My sun porch

My sun porch

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Do you struggle with "Not Enough" syndrome?

This week's memory verse:
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8

Do you ever think that you are your own worst enemy? We beat ourselves up, we worry, we fret...we just can't seem to FULLY trust that God will save us from the evil around us, or from ourselves.

I study God's word every the last 2 years, I have been committed to that task. At first it was just that...a task that I had to write on my "to do" list and check it off when it was done. Now, it has become a habit...a good habit that begins my day in a positive manner. So...after all this study and prayer each day...why am I STILL struggling with doubts??? Doubting myself, and yes, sometimes doubting that God is listening. I think I am struggling with the "Not enough" syndrome.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says that when we commit ourselves to serve God whole-heartedly, He will make our paths straight. paths still have a lot of twists and turns...I must not be committed ENOUGH.

Psalm 1:1-2 says that there are things God wants me to do...

When I step out in faith... He keeps me from stumbling. (I still stumble...I must not be faithful ENOUGH)

When I call out to God...He answers me. (I don't hear his answer...I must not call out to him ENOUGH)

When I pray...He hears me. (I probably don't pray right, or...ENOUGH)

When I take refuge in him...he saves me and hides me. (I don't feel very safe right now...I must not be good ENOUGH)

I know that these feelings of not being ENOUGH are my own self-destructive feelings. I KNOW that they do not come from God...His word is full of promises...when I focus on his promises...I can overcome these self-destructive "not enough" feelings.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 is one of my favorite promises..." For I know the plans I have for you," declares the lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

The only thing I know to do is to turn these "not enough" feelings over to God. HE LOVES ME TOO MUCH to let me continue to feel like I'm not enough for him. When I feel like what I am doing each day is not enough...I just need to cry out to my Father who loves me and ask that he replace these feelings with gratitude and faith. 

Psalm 37:23-24 says "The lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the lord upholds him with his hand."

If I imagined God talking right to me today...I think he might say:

"Linda, I delight in your loving and kind nature and in the way you always want to be more. I want to uphold you when you feel discouraged and afraid. I want you to know I love you just the way you are JUST ENOUGH for me."

Just that thought comforts me and makes me feel better this morning. Can you imagine God delighting in you and upholding you during your moments of doubt and fear? Reach out to him..He loves you and you are JUST ENOUGH for him too!

Friday, July 29, 2011


This week's memory verse:
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8

Today's Bible study topic is discernment...boy, do I need that right now! 

In our walk through life, we should be PARTNERS with God. Proverbs 16:9 says we plan our course in our hearts, but the Lord establishes our steps. In other words, we can plan the way we want our lives to go, but only God makes us able to live it. We can plan and dream all we want, but it is God who ultimately will decide where we will go and what our journey will be like.

My life has taken several twists and turns...some very unexpected. Sometimes, my dreams and plans for my life have been turned upside down! But when I look back on things, I can see where God was with me during those upside down times...even giving me clues as to what to do and how things will go. There have been times that I have seen those clues, but most of the time, my mind and heart were not open enough to see them, and therefore, those upside down times were harder on me than they had to be.

Proverbs 2:6-8 says there are gifts that God gives those who follow his ways, gifts that are given when they are needed...wisdom, knowledge, understanding, success, a shield, a guard, and protection.

It is good for me to think about this right now. I need God's discernment...I need wisdom and a guard against my own self. I get big ideas in my head that ideally will fix all my problems, and most of the time, when I pursue those ideas, I find they may have not been wise at all. I NEED God's help, and I need to TRUST God's help to choose the right path for my future. 

Do you ever think that maybe your plans and dreams...things that you think will be so GOOD for your life...may not be God's leading, but your own foolish ideas? Well, if you do, I pray that we all will ask God for his wisdom to settle over us, and that he would allow us to SEE the clues he is leaving us along the way. May we not veer to the left or to the right of His leading, and may He continue to guard our way. Amen.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Discipline...for our own benefit

This week's memory verse:
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8

If you are like me, you desire a disciplined life. I want to be able to say that I discipline myself every day to exercise and eat only healthy foods and spend wisely. That is my goal...but I don't discipline myself enough to say that I meet my goal every day.

Another thing we teach the kids at KidsPraise is that the Bible is like a flashlight because it shines light on our dark paths. That is not just a catchy phrase to grab the attention of's true for us adults as well. As a matter of fact...Psalm 119:105 says just that!

How can the Bible, which was written THOUSANDS of years ago, shine light on my problems and dark paths today? Well...the main reason...God is just that good!

All of Psalm 119 talks about God's laws, precepts and decrees. Throughout the Bible, God gives us his commands, teaches us through others' stories, and gives us advice, and tells us how we should live. In the New Testament, Jesus taught us even more about how we should we should treat others, how we should handle money, how we should act.  Why is this book, that has survived thousands of years, mainly concerned with how we should live our lives? Because God loves us and wants us to be happy....and wants our obedience. Why does he want our obedience? Because he knows it will ultimately lead to our being with him in heaven...he wants us to be happy with him forever!

Psalm 119:110 says that the wicked have set traps for me, making me want to turn from God's word and his commands. I believe that...but I believe I am my own worst wicked enemy.  I tend to worry about what others own laziness, greed and lust have caused me to turn away from God at times...thinking I can do this life better on my own. How blessed and lucky I am that I have realized in those moments that I DON'T know better than God and I CAN'T do this life right without God's commands to keep me straight. I need the Bible's light to brighten my dark path.

