Hunting the Kingdom

Hunting the Kingdom

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT)

Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Have you ever been looking for something and decided the closet or drawer was a mess? Or maybe you find something you were looking for before or something that sparks your interest so you become distracted? I set off after one thing and end up with another. Distractions. When I am rummaging through a closet looking for something, my daughter will say, “What are you hunting?” Oh how this chafes me. She learned this from her very Southern grandmother. You do not hunt for things – you look for them. I guess when I became insistent on finding that which is lost or simply misplaced, I really am hunting for it. Perhaps the term implies a little more than looking but pursuing. Just a thought!

It is possible to miss the mark, veer off course and become distracted. In fact, I think the enemy uses our life against us and our best intentions work in his favor. Our hearts come to Jesus broken and in need of repair. As the Lord begins to right our life, we forget the Source of our Power and take back control. Okay, maybe I am the only one. I want God’s Best in my life. I want all to be all that He promised to make me and that I would become. I want His Kingdom. Today, I am reminded what I am after. It’s not the first time I woke up in this place feeling a little lost and overwhelmed. I feel that I might have misplaced Him among the details of my life. I am hunting the Kingdom today.

Years ago when our youngest child started school, I was offered a job beginning the same day. I thought why not. It was working for the school system so I would be off when the children were off but would not be wandering aimlessly the rest of the time. At that point, we were doing okay so money was not a motive just killing time until the kids got home from school. Somehow over the course of a couple of years, I had assumed way more responsibility than I had intended. Promoted to supervising three departments with a multitude of tasks and responsibilities, work slowly began to take over my life. Don’t get me wrong. I was still a wife, mom and Christian just one who worked a lot. When I was at home, I began checking emails and taking care of problems to alleviate the pressure of each day. Suddenly, I was grabbing dinner at the local takeout chicken place every other night and barely keeping up at home because I was working later and later. Antacid became a daily routine as stress eroded my stomach. On top of everything else, my son who was away at college was sick. In and out of the doctors, then the hospital for tests. Finally, I traveled down to see what was going on and take over. A divine appointment no less. It was October. School had started and my tasks piling up. As our son went into surgery for a “tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy”, I will admit that in my head I was already back at work figuring out how to get everything taken care of after missing a few days. All that changed when just a few short hours later, my heart was smashed to the floor and my head sent into a tailspin with the words, “I am so sorry. He has cancer.”

Now one might think that would change everything in a second, but I am not the average bear. For two weeks following his diagnosis, he went back with family to withdraw from school and get ready to begin treatment. I was back at home trying to make “cancer” fit in our life, routine and schedule. Let me help you out – it doesn’t. We were creating a schedule of care but suddenly that job I that was so important was slipping out of my hands. The schedule so well-maintained in chaos. I couldn’t do it. The most important thing at that moment was our son. What I learned over the next four years has changed my life forever. I didn’t begin the job to become a workhorse but slowly over time the enemy slipped the bridle of success over my head and it became my driving force like a noose around my neck. It took one event to change my life forever and put me back on course. Today, I have yet again become distracted with life. No, it’s not work. God gave me a new job where my family comes first. There is not a lot of stress. Nevertheless, I have become a bit distracted.

“Who do you say that I am” changed Peter’s life forever? It did not make him perfect in a moment or even a few days. He would stumble and get up several times. However, in the end, the Lord’s Word is true and on that “rock” He built His Church. He told Peter that in the realization of who Jesus was that he was given the Keys to the Kingdom. This is true for you and me, too. The days when fighting a war with full frontal assaults, we are good at wielding His Power. But what about the subtle skirmishes in life when the enemy uses the “little” things to lead us off into the wrong direction? Those are the most dangerous of all because before we know it – we find ourselves far off-course. This morning my objective is to make sure that I am on track with God’s Word. I want His Kingdom. No more or less. I want it all.

Matthew 18:18 (NLT)

 “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”


We have literally been handed the Keys to Heaven. We can unlock every door and barrier in our life because of faith in Christ alone. We need nothing else except a desire for the Kingdom to permit Heaven to come to earth. What is stopping us? Desire. We don’t want Jesus as much as the acceptance, affirmation and approval of others. Guilty as charged but not anymore. We want things of the earth more than the blessings of Heaven. We want it all right now so we refuse to wait on the Lord to make good on every detail (Romans 8:28) and perfect all that concerns us (Psalm 138:8). Jesus is not our Source of life but the emergency roadside assistance kit hidden in the trunk of our car who is used when we get broke down and cannot get going on our own. We have all the Power of God who created the entire universe and everything in it. He has the Power and Authority to overstep hell, death and the grave to bring us back out and put us into forever, but we treasure too many other things. Again, guilty as charged but not anymore.

Matthew 5:3-10 (NLT)

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.


When I began reading the Beatitudes this morning, I wondered what the definition was of the word “Beatitude”. Maybe you already knew, but the word simply means “blessing”. I am realizing that I have drifted slightly off course, I want the Kingdom of God to manifest in my life every single day. I want His Blessings above anything I can create in this life. As I read them, I began to translate them into what it required of me and here is what I came up with. I need Jesus. (v.3) I must live in repentance because I need Him. (v.4) I must follow the Lord. (v.5) (This means giving up my way.) I cannot get enough of Jesus in my tiny life so therefore must yield more and more of me every single day. (v.6) I must walk in forgiveness or risk rebellion that locks up Heaven. (v.7) Maintain a pure and blameless heart. (v.8) (Which leads me back to verse 4 again and again.) My mission on any given day is peace. Peace at heart. Peace of mind. Peace with others. (v.8) (This can be the toughest one of all.) I must do what is painfully right. (v.10) Why? Why do all of this? I want the Kingdom of God. I want to be blessed. To be blessed is not to have it all but to have all of Him.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NLT)

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”


I must not forsake small beginnings. A tiny mustard seed of faith has great potential in my life. To have faith means nothing until I put it all in the ground. It is when I commit my faith to Christ that it grows, develops and matures into something greater. The Kingdom of God manifests in my life through the tiny sacrifices of faith along the way. I must not be distracted but put my faith in Jesus all day every day to live in His Presence and have the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 13:33 (NLT)

Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

The amount of my life given to God is not as significant as what His Kingdom will do when allowed to permeate my existence. I just give Jesus what I can that day and He does the rest. The key is I have to give Him something. Some days it seems easier than others to give Him my all. Other days it is struggle to part with much as my humanity has death grip and will to live beyond my own resolve. What is important I that I keep giving the Lord what I can to permeate my life with His Presence. Every day something. Anything. He will work with it all.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT)

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

How badly do you want God’s Kingdom? This is not an open conversation but a quiet inspection of each heart by its own person. Do you really want what God has for you or just enough to get by? It matters in the harvest, friend. I have heard people say they want the Kingdom but then live for the world. I have seen people led off believing it really doesn’t matter how they live who are painfully deceived. It is all about what you want in life. You will make time to have that which is desired. I have been the one with every excuse in the book. Until I tried it all and failed, then I realized that I really did want the Kingdom of God above all else. Maybe it was in the realization that my child might have gone there before me, suddenly it became a little more beautiful. If God had stopped working in my heart there, I would have left Him when He healed my son. But through the process of healing our child, the Lord has given me glimpses of the Kingdom that I can no longer live without. Things that make me painfully aware when I have strayed off course. It gives me a strong drive and desire to get back to it.

Heaven is filled with Jesus. He is my treasure. He is my reward. There is nothing that I want more than Jesus. I may not always live like it or do the right things, but He is my great desire. What am I willing to do to have Him? Will I sell everything? Will I give away my life heartbeat by heartbeat and breath by breath to know Him more? I am heartbroken that I missed it and got off course again. His New Mercy met me this morning and reaffirmed that I have hope and the Lord is far from done with me yet. Thank you Jesus for your mercy that comes with each morning even when it finds me far from Home. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.


When I walked outside with the dogs this morning, I was greeted by cool morning air. Fall is here. With this new season, hunting season began. All the hunters have been inspecting their favorite hunting spots, planting seed to bait their prey, and preparing for the hunt. Their rifles and bows have sights on them to see the animals afar off and hit their target. Those same sights can be moved askew by carrying the weapon or just from use. The firing of the weapon can move its sight. Without proper sighting, you can keep aiming but you are not going to hit anything. Weird how the Lord works in my mind since we are not a hunting family.

I must keep my eyes on Jesus Christ. He is the Author and Finisher of my faith which means not only did He give me faith but now the Lord will show me how to use it to have the Kingdom of Heaven in my everyday life. Jesus wants to be as close to me as possible, what am I doing to make room for Him today? Are there doors in my life locked that will require keys of faith and confident hope to open? Will I step in? Do I want what God wants for me? Christianity is a frustrating endeavor if we do not want the Kingdom of God. It doesn’t look like this world. It certainly doesn’t act like it. It is humility, love and submission to God’s Power at work in us to produce His Kingdom around us. Seeds must die and give their all to produce something far greater than they once were and the same goes for us! I want God’s Kingdom. He has righted my sight today. I am hunting the Kingdom of God full force with all my mind, soul and body! What are you after today?

