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 – 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 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 2


On the day we were to move out of the vacation rental, I booked an extended stay hotel for a few days. (For previous post click here.) Within hours, friends called to offer for us to stay with them for a month. Their one-bedroom apartment unit and extra bedroom/bath worked well for us. Four days later, we moved in, grateful for this next leg of our journey. Even then though, I confess to having a melt-down. In exhaustion, even while standing in the kitchen area of our new, temporary lodging with a beautiful view I cried.

“Be grateful,” I admonished myself.

“The holidays are coming, and I don’t have a home.” I whined.

Weeks later, God allowed us a wonderful trip to stay with our oldest daughter and her family who were visiting North Carolina. We also made an unexpected connection with some old friends who had moved there. It eased my grief about holidays and not being in a home with family. God knew exactly what I needed.

Our one month turned into two with this wonderful couple. Because of a project they were developing, our stay actually ended up being helpful for them. Only God knew how perfectly the situation would benefit us all!

On Monday, our stay there came to an end.

During the past two months, one night while I made dinner, I felt God say to start looking again. Brendan concurred. We were led to a property that we believe we will purchase at some point in the near future. We went to look at it and fell in love with the potential, even though it doesn’t make sense. But we know God told us not to worry about whether it makes sense or not. He said to trust him, and he will give us this territory to impact the surrounding community. We started praying over the area, and continue to wait for God’s timing and resources.

Then in a dream a couple weeks later, I saw us looking at warehouses and office buildings. I woke up with the strong sense to look for an office. Maybe we would end up living there? I searched commercial property and one particular place caught my attention. It would be perfect for our business team. When we went to look at it, we immediately sensed that it was to be the location of our office. It’s bigger than we need, but the impression we had was that we were building for the future, not only the present. We would need the space to grow into. And God indicated that we will impact all the offices that fill the neighborhood. We’re still waiting for the owner to make a decision on our rental offer.

But still no living situation. It all makes no sense. But God’s peace has been undeniable.

So we packed up, loaded our cars, and didn’t know where we were going to go. We ended up at our church for a leader’s training and worship night. Our faith got a boost in that incredible environment. Our son had a place to stay, and we ended up at a hotel for the night.

Now we are at a friend’s house.

We all believe God’s saying for us to be here right now as we formulate business plans. Plans that are God directed and run. And while it makes perfect sense in the realm of the Kingdom, it makes no earthly sense.

But here’s the deal.

I woke up in the middle of the night and realized how peaceful I felt. In a hotel room with our belongings stuffed into our car and no solid place to call home, my heart was settled. I realized how much God had changed me over the past few months. The incredible things he’s working in each of us and our marriage as we journey through this “homeless” adventure are undeniable and valuable.

When I surrendered looking, I gave up my need to figure things out. Eventually, I let go of what I wanted and decided I wanted God’s will more. I choose to believe that no matter how messy and senseless our circumstances may appear, God’s plan is good. He is in control.

People need to know that. They need Jesus. And if our journey can further that in any way, that is what we want more than anything.

We don’t know where we’re going. We continue to wait and look as God leads. We’ve approached a few places as possibilities. Only God knows where the perfect fit is for us.

I’ve decided that it’s okay if I don’t know. He does. That’s all that matters.

In the meantime, we’re revamping our business. I’m writing new books. We’re discovering those areas God wants to grow us in, and we’re waiting expectantly and patiently for him to lead us. We’re speaking his promises and visions for us in faith.

That is where our strength is renewed.  That’s what God promises.

“Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary; they walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

To be continued…

Getting Off Track


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I had a vision the other day when I was praying. I don’t know if it was exactly a vision, but often when I’m praying, I get a random picture in my head. Except, I don’t believe they’re random. When I’ve prayed for people, and a picture comes to mind, the person is usually astounded at the way it perfectly relates to them or their situation.

That’s the power of God. He sees and knows all things. His Spirit is able to speak to us and through us if we are willing to be in communion with him and used by him.

