Thursday, January 28, 2016

LACED WITH GRACE...the little engine that could

Today, I shared the following devotion with the readers of Laced with Grace. Check out this site for more daily devotions!


I don't know about you, but I was raised with the idea that I could do anything that I put my mind to. It goes back all the way to the children's book , "The Little Engine That Could." (I think I can! I think I can!)

The concept of doing anything I put my mind to didn’t end there either. As I got older, I was asked over and over what I wanted to be when I grow up…a model, a teacher, a mother, the President of the United States? I was told to reach for the stars, dream big dreams!
Working hard and setting goals is still ingrained in me and I strive to always be the best that I can be. But this idea of being able to take on the world and finding solutions to our problems in our own strength and ability is very worldly and not really realistic.
None of us are Superman. We cannot leap tall buildings or get strength from kryptonite. In fact, when we try to take on the world by ourselves, we essentially are saying that we do not need anyone’s help, including God’s.
But wait for it.
The moment things begin to get too tough, and we feel like Superman who has lost his powers, we begin to look around for God. Sometimes, by the time we reach out for the One Who holds all of our strength, it is too late. The damage is already done. Think about the turmoil in the city whenever Superman became weak, havoc took place when he was busy looking for His strength.
If Superman didn’t have control of his own strength, what makes us think we do?
The Bible is full of stories about men and women who thought they had all the answers only to find out they could not save themselves, nor anyone else.
As Christians, we have to place our trust NOT in what we know, but in what we believe!
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
 None of us really need to look to the Bible for examples of what faithLESS looks like, all we have to do is look in the mirror. I am sure we all have countless of examples of how great we believed in something but in a moment of trying to see things in our own strength, we lost sight of what God’s strength looked like.I remember our first Trunk or Treat Festival that we organized at a former church. We had great dreams and big faith but quickly others began to whisper in our ear, “That’s not how we’ve ever done it!” (Don’t you just love those naysayers)!

We believed for hundreds to show up, they said “not that many”! We said we need to move this out to the gymnasium, they said, “no, the sanctuary will hold them”
We held that first Trunk or Treat Festival in the sanctuary. Over 400 showed up and we broke so many fire codes in a building that held about half that.
After the naysayers pried their popped open eyes back to normal size, we learned an immeasurable lesson: walk by faith, not by sight and trust God by being still and letting Him show up!
“The Little Engine That could”, WITH GOD as the engineer, would certainly of said something different…“I think He can! I think He can!”
Trust me, God can! Trust God, He will!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

DAILY DEVO...what's for dinner...milk or meat?

It is fun watching my grandchildren learn new things. Seems like just yesterday the 3 oldest ones were just like the 2 new babies.

As I watched my older grandson try to feed himself with a spoon the other day, I couldn't help notice that he didn't quite have the technique down. He spilled and by the time the spoon got to his mouth, he had lost half the food on the way.

On the other side of the room was his baby brother. Only 2 months old, his only battle with food was getting enough milk through his bottle fast enough.

As children grow, so do their appetites and that's the way it's suppose to be. How strange would it be if teens and adults in this world still walked around sucking on bottles?

God wants His children to grow, He doesn't want us to remain babies. He wants us to move beyond the infant stages of milk and grow into the maturity of chewing on the meat of His Word.
It is no secret that in all aspects of life, we need to grow. Anything less would be unhealthy. But for Christians, growing just to grow is not what God intends for us. God expects us to grow so we can live a more Christ-like life.

Where you find yourself on the food chain is merely a matter of maturity, spiritual maturity that is...
"I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready." -Paul to infant Believers (1 Corinthians 3:2)

Like my grandsons; one of us can handle solid foods, while the other is not ready. In any given teaching, preaching or Scripture reading, you will find both "milk" and "meat". As a new Believer, you will be satisfied on the bottle but as you grow, the milk should no longer satisfy you. You will want more. You will look for more. You will grow more.

Today, God is sending out a dinner invitation: Christ is the dinner host and you are the guest. What will you be served...the milk or the meat?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

DAILY DEVO...your past has purpose

I have a question to ask you you live in the present or the past?