Matthew 6:20-21 (NLT)

Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Straight Talk

Staright Talk

Matthew 12:35-37 (NLT)

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.


Lord, help me. No seriously, when I think of all the words that I use in a single day, I am greatly concerned. It took years to develop a filter. There are still days that the bridle on my jaw breaks or loosens. When I see the contents of my heart come pouring out, I am appalled. That’s what idles words and meaningless chatter really are. The dust bunnies hidden in our heart like the ones that creep in the corners under the bed. A good person produces good things from a good heart. I want to be her. All of the time in every season whether I agree or disagree, I want my words to reflect love, mercy and goodness which is not always the case.

A while back, I decided to make “breakfast dinner” for my family. There were eggs in the fridge, bacon in the freezer, fresh loaf of bread on the counter and grits in the pantry. All the makings of a fine southern breakfast so I began cooking. When I opened the grits and began pouring them into the pan, I was quite disgusted to find little bugs making their home in the box. (Insert shudder here.) It ruined the meal for me. It didn’t matter that the eggs turned out sunny side up, the bacon perfectly crisp and the toast lightly browned with melted butter. The little ants in my grits ruined it for me. Tying the box in a plastic bag, I took it outside garbage. I went through every box in the pantry throwing away anything that was open or could have been exposed. I hate bugs. I don’t want them in my house let alone in my food or on my table. What if we felt the same way about our daily communication?

What if we inspected every single word for freshness? What if we made sure that they were good and wholesome for others to “eat”? What if we removed all the contaminants before we used them? Lord, I am talking to me. The Word of God is clear. God shoots from the hip and doesn’t mix His Words when Jesus reminds us that we will one day be judged for “every idle word” that we speak. Not the ones carefully thought about, tasted before used and delivered in love. No, the ones when no one else is around to listen. The ones used amongst close friends. Maybe we were only joking, come on the Lord knows our heart. I have tried over and over again to drive it home to my children that if our words offend, hurt or at the expense of another – we must keep them from ever leaving our mouth. Lord, help me to inspect my words today.

James 3:3-6 (NLT)

We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

As I crawl back to the Book of James, it is to remind myself of the power of my tongue. During the hours proceeding the Cross, Jesus was cross-examined by the High Priest, but He didn’t feel the need to defend Himself or argue His Case. He simply was silent. I wish I could learn to do the same when I am aggravated, agitated, and unhappy or just a little bit cross. I want my opinion to be a reflection of what God says about people and situations not what my judgmental heart has determined to be so. If only I could keep control of my tongue like a bridle on a horse or a rudder on a ship, it is important that I do to accomplish God’s Will for my life. Love must be evident in ALL my conversations.

The most telling verse for me in this passage is “a tiny spark can set a great forest fire.” Oh Lord help me to remember this when “tiny sparks” are made with my tongue. You came to set this world on fire. Passionate about your love with hearts burning and consumed for You, I want my words to spark revival not resentment. I want them to be way makers not blockers. There are many words I wish I could take back in my life and some left unspoken. Lord, motivate my conversation and use it to build your Kingdom and not destroy it in my ignorance today. I wouldn’t build a fire in the middle of my living room floor but oh the fires started in the midst of conversation that has gone wrong with a careless word or idle gossip. God, help me to keep my home safe from such destruction.

James 3:10-12 (NLT)

And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

I have sown seeds in my life waiting for harvest. I will one day reap from what I have sown. I am of the firm belief that when salty water or acidic talk pours from my mouth that it will indeed kill the crop of love that I have been planting. I repent today Lord for every one of those words that is killing my harvest. The ones spoken in idle conversation that once released became a raging fire out of control. Lord, remove such conversation from my thoughts and mind so it will never make it to my heart and out of my mouth again.

Psalm 15:1-3 (NLT)

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends.


Man, this is a rough one today. Who may worship in the sanctuary of the Lord? This is not talking about the church you attend or small group you are a part of but the Presence of the Lord in which we find our refuge each day. Those who live blameless lives. I try to do the right thing, obey the law of the land, do what God says, love other people, and give and so on. But what does He say, “Those who do what is right “SPEAKING THE TRUTH FROM SINCERE HEARTS and THOSE WHO REFUSE TO GOSSIP OR HARM THEIR NEIGHBORS OR SPEAK EVIL OF THEIR FRIENDS.” All caps for me, people. Sometimes we gossip unintentionally, speak evil of others unknowingly, but that does not excuse our behalf. Though the words were idle at the time they were issued, they became a spark for the enemies use at some point upon release. We must learn to catch those little sparks before they make it out into the world. I want to live in the Presence of God. I want Him to want to be near me. I want His Love to surround me and filter through me to others. My conversation will impacts the outcome.

Luke 24:14-18 (NLT)

As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.  But God kept them from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”


We were at the mall exercising retail therapy last weekend, when one of our kid’s youth pastors showed up. He came out of nowhere and hung with us for the rest of the day. My friend and I continued to shop the great sales we had discovered while the kids shopped, joked and took selfies with each other. We continued about our business with him in tow. It was comfortable. It was not odd and he was not out of place. What if Jesus showed up like he did?

Two men were walking down the road discussing the events of the day. Jesus was crucified. Some now say that He rose again, Jesus joined them but they did not know it was Him. When Jesus asked what they were taking about, the men replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that happened…” Now freeze frame, nobody move. This is where so many of us fall each and every day. We do not consider the Presence of God or the Holy Spirit in our daily conversation. We do not inspect our words but rather deliver them impulsively. I have sat in administration meetings with my superiors who have openly apologized for foul words or inappropriate conversation because they know I am a Believer. This is not a “go-me” but rather me reminding me that I must not use words or enter in conversations that are offensive to God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit if I want them to stay close each day. I have engaged in conversations that did not reflect that I am a believer, too. It may not have been my intent but it definitely was the outcome.

Philippians 4:7-9 (NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Constant illicit communication or inappropriate conversation that continually brings about forest fires in our life is a heart problem. To fix our words, we must fix our thoughts. Our thoughts are a product of the heart. When we are given to slander, backbiting and gossip, there is something in us that must change in order to make room for the Lord to take up residence. I am guilty just like the next person maybe more so because I use so many words in a single day. I want my words to be true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. My grandmother was that kind of person. When I attended her funeral, people went on and on about how she never had a bad word to say about anyone. I want it to be like that when I am gone, but there must be a continued change. Some people may say that she was not always like that and this is probably true. But when she went to Heaven, she had grown in her relationship with Jesus to such a point that her words were impacted. Be it unto me, Lord!

You know there is a nationwide debate about gun control. I am not going to climb on a soapbox or give an opinion other than this. They say, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you.” Let me add this, “Liar, liar pants on fire.” Words can be lethal – to people, our life, blessings and relationship with Jesus Christ. You would not hand a loaded hunting rifle to a toddler, now would you? But as he grew into a young man and adult, you would train him and teach him gun safety, respect for the firearm and damage it might do if mishandled or misused. There are still evil people who grow up this way and kill people with hunting rifles. It is not a problem with the weapon but the heart of the people. Our words are loaded weapons. They will bring down strongholds or build walls keeping others from Christ which leads to death. I cannot take a single word I speak today for granted. It has the power to bind or loose the Kingdom. (Matthew 18:18) I decide the intent. The very next verse in Matthew 18 reveals another powerful truth… ”If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.”


Proverbs 26:18-20 (NLT)

Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon is someone who lies to a friend and then says, “I was only joking.” Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.


When I read this verse today, I was completely taken back. God is disarming me today. He is reminding me that my words count for His Kingdom or against it. Will I be one who draws people to Him or a sniper taking them out with my idle conversation? Lord, I repent for all the words that started out right and turned foul in the air. Those things that should not have been a topic of conversation considering all the great things You have done for me. I have plenty to boast about in You. I am secure in my place in the Kingdom of God and have no need to tear another person down or bring up their mistakes. I am a Child of God. I have a purpose. I am to share the Love of Jesus with everyone because You are standing by my side. You are in front of me. You are behind me. Your Love surrounds me. Make me aware of Your Presence. Forgive me for the things that I have said without thinking and come close again! May every word rather intentional or idle be a reflection of your Great Love! I will inspect my conversation today. Is it kind, loving and true? I will make sure that it is not meant for evil but wrapped tightly in Your Goodness? May my words water my field and harvest rather than causing rot and decay! To You I give all honor, glory and power to make it so today!

2 Timothy 2:15-16 (NLT)

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.

Just One

Just One

I John 3:4-6 (NLT)

Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.


“I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that Cross.” You may recognize this verse from the popular worship song, “Here I Am to Worship” by Michael W. Smith. Definitely an oldie, but goodie. As I sang these words in a youth service last night, the impact was significant at the realization that a single sin nailed Jesus to the Cross, so I will never know the cost of the multitude of sins I have committed and will commit in my lifetime. Perhaps, since I am saved, you are wondering why think about that now. After all, the Grace of God is sufficient and the Blood of Christ complete. It is indeed. However, I do not believe for a moment that we can every stop thinking about sin. It is the darkness that longs to permeate our heart and drag us back into slavery long after we have been washed in the Blood. It is commonplace in the modern church to not discuss the details of the Cross anymore or imagine the stream of bright red blood flowing from it. We open our doors to everyone just as God suggested but leave them unchanged because the church is unchanged. Wearing filthy rags of religious works, sometimes we forget to maintain our white robes of righteousness. We will never be completely free of sin until we are raised with Jesus Christ. When you consider that every sin committed in our life, even those that seem less significant than others, cost Jesus His Life – it should make a difference in what we do, how we think and the way we live.

