Guard the Fortress


There’s a lot going on in the world right now. Fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and storms have broken out all at once. Not to mention sudden, crazy weather patterns of intense heat followed by September snow.

We shouldn’t be surprised.

Jesus told us that all this would happen.

“Jesus answered, ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming, ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nations will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” Matthew 24:4-8

As the world becomes more desperate, I pray we will turn to Jesus. While the enemy attempts to destroy us and our belief in a good God who loves us, Jesus longs for us to run to him in our pain, fear, hopelessness. He will comfort and strengthen us and give us peace.

His word also gives instruction to help us in this time of crisis.

Recently, I read some encouraging instruction in the book of Nahum. In the second chapter, and the first two verses, this prophet warns the people to be alert when their enemy is advancing on them. While those words were meant for that time in a practical war sense, all of God’s word is relevant to us in some way even today. This is what I took from the passage that I believe can be helpful today.

  1. “Guard the fortress.” As believers in Jesus, our bodies are God’s “temple” where the Holy Spirit resides. I believe that God would have us guard our bodies and hearts against unhealthy living and the lies of the enemy. Fear is a spirit that is stirring up the world. Let’s guard ourselves against it, rather than letting it penetrate our bodies and minds.
  2. “Watch the road.” Our mind is what lets in thoughts and images like a road into our fortress. If we’re not careful about what we expose ourselves to, we may find that what we let in is infiltrating us in a destructive, poisonous way.
  3. “Brace yourself.” God’s word is the most powerful weapon we have. It is the “sword of the spirit” which is truth. The Bible is “living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword…” (Heb. 4:12) When we declare it, pray it, and speak it, we are bracing ourselves for battle.
  4. “Marshall all your strength.” Our only true strength comes from the Lord. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” In order to gain that strength, I must be in God’s presence. Worship, talking to him, and asking for his wisdom in every area will make me strong. It’s Jesus who strengthens us. (Phil. 4:13)

Battles aren’t without injuries or destruction, but the Lord will restore to us anything that is lost in battle. He makes us beautiful and splendid no matter what might be destroyed. Even in this era of the world going crazy, let us look to the Lord, God Almighty who is our only true refuge in times of trouble.

Praying for you as you consider where your help comes from. My help comes from the Lord God, maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-3)

In the Name of Submission – Last Words


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Last time, we left off with I Peter 3:1 telling wives to submit to their husbands. You can see the first post here.

We continue talking about submission and hopefully unpacking more of what it truly means.

I believe Peter starts with wives for a couple of reasons. (No, he’s not picking on us.)

First, I think it’s because God set up the order of a family. In Ephesians, he lays it out clearly. Christ is the head of the church. He is over the family. The husband is now entrusted with the well-being of his family under the headship of Christ. Then the wife is supposed to be covered by her husband, as Christ covers (loves and protects) his bride, the church. After that, the parents are the covering for their children.

Starting with the wife confirms that order.

Secondly, it seems that based on many passages in the Bible, women have so much influence. We are the “helper,” but the word translated like that sounds kind of lame. Like a token we say to our two-year-old for being mommy’s big helper. Encouraging, but we all know our child’s help is minimal.

Thankfully, that’s not what it means.

In the Hebrew, it actually means strength, warrior, working alongside. (This is a great post that goes into more depth. https://www.chasingsacred.com/helpmate-the-real-meaning-of-the-word/)

Think of some women in the Bible:

  • Mary (Jesus’s mother),
  • Deborah (prophetess)
  • Jael (killed a man with a tent peg – Judges 4:21)
  • Esther (saved the Jews)
  • Abigail (saved her people)
  • Rahab (prostitute who saved the spies)
  • Mary & Martha (sisters of Lazarus)
  • Lydia (business owner who led a church).

And those are only a few.

Every one of these women understood submission as part of the influence they had in their situation.

Peter tells women, in this first verse, that their husbands (and probably others) will be “won over” or influenced by their behavior without a word. Because when we are submitting for the sake of Jesus, we will be beautiful because of our purity, reverence, and our quiet and gentle spirit.

All without fear. Perfect love casts out fear. Submitting to God puts our trust in him. His perfect love for us means we don’t have to fear anything.

See where we’re going with this?

