Thou Shall Not Be Boring

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
—Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

You’ll be happy to know I’ve settled something. After years of feeling guilty if I didn’t finish a book or if I started a new book while still reading another, I’m over it. The guilt, that is. I’ve come to terms with the fact that some books are not worth finishing. The writing is lacking, and I don’t want to spend precious time (and vision strain) locked into a boring trip. Life is too short for bad reading.

Now, on the issue of reading more than one book at a time, my 12-year-old son taught me a lesson. Watching him changed my view of my old policy, which was, I could never start one book until I finished another.

Andy’s got several books going at once. He loves reading, and, in fact—BRAG WARNING—he is the top reader in his grade. (He recently won a Barnes and Noble gift card for his mega-reading points.)

My husband was worried about what the other kids would say when they saw Andy carrying around a high stack of books. This is middle school, you know.

“I don’t care what they think. They already know I’m smart,” he said.

I guess you can talk like that when you’re one of the tallest boys. Never tried it myself.

The other day Andy said to me, “Mom, why don’t we just go eat pizza and talk about books?”

Pinch me. I must be dreaming…

Since he’s been consuming books the way others consume cups of coffee, it made me think about my own reading habits.

Of course, my gold standard is The Holy Bible.  And the key to making that come alive is the Spirit of God. No one can truly understand God’s Word without the Spirit giving insight. I know because I’ve heard smart ministers say so. But more than that—I’ve lived it!

When I went to a Christian college, we were required to take classes in both Old and New Testaments. Also, one in Christian living; plus, every other class incorporated God’s Word somehow. So I was immersed.

The problem was…I wasn’t a born-again Christian. I didn’t have the Spirit of God working through the Word. The writing just sat on page. Oh, I memorized and regurgitated, but that’s as far as it went.

I was a cultural Christian, just going through the motions, saying, “I believe in God,” like I was doing Him a favor. The classic mental assent/no heart change played out in my life.


Now, however, I experience the Word as “living and active”(Hebrews 4:12).  Always fresh, always relevant, always revealing new truths and illuminating my current situation. Nothing compares to God’s gold standard!

Consequently, if I find myself engaged in reading that is flat and lacking, it stands out in contrast. This includes Christian writing. I’ve seen so many dull blogs and books…it saddens me, because God is not dull! Why should we be?

This is how I define boring:  Writing that belabors the obvious; writing that is too theological in nature—with no concrete references—you find yourself zoning out; or writing that moves nowhere and inspires nothing.

I urge you, fellow Christian readers, to observe God’s unwritten (but clearly implied) eleventh commandment:  Thou Shall Not Be Boring! God is exciting and so is His Word. Let’s follow suit in our reading and in our lives.

Take a page from Andy’s book (but not literally). If you find yourself being dragged down by dead prose, abandon ship and find life in the vast sea of great Christian writing. And enjoy!

Here is my current reading list in case you need some help.  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman, and Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young.

What’s on your summer reading (or listening) list?

Journeying Along with Great Books,


Have You Been Avoiding Quiet Time?

“Ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ…to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers.” 
—Ephesians 1:17-18 (MSG)

Oh, my goodness! How easy it is “in this day and age” (yes, I’m officially a geezer saying “in this day and age”), but how easy it is to avoid getting quiet with God. To avoid trying to hear His voice and discern His calling on our lives.

And I confess, I can be just as guilty as anyone.

“In my day,” people knew better how to enjoy quiet and stillness. Frankly, it was easier. There weren’t as many distractions at our fingertips. Still, I think we valued it more and made it a higher priority. 

Why, I spent many an hour myself sitting in trees in the backyard, just being quiet—thinking. Maybe eating cherries and spying on people, too. But being quiet nonetheless.

Porch sitting, also…we sat on porches and took in the scene. There were no devices! We looked at people’s faces. Remarked on the colors of the seasons. Laughed at the geese honking merrily across the sky. Simply took time to notice God’s work.

And it filled us.

