Kim Jaggers

Kim Jaggers
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Will he ever be "normal"?

He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Deut 10:21

He spent his first two weeks on a ventilator fighting to live. His little body fit in the palm of my hand. Every breath was a struggle and every calorie came from a tube. The first year included multiple surgeries and 264 days in the hospital. The years after included seizures from brain bleeds, heart monitors, oxygen tanks, and a g-tube for nourishment. More than once, I have been asked will he ever be “normal?” Life with my son has never seemed normal. It didn’t feel normal to sit through two eight-hour heart surgeries at Duke (the last one only 18 months ago). But this morning didn’t feel normal either --getting up at 4:45 am to take him to practice because he made the high school basketball team. It is really not normal that the child, who still has asthma, can run for two hours every afternoon. It is also weird that the boy rarely cracks a book and has almost straight “A’s”. Living with Ben has never been normal. I don’t guess it is normal to see God work miracles … but I am very sure He still does.

A long time ago, I sat crying in a hospital chapel pleading with God to let Ben live but telling God I still loved Him no matter what He chose to do. In the years since, I have had to remind myself of that prayer over and over…but it isn’t seeing the miracles that have gotten me through-- it has been knowing the miracle maker. I know God is good and I know He can… whether or not He does. I know He loves my children more than I do, and that true peace, hope, and joy come from Him not your circumstances. I know He alone can bring beauty from ashes. I know He can take our pain and turn it into our passion. In the hardest moments of life, and in the greatest victories, God does not change. He is always there, and He is always faithful. God is enough to sustain me when all else seems to fail me. This is a miracle, and to know this I am thankful.

How about you? Do you know the miracle-maker? Are you thankful for Who He is as much as for what He does? Is your peace dependent on your circumstances, or are you standing on the rock Who is Jesus Christ? Life is hard. It is unpredictable. God is the only steady in the storm. He is peace that makes no sense and joy in the midst of pain. I am so thankful to know Jesus Christ in a real run-to-Him relationship…and not just know about Him. He is Savior, and He is Friend.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the miracle of knowing You. It is no small thing that you came to earth and died for me so I could spend eternity in Heaven with you. But thank you God for the miracle of knowing you in a real personal relationship. Thank you for speaking through your Word. Thank you for allowing me to see your Hand in my life. Thank you for taking hard things and bringing good from them. You are strength for today and hope for tomorrow. Amen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Belly Laughing Happy and Messy Blessings

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Ps 27:13

I sat trying to read my magazine in the doctor’s office distracted by their continual laughter. Clearly smitten, the father seemed oblivious to my observation as he talked with her. His daughter’s words were indistinguishable to me, but he clearly understood everything she uttered. A normal occurrence, you might assume, a father delighting over his toddler. Yet this was no small child. She looked to be in her late teens. Unable to walk or talk normally, her round face glowed with a continual smile as she played with her toy, and he wiped the drool that ran down her face. She clearly required constant care and patience… yet, I don’t think I have ever seen a more genuinely happy pair. Years ago his heart must have broken as he heard the news that his little girl would never be normal, and his life would never be as well. I wondered how long it took him to accept it all. Had he blamed God? Did he blame himself? Did he fall apart or get mad? Where was his wife? Had she left in despair?

Yet there he sat--his eyes revealed no hint of bitterness but instead sparkled with delight while their laughter filled the room. Sometime, I don’t know when, he must have decided to accept the life he had been given. And, by the looks of things, he had done more than accept it….he had embraced it as blessing. He wasn’t putting on a show. He was belly-laughing-happy and as proud of the sweet angel who held his hand as if she had just been crowned Miss America.

I want to be like that daddy don’t you? I want to live life… all of it. I don’t want to focus on what I don’t have but what I do. I don’t want to live in what could have been but enjoy what is. I want to delight in the blessings God has given me even if they don’t look like someone else’s blessings. I want to stop worrying about tomorrow and enjoy this day. I’m not trying to be a Polly Anna. I know life is hard, but it is also good. All of us have something, and most of us have many things, to be thankful for. Sometimes we have to look a little harder to see them, but they are there. The problem is we are so busy trying to fix life we miss the blessing right in front of us….messy that it might be.

Prayer, Father, thank you for surrounding me with blessings. Help me to see them. Help me to enjoy them. Thank you for trusting me with some hard things and helping me to know you better because of them. Thank you for never leaving me. Thank you for being for me. Thank you for sending your Son to die for me so that I can be with you in Heaven but also so I can enjoy You in this life. Thank you Lord for allowing me to see how much you love me today. Amen.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why do you do the things you do?


Thank you for your continued prayers for this ministry. I want to call your attention to an interview Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ online magazine “Lies Young Women Believe” did recently with my teenage son, Will. This interview was about the effects of his father’s suicide on his faith. I know many of you know someone who has been touched by suicide. I think you will find incredible encouragement in this article that I have posted to my website. You can go directly to that page at What an amazing God we serve!

Here is this week’s Single Moment Devotional:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Are you weak and foolish? I know you have heard me say it before, but God’s Word comforts weak and foolish me. I particularly like 1 Cor 1:27 where God tells us He chooses the weak and the foolish. I am thoroughly convinced I qualify to be chosen! I find further peace in these words in a world where everyone wants to be smart, beautiful, rich, famous, an idol, a star…it seems that everyone wants to be known. Many of us aren’t trying out for the latest reality show, but we still have that tendency to want to be known. Even we mini-van moms decorate our vehicles with stickers showing five kids, two dogs, and “honor student on board”. I don’t think that is sin but just evidence we all have the tendency to want to be known for something, and, if we aren’t careful, we will be tempted to glory in that something.

Yet in all we want to glory in, the Bible tells us “let him who glories, glory in the Lord” (1 Cor 1:30). Perhaps, this is because God knows glorying in our own “accomplishments” will never really satisfy us. Yes, we may achieve things, and some good things, but the fulfillment that comes from our own success never really lasts very long. If we aren’t careful, we can become a slave to the praise of men--like a drug addict always craving that next accolade or complement. Believe me I know! Even ministry, and especially speaking, can be seductive; and, if I am not careful, I will speak and write for the praise of men rather than the praise of God. I Cor 1:29 says “no flesh can glory in His presence” and if my flesh is basking in my glory rather than in God – God is NOT in it.