And lest you think that God’s focus is only on wives, verse 7 calls out husbands to act “in the same way” so that their prayers aren’t hindered!

Hindered prayers is a pretty serious consequence of not submitting with consideration and respect to wives while viewing them as heirs of God for the sake of Jesus. Paul says it this way in Ephesians 5:23 “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.”

Don’t think that God doesn’t hold everyone to the same standard!

After Peter charges spouses—the relationship that mirrors Christ with his bride—he gives some specifics.

What does submission look like?

Verse 8 tells us to live in harmony. That may not be done easily, especially if another person isn’t feeling the tune you’re playing, but as far as it depends on you, be in harmony. (Romans 12:18)

We start by being sympathetic to other people’s hurts and pain. How are they feeling? That means we need to humble ourselves and not be set on our opinion, agenda, or feelings first or only. If we first seek to understand their perspective, it’s easier to show love and compassion.

Peter goes on to say in verse 9 that we are to be a blessing to others. Treat them kindly. Even if they insult us, answer that with kindness. Not always easy, but the Holy Spirit can make us able to do it with sincerity.

Finally, in verse 14 and 15, Peter reminds us not to fear. That was a hard one for me. My past situations gave me the view that I couldn’t really trust certain people so it was hard to submit to them. But I’m learning that when I’m submitting for the Lord’s sake, I can trust Him to cover me and help me choose to honor and respect them.

We can only do this when we “set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts.”

Submission begins with understanding the humility Jesus showed to submit himself to God and go to the cross. He tells us to have a gentle and respectful answer for our hope in him. He forgave us. That is our hope, the source of our love, and what makes us able “to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

For me this has been a huge lesson and offered me freedom in place of my misconceptions about submission. I hope it has been helpful for someone else too.

Jesus, I surrender (submit) all.

In the Name of Submission – cont.


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We’re diving deep into what God means when he talks about submission.

We began with I Peter 3:1 which tells wives to submit to their husbands—and often it’s left right there without further understanding of what God is communicating.

That’s why we’re looking back at the previous chapter to get an idea of what “in the same way” means. You can read Part 1 here if you want to get caught up.

Today, we’re going back to start in chapter 2 verse 17 where it says that submission means showing proper respect to others and loving those who believe and fear God.

This kind of surprised me.

I expected the passage to talk about everyone, not just other believers. But then I understood why we start with other believers.

Think about it.

If we can’t respect and love others who are part of the church (entire world church, not just your church) in which Jesus is teaching us to love, how will we than be in a position to show that same attitude to the rest of the world?

Often, the world looks at the church and doesn’t see any difference. Can we blame them for not wanting to be a part of that? If the Jesus they see in us is gossiping, backbiting, disrespectful, and unkind why would they want him?

Bet you never coupled the word “submission” with that, did you? Neither did I.

Verse 17 continues by saying that we should give honor to the king. What if the “king” or something in that authoritative role doesn’t seem to deserve honor? What if they act in ways that are wrong or dishonoring to themselves and others?

I believe what he’s saying is that we honor the position God has established. Back in verse 13, Peter makes it clear that God is the one who created and established authoritative roles. Whether that is a president, governor, law enforcement official, teacher, pastor, husband, or parent, those roles were all set up by God for our benefit.

People may not use their authority rightly or well, but we should still show honor and respect. Not only that, but every single person is wonderfully and fearfully created by God. Every one deserves our honor for that reason alone, regardless of how they behave. This is a great book that breaks that down.

In verse 18, Peter takes it a step further telling us to submit even when someone is harsh, not only to those who are good and considerate. Wow! I confess I’ve thought that a person I’m dealing with didn’t deserve respect so why would I submit?

But it takes the grace, love, patience, and forgiveness of Christ to continue to show honor and respect, and to submit even when someone is not nice. Remember, that Jesus chose when and how to speak when he was confronted. He did not retaliate when he was insulted. The key word there is “retaliate.” He entrusted himself to God, knowing that God was in control of the situation and would deal with the person. (vs. 21)

Also, worthy to consider is that sometimes our submissive, honoring action is to remove ourselves from a situation or speak loving truth to someone who is acting harshly. God will lead us in how to handle the situation if we ask him.

