Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I don't honestly know where most of you are at geographically, nor do I know what condition your body, mind, and spirit are in. Because I don't know what you may or may not be facing in life, it is hard to know what to write from time to time on this blog. Today is not one of those times.

You see, there is one thing which I can always write about which I know you are primed to hear. It is also something which we often do not hear enough. It is the Gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ, all He has done for us. 

Monday morning a verse caught my attention for its simple Gospel clarity.

"O Lord, you will ordain peace for us; you have done for us all our works." - Isaiah 26:12

Jesus, by doing all of the necessary works(fulfillment of the Law) for us, enables us to live in the peace which passes understanding(righteousness), before God our Father, the Perfect Judge. We are granted peace, because of the righteousness which Christ sowed on our behalf. Peace from the judgement of God. Peace from the weight of sin. Peace in the midst of life's struggles.

Walk this week in the peace which Jesus ordained, in doing all your works for you, and rejoice at what this means for you!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Alarm Clocks

I really don't like waking people up. In fact, if I made a "Top Ten" list of my least favorite things to do, waking up a soundly sleeping person would probably make the list. (Also on that list? Folding fitted bed sheets. What an awful thing! Why didn't my home-ec teacher show us how to do that?) When it comes to waking someone up, I feel like if they're sleeping - they're most likely enjoying it. And they probably need the sleep too. So shouldn't I just let them sleep? Even though church is starting in 20 minutes? Even though they asked me to wake them up? Ugh. I cringe just thinking about having to wake someone up. 

Unfortunately, I don't think my disdain for waking people up is limited to physical slumber. It's way to easy for me to just let those around me spiritually sleep as well. 

All around me, there are people living in sin. They might not be "major" sinners - like murderers, adulterers, or criminal masterminds. But just ordinary sinners. People who were born sinful. People who break the law by speeding. People who are prideful of their good deeds. People who gossip about their church family. People who, without Jesus, are destined for an eternity in hell. Spiritually asleep. 

And what do I do about it? In all honesty, I'm silent far too often. Why? If I truly grasped the reality of hell, the intensity of Jesus' love and suffering on behalf of all mankind and my responsibility as a believer in Jesus - wouldn't I share? Shouldn't I share? 
"And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear . . ." - Jude 22-23 (emphasis mine)
"'Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations' . . . 'A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another' . . . 'If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.'" - Matthew 28:19; John 13:34, 14:15
If you came to our home for a visit, spent the night in our luxurious guest bed and uttered the words, "If I'm not up by [name time], would you wake me up?" - I'd cringe. I'd frown. And I'd hate to do it. But if sometime during the night, our house caught on fire and you slept soundly during the chaos - I'd wake you up. I wouldn't let you suffer in our burning house. So, shouldn't I do the same thing for someone who is headed for an eternity in hell? 

I may never like being an alarm clock for someone getting their physical rest. But I pray the Lord would give me the courage I need to be an alarm clock for those in spiritual slumber. Because if I don't give them warning, their fate is going to be much worse than being late for church.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Are You Lukewarm?

Revelation 3:14-22 is a letter to the Church in Laodicea. We studied this passage at our ladies Bible study this past week, with Debbie Giles leading. It was an eye opener for my soul, and I would like to share a few things that I learned and a few things that stuck out to me.

First, we start with looking at their culture. Laodicea was known for its black wool, eye medicine, and its wealthy, powerful government. However, for them to obtain water, they had to have it piped down from the city of Hierapolis, where they were known for their Hot Springs. The city east of Laodicea, however, was known for its cold, pure water.

With that background knowledge, let’s look at the passage. God, who is writing this letter to the Church of Laodicea, starts out by saying that He knows all the things that they do, and proclaims that they are neither hot nor cold (He wishes they were one or the other), but they are lukewarm.

For Laodicea, they understood the importance of hot or cold water. The hot water in Hierapolis dispensed healing, and the cold pure water from the city to the east was refreshing. Since Laodicea had their water piped down from Hierapolis, by the time it reached them it was lukewarm, and not effective for healing or refreshment, and not very desirable. By God saying that this Church was neither hot nor cold, he was saying that, they as a church were not dispensing healing or refreshment in the ministry. They were lukewarm – they were ineffective.

In one word, this letter is about effectiveness, and not about fervor or passion, which is how it is often taught. There are many examples in scripture where Jesus fans and nurtures faith back to health. Jesus doesn’t want people to ‘hate’ him, as cold is often misconceived as.   

Jesus wants His followers to be about healing and restoring broken people. It’s not about feelings, show, etc. True, deep effective ministry is about healing hearts – and only Jesus can do that.
Examples of this effectiveness are found in the following verses. I encourage you to read through them and let God work. Matthew 10:7, 8; Acts 3:1-10; Matthew 10:42; Matthew 11:28; Acts 3:19, 20; 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4; Colossians 3:12, 13; Colossians 4:6.