When our son was undergoing cancer treatment, over and over again, the doctors would warn us prior to each round of the horrible side effects that he would have from the poison being pumped into his body. Horrific but necessary to save his life. Well, we prayed with each infusion and trusted the Lord to protect him and keep him through treatment. I can testify today that this kid did not endure half of what they promised. Yes, it was tough. His body went through a lot. But not everything they promised happened. He continued to attend school when not in the hospital which is unheard of. He did not have all the setbacks. I have praised God on many occasions for His Miraculous Protection of our son through this ordeal as all the doctors and nurses scratched their heads as to why he did not have these problems. On one such occasion, the reality hit me that our son did not go through all these things because Jesus bore them on the Cross. I was immediately brought to my knees with the impact of this revelation. Every sickness and disease was born by our Savior on the Cross. Just imagine it in the natural…a man hanging on a cross dying a death for every single sin every committed while bearing the brunt of sickness and disease in the process. A single sin cost Jesus His Entire Life which makes me the culprit…

Romans 3:23-26 (NLT)

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.


During the process of a bone marrow transplant, they asked my son if would like to be an organ donor. As we talked about it, he laughed at the thought they could still use his body parts but absolutely would give to others anything usable. For some reason, this was very hard for me. I am an organ donor. My adult children have all chosen to do the same. The reality of death on one’s doorstep changes one’s perspective for sure. The thought of harvesting organs to save someone’s life seems like the right thing to do… until it is your child’s body being considered. Yet Jesus in His Complete Perfection stepped down from Heaven and freely gave His Life for us. God consented and allowed the sacrifice of His Son for all mankind despite its sinful betrayal and full rebellion against their Creator.

We are all guilty. Grace does not change the sequence of events that brought us to the Lord. Grace does not make them allowable due to human weakness. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living. I cannot get caught up in comparison to think that just because I am able to avoid some sins better than others that I in any way was not as responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. I was totally responsible. I owe Him my life.

Romans 6:19-23 (NLT)

Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

The wages of sin is death. It was from the beginning and will be to the end. I have joked many times if you see me running – you should run to because something is chasing me. The mentality of many is that I just need to be one step ahead of the next guy not to get by whatever is chasing me. The truth is that life is not a footrace against others but a race against sin. We must endure to the end to be saved. What are we enduring – the battle against sin! Jesus has a firm hold on us. His Love will never fail us. He will never ever let go. The question is whether or not I will. Jesus broke every chain that keeps us from following Him and living a life in right standing with God. Too bad we choose religion as our comfort zone rather than embracing God in a righteous relationship. A relationship with God means refusal of sin. He loves us. We love Him. Sin gets in the way. I love my husband. He loves me. Another lover would definitely end our marriage. Salvation is free, but never cheap and easy. To fully accept the Gift of God that is eternal life is to walk away from sin. We must “take up our Cross” and follow Him. We cannot pay the price for our sin. Jesus paid it all. We can be responsible to walk in complete recognition and respect for His Sacrifice each and every day. We do this when we avoid sin and love Him more.

John 3:16-20 (NLT)

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.

Jesus did not come to judge the world. Mankind was already condemned by sin. With nothing to lose, sin grows rampant and love grows cold around us today more than ever. God doesn’t get mad at me when I sin just keeps pointing me to Jesus. He wants me to be saved. I cannot live out my salvation covered in sin. One sin makes a difference in my life. God’s Glorious Standard of Living is fully achieved by avoiding sin at all costs. Will I be sinless? No, of course not. I can try though. To live in God’s Word, listen to His Spirit, communicate with Him daily and do what He says will change my life now and forever. Sin will always cost me something but not my life. No, now sin keeps me from having what Jesus died for me to have. When I allow darkness to seep into my heart, it takes the place of the Light of His Love. I cannot love and embrace wrongdoing and Jesus at the same time. I have to make a choice. Many choices every single day to have the life that God has promised me. If you are living in the favor and blessings promised by God, it is not a God problem. It is a “me” problem. It is a “you” problem. It is an “us” problem. We will never have the life that God promised and we desire living in the darkness because it is only found in the Light of His Amazing Love. The kind of love that would give their whole life for a single white lie, a thoughtless act, or random distraction. See Jesus didn’t die just for the murderers, thieves, pedophiles, rapists, gangbangers, or the like…He died for me. I have never murdered anyone with my hands but I have in my heart. I have not openly taken advantage of another but have thought it in my head. I am not the member of a gang, but have been a part of a religion before. But today I am reminded that I didn’t have to do anything heinous or illegal to need the Blood of Jesus or become a part of the Cross – I just had to sin one time to be a part of the crucifixion and death of an innocent man. It was my sin that killed Jesus. Just one of them demanded His All. I am humbled by the thought today. It changes everything all over again. “So here I am to worship…here I am to bow down… here I am to say that You’re my God!”

I John 4:16-18 (NLT)

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

I am reminded today of God’s Perfect Love. I am reminded of how much God Loves Me as I think about the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus for me. To live in God means that our love for Him grows more perfect. To love God means to hate sin – all sin. There is no such thing as justifiable sin just forgiven ones. We must daily come to the Cross and carry it as a reminder of how much love was given us that day. We will never know just how much it cost to see our sin on the Cross. I have to live in that thought every single day to see the significance of sin in my life whether hidden or openly entertained. It is only then that I will allow the Light of His Love to overtake the darkness there and lead me deeper into His Everlasting Love. To fully trust the Love of God and do things His Way is to believe that this world has nothing for me. So God, here I am to worship! Show me anything that offends you in my life today so I can nail it to the Cross and be faithful again.

Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT)

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.[a]For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Burning Inside

Burning Inside

Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT)

 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

I know better. I knew better when I did it from the first bite to the last. Actually I was in a moral dilemma before I went to the store and bought them that this may not be such a good idea. I already had been eating foods that did not agree with me throughout the day, but now to pile some chicken wings on top. I ate a salad with them hoping it would count even enjoying a piece of Hawaiian bread that I am quite certain is baked in Heaven thinking it would absorb some of the grease. Yeah, I knew better. I could feel my stomach begin to churn before I even left the table. Heading straight for the Tums, I ate three. Surely that would take care of it as I cleaned the kitchen. No, not so fast. I ate three more. I lost count after that as the churning to burning. My stomach was so hot I could feel it through my shirt (or at least I thought I could). I drank copious amounts of water hoping to put out the inferno raging inside my gut. The whole time thinking you knew better. Why do something so dumb? My sweet husband realizing my pain and listening to my groaning offered to go grab another antacid, but first I decided to get a medical opinion. I “googled” burning pain in stomach to see what the “experts” had to say. I found the answer.

Heading to the kitchen, rummaging through the cabinet, I found some baking soda. According to the Internet, a half of a teaspoon mixed in 4 ounces of water should stop the burning inside. Made sense since I learned in Home Economics in seventh grade to use it to put out a grease fire in the kitchen. Quickly mixing it in a small glass, I downed it like a cowboy taking a shot before a gunfight and waited. Glory Hallelujah! It worked! As the pain began to subside, I noticed a strong salty taste in my mouth. As my belly bubbled and popped, I read the ingredients on the box – “sodium bicarbonate”. Drained from the whole ordeal, firefighting is no joke. I went to bed. When I woke up, the same salty taste was in my mouth. So then I had to take it to Jesus, and find out what was up.

We are the salt of the earth. This does not mean that we are perfect but in the process of becoming so. This means that even when we know how to act or what to say that sometimes we do what we want to do anyway knowing it is not the best thing for us. Those who choose to be the salt of the earth or light on a hill must do something to right the wrong in their way or suffer the consequences. Not God’s Consequences, He is also ready to give us His Grace providing New Mercy each day for His Wandering Children. Consequences are the natural outcomes in life. I know that I am sensitive to grease laden, deep fried food. A few years back, I completely changed what I ate in order to stop taking antacids on an ongoing basis. Many nights sitting up to sleep because it felt like I was having a heart attack cured my need to overindulge in foods that clearly no longer agree with me. Young people enjoy those ironclad tummies while they still work. We cannot continue to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Loving and serving God is not and will never be an excuse to sin or not use good judgment. Preaching to me this morning…as I sit with a smoldering gut reminding me that I knew better and did it anyway.

Romans 7:21-25 (NLT)

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Working out one’s salvation is a daily process lived moment by moment. We are free to choose how we live and what we pursue. God will never force us to chase after righteousness. Jesus simply gave us the keys to open the door to the Kingdom of God. We must decide that it is indeed what we want and make the commitment to go after it. God will not make you give up sin to embrace His Goodness. I will continue to sin for the rest of my life. I will make mistakes along the way. Yet, I must still work daily to serve and satisfy my Savior and Lord if I love Him. Before you bustle in your seat or beg to disagree, just think of everything you do in a single day to gain the affection, affirmation and acceptance of other people. Why would it be appropriate to do less for the One who died to save your soul and give you forever? Just saying.