Today’s culture values busyness and activity over stillness and observation. What a loss! God says to “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Not “over-schedule yourself, run around like a squirrel, and wonder why you don’t hear my voice.” 

Seriously, it’s a trick of the enemy. But one we willingly participate in.Think about it: If he keeps us busy, frazzled, and depleted, we will not seek God. Heck, we may even forget about Him. We’ll be too tired to worry about eternal affairs. We’ve got to keep up with our schedules, after all. Can’t you just feel it happening?

I have been having this niggling sensation lately God wants to tell me something. I must be super-intentional in seeking quiet time, lest I miss the lesson or directive. Honestly, it can be scary. What if God tells me something I don’t want to hear? It’s happened before! Then I have a decision to make:  plug my ears and BE BUSY or listen quietly and obey.

Here’s a short list of how I’m trying to guard quiet time:

NO EXCUSES—We live in an excuse-making, blaming society. We can easily ignore a seemingly unproductive time with an invisible God. We can make excuses. This is to our detriment!

God sees our hearts, however, and lame stories don’t stick with Him. Start by covering this time in prayer. Pour out your fears, confess your shortcomings, and ask for understanding. Then just as Ephesians 1:17-18 says, we will “see exactly what it is he is calling (us) to do (and) grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers.” 

NO DEVICES—We don’t answer the phone in the shower, and we don’t text in church. We can be disciplined with the ubiquitous technology. So let’s extend our discipline to a screen-free quiet time. Become master of your devices by putting them in their place! God will reward the act by giving you His sweet presence. 

As a result, you will be filled.

NO BAD ATTITUDES—Come expecting renewal, and receive it! Don’t come as a “duty” or in order to check an item off your to-do list. Quiet time with God is life-giving and life-directing. Actually, it’s an other-worldly privilege! Contemplating our blessed calling fills us with gratitude and joy. How’s that for a flipped perspective?

The bottom line is…I have the feeling God wants to tell you something as well. Don’t disappoint Him by being too busy or too fearful to stop and hear His voice. 

There are blessings in obedience.

So, are you ready? Ready for renewal, direction, and soul satisfaction?

Then…On your mark, get set— STOP!

Still Journeying,


When God Asks You to be Vulnerable

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  —Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

As Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

That’s all…just sit down and bleed.

While I am no Hemingway, I can surely relate to that quote. And strangely enough, I can relate that quote to much in the Christian life (though Hemingway was not Christian). 

It’s about vulnerability. That which makes us feel exposed, wide open for all to see, subject to attack, rejection, failure—fear.

I’ve spent my entire life trying to avoid those things, haven’t you?

But now God asks me to write, which is at its very core, exposing who you are on the page. Even what you choose to write about reveals your personality. The same applies to what you post or talk about. It’s inescapable.

“Guarded” is how I’ve been described (nicely described, according to my daughter, who laughs when she hears this). Guarded is the opposite of vulnerable. Guarded is safe.

But…guarded doesn’t grow.

The reasons why a person becomes guarded are varied. For me, it’s a fear of criticism. Others have other motives.

Regardless of the cause, God wants us to step out in courage and trust in Him. To follow His directives and pass through the doors He opens. Then leave the results to Him.

It’s like Paul says to the Galatians in the verse above. We’re looking to please God, not pander to people. Some will track with us; many will not. But that’s okay.

We can accept this better the longer we go being Christians. As you know, simply announcing you are a born-again Christian makes you vulnerable. It marks you as a radical and someone who’s gone off the deep end. Someone who can no longer be trusted to think for themselves. A person for others to avoid lest they become “evangelized.” (I’m smiling here.)

So much of what God asks us to do for His kingdom involves vulnerability. 

I think of teaching, singing, godly parenting, or praying in public. How about sharing your faith at work? All these things expose our hearts to the onlookers of the world. AND THAT’S A GOOD THING. It is what we’re called to do. We are not called to Christianity-lite. 

I remember a conversation I had with a woman who was looking for a church. I told her about mine. 

She said, “I just wanna be comfortable. You know what I mean?”