This desire to glory in ourselves is the same desire that caused Lucifer to fall and can keep us from the presence of God. It can cause us to make stupid, sinful decisions to make ourselves look good or to please someone else rather than please God. So how do we combat this seductive, flesh desire to be known and to be praised by others, which has caused the downfall of many? We have to look at our lives and evaluate what we are doing and why. We have to take our thoughts captive and combat them with truth. Our security does (and will only ever) come from God. Every talent, ability, every good thing you have was given to you by HIM (I Cor 1:5). Furthermore, “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows”(James 1:17). The world will love you today and hate you tomorrow. God will not change! He loves you for who you are, not what you do, and His affection for you will not change like shifting shadows based on how you perform! There is real contentment there! God loves you so much – oh, glory in that! Ask yourself why you do the stuff you do and why you think the thoughts you think. Lay down that never-satisfying need to be known and praised by others. Follow Him with all you have and you will find freedom, joy and rest, for your souls.

Prayer: Oh Father, thank you for loving me even though I am weak and foolish. Thank you for giving me so many good things and loving me with anunending, perfect, love. Help me to evaluate my life and my motives. Help me to walk in the freedom that comes from living my life to please you rather than for the praise of men. You are so good to me. Thank you for helping me see things which are causing me pain. I love you Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Missing God

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
Psalms 41:2

I have felt like Eeyore lately. It seems like one hard, irritating thing after another has happened. Life has been busy and distracting. And can I be honest? I am not sure if you will want to hear this or not… unless, of course, it has happened to you. Okay, so, are you ready?... I have felt somewhat distant from God. It isn’t that I have been caught up in sin, or that I have neglected reading my Bible. I have gone to church, and I have done all the things that I normally do… yet, God just doesn’t feel as close. I don’t know why the seasons of feeling distant come… but they have come before. Thankfully (and with hallelulajah) they always end! Suddenly, without expectation, one day, God just feels close again. I notice His presence in the many colors of the sunset; I hear His joy in the belly laughter of my children; it is as if my hands, once again, can almost reach out and touch Him in the chorus of a praise song. I am never sure what precipitates the resurrection of that wonderful, unexplainable, delightful, feeling of intimacy with my Heavenly Father…I have never figured it out. I guess I never really tried. I am usually too busy basking in the sweet feeling of His presence again.

So when the down days come, when the problems seem louder than my blessings, when I am tired, when my heart is heavy, or when I just don’t feel God (Who is near) near… I hang on. I keep going. I press on knowing He really is there and knowing, though He might not feel close now, He is! And there is peace in knowing I won’t always feel distant like I feel today. In some ways, I think this “missing Him” makes me more thankful and even thirstier for more of Him. Yes, I know, God is so much more than a feeling… but I have to tell you, I love the feeling of a so-close-my-heart-might-burst God.

Prayer: Father, I love You. I love the feeling of Your presence in my life. I want more of You and I miss You so much when you feel distant. Thank you for the incredible joy that it is to walk with You in real fellowship. Oh, may those days where you feel close far outnumber the days where you feel distant. But in those days, those down days… thank you for carrying me. Thank you for never leaving me to feel apart for very long. Amen.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mean Girls

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
I Pet 3:9

Girls can be mean. I knew it as a teenager. I feel it even more now as a Mom. This past weekend, Abi was invited to a slumber party. She had to decline because we had family plans. Before I go on with the story, I have to tell you, none of my kids are perfect (mind you, this is the same kid who in a previous devotion broke her toe kicking her brother). Yet this weekend she “walked the talk”. Late Friday night she received a text from her “friends” at the slumber party telling her, “You have a large zit and you are ugly.” Without consulting me, Abi simply texted back, “I think you are beautiful. But I don’t get my security from what others think. I get that from God.” After the fact, she calmly read me the texts without a hint of anger towards those girls.

I am pretty sure I would not have reacted the same when I was twelve years old. But Abi could because she remembered peace and security come from God. She knows she is called to be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer (James 1:22)…and not just when it is easy to do so. On the other hand, my first flesh-filled, moma-bear thought was to give those girls a good “talking to” and spend any amount of money on pimple cream to protect her. However as Francis Chan (Forgotten God) says “I think we could all agree living according to our sinful flesh is not what is intended for children of God. Yet even so, we often choose to face life’s issues and circumstances in exactly the same way as someone without the Spirit of God”. Chan goes on to say when we do this “ whether consciously or not, we essentially say to God, ‘I know you raised Christ from the dead; but the fact is my problems are just too much for you and I need to deal with them by myself.’”

On this day, Abi chose not to live by her flesh and relied on something much better than pimple cream for her protection. In the midst of her hurt, Abi had a choice. She chose to trust God by not repaying evil for evil, and she was blessed for it (1 Pet 3:9). She remembered her value to Him far exceeds the opinion of any other person on this earth. As she went to school on Monday, she was bombarded with apologies from all those girls; and she found out that a kind word really does turn away wrath (Prov 15:1). Her obedient faith, tested by trials really is more precious than gold (1 Pet 1:6-9). Once again, I find my faith, my walk with the Lord challenged by the children God has blessed me to raise. Trust and obey… really is the only way.

Prayer- Father, Your Word is truth. A mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace (Rom 8:6) and obeying You is always the best choice in any circumstance. Oh, Lord as I go through the day and encounter others; help me to react in the Spirit and not in my flesh. Thank you for loving me with an unending perfect love… and loving my children even more than I do. May I do all I can to point them to your faithful, wise, instruction. Amen.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I gotta "let not" on this one shot

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.
John 14:1

Do you remember what you did day before yesterday? I’m not sure I do. Somehow two weeks have flown by since I last sat down to write one of these devotionals. School started and the days have been full of busy. We have done lots of stuff, but I am not sure that I could tell you what has consumed so much time. I am sure you know what I am talking about at your house too. Life sometimes seems like a blur. My to-do lists are a mile long, my attempts at multi-tasking wear me out, the laundry piles up, the meetings run back-to-back, that date night with my husband just didn’t happen, and I look up, and another week has passed. My kids are growing up, my parents are getting older…life is flying by at a crazy pace.

Yet God says, “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). I want some “still”, don’t you? God is calm in the midst of crazy. He is the best, right priority. He is worth slowing down and soaking in. As I read John 14:1 this morning (Let not your heart be troubled); the phrase “let not” jumped out at me. In order to “Be still and know” God, I have to do some “Let not-ing” For instance, I have to… Let not anything take priority over time alone with God. Let not Facebook, email, or my I-phone consume too much of my day. Let not multi-tasking keep me from soaking up precious moments with my kids. Let not a busy day keep me from making that precious phone call to a family member or friend. Let not my to-do list keep me from changing plans when the Holy Spirit tugs at my heart to do so. Let not the noise of this world keep me from praying and praising without ceasing. Let not a busy ministry keep me from ministering to those in my own family.