**(Please note that “harsh” isn’t necessarily the same as abusive and/or dangerous. God does not call us to put ourselves into harmful relationships or stay there if we’ve allowed ourselves to get into them.)

So, now we’ve seen what “in the same way” means.

Next time we’ll move on to Chapter 3 and look at what Peter says specifically to spouses.

Yes, spouses. Not only wives. 😉

In the Name of Submission


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Submission is often a dreaded word.

I’m not going to lie, it’s a concept I’ve struggled with for most of my life. In part, I believe that’s because I didn’t understand it. And I think, unfortunately, the church as a whole is somewhat to blame.

The real problem lies in the way some have interpreted or defined “submission.”

It’s been coupled with obedience to mean that no matter what someone, specifically someone in authority, tells you to do, you must acquiesce without question. While obedience to God is good and right, when taken outside of that meaning, submission can be dangerous.

Many in authority, have used it to control. It’s been used to manipulate, subjugate, and dictate. Some have excused their actions, naming submission as their grounds for such. In extreme cases, submission has been used as reason to abuse.

No wonder it’s a hard term to get a handle on.

I’ve read about it, studied God’s word regarding it, and prayed hard over it, begging God to help me understand what he meant by submitting. For me, like many in bad situations, it perpetuated unhealthy relationships. A few pastors lovingly admonished me to submit in abusive settings. I know they meant well, and I’m sure they were intending to communicate the positive order God gave for family.

Certainly “submission” isn’t the bad guy here.

Submission actually has a good and fitting role IF we understand and implement it the way God intended.

I believe that way too often, we all take scripture verses out of context and end up misinterpreting them. Grossly. Anyone can find anything in the Bible to use out of context to support their own perspective.

Maybe you’ve heard of the man who sought God’s wisdom for a particular situation and opened his Bible to a couple of random passages that told him some nonsensical instruction.

“Judas went and hung himself.”

“Go therefore and do likewise.”

I’m a hundred percent certain that God is never telling anyone to follow those passages in that way.

But as silly as that example is, we do the same thing all the time. We say things like “God will never give you more than you can handle.” It’s a shortened, paraphrased verse taken out of context. Sorry, but that’s not what the Bible actually says. (See I Corinthians 10:13)

And unless we intentionally read what’s before and after a passage, as well as take it within the context of the entire Bible and all of what it says about God’s character, also taking into account the original language, we can badly misinterpret and misrepresent God’s word and intent.

This brings me to the book of I Peter in the Bible.

The first verse of chapter 3 starts like this. “Wives, in the same way, be submissive to your husbands…”

I can’t tell you how many times throughout my life someone has quoted that verse to me. I’ve analyzed it, struggled with it, and literally cried over it.

Because I love Jesus and want to obey his word. I love my husband and want to have the right attitude towards him.

I’ve looked at the verses before and after it, but this past week one phrase captured my attention.

“…in the same way…”

Wait. In what same way? What way was Peter talking about?

So, I decided to go back, way back, and look at what came before so I could get a better grasp of what “same way” it was talking about and why it was written here in this context.

Over the next couple of posts, I’d like to unpack what I found. Maybe it will be helpful to those who have wrestled with submission like I have.

First of all, this letter that Peter wrote to various believers in the surrounding areas was penned as an encouragement and a reminder to the people that they were chosen and loved by God. He admonished them to live in such a way that those around them who didn’t know about Jesus, would see their lives and end up believing and glorifying God as a result.

In Chapter 2 starting with verse 13, Peter starts breaking down each area of life and what it looks to live that way.

He tells the people to submit to authority for the sake of the Lord. That made me ask why for the sake of the Lord? God doesn’t need us to do anything for him. He’s capable of doing anything and everything in his own power.

Answer? He is at work in every situation so our submission aligns us with what he’s doing. It’s for the sake of what he’s doing in his kingdom that our submitting to him and those around us helps bring it about.

In verse 15, it tells us that when we do good by submitting, it “silences ignorant talk of foolish men.” Uh, we could use some of that right now, couldn’t we?

And lest you think that submission makes us doormats, Peter goes on in verse 16 to tell us to “Live as free men.” We’re not submitting ourselves into slavery, but choosing to be servants of Christ. That might look different in every situation. Sometimes submitting to God means laying our pride or agenda aside, but sometimes it might mean standing firm in obeying God instead of someone who demand we submit to their wrong plans.

