Afraid Yet Filled With Joy


Fear seems to be dominating the world right now.

War, shootings, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, food shortage, gas prices, violence breaking out all over the world, and political battles with court cases pummel us from every angle. Headlines rarely have something positive to report (unless you watch or read some positive news source like CBN, Newsmax, Epoch Times, Dailywire, TBN – just to name a few where you can see truth and positive stories).

Even in our daily activities, we’re stunned by shut downs, breakdowns, and everything down. Today, my husband went to a local Dunkin’ Donuts for a business coffee meeting and found them closed due to lack of help. And we live in one of the best, growing, open states!

But I love that in Matthew 28:8, it says that the women who had gone to the tomb where Jesus had been buried left there feeling “afraid yet filled with joy.” Why?

The tomb was empty.

Jesus had risen from the dead just as he said he would. Kind of a trippy, frightening, yet exciting experience for them, right? Also much like what those of us who are in relationship with Jesus feel today. Everything happening in the world is an indication that Jesus will take us to meet him soon. We don’t know exactly when that “soon” is, but while we watch the fearful events of the current day, we are also filled with joy.

I can’t wait to be with Jesus face to face.

Like a bride anticipating the moment she walks down the aisle to see her groom awaiting her. Heart fluttering. Palms a little sweaty while holding a stunning flower bouquet. The look of adoration in his eyes.

Verse 9 says “Suddenly, Jesus met them.”

When they least expected it, but expectantly anticipated it, Jesus was there. With them. Greeting them. Love flowing. Joy exploding. Peace replacing fear.

They worshiped at his feet, and he reassured them. “Don’t be afraid.”

That is exactly where we find joy and peace in the midst of fear. At the feet of Jesus. In his presence. His perfect love for us throwing fear away. No matter what things look like, how they appear, Jesus is there with us, reassuring us, promising us that he is in control. We can trust him.

And then he told the women to go tell everyone else where they could see him.

That’s what I want to do with everything I live and write, whether on my blog or in a book.

You can find Jesus in the room with you. Sitting in your car. Standing next to you at work. You may not see him like the women did when he physically walked on the earth, but he is here, there. If you speak to him, acknowledge him, seek him, he’ll suddenly meet you right where you are. He loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. He’ll speak to you through his spirit to your spirit. And when you agree that you need him, you believe he died for you, God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit will live in you.

God designed us to hear him. If we resolve to seek him when we are lost, afraid, wondering how to navigate life, and set our eyes on him, he will make us able to not be afraid. He will help us think like he thinks, having great wisdom that brings peace, humility, calmness, and patience.

In spite of awful situations in our life or around us, we can find joy in his presence. Even if we feel afraid.

That’s more good news, isn’t it? And these days, we need some good news!

I have more good news for those patiently waiting for the release of Winds of Change, book 4 in the Winds of Redemption series. The e book version is finally out! It will be FREE from June 11 – 15th. Click the picture to get yours!

Bailey Davis is headed to a California college to learn landscape design. New friends and beautiful surroundings offer her a great start and a promising future. But when she’s faced with prejudice, opposition to her faith, and the persecution of her and some friends, will standing for truth run her straight into danger?

Newly engaged Dylan Davis encourages his daughter’s dreams and independence. Their unforgettable road trip to settle Bailey at school launches them both into a new season of life. Until Bailey goes missing and Dylan must face the demons of his past.

As their faith is tested from every side, Baily and her father must dig deep to continue trusting the God who miraculously brought them together once before.

If you haven’t read the first three books in the series, you can find them here.

In the Name of Submission – cont.


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.”

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?

What Is Evil?


There are some things we would all agree with as being the epitome of evil. Serial killing, sex trafficking, murdering the innocent and helpless, and vicious brutality would all be in the category of “evil.”

But what if some work of the devil is much more subtle? What if we tolerate or even participate without even realizing that what we are thinking, doing, or accepting is actually evil?

In the book of Acts in the Bible, in the fourteenth chapter, we can see some of these subtleties of evil in Luke’s account of the apostles’ journeys and activities. It tells of how Paul and Barnabus were teaching in the Jewish synagogue—a place we would consider peaceful and full of kindness—and many people were encouraged and believed what they taught.

But then there were those who acted badly, and eventually, even viciously.

Here’s how we know they were being used of Satan to subtly perpetrate evil.