All of that is an explanation for my time with Jesus last week.

Due to crazy, unexpected circumstances, our family is in a transition situation with housing. The details for this post don’t matter as much as what I’ve been learning in this season.

The journey is always more important than the destination.

I may know and believe that, but in the middle of circumstantial pressure and timelines, deadlines, pressing in, I forget. And recently, I realized that I was seeking answers from the Lord more than I was seeking him.

Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7). He says our heavenly Father is good and wants to give us good gifts (Matthew 7:11). Every good gift is from Him! (James 1:17) The Bible also says that if we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ask and it will be given to us. (James 1:5)

So there is nothing wrong with asking for what we need and seeking direction from God. That’s a good thing!

But what God really wants is relationship with him. He longs for us to be in his presence. We need to seek HIM first before everything else.

I found that when I went to God, I was actually getting off track by:

  • Time restraints – God is outside time, but we live in a timed world that can feel like pressure if we don’t have the right focus
  • Options – sometimes there are many good (and some bad) options available to us, and we can get caught up in the plethora of possibilities trying to figure out the best one God has for us
  • Questions – it’s easy to focus more on “why is this or that happening?” or “what is going on?” rather than trusting that God has a plan and will let us in on it in the prefect timing
  • Outside distractions – illness, broken appliances, world problems, family needs, friends’ issues to name only a few of the daily things that can keep us tied up – the Bible says “entangled”

Praying about all those things isn’t wrong or bad, but I discovered that when I sought only Jesus first, everything else fell into place. Just sitting in his presence, singing to him, praising him, and thanking him changed my heart attitude and made everything clearer.

The Bible tells us to “take every thought captive” and make it obedient to Jesus Christ. I used to tell my kids to think about that verse as if thoughts came knocking at the door of our castle. We might open the little mini-door to see who’s there, but then, if it’s not the lovely, pure, excellent thoughts we should have (Phil. 4:8), we send the thought to the dungeon where Jesus is in charge.

I don’t want anything to distract me from Jesus.

That brings me to the picture I had.

Which was of a large, red umbrella. At the time, I was praying with some people and believed it was for someone. (It turned out it was.) When I first have a picture pop into my mind, it’s just a picture and doesn’t usually make sense, but as I sit and wait for God to explain, it typically becomes clear.

In this case, God said that he was the umbrella and it was time to come out of the rain of things that were an overwhelming flood of distraction coming down. He said to cling to the handle, stay close, and hold fast to him, and he would cover the person. The umbrella was red denoting the blood of Jesus that covers us.

It turns out that the picture was also for me. Maybe it speaks to you as well.

When Jesus is all that matters, he covers us and nothing else, even things that seem (or are) so crucial, lose their position in our perspective. Not only that, but he always comes through with answers, makes impossible situations work out, and makes every crooked place smooth.

I have to remember to keep blinders on – like a horse in a race. LOL

Worship is one of the things that helps me keep my focus on track. This song is one that helped me that day and for days following.

Here’s to keeping on track with Jesus.

The Answer to Everything


What would you do if you could have the answer to everything?

Would you pay for it? Sell everything you have for it? Go without eating to get it? Would you go off alone for days if it meant you could obtain it?

What if I told you that the answer to everything is within your grasp, totally free, and the only thing you need to give up for it is yourself?

What is the answer?

You may be surprised. But it makes sense.

God’s presence is the answer to everything. Every prayer. Every need. Every dilemma, tragedy, crisis, challenge, or question.

We see this in the story of Moses.

Most of us have heard the “legend” of the burning bush. A particular movie even satirized it by making it a singing bush. But when we look more closely at the story in the Bible, we see the way it can relate to our life.

Moses was a baby who was supposed to be killed, but by a miracle, he was saved and actually raised in the palace of the king of Egypt by the princess. Growing up, he had every privilege. Fine food, clothes, servants, education, and status even though he was born the son of a Jewish family with a price on his baby head. (Only God can do something like that.)

