary thought.

Proverbs 11:2 (New Living Translation) Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

That’s a tougher choice than the Philippians verse. I’m a bit ignorant on true humility but Christ certainly took the time and painful effort of showing what it looks like. Now will I choose to apply it and gain wisdom or stick with my ignorant head knowledge?

Philippians 2:5-8 (The Message)Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death--and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

In God We Trust

1 Kings 8:27 (NLV) – Solomon’s Prayer
"But is it true that God will live on the earth? See, heaven and the highest heaven are not big enough to hold You. How much less this house which I have built."

1 Kings 9:3
"The Lord said to him, I have heard your prayer which you have prayed to Me. I have set apart this house you have built by putting My name there forever. My eyes and My heart will be there always."

I’ve been in a few conversations recently about the eventual fall of the USA. History tends to repeat itself and one nation does not remain a world power forever. Christians tend to believe this fall will be due to decline of morality in our culture. I agree that in many ways we, as a nation, have turned away from God. However, my trust is in God, not in the power of our nation.

Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8 and God’s response in 1 Kings 9:1-9 give me hope for our nation. Yes, there is the promise that God will remove his Name if his people turn from him. But there is also the promise that God will always be with us. When his people or foreigners turn to him, confess his Name and turn from their individual sin; he will hear from heaven and forgive them.

At the time of Solomon, God put his name on the temple. 1 Kings 8:10 indicates that God’s presence filled the physical temple in the form of a visible cloud.

God’s people are now those who honor his son, Jesus Christ. Our bodies are the temple which carry his name. And his presence dwells in the believer in the form of the Holy Spirit.

Our nation has reaped the benefit of God’s presence because of the large number of individuals in the US who honor and carry his name. In fact, this nation began with leaders who were fully devoted to God as individuals. Their desire was to worship God as God led them rather than as the King of England directed them. The devotion of these leaders is evident in much of their writing and is viewed everyday on our currency.

Yes, our nation began honoring the Name (reputation) of God. But it was the individual leaders who carried that name, not the nation itself. God has given his Name to individuals. It is up to the individuals who know his Name to turn to him and pray; to seek forgiveness for their own sins.

When we speak of our nation’s lack of honor to God, we are assuming that God dwells in our nation as a whole rather than in the individual. Isn’t that the problem our forefathers had with the Church of England? The American rebel is stirred in me when I see those who profess to be followers of Christ acting like the King of England. Our nation was founded on the desire to turn to God and let God draw people to his glory. The intent was to establish a nation of individuals united in God – not united in how they believed. They were seeking freedom to honor God directly rather than through the King.

The strength of our nation lies in the individual believer’s willingness to confess the Name of God, turn from his/her sin and look to God as their leader. Our task is not to force others to seek God. When God’s presence dwells in his temple, his glory will be evident to all – believer and non-believer.

1 Kings 8:59-60 (NIV)
“And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day's need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.” (emphasis added)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Sacrifice Isaac? Thats Outrageous!

Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." Genesis 22:2 (NIV)

Why would a loving God test Abraham in such a way? I’ve been taught this was possibly to prove Abraham’s faithfulness to himself. That comes from those who contend that God chooses to know everything. That assumption brings more questions than answers to my mind. But I won’t go there.

I’d like to go into a history of the sacrifice but I’ll skip that too so you will read to the end.

Let’s start with a modern definition of sacrifice. According to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, sacrifice is the “forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.”

Intellectually, any Christ follower would state that God is of the greatest value. In our culture, most would agree that human life is the most highly valued thing we have any control over. But how do we define life? Is it the moving, breathing body or is it something else?

Leviticus 17:11 states that the life of the creature is in the blood and God has given us that blood to make atonement for ourselves. It is the blood that makes atonement for the life. So what is atonement?

Atonement is “amends or reparation made for an injury or wrong.” It is our knowledge of good and evil that makes us aware of our wrongs. But our desire to be like God distracts us from seeing the need to forfeit something we highly value for the sake of God’s claim. Many people want to believe that God is too kind to really expect us to sacrifice anything. After all, isn’t that what Christ did for us? Yes, but he was much more than a kamikaze pilot or suicide bomber.

God’s request of Abraham in Genesis 22 reveals the significance of what Christ did for us.

Genesis 17:15-19 tells us that Isaac was not merely a gift for Abraham and Sarah to enjoy for their own pleasure. God gave Isaac for God’s purpose – for the sake of one of greater value. We may not be the parents of many nations but our children also have purpose beyond our own pleasure.

