Sunday, December 28, 2014

Biblical Resolutions

Are you planning to make resolutions this New Year's Day? Why not base them on some of the declarations that are recorded in Scripture? Check out these biblical resolutions.

  1. Resolve to Inquire of the Lord.
    King Jehoshaphat was told that a vast army was coming to make war against him and his country of Judah. But before he ever rallied his troops or formulated a battle plan, "Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah" (2 Chronicles 20:3). The people gathered together and Jehoshaphat prayed earnestly before the entire group. He ended his prayer by declaring to the Lord, "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you" (2 Chronicles 20:12).

    Undoubtedly the year ahead will, for many of us, bring about situations for which we have no answers. Regardless what struggles lie ahead, we can take comfort in the fact that our God sees our need (Genesis 16:13), hears our cries (1 John 5:14), and knows us intimately (Psalm 139:1). He is never caught by surprise or left without a plan. When we don't know what to do or where to step, we can resolve to inquire of the Lord and fix our eyes upon him as Jehoshaphat did.
  2. Resolve to Guard my Mouth from Sin.
    This second resolution is a challenging one. In Psalm 17:3, King David resolved that his mouth would not sin. Can you think of any words you said this past year that you wish you could take back? Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:29, "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." It is a lofty goal, but even if we fail from time to time, just imagine the impact we can have on the people around us if we will strive to say only those words that build up or benefit others.
  3. Resolve to Guard my Purity.
    The Old Testament prophet Daniel resolved to keep himself pure. When Daniel made that resolution, he was surrounded by a culture that was replete with idol worship and completely opposed to the standards of the God of Israel. "But Daniel resolved not to defile himself" (Daniel 1:8).

    Sadly, our society is growing more and more opposed to the standards outlined in God's Word. We're bombarded by images on our televisions or movie screens that threaten to desensitize us to evil, immorality, and violence. But Paul warned us in Romans 12:2 not to "conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." We are called to be distinctive and committed to purity. We can't always control our culture, but like Daniel, we don't have to allow our culture to control us.
  4. Resolve to Keep Jesus as my Primary Focus.
    The final resolution is my favorite. The Apostle Paul resolved to keep his focus on Jesus. As Paul reflected upon his ministry in the city of Corinth, he said, "For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2 AMP). It was Paul's passion to wholeheartedly keep his focus on being acquainted with, displaying the knowledge of, and being conscious of our glorious Savior. What greater resolution could there be?

    So I challenge you to join me in making these four New Year's Resolutions. Consider displaying them where you will see them often. Pray daily and confess when you fail. It is my prayer that you have a blessed and resolute 2015.


    First appeared in Today's Christian Woman: http://www.todayschristianwoman/articles/2010/january/thebestresolutions.html
    And Proverbs 31 Ministries, Every Day Live:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

God is the Divine Planner

When are you most likely to forgo prayer for planning?

Please share your comments.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Inspiring After-Effects

“[Moses] persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.”
Hebrews 11:27 (NIV)

Have you ever been exasperated and felt ready to quit? That’s how Moses felt when he found out the Israelites had been worshiping a golden calf while he was on a mountain, talking with God. The legendary leader was so angry, he threw the stone tablets upon which were written the Ten Commandments, smashing them to pieces at the base of Mount Sinai.

Moses was exhausted and frustrated by the burden of leading God’s people and He was hungry for a deeper understanding of God’s power and goodness.  In Exodus 33:18, Moses boldly asked the Lord, “Now show me your glory.” In other words, Moses desired to know God more fully. He wanted to experience more of God’s presence than he had encountered before. God graciously granted His passionate servant's request. He said, 

"There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back, but my face must not been seen” (Exodus 33:21-23).

I’d like to suggest that God’s phrasing actually illustrates the way we see His active presence manifested today. We don’t see God’s glorious presence revealed before He acts. Just as Moses only was allowed to see God’s back, we only see the after-effects of His glory.

