Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lord, Make Me More Blind, Deaf and Dumb

I'm sure you've seen these little guys umpteen times before, but this visual came to mind during a lesson about the man born blind in John 9.

It occurred to me we all are born blind, dumb and deaf to the Truth. Our spiritual eyes, ears, and mouths are dead at birth, so it's easy in our deadness to see evil, speak evil and hear evil when the loudest voice in the room is the prince of the air (Satan).

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts (Ephesians 2:1-3a NIV)

We have no trouble seeing, speaking and hearing what the world wants us to when we are blind, deaf, and mute to spiritual truth.

On an ordinary day, a man born blind encountered Jesus as he went about his life as usual - sitting and begging outside the temple. Because Jesus is all-knowing, he knew this man wanted to see. Until Jesus placed the mud mixed with His spit on the blind eyes of the lifetime beggar, he lived in utter darkness. Until the Creator gave him his sight, creating brand new eyes formed from the dust of the ground, this lonely man couldn't see Truth, speak Truth, or hear Truth. Even those in the synagogue had cast him aside because they believed his own sin or the sin of his parents was the cause of his affliction.

This is when I realized something else.

Before the man could see, Jesus had to cover up his blindness to keep him from seeing as the world had always told him he should see. Jesus covered up what the world had been telling him all of his life so he could only focus his attention on what God was saying to him in this powerful moment.

Jesus covered his blindness to blind him to the distractions of the world so he could give glory to the Creator of the world with new eyes.

Before the man could be healed, he had to be obedient to the words Christ spoke after covering his blindness with mud. "Go and wash in the pool of Siloam."

Why didn't Jesus just heal his eyes right there on the spot?

Why did He send him to wash in the pool?

Both questions have extensive answers, and those will have to wait for another time. But ultimately, I believe both answers have to do with obedience. The blind man wanted to be healed so he did what was asked of him. He acted on his newfound hope and faith. 

  • By faith he did what Christ asked of him.
  • By faith he believed he would be healed.
And, by faith he was healed physically and spiritually. 

Can't you hear him shouting, "I was blind, but now I see!"(John 9:25)

It became so clear to me that before the scales can fall off, we must desire to see Truth. God then muddies up our eyes, blinding us to the distractions of the world, to see Him, hear Him, and speak truth with assurance, clarity, and boldness.

Another man who could see quite well had a "blind" encounter of a different kind with Jesus after the Resurrection. This man's name was Saul, later changed to Paul. (To read the whole account, see Acts 9:1-31) On his journey to Damascus, Saul was seeking ways to murder Christ's disciples and others who were following the Way. As Saul was seeking evidence against believers, Jesus would be presenting evidence to reveal the real Truth. So, on the road to Damascus, Christ chose to blind Saul to get his undivided attention to hear the evidence. The Truth. He didn't use mud this time, but He did muddy up Saul's vision with the Light of the World, on purpose and for an extraordinary purpose.

Paul's physical eyes would be healed, but only if he chose to act in faith by going to Ananias' home. [And] immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. (v.18)

The result? With eyes wide open, Paul began to preach Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, fearlessly! 

Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. (v. 23)

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. 
(v. 31)

Do you see the parallel with these two stories? How does your life parallel with these guys?

Do you see God's purpose unfolding? How is His purpose unfolding through your story?

Neither could speak truth, see truth or hear truth until they encountered the Lord, Jesus Christ. 

Until the Lord blinds us from our worldly blindness we are unable to fulfill our purpose in the Kingdom. Through the Spirit's blinding power, Jesus calls us to our purpose; to further His glorious Kingdom by hearing Truth, seeing Truth, and speaking fearlessly the Truth of Jesus Christ.

Paul's purpose is still proving that Jesus is the Christ today through the power of the Word of God.

The formerly blind-from-birth beggar's story is still fulfilling God's purpose through the power of God's Word as more and more people are called to shout, "I was blind but now I see!"

Oh God, how I want to live out the purpose You have called me to. Protect my senses from the world's distractions. Deafen my ears to hear only Your voice, blind my eyes to see only Your face, and allow my mouth to speak only Your truth. May Your greatness be proclaimed through the story You are writing with my life from now until forevermore. Amen.

My Pleasure,

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

God is Working All Things for Good...Really?

How can a good God allow all this bad stuff to happen? 

Why are people suffering if God is love?

Everyday, bad things occur. We see it in the lives of family. We see it in the lives of people we come in contact with at work, school, recreation. We see bad stuff happening all around the world. For centuries, people have asked these same questions, especially when chaotic circumstances have encroached on their personal space.

Why is God letting this happen to me?