This life is our one shot. Unlike our kid’s video games, we don’t get do-overs. I don’t want my life to be a blur of doing lots of things but not really doing anything that matters. How about you? God tells us without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). In fact, we can do a lot of nothing. It is very easy to let our days pass doing a lot of nothing. If we aren’t careful, those days will add up to a life of nothing. Take a moment and ask yourself, “What did I do yesterday? Where did I spend my time this past week? What difference did I make in the life of someone else? Did I do a lot of nothing without God, or did I spend time seeking Him, praising Him, and pointing others to Him?” Oh friend, it is so easy to be so busy, so distracted and do a lot of nothing. I want more – don’t you? God wants more for us too, and, unlike our more, His more is always good. Let’s be deliberate. Let’s be intentional. When we look back on all the days and weeks that add up to be our life – let’s not let our heart be troubled that we spent our time on stuff that just doesn’t matter. But with God, with His help, we can “let not ” our lives and our hearts be troubled with things that don’t really matter.

Prayer: Oh Father, I want to abide in You. I want to spend my short time on this earth producing much fruit that matters. You want this for me too. Help me to get the things I need to get done accomplished while still having a heart that is stayed on You. Help me to abide in You, to pray to You throughout the day, to hear Your voice directing my steps and even changing my plans. My life is yours Lord. May I live it so that when I take my last breath I do so without regret. Thank you Lord for loving me. Thank you for reminding me to be still, to let not, and enjoy these days spent with You and the blessings you have surrounded me with. Amen.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Big Brothers and Sin

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Ex 14:14

If you grew up with older brothers, you know what it is like. My boys adore their sister and don’t want anyone messing with her—except them! They love to tease her, and one day she had all she could take. Furious, she kicked Will (her very big brother) with all her might. As we sat at the orthopedist office Abi, with a fractured growth plate in her toe remarked, “I guess some lessons are harder to learn than others.” For the next four weeks, she will be in a walking boot up to her knee, and the one she intended to harm, Will, doesn’t even have a bruise.

Have you ever had all you could take? Have you imagined ways you could “get back at someone”? Have you ever just “let someone have it”? Did it solve your problems or make things worse? Did you experience peace or regret? Why is it so hard for us fleshlings to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39), to love our enemy (Matt 5:43), to allow God to fight our battles (Ex 14:14), to forgive those who have offended us, (Col 3:13), and to remember vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord (Rom 12:19)? Why do we insist on trying to kick against what we know God has called us to do rather than just walk with Him? Do we realize how our attempts at magnifying ourselves are so opposite to being crucified with Christ? Have you ever considered how much joy you give Satan when you give in to the flesh and disobey God? I read a quote recently by Russell Moore: "Satan is as ambitious for your goals as you are, maybe more so. He'll give you the power you want, the glory you crave, as long as you fall down and obtain it his way. The powers don't care if we are respected or influential or moral or conservative, as long as we'd rather be magnified than crucified."

You may have made a decision to “follow Christ”… but it isn’t just a one-time decision. It is a daily decision to die to self and to choose to be crucified with Christ rather than magnify yourself and insist on your rights. The Bible says “He who loses his life shall find it” (Matt 16:25). True peace (and less pain) comes when I become less and Jesus becomes more (John 3:30) in every action, decision, and frustration I face.

Dear Almighty One- I submit to You, and to your authority over every area of my life. Please show me where I fail to obey You. Please forgive me, and please strengthen me to live a crucified life. Help to die to self so I might really live. I trust You for eternity. Help me to trust You enough to obey You in this day. Amen.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Don't forget the gum is there!

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

She bounced into my Mom’s kitchen, and stopped in her tracks. Looking up, her eyes grew wide as she saw the stash and exclaimed, “Nanaw” (grandma),” I forgot you have gum!” Though my little niece’s comment seemed completely genuine, my mother and I were stunned. For most of Allyson’s short life, my mom has been known to be her chief supplier of gum; and, in grandma-fashion, she has allowed her to chew packs a day. Yet there she stood,-wide-eyed, smiling, and delighted at the gum that awaited her. It all struck me as funny, and my mother and I laughed in amazement as she skipped out of the room with several pieces in hand.

As I pondered the event, the Holy Spirit seemed to whisper, “You know that is how you are,” and I don’t think He meant happy and skipping. I wonder how many times I have been surrounded with God’s blessings and didn’t notice or remember they were there. I wonder how many times I take them for granted and forget God “richly provides everything for our enjoyment” (I Tim 6:17). How many times have I missed or ignored the fact God has really blessed my socks off?

But let’s be real. There are times, when our child-like delight at God’s blessings is choked off by adult cares and worries of this world. The fact is, life is full of troubles, hard, gut-wrenching, sad things; and we are especially apt during these times to forget “the gum is there”. Indeed God lays before us many blessings, and sometimes we just don’t see them. It is especially in these times when we need to be diligent about remembering and looking for His goodness. Maybe life has fallen apart. Perhaps something has happened which you never thought possible, and you wonder if you will ever smile again. The enemy loves this and will do all he can to keep your eyes focused on what you don’t have, what went wrong, or where you messed up. He doesn’t want you to “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” and especially in the midst of the trial. The enemy knows if you turn your eyes to Jesus you will see blessings. Oh they may seem small during your heartache, but they are there. Do you have enough food for today? Do you have people who love you? Can you see the sunset? Can you hear the bird sing? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have a phone to call a friend? Do you have comfortable pajamas to snuggle up in? And don’t forget you have greater blessings and comforts than all of these if you are a child of God—you have a Savior who died for you and will never leave you, you have the Holy Spirit to guide you, you have His loving Word to comfort you, and you have His assurance that one day every tear will be wiped away, every sickness healed, and every day will be a celebration beyond anything we can imagine. Can you see His blessings? Can you remember they are there? Will you celebrate His goodness (Ps 145:7)? It will do your heart good when you do.