How do we stay effective in ministry? We must ask this question, because it is not an automatic thing. We need to remain in prayer. In Acts 13:1-3, the Church did not know what to do next, so they worshiped, fasted, and prayed. The Holy Spirit told them what to do next. Let us look to the Holy Spirit to guide us.

Revelation 3:20 is a well know verse, and many times used for evangelism to the lost. But it is also for the Church. Jesus’ solution to the ineffective ministry at Laodicea was to offer them intimate communion with Himself. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (NLT) It is when we commune with our Savior and Lord that we are able to touch souls for Him.

Is the Church today effective in touching – healing and refreshing – souls for Jesus? Let us examine our goals, our motives, and stay ever so close to the Fountain of Life. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

For the Stabbed-in-the-Heart

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him... When he [was finished] he said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you?" 
John 13:5, 12

This familiar story has recently spoken to me in a new way. It has reached deep down into my heart and touched a tender pain. 

Have you felt the piercing sting of betrayal? The horrific agony of an intimate friend selling out their loyalty to you for someone or something more enticing? The heartache of a confidante talking to others behind your back? The incomprehensible choice of a close companion to walk away from a relationship when things got difficult? 

Jesus knows such betrayal.

JudasFor a mere 30 pieces of silver (about 5 weeks pay), Judas severed loyalties with his Lord. Judas led a band of accusing religious leaders and armed soldiers to his Master's prayer closet and there, did the unthinkable--betrayed his Lord with a kiss!
Peter: During the evening meal, Peter had said, "Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death." And then, in the span of a few hours, he vehemently denied his Lord, not once, but three times.
John 13:11 states, "[Jesus] knew who was to betray him" (Judas) and in verse 38 Jesus foretells Peter's thrice denial. Our Lord was "acquainted with grief." Jesus knew Judas and Peter would betray/deny him, even before He washed their grimy toes. And yet, He did just that--washed their nasty feet.

I have to admit, my heart attitude to those who've betrayed me often looks less like Christ's and more like Carrie Underwood's in Before He Cheats--I hold onto unforgiveness and want retaliation. Pondering this lesson on betrayal, my heart has been convicted. Jesus did not hold a grudge against those who betrayed Him. Nor did he seek to make them 'pay for it'. Rather, He reached out with love and served. 

What can we learn from Jesus example? 

1) Forgive--"As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." Col 3:13b
2) Serve in Love--"if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Romans 12:20. And, really there is no better way to sum it up than I Cor 13! If you, like me, are struggling with betrayal, I challenge you to read this chapter every day for the next 30 days.

Join me in asking the Lord to show us how to love one another, as He has loved us.

"If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, 
you also ought to wash one another's feet. 
For I have given you an example, 
that you also should do just as I have done to you." 
John 3:5,14,15

Friday, October 26, 2012

with or without ...

There are some parts of the Bible that I have read, am reading, and will read again and again and again.

This is good.

These same passages to touch my heart in new ways during different times of life.

The book of James is a good example.

As a high school kid, I read the book of James with a good friend and a Young Life leader for the better part of a year. We ate breakfast, talked through the text, and considered what it was God wanted us to actually do with this thing called "faith."

Time and time again, my head would spin as I tried to grasp this whole "faith without works" idea.

My heart battles against the work because Jesus did the work in my place. Why do works?

My heart also battles against the faith because it didn't always seem real, it was intangible, and I wondered if my faith still "counted." Why have faith if it isn't making any visible difference in my day?

So, here I am again. A decade later, reading the book of James and discussing it with close friends.

Again, I had one of those "Aha!" moment.

The context of relationship is super important when reading the book of James.

Are we to believe in a list of statements concerning God and we need good works to prove our allegiance to a systematic arrangement of teaching about God?


That's what the Pharisees were all about ... and we know how Jesus spoke with them!

The thing about doing works is - God wants to be in a relationship with us. When was the last time you told someone you deeply loved them, believed in who they are, yet never did anything with them?

Use of the word "with" in that last sentence was very intentional.

We do good - not for God - but with Him.

He is God after all and doesn't really need us to do anything for Him. Consider how He created the world by speaking; you'd think He can still do whatever He wants to do.

 But, He wants to be in a relationship with us. So, we wants us to do stuff with Him.

For those of you who are reading this and have decided to follow Jesus because without Him you realize you're stuck in sin, for you this is true; you have the Holy Spirit doing good with you.That whole "go into all the world and make disciples" thing --- yea, the Holy Spirit is doing that with us --- otherwise we're screwed.

Now I'm not saying that the faith/works paradox is suddenly an easy thing to handle. Rather, I am encouraging you to do something with God.