Our obedience to God may lead us into situations that are challenging and even treacherous, but God doesn’t take us there without a plan for greater good. He knows who can stand under certain circumstances and what the outcome will be.

Daniel went into the lion’s den for submitting himself to God even though it meant NOT following orders of the king because those orders were directly in conflict with God. It was a severely dangerous situation from which God rescued Daniel.

There are believers being held in prison right now for obeying God. It’s not a good situation for them and their families. But when we look at the work God is doing through it and the people who are coming to know Jesus and be healed as a result, we can see the good God is bringing.

Submission is a broader term than we often think it is.

Next post we’ll unpack more about this word and see where it takes us especially when we get to wives.

In the meantime, whenever I think “submission,” I’m thinking “for the Lord’s sake.”

Moving Out, Moving On, Moving Up – Final


Last of storage unit items

Sorry to leave you all hanging. Maybe you surmised that my lack of writing about the end of this journey meant that we actually found a place and moved.

True story.

Another God move in moving us.

I saw a place on a site I hadn’t looked at for a while. One place that was actually reasonably priced in the midst of this current housing craziness caught my eye. Good location, decent price. I know it seems negative, but I figured it would already be rented.

Such has been the situation for so many people who are searching.

Interestingly enough, Brendan recognized the property management company as one a friend of his did work with. We attempted to apply online, but our application halted at the part that required proof of three times the monthly income. Since our current business is not yet producing that figure, we were stuck.

Apparently, money in the bank doesn’t speak in most cases.

But in this situation, Brendan put a call into his friend to ask about the situation and within two days, we had seen the place, applied and were accepted. Sometimes, it really is a matter of who you know! (Aside from God, who gets all the credit.)

Yet, we still had to be approved by the HOA.  

No problem, we were told. They usually respond within a couple of days.

Unless, of course, after you turn in the paperwork and money, they change HOA companies. We waited for three weeks without any word, praying about whether we should be looking for plan B. As the days clicked by, the waiting thing I thought I’d mastered by now, was sorely tested again.

Our Jesus friend, while not ready to kick us out, was ready to have us move on. It wasn’t like we’d outstayed our welcome, but we all felt that the season of God’s work for us there and his grace were running out. In faith, I started praying for those in our new neighborhood.

Approval came just a few days before the first of the month (February). We heaved a sigh of relief. (We also found out later that the approval had been given right away, but someone dropped the communication ball. Of course. Because God needed us to see how good we really were at waiting.)

Moving is hell. Pain, tears, exhaustion – next time we’re hiring professional movers. End of story. I’m sticking to that.

So here we are. Three weeks as of tomorrow.

What a crazy, ongoing season of testing, growth, challenges, and learning to think differently.

We sold, gave away, and left so much when we moved out. It seemed like I left half my life. And yet, in this greatly downsized rental, while we’ve had to buy new furniture, Brendan has already made about six trips to the local thrift store to give away more of our belongings.

Something about me – my attachment to things is completely sentimental. Some things I can say farewell to without too much grief, BUT other items I’ve cried over like I’ve lost the memories attached. It’s been a time of adjusting to more than just a new home.

And God made it clear that I was not to view this as temporary even if we’re only here a year. He said to make it home. Settle in. Be here. Interesting that Pastor Michael Todd is doing a series titled “Here is Holy.” I’m attempting to embrace that.

I’ve had to repent of a complaining spirit. I’m learning to ask God for strategies to make things fit where everything is – no lie – a quarter of an inch off. Praising him every day and being grateful even when I miss water views and big, bright spaces isn’t always easy in my dark home.

But that gives me all the more desire to praise God simply for who he is, not what he gives me or does for me. Not that he hasn’t done that too. He gave me love seats in miracle fashion, a new adjustable bed that helps me sleep better, and a lovely little chair from which I can write my novels.

I feel the squeeze of a smaller space, but in that I sense God pressing us closer to him and to each other. Our pastor, Matt Keller, is doing a series on Unity. (It’s all fitting together, isn’t it?) And the small group I started leading the day after we moved in (gotta love God’s timing), doesn’t mind how cozy we are in my little living room with two camping chairs making up for the dining chairs we’re still searching for. I’m learning so much in that Elijah study.