Unfortunately, I did. She didn’t want to change or be challenged by the full gospel. She wanted to feel alright with God by giving Him the mental assent, singing a few songs, and going home to keep the status-quo.

Yes, Jesus loves me. And He loves me so much He doesn’t want me to stay in the same messed-up condition He found me in.

We’re to be on a growth path here, moving toward His likeness. That only happens with growing pains and being shoved out of our comfort zones. Becoming vulnerable.

For some of us, that means bleeding on the page. For others, it’s singing an emotional song or praying an emotional prayer.  You can fill in the blank for your own life.  

What is it God is asking you to be vulnerable about?

Need some courage?

Consider the example of Jesus coming to Earth knowing all the trials and rejection awaiting Him. The human side of Him did not want to follow through on the horror of the cross. So He prayed. Matthew 26:39 reveals the struggle: 

“…may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

There we have it! It’s not about our wills or our own strength. It’s about God- reliance and God’s purposes being fulfilled through us. 

So if we call ourselves by Christ’s Name, let us follow in His steps of courage. Allow God to use our vulnerability for His Glory!

Journey Along,


About That Mess

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”
—Lamentations 3:19-22 (NIV)

Sometimes our emotions can bring us so low, we feel paralyzed and stuck, stuck, stuck! Faster than a kid’s tongue sticks to a frozen flagpole, the exact combination of events sends us into a downward spiral and threatens to pin us in the stranglehold of despair. 

Confusion sets in. Doubt, anger, frustration, worry, and regret all grapple for the top spot. What to tackle first?

I debated this recently as I jumped from reading A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of  God’s Promises to The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are to Unglued:  Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. All within a week! 

I wanted to master those things, but I couldn’t decide where to start. Talk about a train wreck! The books on my nightstand told the story. 

Then, in an attempt to inspire myself, I started looking through old journals. Among various half-baked ideas, I had written “Turn your mess into a message.”

I had to laugh because just the day before a random cartoon image had popped into my mind. It was a vision of the mess I was:  lying in bed with a huge round icepack plopped atop my head like a hat, a thermometer sticking out of my mouth, fuzzy slippers on my feet, and x’s over my eyes. It was how I felt. And there was nothing wrong with me physically.

Let’s just admit it:  the month of December often leaves us feeling this way. In my humble opinion, it’s NOT “the most wonderful time of the year.” Songs lie.

Oh, it could be. Oh, it should be the most wonderful time of the year. But the reality is—it’s the most stressful time of the year. 

When a friend asked me how the holidays were and I said, “Stressful,” she commiserated. I told her about the Unglued book and how one chapter is titled, “I’m Not a Freak-Out Woman.”  

She said, “I am SOOOO a freak-out woman!”  We howled. I told her she wasn’t alone.

Still, we must cope and press through. So aside from making resolutions to do better in 2016, I propose a little kindness to ourselves during the month of January.

If I were my own friend (and often times I am not),  I’d remind myself of some truths from God’s Word.

God loves us despite our mess.
His compassions never fail (Lamentations 3:22). Isn’t that just what we need? A little compassion and understanding, and who better than the Lord Himself to provide it! You will never find anyone who understands your situation better than He does, and best of all, He wants to help. Because of His great love!
If this seems hard to understand or believe, try remembering God’s faithfulness during other difficult times, and you’ll feel assured:  He cares for you.  He’s already shown it.

We are not stuck.
Perceptions can be deceptions. Just because we think nothing is changing and we aren’t progressing, that is unlikely if we are truly seeking God. Yes, we have setbacks. But often those setbacks come before a big breakthrough. Progress is not easy, and our enemy loves to throw up roadblocks. Re-align with God by wielding the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Here’s a handy verse to memorize for the seemingly stuck times: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV). 

God delights in “doing a new thing.”
God’s plans roll along. He is not surprised by our mess nor is He deterred by it. And He always allows for human error in the equation of eternity.  

“See, I am doing a new thing!
   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
   and streams in the wasteland.”
—Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

So while we may see a wilderness and a wasteland…perceptions can be deceptions. God works in possibilities! This verse from Isaiah shows how God persisted with Israel (despite their bad behavior). He is still working with His people today. 