Just as I will do something with my wife because we enjoy being together and we enjoy getting to know one another more, I will do something with God.

Faith without works is like a relationship without dates,
Works without faith is like a date without a relationship.

So, with faith in the real person of Christ, what works will we do with Him so we can know Him more?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Price of a Free Gift

Priceless: having a value beyond all price.

I'm sure you've all seen those Mastercard commercials before: they run through the cost of certain items and then end with something that you cannot put a price on (such as seeing the smile on the face of your child). The slogan "the best things in life are free" comes into play here, and for everything else, there's Mastercard.

I've been thinking a lot about a statement I heard this past weekend as someone thanked God for the "priceless gift of Salvation". What struck me was that there was a price. Hebrews 9:22b says, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." That payment to receive forgiveness was mine -- my blood was the debt that I stood in with God. My sin separated me from God; He's holy (complete, perfect, other) and in myself, I am not. To stand in His presence, there had to be blood. In the Old Testament, the priests made blood sacrifices on behalf of all the people. But God didn't stop there.

Twice in 1 Corinthians the phrase, "you were bought with a price" is used (6:20 and 7:23).
"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross." -- Colossians 2:13-14
For Him, salvation wasn't free. Salvation costed God the Father His Son and Christ His life. But for us, He gives us salvation for free!
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." --Ephesians 2:8
So the question is, so what? Why does this effect me? Salvation was won at the cross, it's not something that we work for today. The forgiveness that God offers was given at the cross. At the cross it was finished. This is something that we -- as human beings -- don't understand. Because everything has a price.

But with salvation, that price is not our's!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Run From The Candy"

Have you ever completely pigged out on candy? Me too. It doesn't feel good after. Immediately, or often longterm, as it can cause skin irritation, rotten teeth, weight gain, poor sleep, etc. But we still pigged out, even though we knew the consequences right? You did know what was going to happen right?

As far as I have experienced the majority of my sinful actions are the same way. I knew what was going to happen, but I did it anyways. If you pig out on candy, and then in your sickness after, someone berates you and tells you to 'run from the candy the next time', does it help you to not do it again? Not likely. How about if we get punished further for eating the candy? Maybe when we were kids we got spanked. Did it really help us to not want to eat candy again?

Likely not. Because we can remember the sweet taste in our mouths, the energy high, maybe even the fun times we had because of the high. I've never experienced guilt or shame granting me freedom. Whether from pigging out on candy, or after throwing myself into sin.

What if we approached not pigging out on candy, from a different perspective. What if instead of saying 'Run from the candy', which is really works righteousness... We were to say, "In Jesus there is freedom from the desire for candy, and not just one type of candy, but all candy, all of the cheap imitations of food which doesn't ever really fill you up, and only causes sickness and decay. Jesus is the real thing, here, let me introduce you to Him, let me share with you what He has worked in my life, let me show you what He thinks of you, and what He did for you and all the world, let me help you in getting acquainted with Him, and deepening your relationship with Him."

What if we actually shared the Gospel, instead of berating sinners over their sin and only giving them 'solutions' in the law, and self-help/works-righteousness methods?

What if we allow God to work in us to the extent it overflows and impacts everyone around us? How is this even possible? By running to Jesus, and not the candy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Out of the Comfortable Familiar

It's been over three years since I first moved to Beulah, and in all honesty, there are still some days that are really hard. Really . . . lonely. Don't get me wrong, there are some wonderful people up here who have adopted us into their family; and I have have a small handful of friends. But what my heart really desires, what my heart really needs, is a "bosom friend". A friend whose relationship goes deeper, a friend who can put a smile on my face for days after spending time together, a friend who I can chat with for hours or simply just sip a cup of coffee with. A friend like Carmen.

What I love about my friend Carmen is that no matter how many weeks (or months!) goes by before we talk again, our friendship picks up right where it left off. When we do talk, my heart is full for days afterwards. Carmen always makes me laugh, and she's always ready to listen. Just thinking about her makes me smile and I can't help but praise the Lord for her friendship. The bummer part, though, is that Carmen lives in Texas. Not in Beulah with me.

