Suit up, Warrior!

We are in a battle, but it’s not the battle we think it is. Our battle is not for the love and affection of another person or even to stop the pain we feel. Our battle is for life and legacy – ours and the generations who follow us.

Suit up, Warrior. Fight. You are worth it.

Let’s start with truth and tell our Commander everything we have been experiencing, our fears, our needs, our mistakes, our worries, our coping strategies, everything. Let’s simply lay it all out before Him and be brutally honest with Him. He already knows, and He desires and loves when truth pours from our hearts and through our lips to His ears.

Let’s speak truth. Many times we look away from our Commander and try to fix things for ourselves. We create idols of people because we want their affection and time. We create idols of things because they mask our pain. When we create idols, we become bound. And the people and things become like a sticky pit we cannot extract ourselves from.

Let’s speak the truth about ourselves and our parts in the whole thing. Others may influence our decisions, but we are responsible for our own words and deeds. We can’t blame others for what comes out of our mouths or things our hands do. When The Truth reveals the truth in our inner beings and we agree and speak that truth back to Him, the work of repairing the breaches in our most important relationship (our relationship with Him) has already started.

Warrior,

He called you individually by name.

He loves you individually regardless of where you have been or what you have done.

He would have taken the shame, suffering, and guilt if you were the only one to respond to Him.

He is not ashamed of you.

He loves you with an everlasting love.

He knows your struggles and how to fix them.

Listen for His voice.

Don’t let your eyes or ears get distracted from Him. And when you find you have glanced away or are staring at someone or something else, or you hear the voice of the enemy inviting you back, run to Jesus. Run into His arms and ask Him to help you stay focused on Him. We need His help and the help of fellow soldiers, brothers and sisters in Christ. Reach for those open hands and lean on the One Who loves and cares about us the most.

Your battle is for your very life and legacy. God has a plan and He wants to give you a mighty testimony. Testimonies start with having an honest conversation with your Commander (He knows it all anyway), listening for His instructions, and then doing what He says. Your brothers and sisters are here to help you.

You do not fight alone.

Change is Coming! Who Do I Trust?

When things were changing a little too fast for my dad, he would sing, “Life is filled with swift transition.” He often said the first phrase of a Scripture or sing the first line of a song to get it started in his mind – and ours – and then let the words speak for themselves. (https://hymnary.org/hymn/TTvirt/530) Life is filled with too many swift transitions. Changes are constantly happening all around us, so Dad’s little ditty comes to mind often.

Rarely in my life does the fear of change interfere with my sleep, but the onslaught of changes has begun to nudge me from restful sleep. So, I got up during the quiet of the early hours of the morning recently to talk to God about it.

I heard this question: “Who are you trusting?”

Several years ago, a friend gave me a framework for diagnosing problems when change is rocky or unsustained. The Change Puzzle Activity was developed Dr. Peter Senge to reflect the essentials of organizational change. But the components listed are also essential for change in individuals. Organizations and groups don’t change unless the individuals in those organizations and groups change. Trust is the very first component of this puzzle. Without trust, changes may occur, but they are weak and wobbly and often unsustainable.

He asked me a second question: “When changes come through others’ ideas and plans (good, bad, or ugly), who are you really trusting – the one who is leading the change or Me, the One Who you say is leading your life?

I found 22 verses in the Bible explaining what kind of trust He wants, why He deserves it, and what my life can be like when I trust Him. Here’s a just few:

The kind of trust He wants:

  • Psalm 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not rely on your own understanding.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:7 – For we live by trust, not by what we see.
  • 1 Timothy 1:4a-5 – . . . doing God’s work, which requires trust . . . promote love from a clean heart, from a good conscience and from sincere trust.

Why He deserves my trust:

  • 2 Thessalonians 3:3a – But the Lord is worthy of trust
  • 1John 3:23 – This is His command: That we are to trust in the person and power of His Son Jesus Christ and to keep loving one other, just as He commanded us.
  • Revelation 2:19 – (He said,) “I know what you are doing, your love, trust, service and perseverance”

What my life can be like when I trust Him:

  • Psalm 3:6 – In all your ways acknowledge Him; then He will level your paths.
  • Ephesians 6:16 – Always carry the shield of trust, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:3 – . . . your trust produces action, your love hard work, and your hope perseverance
  • Titus 3:8b – . . . those who have put their trust in God may apply themselves to doing good deeds. These are both good in themselves and valuable to the community.