I think too many people lose sight of the purpose that their past represents. Yes! Even the past that is filled with not so good things serves a purpose...for good!

The Apostle Paul said, "Whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ." (Philippians 3:7)

When we become "new" in our relationship with Christ (salvation), we are to put away the old (past) and put on the new (present) and live for Him the best that we can. But what happens to our past?

It is true that God throws our sin into the sea of forgetfulness as far as the east is from the west. (That's pretty far!) Our past no longer defines who we are but yet our past still serves a purpose, it wasn't for nothing!

Our past, now forgiven, serves as a stepping stone to exactly the place that God has brought us to. It isn't about what happened back then that is important any longer, but instead, what is happening now? How is God using our past to perfect His plan in our lives?

Paul was always striving to do his best for the Lord. As I look at my own past, I can see how God brought me through so many bad things in order to mold me into the person that I am today. As I strive to do my best for the Lord, I can see the purpose that my past has for my present and my future.

Life can be a struggle at times. Believe me, I could write for days the fire that I've survived. But instead of looking at the pain in my past, I recognize the purpose it all had.

I know too many people, yes Christians too, that still keep one foot in the past. They can't forgive someone, maybe themselves and their constant "blast from the past" keeps them from receiving all the good things He has in store for them.

If your past is confining you or you tend to blame your past for where you stand today...STOP! God said that this life is a race and we need to finish well. I can't think of any athlete to ever win a race by running backwards.

So, let's never forget what lies behind us but consider it joy to press on, towards the prize that awaits us in our present and future. Your past absolutely has a purpose!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Daily Devo...Delete it, zip it, clean it up!

Lately, I've been sorting thru things and organizing and simply getting rid of clutter.
Just look at my email: seriously, WHY do I have 969 unread messages? I'll tell you why...because it's all junk. I don't need to read about all the sales, or what all the Insurance companies can offer or for $29.99 I can find out that I'm a millionaire.
So, I took some time and hit delete, delete, delete. 969 times.
Our email is not the only thing that becomes cluttered with junk. How about our closets? Our storage sheds? Do you seriously think you will wear that 70's jacket again or just when do you think you will go tent camping again? I mean it's been how long since you've used that camping equipment?
It may be time to clear out some junk to make room for some new stuff.
This is also true in our emotional and spiritual life's. Sometimes, God can't shower us with "new" things because we haven't left any room for it.
I don't know about you, but I want to have ALL that God has for me and it may mean that I'll need to do some housecleaning. Those things (even people) that bring clutter and disorder to my life may need to be packed up. When we find that unhealthy and unnecessary things take up more room in our life than God does, something has to go!
God longs to fill whatever space that we make available for Him. He wants to be near to us, not just tucked away like an old, dusty, never used camping tent. In fact the heart cry of God is simply this...
"Abide in me, and I in you" (John 15:4). 
Take time to do some de-cluttering today. Perhaps it's some past hurts, or people who are not good for you or simply you have gotten away from God. Whatever is keeping you from receiving all that God has for you...clean it up, hit delete, box it up, zip it up, do whatever it takes to make room for MORE of God!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Laced with a Believer can live in a Non-Believer world

Today, I shared this devotional with the readers over at Laced with Grace. Check this great devotional site out for daily devo's that will encourage you!

It is the same old question that is being asked today that has always been asked…”How can a Believer live in a Non-Believer World?” This week, before teaching the youth small group study on Wednesday, a teen came to me and asked this very question, except the question was more tailored like this…