Sometimes we need an accountability partner to help us as well. For example: I know that on my own I WIIL NOT stick an exercise plan...but if I ask someone to exercise with me...then I will be more likely to follow through because I don't want to let the other person down. 

When you do the things that are right for you...exercise, eating right, spending end up feeling better mentally and physically. Imagine that! God knows that well! That is why he gave us commands and decrees in the first place! Being disciplined in God's ways will bring us health and joy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


This week's memory verse:
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8

I have come to depend on this quiet time in the mornings...I read God's word and pray and listen for God's guidance. I read the Bible study lesson, and then write my blog message using that as a guide. This is my morning routine and my day just isn't the same if I don't follow that routine. God has become part of my morning. 

I am blessed by this routine...but what I need to work on is making God a part of my every MINUTE! I usually come up with a plan for my day during this quiet time...I pray and ask God to help me plan what I need to eat and how many steps I need to get in during the day to improve my health. Some days I follow the plan...but...most days the plan is forgotten by the time I have had my first customer at the library. Stress and busyness have a way of making me forget the good things I prayed about just hours before. This is so frustrating for me.

Today's Bible study leads me to Hosea 10:12-13. It asks me to put parts of these verses into my own words. You can look them up for yourself and put them into your own words as well.

"Sow for yourself righteousness" - do the right things, do what God is telling you to do.

"Reap the fruit of unfailing love." - God loves me no matter what...I need to remember that and rely on him to help me do good.

"Break your unplowed ground." - there are still parts of my life that I have not totally given to God...I need to do the work, and dig in with God to get to those places. 

"Seek the Lord until he comes." - I need to keep looking for Him...keep asking for his help; don't give up

I think the hardest thing for me is figuring out what areas are still hardened and unplowed and figuring out how to "break them up." How do I give them to God instead of trying to figure them out myself? When I rely on my own thinking and my own doesn't do any good and I fail.

Hosea 10:13 goes on to say when we depend on our own strength, we plant wickedness, reap evil and eat the fruit of deception.

WOW! I don't want that! But yet I see it every day! I personally need help! Why do my morning plans fail during the day? Why can't I follow through? I don't think of the things I do as evil, but if my plan is to eat only healthy foods and at lunch I go and get French it the French fries or me that is evil and messes up my plans???

Sometimes I just wish God told me every move to make! If I did what God told me to, I KNOW things would be better! But, God is wise and knows that we need freedom. The good thing about a map is that is gives you the lay of the land, yet you still have choices as to which direction to go. A map doesn't tell you how old the forest is or why the mountain is tells you how to get where you are going. God is our map...he leads and guides us on the directions to take to get to him...we are on that journey our whole life. It is up to us to follow his directions or take off on our own. He wants TOTAL DEPENDANCE from us, but doesn't demand it...we have to give it freely to him. The problem is, we have to figure that out and figure out HOW to overcome our self-dependance. 

Lord, I ask that you make me willing to follow where you lead and help me depend only on you. Help me to make my dependance on you last longer than the morning...that I will learn to look for you throughout the day. I don't want to plant and reap wickedness just because of my own rebellion and laziness! Help me look to you for everything! Amen.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Better than mapquest!

This week's memory verse: 
"I will instruct you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." -- Psalm 32:8

Every week in KidsPraise, we show the kids why the Bible is important in their lives. Each week we give them an example of what the Bible is like. One of those examples...The Bible is like a shows us the right way to go; it gives us directions.

In my work at the public library, many times I deal with people preparing for a trip and needing a map to get to where they want to go. We have road atlases, county and state maps...and often times we use MapQuest online to make them a travel path. The problem with MapQuest...sometimes it doesn't give the FASTEST or best route. It sometimes directs you to go the LONG way. You still get there, but it may take you a lot longer.

When we go the Bible for directions in our doesn't provide shortcuts either. What it does is give us  is help for the many detours and rocky roads we face every day that threaten to throw us off course. And don't we seem to have a LOT of those? 

The Bible is God's way of communicating with us. I believe that He breathed life into the words of the authors of each book...pulling together the instructions and prophecies and stories so that even though it was written over HUNDREDS of years and by MANY DIFFERENT is cohesive in its message and is as viable and valuable to us today as it was thousands of years ago. 

Many argue that the instructions are for people of a different time, not for us today. And still others argue that you can take verses of the Bible and make them say anything you want... Well, if God is as powerful as I think he is...than I think he can make the Bible say to EACH of us EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED TO HEAR AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT...IF we open our hearts and are willing to listen.

Psalm 25:4-10 says Show me your ways...Teach me your paths...Guide me in your truth.

Those verses go on to say that God is good. He instructs sinners (all of us) in his ways. He guides the humble and teaches them his ways. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful to those who keep his commands.

That means we have some responsibility in this...we have a role to play in the teaching that comes from God. We need to humble ourselves and be willing students of God's ways and follow his commands. 

Psalm 119:9-11 says that God's word lights our path. We must:
* stay on the path to purity
* seek Him and follow his commands
* hide his word in our hearts

This means we need to read God's word every day, seek to understand him better by reading God's word and through prayer. We are not alone in the process...we just have to be willing to try...willing to open our minds and our hearts to the possibility that God is there, ready to teach and guide us. God gives us the map...we just have to follow it!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The dreaded EVALUATION...

This week's memory verse:
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

Evaluations...performance many of us, these are negative words...when we are the ones being evaluated, reviewed or assessed. And, I can tell you as someone who has to write employee evaluations, and has given tests and assessments...they are not fun from the other end either.

When did wanting to know how to do better, be better and improve yourself become a negative thing? I suppose we all think we are doing enough...we are good enough...we don't like to think that we need to do MORE! We want to think that we are doing the best we can do and that should be good enough.