There’s no need to fret when I trust the One Who is worthy of my trust, the One Who has commanded me to trust Him, and the One Who sees all and knows all.

Heavenly Father, Trusting You is the biggest part of making changes in my life. Trusting You helps me not to fret or to fight. Help me remember that even though life is filled with swift transitions, You never change. As I trust You and obey You, You will watch over me, You will make my paths straighter, You teach me what I need to learn. I will act because I rely on You to show me what is good for me and valuable for those around me. Thank You for Your unchanging hand. Help me hang on to it.

A Look at Love

In 1 Corinthians, we find the well-known description of love. Let’s take a closer look at it together. Verse one deals with loving communication.

It doesn’t matter how eloquently I speak or how clever my thoughts are shared. It doesn’t matter how much charisma I may have. If I speak without first making the deliberate decisions to benefit those who hear and to speak in a way they can hear and understand, I am really only talking to hear my own head rattle (at least that’s how Dad always described it).

Heavenly Father, Let Your love for me guard my tongue and let my love for You cause me to use my words wisely.

Starting Small!

There’s a Chinese proverb that says “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Here’s a first step to help you start or to use when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

This is how I started and is the first step to help me becoming consistent in my own daily time with God. When I started, my life was filled to the brim with three young children, a full-time job, and lots of other activities, but my spirit needed more. I decided to get up just a little earlier and do this. When I failed to get up, I’d find a little tiny piece of the day when things were a little quieter and follow this process.

Here are the steps for you:

  1. Ask God where He wants you to read. It might be a place where you’re already studying or a Bible reading program you’re following or He may remind you of a Scripture passage. Truth Him to take you to the right spot. If you’re led to a short passage, don’t fret. He’s got what you need there. – Make a note of the Scripture reference. There’s no need to write it out.
  2. Simply ask God to show you what He wants you to know from that passage. As you read, phrases and ideas will come to mind. That’s Him talking to you as you read. When you’re done reading, make a quick note of what He showed you.
  3. Respond to Him and what He showed you. This is your prayer back to Him. Length isn’t important when your heart is sincere, just say all you need to say to Him. Remember, the most important part is the listening and talking, the conversation you having with God (the prayer). You can make notes, but the written record is not required – He takes notes!
  4. After you have responded, think about what y’all (God and you) talked about and summarize one action step you can take to put those things in practice or the promise or insight He’s given you. Write it as a succinct phrase. This phrase will be your guide and prayer for the day.

Yesterday, I used this system because it was a full day. Here are the notes I took. They fit on a 4X3 card. I will tape this in my journal.

Simple, consistent conversations with God are best when we are starting or when life gets filled up.

Dad Said . . .

Many of my friends have heard me say, “My dad always said. . . .” followed by a phrase or statement to help navigate difficult circumstances. Dad’s statements weren’t long or fancy, but they always made me think. And if I searched long enough, often I found a deeper truth in them. They were his versions of proverbs and important lessons he had learned in his own life.

Here are just a few: 

  • “That’s about as useful as hip pockets on a shirt tail.” – used to describe something that not helpful or just plain ridiculous
  • “We aren’t lookin’ back.” – describing what our focus should be as we leave a place that has been unpleasant or painful
  • “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember everything is small.” – a reminder that in the light of eternity, everything around us is small
  • “Nothing good happens after 10 o’clock at night.” – a warning to come home before curfew
  • “If you’re makin’ everyone happy, you’re doing something wrong” – a reminder that there will be times when people are unhappy with the decisions made. This has become one of my favorite phrases. Sometimes I heard it after I became disgruntled with a decision he or Mom had made. Other times, I heard it before he announced a decision he knew would result in grumbling somewhere. As I got older, his wise words described situations I found myself in as a supervisor, sometimes as a mother. It was Dad’s way to remind us that no one wants to make others unhappy, but if it happens, everything will be okay – eventually.

But there’s a deeper truth in the statement I learned later. If I make everyone happy all the time, it’s very possible I have lost my integrity.   