And that’s you and me.

Praise God! We serve The One who is in the business of turning messes into messages. 

Journey Along,


Stamped With Longing

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
—Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

November always brings with it an awareness about the passing of time that, during other seasons, may go unnoticed. Shorter days and barer trees strip away any illusion I maintain about things remaining the same forever. Time ticks on, and the days of November won’t let me forget.

Starting with standard time…

Moving from room to room setting the clocks back one hour tends to re-wind the clock of my heart as well. Another season has passed. Did I make it count? How many more seasons left? Only God knows. 

Every day’s a curiosity to someone as questioning as I am. So, even while circumstances may be trying (at times), I still want to know what’s gong on and stick around for that.

Young or old, some aspects of our personalities don’t change. And feeling another season, another month, another year slip by only reminds me of what a sentimental dreamer I can be.

Tick, tock.

The veterans are marching down main street again. Carrying flags and walking in rhythm to the drums. 

Uniforms, metals, and hearts full of memories, these patriots send a tangible message to us: Don’t forget the sacrifice. We wave and whisper, “Thank you.”

I like to imagine these soldiers being young and full of enthusiasm for their country. What compelled them to sign up in the first place? Where did they go? I bet they have stories to tell!

Actually, I know they do. I’ve interviewed them and come away with a great admiration for their bravery and generosity of spirit. Parading in the stark sunlight of November pricks my conscience to remember— freedom isn’t free.

Candles and More Candles…

In this house, all the birthdays come during the late summer and fall season. Placing more and more candles on the cakes week after week means  someone is getting older. Could it be me?

I may ignore the mirror as much as I like, but I can’t ignore the needs of a growing child or an aging parent. Reminders abound, and birthdays set you up for a sigh.

Tick, tock.

The fourth Thursday in November…

Going ’round and ’round the table naming our thanks makes for an interesting reveal. Relative-ly speaking, of course.

What’s closest to your heart?

“A day off school.”

“My bucket truck.”

“There’s no bad boyfriend this year.”

“These yams!”

Seriously, I don’t need a holiday telling me to feel grateful; I already am! But I do need November to remind me of the clock moving. It creates an urgency to get it right, not squander the days. Put the emphasis where it belongs.

And that’s on the here and now only as it relates to the eternal.

Solomon had it right when he wrote,  “[God] has set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). That’s why we feel a pull, a pull toward eternity. It’s in our hearts, yet this world is temporary. Trying to figure it out stamps us with longing.

But I do know one thing: I’m just visiting, folks. This world is not my home. I hear the clock ticking in November, and all in all, it’s not a bad sound.

Journey Along,


Choosing the Happy Dance

“I tell you,” he [Jesus] replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

—Luke 19:40 (NIV)


Happy dance.

“That’s so cool!”

Happy dance.

Sometimes in life…you just have to celebrate.

Actually, with God, there are many times in life we could celebrate.  But I think we are negligent in this area. We tend to be like the Israelites wandering around our own personal wilderness—grumbling, murmuring, and complaining.

But not today.

Since it’s November and November is the gratitude month (I insist on keeping it that way!), and since I have a few articles coming out between now and the end of the year, I’m doing the happy dance.

It’s a choice, you see. I still have all the same challenges as I normally do (maybe MORE), but I’m choosing to dance. It’s necessary, and God delights in our praises!

Even the creation seems to be celebrating lately with all the vivid colors swirling about us. And I love the visual Jesus gives in the above verse from Luke:  “The stones will cry out” if the disciples keep quiet. 

So, let’s not stay silent. Let’s “begin joyfully praising God in loud voices for all the miracles (we) have seen” (Luke 19:37).

In my article, “Leaping Off the Page,” found in the September/October issue of LIGHT magazine, I praise God for His Word. The piece describes five Scripture verses that sustained me during a time of loss. I hope you can relate!

Here is a link to that article from the Christian Record Services’ online edition:

Happy November, Everyone! Happy Fall!
And Happy Dancing on the Journey!