When Evil rears its ugly head, it seems as though the first one blamed is the good God who isn't supposed to "let" anything bad happen.

But, when good happens in the world, humans jump to take the credit and the good God conversation is no where to be found.

In seeking to make sense of what doesn't, I've learned to go the source of truth, Jesus Christ, and ask for clarity to understand what His word says about such things. In studying the Bible, I've learned to search for details, things I may have missed before and examine original meanings of the text in the Greek or Hebrew. In doing so, we get a better understanding of what God is saying to us.

According to Strong's Concordance, the Greek word for good is agathos.

Definition: intrinsically good, good in nature, good whether it be seen to be so or not.

God's nature, the essence of His being, is good

Taste and see that the LORD is good (Psalm 34:8 NIV). 

Romans 8:28 tells us, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose (ESV).

In my experience, when Romans 8:28 is quoted, it's often summarized to say, "God works all things together for good." 

Really? Is that what it really says? 

This verse has been used to explain God's goodness in dire situations, but I rarely hear anyone emphasize the key words in the verse - for those who love the Lord.

God is working all things for good, but for the good of those who love the Lord, for those called according to His purpose. If someone doesn't love the Lord, we cannot with a straight face tell them things are working for their good because it's just. not. true. In fact, for those who have yet to receive, or have refused to believe the Truth, Scripture tells us things are not working out so good for them.

For whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son (John 3:18 NIV).

God is just. (2 Thessalonians 2:6)

All this is evidence that God's judgement is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just; He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10a NIV, emphasis mine).

Scripture is perfectly clear. God is working all things for the good of His glory (Jesus Christ) and The Church - The Bride of Christ - those who love the Lord, and are called according to His purpose. 

God is love. (1 John 4:8, John 3:16)

God is also long-suffering (extremely patient). By His Spirit, He draws to Himself those who have yet to believe through the evidence of our lives, and until He returns, He will continue to woo them so He can work all things together for their good as well.

The Lord is not slow about His promise (His return), as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing that any should perish, but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9 NASB, emphasis mine).

This is why I am so passionate about a real, living faith, sweet friends. Our faith reveals our love for the Lord. Our faith dictates how we respond to what life throws at us, not only in times of prosperity, but also in times of desperation, trial, temptation, and even terror.

As the evil acts unfolded from the weekend on the news, a gentleman working on our home renovations began to share his Armenian great-grandmother's story of terror and slaughter during the Armenian Genocide during and after WWI. He knows first hand about what the Koran teaches and about the Caliphate they are seeking. His great-grandmother and her family were taken from their homes, lined up on their knees (just like what we have witnessed through horrific terrorist videos) and asked if they were Muslim. She was a Christian, a Believer in Jesus Christ. Holding onto her Bible, she watched as the radical Islamists beheaded her family one by one. Then, they did the same to her.

So how can we say God is working all things together for their good, for those who love the Lord?

With full assurance we can say so, because our Lord promised that where He is we will be also (John 14:1-6), and there's nothing "more good" than to live in the glorious presence of the King of kings for all eternity.

Do we have that kind of faith? A faith so woven into the fiber of our being that we're willing to die for the Author of our faith?

Oh, I hope so, because that kind of faith can change the world!

Faith in God is believing in what's unseen and still trusting Him to work all things together (the good, the bad and the ugly) for our best interest and His glory.

How about you? Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? I don't mean if you believe He was a real person who walked the earth or not. I mean, is He Lord of your soul, your life, your all? If not, He wants to be. He wants to begin a relationship with you today if you're willing to turn away from your own way and trust Him with your life. And yes, even with the hard stuff.

If you are a Believer, the next time someone asks you a 'blame-it-on-the-good-God' question, how will you answer them? I pray with love, grace and extreme patience.

My Pleasure,

~ To read stories of real people living out real faith in real life, check out

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Perfect Husband

I don't know of any woman who claims their husband is perfect (except me of course). Well, not really, but I would say he's close.

One of my husband's many nicknames he's acquired through the years is the human Quicker-Picker-Upper. Without fail, every time he walks in the house he starts picking up and putting away any and everything out of place. You may say, "Wow! I wish my husband was like that," but before you go craving the grass on the other side of the fence, it can be quite annoying. Especially if you were just about to get to it and he steps in and does it. It makes you feel like you've failed him somehow.

I know. Weirdness, but true.

When we were dating, we would go to his house between college classes (which is now our home) and make sandwiches. Before I could even finish making mine, he had put all of the condiments back in the refrigerator. Who does that?