  • They refused to believe. Everyone can choose to believe or not. God doesn’t force anyone to receive his love. But the word “refused” reveals a heart of rebellion, not simply disinterest.
  • They stirred up the crowd. Specifically, they targeted the Gentiles who were different than them. Can anyone say “racism?” They were causing distrust and doubt among people groups.
  • They poisoned people’s minds against their brothers. We’re not talking siblings here, but other members of the same group of people being turned against each other. Sowing dissension, division, and hatred.
  • They plotted to mistreat the men who were teaching. It’s interesting that the people plotting were from both groups—a portion of the Jews and Gentiles came together to cause harm together.
  • They attracted people from other towns to create a mob. Then this mob stoned Paul and left him for dead.

Sound like anything we’ve seen or heard of lately?

Here’s the thing about what Paul and Barnabus were doing. It was all good. No one was forced to agree with them or believe what they taught. They simply shared what they knew—what they had experienced for themselves.

No threats. No violence.

The Bible says they:

  • Spoke effectively.
  • Spent considerable time with the people.
  • Confirmed their message with miracles.
  • Ran away from trouble.
  • Healed a crippled man.
  • Were humble and never claimed to be any better than any other person.
  • Spoke of God’s kindness, provision, and joy.
  • Strengthened and encouraged people.
  • Prayed for people.

Hmm…

It seems pretty clear when it’s examined like that, doesn’t it?

Maybe there are four groups of people.

Some may, for whatever reason, choose to perpetrate evil acts. Others may subtly, in their hearts, refuse any message of good and therefore create hatred. Perhaps there are those, who without realizing it, are sowing seeds of dissension and division, setting brother against each other—or by their participation are allowing it.

The last group are those who choose love and kindness. They show grace for others and speak truth in love with acceptance. Sometimes that may mean not to speak at all or to speak about something encouraging and hopeful. Changing the subject can be a loving strategy.

Tolerance and acceptance doesn’t mean ignoring and allowing evil.

We can accept that everyone has a choice to believe what they want, and we can honor them by not demanding they agree with our choices. But if someone chooses to act in a way that will harm another, we can also step in and take action to protect. Not to defend our position, but certainly to defend someone’s life.

Paul chose to return to the people even after they stoned him. He claimed that we would endure hardship for the kingdom of God and was willing to put his life on the line.

So, where are we? In which group do we find ourselves?

Is it possible that we are ignorantly participating in evil without realizing it or considering the cost?

Or are we loving people and showing them kindness? The Bible says it’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4), and that the anger of man will not bring about the righteousness of God (James 1:20). How are we doing with that?

The disciples were able to live showing kindness to others while they shared their testimony of what they’d seen and heard because they were filled with the Holy Spirit and joy.

I want to be like them. Like Jesus.

How about you?

The Joy Set Before Him


“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2-3

It was for us, you and me, that Jesus endured the cross and rose again to life. Because of his sacrifice, we can be in relationship with the living God now in these last days on earth and forever in heaven. Never underestimate the power of his love and grace for us. No matter where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or who we think we are or aren’t, God created us, has a plan for us, and redeemed us through Jesus.

All we have to do is say “Yes. I want that relationship. I’m sorry for going my own way. Thank you, Jesus.”

Four-Letter Words


My husband and I watched a Disney movie recently and noticed how often in this PG rated film four-letter words were spoken. I’m not surprised, just saddened by the way we’ve lowered our standards over the years and especially these past few months.

The Bible says,

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

Using swear words is unwholesome.

Let’s be real, the world doesn’t care. And all of us are human. I’m sure we’ve all gone through a season of “unwholesome” or let a few words fly from our mouths that don’t benefit anyone. I know I have.

But maybe we could replace our thinking of four-letter words. There are plenty that would be more uplifting and would build people up. Here’s a few I’m learning to embrace.

REST – In this crazy, faster than the speed of light teched-out world, we’ve forgotten how to rest and what rest is for. God created rest. He worked to create the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Rest gives us time to process everything in our lives. It creates space for us to dream. We are refreshed when we take time to rest. What if that time of rest was not only for recuperation but for preparation? Beginning each week from a place of rest instead of thinking we need to catch up makes the dreaded Monday, a fun day. Snatches of rest during a day makes us more productive. According to Alex Pang, PhD., something he calls “deliberate rest” is a practice of highly successful people. Maybe God knew what he was talking about when he told us to rest on the Sabbath day and let the land rest every seven years.

LOVE – As the old song says, it’s what the world needs now. Hatred, violence, and fear run rampant in the absence of love. The Bible tells us that God’s perfect love casts out fear, and as followers of Jesus, we’ll be known by our love for others. Being truthful, kind, compassionate, and considerate in how we talk about and to each other as well as how we treat people shows love and changes our world. God IS love. Let’s embrace Him and show love.

