He Did It! ……No, He Did It!


If you’ve spent any time around children you’ve heard this line. It starts with a broken lamp, a crayon-inspired work of art on the bedroom wall or a knock on the door from the neighbor who has come to report someone ran through her flowers and trampled every one of her precious tulips. The “event” is usually followed by that look from mom that strikes fear in any and all children within it’s range and almost simultaneously the arms go up, the fingers point and the first terrified little voice shouts the accusation, “he did it!” followed by “nuh uhn! he did it.” What is it that is in us from a very young age that causes us to want to place blame elsewhere?

There is no doubt that we are all born with an unwillingness, or at very least, a reluctance to take responsibility when we are at fault. Even in the garden of Eden Eve blamed the serpant and Adam blamed Eve. For most of us our knee jerk reaction when faced with accusation is to point the finger at someone or something that made us choose to do wrong. Who hasn’t uttered the words “the devil made me do it”? Recent news stories filled with finger pointing, transferring the blame and complete unwillingness of people to accept responsibility for their actions has me thinking – why are we so unwilling to humbly say “I messed up. I made a mistake. I was wrong and I’m sorry”?

Due to ridiculously large sums of money awarded in court cases and a culture that glorifies and sensationalizes bad behavior, we live in a time when even those caught red-handed claim innocence by some reason or another or they label themselves a victim of a grand scheme by others to bring them down. We celebrate those who continue to break the law and offend and disrespect everyone on the planet yet never utter the words “I’m sorry.” (think Linsay Lohan, Kanye West, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, need I go on?) No matter how obvious it is where the blame lies, everyone seems to make choices with no thought toward consequences because they’ve learned to defer responsibility onto someone or something else. Most mornings I hear a news story on TV that begins with “Who’s to blame for _______?” (fill in the blank….high gas prices, growing unemployment rates, high levels of obesity in America, increases in government spending, etc.). I think one of the most unbelievable examples I’ve seen recently is a group of college students who sued their college because they couldn’t find a job upon graduation. Nine graduates of a New York law school filed a $225 million dollar lawsuit on the basis that the school they attended should have anticipated the current recession. No seriously, they did. Fortunately a judge dismissed the case stating that “although we all sympathize with those who are having difficulty finding work, their anger and angst are misdirected.” Other lawyers unsympathetic to the new graduates said “The people who are applying to law schools are highly educated, they know how to read the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.” And the fear of litigation has caused many doctors, hospitals, school systems and companies to put in place preposterous policies to protect themselves. Extreme insurance costs have driven many small companies out of business and as consumers we pay the price through sky high insurance rates resulting from frivolous lawsuits. But all of that doesn’t seem to stop the mentality of “deny all, admit nothing and blame somebody else” which is prevalent in today’s society.

So again, why such an unwillingness to admit fault? I think the answer is really not  as difficult as it may at first seem. We are sinners, sinners who are filled with pride.  Pride is one of the most common things the devil uses to entice us into sin because pride is the opposite of the humility that, when present in our lives, points others to Jesus. Pride wants to take credit for favorable outcomes and place blame on others for the unfavorable ones. Pride blinds us to the reality of our situation by obscuring the truth. It causes us to overestimate our own righteousness and self worth which prevents us from repenting. Pride causes us to rationalize and justify our own wrong behavior. Pride masks our selfish attitudes which causes us to come to the conclusion “I don’t deserve punishment because I didn’t do anything wrong.” Pride has kept many from accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior because to admit our sins and acknowledge that in our own strength we can do nothing to receive eternal life requires humility and a reliance on someone other than ourselves. In his book Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis said, There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine they are guilty themselves.” We are all guilty of the sin of pride yet our pride keeps us from wanting to admit it.

I’ve thought too as to why the blame game bothers me so much beyond the obvious frustration we all experience when we see people pointing fingers when they have absolutely no basis for doing so. One reason is that I’m guilty of it and even though I repent I still sometimes find myself falling into the trap of blaming others instead of taking responsibility myself. But the reason that stirs a righteous anger within me is that there was never a more appropriate and justified moment in the history of our world for someone to point the finger and to say “they did it” as when God sent Jesus to die for our sins. He had every right to say “But I didn’t do anything wrong, why do I have to take the punishment?” Instead he chose to receive the punishment that we deserve for our sins. He took the blame for every wrong that we’ve ever done. He endured the beating and excruciating pain of being nailed to a cross when it should have been us. He took our place when He said “I am he” as the guards approached him while searching for the one they had already presumed guilty. He willingly gave His life for ours so that we don’t have to die an eternal death as penalty for our sins. He traded His perfect life for our imperfect one. My prayer for myself is that the next time I’m tempted to join in the blame game I will remember the humility of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when He selflessly took the blame on my behalf and I will say, with a humble spirit, “I messed up. I made a mistake. I was wrong and I’m sorry”.