I love God’s Word with all my heart. It has led me to victory over and over again. The fight that we face is not a battle against the adversary but a war raging in our very soul. Our humanity does not want to die to self and take on Christ’s Identity. The power of the human mind is to convince us to do our own thing, live our own way, and say what we think rather than to submit our mind, will and emotions to the Holy Spirit for careful cultivation. The Holy Spirit produces certain fruits in our life – the last one listed is “self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23) but maybe that should be listed first as it would allow all the other fruits to flourish.

I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT)

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.


I am allowed to do anything. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed! (John 8:36) Free indeed means that you have not given up one form of “slavery” for another. When we make Jesus the Lord of our life, it is an act of submission and surrender by choice. If you want all the benefits offered by salvation and through deliverance from sin and darkness, you must live in the Light of His Love. Why do we think logically about life but fail to see God’s Way differently? Like we can do anything, yet still expect better outcomes. For example, if I have a headache and there is ibuprofen in the cabinet, why wouldn’t I take a couple for relief? They are not illegal or toxic. Should I pray? Yes, of course. But if God has already given you a solution, why not try that first? Come on – don’t act like you don’t understand. We all do. God’s Way is not like our own. It is often uncomfortable and requires an effort to make the changes to necessary to have His Best according to His Word. We pray for the Lord to do things that His Word already tells us how to achieve because we do not want to do what He says in the first place. God is not a man. He does not lie or change His Mind. He doesn’t give trophies to everyone who shows up or participates. He gives it to the winners who overcome sin by TRYING to do what the Word of God says and relying on His Spirit for help. God is looking at our hearts today. He is looking for champions of faith who no matter how many times they have tried to follow Jesus but stumbled, fell down or wandered off course still try to love and serve Him every day. Your plight will be different than mine and everyone else you come in contact with. What matters is that you give your all to Jesus even when it’s hard or requires a little self-control. You cannot continue to do the same thing and expect different results even the world calls that insanity.

Proverbs 20:25 (NLT)

Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.


Our daughter, who recently married and moved away, and I were recently talking about healthy eating. They eat out quite a bit with their busy schedule. She expressed her objection to the fact that to eat healthy costs more than the “Dollar Menu” at McDonalds. It’s hard to make better choices when the unhealthy ones are way more economical on a fixed budget. This is true in our walk with Jesus Christ. To make better choices will cost us something rather resources, relationships or routines – there must be a change for better outcomes. It may be uncomfortable. We may not like it but if we want God’s Very Best it is going to happen.

James 3:11-13 (NLT)

Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.

Not too long ago, one of my girls started calling the other one “salty”. I finally asked her what she meant. “Salty” is an urban reference to someone who is “agitated or bitter” toward someone else. Don’t you love how the enemy will take something and twist it like that? The word “salty” if used in direct correlation in the Word of God would mean just the opposite. We use the “salt” of God’s Word and His Spirit to purify our mind, soul and body. It is that which neutralizes all bitterness and strife within us. We cannot draw fresh water from a salty spring, but if we are overcome by sin the only solution is to add a little salt. It certainly cured the burning inside my stomach last night. Today the message is clear in my mind and soul as well. The Lord wants to settle some things inside me today that have nothing to do with the physical issues in my life but everything to do with some spiritual issues in my heart. He is reminding me that I am the salt of the earth and light on a hill.  I must keep my salt salty and my light bright to successfully complete my mission on earth and be welcomed into forever. I hear you, Lord. I am offered wisdom in the Word of God. It is up to me to use it. I am afforded the secrets of the Kingdom whispered to me by His Spirit. I must listen. I prove that I love the Lord by how I live, what I do, how I act and the words I speak. I must be mindful of this to overcome myself and be an overcomer in the heated battle raging deep inside of me. I must stay salty. I must tend my light. Thank you God for your Love and Grace today! Thank you that they let me learn from my mistakes! Thank you for the freedom to choose a different path and live in Your Love forever!

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT)

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Exhale to Inhale

Exhale to Inhale

Psalm 104:30-33 (NLT)

When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth. May the glory of the Lord continue forever! The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made! The earth trembles at his glance; the mountains smoke at his touch. I will sing to the Lord as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath!

You give them your breath. (Genesis 2:7) Life is created. (Job 33:4) You renew the face of the earth. Man, I needed this today. Ever just feel a funk coming on, you know you feel a little down or out of sorts for no apparent reason. Maybe your nerves are a little too close to the surface or patience already at the end of your rope, but you do not know why? Some call it the blues. I have absolutely no reason whatsoever to feel that way this week…but I did. Work was busy. Schedule full. Kids bickering. Chores to be done. Really nothing out of the ordinary yet still felt like I was fighting for joy and peace when there was no reason to be unsettled. I longed for the Glory of the Lord to continue in my life wrapping me up in His Presence, surrounding me with joy, overtaking me with His Love, and covered by His Peace with a made up mind. With my attitude, it would take a whole lot of His Grace to find such a place. The plateaus in life can be hard. We must resist the downward slide into stagnancy and strive to move closer to Christ. I think sometimes these places are by design so that we will stop the doing and think about what we are doing and who we are doing it all for. The Lord takes pleasure in us. The earth responds to a single glance from its maker. What will be my response on those days that the wall of my rut seem too high to climb out of?

To inhale I must exhale. Seems like simple science and it is. Our lungs cannot breathe in fresh air until we let out all the stale air or carbon dioxide in its place. When I hold my breath, my body uses the fresh air to feed my blood cells, keep my brain functioning, etc. But when it becomes toxic, I must let it out to take in more fresh air keeping the process going that keeps my body alive. God’s Spirit lives inside of me. He was breathed out when Jesus died on the Cross to freely circle about the planet. (John 19:30) On the Day of Pentecost, He was directed into the bodies of all God’s People to enrich and empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things by the Power of the Living God. (Acts 2) What about those days when I feel like a weakling? When I don’t feel like a Child of God? When life feels so ordinary? When nothing special is going on? What do I do then? It is time to exhale and breathe again.

Psalm 33 (NLT)

Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him. Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy. For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth. The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command. The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes. But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance. The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior. Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine. We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.


I kept trying to pare down this psalm to an acceptable length. But sorry folks, I need it all. I am a Martha kind of person who gets lost in her tasks. Doing is my comfort zone. Just let me do something, anything but wait Lord. Martha trusted God as far as her logic would take her. She was a thinker, doer, and organizer of life with little boxes in her head to compartmentalize her tasks, feelings and thoughts. I understand her very well. When Lazarus died, Jesus told her that he would live again. She brushed it off to the Resurrection of all mankind. Martha did not think that Jesus was talking about that very day. When the Lord asked them to open the tomb, Martha was thrust from her comfort zone reminding Jesus that they body had lied there for days and would stink horribly. The limits of her faith revealed, Jesus changed her mind that day. I believe that every breath we take is about finding more faith and developing confident hope. Every single detail of our life means something, but we cannot get so caught up in those details that we stop breathing in and out in the Lord. His Spirit is constantly moving in us to secure more and more faith. When it makes us uncomfortable, we hold our breath. Why? Fear. We don’t think we are scared but fear is disguised as worry, stress, anxiety, depression, or maybe you call it the “blues”.

As I type this morning, I have my little Chihuahua on my lap. She is very small less than five pounds. I have repositioned her several time. One time, she was about to fall off my lap. Other times, she likes a certain position that is more comfortable for her but impossible for me to reach the keyboard so I move her. She moves right back. Could it be that sometimes this feeling is a response to God repositioning me or the people around me for my benefit? I know, the Lord speaks to me in the weirdest ways but any way He can to get His Message to my heart is welcomed.

Psalm 33 gives us insight for those times of discomfort. When the things that the Lord is doing in us and through us make us a little uncomfortable so we respond naturally instead of faithfully … p.s. this is for me. First, the Word of God holds true. (vs. 4-5) The Word of God is one of the two most important things that we are given. The Word will always hold us when we are wavering. We must know it. Read it. Study it. Always to have a strong foothold of faith when doubts and fear threaten our position and we waver a bit. There is power in the “breathed word” of the Lord. (vs. 6-9) The Power of God in His Spoken Word is matchless. When He says something, it changes everything. He is Life. He is Love. He is Creation. We can count on Him. What He says, He will do because His Word will not return to Him void. It has to do what He says it will do or He is not God. His Plans stand firm and His Intentions cannot be shaken. (vs. 11) God watches us always. He knows us because He made us. He pays particularly close attention to our heart. Our bodies are born dying. The things that come and go from our life are of no real worth. It is what our heart believes about God, His Son and His Spirit that matter. Even when I am weak, He makes me strong. He understands that I don’t have it altogether no matter how hard I try to make others think I do. He caters to me by giving me grace on the days when I hold my breath and refuse to move from my comfort zone. He simply makes me uncomfortable over and over again. Why? Why does He do all this? His Love for us is unfailing. Even when we give up or mess up – God couldn’t love us any more than He already does.

