When “Success” is Elusive

Whether due to our American culture or simply the carnal flesh, most of us are hungry for success.

Not always in the forms of fame or wealth, sometime we just want a sense of growth or progression. (Or a small assurance that we’re not irretrievably screwing up our children? Anyone?)

A young, courageous man taught me a lesson on this topic recently:  Read more

Breaking from the norm: Seven tips for livin’

Spring break is a welcome departure from the rhythms of school, homework and packing lunches. I find comfort in routines, but monotony sets in and I find that occasionally shaking them up reinvigorates me. In keeping with that spirit, today’s blog post is also a shift from my normal themes. (And if you’re in the mood for levity, check out this old post for a laugh at my expense.)

Tips for Livin

Read more

If God is sovereign, then…

The need for controlSometimes my actions defy logic.

Any man reading this would probably attribute that statement to the absence of a Y chromosome. Ha!

Given that I’m a linear thinker who relies on logic to make decisions, allocate time and [try to] parent my children, ignoring logic seems foolish. And it usually is. I’ve recently been studying Gideon’s story in the book of Judges. This meek man’s time as God’s chosen warrior depicts beautifully that His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). It has caused me to re-examine the areas of weakness in my life, temperament and faith. I didn’t have to look far to find the most glaring of weaknesses: my need for control.  Read more

Put ‘em up

It’s a phrase we commonly associate with being robbed.

This posture–hands raised–was the position held by Moses throughout the battle between Israel and the Amalekites. My pastor taught out of Exodus 17 on Sunday and his words have stirred in me a most needful lesson.

After calling Joshua to lead the troops into battle, Moses climbed the hill and raised his staff in his hands overhead. As long as Moses held this position, Israel gained ground. When he grew tired and his hands fell, the Amalekites had the advantage on the battlefield. His actions are a poignant example of prayer, both literally and figuratively. With his hands raised heavenward, his prayer became the conduit for God’s power.  Read more

Pieces and Parts: For when you’re anxious and stressed

Chair2Do not be anxious.

Easy to say, isn’t it?

Harder to do.

I wouldn’t normally say I’m a person given to anxiety. I would, however, freely admit that I get overwhelmed. Perhaps they’re not entirely different.

God’s Word speaks about anxiety and how He wants us to handle it:

…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6 ESV)

The Greek word translated “anxious” is mérimna. It has some of the meanings we’d expect, such as worry, fear or care. But it also carries the connotations of being drawn in many directions, fracturing a person’s thinking into many parts.  Read more

Sweet in the Bitter

The first few weeks of 2015 have been–to put it mildly–a bit bumpy. I don’t have permission from the people involved to share the whole story with you, but what I can say is this:

I found the sweet part of what’s been such a bitter taste in my mouth.

Sweet in BitterI’ve cried. I’ve prayed. Both in equal measure. I’ve felt like a novice swimmer trying to escape a torrent of ocean waves, pummeled as I try to reach the safety of shore. Because of the delicate nature of what we’ve been facing, the need for privacy has forced us to maintain a “nothing’s wrong” posture in the rest of our lives. Which is exhausting in it’s own special way.

Yet the desperate quality of my prayers (and tears) has acquainted me with the suffering of others in a way that my regular, less-than-perfect-but-better-than-I-deserve kind of life doesn’t. I have found myself praying for those in my circles who are also suffering more frequently, and with much more heart, than I customarily do. I am attuned to their needs in a way I normally am not simply because I can’t bring myself to leave the foot of the Cross.   Read more

For His glory

For His gloryIt’s hard for me to imagine the Messiah coming in any other fashion than Jesus’ bodily form.

I think that’s because it’s the only way I’ve ever heard, or known, the story. A baby. In a manger. But when I stop to consider that God put on human flesh, I really can’t imagine that either.

Can you?

Seriously. God. In bodily form. The One Who caused “the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear” (Genesis 1:9) walked upon its very soil. He Who designed our bodies to need nourishment ate meals with family, friends, “sinners” and disciples. Our God — limitless in power — temporarily limited Himself to live in our circumstances and culture. Jesus was willing to release the equality He shared with God (Philippians 2:6) to serve us.  Read more

Now Hiring: Priests

Now HiringI’m not sure I’d apply for the job.

The Levitical preisthood, descended from Aaron among the tribe of Levi, had a job I’m not convinced I’d want. When I reflect on their duties, I have a mixed reaction. One part of me esteems their role highly: what a privilege to be chosen among the thousands for such important duties. They taught and blessed the people. They led them toward God and interceded on their behalves. They entered the Holy Place in the tabernacle (and temple) and burned fragrant incense.

Another part of me experiences revulsion at what their daily duties entailed: the bloody sacrifices of animals for guilt offerings. (Do you think the teenage Levites from Aaron’s line dreaded adulthood and having to go into the family business?)  Read more

In the waiting

WaitingAs a kid, December moved at a glacial pace. Christmas just took forever to arrive.

(Cue the dramatic sensibilities of a nine-year-old girl.) Of course, as an adult, this month almost gives me whiplash, it goes by so quickly.

This week I revisited the promises made to Abraham about the Messiah. God told him that all the nations would be blessed by him in Genesis 12:3. The very first Messianic prophecy was spoken to the patriarch of the Jewish faith.

Pause and consider that, friends: the first time God calls a man to Himself, He points to the Messiah. Not just that, but He also mentions that this hope would be for “all the peoples.”  Read more

Three things to learn from the Magi

If you signed up to participate in the Advent Bible study but didn’t get questions on Monday, please reply to this email and I’ll make sure your profile is updated. And it’s not too late to join us; sign up here.

The wise men of the nativity story have much to teach us…

…despite their fairly brief appearance on the pages of scripture. Not the least of which is the reason for the name of our Bible study. (Pop over to Facebook for a video explanation on that.) A short reading of of Matthew 2 reveals much about these men, even though it leaves a good bit unsaid. Three things for us to learn:

Know the Word.

These men — and we don’t actually know how many there were, we know only the number of gifts — obviously knew the Old Testament prophecies well enough to set out on a long journey in response to them. Perhaps their knowledge was as a result of Daniel’s or Esther’s influence in Persia from long before? They arrived in Jerusalem looking for the King of the Jews (a logical, but errant, assumption to find Him in the Jewish capital). Matthew 2:2 reveals their knowledge. The chief priests, then, in 2:5, quote Micah’s prophecy directly (Micah 5:2). The Magi knew enough to respond; the priests knew the very words of the prophet. We, too, must know the Bible well enough that we can readily recognize truth, and act upon it.  Read more