But...even though it's hard...I can see the value in stepping back from time to time and evaluating what we are doing, how we are doing it, and perhaps really thinking about how we could IMPROVE. If we didn't do this from time to time, how could we possibly ever move forward? 

My First Place 4 Health books are always wanting us to stop from time to time and think about the goals we set in the beginning. We are encouraged to THINK about how we are doing toward reaching those goals. If we reached can we set new goals that will keep us moving? If we didn't reach them, what must we start to do or continue to do to achieve success?

This is HARD WORK, and often times, especially when the goals haven't been met, we begin feeling bad about ourselves.

Ahhhhhh...there it is....the reason we don't like evaluations...they can make us feel bad about ourselves! Reaching goals, being a better or more productive employee, being a better student, being a better friend, being a better servant to God...those things take hard work! They are not easy. We can easily grow tired of trying to improve...we grow weary and think that changing is too hard.

THOSE are the moments we need to remember we have a loving and forgiving God on our side! He knows and understands how hard it is to change and work toward goals. But if we remember to turn to him, reach out to him for help, to HOPE in his help...then our energy can be renewed...we can begin again and not grow weary and faint as we keep going...keep trying. One day we WILL reach our goals...we WILL be a better employee or a better student, and we WILL be in heaven!

Don't fear or dread evaluations...don't forget to stop from time to time and think about where it is you want to go and what you need to do to get there. Evaluating your steps, AND keeping God there with you, will help you get to where you want to be!

Friday, July 22, 2011

When the Spirit moves you...SOAR!

This week's memory verse:
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

A few years ago, I flew to California for a conference. On the plane I had a window seat and when we were below the clouds, I gazed down at the landscape and marveled at God's creation. Between Ohio and California, there is a LOT of different terrain! Lush green fields; rocky inhabitable land; deserts and mountains and wide open spaces, as well as the cities and towns and farm fields. It was amazing to me to be able to soar over the earth and see the grandeur of God's handiwork!

I've been talking a lot this week about eagles, and being able to soar on wings like eagles above the trials and problems of life. In order to do any of that soaring, we first need to know and believe we CAN soar and we need someone to TEACH us to fly. When we realize we can't do it alone...that is half the battle.

God tells us in Zechariah 4:6 that our victory is won not by might nor by power, but by his Spirit.

Acts 2:17:18 says that when the time comes, God will pour his Spirit out on all people who serve him.

God WANTS to help us survive and SOAR over the troubles of our earthly lives. He wants this for us for our sake, but he also wants it to show his own show the nations that he IS God. He promises his people, the ones who believe in him, in Ezekiel 36:25-27 to cleanse them, to replace their hearts of stone with hearts of flesh, to put a new spirit in them SO THAT it is possible for them to live by his commands and therefore show the world that He is let his glory shine THROUGH them!

2 Timothy 1:7 says that God does not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and self-control. (Another verse I repeat to myself over and over!) 

Paul prayed to God, asking him to give his people a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they could know God better. (Ephesians 1:17)

Jesus, who taught us much about God's ways and his plans for his people, said that the Spirit, our helper and advocate, would live with us and in us and teach us all things and remind us of the things he said while he was on earth. (John 14)

If you want to learn to soar above your situations and sorrow so that you can see the grandeur of God's promises...know and believe that God's spirit lives IN YOU...teaching you, guiding you and giving you power, love and self-control. Knowing that...believing that...holding on to that promise will help you soar on those eagle's wings and give you confidence you didn't know you had! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011


This week's memory verse:
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

Running - I have friends who run. They do it every day no matter the weather. They monitor their heart rates and keep track of how their bodies respond to each run. They know their bodies well, and know what they are capable of.

I admire these people...but I have trouble relating to them. Running has never been something I am good at or enjoy doing. I WISH I could enjoy it...I WISH I could "hit the pavement" and get my body in shape by using my legs to carry me across miles of roads or paths or tracks...But for me, running laps in gym class was my LEAST favorite thing. I don't think it's because I am lazy...or maybe it is. I just don't know how to push my body that hard...I think a long time ago, I gave up on running too easily. It was hard, and I didn't want to try that hard and therefore today, I can't imagine running every day like my friends do.

When the Bible, mainly books written by Paul in the new testament, talks about "running the race" I sometimes don't get it...OR...perhaps I get it and worry that I don't have it in me to run the race...I give up too easily.

Perhaps it is good that I know that about myself...that I worry about giving up too easily, and ask God to specifically help me with that.

Galatians 6:9 says Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 

"Running the race" doesn't  have to be about a physical race...but rather it's about life. Let me not grow tired of going good...doing the things God wants me to do...loving others, treating others with respect, being kind and serving others...those are the things I shouldn't give up on, because if I don't give up, God will reward me...he will use my efforts to make good things happen!

I think I can follow the lead of my runner friends and know my body well...know my heart well...know what my limitations are and push myself to do more than I am comfortable with every now and then. 

Hebrews 12:1-3 tells us that to "win the race" we need to know about and study the stories of those believers who have gone before us. They relied on God and made it through whatever trials they were going through by obeying God's commands. We can too. We are also to throw off anything that hinders us...the things that weigh us down, pull us into bad habits and sins we don't want to do...we need to get rid of them. By doing that, we are more able to keep on the right path and not give up.