Over the past couple of weeks, the Lord has been working on my heart. He's been teaching me about the risk of relationships. I've been reminded that friendships like those I have with Carmen and a few others don't just miraculously happen. They have to be cultivated. They have to be invested in. They take time. I've been challenged to be more inviting; to open my home more to those I know well and those I don't know hardly at all. I've been reminded that to have a good friend is to be a good friend. I've humbly realized that the world around me isn't necessarily going to say, "Wow! What a great girl. I want to be her friend." I've come to understand that I need to initiate conversations, coffee dates and play dates. Just as Jesus invested in others and loved them - He desires us to do the same.
"'For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even Gentiles do the same?'" - Matthew 5:46-47
It's easy to stay with what we know; with what we're comfortable with. But a lot of times, the Lord takes us out of those situations and places us far from the comfortable familiar. Far from our families. Far from our "bosom buddies". It's easy to simply exist and wait for someone to notice us, to begin investing in us. But I think that would be "loving those who love you". We're called to something higher; to something harder. I believe the Lord desires us to step out of our comfortable familiar and love not only our enemies - but those we don't know.
"Let love be without hypocrisy. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor . . . [practice] hospitality." - Romans 12:9, 10, 13

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cremate the Skeletons in Your Closet Before They Jump Out

"Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed,
or hidden that will not be known.
Therefore whatever you have said in the dark
shall be heard in the light,
and what you have whispered in private rooms
shall be proclaimed on the housetops."
Luke 12:2-3

Satan loves concealed sin. In his hands, it's a lethal weapon. 

You've gone to great extremes to securely hide your sin. No one has found out; no one will ever find out. You're safe. Or so the enemy would have you believe. Oh wise Child of the King, don't be fooled. 

Unconfessed sin is a ticking time bomb

Hiding sin is much like handing over nuclear weapons to North Korea. Satan uses such weapons to his advantage. Hidden, even you are tempted to forget about your sin--but Satan won't. He is strategically biding his time. He will wait until you have risen to a greater position of leadership and your sphere of influence has broadened. That's when he detonates. (Luke 4:13 states "[Satan] departed from [Jesus] until an opportune time." Luke 4:13)

Satan's mission is to kill and destroy (John 10:10)

The enemy knows exactly when to trigger the explosive devise (concealed sin, which, remember, you have yielded to him.) He discharges at a time when it will do the greatest damage--when your life is highly visible and your spiritual ministry is flourishing. It is then that you take a direct hit and flying shrapnel impales countless victims. An explosion at such a time could damage or end a friendship, marriage, family, and/or ministry. 

Peter says the devil "prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." That someone is you. He doesn't want to simply hurt you, he wants to take you out. And if waiting to expose your sin will maximize the effects of his bomb, he will wait.

Sin will be exposed: to disarm or detonate

Sin will be exposed. It must be. It will be, in one of two ways:
  1. Hide it in a safe and hand Satan the keys, granting him the privilege of choosing the time to expose it. Don't let the sun go down on undealt sin. " not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity [foothold] to the devil." Eph. 4:26, 27
  2. Find a bomb squad (trusted counselors, James 5:16) and reveal it now, in a 'controlled' environment. Certainly, this is not guarantee that your sin will remain a private matter, but it is a guarantee you'll obtain forgiveness(I John 1:9). And, you now have accountability to detour repeating the sin and witnesses to attest of your repentance if the enemy ever launches an attack. What peace that brings!
Early confession disarms weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
"Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy." Prov. 28:13 

In our attempt to hide our sin, we throw a fig leaf over it. Yet, the covering is inadequate. The concealed bomb is still there... ticking. 

C.H. Spurgeon said, "...the atoning sacrifice of Christ is a covering which will cover all sin, and cover the sinner from head to foot...". Christ came, not to bury our WMD, but to destroy it. We have received the blood of Christ--not simply to cover but to cleanse! I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Do you have unconfessed sin in your life that weighs upon your heart? Do you feel shame over your past and fear over its effect on your future? Difficult as it may be, choose today to confess your sin to a spiritual leader in your life. Place yourself under the cleansing blood of the Lord and under the protection of His wing. There, regardless of the attacks the enemy launches, your soul cannot be harmed. There, you find joy, peace, and hope.

“Cast thy deadly doing down,
Down at Jesus’ feet;
Stand in him, in him alone,
Gloriously complete;”
Charles Spurgeon

*If this particular topic struck a chord with you, check out this book. An incredible resource on how to find an accountability partner who can help you grow in all areas of your life. Who's Got Your Back

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Lesson From John

There's an old man that lives in the apartment underneath us whose name is John. He sits outside in the sun and smiles. He always greets me by a different name. He's one of my favorite people ever.

Today, John told me something that sparked a thought in my mind: “I always seem to forget who I am.”

John is rather old, the most content man alive, but doesn't have the memory that he once had. What struck me though is that John and I have something in common here -- we may be decades apart in age, different genders, and he probably doesn't like washing dishes as much as I do -- but we both forget who we are on a regular basis.

No, I'm not speaking about my personal identity here. My name is Katelyn, I live in Fargo, I work at I candy store...I'm okay when it comes to that identity. But what about my identity in Christ? 

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." -- 2 Corinthians 5:17

As followers of Jesus Christ, you have a new identity. The Bible says that you are a friend of God (John 15:15) a child of God (John 1:12) and the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:2).