He grew up and realized his true identity meant he had a role to fulfill, but he tried to do it his way and ended up slinking out of town after murdering a man.

So, forty years later, this humiliated (humbled) murderer is tending sheep, not his own, but his father-in-law’s sheep—an honorable, yet humble profession—on the far side of the desert (talk about alone time), when God appears.

In a bush. Burning with fire.

Naturally, Moses is intrigued and decides to check it out. How can a bush be burning, but never burn up? Physics defied. But that’s God for you.

First thing God tells Moses is that he’s on holy ground. In other words, Moses is in the very presence of God. Then God gives Mo (you don’t mind if I call him that, do you?) some specific encouragement like “you’ve got this” and instruction “say I AM sent you and use your staff.” Mo wasn’t very confident anymore after forty years living in the desert with sheep, but God gave him a sidekick to help him. (I love the way God reunites families!)

God told him up front the basics of what would happen. The king (Pharaoh) would resist, but eventually come around after some serious plague persuasion, and then the people were supposed to ask their neighbors for gold and silver to take with them. (Why would they need gold and silver in the desert?? That’s another story.)

Here are some things I love about this story:

  • Once again (see last week’s post), God came to someone (Moses) when he was alone, far from anyone, minding his own business. God calls us where we are at.
  • God does whatever it takes to get our attention. He knows what will turn our head and make us take notice. Granted, today, if any of us saw a bush on fire, we’d probably be quick to take a video and post it on social media.
  • God sees us. He told Moses that he saw the misery of his people.
  • God is concerned for the condition and circumstances we’re in. His love for us is great, and his heart breaks when we are hurting.
  • God has a good, spacious, place for us beyond the current situation. He never says it will be without obstacles, but it will be great. Milk and honey may not be your jam, but the idea is sweet, nourishing, and abundant.
  • God promises to bring us out of our misery. We have to be willing to do what he says to get out. He does his part, but without our obedience it won’t happen.
  • God has more for us than simply taking us out of a bad situation. When he removes us, he lets us take abundance with us and leads us somewhere better.

We all know the part of the story where the Israelites come to the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army hot on their heels. Ever been in that place where it seems like there’s no way out?

God parts the waters, the army drowns, and the people make it to the other side safely.

What was the answer to all their questions? Prayers? Needs?

God’s presence. He saw them. Sent help. Went ahead of them. Cut off the danger behind them, and then led them with fire by night and smoke during the day.

Okay, so today, we may not have smoke and fire, but when we accept the presence of God through believing in Jesus, we have God’s spirit—Holy Spirit—living with us. In us, to be exact. Surrounding us, covering us, filling us up.

But it’s easy for us to let life’s circumstances draw us away from God’s presence. After all, when the hot water heater breaks and leaks all over the floor, it’s understandable that we might be focused on water around our ankles and forget the Spirit of God that we don’t see is right there with us.

Let’s say something like that happens. And even though we’re surrounded by crisis, when we know that God sees, has a plan, knows what we need, and wants better for us, we can take a moment to rest in his presence that is there even when we think we might drown. Let him send rescue. Remember that he wants to take us out of misery and give us more. Ask him for instructions.

So, what burning bush has he sent your way lately?

After a Long Time


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Do you notice how it seems that when we are in a place where something is taking a long time to happen or change, our fear and doubt grows?

Yeah, me too.

That also happened to Obadiah in the Bible. When I read his story recently, I was struck by the parallel to our current lives.

Here’s the basic run-down of the situation:

For a long time, a crazy lady, Jezebel, and her bad-guy husband, Ahab, had been running things like tyrants in Israel and all the surrounding areas. They had set out to kill all the godly prophets (the folks who spoke the messages of God to instruct and encourage his people), and many of them were dead.

Obadiah was actually in charge of the king’s palace, but he had been frantically working to save these prophets by hiding a hundred of them in caves and sneaking them provisions.

Like I said, it was a crazy, scary time.

To top it off, there hadn’t been any rain for three years so there was a severe famine in the land. Ahab called on Obadiah to find grazing land for the animals (clearly more important than the people it seems.)