I may not like running...but walking I enjoy. Perhaps that is my clue...perhaps for me, slow and steady FINISHES the race. I cannot give up when people pass me up...I just need to stay on the right path, do the right things and walk it out. When my foot slips off the path  and I stumble and fall...I need to reach out to God, ask him to help me get up and get back on the path. Hoping in the Lord will renew my strength. I will not grow weary and faint. As long as finish the race....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Trust in God...soar above the heartache

This week's memory verse:
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." -- Isaiah 40:31

Trust in the Lord...sometimes trust is all we've got. 

A sad and tragic event has happened in our town...a young man, just 14 years old, died. No matter the circumstances of his death...when a young person dies we struggle to make sense of it...we struggle with it not being fair...we struggle with worries for our own children. It saddens us, frightens us and makes us wonder what the point of such a short life must be.

In such sad events, some turn away from God. Why would a loving God allow the life of such a promising young person to be ended so soon? 

But others, who have learned to trust and wait on the Lord, learn to lean on God even more in tough times such as these.

Psalm 9:9-10 says God is a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive there you relax; you're never sorry you knocked. (The Message)

Remember those eagles I talked about a few days ago? They can soar high above this earth...above the pain and sorrow of this earth. We need to remember that God gives us the wings of the Holy Spirit...on his wings we too can fly!

Be like a bird that, halting in its flight,
Rests on a bough too slight.
And feeling it give way beneath him sings,
Knowing he hath wings.

When we remember to TRUST God and his promises, we can soar above the chaos, confusion, pain and suffering of our circumstances - with a song of praise on our lips and peace in our hearts that we don't even understand.

When the branches of your life are swaying in the storm, don't panic. When you are troubled by the sorrows in your life or in the lives of others, don't give up hope. Trust God. Turn your face to the sky, spread your wings and fly!

Dear Lord, this morning I ask your blessing on the family and friends of the young man who lost his life this week. Comfort them and help them to trust you enough to find peace in this very hard thing. For those in the community touched by this tragic situation, let this be a chance for them to learn to look to you and trust that you are with us all. Amen

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

While I wait...

This week's memory verse:
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." -- Isaiah 40:31's not something any of us WANT to do. We don't like waiting in long lines for our fast food...we hate doctor's office and hospital waiting don't like waiting for Christmas or their birthdays....and waiting for the bathroom is the worst!

But waiting is a fact of life that even those of us with face-paced lives have to learn to live with. And many's answers from God that we find ourselves waiting for. We pray for help, we pray for a situation to be reconciled, we pray for healing. We pray and then...we...wait. 

Psalm 27:14 - Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Waiting on an answer from God...waiting on him to do the work he wants to do in our hearts and lives...trusting in HIS perfect timing...this waiting is hard and is not meant to be done just sitting around. This waiting is active...we should be eagerly anticipating God's answers WHILE intently focusing on him. We can go on serving God and serving others FOR him while we wait.

I feel like I am in a period of waiting right now...I really feel that God is changing my life and has different plans for me. I am not sure what those plans are...but I feel him moving in me and around me, and know that one day soon my life is going to change drastically. It is scary not messes with my mind and part of me just wants the changes to happen NOW so I can move on and stop worrying and being scared. That is me...the human being talking. God doesn't want me to be scared, he doesn't want me to worry. He just wants me to TRUST HIM and...wait.

There is a contemporary Christian song out right now by John Waller called "While I'm waiting." It really speaks to me when I hear it. 

I'm waiting. I'm waiting on you Lord.
And I am hopeful. I'm waiting on you Lord.
Though it's painful, but patiently I will wait.

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience.

While I'm waiting I will serve you
While i'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait.

Isaiah 26:8 (The Message translation) We're in no hurry, God. We're content to linger in the path sign-posted with your decisions. Who you are and what you've done are all we'll ever want.

Oh, that I could be content! I pray that God shows me what to do with my life...that he'll lead me and calm my restless heart...that he gives me peace and patience to keep serving him while...I...wait!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hope in something eternal

This week's memory verse:
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." -- Isaiah 40:31

For many reasons, this verse is one of my very favorites. I have said it over and over in times of fear and waiting, and in times of happiness as well. 

If you have ever seen the majesty of eagles soaring over your head, the imagery is quite memorable. They fly high and strong and dignified, making it no guessing matter why they were named as a symbol of our nation. And who doesn't want to run and not grow weary and walk and not grow faint? We all wish for that kind of strength. Those who hope in the Lord...we HOPE to have that kind of strength and dignity. We learn THAT strength comes from God.

The Hebrew word translated "hope" can also be translated as "wait" or "trust." Those three words go together so well.

Psalm 33:20-22 - We WAIT in HOPE for the Lord. He is our help and shield. In him our hearts rejoice. We TRUST in his holy name.

Psalm 31:24 - Hope in the Lord
Psalm 33:18 -  hope in God's unfailing love
Psalm 130:5 - hope in God's word

Hoping in God is not just wishful thinking. This life that we live is so full of trials, problems, fears, reasons to panic...if you don't find hope in can get lost very easily and many do. Looking for hope in anything else besides God is pointless...nothing besides God is eternal and forever.

Romans 5:6 - at just the right time (God KNOWS the right time) he will keep his promises. 

Hoping in God is hoping in something eternal, not short-lived. That is sometimes hard for us in our microwave, throw away society...the things we have in our lives are NOT eternal. If they break, not living up to their promises, we throw them away and get new ones. God's love and his promises will not break and do not need to be replaced. He loves you forever! 

Jeremiah 29:11-13 - Even when we feel alone and abandoned, we can still hope in the Lord because HE GIVES US HOPE! The hope we can hang on to and gather strength from comes FROM God!