Our hope is in the Lord. When we put our faith and trust in Jesus, His Love becomes our help and shield in life. Our hearts can rejoice even in the toughest times during the darkest days. We trust Him. We know that He will never let us down because His Word has built a wall around our heart protecting us from every single fiery dart. His Spirit is circling round about rousting anything that would come against us as a Child of God. We must exhale to inhale. We must let go of those things that are troubling us and release them to the Lord…letting them go. Not picking them back up or trying to help God work it all out. We must let them go completely. Hidden sins work against the revival of our body, soul and spirit. To harbor such a fugitive will only weaken our resolve so go ahead and release those, too. It is all or nothing if you want God’s Very Best. I want God’s Very Best. I hate the blues. I hate when I am not filled to overflowing with His Spirit but wait all I have to do is exhale to inhale.

What is the first part of Psalm 33? ”Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him. Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.” Praise exhales so we can inhale. I work in a home office in the basement of a house. The owner’s wife is a musician who is learning to play the piano. She is a quick study and will begin with just a few random keys but within a short time it becomes a familiar song. I think praise is the same kind of thing. It can be shaky in the beginning but the more we practice and remain committed to becoming full-time “praisers” it will happen. There is something about praise that wakes up your heart. When I am headlong in a funk plunging deep into the dark, it is like a little lightbulb goes off in my head to praise God. I quickly find my phone loaded full of praise and worship to release it into the atmosphere. I may not be ready to sing along yet, but fight begins. The more I hear them sing about God’s Love and Faithfulness, the Spirit of the Living God starts working their words through my heart and brain reminding my soul of His Unfailing Love. Suddenly, something breaks every single time. It often feels like a deep breath after hours of not being able to breathe as God relieves the burdens of my heart and fills the void with His Word, His Promises and more faith.

Job said, “As long as I live, while I have breath from God, my lips will speak no evil, and my tongue will speak no lies.” (Job 27:3-4) Not many have experienced the depths of tragedy that this man did in a single day, but we are given the choice in each day what we say and do. Do not discredit your plight of journey of faith by comparing it to others. God designed your life so that you would discover the greatness and faithfulness of His Love and take hold of it. He knows what it will take to make that happen. He knows every foul and evil thing that the enemy will bring against us. The Lord has promised to make good from every single detail of our life. (Romans 8:28) We have to surrender our moments breath by breath to receive the restorative, renewing Power of God in our life. We have the power to choose whether we live or die in that moment.

Luke 23:45-46 (NLT)

The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.


What a beautiful example in His Darkest Hour is given by Jesus! “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And then it says, “And with those words he breathed his last.” I think we are supposed to do the very same thing that Jesus did in that moment. We must trust our spirit into God’s Hands fully. It is a daily surrender of our life to His Love. It is in that moment, “we” breathe our last breath and take in His Spirit fully and completely. We all will have challenging days. Trying times of testing that develops strength of character and teaches us to endure. These are the days that more than ever we must breathe our last and breathe in Jesus. Praise exhales all the fear and doubt allowing us to take in more and more of the Lord as we express our confidence in His Word, Will and Way. It fights every stronghold and spiritual force coming against the wall of love protecting and surrounding our heart. Total faith and complete confidence allows the Light of His Love to chase away every dark shadow. The flow of His Love and Grace in us and through us allows us to keep moving down the Highway of Holiness closer to Jesus. The closer we get the better it gets. We just have to keep walking step by step and breath by breath in the Presence of God.

Psalm 150:6 (NLT) Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Death Wish

Death Wish

Philippians 1:20-24 (NLT)

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.


True story. Gunman in jeans and white t-shirt with a huge chip on his shoulder likely chipped from his hard heart walks into a crowded college classroom. Everyone falls to the floor instantly anticipating the worst as their teacher lay before them dying. He asks each one just one question before deciding if they will live another day or die in that moment. “Are you a Christian?” Those who dare say yes would meet Jesus in seconds. Christians are being persecuted around the world – yes. But this wasn’t in the Middle East or at the hands of a radical religious sect. This was in the United States in a town a lot like mine or maybe yours. This is the world we live in. What would be your response?

I cannot help but wonder. What would I say? What would I do in that moment? To live is Christ but to die is gain. I hear these words in my head. Some are crying for gun control. Others are barricaded in fear. Many will say a quick prayer for the thirteen who died but forget tomorrow. Every time my kids go to the movies, I pray. When they attend sporting events, I pray. When they share the gospel, I pray. They love God. They are Christians mixed in a culture that has gone just a little bit crazy. Paul said, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” Isn’t that what faith and confident hope are all about…following Jesus through life to one day step into Eternity? I remember as a kid studying the book of Revelation thinking that’s crazy. I don’t want to live during that time…but I have come to the realization that I do. I have a choice to make in each moment of every day that in the time we are living could cost me my life. It is just as Jesus said it would be…today.

Matthew 24:4-14 (NLT)

Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”

How can anyone deny the validity of the Lord’s prediction? He told us that tough times were ahead for those who called Him the Messiah. Accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord will change our life forever. It will also put a target on the back of those who love and trust Him enough to remain bold for Him. This is not about whether or not we will share the Gospel with the world. The Holy Spirit lives in each person who receives Jesus and cultivates each soul individually. The Highway to Holiness is lonely yet filled with saints of God who must decide for themselves to love and follow Jesus. No matter what our religion, race or doctrine – we are all in this together as we seek to follow the Lord. We must be aware of the times in which we live and respond accordingly. It would seem that one must determine in this day and time if what they believe is worth dying for. Wars and rumors of war. Check. Nation against nation. Check. Watch out Israel I am praying for you because they are coming after you. Check. Famines and earthquakes. Check. Christians arrested, persecuted and killed. Check. Christians against Christians, church against church, division amongst the brethren. Check. False prophets…don’t get me started. CHECK. Sin is rampant. Yes. Love has grown cold. Absolutely. I cannot imagine any love in a person who can look at another human being into pleading eyes and yet still put a bullet in their head. Just pure unadulterated evil. Or even worse, someone who could do it to an elementary school child. It happened. You must have faith to endure the hardship and hatred the world has for the Body of Christ. Where is the hope in that? “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.


Take a deep breath. Do not be overwhelmed. Jesus overcame the world. No weapon formed against us will prosper. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Are you ready? Are you willing to stop loving this life enough to embrace the future? See to deny Christ may gain you a few more moments but what about forever? My daughter text me last night about a woman she met in the park. She invited the woman and her family to church. They came. She is very pregnant right now. Her husband was having some back pain that they decided to have checked before their baby arrived. He has been referred to a cancer specialist. Am I afraid that she is sharing Christ with others? Should I be? The worst thing a believer could do in the midst of the end times is panic or lose sight of our pursuit of Christ which in all things every day is to share His Love with the world in its present deteriorating condition. What we must do is decide if our faith is genuine and our hope confident.

Matthew 26:33-35 (NLT)

Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.


Matthew 26:69-75 (NLT)

 Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.” But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. “I don’t even know the man,” he said. A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly.

The disciples of all people were surprised when Jesus was arrested and headed to the Cross. They didn’t expect things to turn out this way. They were supposed to rule and reign with Him. Even Peter had reminded Jesus that he had given up his life for Him, now what? But when Jesus told his friends that His Time had come Peter promised never to desert the Lord. Jesus told Peter that he would deny him three times before the next morning. Peter did. Will I? Will you? We deny Christ in our daily lives to fit in or have our own way. If today a gunman put a gun to your head and asked the lethal question, “Are you a Christian?” What would you say? Or better yet, would he even have to ask? I am not implying that we should live with a death wish but in consideration that every man, woman and child will die one day. Am I ready? Do I live for Christ? Do I want to be with Him forever? I am a believer and have been for many years. It has not made my life easy. Hardships still come. Heartbreak still happens. It changes the outcome of our life not necessarily each moment that is up to us. When I surrender my moments to Christ, I have the promise that everything will be alright whether I live or die. I came to this startling reality during our son’s sickness. Around the third cancer diagnosis, I had to evaluate my heart. I had to try my faith and examine my hope. Did I really believe beyond this life? Would I trust the Lord if he didn’t make it? Would I still follow Christ if my natural world fell apart and didn’t make sense anymore? The quiet whisper of yes sent me into a new direction completely. It was not a glorious moment. I did not run, jump and shout with revelation. It was simply the “check” I needed to know that no matter what happened, my faith in God was secure and hope in Christ real. See if I am not a believer who accepts Christ as Savior and Lord nor my son – if he did not win the fight – he would be lost forever. Forever puts a new spin on life for those who truly seek the Lord and love Him wholeheartedly. It should increase our boldness. It is the pressure we need to tell everyone we meet about our Savior because the guarantee of another day or opportunity is significantly reduced in light of the times we currently live. You may never be put in such a situation as those people in Oregon yesterday, but you will stand before Jesus one day.

Matthew 16:25-27 (NLT)

 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.