MEEK – I’ll bet that’s not one you expected. Meek has gotten a bad rap as meaning weak, pathetic, or a doormat. But it’s true meaning is humble or gentle. Jesus chose humility when he came to earth. He didn’t answer accusations or defend himself when he faced betrayal and a mock trial. His meekness was actually him choosing to control the power he had, lay down his rights for something far more important (relationship with us – let your mind and heart grasp that), and treating people with kindness and gentleness when he had every right to mock or destroy them. If we choose meekness, we will be humble and gentle in our dealings with people.

HOLY – Set apart. Hallowed. Special. Everything of God is holy. He also calls us holy, because he created us in his image, and he calls us to hold holiness as something sacred. That means we honor God. Set him apart as the only God. There is none like him. He is to be praised. And we are to set ourselves apart from anything that doesn’t bring him glory and honor. We also need to honor ourselves and others in the way we speak and act.

HOPE – If one thing the world needs is love, the other is hope. I write and post about Jesus being our hope. He is our only hope, a living hope. No person, situation, government, money, circumstance, etc. can truly offer us hope. When we place our hope in things, we may be temporarily relieved, but eventually disappointed. People fail, things fall apart, circumstances change. God is faithful no matter what. Only Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

WAIT – We might feel like this could be a swear word. We’re used to everything from food to text replies happening in seconds. If our computer takes more than a few seconds to load, we fuss. Stop lights in my town are three to five minutes long (NOT exaggerating!) and people don’t want to wait. I’ve seen more people speed through red lights here than any other place I’ve lived. But learning to wait is good for us. It keeps us from making rash decisions, or saying something in a moment of anger. Waiting means we can let God secure better things for us in his timing than we could ever get for ourselves. We gain more patience as we wait and that makes us more pleasant to be around.

Those are just a few of my new four-letter words. Are there others you’ve been exploring lately?

Let’s change the narrative, as we say these days, and start using some new four-letter words that build up and benefit others as well as ourselves.

Lost in His Love


While this unexplained illness or condition has taken over my body for the past five months, I’ve experienced a myriad of emotions. In the beginning, the majority of my time I lived in a sense of peace. The condition was inconvenient, a little scary and sometimes painful. With no explanations, negative blood tests, and absolute trust in my Savior who heals, I settled into the journey, believing that any morning I would wake up and be fine again.

Clearly, that hasn’t been the case.

My complete trust in Jesus and his healing hasn’t wavered. I’m not scared. I wait each day for his healing to manifest. He’s promised me, my husband, my family, and friends that I will see his healing come. The only unknown is when.

In the meantime, I’ve become nearly immobile. The pain is often so excruciating that it wrenches cries out of me—sometimes when I least expect it. My body is swollen all over making it difficult to move or sleep. I confess that most days I dread getting into bed as well as hating to get out of it.

I eat clean and healthy. I take supplements, herbs, oils, teas and have fasted a number of foods at different times to check for any allergies. A couple of homeopathic medicines give a little relief from pain that typical medications don’t touch.

It seems God has made it clear that this “thing” will not be healed by anything or anyone except him.

I believe he has a purpose in all of this. He’s working in me and my husband. I pray that I will be glorifying to my Lord God. When pain is at it’s worst, I pray for others who suffer far worse than I do for years or at the hands of those torturing them because of their love for Jesus.

Some days, I confess, I feel discouraged.

But the one thing that has sustained me and continues to be the only place of complete relief is being in the presence of Jesus.

I can imagine how people flocked to him when he walked the earth. Many came to him for healing. They obviously wanted freedom from their torturous life. But what some of them realized and experienced was the incredible joy and peace that came from being in his presence.

Even the bleeding woman just wanted to get close enough to touch his robe.

Being in the presence of God.

Getting lost completely in his love. That is where I find peace. Where the discouragement of my condition dissolves and time stops (time is irrelevant to God). Peace, that kind that we don’t understand, washes over me, rests on me, and thoroughly surrounds me.

That is also where healing starts.

Healing for our hearts, our bodies, our relationships, and our life starts in the presence of our loving God. Totally submerged in his love, we also find identity, purpose, direction, and release.

I don’t know how long I will be in this place.

I might wake up tomorrow and be able to move and live again without pain and fatigue. I also might find that the perfect timing of God hasn’t come yet. Maybe it won’t for weeks, months, or years. Healing may not come until I’m in heaven at my Savior’s side.

But I do know that each day, I’m finding peace, strength, growth of faith, and joy in the presence of Jesus here and now.