I see many people looking for strength in many different places...hoping in science, in knowledge, in drugs, in alcohol, in relationships. All of those things are temporary...they fade away.

 I love science and find learning new things fascinating. Learning how things work and the science behind nature is so connected...I love it! is always helping us find out NEW things and putting old scientific theories behind us, replaced by the new ones. What once was true may not be now. Putting your all your hope in science will just get you frustrated and lost, unable to keep up.

Drugs and alcohol help some get through the day. They need that chemical in their bodies to keep them going, to dull their pain and help them forget. But we all know what putting all your hope in chemical solutions can do to your body...instead of giving you strength...they take it away...along with your life.

Relationships are friends get me through some tough times...but people are human and make mistakes. Your relationships are going to fail or fade at times...putting all your hope in people will only leave you feeling hurt and bitter.

God knows that HE is the ONLY thing that will not fail us...we CAN put all our hope in him. When you open your heart to him and allow him to work in you and through you...he will give you strength that will last more than a life time! You will soar and not grow weary! I would rather put my trust and my hope in waiting on the Lord than on any earthly thing!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Can I be a lover AND a fighter?

This week's memory verse:
"No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you." -- Joshua 1:5

As the old cliche says, I have always considered myself a lover...not fighter. I like to kill 'em with kindness...

But much of this life is a have to take a fighter's stance to stay standing sometimes. It is good to know that we are not alone in our battles...we have God on our side!

Psalm 24:7-10 says that the "King of Glory" is God. He is strong in battle. He is armed and ready. He is the God of the angel armies.

In Deuteronomy 20:3-4, before they went into battle, God tells his people not to be afraid, not to panic and not to be terrified. He told them he was with them...he would fight against their enemies WITH them, giving them victory.

When I go into a scary situation, or when I know I have to do something hard, I am comforted by the fact that God is with me. When God is for me, who can be against me? (Romans 8:31) Just realizing that I am not alone gives me courage to do things I couldn't do otherwise.

Have you ever heard the saying, "God wins in the end?" Well, according to the Bible, it is true. Revelations has always been difficult for me to understand. There is so much symbolism and remarkable and crazy sounding is difficult to figure out. The one thing I do get from it though...there will be a big battle between God, Jesus and the angels against the devil and his armies. And...God wins! 

Revelation 20:10 says that the devil will be thrown into a pit of burning sulfur and will be tormented day and night forever. Revelation 15:3-4 says that all nations will come and worship God when his righteous acts have been revealed.

No matter how bad things get here on matter how scary it is to live in these days...God has a plan and the story has already been played out...the devil and all evil will be defeated and God wins!

Knowing that...we should be confident and less afraid. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says we should stand our ground, don't hold back. Throw yourself into the work of Jesus, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time.

NOTHING YOU DO FOR JESUS IS A WASTE OF TIME....Hmmmm...perhaps that could help us work on our goals! When we do good things for our family, for our own bodies, for our the name of Jesus...God will do great things through us! Those things are not always easy for us to do...we have to have some FIGHT in us! If I know I have God there beside me...I think I can be a lover AND a fighter!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Are you bold enough to believe God is always there?

This week's memory verse:
"No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." Joshua 1:5

Have you ever seen the tv show "House" about the amazing doctor with the HORRIBLE bed-side manner? He solves medical mysteries and heals people who would otherwise die...BUT he is so negative, inappropriate, despicable and pitiful that no one can stand him. Life has given him some major issues to deal with, like a very painful leg injury that he must live with the rest of his life. He also has a thing about there being no God and anyone who believes is stupid and pitiful. There have been several episodes where he spouts his negative atheistic views. 

I know people who don't believe in God...don't believe in Christ and have a very negative attitude about Christians. Some of them have come to those conclusions because of hard life situations they have been through and did NOT feel God's presence. I personally feel sorry for them...they have closed themselves off to the possibility of the peace that accompanies a belief in something unseen. When you allow yourself to believe...when you reach out to the God that is always there, YOU open up the lines of communication between you and the God who has ALWAYS been there anyway!

Psalm 46:1 says God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.

Isaiah 43:1-3 says we belong to God...we are his. When we are in over our heads, he is there with us. When we are in rough waters, we won't go under. When we are between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end. He is our PERSONAL God. (Taken from the Message translation)

The verses above speak of a God who is with us...but we can't see him. It takes FAITH to believe in him and the things he can do. What happens when BAD things happen to you and you DON'T feel God there? 

Believing in God...believing he IS there...that takes FAITH. When something bad happens, sometimes we get hurt. Even with our faith, sometimes we don't come out of a battle unscathed. We sometimes have wounds and scars that we must carry around the rest of our lives. God doesn't promise bad things won't happen to us. He promises to be WITH US when they do happen!!!

Knowing that and holding on to that promise allows me to live a bolder life and allows me to do things that MIGHT get me hurt. I step out of my comfort zone and talk to strangers...I tell people about my faith...I put myself out there for my friends...I work hard. I do those things because I know no matter what...I will make it through with God beside me.

Dr. House might call me a fool for believing...but even if I am wrong and it turns out all this God stuff is false (which it won't!) then at least I have lived a life full of love and service...a life to be proud of! And I did it all believing that I am not alone...what's the harm in that?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The peace that comes from knowing God NEVER changes...

This week's memory verse:
"No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so will I be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." Joshua 1:5

Change -- it is a word and a topic that is constantly on my mind. Our world seems to change by the minute sometimes. Change is scary...we like what is familiar because we have been through it and know how to handle it.