  • In everything, give thanks.
  • Lean not on my own understanding, but in all my ways trust God.
  • Hold onto the truth that God will renew my strength when I wait on him.
  • He cares about the details and wants me to see him working in them.
  • God is the one who sustains me.
  • Every situation, no matter how small or senseless to me, is preparation for what he has coming.

So, we’ve moved out, moved on, and…moved up? Maybe not in some sense of the phrase, but definitely to a higher plane of living from a spiritual perspective.

That’s what matters most. Always.

I want to see from God’s eyes. Function from his Spirit, not my reactive emotions and self-focused thoughts.

Because, HERE is HOLY.

Moving Out, Moving On, Moving Up – Part 9


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I was down with some bug the week after Christmas, and then, of course, that means Brendan succumbed the week after New Year’s. Whether the flu or some new random variant of covid, as far as I’m concerned it didn’t really matter. I did the same thing I do whenever I get sick: drink lots of water, let the fever do its thing (God created fever to kill germs so why would I interfere with that?), and rest in bed away from other people. No one likes to be sick. It interferes with life in so many ways, not to mention feeling crummy. But I have now seen almost every Christmas movie on Pure Flix so I had my fill of that.

It also put a damper on our house hunting so we’re still hanging out with our Jesus friend. God’s done incredible things while we’re here, and I’m so grateful. I’m also ready to move on whenever a door opens. (Literally.)

In the meantime, God is still pulling my attention to REST. Not the napping kind, even though I still need that every day, but the kind of rest that happens when I stay in the mind-set that God has everything in hand.

Rest in him. His rest.

I’m good at it for a while. I do whatever he says and it’s all good. But then circumstances don’t line up, and I start wondering why nothing is happening!

I start vacillating between what I’m certain God spoke—those promises he’s given us—and what’s actually occurring. Did I hear him correctly? Did I miss something? Am I obeying like I think I am?

So, I start trying to figure things out.

Trying to figure God out. As if that’s even possible.

Sometimes I’ll be taking steps I’m sure I need to take (you know, the things that he never said to do but that make sense), and it’s almost like I can hear him whisper

What are you doing, daughter?”

I’m…uh…I mean shouldn’t I…uh…doesn’t it make sense to…?

Always. Always. It comes back to God’s plan, God’s timing. Always. He knows what he’s doing. Everything is so much better when I throw up my hands and say “I don’t know.” I get into trouble in my spirit when I try to know, to figure it all out.

Typically, God gives me a word for the coming year. But the new year approached, and I heard nothing. Granted, I was sleeping with a fever and ongoing Christmas movies that week so maybe I wasn’t in a great attentive mode, but I think the delay was purposeful.

The New Year came with a promise of acceleration.

Yay! We’re moving on!

In rest.

What? How does that work?

Joseph Prince gave a great illustration for this 2022 promise. Resting in God while he accelerates us is like the travelator at an airport. If we’ve got our bags and we stand on one, it moves us ahead more quickly while we rest. I love that picture. Thank you, Jesus and Joseph.

Here’s the trouble.

I usually walk briskly on those things. I figure if it can move me quickly, won’t my walking move me even more quickly? Of course, it will. Makes sense. Right? But there’s no rest in that.

I guess that’s the point God is making. Let him do the work. It’s much easier when I don’t try to add my efforts to his already perfect plan. It tires me out. I end up feeling discouraged. Getting some place faster isn’t always better. Often, it’s not even right.

After this first week of the New Year, I was feeling a little discouraged. It’s a new year, why isn’t everything new? A place to live would be a good start, God…

Then our pastor’s message for this month is Ready. Set. Wait…

Of course, it is. This girl is raring to jump into the new thing God is doing. Now! And God is saying “rest, wait, be patient, let me do it in my timing.”

Finally, God gave me a word for the year yesterday. (Apparently, he wasn’t in the same hurry I was.)

RESTORE.

I’m excited to think that he will be restoring things this year. There are plenty of areas that applies to. And then one of those light bulbs went off in my head.

REST begins restore.

Point taken, Lord.