You don’t see Him thundering down from heaven before you get the cancer diagnosis. You see the after-effects of His glory when you come through the treatments and hear the words, “cancer free.” His work on your wayward son’s heart may not be visible to you for years, but you recognize the after-effects of His active presence when your boy quietly walks through the doors of your church sanctuary one Sunday and slips into the seat beside you. You don’t see the light of His presence shining in your daughter’s dorm room as you fearfully pray for God to somehow supply the funds for her college education. You see the after-effects of His glory as she walks across a stage sporting her cap and gown and receives her diploma. You don’t see God’s active presence heading in your direction; you see “His back,” the after-effects of our Lord’s extraordinary glory.

When you feel frustrated and want to quit, ask God to show you His glory, as Moses did. Ask Him to make His active presence more real to you. Then be sure to share the after-effects of His glory with fellow followers of Christ. It is glimpses of His awe inspiring glory that enable us to persevere as Moses did and fulfill our God-given purposes.

Let's encourage one another through whatever struggles we are facing today. What after-effects of our Lord’s active presence are evident in your life?

Adapted from Eyewitnessto Glory: Moses, Discerning God’s Active Presence (Chattanooga, TN; AMG Publishers, 2014),129.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

You Are a Woman of God - Video Post

My newest bible study, Eyewitness to Glory: Moses - Discerning God's Active Presence, released just last week and I'm excited to share a little teaching from the study with you by video blog post today.

Dear Sisters-in-Christ, it does not matter what has happened in your past or what credentials you carry (or lack!), by virtue of your relationship with the Son of God, you can be remembered as a woman of God.

Embrace your new identity in Christ. He adores you. He died for you. He has equipped and anointed and empowered you. You are a spirit-filled woman of God and He intends to reveal His glory to the world through you!

I can't wait to see what He has planned. Please let me know how He manifests His active presence in and through you, Dear One, by posting a comment. I will celebrate with you.

With love,


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Encouragement for Times of Loss

Today I want to share a devotion from my friend Wayne Hastings' new bookThe Way Back from Loss: Reassembling the Pieces of a Broken Life, published by Howard Books

Through this sixty day devotional, Wayne provides a step-by-step path through the sometimes paralyzing confusion and frightening uncertainty of loss. The readings and quotes lead a wounded soul into the loving arms of the only One who truly understands your journey and knows the course of your future. 

"Hope Floats" (devotional number 39) is my personal favorite. Wayne says, "Hope doesn't sink us into the black hole of worry and angst; it floats. It keeps our head above water." 

Here's the devotion in its entirety.

Hope Floats

“The vision of His glory gives hope to those deluded by the importance of society by revealing our citizenship is not of this world.”[i] —Anne Graham Lotz

Today’s Verse: “Through [Christ] . . . we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:2–5 NKJV)

We can never underestimate the value of hope as we go through difficult situations. We can look at all that’s happening to us or around us and feel hopeless, or we can choose to be people who are full of hope in spite of what is happening, what others are saying, or how we’re feeling.
Unfortunately we spend too much of our lives thinking. We agitate, cogitate, and worry. We suppose that if we think about something long enough, something will automatically happen or eventually change. It often doesn’t because we are so quick to worry about things that are totally out of our direct control.
Hope is far better. It’s the positive expectation that something good is going to happen to us. We don’t need to think about it—simply expect it. Instead of trying to think things through, we can hope on purpose.
Hope doesn’t sink us into the black hole of worry and angst; it floats. It keeps our head above water. It leads to joy and, as Paul reminds us in today’s verse, it doesn’t disappoint.
So, what if we don’t see what we’re hoping for? The answer is maybe we’re hoping for the wrong things.
Our hope shouldn’t be in things, or our own planned outcomes. Our hope needs to rest in God—who He is and what He has promised. Our hope needs to rest on a foundation that:
   God loves us.
   God has a plan for us.
   God will never leave us.
   God sent His Son to die for us.
   God works all things out for our good.
Tough circumstances don’t simply disappear, but we can experience God through it all. There is eternal value in this day. We need to approach it with a hope based on who God is and what He has promised. We must stop overthinking things, give our minds and hearts to God, and float on His life-saving hope.
INSIGHT: Develop an attitude of expectancy and hope based on who God is and what He has promised.
PRAYER: Ask God to help you hope on purpose. Ask Him to help you take any thoughts of hopelessness captive to Him and erase them with His promises. Thank Him that He wants you to live in joy and for helping you grow in your faith.
   Study Psalms 30:5; 144:1 and Zechariah 9:12. What are the promises found in these verses? What does it mean to you to be a “prisoner of hope”?
   Understand that you need to make a decision to be happy, rejoice, and have hope. It won’t simply come upon you; you need to take hold of hope on purpose. The Enemy doesn’t care about your things or your feelings. He wants your joy. It’s up to you to hold fast to your hope and renew it daily.
   Discover how hope releases joy. Look up scriptures that clearly show you God’s promises to bring you hope and joy. Don’t settle for “I’ll be happy when . . . ” thinking, but rather focus on His hope for you today.