I am a would think that is a pretty calm and predictable job with not much change. Up until the last 10-20 years, you would have been correct. But, with the technology available today, the way we do things changes every day. It is so hard to keep up...and if we don't keep up, people will lose faith in the idea of a library and think they don't need them any more. It is scary and disconcerting to think that the thing you are good at, the thing you love to do may not be there for you to do any more...change can also be exciting...being able to be part of making things better, more efficient...shaking things up keeps you on your toes and keeps you from becoming bored. 

Our home lives can change too...babies, death, divorce, loss of jobs, new jobs, new schools, new friends, sickness...the list of possible daily changes goes on and on. The minute you get used to your changes again.

With all this change, for the good or for the bad, don't we need ONE thing to remain constant to give us some stability in our lives? We do...God NEVER changes!

Our memory verse reminds us of this...all the days of our lives...God will never leave us or forsake us. Look up these other verses that tell us the same thing:

* Hebrews 13:5-8 Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow
* James 1:17 - all good gifts come from above...God does not change like the shifting shadows
* 2 Timothy 2:11-13 - if we die we will live with him. If we endure our hardships, we will reign with him. If we turn our backs on him, he turns his back on us...if we give up on him, he will REMAIN FAITHFUL.

Did you get that? If you turn your back on God, there are consequences...he turns his back on you...he is not the comforter you need (and want even if you don't know it or won't accept it) don't feel him with you, BUT...if you give up and disown him...he DOES NOT give up on you!!! Deuteronomy 32:3-4 says that God is the rock. His works are perfect and his ways are just. God does no wrong and ALWAYS keeps his promises!

This gives me such hope and peace! There is NOTHING we can do that will make God disown us! We may not have a relationship with him...we may mess up and walk away from
God, but he is ALWAYS THERE, waiting on us to come back to him!

God is really the ONLY constant thing in this world...the only thing that has and will remain the the same! People for THOUSANDS of years have known this and believed it. Even when our faith wavers, God does not waver!

I am thankful that God is faithful and constant. I ask that he helps us understand this, rely on that promise and stay steadfast in our love and obedience to him. When change is scary...we can hold on to a God that stays the same forever!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It takes faith to have faith...

This week's memory verse:
"No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." -- Joshua 1:5

It takes faith to have faith...kind of an absurd comment, but it's true. It takes a lot more than faith to have takes perseverance in that faith, and you constantly have to be renewing your faith or it gets weak, stale and cold. When you don't search and study and keep in constant contact with God, our earthly lives can bring us down and take away our faith.

The Bible has so many verses proclaiming God's faithfulness to us...

Lamentations 3:22-23 - God's compassion and love for us never fail...they are new every morning.

Psalm 37:25 - God takes care of his people...(I will explain how this verse troubles me later)

Psalm 37:28 - God loves the just and will not forsake the faithful

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 - we can have confidence in God because he is faithful and will do what he promises

1 Corinthians 1:8-9 - God will keep you firm until the end...he will not give up on you

So, if you are a believer, and read all these verses, your faith can be confirmed forever and you never have to worry again, right? It has been my experience that when I study God's word, my faith is strengthened...BUT...I come up with more and more questions! It's like the more I know...the more I want to know!

For example...the verse Psalm 37:25...It actually says (This is King David talking) that in all his years (he was old at the time) he has never seen the faithful believers begging for food. does that mean that the poor and homeless are NOT believers? If you are a believer, you will never lose all your money, be homeless and on the street? God takes care of believers...I believe that, but i'm not sure I get that believers will never be broke...(I'm pretty close some days, and I am a believer!)

Also...I just finished reading Heaven is for Real...the book about the little boy who claims to have went to heaven when he was very ill. I WANT to believe all the little boy's pastor father says in his book, but there is some skepticism there...reading that book has made me question so many things I thought I believed.( I read a lot, so this experience happens to me quite often.) But it keeps me searching for answers.

I have questions about people who are not Christians, but have devout beliefs in other religions. In my heart, I believe that Christ is the only path to God...but my mind questions that because I wonder if God has other plans for those who believe other things. If I believe that God can communicate with me...isn't he powerful enough to communicate with others, even if they don't believe that Christ is their savior? There are MILLIONS of Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, etc...If they are God's children too, wouldn't he want to give them every chance to be with him in heaven too? faith in God...that he exists and is with me every day...that never wavers. My questions make me want to know more, which has me searching God's word for answers...I think God is ok with that. My faith in my faith is still growing and will be until I go home to heaven and have ALL my questions answered!

Monday, July 11, 2011

God doesn't leave us alone...He gives us strength

This week's memory verse:
"No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." -- Joshua 1:9

Are there things in your life that scare you? If you have a pulse...then chances are, you are scared from time to time. Many times, situations, problems and difficulties seem as big and scary as angry giants trying to squish us. We feel too small, meek and weak to fight off those giants sometimes. But we have to remember that we are not alone, and we can call on God to give us the strength we need to fight.

In the Bible, Joshua was preparing to lead the new generation of Israelites into the promised land. He had Moses' big shoes to fill and a people who were notoriously rebellious and disobedient. The promised land was also filled with its own problems, many of them REAL giants that Joshua and his arm would have to fight. He had many reasons to be scared.

But God gave him some words of comfort and encouragement. "Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)

When my daughter was very small, I took her to Bible school at a new church (the church that is my home now). That year was a very challenging one for me, and I was definitely scared and discouraged at the time. I think Bible school did more for me than it did for her. One of the catchy songs they taught the kids that summer was Joshua 1:9. It was a very rememberable tune and very repetitious, and I learned it right along with my daughter. That song has stuck with me over the years, and I have found myself singing it when having surgery, when worrying about my husband's car accident...that reminder that God is with you ALL THE TIME, and that we are not to be scared and discouraged has helped me so much.