Today, I’m resting in him. Waiting on him to renew my strength. Exchanging my burdens for his lighter ones. Trusting that he knows what he’s doing. Only he can restore. And it has to begin with me resting. In. Him.

Moving Out, Moving On, Moving Up – Part 8


It’s the day after Christmas.

And all through the house…it’s quiet even in the late morning hours. We celebrated with family and friends and way too much food. I’m sure many people did. Then we sobered for a few moments to lift up silent prayers for those who were without running water and food to nourish them let alone satisfy their cravings. Even without many things, we are so incredibly blessed, aren’t we?

Even as we acknowledged how good God is and has been to us, my heart broke for a dear friend who discovered a deep betrayal on Christmas day. We chatted about how much it costs to follow Jesus. Sometimes it means people we love will walk away from us. Or it may mean we live without something we long for in order to be part of a bigger plan God has for impacting others’ lives. Through our tears, we agreed that it’s worth it. As hard as this past season has been, we wouldn’t change a thing.

All of the wonderful celebrations praising God at church, hearing that many gave their lives to Jesus, eating and laughing with friends and family, and considering the evil and hurt ravaging the world leaves me pensive. This morning as I reflect in the quiet after a time of silently worshiping Jesus through headphones so as not to disturb those sleeping in peace, I’m stirred in my spirit for the days to come.

God is doing something new.

I read a passage in John 8 (our church’s S.O.A.P. plan verses) that reminded me of a few things.

  • I don’t see all God’s ways. My perspective is limited to the world around me and my experiences. I can’t judge things by human standards. God’s kingdom is another realm that he’s created us through and for. He’s everything from before our human time began to the rest of eternity. He sees all and has already been where I’m going. So, every day I ask God to see from his eyes. I want to take in all he wants me to know and trust him for what I don’t.
  • I want to say and do only what God tells me to. Jesus said he did nothing on his own, but only what his Father taught him to say. If I believe that God sees and knows everything, then why wouldn’t I rely on him to give me words and direct my steps in the very best ways? Besides, I want to please the Father like Jesus did. He loves me, and I want to show that love back to him.
  • I pray that everything I take part in would cause people to put their faith in Jesus. Every single person is created by God, and he longs for a relationship with them. His love means he won’t force anyone, but would persuade us of his love so people would choose to respond. The passage says that after Jesus spoke to the people, many put their faith in him. Are my words and action helping others to see God more clearly so they will choose a relationship with him?

There are only a few days left in this year. I want to make every single day count.

It’s not like on New Year’s Eve everything will shut down (that’s an entirely different subject). But moving into 2022, I want to be ready for whatever God has for us.

I believe that also includes a more permanent place to live. 😉

What are you focusing on this last week of the year?

PS. If you aren’t familiar with S.O.A.P it means we read a Scripture, write our Observations, think about how it can be Applied, and Pray about all of that

Moving Out, Moving On, Moving Up Part 7


Christmas 2013 at the Bennet house

Christmas.

Different this year. Not only for us, but for so many people. Loved ones lost, jobs in limbo, crime escalating through the world.

But even though it may be different because we don’t know where we’ll be, and our Christmas decorations are in storage, is my lack of a Christmas tree going to change the fact that Jesus was born for us?

I don’t think so.

I’m realizing that in the grand, eternal scheme of things much of what we do at Christmas will not make or break it.

Aww…but I want to bake, and decorate, and hang the stockings with care.

Yet, God wants us to reframe our lives and our business to function from a place of his direction. He wants to clear out any distorted thinking, pride, fear, or self-reliance. The Lord is showing us how to live like the original followers of Jesus, funneling his provision through each other to help whoever needs it whether in the church or outside it.

His heart and focus are on those who don’t know him yet or have moved away from him.

He wants us to literally lay down our lives, die to self, and put others needs and interests ahead of our own.

Hey, isn’t that what Christmas is really all about?

God, the Word, came to us in the flesh. Not as God, but laying aside his position, his rights, his authority to be born in a dirty, smelly place with animals. Appearing to the lowliest of the community, the shepherds—who, by the way, knew what it meant to lay down their lives—the angels gave them the privilege of being the first to meet their Savior and spread the news.

After all, who else better to recognize the Lamb of God?

