Saturday, April 25, 2009

I've Moved!

Thank you for the honor of dropping by my blog. I pray something in the archive will bless you.

However, I wanted to let you know that I've recently moved my blog to wordpress. You can find new writings at

I sit in prayer as I write, and I pray that the Lord will lead you to the right blog to communicate what he has for you today, here, or in the new one. I am only his humble conduit.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Embrace and Experience EVERYTHING

This is a prayer I seem to pray for others, but fail to live for myself. I love to embrace things I like and love to experience wonderful things. But what about when life goes terribly wrong? Are we as eager to embrace difficulty and trial? Can we find joy, even as we experience pain?

This is the first I've written in many, many months. Various trials in life have stiffled my ability to get words to paper. Yet in the stillness of my new and longer commute (yeah - didn't want that either), there seems a lot God is speaking to me and its time to start sharing these messages again.

My "book" (uh huh) was entitled, "Learning to be Content in a Live You Didn't Choose". God's got a lot to teach each of us on this topic. Its easy to be content when things are going well. But can one find contentment when EVERYTHING in life is appearing a polar opposite to what you'd hope and planned?

Someone reminded me many months ago... "We get so frustrated when all we've hoped and dreamed seems to be slipping from our grasp. But God has promised more than we can ask or imagine. Why then, are we so determined to be limited by our own imaginations?"

Can you grow in trust of God enough, to really be satisfied with ANYTHING he allows into your life? Will you believe him enough to embrace everything, not just the good stuff? Will you open your heart and mind to experience everything, be fully in it, each moment, without trying to escape or control it?

Chew on these... and stay tuned...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How to Survive Spiritual Attack: Love and Obey

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love." John 15:9-10

God is the vine. We are the branches. We need him for nourishment. Without him, we can do no good thing, both in this world and for the next, especially as difficult times strain our natural human capabilities. God is a gardener, who prunes us, so that we can bear good fruit. If we fail to bear fruit, we are of no use to him. We must abide.

This is what we've covered so far in John 15. Today, I pick up in verse 9. Verse 9 and 10 speak specifically to how we abide. We love and we obey God's commands.

The Truth about Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual warfare is part of our normal spiritual experience. It is with us each day. However, I believe there are times and circumstances when the attacks seem to be more intense or frequent, usually when the enemy feels we're more dangerous to destruction he's trying to achieve. It is love that helps us overcome this. It is obedience that keeps us safe.

We went to see The Dark Knight Friday. Its a very good movie, but I couldn't escape the depths of evil in The Joker. He reaped destruction for the pure fun of it. He wasn't motivated by money, maybe not even power. He was not out for revenge or a cause. He simply wanted to destroy. Its been a while since I've seen such a vivid portrayal on the big screen of how I envision Satan.

I feel I'm surrounded by an extraordinary amount of spiritual warfare lately. 1 Peter 5:8-9 seems to keep coming up. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

Be Proactive in Training

In love and obedience, we have to be proactive. We have to be alert enough to see the enemy prowling and we must be self-controlled enough, in our every day experiences and behaviors, that when the attacks occur, the ability to do our part, love and obey, is our very nature.

Jesus is, as always, our example. Though God himself, he did not seek equality with the Father. He stayed close to the Father's love and obeyed him... even when it was hard, even when it didn't make sense, even when it would cost him his life.

When life is difficult, the enemy loves to entice to the wrong things for which to sustain us. Maybe its intellect. Maybe its people. Maybe its a vice or addiction. With so much going on in my life and those around me right now, I need to hold VERY close to the vine. I want to do that properly. I ask God, "How do I do that?" Same answer. "Love and obey."

Be Intentional in Removing All Barriers

Hebrews 12:1 says we have to throw off everything that hinders. God has revealed to me this week that what hinders me from closeness to him, are all the things I look to for comfort instead of him. I may do a whole blog on this, but for now, my point is... if God loves us, more than we can ask or imagine, and we know to survive, we need to remain in his love, we need to be obedient in throwing off everything that entangles, so that in those trials of life, we can stand firm against the enemy's attacks.

I spent a good portion of the week running through each "idol" I've erected in my life. I need to vanquish them. I specifically use the word "vanquish" because this is not just about bad habits; it is truly a spiritual battle that must be fought with spiritual weapons. God's given me his Word, our one offensive weapon (Eph 6:17), so that I know his love and have instructions on how to obey. The enemy is helpless when we insist on loving each other and obeying God's word. God will give me strength to do it, if I ask... but the first step is mine. I have to want to love and obey.

Will You Accept a Challenge?

Where might there be a wall between you and God today? Is it in understanding his love? Is it in your failure to love others? Are you living in disobedience? Are you harboring idols?