Oh Father, Provider, Helper, Healer, Comforter, thank you for loving me and surrounding me with blessings in this life. Give me eyes to see your Hand and your blessings in each day. Help me remember they are there. When life gets hard…and it does… open my eyes to see You are with me and remind me You go before me. Help me remember you sent your Son to die for me, and that is no small thing. You are good. You are still in control, and you still have good things planned for me and my family. I love you Lord. Thank you for blessing me. Amen.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Secret to Feeling Better

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus
Phil 2:3-5

Captivated, I stood gazing at the black and white photo of a well-kept, beautiful woman, her head held high and eyes sparkling with spunk. “That’s me you know” she said as she stumbled up beside me. Her body twisted by Parkinsons, one leg seemed to drag, her back bowed, her head, literally, no longer able to be held high. Yet those same beautiful eyes showed no sadness as she smiled at the picture. Moments earlier, I had asked her how she was doing. She had nonchalantly replied, “Oh, some days good, some days not-so-good,” and motioned, with shaking hands, for me to follow her out to her sunroom. Spread out on a table was a lovely, little quilt; thread, needle and scissors. She explained she was making a “comforter quilt” for a local ministry serving children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. With much effort she sat; her body bowed against the table, and I watched in awe as she willed her trembling hands to finally thread the needle. We sat in silence for a while, the ticking of an old clock the only sound, but my lesson was loud and clear. Life had changed for her, she could no longer control most things including her own body, and the simplest of tasks now took ten times longer. She spends hours alone inside her house. Yet, she has no time for self-pity. Instead, she has accepted this season of this temporary life with incredible grace, and a heart focused on others-- an attitude like her Savior.

The Bible tells us we are to have the attitude of Christ (Phil 2:5) who in obedience to God, with His eyes on us, willingly took the cup the same night He was betrayed (I Cor 11:23-25). I don’t think it was a coincidence that Jesus took the cup the same night He was betrayed. I think it is a lesson for us to realize when we continue to follow God and love others (“take our cup”) especially in the midst of heavy burdens and heartache, we will likely find it to be our greatest opportunity to proclaim our Lord (I Cor 11:26).

What does your day hold? What trouble, pain, sickness or disappointment has come your way? You have a choice; you know. You could be bitter and focus on yourself and get even more upset; or you could seek to follow the One you call Savior and have His attitude in this “cup” that has come your way. Go ahead; try it. Focus on others and find yourself refreshed. Don’t take my word for it…just read Proverbs 11:25: “He who refreshes others refreshes himself.” Isn’t that just like God? Oh how He loves us and how He blesses us as we love others.

Prayer: Father, I want to live my life to give you glory. Please help me to see problems as opportunities to do just that. Thank you for being strength to go on and joy that doesn’t make any sense when life gets crazy. Help me to obey you with all I have and help me to trust you to use whatever “cup” that has come my way as a vessel for my good and your glory. I love you Lord. Amen.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm moving!

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. Phil 4:11

If you’ve read my story ( ) you know my life has been anything but predictable or stable. Yet, way down deep I have still clung to a secret hope that somehow I could make it be. I like order. I like predictability. I like to feel like I am in control of what the day will hold. Yet life for me and many of us lately has been anything but predictable. At this moment, I am packing up boxes at what I thought would be my last home – a beautiful farm house on ten acres. However, the economy hasn’t been friendly to builders, so we sold our home and in three weeks will move to a place yet to be determined! Yet through the craziness, God has helped me see that my seemingly innocent desire to have things in life (like my home) be predictable, stable, and comfortable is just another idol God is asking me to lay down.

I heard a preacher once ask the question, “Are you a pilgrim or a settler?” Do you live your life as a traveler on your way to an eternal home, or are you desperately trying to set up camp in this life? Do you fall apart when God tells you to move (literally or figuratively); or do you deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Him and find true life (Matt 16:24-25)? Are you constantly trying to arrange your life so it is comfortable and stable, or are you giving God your life to use as He sees fit? Can you experience peace despite your circumstances (Phil 4:7), or do you find peace only when things go as you would hope or plan? Oswald Chambers said, “there is only one thing you can consecrate to God and that is the right to yourself (Rom12:1)”. He goes on to say, “the saint realizes that it is God Who engineers circumstances, consequently there is no whine, but a reckless abandon to Jesus.” The really cool thing is… there is peace in reckless abandon, in the laying down of our desire for stability and predictability, in forsaking our need to control our lives and the lives of others, and allowing Jesus to be our guide one day at a time (Matt 6:32-34). Our Father is so good. His burden is easy and His guiding yoke is light. It is in reckless abandon to Him (not predictability or stability in this life) that He tells us we will find rest for our souls (Matt 11:29-30). And that is no small thing.

Prayer: Oh Lord, help me to lay down those things which keep me from experiencing your peace. Take my right to myself, my day, my calendar, my expectations, my need to control, my desire for stability and predictability, and help me to live in reckless abandon to You. May I give glory to You no matter what this day brings. May I only desire to stay under the shelter of Your wings, for you are my rock, my protector and my comforter (Ps 61:3-4). Amen..

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A bat in my basement!

And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.
Prov 27:9

“Mom, hurry!” Two frantic words which jolt any Mom to attention! I had just collapsed on the porch swing after an exhausting Saturday when, again, the words rang out: “Hurry, Mom! There is a BAT in the basement!” Running to the backyard, I found my seventeen-year-old proudly trapping a hissing, long-toothed bat under a snow shovel. “Oh,” he very calmly exclaims, “I forgot to tell you. I saw the bat in the basement about five days ago.” What! He forgot to mention a bat in the basement! Are you kidding me?! You don’t withhold bat-in-the-basement information! Truthfully, my family probably feared that I would call in the National Guard… but nonetheless, having a bat in your basement is just something you need to know.

Pondering the entire incident as I lay in bed that night, I wondered how many times I had walked around in the basement unaware of the bat. Then a scarier thought hit me: How many times in my life have I been unaware of things that could really hurt me and those around me? Things that needed to be identified and removed…ugly things called sin. But how do you see sin? How do you know it is there? For me, God has used two things over and over – His Word and real friends. The Bible says the Word is like a mirror we can use to look at ourselves (Jas 1:23). It will never return void (Isa 55:11), it helps us understand and lights our way (Ps 119:104-106). Through His Word, God has shown me things which just don’t belong in my life. In addition, He has used good friends who love the Lord and love me enough to boldly speak truth to me when they see sin in my life. We all need to seek out this kind of friend, and we can’t run them off when they point out things we might not want to see. Yes, it may ruffle our feathers, and sparks might fly when “iron sharpens iron” (Prov 27:17); but we have to hang in there to reap the wonderful benefits of this kind of true friendship. Honestly, don’t you want to know when there is a “bat in your basement” that needs to be removed? If so, cultivate real friends and let them speak truth to you. Run to God’s Word. Listen to what He has to say. He will give you the power to remove whatever it is He shows you and help you walk on to more freedom and a joyous, closer walk with Him.