I tease him often by calling the paper towel his security blanket because he loves to wipe down the counters. Even if I've already wiped them down, he comes behind me and wipes them again. He seems to always have one in his hand or in his pocket. The worst is finding them torn to shreds in the washing machine because he left it in his pocket.

I told you, it can get quite annoying.

Through the years though, I've learned this is his love language and not just an obsession with "everything has its place." He loves me by helping me and being intentionally involved in household chores. He has a true servant's heart, a very rare quality these days. I've even had friends ask him to teach "How To Be a Good Husband" classes.

Well, as perfect as my husband sounds, he's not. He's human. Born with a sin nature, he battles the flesh like the rest of us. No one is perfect. Only Jesus.

The Perfect Husband:

  • loves His Bride deeper than any human can ever love
  • is always faithful to Her
  • layed down His life for Her
  • honors Her
  • is patient with Her
  • keeps His promises
  • protects Her
  • provides for Her
  • satisfies Her every need

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I just started facilitating the Book of Hosea for our small group Bible study. It is so full of the heart of our true Husband, Jesus Christ. A heart devoted to His chosen even when she strays. A heart that's faithful even when she's not. A heart that woos her back to Himself time after time when she sins because He loves her deeply. He knows she's safe with Him and finds true satisfaction in Him alone. 

And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD (Hosea 2:19-20 ESV).

The beauty of Hosea and Gomer's love story is also God telling His own love story with His chosen -you and me. As we study this intriguing book we will watch His story of Redemption, Love, Forgiveness, and Grace, as well as see the harsh truth about consequences when we turn our affections away from Him. I'm so excited to dig deeper into this amazing picture of God's heart.

Fabulous but flawed, I love my husband. God has blessed us and taught us so much through our 31 years of marriage. I'm forever grateful for how God designed him and chose him for me - to love me with a heart like Christ's - as Christ loves the Church, willing to lay down His life for her. (Ephesians 5:25)

Loving and serving my husband is my pleasure, but loving and serving my Perfect Husband is my Pleasure Forevermore.

My Pleasure,

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Our Homes Are Sanctuaries

Last week was filled with nail guns, saws, the constant opening and closing of doors, and tracking in and out of our home. I wouldn't be surprised if our CPI security voice is a little hoarse from calling, "Den door!," every time it opened.

We finally bit the bullet and put in new kitchen floors, extending down the hallway, and a new backsplash, all of which was needed. It is absolutely beautiful, and I couldn't be more pleased.

We still have the new range hood to be installed. But, our new washer and dryer, both of which were in dyer need of replacement came yesterday and renovations - Phase One - is almost done!

I read this somewhere recently: Our homes are not show places but sanctuaries.

Don't you just love that?

Many have graced our home over the years for parties, wedding and baby showers, and Bible studies. Others have entered in times of grief, or in need of Christian counsel. We're OPEN - 24 hrs. a day, 7 days a week to meet needs, listen and love on those who need it. It's who we are. It's what we do.

The art of making people feel at home isn't some hidden secret. You just have to be willing to do life with people. Be real, inviting them into your successes and struggles, pointing them to Christ and the Scriptures.

Our homes are a type of sanctuary - a sacred place of refuge for family and others.

In the Old Testament, the Temple walls surrounded the most sacred of places where the sanctuary was housed; a place that only the high priest could enter into once a year to ask for the forgiveness of sins for himself and on behalf of God's people. The sanctuary was called the Holy of holies, where the Ark of the Covenant (the presence of Yahweh, Jehovah God) dwelled with His people.

After Christ redeemed us on the cross, the sanctuary or temple (the place where the presence of God dwells) is now inside of us - God's people. It's not an intricately God-designed mobile tent of worship with extravagant accessories and decor, filled with sacred symbolism, or a brick and mortar, breathtaking structure of meticulous architecture and art. The moment Jesus gave up His spirit, the heavy veil of the Holy of holies split in two signifying God's dwelling place would now be in the hearts and spirits of those who follow Christ. It's where the Holy Spirit resides, and we don't need a human priest to intercede for us anymore.

We have access to the sanctuary of God, and our High Priest, Jesus Christ, sits at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf. Because we believe in Him and have received Him into our hearts, we now live in His presence moment by moment, day by day.

Therefore, wherever we are, we house His sanctuary. Doesn't that just send goose bumps running up and down your spine?

Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in His sanctuary (Psalm 96:6 NIV).

Strength and glory are in His sanctuary - in us!

So, shouldn't our homes also be a physical sanctuary filled with His strength and glory? A place where love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness abound? Where calm, peace, protection and refuge are looked forward to with each opening of the door?