But what about your stance before God? 
In Christ, you are forgiven. 
"For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." -- 2 Corinthians 5:21
"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross." -- Colossians 2:13-14
In Christ, you are loved.

"If I'm Your beloved, would you help me believe it?" --
My prayer for each one of us today.
Don't forget who you truly are!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ON vs. FOR

I'm continuing to hear the word 'wait' from God in many areas of my life. As I've been listening to God, pondering this, and just plain waiting, something has become evident to me. There is a difference between waiting on God, and waiting for God.

When we wait for God, our focus isn't usually on God. It is usually on the thing we're waiting for Him to do, provide, accomplish, etc. When this is the case, we are guilty of idolatry. It can also lead us to become lazy, just sitting around waiting for God to work. Instead of living out in faith what we have previously been called to do. I find this is easy for me to fall into.

However, when we wait on God, our focus is on Him. This of course, is where it should be. Where we should be. At the feet of Jesus. Learning from Him. Growing in Him. Doing all which we can to enable the Holy Spirit's work in us to glorify God our Father, and Jesus Christ.

I've been challenged this week to follow the Holy Spirit's pointing toward Jesus. To wait on God. The ability to wait on God comes from the transforming work of Jesus in our hearts, focusing us on Himself, instead of idols. 

May God be glorified in each of our lives.

Are you waiting for, or waiting on God?

Monday, October 15, 2012

An Ordinary Autobiography

Last night, after we put our little tyke down for the night, Jordan and I spent time together using questions from the game "Loaded Questions" as a discussion starter. Some of the cards included some pretty odd questions that made us chuckle - "What is the strangest thing you can do with your body?" - while others left our minds blank - "If you could dis-invent any one thing, what would it be?". Another one of those questions that produced no answer from me was, "What would you title your autobiography?" Nothing creative came to mind then; and even this morning on our walk as Jordan posed the question again, I couldn't come up with anything. I've never done anything great like inventing human flight, served as our nations president, or overcome astonishing life difficulties. I'm just me; I'm just ordinary.

Do you ever feel that way? Just plan . . . ordinary? In the grand scheme of things, we're no one important. Those outside of family circle or sphere of friends will probably never hear of us. Most of you who are reading this probably won't become president of the United States or even governor of your own home state. Most of us probably won't become professional athletes or win American Idol. Most of us are just ordinary students, employees, and  family members. 

But ya know, just because we're ordinary, we're not any less important. Think of those whom the Lord called into His service. Shepherds. Fishermen. Tax collectors. Every-day, ordinary people. And yet He used those ordinary people do to extraordinary things.

We - just ordinary people - have been entrusted with the extraordinary message of God's salvation. We - just ordinary people - have been equipped with gifts to bring the extraordinary message of God's love to the hurting. We - just ordinary people - will one day be held accountable to God for our faithfulness as stewards of His extraordinary grace.
"Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy." - 1 Corinthians 4:1-2
I may not become president someday. (Actually, I hope that I don't become president someday!) I may not do anything that is noteworthy in the eyes of the world. I may never be more than "just" a wife, mom, and follower of Jesus Christ. But that's okay. My only prayer is that I will be faithful. And who knows - maybe the Lord will use this ordinary girl for some extra-ordinary things.

(For more on being faithful in the ordinary, check out Jesus' parable in Matthew 25:14-30.)

Sunday, October 14, 2012


This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: 

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 

But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 

All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

1 Timothy 1:15-17

Paul's attitude revealed in these verses is powerful, and humbling. Christ came into this world to save sinners, and Paul counted himself to be the worst sinner of all. Paul was not elevating himself because he was the worst sinner ever. His attitude was that which showed he knew he did not deserve what Christ did for him, yet he accepted it. Paul knew where he had come from - the life that he had turned from to follow Jesus. 

Paul saw himself as the worst of sinners, BUT GOD had mercy on Paul. But he doesn't stop there - there is a reason why God had mercy on him. God had mercy on Paul so that Christ Jesus could use him as a prime example of God's great patience with even the worse sinners, because through that example, others will realize that they can believe and receive the gift of eternal life, just like Paul. 

Paul wrote these verses for each one of us who follows Jesus. God had mercy on you and me, the worst of sinners, SO THAT He could use us as a prime example of His great patience with even the worst of sinners to others who don't know Him. If we do not see our selves as sinners, what reason is there for God to be patient with us, and what example is there for others to see a reason to believe in God? If my attitude does not reflect a repentant heart of my sin-filled life, what good am I to witness to others? Why would anyone want to believe in a God that we don't really need anyway? 

I will leave you to think about these verses and meditate on what God speaks to you through them. Let Him speak to your heart - is there any attitude or action that is preventing others from seeing Him work in your life? 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Payment in Chocolate

 “I owe you so much!” – words that come out of my mouth far too often.