I’ll bet people thought they were crazy.

Maybe they were mocked. Ridiculed. What would a shepherd know about a bright light and a baby king? Did that make any sense?

The mother was a mere girl not even from their town. Really?

Rumors seeped through the community that her husband wasn’t really the father.

I’m pretty sure there are a few folks who wonder what the heck we’re doing. Temporary housing, couch surfing, letting our son fend for himself. (He is a nineteen-year-old college student with a solid job, not twelve, after all.) If I were looking at my life from the outside, I’d wonder what’s going on with us too.

It makes no sense.

Unless…God.

Praying, waiting, worshiping, waiting, reframing our thinking, waiting, searching, waiting…God has given us specific visions. It doesn’t make sense. Nothing can happen without his hand moving mountains. But he fed thousands of people with a few fish and loaves of bread. We’re opening our hands and hold out what we have, believing he will do miracles with that little bit and our sometimes-shaky faith.

Michael Todd, Pastor of Transformation Church in Tulsa, OK in his messages of crazy faith and crazy(er) faith says

“It’s only crazy, until it happens.”

Michael Todd

That’s what Mary and Joseph must have thought when Jesus was born. Maybe it’s what Simeon and Anna, who had waited and prayed for Messiah thought when they met him.

“It’s only crazy, until it happens.”

Then, can we acknowledge that it’s God?

Moving Out, Moving On, Moving Up Part 6


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I’m fighting the urge to make something happen.

The past few days have felt like we’re slogging through deep waters. Or for those of you who love winter snow, it’s that thigh deep, barely moving a trudging step at a time. It’s not bad, but it’s hard and tiring and leaves you out of breath.

I feel the weariness of our situation.

Our Jesus-friend host is so kind and gracious, as are her sons, and we all know that we are exactly in the right place at the right time, but…

Suitcases are challenging to live out of and sometimes you just want your own bed. (I’m sure she’d like hers back!) At times, it’s a perfect harmony of our little community here. Ahh…the flow moves smoothly. On rare occasions, I sense we’d all like a little breathing room.

God is working. It’s good. Deep issues rise to the surface. We’re embracing those places God reveals that still need refining in each of us. It’s what we want, but that doesn’t make it easy.

Forging a new path, taking a road less—or never traveled means moments of fear, doubt, uncertainty along with exhilaration, anticipation, and excitement.

In all of it, we also keep checking our armor. The enemy is in full attack mode. Family members ill, migraine headaches, unexpected business issues, and inexplicable situations, like the key breaking off in the lock of our storage unit, ravage our places of peace. On one hand, we cringe and cry, but on the other, we celebrate.

If we weren’t headed in the right direction, the enemy would have no cause to disrupt or distract us.

Yay, God! Yay, us.

For me, waiting patiently is one of the biggest challenges. When God gives a vision for what is ahead, I’m like a little kid rushing ahead, pulling away from my daddy’s hand to get into the new place, the exciting place, this next place. I often don’t want the journey; I just want to get there.

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Are we there yet?

That’s when I have to fight the urge to make something happen.

But if I push too fast, too quickly, there isn’t time for everyone to grow into what God’s doing. We won’t be prepared like we need to be. I can become bossy and miss my calling of encourager. Even when I know that only God’s way in God’s timing will bring the best result. That’s what I really want.

So, all day, God sent encouraging words and the listening ears of a friend.

I love that about our God. He sees our human frailty and knows exactly what we need when we need it. I think I may have written that a few posts ago, but it’s so true!

This morning, as I cried out to him, he answered me with two prophetic words, Bible verses, and sentences from a book I’m currently reading. (The Jesus Hearted Woman by Jodi Detrick )

“I believe you, Lord!” I silently shouted into the semi-darkness. “I believe you.”

The day held tears, laughter, some progress, and some frustration.

But a ferocious focus on Jesus.

The author of our faith. The one who wrote it into being and will keep perfecting it until the end.

How was your day?

To be continued…

Moving Out, Moving On, Moving Up Part 5


Sometimes we just need to remember what really matters.

In the midst of waiting, confusion, confession, and learning to surrender it all, an unexpected reminder brings us to our knees in humble recognition of the main thing.

Jesus.