My Hiding Place

“You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble 
and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

—Psalm 32:7 (NIV)

Remember the old airline commercial that asked, “Wanna get away?” It has been rolling around my mind lately. For all the obvious reasons, too.

Life gets hairy. 

Circumstances pile up.

The usual relief valves stop working.

And the natural response becomes—RUN AND HIDE!

You may be more mature than I am (most people are), but I think we all have felt this way from time to time. So I’m not ashamed to admit it: I want to hide, and I don’t want to come out again until it’s blue skies and happy feelings. 

Well, good luck with that, right?

“In this world you will have troubles,” Jesus told his disciples (John 16:33). 
Here’s a man who knew troubles, but more than that—He knew the future.

He knew our future and our future troubles. But more than that. He knew the purpose of troubles (growth) and how it all fit in with His Father’s will. 

But even more than that.

He knew the temporary nature of our troubles, how we would receive comfort during our troubles, and the blessed outcome for those who persevere.

It’s good to know someone who knows, isn’t it?

Just last week I tried to escape my problems (if only for a few hours), and God promptly put me face-to-face with another person engaged in the same struggle. So we ended up talking about—what else? The very thing I was trying to avoid!

God clearly sent the message: You’re not going to run from this. You’re going to run to Me with this.

Then, in case I still had doubts, the minister mysteriously delivered a message on how God doesn’t want us to escape our problems, but instead look to Him and be overcomers in Christ. By His strength and by His wisdom. 

Maybe skywriting is next, I thought.

So, hey! I couldn’t escape the situation physically, but that rarely solves our problems anyway. It only gives temporary amnesia. Life always returns, and with it…problems. People with problems. Relationships with problems. Jobs with problems. And like I said, these things pile up.

How to “get away” without leaving home?

In Psalm 32, David tells us:  we escape by spending time with the Lord. Verse 7 says, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” 

The Lord responds in the next verse, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you.”

It’s true…God puts these messages right in our path, and He speaks through His Word, but we have to have spiritual discernment.

Keeping spiritual eyes open is a discipline I’m learning, and these three ideas may help you, too.

Prioritize:  Decide in your heart that time with God will take precedence over other activities. We all have hundreds of choices to make each day. We must prioritize. What’s most important? Should I worry about dust accumulating in my house or try to discern God’s Word by studying it? Should I engage in fruitless grumbling with a non-believer or keep a prayer journal recording God’s faithfulness? What’s going to net eternal rewards and peace of mind right now? What pleases God?

Plan:  Once you’ve resolved to make time with God a must, set a few goals to keep you moving along. Join a small group or attend a mid-week service that you normally wouldn’t. Set a reading plan. Finish a book long ago started and glean what you can from the message. Write out what you’re learning for future reference about God’s work in your life.

Persevere: Life is not a science; it’s an art!  Practicing flexibility without self-incrimination when plans fall through is the key to persevering. Jump back on track by talking with God, confessing your shortcomings, and taking the next right step.

Let Him be your hiding place in difficult circumstances. Our God delights in this and promises to make His strength perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

As a result, I’m learning to hide while staying in plain sight. How about you?

Journey Along!


Getting Picky

“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”

—Isaiah 55:2 (NIV)

It’s amazing what you can do with just 26 letters.

I recently found myself wandering around a public library looking at various titles (literally only the titles because that’s all I could read), and the atmosphere took me back.

Back to a time when I used to read every scrap of print on a Nancy Drew mystery:  front, back, side, copyright page, reviews, page numbers, etc. Nothing was left unsearched by my eyes and brain.

I feared I might miss something. I figured it had to be there for a purpose—otherwise why would they include it?

You know…I just didn’t feel good about myself if I left something unread.

This was my job.

I even went so far as to cut out mistakes found in the local newspaper and mail them back to them with a complaint! Imagine the person’s face who opened my childishly handwritten envelope.

What a weird kid, they probably thought.