I feel like I'm always indebted to people. Maybe it's because of the fact that I'm prone to car problems with absolutely no car knowledge. Or perhaps because I have no upper body strength and too many heavy objects. Whatever the case may be, I always find myself in need of help.

I hate feeling so dependent on people. I hate the feeling of being an inconvenience to my friends. Therefore, I always feel the need to repay people. I constantly feel the need to somehow even the score with them. I usually pay with chocolate. 

However, it dawned on me that I treat my relationship with God in the same way. (No, not with chocolate though. ) Whenever I think of what He did for me – for each one of us – I find myself subconsciously thinking that I owe Him so much in return. I try to do the very thing that the Bible tells us not to do: I try to earn my salvation. I try to pay Him back for everything He's done.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Do you know what that means? Salvation, the “gift of God”, is a gift. If you think of gifts, they aren't repaid. They're free. Salvation is a free gift. It's something that is given out of unconditional love with no strings attached.

When Christ died for you, for me, He took on every sin that every person in the world has or ever will have committed against the holiness (perfection, perfect standard) of God.
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” – Colosians 2:13-14

As you trust Him as your Lord and Savior – let Him stand in your place before God and hear Him declare you justified (just as if you've never sinned) as He places His perfection on You – there is no payment in return. There's no way to “even the score” with God. He desires a relationship with you, not a life of trying to pay Him back. Subconsciously, that's salvation by works. He is jealous for you, but in a loving, patient way, ready to give you His free, unconditional gift of salvation. Life in His name! 

You did owe God everything. Without Christ, He would demand a blood offering. That blood would have been your's. Praise God that He sent His Son, Jesus, to stand in your place! You now have the ability to stand before Him free of blemish and free of charges. 

Just one of 10,000 reasons to praise God today! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

go. do. live.

"With authority." This is something I've been thinking a lot about this week as my boss keeps reminding me to hammer nails, carry sheets of plywood, and drill screws, "With authority."

As Christians we're called to live a life of authority. Not lording ourselves over those around us, or conveying a 'holier than thou' image. Instead we are called to walk in newness of life, crucified with Christ, it is not us which lives, but Christ living in us and through us. We are called to live with authority.

Authority over our own sin and shame, authority over principalities and powers, authority over darkness. Not that we may boast. But to point to Christ. And His work in and through our lives.

In my own daily life, I struggle immensely with this. It's easy to forget I am crucified with Christ. It's easy to forget, when God looks at me, He sees the death of His Son, the payment for my sin, Christ's righteous life, placed over me, justification. It's easy to forget Jesus is at work to sanctify me, to make me continually more reflective of Him.

This is a call to remember, for me and for you, to walk forward in life with authority, because of what Christ has done for us. His death. His resurrection. His victory. His righteousness. His justification. His sanctification. His authority. With us.

With authority... go. do. live.

To God be the glory!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Just a Vapor

Fall is probably my favorite season. I love the cooling temperatures, the beautiful colors, and the anticipation of holidays where families and friends re-connect. And if I'm honest, when I was younger, I even enjoyed the return to school. But unfortunately, the things I love about fall disappear all too quickly - especially when living in North Dakota. The leaves seem to change overnight. The wind strips them of those beautiful leaves in the blink of an eye. This year, as I watched one of our trees change from green to yellow to bare in less than a week's time, I realized how much of a "vapor" life is. 

I don't know about you, but I want to savor each beautiful moment of every day I am gifted with. Sadly, though, we live in a world that thrives on being busy. For some reason, we feel more important when our schedule are booked from before the sun comes up until long after its retired for the night. When everyone around us is running wildly, we feel that we've got to do the same - otherwise, there's something wrong with us. Along the way we may catch glimpses of the beauty around us - the physical beauty of the earth, the joyous beauty of the life of family and friends, even the beauty of stillness - but we hardly pause long enough to enjoy them. We don't stop long enough to simply be. To simply soak in all that is going on around us. 

I don't know about you, but that's not how I want to live my life. That's not how I want to see my son grow up. So, admittedly, there are days I don't get much "done" around the house. There are days when all I do is play with my little man, take him on a walk, snuggle with Zeke for an afternoon nap, and make supper for my husband. But you know what? I've decided that's okay. Because the past 21 weeks have gone fast enough. I know that my life - that Jordan's life - that Zeke's life - is just a vapor. 
"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." - James 4:14
I don't know about you, but I want to savor each day I am blessed with. I don't want to live thinking, "Okay, we've just got to get through this phase," or, "Life will just be easier or better when . . ." It's hard to know that that looks like - what it looks like to enjoy every day (even the difficult ones); it's hard to know how we can soak up the vapor that comprises our life. Maybe all it is is stopping. Stopping to thank the Lord - genuinely. Pausing to look around you - to let your eyes soak in the beauty that is around you. Enjoying - not wishing - our lives and days away, hoping for the next "exciting" season of life. 