But as always, God had a plan. And it was a great one. It seems like in the places of the greatest lack, God does the biggest work.

When Ahab and Obadiah split up to search for some grass, God sent the prophet Elijah to speak to Obadiah. I love that God waited until Obadiah wasn’t with Ahab. He often gets us alone, away from the distraction of the enemy, so he can speak to us.

You can imagine how stunned and excited Obadiah was to see Elijah. He was, after all, the prophet of all prophets. The main man, we might say. He evaded capture because of God’s protection and suddenly showed up to speak to Obie of all people. (You don’t mind of I call him that, right?)

This is where I started to notice some cool things.

  • Obie was a “devout believer in the Lord.” Don’t some of us feel stuck in an evil situation for a long time even though we are steadfast in following the Lord? Following Jesus doesn’t always mean we won’t have trouble. In fact, we may have even more. (But always with a good ending.)

Elijah instructs Obie to go tell Ahab that Elijah is in the area. Say what? Yeah, Obie kind of freaks out about this because obviously Ahab is out to kill Elijah and anyone associated with him.

  • Because of his past and current trauma (3 long years of drought, tyranny, and killings), Obie doubts this man who he absolutely knows is a good guy. Isn’t it easy for us to doubt what God is telling us when all we can see is our past and/or current trauma?
  • Obie predicts that he will be killed IF Elijah doesn’t follow through with meeting Ahab, IF Obie tells Ahab that Elijah is “in the house,” or IF God decides to take Elijah away again. “If” and “what if” gets us in trouble every time we say or think it. When we start projecting possible problems, our fear increases and faith diminishes.

God is so faithful though. Elijah promises that he won’t bail on Obie, and in the end, Obie decides to trust God and Elijah. He goes to inform Ahab of the situation. All good, right?

Yes.

But, not without trouble.

Immediately, when Ahab meets Elijah, he throws out false accusations at him saying that Elijah is the trouble-maker in Israel. In truth, it’s Ahab and Jezebel who are the trouble-makers, and Elijah makes it clear. Not only with words, but with actions.

  • Whenever we are falsely accused, it is the enemy—Satan—who uses people to speak against us. He accuses us with the very same thing that HE is doing. So instead of getting all offended by the accusation, we can recognize it and calmly call it out with truth especially if it is the opposite of who we are and the same as what that other person is doing/saying. Sometimes it’s best to ignore it. Don’t defend ourselves because we don’t need to. Taking a stand in godly conviction is different than defending ourselves and our position. (Still learning this every day!)

This is where things get really good.

Elijah doesn’t just confront Ahab and argue with him, he calls all the people together and has a contest. Yep. Right then and there he tells them to make an altar and put some meat on it and call on their gods to catch it on fire and burn it up. He says he’ll do the same thing, and whichever god answers the challenge is the real God.

  • The people wavered between the God of their ancestors and the gods of the evil tyrants, Ahab and Jezebel. In light of something new, they let go of the truth they knew from the past. God says that if we need wisdom, we should ask him and not doubt what he says or we’ll be double-minded, tossed back and forth. Do you ever feel tossed? I’ve learned that if I feel unsettled, it’s because I’m trying to hold onto two things. Usually, it’s that I know what God says, but I’m trying to make it fit something else that seems to make more logical sense. Just saying.

The people agree and build an altar, stack the meat on top, and spend all day calling, dancing, cutting themselves, and finally screaming at their gods, but nothing happens. (Why are we not surprised? If their god was real, why after 3 years of sacrifices, hadn’t it rained?)

  • What type of plans, rituals, pleading, figuring, etc. do we often attempt in order to make something happen in our lives, but to no avail? Maybe we are looking at the wrong things and/or motives to secure what we want or need.

I’m sure you’ve guessed the rest of the story by now (unless you are a Bible reader and already know it).