Later, when I worked for that same newspaper as a proofreader, I delighted in reading and finding mistakes. (Thankfully they never connected me to the kid who mailed in typo’s all those years before.)

While my obsessive reading may seem fine for books and newspapers, it even extended to other items—like shampoo bottles and toothpaste tubes. License plates, menus, maps. I loved them all. 

It’s true. I knew exactly what the manufacturer wanted you to do with their product. But, seriously, does anyone really “Repeat” after 
“wetting, lathering and rinsing” ?

Author Anne Fadiman talks about this reading obsession in her book, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader. I read it many years ago when I had the eye power to do so. In it, she admits to reading a car manual simply because it was the only thing available.

These days, however, I have to limit my reading intake. Vision loss has forced this, but I’ve come to find a hidden benefit: 

I’m now more selective.

I don’t want to spend my “labor on what does not satisfy” (Isaiah 55:2). 

Some questions I ask myself before diving in to any printed material:

Does this have eternal value?

Is it going to grow me as a Christ follower?

Is it going to build a relationship?

Is it necessary?

Is it going to put me in a bad place emotionally?

You get the concept. Being picky feeds your spirit in a better way.

While YOU may not have to limit your reading because of physical issues, remember we all have time constraints. That alone should make us selective. 

Think about this next time you scroll through Facebook or are tempted to dive into something without lasting benefit. 

(The same thing applies to our listening and viewing habits, by the way.)

When you do this, you start to feel empowered.  And you don’t have to wonder why you mysteriously feel nasty, like, What did I just ingest?

You’ve been picky—and that’s a good thing!

Journey Along,


Recalculating: 3 Ways to Find Your Way Back

“And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.’ “

—Luke 22:31-32 (NKJV)

I’d love to tell you about all the things God’s been teaching me over the past couple of months, but I’m not sure what those would be. I am in utterly confused-and-somewhat-bitter mode. Nothing’s turning out as planned! There are too many unresolved lingering issues. 

I trust you’ve been in a similar spot. I’m not trying to be vague here; things are just a little foggy right now.

“This isn’t what I thought it was going to be,” is a line we say around our house to describe how expectations are not being met. We once heard a relative give that as an excuse for why they were getting divorced: The marriage wasn’t what they thought it was going to be. Well, no kidding.

How often do our expectations actually align with reality? Not as often as we’d like—I think we’d all agree.

But what do we figure the problem is?

Many factors contribute, and wrong expectations top the list.  But for purposes of discerning God’s will and gaining clarity—getting back our spiritual groove after an attack as mentioned above—I think we need to “recalculate” our lives with God’s purposes by concentrating on the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Scripture, and worship.

At least that’s what I’m doing. Maybe you’d like to join me in tapping into these time-tested practices.

Prayer:  A mistake I often make and I know others do, too, is thinking (or talking) about problems, instead of actually praying about them. We end up feeling like, Why is this issue still around? It’s so old, and I’m so tired of it! 

But have we earnestly prayed about it? Prayed without ceasing about it? Probably not. James 4:2-3 says, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…”

Sometimes I really don’t like what the Bible says. It’s just too convicting!

But let’s take away this from James: Pray! Pray in accordance with God’s will! And pray with pure motives! (Easier said than done, but try it anyway.)

While prayer is not a guarantee to having the issue resolved, at least once we’ve prayed, we know we are one step closer to God’s heart. 

Along with prayer, we need to check our obedience. Is God telling us something we don’t want to hear? Just like a child plugging his ears and chanting, “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you,” we can try to ignore what we know God is saying. The basic choice is: His will or ours? 

Maybe we hesitate because what He’s saying doesn’t make any sense or because it is downright painful. (Don’t ask me how I know.) Just remember, God often asked His servants to do nonsensical things in trusting Him. And those crazy actions (think Moses and Joshua) brought about God’s will and ultimate peace.

Scripture: I love what Acts 17:11 says about the Berean believers:   “They searched the Scriptures daily.” How wise! This is our spiritual food, so let’s not subsist on the junk food served up by the culture. Of course, I’m talking about Facebook here. Instead, let’s head straight for proper nutrition.