We already know that life is just a vapor; that life is going to speed on by. So let's do what we can to enjoy it, eh?
"This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." - Psalm 118:24

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Put on the Armor of God

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 

Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Ephesians 6:10-18

Do you put on the armor of God every day? We are weak, but have mighty strength and power in God alone. Why do we need to put on the armor of God? So we are able to stand firm against the strategies of the devil in this dark world. The Devil is constantly going against us as Christians. We are to put on the armor that we may resist and to continue to stand firm

But how do we put on the armor of God? It should not be just an empty ritual that we do every morning while we get dressed, putting on our belt of "truth" and our shoes of "readiness" etc. There are specific ways that we put on our armor each day to prepare us to stand firm. 

The "belt of truth" is the truth of God's Word. Just as a police officer must know exactly where everything is on his belt so he doesn't pull out his handcuffs when looking for his gun, we too as Christians need to know God's Word so that we can be ready for what ever opportunity may occur. We do this by studying and meditating on God's Word, praying, and memorizing scripture. 

BODY ARMOR OF GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS (Breastplate of righteousness) 
The "body armor of God's righteousness" is the righteousness of Christ that guards our heart. Though Christ covers us with His righteousness, we are also to live righteously: live in a way that is pleasing to God. This involves not only applying God's Word to our lives, but also doing a self-examination daily, checking if we need to fix anything before we go into the battle, such as confessing our sin, righting a relationship, or changing an attitude. 

God says in His Word that we are to be ready to give an answer at all times. We must maintain our footing and be able to go wherever he needs us to go. This involves being prepared to share the Gospel, and asking and looking for opportunities that God has for us. When we are ready and willing, God can and will use us in many ways. 

Faith is accepting that what God said is true and acting on it. We need to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the devil with our faith, standing firm on God's word and His promises. We can do that by writing down promises that God gives us in His Word, memorizing them, and claiming them for ourselves. Let faith change the way that you live. 

Salvation is the certainty that Christ has saved and redeemed us. It is our hope. We wear the helmet of salvation by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, and squelching all doubts that Satan throws our way. 

The Word of God is a double edged sword, cutting through bone and marrow. Every single word in the Bible is from God to us. We can count on temptation in our lives, and the only way we can defeat that temptation is by specific verses from God's Word. We draw our sword from the belt of truth. How do we use it? We speak it, we pray it, we believe it. 

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Are you fully armored by God today?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Evangelism and Discipleship-- Big Words!

“The bigger, the better.” – Sound familiar?
Here in America, we like things big.

“Evangelism” comes from the Greek word “euaggelion” which translated simply means, “good news”. It is simply telling others of the Good News of Salvation -- the redemption that we find in His blood at the Cross. However, when we – as Americans – hear the word “evangelism” we usually think big. Big stages with big names speaking to even bigger crowds. We think about the number of converts and hoot and holler when we hear that x-amount of people accepted Christ as their Savior (and of course, the larger the amount of x, the louder the hollering).

But you know what? Jesus did it differently.

In Matthew 13 Jesus told a parable about a sower and when the disciples asked Him about it, He responded by saying it was meant to confuse the crowds. Jesus didn't speak to these crowds because He knew what was in their heart. Instead, Jesus directed this portion of His teaching to a small, select group of His friends. These men were called “disciples” – or in the Greek, simply a learner or follower. These were men that were being poured out into, first with the twelve disciples of Jesus and then as these men and others (such as Paul) went out and invested in the lives of others.

You see, Jesus wasn't about the bright lights and loud music. He invested in relationships. He spent His three year ministry traveling around preaching and teaching to large crowds, but as they were seeking a show Jesus often retreated to His select group of men and taught them. These men were with Him every day of these three years – they not only got the teaching that He provided, but they saw how He lived and were trained on the spot.

If we take a look at the life and ministry of Jesus, we see that we have something wrong in our approach to ministry here. While I'm not saying large, revival type conferences are bad, I think we're missing something. Jesus invested in people – He took the time to show them what it meant to walk with God (literally, in the sense of the 12 disciples!).

I'd like you to watch this short video about the Church and the Great Commission.

Jesus calls us to go (Matthew 28:18-20), but going could simply mean investing in the lives of people around you. Think about it: how many people do you know here that do not know the Lord as their personal Savior? People you work with, go to class with, live life with. These people may not go to a huge revival conference, but they will see your witness. As you live life with these people, you can (notice -- Gospel. This is not a challenge, not a requirement of the law. It's something we get to do, gleefully!) point them to Christ. 