This life is fleeting. It will end one day. You will lose your life. Your body will give out. Your mind will become cloudy. Those who decide to invest in their soul will live forever. When you die, stepping out of the confines and limitations of humanity, it is to be free forever in Jesus. It matters what you believe and how you live today. Don’t let anyone fool you or make you think that grace is for everyone. It is for those who believe enough to follow Jesus Christ no matter how feeble their attempt may be or how many times they stumble. The Blood of Jesus is absolutely a requirement for the remission of sins. It cannot be convoluted with comfortable doctrine. Repentance is uncomfortable and it will requires some self-discipline. Obedience is not only necessary but essential. God will do the work if you supply the substance. The Cross was unsightly but we all must journey there. This life is hard. It is not getting any better. Faith is the difference between a life of contentment and living a life in fear. Perfect love expels fear producing confident hope that no matter what happens today or tomorrow, I have forever to think about and live for. I don’t want to lose my soul but I am not capable of maintaining it so today I give it all to Jesus…again. Lord, prepare me to face the days ahead. Lord, I want to endure. To live for Christ is my desire, but to die is where I gain it all. Help me to see past today or even tomorrow not only for me but every person I meet along the way! I do not have a death wish, but I want to live in YOU!

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)

 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.



Cutting Ties

Cutting Ties

Revelation 2:2-4 (MSG)

 “I see what you’ve done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can’t stomach evil that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause that you never wear out. But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall! Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.”

First love. Love at first sight. The kind of love that moves us into action. You know the kind. It makes you want to be a better person just because of the explosion inside of you. To love and be loved is a motivator of people. In a world that confuses love and lust, the characteristics of love are convoluted. When we reach out to love someone, a soul tie is created. Like a shoe lace knits together a shoe making it fit snugly on our foot a soul tie creates a bond around two hearts. Trouble is human beings in their imperfection accept less than perfect love all the time. Love that abuses. Love that confuses. Love that comes and goes without commitment. Love that lacks all the qualities that God ordained it to be. But when the love leaves the soul ties remain. They trip people up and keep them from ever really loving anyone even themselves. Jesus offers to cut all soul ties for those who come to Him. He will wrap us up in real love so we can love others fearlessly through our connection to Him.

Have you ever run a three-legged race? Where your leg is bound to another person’s and you must find a way to work together and run? It looks easy until you are caught with the other person. Well, imagine that times every relationship that you have in life. Picture your favorite tennis shoelace’s intertwined with multiple other shoes. Now walk in the… it’s just not going to happen. We must cut the ties of love we have with everyone else and become attached to Jesus Christ to love the way that we were meant to love others. Do you love Christ like you did in the beginning? When He cut all those things that had you bound and you stepped into the Freedom of Forever Love. Unconditional Love. Boundless Love wrapped tightly in Grace. Do you remember that feeling when you were set free? What happened? Have you lost your early love? Now is your relationship with Christ as monotonous as your marriage, as frustrating as your children, overbearing as your family, or as undependable as some of your friends? Human love will never be perfect. The Love of God demonstrated through Jesus Christ is perfect. You can always count on His Love. Do we?

I John 4:17-19 (MSG)

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

God is love. He created and perfected love. When we decide to make Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, we step out of this life into a new life in His Love. We live in God. God lives in us. It is a covenant relationship like marriage without all the strife. But is our love, well-formed and well-defined? Not if we have the same expectations in Christ that we had in the world. Not if we live the tainted love of our past rather than embracing our New Love, Jesus Christ. Too many times we would rather sleep with the devil rather than take a chance on an angel. Someone once told me that when returning to a fruitless relationship that was their excuse to return comfortable complacency to endure a life of love rather than thrive in it. It sounds crazy but we do it all the time getting wrapped up in our earthly relationships with all of its requirements that lead to nowhere rather than fearlessly falling in love with Jesus Christ making Him the basis of all our love affairs. Leaving our First Love to pursue other lovers is adultery. My husband would not stand for it. I would kill him if he tried. Why don’t we love Jesus as much as we love our spouse? I would give my life for my husband or children. Why wouldn’t I do just a little bit more for the Lover of my Soul?

I Corinthians 13:2-8 (MSG)

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies.

There are a whole lot of people going through the motions of love without any real knowledge of what love is. When their patience runs out, they quit. When their feelings change, they leave. When they want more, they go find it somewhere else. It is true in human relationships and relationships with the Lord. We can never experience a true relationship with God or His Son, Jesus Christ without experience true love and making it our first love. Falling in love is never the problem. Staying in love is always the issue. Before my husband and I went on an official date, I told a friend that I was going to marry him. I knew it. On one of our first few dates, he confirmed it by saying anyone who I marry will have to love God. We were not living for the Lord at that time but each had a strong desire to return to Him. Jesus Christ stepped up to the marriage altar with us and has been our first love ever since. I honestly will admit that I do not know how people stay married without Jesus Christ. He is the Perfection that allows us to remain united in our imperfections. He meets and exceeds my expectations when my spouse cannot. He changes us into lovable people. Being a Christian is not what saves us and changes us, falling in love with Jesus Christ does. It is the maturity of love that comes from surrendering our lives day by day to His Love that gets the job done. True love never dies. Do you love Him today? Is He your First Love? This could very well be the game changer you have been seeking in others. It could be the fulfillment once thought to be found in other people. It has been for me. I can love from the surplus of love that He has given me. I can forgive because of the grace that I am wrapped up in. He gives me mercy on the days I fail in this thing called love getting tied up in my humanity and then snips each unproductive bond in my life so I am free to love Him fearlessly and forever just like love mandates of me.

Ephesians 3:14-20 (MSG)

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

I have that song stuck in my head. “I Want To Know What Love Is” by Foreigner. Ugh! “I want to know what love is…I want you to show me…” You’re welcome! It can now play in your mind too. The world has defined love as so many things that are absolutely not true. One commercial boast you can have endless “firsts” in our life. That is ridiculous. Once you have given away your first kiss, it is gone. I have strived to impress this in my children’s hearts and minds. The value of their love that makes them see how much Jesus loves them. He thought that it was so worthwhile to have their love and enjoy their company that He died to be with them. Why give away your heart, soul, mind and body to those who just want to use and discard you when Jesus says come let me love you first? So many times we define our self-worth by how others love us, want us, need us or live with us, but that is not the way it was meant to be. God is love. He loved us first. He loves us best. So completely in fact that His Love will consume all of us instantly if we let Him. His Spirit lives in us as a sign that we belong to Him. His Love is made complete in us by His Spirit so we don’t need anything from other people and are free to love them all unrestricted.

When my kids were little and got mad, they would say to me, “I am not your friend anymore.” I would smile and say, “You don’t have to like me, but I love you. God made me to be your mama not your friend.” I knew that they love me but wanted their own way. Do I really need to explain this any further? God’s Love is unchanged by our willingness to love Him back. He loves us the same every single day. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He cannot and will not take back His Love. When He died for me, Jesus meant it for keeps. When I don’t do the right thing or get tired of the constant process I am in, the Lord waits for me to come back to Him time and time again. When I give the love and commitment that belongs to Him to others, Jesus patiently and lovingly waits until I get it right. He will never let me hurt myself or fall into the enemy’s trap to have my love. His Love is perfect. He will never compromise His Love for me just to keep me close. To have His Love I must make Him first. My First Love in all things cutting ties with all the other things that demand of me in the name of love to experience real love. The kind of love that is too high, deep, wide and long to ever truly comprehend. My life is made complete in my pursuit of all of God’s Love for me from start to finish. This is where I find true contentment. This is the source of my satisfaction. This is how I learn to love others.

Romans 8:38-39 (MSG)

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Who’s Knocking?

Who Is Knocking

Revelation 3:19-21 (MSG)

“The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God! Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That’s my gift to the conquerors!”

Is that someone at the door? Have you ever heard a subtle sound that made you walk to the window to see if someone was knocking? There are times in the middle of the night when I wake up instantly as though someone is calling me. I used to get up and wander the house checking all the children. Not surprised that there was usually someone calling for me from a bad dream or maybe sudden sickness. There were times that I am not really sure anyone called my name but that the Lord woke me up to care for my little one before they woke up to call me. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had an ongoing nightmare that I would forget I was a mom and leave him somewhere. Anywhere. Before he arrived, I didn’t know how God wired moms with an internal radar for their children. The one that can pick their cry from the midst of a crowd. The little sensor that goes off when something is amiss. I am disturbed by the alarming number of parents who forget that their babies leaving them in hot cars for an entire day without a second thought. What has become so important in one’s daily routine not to think about their child? Please do not think of this as judgmental…I just don’t understand. I forget a lot of things. The older I get the more it seems to happen. Hence I live by lists and constant rechecks. Thank God for the notepad in my cellphone. If I don’t write it down, be wary it may escape me. But not my kids. I think about them every day even those grown and moved away.

Today I hear that voice. The One that equipped me to be a parent calling out to me. He is quietly knocking on the door to my heart this morning asking to come in. Come in to my heart. Inhabit my body. Take over my mind. Filter through my day. Help me. Equip me. Strengthen me. Be with me. Where I do not forget my children, there are days that I forget the Lord. I leave Him standing in that place as I go about my day. These are the days that I am overwhelmed by my tasks and overtaken by my emotions. The Lord whispers, “Look at me. I stand at the door today. I knock. If you open the door I will come sit down with you…” Lord may I learn to be as responsive to you as I am the cry of my children today. Forgive me right now for all the times I have ignored your knock or refused your invitation to be more than a conqueror.