Prayer: Father, I want to know if I have allowed sin to settle into my life. I pray you will show me things which will hurt me and those around me. I pray you will bring friends into my life who know You, know Your Word, and who will speak truth to me when I am outside of your will. Help me to daily hold up the mirror of your precious Word and grow in wisdom. Help me to see sin, and help me to obey You and walk away from it. Thank you for loving me so much and being my strength to live freely as your child – no longer in bondage to sin. I love you Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I despise myself

My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42:5-6

I despise myself. I think you should despise yourself too. I know, I know….what about self-confidence and all the psycho-mumbo-jumbo about loving yourself? I have watched Dr. Phil and Oprah too. But have you also tuned into Job? You know the guy in the Bible that had everything bad happen to him? For years, I thought of Job (and secretly compared some of my hard times to his when trying to understand the reason for it all). I thought to myself… all that hard time helped Job grow up in his faith from “hearing about God” to really seeing Him (“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” Job 42:5). Yet, somehow in all my years of reading God’s Word, I had jumped right past the next thing Job said. It is a very politically-incorrect kind of verse (but you know God is known for telling it like it is and His Word is called “truth”). So anyhow, the verse right after “now my eyes have seen you” says: “I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” Job 42:6. I finally “saw” this verse the other day and, to be honest, I have to tell you, when my eyes look to my King and then they turn to the person I know I am…I get pretty sick of myself. I know my ugly thoughts, my terrible actions, my stupid sins and I cannot understand why the sinless one, the perfect one, would die for me. I don’t have it in me to fix myself or save myself (and neither do you). In fact, I have nothing to be confident in my self about when it comes to my need for a Savior. When I face the reality of who I am compared to Who He is (The Most High God)…it makes no sense that He would die for me. How else can I respond except to be deeply humbled, despising myself and my sin and turning away from the very things that nailed Jesus to the Cross? My sweet Savior remembers my sins no more… but I remember them with a thankful (no longer guilty) heart knowing I owe Jesus everything.

So what about you? Have you bought into the lies of this world? Have you bought the books on “loving yourself”? Do you “excuse yourself” and explain away sin due to how you were raised or some other card you don’t think you should have been dealt? Have you ever really gotten sick of your full-of-sin self? Have you ever faced the hard reality of just how MUCH you need a Savior? Are you sorry that your past and future sins are what pierced His Hands and His Feet? If you have really “seen” Jesus there is no other response except to despise yourself, ask Him to save you and turn away from sin. If you are His child, you cannot look at Jesus, look at yourself, hear His Word and go away unchanged and unrepentant as if you don’t owe Him EVERYTHING. If you know what you are doing is sin and you keep on doing it without despising yourself … the Bible says you are deceived. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” James 1:22-24. I know what I look like. Do you? But I also know my ugly sin is covered by a robe of white bought with the highest of price--the blood of a The Perfect Lamb. I am redeemed, accepted and called His Child because of what He chose to do. Loving myself doesn’t really amount to a “hill of beans” when I think about how much He loves me!

Prayer: Oh Jesus, thank you. Thank you for seeing me like I really am and still going to that Cross for me. Help me to put away my old, sinful self and live as you would have me live by the power of your blood. You alone are Holy. May I daily give my life to You. May I obey You in all things, and may I live my life with a thankful heart desiring to give You glory. Amen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thunder, me and my dog

When I am afraid I will trust in you.
Psalms 56:3

She tries to squeeze under me rather than sit beside me. She shivers with fear after only one rumble of thunder. I wonder what her little-dog-mind is imagining will happen. As much as I pet her and try to calmly assure her with my sweetest of voices that she is okay …her shivering always continues until the storm passes by. No matter how hard I try to convince her that she is indeed “just fine”, my little Maltese clings to her fear in the midst of the storm. I have often wondered why she doesn’t relax by my side and trust she is safe in our warm home. Then, the thought hit me … I am so much like my little, chicken-of-a-dog when life gets scary. So many times, I only see the storm. I worry about the “what-ifs” and I forget to cling to my Father and relax in His promises. Why can’t my first instinct be to rest in Him rather than give in to fear and worry? God tells me He will never leave me nor forsake me (Deut 31:6) and He cannot lie (Num 23:19). He tells me He is my strong tower (Ps 61:3) and a very present help in times of trouble (Ps 46:1). He tells me His plans for me are exceedingly, abundantly good (Eph 3:20). He tells me He can use even the hard things for my good if I will just stick close and obey Him (Rom 8:28). God tells me He is my strength and power to do what He has called me to do and to handle what comes into my life (2 Tim 3:17). He tells me I can even ask Him to help me believe Him when I am struggling to do so (Mark 9:24). Oh, what courage there is for my trembling soul in the promises of God!

Are you shaking in your boots? Do you hear only the thunder of trouble around you or do you hear that still, quiet, reassuring, Holy Spirit voice whispering courage-giving promises of God to you? Have you hidden His Word in your heart so you can refute the lies of the enemy that make you want to shiver in fear? God is with His children. He cannot disown you or forget about you (2 Tim 2:13). He is the perfect Father and He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps 50:10). His power has overcome the grave (Heb 2:14) and He is so concerned with you that He has numbered every hair on your head (Matt 10:30) and holds every tear you have ever cried in a bottle (Ps 56:8). He is the Ancient of Days (Dan 7:22) who will right the wrongs and bring beauty from ashes (Isa 61:3). He has prepared a place for His children and His Name is Faithful and True (Rev 19:11). May we hear His voice and remember His promises over the thunder. May we rest in His peace, and when life gets hard, may we simply see it as an opportunity to draw closer to our Redeemer.