 There’s an album by Brandon Lake (Bethel Music) called House of Miracles that I’ve been playing on repeat. The live release session of the entire album can be played here on Youtube. Every song is inspired and an incredible leading into the presence of God. One of my favorites, Lost in Your Love, has these lyrics that stand out to me:

“Your power is found in the roughest waters, where I have no choice but to trust you, Father, where my every fear has to surrender….”

This season of illness is rough waters. There are no answers—doctors are stumped, typical diagnoses don’t fit, neither diet nor medication is resolving it. I have no choice but to trust my heavenly Father and surrender any fear or discouragement to him.

It is only when I’m lost in his love, sitting in his presence singing, listening, reading his word, that I’m in another place beyond today’s challenges.

No matter what we experience, whether physical, emotional, circumstantial, or relational, the presence of Jesus with his love washing over us is where we are transcended into another realm. It is where healing starts and will be completed. It’s where peace reigns. Peace we can’t explain. Peace that is beyond happiness due to circumstantial changes. Where fear must leave – in his perfect love that casts it away.

If we want to get well, he is there. Jesus is our healer. Jesus is our peace. He is our hope and joy.

Even in the midst of the roughest waters.

Where Do We Go from Here?


This is a long post today, but bear with me. I think the content is crucially important.

With all the turmoil in our world right now, we need wisdom to lead us through political division, racial talk, and false narratives from every side.

Believe it or not, our times are not unlike what Jesus and his disciples lived through.

Therefore, the teachings and parables of Jesus in the Bible stand out as the final word on how to navigate the season we’re in today.

This week I’ve been pouring over the eighteenth chapter of Matthew. I’ve been, once again, amazed at how relevant it is to our current times. I’d like to unpack a few things that have spoken to me.

As people who read and apply the Bible to our lives, we often take isolated scripture passages out of their context. While this isn’t always a bad idea and can actually be encouraging, we can also miss the greater message Jesus imparted when we do so. For example, I think we’ve heard these:

  • “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer. 29:11 (true, encouraging, but we miss that God said this after leading people into exile as a way to help them see their need for him and then obey him.)
  • “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Actually, this is misquoted and incomplete. This comes from 1 Cor. 10:13 and God is talking about temptation. He doesn’t tempt us, he won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear and will always provide a way out of temptation.
  • “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38 –true in every situation, but we hear it mostly applied to finances; however, in context it applies to forgiveness. Think about that one.

I think you can see what I mean.

Matthew 18 is a chapter from which many verses have been singled out and used outside of the context of the entire chapter. I discovered that this week.

And WOW!

Here’s what I believe I’ve missed before…

  • The theme is unity. (Don’t we need that right now?) In verse 1 the disciples are arguing about who’s the greatest. (Sound familiar?)
  • Jesus starts his discourse on unity by speaking of humility. Jesus says change and become like a little child. Humble ourselves. (vs.3-4)
  • There are things and people in the world that can lead us into disunity –our sin can cause others to stumble and fall too – so we need to do whatever it takes, even cutting things off, to protect ourselves and others. (vs.5-9)
  • If someone, even one person, wanders away from safety, we look for a way to help them. God doesn’t want any of us to be lost in sin, despair, brokenness, etc. (vs.121-14)
  • When someone says or does something that hurts us, it’s not only us, but the whole body of believers that suffers. When we confront them, we should do so, not to argue and persuade them that we’re right and they are wrong. Not to press our opinion or validate ourselves. We go in love to present to them in kind words what the problem is. The Bible says if he listens to us, we win him over. What that actually means in the original language is if he’s willing to hear what we have to say (let’s be willing to receive), we have gained him back into relationship with us. If he’s not, Jesus lays out an entire process, in which at least two or three others can see and agree that something is amiss. Following the process, is intended to help someone see how he is hurting his fellow believers. Unity folks. (vs.15-17)
  • If after following the steps of this process, someone refuses to have an open mind/heart to hear his friends (brothers), that is the point where it is for the safety of the entire group to treat him as not part of the group. That doesn’t mean we don’t forgive and continue to love. (vs.17)
  • Jesus goes on to tell us that when we seek him and agree with what he says we have the authority to fasten to him and declare the enemy/sin unlawful. We can release God’s love in the situation and break or dissolve the enemy’s hold on it. Where two or more agree (with God’s will – unity here), Jesus is in our midst and will do what we ask. We must be praying for the person and the situation.(vs.18-20)
  • Then he goes on to tell a parable about being willing to forgive they way he forgives us. We shouldn’t treat someone badly when they sin against us. We remember how much we have been forgiven. Forgiveness brings peace and opens a way for reconciliation. (vs.21-35)

This is my take away.