John 13:34-35 
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Friends, this post is not meant to chastise you and challenge you to do better and be better. I simply want you to consider the ministry of Jesus Christ. Out of our love for Him there is a natural overflow into the people around us. I do not want to point my finger at you and tell you to invest in those around you because they're all going to hell. That's motivation by law. There's life and freedom in the Gospel! As you seek the Lord today, He'll break your heart for what breaks His, and make your heart beat for what He loves. And suddenly, investing in the lives of others and pointing them to Christ-- evangelism, discipleship -- turns from an event to a way of life

As we love the Lord, may He teach us how to love those around us -- and go and make disciples. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Waiting and Faith

Eighteen days ago I was struggling with what God was asking of me. Once again I was hearing, "Wait, and see what I will do." In many ways, I've been waiting for a year and a half. And as a result, I'd grown tired of waiting. I wanted God to just do something already. And then, fifteen days ago, my Mom sent me this email:

"I was reading this morning and read Psalm 27:14. It blessed me, but also got me thinking. Wait doesn't mean stand in line until God gets around to you- it means serve Him, as you trust His timing; don't run ahead- He is Captain of the Hosts- so He leads. Wait for Him to lead. While waiting, don't despair or give up; be strong and let your heart take courage! (Tell your heart to take courage; success, God's way, will come.) 

"I thought of those who did not wait for the Lord: Saul (1 Sam. 13:8-14) waited, and he thought he had waited long enough, the appointed time, but God was testing Saul- would he really keep waiting- even with pressure from others? He blew it and it cost him. Another one that couldn't wait was Esau, when he traded his birthright for a bowl of stew. These were chosen men of God, yet they paid dearly for their impatience. 
"Waiting is probably the hardest test to go through, because in that waiting time, it seems as if God distances Himself from us, and He asks 'will you trust Me anyway?' 'Will you obey what you already know anyway?' 'Even if I do not seem to be as close to you as before?' 

"Waiting for God also includes saying, by our actions, 'God, I desire You more than all else.'"

This was exactly what I needed to hear! In the last year and a half, God has been doing something. Actually He's been doing tons of somethings! As God has been repeatedly asking me to wait, He has been building my faith, growing my ability to hear His voice, causing me to see my own weaknesses and allow for His strengths to prevail, and a ton of other things. It's been a very hard year and a half. But it has been incomparably amazing! 

Isaiah 7:9b says, "If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all." Waiting causes our faith to become firm. When our faith is firm, we are enabled to live firmly in every aspect of our lives. I encourage you to be faithful in doing what you know you're supposed to do, even if God seems distant. Obey what you already know, even if it seems like you've been waiting long enough.

Wait and have firm faith.

Night Walking

I like walking at night.  It's 10:36pm right now and I have just walked from my house to a dock on Lake Stevens in Lake Stevens, WA.  The moon is so bright tonight.  What I really enjoy about it though is the quietness, the coolness, and the stillness that it brings.  It reminds me of what rest is all about.  At night people are sleeping and recuperating from the day (most of them anyway) and it reminds me so much of what it means to be at rest in our hearts.

Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit that comes when we abide in our relationship with Jesus.  Actually, I think that's it more than anything.  It reminds me of Jesus.  When Jesus enters into our hearts good things begin to happen.  We are changed from the inside out.  Fears get replaced with confidence.  Worry about tomorrow ceases to be a problem.  Idols that never satisfy are taken down from their altars and burned away with the garbage.  Heavy-to-bear religiosity is replaced with a load that is easy to carry.  Jesus comes in and he changes things.  Hate get's turned into forgiveness and love.  Restlessness, or discontentment, gets replaced with satisfaction in Jesus.  We become less concerned about ourselves and more concerned about others.  

Jesus is why I like walking at night.  It makes me feel close Him.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Filling the Silence

Today, I have no idea what to blog about. I suppose I could try and find some spiritual principle in the laundry that I just hung out to dry, the sunshine's warmth, or the sneeze my son just released. But that would simply be filling the silence, taking up space. And it would bring no encouragement or edification whatsoever. In fact, you probably wouldn't even bother reading this. I know I wouldn't.

Some days, I have no idea what to say. What words to say to someone who is hurting. What words encourage someone who is disheartened. What words to say as I approach the throne of grace. Instead, I can fill the silence with meaningless words; babblings that annoy rather than encourage. Grate on pain rather than show empathy. Bring awkwardness rather than comfort.

What is it about us that makes us want to fill the silence? Whether it be silence in conversation with another or silence in the presence of God - I feel like we as a people don't like silence. But it's good to be silent. To be still in the presence of God. To simply listen to those who are in pain. To let our actions say more than our words ever could.
"Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few." - Ecclesiastes 5:2  
"Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger," - James 1:19 
"Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." - 1 John 3:18
So on this day when I don't have much to say, I'm not going to say much more. May we faithful in being the hands and feet of Jesus even in the silence.