Last night, Brendan took our friend and me to see The Chosen Christmas movie. It was a good thing I had a pile of tissue in my purse. The two words that circled my mind during our time in the theater and long after were brilliant and anointed.

Not only is this a top-rate production from every aspect, but it also sent chills through us the entire time.

The music, from old classic Christmas hymns to what will be a couple of new favorites, was superbly done. Children and strings added another layer to the musical treat.

Interviews with the musicians gave us a glimpse into the reality of every day life framed with the message of Christmas.

Each season, we talk about the Christmas story, but never in my life have I ever seen anything like this portrayal. The Bible came alive.

And as if that wasn’t enough—truly, it would have been—in between the magnificent musical numbers and interviews were dramatic monologues given by some of the Chosen actors who spelled out God’s loving plan for the salvation of his children from the beginning of time through today.

It was an evening of awe, worship, and the stunned shaking of our heads at the incredible message handed to us in the most beautiful package.

I’m still marveling at the truth and simplicity of it all as well as the God-given inspiration, talent, and resources that made it happen.

We can’t wait to see it again. And again.

The most important part is that I was reminded of the magnitude of God and his love for us. That we have no way of comprehending his intricate plans for our good. And overall, nothing really matters except for having the most intimate relationship with Jesus who came to us as a baby to be crucified so that through his resurrection, we could be living eternally with our God.

In light of that, our current journey takes on a new meaning.

God has miracles for us. His plans, if we choose to accept them, lead us into great things that will open up the way for others to come to know him. And through it all, he draws us closer to him where we get glimpses of his heart of love for all of us.

What a tremendous reminder.

Today, everything looks different. And so does this Christmas season.

To be continued…

https://www.fathomevents.com/events/The-Chosen-Christmas

Moving Out, Moving On, Moving Up Part 4


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In the upper room, the disciples waited for the Holy Spirit to come fill them and direct their next steps. I can imagine that after watching their leader crucified, even though Jesus rose from the dead and visited them, they were struggling with a variety of emotions.

Maybe at first, they were terrified. Disciples of The Way were being hunted and persecuted. It’s no wonder that they huddled in fear, praying and questioning what was going on.

They may have settled in after a week or two, but forty days is no short stint by our human standards. By week three or four, they might have begun asking if they heard correctly, or maybe they misunderstood.

“Wait for the gift…” he told them. “…when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” He promised them power in the midst of questionable circumstances.

While they waited, they prayed constantly. Peter reminded them of what the Scriptures said in Psalms as they looked for direction concerning filling the position of Judas who betrayed them all.

Wait.

That’s a tough word to carry out for most of us. Whether waiting in line, waiting for dinner, or waiting for something serious like a prognosis or response to a job interview, it’s not easy for us to wait.

So, while we’re staying with our same Jesus-friend once again (weren’t we here three months ago?) we sense God saying “wait.” Like the disciples in Acts waited for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we wait for his instruction. Common sense says look for some place to live. One comes up and we sense “no.”

Really?

We feel guilty for not running after the possibility.

The places we’ve felt led to pursue have offered no response. Nothing of it makes sense. Everything feels backwards. And yet, there is peace even in the waiting. We see God changing our perspective, showing us his heart, teaching us how to trust his plan that is outside the box and far from our comprehension.

Is that how the disciples felt as they waited?

Of course, we know the rest of the story.

Forty days later (so many places in the Bible reference forty days…), the Holy Spirit showed up exactly as promised. Jesus’s followers would never have imagined the scene. Tongues of fire over their heads, speaking in languages they didn’t know, peace, excitement rushing through them as the violent wind of the Spirit blew through the crowd.

Such an unusual situation, that outsiders attributed it to drunkenness.

And then, confirmation.

Peter spoke the scriptures, reminding the people of the prophetic words spoken by Joel. (Joel 2:28-32)

It’s always easy to believe after the fact.

But in the middle?

While the crowd is pressed up against the Red Sea? When the doctor says “cancer”? When the hundredth job interview in two years is a decline?

When we’re sitting in a friend’s living room praying for the office, the home, the property to become a reality?

I’m sure others following God are experiencing similar journeys. And so, I’m sharing ours. Maybe in the waiting, someone will find hope simply knowing that they are not alone.

To be continued…