Happy birthday, Daddy!

Sharing a basic Bible study form . . .

There are lots of complicated systems for studying the Bible . . . many are very good. But I just need some basics questions. I created this form to use and I want to share it with you.

Our Bible Study is not a contest to see who studies the most or longest. It is a conversation between God through His Word to us and our response to Him. Here’s are some tips to remember:

  1. Always start with a prayer. Ask God to reveal to you what He wants to show you as you read His word.
  2. Write out the verse. It will help the words sink into your mind.
    • If you have a couple of favorite translations, write it out in both.
    • Read the verses around this one to help with the context.
    • If your verse is in the middle of a sentence – write the entire sentence!
  3. Ask yourself, “What do I see here? What do I hear when I read this Scripture?”
    • Sometimes you will see a decision point, sometimes a parallel. Sometimes you will see words that are repeated, or a list. Let Him show you what He’s pointing out to you. Trust that you will hear His voice.
  4. Ask, “What you need to understand better?”
    • Look at cross-references (cross references are verses that relate to this verse) for examples or other information. Dig only as you have time and stamina for – don’t get bogged down in every little detail. Trust God that He will lead you to the cross-references you need to understand better.
    • Record your cross-references and what you learned in the format that makes most sense to you.
  5. Ask yourself and God, “How does this verse/this passage apply to me today, right here, right now in my life? What do I need to let God change in me to make me more like Jesus Christ?”
    • Listen for His voice to you. He wants us to grow and mature. He has good plans and when we listen, He tells us what we need to know.
  6. Then, write your response as a prayer to your Heavenly Father.
    • This is not for His benefit. It’s for yours and will serve as a reminder of this conversation and what you have heard Him say and what you will do with this information. We are responsible for what we know.

And, I know we are often very busy. If all you can do are the outside columns (a very short #1, #2, and #6), just do those. But don’t let a day go by without looking into His Word. It’s for you because He loves you!

Heavenly Father, I’m so grateful that You had the foresight to inspire others to write Your words – that they are not lost. We hold them in our hands. Help us – help me – say to you like Peter did to Jesus, “You have the words of eternal life.” (Luke 6:68) Develop in us a love for Your words and help us not to withdraw from Your commands and to treasure Your words more than our daily food. (Job 23:12) In Jesus’ name, I ask.

Reading for Comprehension

Let’s work together to grow deeper in our understanding of God’s Word. If you missed steps 1 and 2, scroll down to the bottom of the page and for links to those posts.

Did you find information about the author and reader from for today? In a couple of days, I’ll share more about where to get that information and share information from where I’m reading. If you didn’t get it, don’t worry. You can come back to this important step.

Today, let’s read for deeper comprehension. We want to truly understand better what the Scripture says. You will need a printed copy of the text you are reading. I prefer writing the text out myself in my journal, double-spaced. Writing it myself causes me to read more closely and it helps me spot words, ideas and phrases that are repeated or are intriguing.

Then pull out other Bible translations you might have or use a website to read different translations of your text. A great website to use is https://www.biblegateway.com/ . This doesn’t have to be a long, tedious process, but read enough translations that you have a fuller understanding.

We’ll talk later about different translations. You need to remember that translators are careful about the words they choose. But as time passes, the meanings of words may change too. That is why some versions are harder to understand. I find the New Living Translation (NLT) very easy to read and enjoy reading the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). Our pastor uses the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). You will find some translations that speak to you.

Now make some notes about what you have read – those repeated words, ideas, phrases. Ask God to help you understand what He wants you to know. And feel free to share in the comments.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the opportunity to come to You directly to learn. Thank You for Your Word. Your Word always brings life!


Links to previous steps are here:

Step 1: Digging Deeper

Step 2: Checking the Seed

Checking the Seed

Let’s work together to grow deeper in our understanding of God’s Word. Did you read and re-read your Scripture yesterday? If not, start here: Digging Deeper

Let’s find out more about this Scripture so we’re reading. Here are two major questions we need answers to and suggestions about where to find this information.