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A Few Too Many Hats


The Kentucky Derby is known in the sports world as “the fastest two minutes in sports”.  Many also call it “The Run for the Roses” after the blanket of roses that is draped over the winning horse. But when I think of the Kentucky Derby I think HATS! Not just any old hats but elaborately adorned, lavishly ornate, ridiculously large, extravagantly outlandish, over-the-top hats. Many women go so far as to have a hat specifically designed for them to ensure their hat will be a one of a kind. Some day I would love to attend the Derby and wear an incredibly large hat just for fun.

Most women I know have many hats – the mommy hat, the wife hat, the friend hat, the volunteer hat, the employee hat, the sister hat, the caretaker hat, the daughter hat, the student hat and the leader hat. They may have one of these hats, all of them, or some combination of hats they wear in their every day lives. Each day we don our many hats in our attempt to be everything to everybody. We place unobtainable expectations on ourselves that we have to juggle all the roles the hats represent and there is no room for mistakes or weakness. The entire juggling act leaves us feeling overwhelmed and on the inside we’re screaming “I can’t take it anymore!!”. But some how most of the time we end up managing the vast array of hats we’ve accumulated and by the grace of God we pull it together just prior to a meltdown, check the mirror to make sure we’re sporting the right hat at the right time, then go about our day as if we’ve never missed a beat.

There are times though that we cannot seem to keep it together. The hat juggling act is just too much and we drop the ball in one area or another.  So many women today live with the burden of feeling as if they’ve failed when they can’t seem to manage it all. For many this leads to depression, exhaustion, insecurity, stress, addiction and other unhealthy coping mechanisms such as overeating. The pressure for women to do it all is astounding and the truth is you can do it all – but in doing so something is going to suffer. There will be some area of your life that will pay the price for your attempt to do it all and be it all. Most of that time that area is the one that we give the least attention to – ourselves.

I spent many years working in Corporate America trying to balance a stressful job with being a wife, mom, volunteer, daughter and friend. The toll it took on my children, my marriage and myself was never worth the tradeoff of a big paycheck, big house and big vacations. I was a people pleaser who never said no until I found myself spiraling out of control. I reached an explosive point in my life where I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was trying to do it all on my own and it just wasn’t working. It was during that time that out of His incredible love for me, God pursued me until I relented. I gave my life to Christ and surrendered it all to Him. I quit trying to run my life and made the decision once and for all to hand it over to God. An inexplicable amount of weight was lifted off my shoulders and I felt a peace I had never felt before. I felt like a high school graduate tossing all my hats into the air. I learned during that season of my life that when God says His yoke is easy and His burden is light, He isn’t kidding (Matt. 11:30). We are not meant to do it all on our own. God stands at the door knocking with the solution to the craziness of our lives. All we have to do is open the door.

The more I put God first in my life the easier I found it to juggle all the hats I still had in my closet. My roles didn’t change but my ability to manage them with peace and joy did. There were and still are many stressful moments trying to keep it all going at once but what I learned over time is that God will give me the grace to wear any and all hats He has given to me to wear. Where I run into trouble is when I try wearing hats that were never intended for me in the first place. When I begin to get that sense of being overwhelmed and things are beginning to spin a little too out of control I have to check the mirror and see what hat I’m wearing and if it belongs to me.

Sometimes I find myself in a hat that looks good on but it just doesn’t feel right. This is when I’ve said yes to something that I didn’t take the time to pray about first. It may be a good thing but sometimes we have to say no to good things simply because it would be too much for us or it’s not the right time. Usually when I’m wearing this hat it means I fell back into people pleasing mode and eagerly raised my hand when asked if there was anyone who wanted to help before I considered if I had the time or how it would affect my other responsibilities.

Then there’s the hat I put on thinking it’s mine but it really belongs to someone else. This tends to happen when I hang on to something for too long instead of enabling someone else to rise up into the role I need to lay down. Out of insecurity we cling to roles many times that we are supposed to hand over to someone else so that they may have the opportunity and blessing of wearing that hat for a season. Some of our hats are simply on loan and when it’s time to give them up we need to do so without delay.