If you want to bear fruit, good fruit, if want to survive hard times, examine this, and get back to the vine. Apart from the vine, you'll only stay lost.

Father God, help me to feel your love today. Help me to love today. May I never give the enemy a foothold by holding onto pain, bitterness, selfishness, or anger in interpersonal relationships. Soften my heart and guide my way in navigating conflict.

Lord, help me to resist temptation. I don't want anything in between you and me, not a habit, a sin, a person, a desire, an idol... nothing. Help me to be alert and see the enemy's attacks so I can fight with the weapons you've given me. May I grow in knowledge of your word, so I have it ready as I need it.

I pray for all these reading it, that they may feel the same... and that you do the same, for them. Help them feel your love, love others, and obey your commands. AMEN.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Brokenhearted

As I was writing my piece on pruning, a writer friend asked me to review her devotional on the brokenhearted. Its core verse sticks with me.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” - Psalm 147:3

When we look at pruning (the topic of my last blog, if you missed it), it occurs because there is something in us that needs to be cut in order to achieve God’s will in us. These things normally represent sin patterns, bad behaviors that inhibit us. But there are far more difficult circumstances, of no doing of our own, that God would use to mold us and others through our witness.

So Many Questions

Rarely do we understand these things. They are extremely painful and in a worldly sense, seem to prove of no good purpose. I think of those around me struggling with a lot of “Why?”s. A serviceman with a family is killed, a job is lost, a child mistreated, health dramatically compromised. “Why God?!”

I think of my own times of broken heartedness. They’ve all been about the loss of something precious. I've asked “Why?” thousands of times. I ask God “Why?” on many issues still. But the answers don’t matter.

We cannot understand God’s ways all the time, maybe not even most of the time. Nonetheless, we have his promises and we have to believe him. Again I say, we have to know our God and hold to that truth.

But He is Close

Scripture (above) says that God heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. I think though more precious to me is this verse:

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

To be honest, in God’s economy, I’m not sure what healing means. I don’t know what binding up wounds means. I know plenty who’ve never been healed and/or walk with wounds every day.

I do know though what it means that God is close. I know what it means, that he will come to the rescue of those crushed in spirit. I’ve experienced it! I’ve experienced it more than once.

I was driving home tonight, dealing with some of my own broken heartedness and a truly special song came on the radio. It’s called “Be Still” by Storyside B. The refrain chocked me up.

“When I feel like caving in, my heart, my soul is wearing thin, I just want to give up and nothing seems at all to add up. Can you hear my, Lord? My face is on the floor. Its then you whisper in my ear. Be still and know that I am here. We are not alone.”

Hold Promises Tight

I love Moses’ words to Joshua: “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deut 31:8

This is a promise to all of us. It’s innate in God’s character and his love for us. He will NOT leave you. He is close to the brokenhearted. He will not forsake you. Because of this, you don’t have to be afraid. You can fight discouragement.

We know the familiar verse, Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

The word “all” is another promise. It’s not some things, even most things, it’s ALL things. Does this mean we’ll always get our way? Get our prayers answered as we hope? Sadly, heck no. But it is a promise that God works everything, all our struggles, all our pain, the broken heartedness, for good.

I encourage the broken hearted to read all of Romans 12. It talks how we are alive in the spirit and should not focus on this world. It says our present sufferings are nothing compared to what God will do through them. It says we are more than conquerors, because God is for us, not against us.

Jesus says that in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33). Yup. You only need to be alive to get that one. But we need to remember just after that, he reminds us, that he’s conquered this world.

The Fruit of the Brokenhearted

Though often frustrating, it’s true, that God does the most powerful things, the most brilliant, amazing work, through desperate trials and heartache. I have never learned more than through these times. I’ve never seen God glorified more than watching him work in and through me at these times or others in the moments of their distress. I’ve seen my trials and those of others, spur on yet others to tremendous growth and good works. We don’t need all the answers; we just need to remember this.

Are you brokenhearted today? Oh how God loves you and will use this. Your circumstances might suck. But in all his love for you, he promises to not waste it and do things through it you can’t even begin to imagine. Oh dear brothers and sisters, God will strut his stuff in getting you and others through your pain. It is a chance for you to minister even greater and produce more beautiful fruit for the kingdom, than you ever could have produced any other way. Its a hard task... and you probably wish he'd asked someone else. But - Will you hold tight and believe him for that... for those promises?

I pray you do. And I pray that God, the God of all Comforts, will feel as close to you as all he promised, every step of the way.

Father God, we have so many questions. I’m not going to ask anymore. I’m going to trust you. I’m going to trust your methods, your decisions, and your plan. I pray you enable me to be a witness, no matter my circumstance. Strengthen me. If possible, be gracious to me and help me envision the bigger picture. But even if you can't, may I be faithful anyway.