How would you describe the atmosphere of your home? Does your home breathe a sweet release for those who enter? What renovations need to be made in your heart's sanctuary so peace can spill over into your home today?

I pray we will begin to see our homes from this perspective, recognizing the focus of home is sanctuary, not showplace. 

  • Where we learn from our messes, not focusing on never making messes.
  • Where our speech is filled with kindness, not harshness.
  • Where we listen to each other, not talk over one another.
  • Where God's Word is the center of our conversations.
  • Where Jesus isn't just an honored guest, but the Head of our families.

Before I close, let me confess that I am guilty of not following my own advice. I fail again and again. I can be too concerned about messes. I speak harshly sometimes. I don't listen as I should (just ask my kids). I don't multitask, especially if I'm writing or reading on the computer.

We all need to renovate our homes at times, especially because of the hidden, crumbling spaces the eye can't see. But, we also need to be alert and aware at all times of the status of our hearts, allowing the Spirit to clean out sin and renovate. Then, instead of the musty, stale odors our guests would inhale, they will breathe in the sweet aroma of Christ and find refuge - a soothing sanctuary for the soul.

(Renovation - Phase Two - starts Thursday. Bring it on!)

My Pleasure,

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Before You Go, Simply Be

Most of us have been called to dinner.

"Dinner's ready! Come and get it!" 

We've also been called when it was time to go somewhere.

"Hurry up! Let's go! We're gonna be late!"

Some of us have even been called names. Some endearing, and some, not so much.

Christ called the first disciples using two simple words: 

Follow Me.

Jesus invited these ordinary men to walk with Him, sit with Him, live life with Him, and learn from Him.

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed Him (Matthew 4:18-20 NKJV).

In the Gospel According to Luke, there is more to the story. Large crowds are pressing in around Jesus to hear the word of God. There are so many people that He asked a fisherman named Simon, who was cleaning his nets, to take Him out in his boat a ways so He could speak to the multitudes easier. After He finished speaking, He performed a miracle by telling the fisherman to put down their nets. Stating that they hadn't caught any fish all day, Simon agreed to still comply with the Master's request. Alarmed at the large catch of fish in their nets, they shout for their fellow fishermen to come and help them. Simon Peter falls on his knees in the presence of Jesus, for he truly sees himself as he really is for the first time. After the boats had been brought into the shore, four exhausted, nasty, stinky fishermen drop everything, leaving all behind to be with Christ. (See Luke 5:1-11)

And today, Jesus is still calling us to the same.

To be in His presence - settling into the sacred place where we see Him for who He is and ourselves in the Light of His glory; where we renew our minds with His Word. There's no greater invitation in all the world than to be invited by the Creator of the Universe, the King of kings, to come and be with Him.

Being with Jesus is the safest, most secure place to bring our realness.

There's no pretending because He already knows our weaknesses.
There are no masks because He sees our hearts.
There's just being with the One who knows us best, loves us most, and will complete what He started.

I love the picture chosen for this blog because it speaks of the sweet intimacy Christ offers us. Can't you just hear Jesus saying, "Here. Have a seat. Come sit with Me a while." It gives me a sense of Ahhh and awe as I humbly and gratefully slide into my reserved seat. 

Being with Christ is the essence of a real disciple's life.  

It's in His Word and through the power of prayer that:
  • our ears hear His tender voice
  • our minds are washed with the Word
  • our souls are refreshed
  • we confess and converse with the Lover of our soul
You see, we can't go make disciples without being with the Master Discipler. The two go hand-in-hand. We've put so much emphasis on the nets (evangelism) - the how-to-get-saved part, that we've ignored the crucial and best part of discipleship  - The stop-drop-everything-and-be-with-Christ part. (And that includes our nets.)

Jesus is all about being with His followers and His followers being with Him. Seems to me that our nets would naturally catch more if we would be intentional about being with Christ.

Are you missing out on the part that will make you a much better fisher of people?
Then have a seat at the table. He's inviting you to simply be.

My Pleasure,

Picture credit: 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

An Unusual Summer of Unwrapping Gifts


Spectacular or simple.

Gift bags adorned with colorful tissue paper. Boxes carefully wrapped with crisp creases and fancy ribbon.

Anticipation fills the air as the giver waits and watches for the recipient to open the carefully selected treasure.

The Summer of 2016 has been full of unexpected gifts. Somebody knows me well and has carefully placed on my doorstep unsuspecting packages, reminding me of His deep love and affection for me.

Well, not literally on my doorstep, and nope. Not my husband.

These gifts have arrived in the form of long-time friendships wrapped up tighter than the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. As I've opened these precious treasures, each has put a smile on my face and filled my heart with that squeal-out-loud-skip-a-beat joy.