Other hats don’t even look good on but we look in the mirror and think it looks great. I find myself in these hats when I’ve attempted to step into a role that I’m not skilled or gifted for. And as I reflect now on why I put those hats on in the first place it’s usually because I wanted to be like someone else who wears that same hat. Out of admiration or worse, envy, I grab a hat and throw it on and tell myself it looks good while usally making a spectacle of myself for sporting a hat that clearing I have no business wearing. I remember a time when I told a lady I hardly knew that I would babysit her children for her while she attended evening classes. I wanted to be that person that could help someone in need but in trying to be a heroine, I forgot that I’m not very good with multiple small children all in my care at the same time. It was not fun for me or the kids and only added stress to the mom. That was one time that I was grateful for a dear friend who was willing to tell me that although I thought the hat looked good on me, it didn’t and I just needed to get it off my head and save face while there was still time.

Just because a hat is available to be worn it doesn’t mean that you are the one who’s meant to wear it. If it looks good but doesn’t feel right, it’s on loan to you and now it’s starting to not fit right or if it looks pretty ridiculous on because it’s not your kind of hat maybe it’s time to clean out the closet and get rid of some of them. Remember, God will give you the grace to wear any hat that He’s given to you to wear. But if it’s not from God, it wasn’t your hat in the first place and it’s time to take it off. It’s never easy as a woman juggling all our hats but it’s impossible when you have a few too many hats to juggle. You may have a lot of hats you have to wear but none will ever be as important as the crown that marks you as a daughter of the King. Start each day putting on the first hat God ever gave you, the crown of a princess then let Him decide which other hats you’re meant to wear. You’ll never go wrong when you entrust your hat collection to God.

Sticks and Stones


Just the title alone conjures up memories for many of us. I remember my parents telling me when I was very young and someone had said something cruel to me that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Even now I can picture myself reciting it to the person with a sassiness that let them know I didn’t care what they said to me – it was just gonna roll right off my back and have no effect any more. But the truth of the matter was, it did still hurt. I didn’t realize until many, many years later how much an impact not just those words, but all of the negative and hurtful words that had been spoken over me had shaped who I was.

There is power in our words – power to speak life into someone by encouraging them and building them up or power to speak death when we criticize and tear down. As I think back over my own life and especially in the beginning years of my marriage, words have played a huge role in determining the direction of my life. Early in life hurtful and discouraging words caused self doubt and insecurity in me. The words that others spoke to me were played over and over in my thoughts until they were no longer just words to me, they became truths that I believed about myself. It didn’t matter if they were true or not, they wielded the power to change my thoughts about myself which in turn affected my actions. I allowed those words to consume my thoughts. I was beaten down and defeated simply by the words that I had given power to. And in turn I used words to tear down and hurt everyone around me.

The bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that life and death are in the power of the tongue. And the Message version says it like this “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” God’s Word makes it very clear. Words are extremely powerful. They have the ability to completely transform how people see themselves, how they react to you, how they respond in a situation and how they treat others.

Think of the impact that these words have had in the history of our country:

“President Kennedy has been shot”.

“A second plane has hit the building.”

“I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”

“Challenger, go with throttle up.”

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

“Do you believe in miracles? Yes!!”

Most of us see those words and know exactly where we were when we first heard them. We can remember the emotion we felt and how those words changed the world we live in.

Now think about the words that are personal to just you. The words that someone may have said to you years ago that you still remember exactly how you felt the moment they were spoken. Words of criticism, words of judgement, words of gossip or hate. Words that had the power to destroy.  Words that may have shaken your confidence, caused deep, unhealed wounds or even changed the course of your life.

“You’re fired.”

“I hate you.”

“You can’t do anything right.”

“I want a divorce.”

“You didn’t make the team.”

“Why are your ears so big?! You look like Dumbo!”

You may be someone that words have torn you down and caused you to doubt yourself. But just as there are words that can cause damage, there are words that can repair and build you back up. Later in my life when I began to follow Jesus and study the Word, I began to understand how words spoken over me may have affected me in very negative ways. But I also learned that what God’s Word says about me is truth. And that when I began to play those negative words in my mind, I needed to stop and begin to play the words of affirmation my Father in heaven has spoken over me. When I found myself replaying damaging words that had been spoken to me, I began to pray and ask God to renew my mind. I quit being defined by what others said I was and began to believe the words that described who I really was – child of God, forgiven, highly favored, an overcomer, blessed, chosen, accepted and loved.  And just like when I was younger, when I thought about these words they had the power to change my thoughts about myself which in turn affected my actions. I allowed God’s words to consume my thoughts.  I was built up, reaffirmed and confident simply by the words that I had given power to.