Lord, be close to the broken hearted today. Come to their aid. You may choose not to change their circumstance. In fact, it could even get worse. Nonetheless, we know you promise to be there. You will provide the comfort, the love, the peace, to get through. You will use it in huge ways. Help us to not lose sight of this, in spite of our very natural and understandable humanness. Help us, Jesus. AMEN.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

When Pruning Hurts

My nieces are at that age where they question everything. “Why? Why?” is common from their mouths. When I think of it though, I can be a bit of a three year old when talking to God.

“God, why can’t I have this?” “Why isn’t working this out?” “God, this isn’t fair – Why that for them and I’m stuck this?” “I want to!” "Please fix this."

Ah… discipline. God has to weed our childish ways out of us. So often we want from the wrong motives or we want, because in our hearts, we’ve made something an idol. God will not be an enabler in setting up idols against himself. Logical, I suppose.

In fact, God is far more apt to put us through a process of pruning to remove all the wrong thinking, bad behaviors, idol worship, and unhealthy living from our lives. Half the time we don’t realize the detriment these things are doing to us. Fortunately, he does and isn’t about to let us get away with anything.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2

Several years ago, I helped my dad prune some bushes in the front yard. They were pretty bad off, with a lot of dead branches and even the beginnings of some disease. If there were any hopes of them surviving, I was going to have to trim them back pretty far.

As I clipped away, I began to feel guilty and speak to the plant. “I’m so sorry I have to cut off so much. I just have to in order to save you.” I trimmed so far, the bush just looked sad. Yet, it had to be done.

The more I cut, the worse felt… until I got it. This is God with us.

All of the things that pull us away from Him and/or hurt us, have to be cut away. Some times, it only takes a gentle pruning. But in some cases, he has to remove entire branches, that fail to produce fruit. Branches, that if left unattended, can damage the entire plant (me). The more gangrenous the sin in our lives, the more deeply he’ll need to cut. Deep pruning hurts.

God doesn’t like to see me hurt, but he knows that he must prune me, to make me the godly women he envisions. He's doing it to save me... from myself. He wants me to bear amazing fruit, not small and wimpy fruit. The properly pruned plant, bears far more beautiful and savory fruit than the plant left unattended.

I take an honest look at myself. There are some simple areas in my life that could use some gentle pruning. They’re areas of my life, that are not at huge risk, but could use a trim, to enable even greater growth and fruit. However, there other areas of my life, thought patterns, desires, habits, ways of dealing with certain issues, people, that may soon require dramatic cutting if I don’t get a handle on them. Some may already be at that stage and I should be prepared for the process, even willing no matter how hard it is, for the good of me as God’s plant. Its going to hurt, but it will be very worth it, to see the end result.

How about you? Are you currently being pruned? Believe God that its out of his love. Are there areas in your life that may need a trim? Beware. Take action before deep cutting is necessary.

Before I conclude, I'd be remiss if I didn't make clear that not all hardship, pain, and suffering, is pruning. Pruning is about cutting out the junk in us. Clearly, God will use all things for our good and to his glory (Romans 8:12), but we know that not all bad is the result of errors or poor decisions we make. That's important to understand. Examine today, what in you may require a prune. Tomorrow, we'll talk about other challenges of life the gardener oversees.

Father God, I know that its out of your great love for me that you trim back everything in me that doesn't bear fruit, so that the strong parts of me may be built up to grow tremendous fruit. I may not like the pruning process. It may hurt quite a bit. But I am willingly allow it... in fact ask you for it. I trust you Lord. I pray each of us grows in trust of you, in such a way that we're willing to be pruned in order to be who you have called us to be. AMEN.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Abide in Me

If you were asked what God wants from you, what would you say?

I believe he wants our hearts. He wants to be in relationship with us.

As I continue to ask God to reveal himself and as I stop to listen to themes, there’s a scripture passage that seems to come up, time and time again. It’s familiar, but worth examining repeatedly. Over the next week, I’ll share with you some of how God is speaking through John 15:1-17.

Today, I focus on verses 4-8 and the word “remain”.

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

The King James version translates remain as “abide”. Webster’s defines abide as “bear patiently” or “remain stable”. To me it means, hold tightly, rely on, trust.

Both verse 4 and 5 say that if we remain in him (God) we will bear much fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 says that this “fruit” is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Anyone who seeks good character, seeks these attributes for themselves.

Why Abide?

On some level and in normal circumstances, we can do ok, out of our own effort. Yet, our own life experiences have shown us, in ourselves and others, that these things are short lived in difficult situations. Is it not all the more important to display these traits in hard times?

The key then is remaining in God. Both verse 4 and 5 say without remaining in God, we can do nothing. In fact, it says it twice! Repetition likely means its an important concept to grasp. You may dispute this, but I at least believe it means we can do nothing of eternal significance without God and the little worldly significance we can provide, wavers with our circumstances, emotions, hormones, health, etc.