Isaiah 54:16-17 is another encouraging verse. God reminds us that he created the devil and the men who make the weapons that are used against us. He controls them...He has the devil on a short leash...God will not let them destroy us...He will make sure that all things work out for the best.

Verse 17 says that he does that to vindicate us. I looked up the word means to deliver, avenge, free from blame, defend. God wants to take care of us.

David knew this when he wrote Psalm 18:33-34 - God arms me with strength. He makes me quick and powerful and shows me how to fight.

When you believe and trust that there is a powerful God watching over you, you can allow yourself to learn from the lessons God is teaching you. God teaches us how to fight the relying on GOD, instead of ourselves.

So, if you are feeling discouraged, weak, tired, scared and lazy right now...reach out to God. Pick up His word and read his words of encouragement. Be strong and courageous...God is with you! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Clean and hanging in the closet isn't good enough...

This week's memory verse:
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." -- Philippians 2:10-11

When our shirts are washed and are free of stains and our pots are clean and free of the crusty stuff...there is a slight temptation to keep them that way. Leave the bright white shirt in the closet...if I wear it, I'll just stain it again. If I cook sauce in that pan, it will get crusty again...after all the work I did on it to get it clean! We get selfish and want to keep our things nice.

But what good is the shirt that just hangs in the closet? And a pan is no good to anyone just sitting in the cupboard. They need to be used for what they were made for...even if there's a danger that they might get soiled.

Matthew 16:24 says we are to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus. And Luke 9:23 says the same thing, but adds the word DAILY...we are to take up our cross daily. 

When we have accepted Christ, and feel that joy and that peace, there is the temptation to stay in that place. Just go to church and praise God for his creation, say a few prayers here and there and live a nice quiet life. But that's not what Jesus directs us to do. We are to pick up those things that trouble us, and DAILY follow him. If we are following Jesus, things might get dirty...we might see things that trouble us...we might see others in need...we might see that there is a whole world of people out there who don't know the peace of knowing Jesus...don't know about God's plan for our salvation. Jesus wants us to give up our wants and desires and surrender ourselves to him. He has work for us to do that might get us dirty.

But by DAILY following Jesus, he can make us shiny and clean every day! Accepting Christ and following him is not a once in a lifetime is a decision you have to make every day and chances are...many times a day! Surrendering every detail of our lives to Jesus will allow God to do amazing things through do the things he created us to do! But if we hold back parts of ourselves just so we can remain in control, or so we don't get hurt again, or because we don't want to get dirty again...we are like the bright white shirt just hanging in the closet.

You can CHOOSE to make all of your sacrifices with a joyful heart, out of love for Jesus, totally abandoning yourself to his love. By doing this, you won't mind getting a little dirty because you know that Jesus will wash you, scrub you, and make you clean again!

I pray that we learn to love the Lord with reckless abandon, being willing to give all that we have and all that we are to God!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


This week's memory verse:
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." -- Philippians 2:10-11

Sometimes, not only do we need to soak a crusty pan...we have to scrub it to get it clean. And, there are times when the baked on stuff is so hard, it just doesn't want to come off.

How many times do we NOT do what we feel God telling us to do? We'd rather stay in bed doing a crossword puzzle than go to's too hard to live a "Christian" life when I'd rather be out partying with my's easier to claim there is no God or just ignore the possibility that there is a God and do our own thing.

We are not alone in being hard, crusty and disobedient...we didn't invent that trait. Those good old Israelites from the Old Testament are JUST LIKE US! They were in bondage...slaves to the hard terrible lives. In Exodus 6:6-8, God promised to free them from slavery and take them to the promised land. He then performed many miracles and saved them, keeping his promises.

But, when they were about to enter the great promised land, they got scared and grumbled and cried to Moses...wanting to be slaves again instead. Their fears overcame their trust in God who saved them! (Numbers 13:3-14:4)

Moses begged God to forgive the people...God did forgive them, but he punished them by not allowing ANY of their generation, the ones who had witnessed his miracles and had been saved, to enter the promised land. They had to wander around in the desert until every member of their generation had died. THEN, their children would inherit the promised land.

Even after God's punishment, they tried to do things on their own and tried to enter the promised land (without God's blessing and protection) and were defeated in battle.

1 Samuel 15:23 says that disobedience and arrogance is worse than dealing with magic and the other words, it is evil. 

We all ignore God and disobey his commands from time to time...when left unchecked, this disobedience can cause us to get hard and crusty. We need to be scrubbed clean...God will scrub us clean, but unlike the dirty pan, we have to be asked to be scrubbed. God wants us to come to him, knowing we are hard and crusty and ask for forgiveness. Without asking for it...we will remain crusty, wandering around in the desert.

Ask God to show you your crusty parts--areas of your life where disobedience and arrogance have kept you from being clean in God's eyes. Ask him to forgive you and make you willing to obey. He will scrub the crusty parts away, leaving you clean and ready to shine for him!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A good soaking...

This week's memory verse:
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:10-11

God's do we know what it is? How do we know what God wants us to do each day of our lives? How do we obey and DO God's will in our lives if we don't know what it is?

If you want to wash something and get the stains have to soak it....many times soaking it in bleach. If a pan has hard crusty stuff on in, you have to leave it to soak in hot soapy water to loosen the crusty stuff and wash it clean. A pan has no say on how hot the water is...a shirt has no say on how long it stays in the bleach-water...we do those things TO those objects to get them clean. God gives us a choice...he let's US decide to put ourselves in the soapy water.