Jesus reminded us that we are to be:

  1. Humble.
  2. Willing to acknowledge and protect ourselves and others from sin.
  3. Open to doing whatever it takes to help someone who is struggling. (Without judgment.)
  4. Willing to lovingly confront when necessary to bring reconciliation for the benefit of all.
  5. Obedient in following the process Jesus gave us.
  6. Involving others who are close to the situation only when necessary. (Not in gossip.)
  7. Seek God’s will and join with others in prayer about it.
  8. Forgive.

I have to ask myself where I’ve ignored, avoided, denied or missed any of this. The first being am I humble?

Humility leads to unity.

Jesus, who had every right to assert his god-ship over us all, willingly laid it down to show his love for us. His was the ultimate act of humility.

Am I even close to doing that? What about when someone doesn’t share my opinion? When I have the “right” to justice? If I’m reasonably (or not) hurt by someone’s words or actions? If something is not what I hoped for or expected?

Unless we start there, none of the rest will matter because it won’t come from the correct posture of our heart.

If I point out someone’s sin, even with the motive of helping them…

If I proclaim to others about what someone did that was so wrong or hurtful…

If I try to “help” someone see the error of their ways or opinions…

If I confront another…

If I pray for someone…

None of those things done without humility with end up serving in love, and can actually lead to more harm and division.

The Bible says:

“If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love {humility}, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love {humility}, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love {humility}, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13:1-3

If we follow Jesus’s example of love, it begins with humility. God’s example of giving his only son to reach his children who have turned against him? Started with humility. Jesus allowing himself to be mocked, beaten, and hung naked on a cross for us? A tremendous act of humility.

Humility may not be popular, but it’s right. It’s not easy—in fact it goes against everything in us that wants to fight for ourselves* (that’s pride by the way).

No matter what situation we face in today’s world, humility is the first step to reconciliation and ultimately, unity.

Where can we apply that to our lives today? I’ll bet, like me, you can find more than one area.

May you experience the depth of Jesus’s humbling presence and love today.

*please know that if you are in an abusive situation, it is appropriate to flee and get help – Jesus loves you and wants his children to be safe and healthy in our relationships – that’s why he gives the process 😉 If you’d let me, I’d love to pray and help in any way I can

Are You Angry?


“Medically, anger causes an increase in many physical ailments such as heart disease, stroke, and migraines. Joy, on the other hand, medically causes a decrease in all of those same things.

If the Joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10) and the enemy can keep me in anger at my brother or my neighbor or my spouse or my government or my children, then the enemy has stolen my strength without lifting a finger.

Joy is found in reconnection and restoration…(Luke 15). Joy has to be entered in to…(Matthew 25:23). Connecting with the Father and with others in love brings complete joy…(John 15:9-10).”

Quote from Alicia Hommon of Kingdom Driven Entrepreneurs taken from their newsletter 1/19/21
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

When you look at the above picture, what do you feel?

Fear? Anger? Agitated? What if you were standing in front of this man in person?

I’ll bet, like me, you wouldn’t experience warm fuzzies making you want to engage with him.

Now what about the picture below?

Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

Different emotion completely, right?

This man makes us want to laugh, say hello, and find out what’s made him smile.

Incredible what a picture can illicit in us, isn’t it?

So, what is it like when we embrace anger or joy and others experience it simply by watching us? Not only do those emotions destroy or bring life to us physically or medically as is stated in the above quote, but they do the same to everyone around us.

Just for a moment, consider all the images we’ve seen lately in the news. Let’s ask ourselves why the majority of them are of anger, violence, hatred, and agitation. Is it possible that there is a spiritual agenda by the enemy (meaning the devil, not a political figure) to keep us in an angry, agitated state so that we can be destroyed and bring that same destruction to those around us?

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Jesus

An abundant, joyful life is found in Jesus. It comes from sharing his love with others. Regardless of what circumstances around us look like, can we choose joy and love over anger and hatred? Not only will it benefit us, but it will benefit our world.

When I was a kid, there was a popular song called “What the World Needs Now is Love” composed by Burt Bacharach. Here’s the first verse:

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No not just for some, but for everyone

Love is what our world needs. Still. Now. Always. And we have it if we will simply embrace it. God IS love. Jesus showed this when he walked with man on earth and then died on the cross so we could forever experience God’s love here, now and for all eternity. When we acknowledge Him, confess that we’ve looked everywhere but to him, and receive the gift he give us, we can have all the love we need.

And that love leads to joy.

Let’s not let the enemy rob us of strength, joy, love and the abundant life Jesus came to give us.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com