As I blogged earlier this season about the different levels of friendships we experience, I had no idea God was wrapping up some of my own friends I haven't connected with in years and would be placing them on my stoop all throughout the summer.

Gift #1: A friend of 30 plus years and her husband connected with me while they were in France learning about the refugee crisis and how to best meet the needs of those fleeing from their homes. These missionary friends were coming back to South Carolina for a sort-of sabbatical. God used my husband and me to meet their need by providing them with a home to stay in while they sought the Lord's direction for a new season of ministry. Inside this unsuspecting package were dinners out, morning coffee chats, lots of laughing, praying, and catching up. What an incredible gift!

Gift #2: Another friend and her husband are in the process of moving to South Carolina from Virginia. This friend and I sang together in ministry for a short time, but connected with a bond that has lasted through 20 years. Although we've had little contact except through Facebook, we've picked up right where we left off. God is so good.

Gift #3: My former hairdresser and long-time friend attended church with us. Before moving to go to seminary, she was my right hand during eight weeks of bed rest while pregnant with my daughter. At the end of June she literally shows up on my doorstep for #SummerBookClub2016. What a treat to have her back in my life and to reconnect after almost 20 years. She even brought me a gift - a wreath she made in Carolina colors with football ribbon. Oh, she knows me well.

Gift #4:  Just a couple of weeks ago, God sent another surprise package in the form of a precious friend whom I've stayed in contact with, but not like I would have liked to. She just moved from Georgia back to South Carolina and I couldn't be more ecstatic! We met for lunch, caught up, and it was like she never left. What a kindred spirit we share. Afterwards, I walked to my car thinking, God is absolutely amazing. I needed this encounter today and He arranged it all. I love how He loves.

This intimate Lover of our souls knows us inside out. He created us with certain likes and dislikes, and He brings people into our lives for us to choose from to connect with on this earth for friendship, encouragement, to love and be loved, to rejoice and weep with, and to build one another up in Christ. He knows we need each other. He knows we need friends.

Every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17, paraphrased).

How has God gifted you this summer? Look around. I'm sure He's watching with great anticipation for you discover, unwrap and enjoy the gifts He's picked just for you!

My Pleasure,

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Personality Matters

1. Sassy.
2. Simple. 
3. Serious.

There. I did it. In three words.

(And yes, fellow writers, I even used the forbidden alliteration.)

In a writer's workshop I attended recently, we were asked to identify our blog's personality.

Identifying our personality traits helps us in understanding how our message is being communicated.

Makes sense. Right?

Our personality flows through our communication.

Being aware of how people perceive us is key to how we craft and deliver our message. Although this workshop was specifically for Christian bloggers, the principle relates to anyone proclaiming a message. Whether through print, social media, or face to face...

 personality matters.

In examining my own blog's personality, I've concluded:

1. Sassy can be funny, but it can also be offensive.

We need to know our audiences and gauge the "sass-ometer." If our audience has a good sense of humor or knows us well, then this personality trait will not hinder, and may even help our message, drawing them in.

But, if our audience is more serious-minded, or simply lack-luster in the humor department, then Sass would be a pass.

2. Simply speaking, we can never go wrong with simplicity

The K.I.S.S. method, for instance, has been around for eons. Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. 
And, guess what. It still works.

I labor long and hard on my blog posts. Sometimes, too long. It could be days before I publish. My goal is not to lose your attention with too many words or cause you to have to reread a sentence that's difficult to follow. I want my carefully, selected words to flow so you will be moved to reflect or act or both. The quantity and quality of words is very important.

Simple can mean less, and less is usually best.

3. Seriously though, there's a time and place for serious discussion, and we mustn't be afraid to go there. 

Sometimes we're pressed for time, or we just sense an urgency to share a message of utmost importance. It's okay to get straight to the point, but with respectlove and grace.

Serious means our hearts are heavy and concerned.

What are your three top personality traits? How do they affect the way you communicate...

  • in your marriage?
  • with family?
  • with friends? 
  • in business?
  • through social media?

Christ has given us a mission, a purpose, and a voice. We must be aware of each as we proclaim His truth. And through whatever platform He gives us, we must consider our words and sparkle with our own, one-of-a-kind personalities.

Please, dear Jesus, as we seek Your face, 
Season our words with love and grace.

Bridle our tongues from speaking harm, 
And fill us with Your loving charm.

From today's beginning until the end, 
Stir our speech with a sacred blend. 

With respect and grace mixed just right, 
May we speak Your words both day and night.

My Pleasure,