Lord, you know my worries. You know my fears. Please help me to hear your promises over the thunder. Help me to see trials as an opportunity to draw closer to You. Teach me to more quickly rest in your truth and walk forward in courage and strength that comes from You. I love you Lord. When I am afraid I will trust in you. You are bigger than anything coming my way. Amen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.
Luke 8:48

He arrived in town with rock star status. Famous. The crowds pushed in and hundreds of hands reached out to touch him. Yet, her hand was different. Her need to draw close, to touch him was not born of curiosity. She wasn’t caught up in the emotion of the crowd. She desperately needed to touch him. For years she had struggled with the same devastating problem. She couldn’t fix it herself; she had sought answers from others and exhausted all her resources. She was at the end of her rope and the end of herself. Unlike the multitude of others who wanted to touch Him, she reached out believing with all her heart-- He was the only answer. Many hands reached for Him that day; but only one caused Him to pause as He felt His mighty, healing power being poured out to her. She drew close to Him with a desperate, end-of-herself, believing faith and she was forever healed. This magnificent, more-than-head knowledge, more than follow-the-crowd, more than give-it-a-try until something better comes along… this draw-close-to Jesus, believing faith is the kind of belief that leads to healing and salvation (Luke 8:42-48). This kind of belief is what Jesus means when He says “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. (John 6:35-36).” Could it be that you have you seen Him and still don’t believe Him?

Have you heard about Him all of your life but have you every really believed Him? I’m not asking if you believe in His existence or even believe Jesus is the Son of God (the demons even believe that- see Mark 5:6). I am asking do you really believe in Him? Do you desperately draw close to Him because He is the only answer, the only Savior; or is He just an empty religion, Sunday thing? Do you have a believing faith that leads to salvation and real, lasting peace… no matter what life may bring?

Do you think these stories of faith only exist in the Bible? Do you find this kind of belief in someone you cannot see unfathomable? Will you consider that though you cannot see Jesus, like the crowd did that day; that He is reaching out to you? Perhaps in the words you are reading now. Perhaps you have gone to church all your life but you have never really believed in Him. Are you at the end of yourself … at the end of your rope? Are you done trying all the other things that cannot heal, cannot satisfy and cannot save? Have you strayed away? Do you need to run back to Him and reach out to Him? The living Savior, Jesus Christ is the only way. He is real and He is peace.

I am including a letter my dear friend and mentor, Karen Alexander Doyel’s son, Stephen wrote this just a few days ago. Karen is a women’s ministry teacher for Lifeway and loves the Lord like few I have ever known. Years ago, her preacher husband tragically fell from a cliff to his death while his boys desperately tried to save him. In the years that followed, her son Stephen has battled cancer and has been told if it comes back it will spread aggressively. Karen herself now has stage 4 Leukemia and stage 4 Lymphoma. This family is desperate; but not in the way you might think… they are desperate to draw close to Jesus and for others to do the same. Will you read this letter from Stephen? He is a young husband and father to a toddler named Luke (funny, that is where our passage comes from today). Will you ask yourself - do you believe this Jesus? Are you desperate to draw close to Him like this?

Hey Family,
I’m calling on you once again for prayer. Yesterday Carrie & I went to my cancer doctor for my regular check up and to see if a hearing aid would be an option to help the hearing in my left ear. The day didn’t go as we had planned. After testing my hearing, the doctor told us that the type of hearing loss that I have is “very atypical” and he does not believe that the radiation caused the damage. He told us that he thought an auditory tumor(s) could be causing it. He has scheduled me for an MRI in one week (as soon as they could get me in) and the results of that test won’t be until the 20th.
Now God is calling us again to wait and trust in Him for our peace and joy. We have been in this place before and we know without a doubt that God is in control and His will is best. As Easter is approaching I am excited that He is calling Carrie and I to draw so close to Him – even if it’s out of our desperation. Please pray that God will ignite a fire in my heart to use this opportunity for His glory and to show all who will listen that Jesus is my strength and He is all we need. I know that I am weak and that I cannot handle these things , if it take my eyes off of Jesus then the waves of fear, doubt, anxiety & sadness quickly begin to crash all around me – but I am calling out to Jesus and He is STRONG.
You all know my history, but much more importantly – you know my heart. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:
- After my dad fell off of Bluff Point and I found myself hanging on the side of that cliff for my life in the pitch black darkness – I cried out to Jesus and He heard my cry and He came to my rescue! I could have never made it thru the loss of my dad and best friend without Jesus.
- When I got the phone call from my doctor (who had previously told me that there was only a 10% chance that the tumor they found would be malignant) and all he said was, “It’s cancer – you will begin the radiation treatments as soon as possible” – and he hung up the phone. My knees buckled and lost all strength, the tears and snot began to flow and I cried out to Jesus for help and He heard my cry and He came to my rescue!
- When the mask was put over my face and bolted to the radiation table, everyone had to leave the room and the lights went out and the lasers began moving all around, I simply said: “My Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” and day after day in that place where no one could be with me - Jesus fellowshipped with me and He taught me a new way to pray. And even though I’d get home and look in the mirror and see my gums separating from my teeth, burns all thru my mouth and my throat - literally my body wasting away right in front of my eyes – I began to look forward too and cherish the time I had with my Lord in that special place – because He heard my cries and He came to my rescue!
- When I found my cancer ridden mother in her bed with a 105 fever, shaking uncontrollably and not even able to speak, and I carried her in my arms out to my car and drove 100+mph all the way to the ER – not knowing if she would even make it there alive, I cried out to Jesus for my mother and He heard my cry and He came to her rescue! She doesn’t even remember any of that day – but I will never forget. Even though she has stage 4 leukemia and stage 4 lymphoma and the doctors said she should have been dead 2 years ago – she’s sharing her testimony at a church right now as I’m writing this letter.
- Now in this very moment – once again we call out to Jesus, dive into His Word, and rest in Him and Him alone.
I know that this is intense - but my passion is Jesus and in times of trouble He never shies away from the drama in our lives. I love to share about what He means to me and what He has done for me. Please pray that He will continue to give me opportunities to share about and to sing about His amazing salvation He has freely given to all who will come to Him. There is nothing in this world I love to do more! I am so thankful for all of you and for your prayers. Sometimes it takes a wake-up call like this to help me realize how much my church family means to me. You can’t put a price on it! Please don't hesitate to use this in any way the Lord lays on your heart to encourage others to draw near to Jesus - that is my prayer and the desire of my heart.
Let’s all sing to Jesus tomorrow with a true heart of thankfulness – He gave His life so that we can live.
I love you guys and I can’t wait to share the results of the MRI with you on the 20th as we thank God for His amazing love.
Your Brother,
Stephen Alexander

Prayer - Father God, Healer, Holy One… I come before you only because of the blood of your Son. Oh Lord, I ask that you would help me to believe in Jesus like the woman in Luke, like Stephen. I am desperate for Your touch. I ask that You would help me to draw close to You and help me to see You like this. I need You for eternity- for salvation but I am also desperate for You every day. Oh Lord thank you that you tell me I can even ask you to help my unbelief (Mark 9:24). With all that I am I am asking for more of You. And Father, I also ask for Stephen… if it be your will, I ask for healing and I thank you for his heart to proclaim your name so others might see and know you. I love you Lord. Amen.