He is the vine and we are a branch. The vine feeds the branch. Can you imagine any fruit trying to grow on its own without proper nourishment from the vine?

I love vineyards, so I’ve seen a lot of vines. The parent vine is big and strong. It’s like an artery of life. The branches are more fragile. They're important as where the fruit is affixed, but they are thin and can easily break off, killing the fruit.

When the winds of life come upon us, our ability to produce this fruit on our own is diminished. It says we will wither and be rendered so helpless, worthless, that we might as well be thrown in the fire. But with God, anything is possible.

If we remain in him, we can ask for anything, especially these bits of positive character, and he’ll provide. He wants us to exhibit this character so he might show himself to the world as he pours though us. As his workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), we reveal who his is.


As I wrestle with so many things right now, I asked God: “What do I do?”

He answered: “Keep doing what you’re doing. Remember who I am. Remind others of who I am. Hold tight to me. “

He asked me to abide. No matter how difficult, not matter what life brings, abide. That’s what I’ll do.

Father God, help me to abide in you. I know above all else you want my heart. You want me to seek your face (Jeremiah 29:13). You want me to look to you for wisdom (James 1:5). You want me to trust you (Hebrews 11:6). No matter my circumstances, may I always remember to stay close to you. You are the vine and I am a branch. Separated from you, I know I can do nothing.

I pray for all those reading this, that they will understand your love for them (Ephesians 3:18). I pray they will understand that more than anything, you just want their hearts. You want to care for them, like a careful gardener nurtures its prized rose. May these choose to abide in you. AMEN

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sharing Scripture on Service at Chiu/Ignacio Wedding

What a truly cool weekend to watch two wonderful people get married. Talk about blessings! These two met at the wedding of an older sibling and then fell in love long distance... MD to China! (Charissa was studing Chinese abroad)

One of the neatest things about them them, is not only their commitment to each other, but to serving the world. I love how so many of my friends are completely sold out committed to fighting poverty and injustice in the world. I'm blow away how many are heading out on significant international projects in the next three months! Wild.

Anyway... all this in mind, Herb and Charissa asked me to not only read scripture, but share some thoughts on service as it relates to their marriage. This is what I wrote and shared...

"Herb and Charissa have asked me to share with you some scripture and a bit about something very important to them, and that’s service. Service has always been very much a part of their lives individually, and now, something they hold dear as a couple.

When we think of typical wedding scripture, we might think of Genesis and its words on God setting up the institution so that Adam would have a helper. Or we think of the verses in Ecclesiastes that talk about two being better than one and the cord of three strands, husband, wife, and God. We think of Ephesians instructing a husband to leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife. In Corinthians we get instructions on how to love. Herb and Charissa cherish these verses. But they know that you know them too, and want you to know they want their marriage to be far more than just these things.

Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Herb and Charissa know they are God’s workmanship, beautifully and wonderfully made, and that God has called them together to do good works as a team.

Herb and Charissa’s marriage will be a wonderful opportunity for them to fulfill God’s purposes for their lives, their calling to service, together. Together, as a couple they want to help fight poverty and injustice in this world. There’s so much, and God allows us to be part of the solution through sending us out. They are excited to see how God might use them together, to be his hands and feet in the world.

Service can mean a lot of things. We can be called to give of our time, our money, our possessions, our hearts, our talents or gifts. He’s equipped each of us with certain tools to serve, and he asks each of us to use those tools in various ways. Throughout their lives, Herb and Charissa will seek God to determine what he’s asking of them by way of service, moment by moment.
Whatever God asks, they want to respond generously. They know that God has given them so much and they want to use what they have been given to help a hurting world. Their thanks to God just overflows.

2 Corinthians 9:11 reads “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

Even in the monetary ebbs and flows of life, we are always rich. Rich often simply means the blessings of love, such as you too, Herb and Charissa, have for each other. Generously sharing your love alone can make quite an impact in the world. We know it’s already made a lot of impact on all of us.

For those of us who believe Jesus as Lord, service should be an important attribute of all our lives. As we strive to be more like Jesus, we do as he modeled. Mark 10:45 says… “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Herb and Charissa believe that Jesus is God. He came to earth to save us. He came to earth to serve. If he can humble himself to make his primary focus serving others, shouldn’t we?

I can think of few other institutions in this world, as beautiful and powerful as marriage. And I can think of few better motivations in this world as wonderful, than the desire to wholeheartedly serve others. In this, Herb and Charissa, your marriage will be greatly blessed.

Herb and Charissa, I am honored that you asked me to share this part of your heart with all your family and friends. We will always cheer you on in your endeavors."