To give ourselves a good soaking...we have to immerse ourselves in God's word. Galatians 2:20 says we are to be crucified with Christ. That just means we are to look to Christ on how to live...we are to put away our selfish desire to impress people...not worry about the opinions of others. When Christ lives in you...when you ALLOW that to happen, then your life is not your belong to Christ. He will help you find the answers to God's will...he will help you decide how hot the water should be and how long to stay in it...and with Christ in your life...the hard, crusty stuff will loosen up and fall away!

In John 4:1-42 Jesus tells a Samaritan woman that he has LIVING water to offer her that will leave her satisfied...never to thirst again. Then later, he tells his disciples that doing God's will and finishing his work is what nourishes him...more than food. If we want to be satisfied and nourished...we again look to the life of Jesus...he got those things not from this earth, but from his Heavenly Father. Jesus tells us we can have that too.

If you have been "soaking" in God's word, and learning what God wants from you...think about the things you know are God's will for you right now...are you doing those things? 

If you really don't need to soak some more...your stains are still there...the crusty stuff is still too hard to come off. But don't give up!!! Ask God to reveal his will for you and give you clear directions. He promises that he will give you what you need!

He longs for his creations to be clean and shiny and bright...but he knows that we all need a good soaking sometimes! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wonderful words of life

This week's memory verse:
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:10-11

Why do we want to sit in the third chair? Why do we want to live a Christ-like life, in submission to God? Why do we want to believe in God and in his word?

Get your Bibles out (or you Bible app)... God gave us the Bible...his word...he breathed life into the words these human men wrote...he connected the words of several men together to tell HIS story, to show us HIS PLAN for the world he created. This is God's way of telling us how to live to have the life he promised for us.

The New Testament tells the story of Jesus...and how to take the life of Jesus and create action steps for ourselves to live a life pleasing to God...through studying the life of Jesus, we can allow God to mold us into the image of his precious son.

Jesus was a man...he was a human being who lived on earth over 2 thousand years ago. But he wasn't just a man...he claimed to be from God...

Philippians 2:5-11 says that Jesus had equal status to God. He was in heaven with God since before the beginning of time. But, when he became human, he humbled himself...he did not use his "God power" for himself while living as a human. He even suffered a horrible human death. He was selfless and obedient to God's plan. Because of this...God exalted Jesus and gave him the name above all names.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed three times for God's will. His human side did not want to suffer the horrible death he knew was ahead of him, but he asked for God's will and he submitted himself to it. (Matthew 26:36-46)

Ephesians 5:1-2 urges us to respond to Jesus' selfless surrender by watching what God does, and do children learn from their parents' behavior...we are to love like Jesus loved- extravagantly, unselfishly. God promises that if we do that, we will be changed from the inside out...God brings out the best of you.

Through his word, God shows us why it is important to know his know his plan for the world. Read the following scriptures for yourself:

Matthew 7:21
Colossians 1:9-10
1 John 2:17
1 John 5:14-15

God doesn't send us into this world alone...if we listen...if we take the initiative to reach out to him and sit in that third chair, he gives us a comforter who can walk this life with us...Jesus can show us how to to to let God's will be done in our lives. 

Monday, July 4, 2011


This week's memory verse:
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:10-11

It has been over a week since I last posted because I went to church camp with my daughter and 47 other teens. I did our Bible study lessons, but had VERY limited Internet service down there in the hills of Kentucky, so I couldn't post them on my blog. 

It is very appropriate that this week's lessons are all about surrendering to Jesus' Lordship...last week we learned a lot about God's plan for the salvation of the humans he created and how Jesus was the center point of that plan. This stuff takes belief and faith...In this life, you HAVE to believe in something...

When it comes to Jesus, there are three groups of people: 1) those who don't believe in him and don't do what he says; 2) those who claim to believe in him, but don't do what he says; and 3) those who believe in him and do the things he says. 

At camp, we talked about this same thing but with chairs. There are 3 chairs on an empty stage. The first chair has a stained and dirty t-shirt on it...we are humans and we sin, we can't help it, we are stained. Some of us know it, but most of us go through life stained and because of that, we never have a relationship with God. The second chair is for those of us who "do church"...we claim to know Christ and we do the right things, say the right things, but we still don't really know Jesus and are still lost, we are still stained; the third chair has a bright, clean and washed T-shirt on it...when we really believe that God sent Jesus to take our sins away and want to make him a part of our everyday life through prayer, study and our actions...when we have a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus...God washes us clean...our stains are gone. When you sit in this third chair, a change happens in are a different person.

It is all about what you believe in your heart. Many claim that Jesus was a good teacher...he was just a good man who taught great lessons. From ancient history, we know that there really was a man named Jesus who lived and taught and had a following of people. But, as C.S. Lewis once said, "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or he would be the Devil of Hell."

You must decide which you believe...either Jesus really was the Son of God, or he was a crazy man or something worse.

Which chair are you sitting in today?

Jesus demands that we unconditionally hand our hearts to him...why does he have the right to claim our hearts? Read the following verses:

Revelation 4:11

Revelation 5:9

Revelation 19:11-16

Which chair do you WANT to sit in? It all depends on what you believe and who you trust...what is in your heart today? God wants you to be in that third chair...ready to give all your heart, love, trust and obedience to Him and to build that relationship with Him that will get you through each day. He WANTS to wash you clean from all your sins. It is simple: if you want to be washed clean...if you want to be in that third chair...believe, have faith in something real that you can't can have a relationship with Jesus that will make you bright and shiny!