To learn more about Karen’s ministry and see pictures of her godly family visit

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

To all the worriers

Single Moment
March 9, 2011
But do not worry about your life
Matt 6:25

“Mom what are we going to do about money?” his little brow furrowed with worry not characteristic of most three-year-olds. It seemed only weeks since I had explained Daddy had to go to work to make money so Mommy could buy food for us to eat. But Daddy had died suddenly and now my little one was gripped with worry way beyond his years. I often wondered if my firstborn’s battle with worry all started that day. The issues continued. At five, he had watched a news story about encephalitis and refused to go outside in fear of getting bit by a mosquito and coming down with the illness. For years, I had said all I could to alleviate his tendency to worry; but the words which set him free would come not from me but from his Heavenly Father.

As our family discussed what we had read in God’s Word the other night, my now tall, dark and handsome, seventeen-year-old began by stating “I don’t’ know if you noticed this about me or not but I tend to worry.” “Really?” I almost chuckled at his remark! He then went on to say “but I just find such peace in God’s sovereignty. It is so good to know He is in control.” God is Will’s peace. He has found strength when he takes every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and compares it to truth (2 Cor 10:5). I have seen him rest in the fact that God is all good and that He can use even hard things to bring good into our lives (Rom 8:28) My son knows nothing will come into his life except those things which His all-good, Heavenly Father allows. Will believes God, because he finds truth as he daily reads His Bible. He will tell you that some days he isn’t sure why he read what he read but he keeps reading every day because he says “some days it is like God is speaking right to you”. It has blessed my heart to see God be real to Will. Is Will perfect… nope and neither is his Mom! However, Will has learned there is a place of peace that can only be found in a real, run-to-Jesus-daily, kind of relationship.

Years ago, the enemy attacked our family when my husband took his life. My son wasn’t the only one full of worry and fear. However, there is an anchor for any storm Who is Christ the Lord. He is the One who tells us no matter what life may bring, no matter what worry may beseech us… He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut 31:6) and He will be peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). He is the rock (2 Sam 22:2) and a solid foundation. Are you leaning on Him? Are you walking with Him daily in a real, personal relationship? He didn’t let us down and He won’t let you down either.

Prayer: Father, you know every concern I have. You know my thoughts before I think them. You know what might worry me and you offer me daily truth to comfort me. Help me to run to you and rest in you. I know your plans for me are all good and that you can use even the hard things in my life to bring blessing. You see everything and I only see bits and pieces. Help me to rest in your goodness and your control. Help me to refute the lies of the enemy and walk in peace. Thank you Lord. I know I can count on you. Amen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why hasn't God fixed this yet?

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Thess 5:23

So many times I have wondered “God, what are you doing? Why haven’t you fixed this yet?” So many times I have prayerfully offered up my best solutions and wondered why God has not acted in His power to fix things the way I think He should fix them. Yet, looking back… those hard times, those waiting times, those “if You don’t hurry God I am going to die” times, were sanctifying times which resulted in powerful freedom. Oswald Chambers says sanctification is “intense concentration on God’s point of view” which results in “freedom from everything that is unlike Him”. My friend Karen calls hard times which cause us to look intently at God -- “shaking”. It is so true that God often uses shaky times, to shake out stuff in my life that is unlike His Son. Why should I be surprised? God tells us He is going to do it. He is working in you and me to sanctify us wholly (1 Thess 5:23). The old church signs are true: “He loves us too much to leave us the way He found us” and I am convinced He will not stop until we get it… even if that means sending the same lesson more than once. Been there done that!

To truly learn during our times of shaking (and maybe avoid repeating the lesson), we have to hold on to truth. Yet so often, when life gets crazy, when the answers are slow coming, we are tempted to think: “God doesn’t care, He isn’t at work, He isn’t involved in my life or He is late.” God’s Word tells us all this is untrue. He tells us to seek Him and we will find Him (Jer 29:13). He tells us to call on Him, pray to Him and search for Him with everything we have – all our heart. The God (who cannot lie – Tit 1:2) says when we do--we will find Him (Jer 29:12). His plans for us are all good (Jer 29:11) and His intent is to shake out the stuff that causes us pain and help us grow deep roots so we can “be more than conquerors” (Rom 8:37) in this life. In seeking God, in clinging to Him, He teaches us to stand in peace, that makes no earthly sense, and shows us He really can bring good out of those things Satan intends for evil (Rom 8:28). When we keep on seeking Him and keep on obeying Him (rather than going outside of His will for a quick answer), we experience true peace, lasting joy, and unfading hope.

However, blessed answers won’t come when our eyes are fixed on the problem or when we plead only for an “acceptable” answer we have defined. No, if we want the blessing our hearts and minds have to be fixed on the Most High God AND we must surrender our will to His will. The most intense freedom I have ever felt in my life was when, through tears, I prayed “Lord, work this out however you want so that You receive glory. You are God and I am not. I trust You more than I trust me”. Can I tell you there is incredible peace and freedom in this kind of surrendered prayer? Can I also tell you that if God can help a baby like me pray it…He will definitely be your strength to do so?

Prayer: Father, I surrender all to You. I want You more than I want the answers to my problems. I know everything that comes into my life comes through your hand and I know when I follow you… you can bring good from the hard times. Help me Lord to shake free of those things which are not like your Son and help me want what you want. Lord, you tell me you are faithful and you will do it (I Thess 5:24). I trust you will finish this good work you started in me (Phil 1:6)… so take it all Lord and may you receive glory from my life. I believe you Lord. Help even my unbelief (Mark 9:24). Amen.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What's love got to do with it?

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God
I John 3:9

I’m getting a little concerned about what I am hearing about “God’s love”. One of my children recently retorted during a time of correction that “God is ALL about love” and not this “rule stuff”. The other day I heard a country DJ tell her audience that “God loves you so much. He doesn’t care what you have done.” True, words cannot describe the depth of God’s love. However, we should be careful not to allow the enemy to twist our thinking on this. The enemy would have us believe God is solely interested in our feelings of love towards Him and that He doesn’t care what we do. This grace/love- heavy message fits well in pulpits seeking to be politically correct. However, the Bible emphatically tells us God is very concerned about what we do. Yes, He tells us over and over He loves us and we know His blood alone covers our sins, but Jesus minced no words when He said “If you love me, obey me” John 14:23. Of course, the enemy seems to work both spectrums of the “obey thing” to try to confuse us. Either we feel like we have to work so hard to earn our way to God or we jump on the “all-love-no-pain train” and believe we can continually practice sin without guilt or repercussions because God is ALL about loving us.