Matthew 7:7-11 (MSG)

“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?”


You’re at least decent to your own children. Wow, does this resonate in my heart today. During my early years, my dad was in Vietnam and my birth mother barely out of her teens. When dad came back, they tried to make it work but as most would admit trying to be married without Jesus is near impossible. When they divorced, my mom retained custody of my brother and I. She tried. I remember visiting friends with “normal” homes where mom fixed dinner and dad went to work thinking I want to be this mom. One mom made her daughter lunch with sweet tea every day and I thought she was perfect. It became my life’s goal to be a good mom when it was my turn. By the time, my son came into the world my life was plagued with my own mistakes and the overwhelming feeling that this would not be as easy as it looked. I immediately began seeking God which did not bode well in my first marriage. But I made my bed so I was going to lie in it. I did for almost ten years and three children. When I left my worst nightmare was that I had become my mother. When I met my husband and gave my life to Jesus, I realized that God loved me and applied His Grace to my life. Suddenly, partnered with the Lord I became a better mom the one that He created me to be. I invited Him to help me, equip me and comfort me when I blew it. It changed everything.

Each day the Lord comes to my life and knocks. Lori, do you want my help today? Can I teach you something new about My Love? Can I show you the Way to My Heart? Some days I immediately meet Him throwing open the door. But there used to be more days that I decided I had it all under control. I was doing better. I had it. I knew what His Word said and would try to live that way. Over the last several years, three things have happened that have brought a startling revelation. I need Jesus every single day. How did it happen? The Lord has used my children to teach me this important lesson. My first child and oldest son spent a year in the Middle East as an American soldier. This would be my first experience of my heart being stretched. Second child, a son was diagnosed with cancer not once but five separate times who is now a living breathing miracle although the Lord is still rebuilding his mama’s heart. Finally our oldest daughter got married and then without a few short months moved across the country. See I love being a mother. In many ways, I have invested my whole life into my children. I never expected anything to happen to them or for them to go away because I was a good mom. Is it possible that I hold my relationship with my children closer than my personal relationship with Jesus Chris? I did…but not anymore.

The Lord desires a close and intimate relationship with each one of us. There are a variety of reasons why we do not always embrace His Invitation or welcome His Knock on our heart to come closer. But if we want to live by faith stepping into confident hope, we must not only answer His Call but open the door in every area of our life for salvation sake.

Luke 11:37-41 (MSG)

When he finished that talk, a Pharisee asked him to dinner. He entered his house and sat right down at the table. The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash up before the meal. But the Master said to him, “I know you Pharisees burnish the surface of your cups and plates so they sparkle in the sun, but I also know your insides are maggoty with greed and secret evil. Stupid Pharisees! Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside? Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands.


Now I cannot imagine Jesus calling the Pharisees “stupid” to their faces, but it is novel to think about. Jesus was teaching about the Light of God’s Amazing Love permeating every crack and crevice of our life beginning with our heart when the religious leader invited the Lord to come have dinner. When Jesus came, He purposely did not participate in the ceremonial handwashing that was a Jewish custom. Blew the guys mind, and so when they called the Lord on it. He called them on the condition of their hearts and minds. They were doing all the right things, speaking all the right words and living “holy” lives according to the Law, but their hearts were sinful and dirty disconnected from God completely. Their role in religion had overtaken their relationship with God. The Lord was warning them of the danger of living a holy life without a holy heart. When He comes into our life, it may be like this sometimes…most of the time. Always revealing that one part that is not in complete union with His Word, Will and Way. Maybe that is why we don’t invite Him into our daily lives. Like rebellious children who turn on the water, but don’t wash our hands. I have had children who didn’t want to shower, turn it on and never get in. The same kid would wonder how I knew that he didn’t bathe. (Let’s be real I cannot get the girls out of the bathroom.) He didn’t realize that he was used to his odor but the rest of the world could smell him coming. Other times, he would step in the water and just stand there never picking up the soap. Better but I could still smell him. Other times, he was in the bathroom thirty seconds or less. Moms know things from intuition but a lot of times it is just common sense or the five senses that clue us in. Let’s not be rebellious children, the ones who do not invite Jesus today because we do not intend to act right, do right or be right with Him.

Matthew 25:34-40 (MSG)

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’  “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’”

Perhaps the main reason that we do not invite Jesus into our day is because it requires relinquishing our priorities to make Him Lord of that day. It means that we no longer can do what we want to do because now we are sensitive to His Discipline. We see others as Jesus does so now we must do something. Our list is crumpled to make way for His Plan. The thing is that if we do not invite Jesus to enter each day and live moment to moment with us, we run the risk of getting off course and when it is our turn to enter in – He won’t know us. Drop the mic. Walk away. To live my life for the Lord has made my life better every single day, but would it be worth it to stand before Jesus and hear the words, “I never knew you.” Living for the Lord has been the greatest blessing in my life. When my world has been completely disrupted, the Lord has graciously come in, gathered every piece of my broken heart, picked up my shattered confidence, and made something good come out of it. My days of ignoring His Knock are fewer and fewer with the knowledge and understanding that I cannot do this thing called life without Him. I asked for the discipline and guidance when I surrendered my life to the Lord but He does not force me to continue. It is up to me. He is knocking…I must answer.

John 14:6 (NLT)

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Daily Struggle

Daily Struggle

Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.


A little girl was playing when she noticed her little dog was just about to enjoy a big fat caterpillar snack. She rescued the tiny crawling creature giving him refuge in a mason jar with a little twig and some grass for comfort. Soon he made his way to the middle of the branch and by morning there was a tightly woven cocoon surrounding him. She waited and waited knowing that soon a lovely butterfly would emerge and fly high above the dangers of the earth below. One morning the cocoon was moving and she knew that it was time. But as the little butterfly continued to squirm and move with no sign of escape, she took little scissors to ease its passage to eliminate its struggle. Out popped a butterfly but not as she envisioned, its body was fat and wings shriveled and wet. So she took the little creature to her science teacher seeking help yet again for her tiny friend. The science teacher immediately knew the problem and told the little girl that when she had cut the cocoon and ended its struggle to survive she had preempted God’s Process. See it is in the struggle that the wings are strengthened to fly.

Struggles are a part of life. They are predetermined and predesigned to strengthen God’s People and create the endurance we need to finish the race. No one likes the struggle but most will deem it worth it when the finish is finally found. The life of faith is a series of trials and tests to examine our faith for perfection. It must be authentic. Without real and genuine faith, we will not make it to our destination. Our journey will end abruptly. It is human nature to find release from the pressure and end the struggle as soon as it started. In some cases, we are successful but one must consider the cost. When our son battled with cancer, I was determined that it would not touch my faith. Well, it did but not like one might imagine. Like an athlete attacking a weight bench, it made me examine my faith and decide whether I would be strengthened or give up all together. Cancer did not change us but it certainly has empowered our faith over the last four years.

I have endured trials that ended too soon because I gave up. But there have been some tests in life that giving up was not an option. Our son’s life was not optional. There was no choice. People often say, I don’t think I could’ve done it. Friend, if it happened to your child you would do it. You don’t have a choice. Death is not an option. Life is the primary goal. When our choice is life or death, everything changes. If we only could see that every struggle in life is a choice between life and death, we might look at these things a little differently. Jesus is our Champion. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He promised that with God all things are possible. Faith is the force that unites us to the Father through the Son.

After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. When a tiny baby is being thrust from the womb, its chest is squeezed so tightly that the fluid is pressed out of them so that he can take his first breath. Birth is a violent process. It is quite painful, I can attest. When I look at my five beautiful people, it is worth it. Every painful moment is absolutely worth it to me. When I read this verse this morning, I thought about my own life. I can hope that the last great struggle we faced is over. But if I am still breathing, there will be more. Some days I am ready for the fight. Other days, I just want to give up or give in as my flesh rallies against me. But it is a matter of life and death…

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (NLT)

“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.”


Grace did not change God’s Offer for His People. It stands firm today. You decide if you will live or die and between prosperity or disaster. Life is a struggle. Every single day our flesh fights for control. Paul summed it up like this, “I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s Law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” (Romans 7:21-23) I know that there are many days when I think I have come so far but still have too far to go to ever make it to a place of firm faith and completely confident hope. But when we consider that it is a matter of life or death…maybe it will make a difference in how we fight. Like the butterfly works to strengthen its wings when it thinks only of getting out of the cocoon or a newborn baby wants only a little room to move so it makes its way into the world, so it is with us in the daily struggles. We do not see the long range effect they have on our life but for those who love the Lord with all their heart and are determined to remove that sin creating havoc in their life – each struggle will result in blessing and prosperity. Are you willing to fight for your life? It will be a daily struggle. It will requires a daily decision.

I Timothy 4:8-10 (NLT)

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.