QUESTIONS:

  • Who wrote this? We know the Bible is inspired by God, but He worked through many authors. And these authors had different kinds of jobs and lived in different places . . . So it’s important to know who wrote the book and passage you are reading.
    • When was this book written? Knowing when the book was written can help with discovering the readers, the culture and the concerns of the time.
    • What is the genre of this book? Is it recorded history, poetry, an allegory? This will help us later in knowing whether we should be literal or not. Much of the Bible is literal.
  • Who did the author believe the readers would be? Writers often have a picture of who their readers are, so they write in a way that those readers would easily understand. Who was this book written for?
    • What did the author (under the direction of the Holy Spirit) want the readers to do or respond after reading this book?

ANSWERS for the questions can often be found in Bibles at the beginning of each book. Find the beginning of the book and then look for reference pages there. The passage you are reading is a part of a book, so this information will help you understand why this book and your passage is so important.

And just think – Now you are holding His book. God put this in His book and He wants you to read it. Ask Him to show you how He wants you to respond.

I know examples are often helpful . . . so later today, I’ll post an example from the reading I’m doing in Genesis 3:1-7. But please, do your work before you look at mine. God wants to talk to you personally and you will find nuggets of His Truth that you would otherwise miss if you just read mine.

Dear Heavenly Father, create a love for Your Word in our hearts. Speak to us and show us how You want us to respond to you – personally.

Digging Deeper

Let’s work together to grow deeper in our understanding of God’s Word. Over the course of each week, I will share one simple step to do each day that will help you in this area. I will be doing these things, so you won’t be alone.


I am reading the main sermon text from my pastor’s Sunday morning message, but you can choose another passage or the texts your pastor used. So pull out your bulletin or your Sunday morning notes and take a look. Then pull out your Bible and ask God to show you what He wants you to see in those verses and read them for yourself – several times. If something is confusing, pull up another translation. (I find the New Living Bible to be a good resource when I get confused.)

Remember this is a simple step. You can do this.

I’m in Genesis 3:1-7. Where are you reading?

Every day dishes

Paul wrote, “We have this treasure in clay jars. . . ” (2Corinthians 4:7). In Paul’s world, clay jars and clay dishes were the everyday dishes.

Why would God do that? Because He wants it abundantly clear that any goodness, any positive influence we might have, and any trait others admire in us comes from Him.

When you are tempted to look at your life and become discouraged because you don’t think you are beautiful or special, go open your kitchen cabinet door. Remember this: it’s not the plate that causes family to be grateful for the cook who created a hearty home-cooked meal with love. It is what is in the plate – what has been touched by the cook’s hands – that is cherished. God wants us to be kitchenware that can be used everyday to hold treasure that draw others to Him.

Be an everyday dish He can use every day. 

God is Faithful!

Have you ever been in a place where what you were learning was overwhelming? It’s been that way with these “God Is” posts. The Almighty God is so different from us.

I haven’t stopped digging into His names, but I’ve been stuck on the faithfulness of God. And I found this phrase written in Psalm 89 about His grace: Grace is built to last forever. I’m not sure I fully comprehend God’s grace. The words translated as grace include other meanings, such as faithful love, unfailing love, mercy, loving kindness, steadfast love, loyal love. There’s a strength in this kind of love. It’s not wimpy or just a warm feeling. This love is a decision to stand with – in hard times and easy, come joyful circumstances or painful situations. Love that is loyal and strong like this is overwhelming. And it is who God is.

The Apostle Paul writes about this kind of love when he says: Love is patient, and kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered, and it keeps no wrongs. Love does not gloat over other people’s sins, but takes its delight in the truth. Love always bears up, always trusts, always hopes, always endures. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13)

His love is permanent. It’s beginning and ending are veiled from our sight. It was built to last forever.

His grace, His love for you is permanent. It’s beginning and ending are veiled from your sight. Make no mistake though, it doesn’t disappear once it’s over the horizon. It’s as strong now as it was when He first decided to love you. It will never been any weaker than it was when He welcomed you into His heart. His love and His grace are built to last forever.

Dear Heavenly Father, I am overwhelmed by this thought. How could You love me – with all my flaws and weaknesses? – given all the times I’ve run from you and gone my own way? How can You keep loving me? I don’t understand and I probably never will in this life, but I’m grateful. Let my love reflect Your love for me and help me share that kind of love to those around me.