So how should you live? If you have the golden ticket to Heaven, aren’t all your sins (future ones too) forgiven? However, if you can live in sin (not just step in it occasionally), if you can practice sin without the Holy Spirit wearing you out…don’t you wonder if you really love Jesus? Do you have a real, two-way love relationship with Him or do you have a fire-insurance religion that has never changed your life? 1 John 3:9 says “ No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” Yes, yes, we all sin, but there is a difference in sinning and living a life where you deliberately choose to sin. Friend, you can’t walk with the Lord if one foot is stuck in this world. It is time to kick free of all that is holding you back! Jesus is standing with arms wide open. Oh yes, He loves you soooo much but He doesn’t want your devotion to a religion or a cause. He says the number one thing He wants you to do is to love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30) and He makes no beans about it… if you love Him obey Him. And by the way, those “rules” – those things He will ask you to do or not do, are His way of guiding you to His wonderful best because He loves you.

Prayer: Oh Father, help me to live in your grace and walk in your truth. Oh, Holy Spirit be loud. Let me hear your voice and show me any sin which is keeping me from all you have for me. Forgive me and strengthen me to turn from that. Help me to love what you love and obey you because I love you. I know you are for me – you died for me. I know your blood and your blood alone covers my sins. I also know you want all of me – my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength. Take it all Jesus. Amen.

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A very long bad mood

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Psalm 42:5

I have been in a bad mood for what seems like a very long time. Oh, I have some circumstantial and hormonal reasons contributing to my less-than-chipper attitude. Some of you might pat my back and tell me I deserve to feel and act this way, and years ago, I might have excused myself too. However, I have been with Jesus. I have tasted His peace despite crazy circumstances and I can no longer excuse this rebellion in my heart and frankly that is what this big, fat, bad mood is! Rebellion! Can I really love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength (Luke 10:27) and be in a bad mood? God desires my obedience more than sacrifice (or service or ministry) 1 Sam 15:22. He wants me to hear and obey His voice in the moments of the day He has given me to live. He tells me this struggle (and girl isn’t it a struggle when life knocks you down or hormones are raging?)- this struggle isn’t against flesh and blood (Eph 6:12) . God tells me I am wrestling with the enemy who wants to take me down and my only (ONLY) source of strength, my only chance of avoiding the guilt of my next mess up is to be continually strengthened in the Lord (Eph 6:10).

Frankly, I am sick of myself and thoroughly convinced that I have zero ability to walk in joy, peace and hope without a continual denial of myself, my way, my rights, my desires and a complete submission in all things to God….and it is not just enough to say it. I have to live it out in the moment when the choice comes. When I am offended, when I am tired, when I am heart-broken, when life stinks; I have to choose, in that moment, to kneel to the authority and wisdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have to submit and rely on His Holy Spirit strength to do it. I am tired of battling the same battles and asking for forgiveness for the same sin. I want to live the blessed life and go from strength to strength with my heart stayed on the Living God (Psalm 84:5-7)… I am tired of being tossed to and fro by circumstances and emotions. I want to grow up (Eph 4:15) and press on to take hold of that prize which is Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14)… don’t you? Our Savior died and for those who know Him- the old has passed and the new has come… I want to walk in that freedom--- not my old sin-filled, sick-of-myself nature… don’t you? Only in the moment-to-moment choice to follow Him and not my flesh can I be angry and not sin, be free from bitterness, forgive others and be kind (Eph 4:25-32) and experience joy and peace in the midst of this crazy life.

Prayer: Oh Savior, forgive me for losing my joy. How can the bride be dismayed when the Bridegroom is coming? How can I act as if I am unclean when your precious blood has already made me clean? Oh Father, I am weak but You are strength. May I abide continually in You and when the moments of choice come by way… may I submit to the your will where all joy, peace and hope reside despite all the evil one will throw at me. I love you Lord. May I live like it. Amen.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Am I still a slave to chocolate cake?

People are slaves to whatever has mastered them
2 Peter 2:19

“God is not against you having things; He is against things having you.” (Vodie Bachaum). As I think about that statement and all the New Year’s resolutions I have heard…I am amazed at the connection. How many of us have resolved to lose weight? (does food have us?) How many of us have vowed to save money? Do we purchase things and overspend in seeking satisfaction that never seems to last? Do things have us? Why do we do what we do and why can’t we not do what we don’t want to do? The Bible says “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 2 Pet 2:19. If Jesus- the Freedom Giver - is your Master other things lose their ability to master you.

If Jesus has set you free you are free indeed (John 8:36). Do you realize the power in this? Do you live this way? In those moments of temptation to live as your old self - as a slave (to food, money, your past, your temper, guilt etc) do you stop and ask yourself “Am I doing this to the glory of Christ or in a relentless pursuit to bring about my own happiness?” As hard as we try will we will never on our own control things and “fix life” and find that elusive, lasting joy we seek. The Bible says “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt 10:39). When I lose the “For ME” mentality and live my life “FOR Jesus”, joy is no longer elusive. When I do all things to His glory, things no longer have a hold on me – not food, not money, not relationships, not perfectionism, not (you fill in the blank). When in the moment of day-to-day living I stop and ask myself “Does this bring glory to the King?” I no longer live as a slave to all those other things which will in themselves never bring freedom.

So this New Year… may we all remember in Christ we are a NEW creation. The old has passed and no longer has control over us (2 Cor 5:17). If Jesus is our Master other things do not have the power to master us. In the moment of temptation, He will be our strength to walk away from those things which continue to hurt us and never satisfy….if we seek to bring Him glory. May nothing master us except the One who loves us perfectly and who bought us with a great price…the One who truly satisfies.

Father, show me the things which I have allowed to master me. May you alone be my Master and may I stop in those moments of temptation and ask myself “does this bring You glory?” May I walk in the freedom from those things which never satisfy whether it be eating that piece of chocolate cake, losing my temper, living in the past, etc and instead live my life to bring You glory. I know that You will help me and you will be my strength and I know this is where true joy can be found. I love you Lord. May I live this day for you. Amen.