I have a confession to make. I have stopped working out. I didn’t mean to. It kind of just happened. I got too busy or too lazy – pick one. Some days it is preempted by my schedule and the routines of those I love. Other days, I just don’t feel like it. In a nutshell, the result is I haven’t gone in a long time. I want to be healthy. Exercise makes me feel better and is of good benefit to my life. I have a gym membership so I can go anytime that I want to but if I am not willing to get in the car and go – it does me no good. We are saved by Jesus Christ which gives us access to God’s Presence and subsequently every single promise that He ever made to us guaranteed by His Spirit within us. If we refuse to struggle to maintain our faith and keep a type grip on hope fighting against our own unwillingness to surrender and obey, we will never reap the full benefits of salvation. It is an access point but if we choose not to go in – there really is no point. Obedience offers the life we hope for. Discipline keeps us on track. Grace is enough when it is what we rely and depend on. Faith that is unfounded is fruitless. Hope that is not grounded in Christ is just another floating timber rather than a solid anchor. We need the struggles we face to know the God who we serve.

James 1:2-4 (NLT)

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.


Today you will face some difficult choices, overwhelming challenges and daily struggles, it is called life. There is purpose and meaning in each test and trial we face as we decide whether we will choose life or death. There are not multiple routes from here to forever. Just one. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6) There are a lot of folks trying to make up different ways to get there, but truly the only way to walk in the Presence of God is obeying His Word and following His Way every single day. You cannot follow the Lord and willingly walk in sin. As you walk with Him, He will show you the things that may be permissible but are not beneficial. The things that feed our flesh rather than releasing the Holy Spirit to fill us and equip us to live forever. We are reborn in Jesus Christ. Like the infant is pressed through the birth canal removing water to breathe in air, we pressed by problems to remove our sin and breathe in more of His Spirit. Just like the brand new butterfly must fight for freedom, we must fight the need for release and cries for escape to break every bondage that sin places on our life so we can rise above our problems to live by faith and confident hope. The process you are in has meaning. It has purpose. The Eternity that is hidden in our heart is being expressed into our life. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Isn’t that what we desired coming to Christ? A new life. Isn’t that what we meant when we repented from our sins? To remove them once and for all to live in totally free, healed and delivered from them. Don’t give up. Daily struggles are the process by which our faith is refined and hope driven home in our heart. The good news is that Jesus is our Champion. In all things we are more than conquerors. No weapon formed against us will prosper. Though trials and sorrows may be many, Jesus overcame them all!

John 16:33 (NLT)

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Stick with It

Sticking with IT

Matthew 26:40-41 (MSG)

When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”


Jesus is talking to me this Monday morning. It is like this every Monday morning as I fight my way out of the bed and into His Presence. Don’t get me wrong. I love my time with the Lord each morning. It is essential to me getting through the day. It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed or how much sleep I get, the alarm on Monday must work much harder than any other day of the week to haul my sorry carcass out of the rack. When I read this verse this morning, I had to laugh a little as though the Lord was speaking directly to me. Jesus was getting ready for the Cross. He asked His Disciples to keep watch and pray as He went to the Father for final instructions and the encouragement His Humanity must have needed. When the Lord came back and found them facedown sleeping rather than interceding he said, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert. Be in prayer so ‘you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger.’” How did this go from being about Jesus and become about me?

During our little youth service out in the woods, the pastor spoke about the persistent widow. Her message about remaining faithful to our prayer life. Not giving up on those things that we are praying for in our life, the things that God lays on our heart and mind without relief. The people who keep popping up. The situations that need supernatural solutions. The “things” that do not give us rest. These are the very things that are to be carried to His Presence each day. Not because God doesn’t know what we need or is not working on our behalf, but to remind us of the faith we have in Him and the confident hope that keeps us waiting for His Answer. I will be the first to admit that there are some things I have stopped praying for. Things that need resolution but because there is a lack of change or hint of progress have gotten left behind. I will be the first to admit that I am guilty as charged.

James 1:12-15 (MSG)

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.

Prayer is pivotal to our relationship with God. It is a connection to Jesus Christ as we trust Him to make our way straight through this life. We must daily make an effort to keep our bond to the Lord strong and intact to overcome the temptation to give up or give in. How does prayer stop temptation? It doesn’t. We will be tempted. Maybe the things that used to tempt you among the “seven or more deadly sins” no longer challenge you. Perhaps self-control has kicked in and you no longer are pulled in certain rebellious directions. Be alert! Religion has its own ugly temptations that can manifest in the believer. The fight we are in is to remain completely and totally dependent on Jesus Christ which means taking our cares, worries, burdens and problems directly to the Lord in prayer before we try to overcome, solve, fix or eliminate them ourselves. God never ever will try to trip us up but let’s face it so many times we are legends in our own minds and try to take care of the little things ourselves.

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” (I Corinthians 10:13) There is no test or temptation that comes our way that is new. All we need to remember is that God will never ever let me down. If I can find it in His Word, it can be a reality in my life by faith. Faith puts all my confidence in the Lord removing it from me. My fickle heart and wavering mind needs to be settled once and for all. God’s Word establishes realistic expectations for believers. When we take His Word and mold our prayer life around it – all things go from impossible to possible if we remain on the foundation of faith presented by Jesus Christ. The biggest threat to my blessings and prosperity of my soul are me. My inability to remain faithful. This must be my focus. God is always faithful. I am the one who is constantly tempted to leave the foundation of faith and confident hope that He has given me.

I Peter 5:8-11 (MSG)

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.


Am I alert today? Right now…not so much. Still a little groggy and trying to wake up – but my spirit is soaring right now as I realize I cannot for a single moment stop checking the perimeters of my faith and tugging on the anchor of hope that I have. I must constantly live on high alert. The enemy is seeking those who give up, back down or can be caught off guard. He is checking the doors and windows of each life looking for access. If he can just get a finger or foot inside, watch out for then he can quickly take over. The enemy knows our weakness as evidenced in our complaints and grumblings. The constant murmurings of dissatisfaction, discontentment and overall dislike of our new life in Christ leaves footholds that he will find. Maybe you are thinking that is not your intent when you are telling others about your problems. Well, the enemy was listening. Like posting a vacation of Facebook, it tells the thief of faith and robber of joy exactly where we are week because we have not turned our problem over to the Lord. It is an access point for temptation. He will offer compromises, substitutions or just take you out completely if given the chance. Prayer allows us to carry each and every weakness to the Lord. He gives us His Strength. Stop telling everyone else how bad you have it. Don’t tweet on impulse but praise outwardly that God is working out every detail of your life for good! Pray about it. Stop talking about it.

Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.


There have been times in my life when I have held tightly to the Word of God. Tried to remain faithful and still prayed God I just don’t understand. I cannot see what you are doing. I cannot feel the release. I am tired of hanging on. Somehow I did though. It is the Holy Spirit. Jesus knows our weaknesses. He bore the brunt of them on the Cross. All the times that we would try to be faithful and fail miserably. He has already paid the price and offered us grace that is sufficient. When I don’t think I wait anymore, I pray. When I am losing confidence, I pray. Even when I have no words, I pray. Just sitting silently in His Presence with the thought, God this is all you. I cannot do anything here. I have tried. So I am just going to sit here until you do something… He always does more than I could think or ask ESPECIALLY when I have tried everything else and come up short. Take a step back from your prayer closet for a moment to a God view of your life. See you cannot see what He is doing or how He is doing it – you have just been promised that He is. It is more than you could “think” or even “ask” for so what makes us think in our weak faith, wavering hope and human weakness that we could ever comprehend it until it is here? I do the same thing. When I cannot see Him, hear Him or feel Him moving and doing what I have asked, I consider not asking anymore. If I can find it in His Word, I just have to wait on it. If He placed the desire in my heart, and confirmed it with His Spirit then it is mine if I will just wait. It will always be better than I perceived if I refuse to compromise or accept a substitution. This will require waiting. Waiting on the Word. Waiting in the Spirit. Waiting until He comes. Prayer keeps me company in the waiting.

I Thessalonians 5:17-18 (MSG)

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.


Prayer changes my perception from my personal vantage point to God’s Perspective. I find that when I become frustrated and want to give up that in prayer He fills my waiting and watching tank back up. I am guilty of trying to leave the watchtower. To make my own way to relieve the pressure. Or try to leave something behind rather than accept the painfulness of the process. It is my nature as a human being. As I develop strength of character as a Child of God, it will require endless hours of prayer built on one conversation at a time. Tests and trials are required to prove my faith is genuine. I have a helper who will afford grace that is more than enough to help me through each one. God has a plan for me that is filled with hope. I just have to seek Him wholeheartedly to have it – body, mind and spirit. Prayer helps pull everyone together for a huddle. It is a time of conversation that doesn’t always require me facilitating. When I don’t have anything to say, but still dare come – the Lord will speak to me. I am filled with inexpressible joy when He does. Praying all the time is easy when you believe that He is listening and ready to respond. His Word allows me to always be thankful because faith tells me He is working it out and hope keeps me there until He comes. This is the way God wants us to live. Carefree and without a single burden. This is only possible when we pray and take all of our worries and concerns to the Lord. I didn’t want to get up early today. My body begged to stay in bed. But when I get into His Presence and He speaks to me – I am ready for the day. Some days I run to the Lord, others I crawl but as long as I come everything will be better than okay!

Philippians 4:4-7 (MSG)

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.