Elijah built his altar, but he one-upped the deal by adding a trench and pouring three jars (we’re not talking mason jars, people) of water over the entire thing. Before he called on the Lord, he proclaimed that the people would know that God was the only God and turn their hearts back to him.

  • This year, everywhere in scripture, I find that same theme. “So they will know that I am God.” What if we choose to believe that everything that happens in our lives, good or bad, is so that we or someone else will know that God is who he says he is?

Of course, God came through because he gave Elijah the plan to start with, and Elijah committed the altar building to the Lord, the only true God. The fire of the Lord consumed the entire altar as well as the soil and all the water. (I’m still wondering where they got the water in a drought…but God!) God never does things half-way!

In the end, the people came to their senses, got rid of all the false gods and the false prophets of Baal. Elijah prayed for rain, and after seven reports from his watchman, it rained—a lot! That’s a whole other story. And then, God made Elijah teleport to the city Ahab was running away to. True story. (And you thought teleporting was a new idea.)

The story doesn’t end there. Elijah has an exhaustion melt down—no wonder! That was some pretty intense work he did. But God shows up in a whisper.

  • Sometimes we look for God to show up in the same way all the time, but God is far more creative than that. Where have we missed hearing God because we thought he would only speak a certain way?

The bad guys get theirs—in a bad way.

  • The bad guy always loses. Think of when people watched their political hopeful, the Savior of the world be beaten and crucified. That was a dark day. But God brings life out of death. No matter how dark, he is always victorious. I’m learning to think and live from that reality of victory rather than the false reality of circumstances—even when they look more real. Truth is, we are actually spiritual beings in a physical world. Think about it.

You can read the entire story and more in I Kings. This came from chapter 18 and part of 19, but I recommend starting at the beginning. Actually, the beginning of the Bible will give you the entire story of it all.

Seriously, if you’ve never read it, it’s the best book ever written. Step aside soaps and reality TV. The Bible is where it’s at!

Well Done


It’s no secret that evil in the world has been uncovered and increased in recent months. Suddenly, chaos runs rampant through every nation and life doesn’t make sense on any side. Vicious men spill innocent blood. People are fleeing for their lives. Lawlessness abounds.

Whether you know Jesus or not, the facts are obvious.

For those of us who are familiar with the Bible, we are confident that Jesus is returning soon for those who love him. He promised that when we began to see these situations, we were in the beginning of a time when we would soon see him face to face. (Matthew 24)

Most of us anticipate that day with great hope and expectation.

But, what are we doing while we wait?

In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus tells three stories that give us a clear picture of what our time of waiting should look like.

First, we are to be prepared. We often think that we’ll have plenty of time to get ready to meet Jesus. Tomorrow we’ll stop indulging in something not beneficial to us. Next week we might start going to church. We can get into a relationship with God later. Maybe we think we’ll have a chance to scramble at the last moment when Jesus arrives. But in the story of the ten virgins, he makes it clear that if we aren’t waiting in prepared anticipation of him, we will miss living with him for the rest of eternity.

Secondly, God has given us various things to steward, or manage well while we wait. He’s created us with characteristics that can bless and encourage others. His plan is for us to use our gifts, talents, finances, and resources in the best possible ways. We can’t let fear or our poor understanding of situations to cause us to mismanage those things. In the story of the servants, the ones who used what they were given well, were given more. It didn’t matter how much they were given to start with, it was about what they did with it. They were commended with a “well done.”

Lastly, people all over the world have needs. Some are in our neighborhood or at our job. They are hungry, thirsty, lonely, sick, without daily provisions, and in captivity—either prison or in bondage to wrong thinking or addictions. Jesus said that when we do anything to help one of these, it’s as if we are doing it for Jesus. When we love him, we show his love by caring for those he loves.

How do we know what we are to do at any time?

Pray. Ask God. What do you have for me today?

Whenever he gives us a nudge to spend time with him, use our resources to help someone, or visit someone who needs a little encouragement, we need to obey the nudge. Soon, in the midst of this crazy world, we’ll be in the presence of Jesus hearing “well done.”