How can I be a Christian in my home when nobody else is?”
Tough question, especially for a junior high young person to understand. But, sinners are nothing new to God. Non-believers have been around since the beginning of time. So, how are we suppose to live with these so called “sinners”?
First of all, before we can win those we live with, or anyone for that fact, we must love them. We must first become their friend. Looking at the actions of Jesus, we can only conclude that how we witness to non-believers is through friendship. When we build a foundation of trust in our relationship with others, it becomes easier and more believable when we share our faith.
The tendency that most people have once they become believers is to isolate themselves and disconnect completely from those that do not have the same faith. While there is a safe boundary to keep here with whom we keep close to us and consider our “closest” friends, there is also a charge for us to consider from God of how we are to win the lost to Him.
On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick…For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ ” (Matthew 9:12-13)
The Apostle Paul encourages us to find common ground with non-believers, even those whom we live with. Common ground could be a genuine friendship or perhaps other ways that could cultivate positive impact on those who have yet to see the Truth and accept the forgiveness and love of our Father.
Consider how Jesus handled the woman at the well: He did not condemn, yet, He did point out what He and the woman had in common. As a result, she not only became friends with Jesus, but later introduced her friends and family to Him.
If you are a Christian living in a Non-Christian world, (and we ALL are), consider with me this: What if we could simply stick to what Jesus commanded us to do…
  • Love our neighbors as ourselves
  • Care for the poor and the sick and the brokenhearted
  • Stand up for those oppressed
  • Be generous with our time, treasure and talents
  • Live a life full of grace and gentleness
Christianity has always been a minority in our culture. God is not surprised by this, but He also commanded us to “Go Ye into ALL the world”, sometimes our world begins at home.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

DAILY as fish bait

Have you ever been somewhere where you feel absolutely uncomfortable? Perhaps, even today, you find yourself somewhere and you wonder how in the world did you get there. I can only imagine the things that went thru Jonah's head while inside the belly of that fish...

"Am I ever going to get out of here?"

"What did I do to deserve this?"

I suppose those are similar questions that we even ask God.

A few years ago, my husband and I prayed about a difficult decision that we needed to make and the result was that we ended up resigning our position in full time ministry. After many years of being content and settled, we knew in our heart it was time to start a new chapter.

So, we stepped out in faith and trusted God to lead us where He needed us to be. We had no other job lined up, no security to fall back on; we just had God.

Surely, God had a plan. And He did. For the next year and a half, He had us wait upon Him. It felt like we were inside the belly of a fish.

I mean really ... Jonah was a fast learner, he was spit out in just three days! Not us, we were settled in for over a year!

During that time that we were fish bait, I kept asking God those questions..."How long God?" "What do you need us to learn?"

Truth be told, I learned ALOT while in that uncomfortable belly of the fish, here's just a few...

1. God was preparing us "for such a time as this." I couldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for the storm behind us.
2. Everything happens in God's time, not anyone else's. Nothing that we went thru was a surprise to Him!
3. Sometimes it's better to wait. If we hadn't waited upon Him, who knows where we'd be today; not just physically but spiritually.
4. Eventually, God would deliver us from the fish! Like Jonah, we were not ever forgotten, we were just in transition; getting our direction figured out.

Being fish bait isn't always a bad thing. It may be inconvenient, but like Jonah, we can now say what an exciting adventure we had while waiting for God to show us the way.

You can run from God, but you will never be able to hide from Him or His plan. (Read the story of the big fish in the book of Jonah).

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

DAILY covers all

Billy Graham was once quoted as saying, "Love does more to solve our problems than anything else does."

When it comes to relationships; whether family, friends or co-workers; love is truly what makes the world go around and love is what it takes to fix relationships that become broken. 

Not just any kind of love, but genuine kind of love, the kind of love found in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. If you want to fix a broken relationship with unconditional love, try this:

*Extend forgiveness.
"Love BEARS all things." (1 Cor. 13:7)
If you want to bear ALL things, you may need to endure a thing or two. 

*See something good.          
"Love BELIEVES all things." 
           (1 Cor. 13:7)
This may seem hard, but believing the best about others is a choice we make, even about those who have hurt us. If we focus on the good, it might outweigh the bad.

*Believe it will get better.    
"Love and hatred cannot exist in our hearts at the same time."             
              -Billy Graham
1 Corinthians reminds us that love and doubt are incompatible. There must always be hope, even when it comes to loving others. If you have hatred for others, than how can you love them? You can't!

*Keep pressing on.              
"Love ENDURES all things".  
           (1 Cor. 13:7)
Love doesn't give up, it doesn't fade away, drift or get old. No matter the issue, no matter what gets in the way, love presses in and  love overcomes....if love is unconditional.