As much as I love reading and collecting books, I know there is none comparable to The Bible. When I feel distant from God, it’s probably because I am not studying Scripture as earnestly as I should. The answers lie within. 

Truth is timeless, so while circumstances ebb and flow, human nature remains the same (that is to say broken). The Word of God gives it to us straight, but holds out the light of hope so that we needn’t despair. 

When in a spiritual fog, my humble advice is:  FLEE to the Word of God.

Worship: We were built for this. And the biggest benefit I find is it reminds us of who God is, and that—in and of itself— restores perspective. Who He is is Creator, Sovereign, Savior, Healer, Comforter, Provider, Restorer, Teacher, Judge, and so much more!

While corporate worship is great and necessary, I often find some of my best worship comes while I’m singing praise songs around the house. Worship isn’t limited to Sunday mornings; it’s a lifestyle—one worth cultivating in order to maintain connection to our power source. 

Try praising God throughout the day for small blessings that remind us of His provision. I find this practice keeps spiritual ties tight and makes trials more bearable.

And those trials will come. With Satan on the prowl and wanting to “sift” us like wheat, we need to work our battle plan.

So take heart, friends! God is greater, but He does allow these times of testing in order to grow us.

No, it’s not pretty. But you already knew that, right?

Still Journeying,


Staying Relevant

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?”  —Romans 8:24

I’ll be honest:  there are times when I’m making cookies or peeling corn-on-the-cob that I feel a lot more job satisfaction than I do when I’m writing these blogs. The reason is obvious. I get direct results with the corn and the cookies. They turn out right the first time, and I know people enjoy them. It’s tangible. (Maybe that explains why I recently discovered I had four bags of flour on my kitchen shelf! I’m subconsciously trying to stay relevant.)

These blogs, on the other hand—who knows?

We writers wrestle and revise. We pray and post. This craft rarely turns out great the first time around. And as far as people enjoying them…You do your best and put it out there.

And wait.

And wait.

Then it starts to feel like yesterday’s news. But you decide to pass out your blog cards anyway, and when you do, someone looks at you like, “What are you selling?”

You ask yourself: What AM I selling? Why it’s a relationship with Jesus, of course!

One woman I gave a blog card to (in church, no less) said, “I don’t do blogs!” But when pressed by her neighbor, the lady admitted she didn’t even know what a “blog” was. Then she said, “Oh, OK.”

You know, I’m kinda shy to start with, so a perceived indifference can rattle my sense of WHY am I doing this?

But, alas! It’s back to the beginning, where I felt called—and still do—to tell people about God. It is, after all, the most important thing, and it just happens to be intangible and invisible. And His news never grows old or irrelevant. On the contrary! Our culture is what’s irrelevant.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see,” says Hebrews 11:1. 

So…I’m putting my faith and confidence in what I hope to accomplish—spreading God’s Word and strengthening believers. I will not know the full results until I die.

When you think about it, there are a ton of references in the Bible about what we do NOT see. 2 Corinthians 5:7 summarizes it this way:  For we live by faith, not by sight. A great comfort to those of us who are visually impaired and may feel like we’re missing something important. God is saying, “No, the most important things are unseen.” You know,   like faith, hope, love, and eternal life.

Sometimes it seems to me that God’s ways and the world’s ways are 180 degrees apart. I have to remind myself about this truth constantly because I can get so fixed on the here and now, fixed on only the things I can see. Know what I mean? 

It really calls for us to be intentional about pulling back, getting quiet, being in the Word, and actively seeking Him.

It is THEN that we will experience true satisfaction—living water for our thirsty souls in a spiritually-barren landscape. No worries about concrete results or immediate knowledge of the outcome.

I’m grateful we can do this. Grateful that God makes a way and gives us the gift of His Word, His assurance, His hope and promises. It’s enough to get us through. 

So let’s be sure to seek Him out. Let’s keep wrestling with the work He’s called us to do, and put our trust in the only trustworthy source—Jesus.

Your Fellow Traveler,