We fail to comprehend that life is more important than food and the body more important than clothes. (Matthew 6:25) We overlook the truth that the life of the creature (or person) is in the blood, not in the flesh. John 6:63 tells us the Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. Other scripture informs us that our battles are not against flesh and blood. We are to worship in Spirit and truth – the physical entities are not the most significant part of who we are.

Now to the concept of fire and the burnt offering. Throughout scripture, fire represents God’s power. God spoke to Moses in a burning bush. He guided the Israelites by a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21). God sent fire to consume offerings in Leviticus 9:24 and 1 Kings 18:38. John the Baptist stated that Jesus would baptize with fire and indeed he did. The Holy Spirit appeared like tongues of fire in Acts 2:3.

It seems to me that God was asking Abraham to acknowledge truth. What is life? Is it the joy of interacting with your son Isaac in the flesh? Or is life found in God alone?

We know that in the physical realm, anything left in fire long enough will be totally consumed or melted down to become greater in value. We tend to treasure things that will not withstand fire. Yet God has shown us through Christ that we consist of something not viewable with the human eye that is capable of withstanding the fire of death. Even though Abraham didn’t have the privilege of that insight, he was willing to offer his greatest physical treasure. He feared and trusted God more than he wanted from God.

Are you seeking only the physical pleasures from God’s provisions? What are you keeping from God? Whatever he has placed in your reach is for his purpose. He wants you to participate in his abundant life. But we must be willing to acknowledge the truth that life is in the Spirit and the flesh counts for nothing.

God has given us flesh which we may use and do with as we please. He offers us his Spirit so that we may participate in real life. Do you want control of physical pleasure or do you want life? Life is so much greater than anything the physical senses can comprehend.

Will you submit to his greater cause or will you remain childish and shout “mine” when he asks of you? What do your children or those around you see as your greatest value? Why hang on to toys when you can have the real thing?

The human body as we know it has a short existence. Do you want to go just a short distance? Then continue to use your own power. Do you want to go farther? Be consumed by the power of fire – give up life as you know it and experience real life. It’s not an outrageous request when you discover the true meaning of life.


Friday, July 29, 2005

Instruction Manual for Life

Some people like to think of the Bible as an instruction manual. Instruction manuals simplify life and save time. Most parents would appreciate having a manual handed to them along with their first child.

To write a useful instruction manual, the writer must have superior knowledge of the unique design of an item. The user also needs to have some comprehension of the parts and purpose of the item to be able to understand the manual. According to my experience as a parent, the engineering design of children is much too complicated for anyone to write such a manual.

If the Bible is an instruction manual, I’m in trouble. My thoughts and ways are not anywhere near God’s thoughts and ways. Therefore, I don’t have a chance of comprehending the instructions.

I like to view the Bible as God’s autobiography. The most useful parenting books are written by parents suggesting ways to interact with children rather than specific procedures to apply. The Bible is full of stories about God interacting with mankind. These true-life stories allow us to get to know God.

The cool thing is that this autobiography doesn’t have an ending because God is as much alive today as he was in the beginning. We are a part of the never ending story. The Bible shows that God has interacted with mankind in various ways throughout time.

In the beginning, God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. After the Garden, he interacted with chosen people through his Spirit. Eventually, God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. He is no longer with us in the flesh of one man but Jesus promised that he would send the Holy Spirit to live in his followers. Not just with us, but in us. That’s a pretty close relationship.

If we view the Bible as an instruction manual, we will go nuts trying to make human sense out of whether we are to annihilate our enemies or turn the other cheek. A friend was once trying to read scripture as an instruction manual and found the “instructions” concerning the mold in her house to be rather humorous.

Everything in the Bible has purpose and meaning. Just as every aspect of my life has made an impact on who I am, we can learn who God is by looking at the various aspects of his life as revealed in scripture.

God’s actions and instructions do change throughout the Bible. His character never changes. Actions that never change are instinct or habit; they are performed without much thought. Actions based on the character of a person change according to the relationship encountered.

If we view the Bible as an autobiography of the Holy Spirit that is alive within us, the entire Bible is much more enjoyable to read. Rather than say, “that instruction doesn’t apply today,” we can ask “what impact did that interaction between God and man tell me about who God is and his relationship with me today?”

Do you want to have a relationship with God or just follow instructions written by one with an intellect beyond the scope of human understanding? He is not made in our image. We are made in his image.

God desires obedience, yes. But it is obedience to his gentle voice which we recognize by getting to know his unchanging character. That character is revealed when we read the Bible as an autobiography in which the main character is God, not us.

May the peace of Christ free you to live in relationship with the Creator of all things.

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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