I don't know who is hard to love in your life, but applying unconditional love may be the solution. After all, isn't that what God did for you?

Monday, January 18, 2016

DAILY DEVO...are you a Mary or Martha?

If we would need to pick a team to serve on, I wonder which side you'd be on ...the Mary or Martha side?
If you are like Mary; you are probably more contemplative. You may seek discipline, silence, solitude, praying and maybe journaling every thought or idea.
Now, all you Martha's out there; you probably would be described as "active". You like to get things done. You are a doer and you may gravitate towards things that are active like preaching, teaching, serving, administration and making dreams become reality.
Martha wants to do things: do the dishes, do the laundry, get the task done.
Mary just wants to be: be with Jesus, be teachable, be humble, be present. 
Both Mary and Martha are worry warts, but in different ways. Mary is worried about the relationship..."did I get my time with Jesus?" "Did I listen?" "Was I humble enough?"
Martha, on the other hand is more worried about responsibilities. The check-list is never ending.
I'm not sure if you are more like Mary, with a full heart or more like Martha, tending to your full schedule. But it is no secret that we live today in a Martha world; full of technology and working to get ahead and doing what is good for us and our own. Living in a Martha world has caused us to work more, pray less and become stressed out and maxed out.
I don't really think God created this wonderful world to become Martha-ized completely. We need alittle bit of both Mary and Martha to be successful servants. After all, God built this world to be a "Mary" world (worship first) with Martha moments (work hard).
So, I must ask you today: Do you put God first or second? Do you put more effort into worship or more on getting the details done first?
You are either on the Mary team or the Martha team, which side will you choose?
(Read about Mary and Martha in Luke Chapter 10)

Friday, January 15, 2016

DAILY DEVO...worship is our witness

When I was a teenager and I would go to the mall with my friends, we would sometimes just sit on the benches in the middle of the mall and watch people as they passed by.

One time I was at the mall with my mother, I sat on the bench as I waited for her to finish shopping. When she returned to me, she asked, "what are you doing?" To which I replied, "people watching!"

We tend to watch people, don't we? And people watch us. There is a direct connection between a Believer's WORSHIP and a Believer's WITNESS ...

"They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved." (Acts 2:46-47). 

The way that we worship (and what we worship) is a witness to those inside the church and outside the church as well.

When things are going great in our life: our job is going good, we are healthy, our marriage is happy...people are watching.

When things all of a sudden turn upside down: we lose our job, we get cancer or our spouse leaves us; guess what...people are still watching.

It is in this time of struggle, strife and stress that people are watching to see if our worship matches our witness. Is the God who we praise for our riches also the God who we praise in our time of need?

People not only are watching WHO we praise but WHAT we praise. Our neighbors and friends see us going to church every Sunday, but they also see us coming in from the clubs on Friday night. People are watching from afar the things that come out of your mouth, what you spend your money on, what you do in private.

If we are a Christian and we have to look over our shoulder to see if someone is watching...they probably are. If we have to mute a song we are listening to or turn the channel quickly because we don't want someone to hear what we are listening to or watching...they saw, they heard.

In order to have the Acts 2 kind of witness that will build His Church, we must first look at our worship...our worship IS our witness. And people are watching us to see if what we say lines up with how we live.

People watchers...they are everywhere, even when we aren't looking.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

DAILY DEVO...take a dive!

As a young Jr high teen, I spent most of my summer days at Joanne's Park in Green Bay, WI where I grew up. Today, that park is still there.

I remember going to the pool all day long with my friends and my brothers. All of them were good swimmers, I however, was not.

The cool place to be was no doubt over in the deep end, by the diving boards. Whether it was a cannonball, a back flip or even a belly flop; when you reached the end of the dive to jump; all eyes were upon you.

I was always chicken to go on the dives. But somehow I would get sucked into it. Waiting in line, I always was in awe of how my friends would run and leap into the water from their stand on the board. When it was my turn, I climbed those stairs slowly, wondering how I could turn back around without being noticed but as I turned, there always seemed to be someone already on the steps ready to go after me.