Although words have power, we have the control over what words we speak to others and how we respond to the words that they speak to us. We must choose our words wisely. I recently challenged my friends on Facebook to join me as I made every effort to use my mouth to build up, not tear down, to bless and not to curse and to not judge, gossip, criticize or give my opinion when I hadn’t been asked to. The response was remarkable. People want to be positive with their words but they are also extrememly aware of how difficult it is to refrain from speaking negatively. It has become so prevalent in our world that it takes great effort to keep our words and our thoughts upbeat and encouraging. The best way to ensure this is by spending time each day reading God’s word. God instructs us to fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. To think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Phil. 4:8). And when our hearts and minds are transformed by our thoughts the bible says “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34). We will use our words to bring healing and nourishment to the broken and thirsty souls we encounter. The words we speak will have the power to encourage, build up, cheer up and inspire others. Think about the impact each of these simple words have on you when someone you love says them to you:

“Please forgive me.”

“I’m proud of you.”

“Can I help?”

“I believe in you.”

“Don’t give up.”

“I love you.”

So each day think about the words you are using – are you speaking life into others or do your words speak death? What are the words that consume your thoughts – are they words that build up or words that tear down? If the words your thoughts are fixed on are causing damage ask God to renew your mind and remember who you are in Christ.  And if words have been used to bring you down and you feel defeated, think of the greatest words ever spoken: “He is not here; He has risen!” (Matt. 28:6). You have a Lord and Savior who is alive and right by your side whispering words of love and affirmation to you. Let His words be the ones that define who you are.

Sky Diving and Rocky Mountain Climbing


Several years ago Tim McGraw released a song called “Live Like You Were Dying” from his album by the same name. The song reached number one on the charts and earned McGraw a Grammy.  The message of the song was simple – live each day as if it were your last. Do the things that you always wanted to do, make amends with anyone you still hold a grudge against, show love to those who you hold most dear, and spend more time with God. Each of these suggestions are definitely things we all should be doing whether we are dying or not. But what if, instead of living like we’re dying, we chose to simply live like we really believed that when Jesus died on the cross He didn’t just die for our sins, He overcame the power of sin in our life?

Many people today say they believe in God and they believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. But the worry, fear, doubt and perpetual cycle of  sin in their life says they believe something very different. Still others are filled with guilt and condemnation because they don’t believe they are good enough for God to love them even though they have received the gift of salvation. The problem for both is that they haven’t reached a point of understanding the full extent of what Jesus did the day He died on the cross. They believe He died for their sins, which is vital for salvation. They also believe that all their past sins have been forgiven. But what they fail to understand is that when Jesus died on the cross, He not only died for all of their sins, He overcame sin.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we know it is not up to us pay the price for our sins. The price has already been paid and it only needed to be paid once. There is no need for anyone to keep paying the price. It is finished. When we accept God’s forgiveness of sin, it is erased from our life along with the power it has over us. We are set free from the bondage of sin and the power it weilds over us. But for many, they live their life as if sin still reigns over them. They walk down the aisle of the church to the altar, respond to the gospel and receive the forgiveness for their past sins. Then they attempt in their own strength to make changes in how they act so they won’t sin anymore. At that point they are simply practicing behavior modification when they should instead be surrendering their lives to Christ and trusting in His power to overcome sin in their life. Once we are saved, we are never separated from God. But those still trapped by the guilt and condemnation of past sin feel the separation that sin causes and for this reason many end up turning away from the church. They believe that as long as they behave a certain way they will be close to God but when they don’t behave “right” they feel as if they are separated from God, even though that’s not true. They believe God and other believers will no longer accept them because they have failed. They wrongly believe that they are the only ones who have done anything wrong and that everybody else has it all together so they choose to isolate themselves. And it’s in their isolation they become an easy target for the enemy. The message of the gospel is not about doing all the right things and being a good person so God will accept us. It is accepting God’s promise that we are forgiven once and for all and trusting in Him and the power of the Holy Spirit to change our sinful nature and transform us into His image.

However, knowing our sins are forgiven – past, present and future – does not give us free reign to go sin because we won’t have to pay the price for that sin. What it does do is give us confidence in knowing that no sin – past, present or future – has any power over us. We are free from the control that sin once had in our life and from the guilt and condemnation it made us feel. We do not have to live in fear that we will disappoint God. In His eyes, we are white as snow because our sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus. We do not have to isolate ourselves when we do fall short because there is nothing that can separate us from God once we are born again. We do not have to feel the pressure to be a “perfect” Christian because we accept that we are sinful by nature and know we will be forgiven when we repent and turn from our sins – past, present and future. We don’t have to perform for God to love us, but out of our love for Him we choose a life of obedience to His commands. We do not have to fear death and eternal separation from our Father because the Word promises that through our salvation we will spend eternity with Him in heaven. We don’t have to live like a prisoner bound by the power of sin because we are free through the power of God. Tim McGraw sang we should live like we’re dying but I say it’s much better to live like Jesus lived, glorifying the Father by living victoriously over sin. How much better would our lives be if we all lived like we really believed that Jesus not only died for our sin, He overcame it!