[i] Anne Graham Lotz, The Vision of HIs Glory, (Nashville, Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996, 1997, 2009), 54

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Failing Machines and Eternal Trust

She was doing well. She had just gotten remarried to a man who not only loved her, but also her children. The heart failure of the past year was behind her and with the help of a specialized machine, her body was getting stronger each day as she awaited a heart transplant. Her future seemed brighter than it had in long time.

And then. . . suddenly. . .

The machine failed.

Her heart stopped pumping and in what seemed like the blink of an eye, she was gone.

In my bewilderment and sorrow over her family’s loss – actually, over the world’s loss of a beautiful, kind spirited woman who lit up a room with her smile – I was struck afresh by the realization that as much as we want to believe we can control the circumstances of our lives, only God knows the number of days each of us will spend here on earth.

We fret and worry. We diligently put money into savings accounts and strategize about the future.

We give our children vaccinations, teach them about stranger danger and make them wear seat belts when they ride in a car.

We take our vitamins, make healthy food choices (most of the time!), and schedule our annual medical checkups. We think we are in control.

But then . . . suddenly. . .

The machine in which we have placed our trust fails.

We come to an abrupt awareness that we weren't ever really in control and we spent so much time worrying about our future that we forgot to enjoy our present.

Jesus said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do worry about the rest.” (Luke 12:25-26 NIV)

We cannot control the number of our days here on earth, even with the most technologically advanced machines. But when we place our faith in Jesus, we can rest assured that He controls and our eternal future.

Let’s continue to be good stewards of our resources, to make healthy lifestyle choices and to lovingly care for our children. But let’s also remain keenly aware that the things of this world will fail us. Worry is pointless and life is precious. 

We aren’t in control, but when we hold tightly to the One who is, our eternal futures are brighter than we can ever imagine.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Recognizing Ministry Slippage

Where do you serve God using your gifts and talents? As believers in Christ, we are all in ministry. We all should be serving our Lord in a church body or through a ministry organization. Even Jesus Himself "did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45 NIV).

In my early years of full-time ministry, I was listening to a message by one of my favorite Bible teachers, Chuck Swindoll. In his message, he outlined five telltale signs of what he called, "ministry slippage." His message resonated with me for several days.

Most of us begin ministry with our hearts set on serving God and glorifying Him through our work. But life's demands, and the pressures of regular service can slowly etch away at the purity of our devotion to God in our work. We can become self-focused and self-sufficient. If we aren't deliberate about regularly checking our motives and protecting our relationship with our Creator, our resolve to glorify and serve Him (and not ourselves) can begin to slip along our journey.

After hearing Chuck Swindoll's message, I created a note card with those "Five Telltale Signs of Ministry Slippage". I laminated it (Everything seems more official when it is laminated, doesn't it?) and I have kept that card just below my computer monitor for more than ten years. It serves as a constant reminder to me to keep my heart set wholeheartedly on serving Christ. The points help me be keenly aware of any sign that my focus in ministry is getting off track. I even distributed a card to each of the Fruitful Word Ministries' board members, asking them to watch for any signs of ministry slippage at Fruitful Word.

With permission, I'd like to share the "Five TellTale Signs of Ministry Slippage" outlined by Chuck Swindoll. Will you join me in printing the list and keeping it in a place where you will see it often? If you lead a group in ministry, would you consider distributing them to your leaders?