I suppose you could say that sometimes as a Christian we may see ourselves like that; standing at the edge of a dive, staring at the water, trying to convince ourselves to take the leap. Part of us wants to swim awhile out in the deep but fear keeps us standing on the edge and turning to look for a way to climb back down.

"As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before Him?" (Psalm 42:1,2)

When it comes to God and stepping out to do what He is asking, don't be hesitate. Go to the edge and dive in. Don't be afraid, He won't let you drown.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

TODAY'S DAILY...using the right measuring stick

Have you ever felt like nothing is working or like you can never measure up?

I have felt like that. In fact, sometimes it has felt like someone is holding that "you have to be this tall" measuring stick to me (like at the amusement park) and based on the judgement of the one holding the stick, I may or may not be allowed to pass.

Reminds me of the Israelites who were feeling alittle convicted of their self interests, so they returned to work on rebuilding the temple...

"The people feared the presence of the Lord . . . and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God” (Haggai 1:12, 14).

As the foundation of the temple began to go up, something went wrong, the older people began to cry. They had remembered what Solomon's temple from 68 years ago looked like and this new temple just was not measuring up; which brought great discouragement to the point of giving up.

Too many of God’s children are being discouraged today and giving up because they think they do not measure up. All they see is that measuring stick that says "not good enough - Do not enter!" 

Like the Israelites, even though we are trying to put God first and build His house, we just don't feel wise enough, good enough, strong enough. Instead of keeping on, we throw in the towel and miss out on what God has called us to do and we lose out on who He has created us to be.

We cannot always measure up to everyone's standard, but when we apply God's measuring stick, we will always be accepted and be enough for Him!

Monday, January 11, 2016

DAILY DEVO... You are someone!


As a pastor's wife, one of the most repeated statements that I hear is, "we should do this at our church!" Just this past week, I heard that 4 different times! Praise God for new ideas!

I love hearing new ideas and what I love even more is when someone not only thinks of a new idea but has a plan to implement it.

Years ago, a pastor I sat under often would say, "Somebody needs to do this ...AND YOU are somebody!" Not only would he say this from the pulpit but he expected if you came to him about an idea, you were saying you would be the one to take charge!

If only that was the way it worked. Lol (and all ministry leaders say amen right here!) Here's the thing about servanthood...we must all realize two things:

1. We are ALL called to serve.
2. We are to do every task, no matter the size, with all that we have.

The size of the task is really irrelevant; whether it be cleaning the toilets at church to leading worship every Sunday; the important thing to ask is, "does it need to be done?"

God will never excuse us of the little, mundane tasks that need to be accomplished. In fact it is in the little tasks that our character is defined to handle the bigger tasks...

"Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” (Luke 16:10) 

Great opportunities are often disguised in small packages. Paul gathered wood for a fire to keep everyone warm after a shipwreck. (Acts 28:3). Don't you know he was as equally as worn out as everyone else, but he did what was needed to be done.

I don't know what little thing (or big thing) that God is showing you that someone needs to do, but remember, God made YOU a SOMEONE!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

DAILY everything in excellence!

I've been thinking about what it takes to be a person of excellence. I once read something that Joyce Meyer's had to say...

"Excellent people exceed expectations." 

In other words; they go the extra mile, they do more than is asked, and they take extra steps to ensure the highest quality. 

If people were to describe your work, would excellence come to mind or simply mediocre? Joyce Meyer's also says, "You can
run into mediocrity accidentally but you have to purpose to be excellent." 

Certainly, going above and beyond the call of duty takes a conscious 

"Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus . . . " (Colossians 3:17) 

Paul also writes, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward" (Colossians 3:23-24).

We are ALL called to strive for excellence in order to be the best testimony for the  Lord that we can be. 

Excellence does not necessarily mean there are no mistakes, but it does mean, the presence of faith and determination. To be excellent at whatever God has called you to do, you must ask for two things: His strength to accomplish the task and also for His endurance to complete it. 

Jim Elliot once said, "Wherever you are--be all there." 

Consider what God has entrusted you with today...your job, your family, your finances, your faith; have you been ALL there with what you have to offer?

Whatever you do, do IT with excellence, as unto the Lord. He will reward you greatly.