Five Telltale Signs of Ministry Slippage
By Chuck Swindoll

  1. When greater battles are fought within than without, the ministry has begun to slip.
  2. When more attention is directed to the leader than to the Lord, a monument is being built.
  3. When God's help is nice, but not absolutely essential for survival, ministry is slipping.
  4. When worthwhile reproofs are resisted rather than received, ministry is slipping.
  5. When the consequences of sin are ignored rather than feared, you're in deep trouble.
From Chuck Swindoll's Series: Can One Person Make a Difference? Aired April 2003.
Message: "Movement or Monument".

Let's ask God to make us aware of any signs that our focus in ministry is slipping. Let's pray for the courage to make any changes necessary to guard our hearts as we serve Him in our churches and ministries.

How do you do to protect your heart and check your motives as you serve Christ?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Live as You Want to be Remembered

If your time on earth were to end today, what would you want your epitaph to say?  

I asked myself that question as I was finishing my soon-to-be released Bible study: Eyewitness to Glory: Moses: Discerning God’s Active Presence. As I read the final chapter of Moses’ story, I was struck afresh by the remarkable epitaph in Scripture, honoring Israel’s reluctant, yet powerfully effective leader:

Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 34:10-12 NIV)
Available in Bookstores
June 13, 2014
Moses was chosen to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and along that journey, he became an eyewitness to the glory of God. The stammering, often-reluctant-follower of God was compelled to continue despite his personal sense of unworthiness and the many obstacles and hardships he faced along the way. “He persevered because he saw Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).

Moses clearly made mistakes along his journey. Everyone does. But, because Moses obediently served the Lord despite his inadequacies and fears, God was ultimately glorified through Moses’ obedience and leadership. His epitaph serves as a reminder of what God can do in the life of someone who simply surrenders to God and obeys His commands.

Moses is remembered as a man whose intimate relationship with God was evidenced by the lives God impacted through his life and leadership.  If your time on earth were to end today, what would you want your epitaph to say?  

Let’s ask God to show us the changes we need to make in order to live as we want to be remembered.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Listening Love

“The truth is that careful listening feels so much like love that most of us can hardly tell the difference.” –Dr. James Dobson

This quote was presented at a leadership meeting I attended last week and it has been on my mind ever since. February is known as the month of love.  We Americans spend billions of dollars on flowers, candy and jewelry every February 14th in an effort to communicate our love for our children, our spouses, or other significant people in our lives. Yet, according to Dr. Dobson, careful listening is one of the most loving gifts we can give to our families.

My daughter Brianna communicated her need for my focused attention, even as a toddler.  If I attempted to do household chores or work on my computer while she was telling me a story, she would say, “Listen to me with your eyes, Mommy”.  She had a speech impediment at the time, so it sounded more like, “Lithen to me wiff your eyes, Mommy.” She was adorable. She was also correct in her assessment that her mother was not actually listening to what she was saying. Whenever possible, I would walk away from my computer or put down my dusting cloth, look her in the eyes, and give my story-telling-toddler my full attention.

When asked what command in God’s Word is most important, Jesus said,“Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: Love others as well as you love yourself”(Matthew 22:37-39 MSG).

We all like to know our thoughts have been heard. Carefully listening to the thoughts, opinions, and feelings of others makes them feel validated and lets them know we value their ideas.  It occurs to me that careful listening will not only communicate love to our families, but it will enhance the quality all our relationships. 

Carefully listening when you ask the polite question, “How are you?” while passing a sister-in-Christ in the church hallway, just might reveal when her, “Oh, I’m alright,” really means she needs encouragement and prayer. Looking into the eyes of a friend as she shares her thoughts and feelings, is one way you can communicate that you care and want to help carry her burden, “and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”(Galatians 6:2).

As this February draws to a close—the month when we talk a lot about love—let’s set our sights on loving like Jesus said we should. Let’s love our God with our passion and our prayers and with the intellect our Lord has given us. Let’s love people by carefully listening to their thoughts and feelings. Let’s ask God to help us be fully present as we interact with the people God has placed in our lives. Let’s listen to them with our eyes as well as with our ears.  We will communicate love and I suspect our relationships will take on new depth.

How has careful listening enhanced your relationships?