I Want Results


I am admittedly a fan of the show The Biggest Loser. One of the things I like best about the show is the unexpected twists and turns that keep you guessing as to what shocking game twist they will come up with each season to keep things interesting. The current season of “No Excuses” is certainly not lacking in unexpected game changers. In a recent episode, two of the contestants were so upset by the decision of the producers to allow all previously eliminated contestants from this season to return and compete for the opportunity to be in the finale that they quit the game altogether. Of the three remaining contestants who chose to stay on the ranch, Jeremy lost the weigh in and was forced to compete with all the eliminated contestants for the final spot in the finale. His situation made him so frustrated that he became completely distracted during his workout and was putting forth very little effort to participate. Dolvett, his trainer, noticed Jeremy’s lack of effort and pulled him aside to ask him what was wrong. Jeremy explained that he was mad and didn’t even feel like trying because he was now in jeopardy of losing the game.

Dolvett’s response was wisdom-filled advice that could apply to all of our lives. He told Jeremy that his problem was that he was in love with the results when he needed to be in love with the work which would lead to the results. He explained that Jeremy was only focused on his desire to get to the finish line. But what he was missing was trust in the process that would get him there. Dolvett encouraged him that if he loved the hard work and the discipline that was required more than his desire for the end result and he put his trust in the process, then he would achieve the result he was after. Refocused, Jeremy worked out harder than he ever had and was able to beat all the other contestants for the spot in the finale.

As Christians we many times become focused on the result (getting to heaven) and miss the process entirely (a relationship with God). I remember when I responded to the message of the gospel and the promise that if I asked Jesus into my heart, believed that He died for my sins and that I was forgiven, that I would spend eternity in heaven. I responded because I wanted to be sure that I would go to heaven when I died and I wanted God to bless me because I believed in Him. But after my initial response to the gospel, I returned to the same way of life I had been living by doing whatever I wanted to do, not what God desired for me to do. I returned to the actions and behaviors that had made me so miserable before and had created so much drama in my life. I returned to the very things that initially drove me to the realization of how desperate I was for a Savior. My problem was that I was in love with the result – I wanted to go to heaven when I died and I wanted God to bless me. But I didn’t want to give up my own desires in order to follow Him and seek His will for my life. I wanted the result without the process. I was unwilling to surrender my life to God in order to be transformed into His image. I wanted Jesus to be my Savior but not my Lord.

Life continued and I kept doing the same old things but expected different results because after all, I was saved now so I thought things would be different. But because of a lack of true repentance and surrender on my part, things were the same as they had always been. Through God’s grace, I ended up attending a church that taught about discipleship and Lordship – two terms I had never heard before. I learned that nothing was every going to change in my life if nothing ever changed. I had to stop trying to run my own life and trust in God to be the Lord of my life. I began to fall in love with the process of building a relationship with my Lord and Savior. I began to trust in His will for my life as I lived in obedience to His word – not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I surrended to God’s will for my life and I began to experience changes. I was re-focused on trusting in the process and not looking only for the results. I began to be more joyful than I had ever been. When everything wasn’t going exactly as I wanted, it no longer consumed me. There was much less drama in my life and I had peace even in the midst of challenges and difficulties. My attitudes and my behaviors changed as I spent more time working on my relationship with Jesus through reading and studying His word and spending time in prayer. I was encouraged and hopeful but no longer condemned. I felt freedom from the hold that sin had on my life and healing for the wounds that had been part of me for so long.

I learned from faithful followers of Christ who gave of their time to disciple me and teach me how to not just believe in God for salvation, but to follow Him as His disciple. I was forever changed because of their willingness to pour into my life. By putting my trust in the process of discipleship and growing in my relationship with God through obedience, I got the results I desired. I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams and I am assured that I will spend eternity with my Lord and Savior. Now that’s what I call achieving the results you’re after.

What’s Your Story?


A testimony is a statement or declaration by a witness which typically provides supporting evidence to a fact or statement. In the context of religion a testimony is when someone openly declares or professes their faith in God by sharing supporting evidence of His existence based on their personal experience and relationship with Him. Many Christians have overcome incredible situations, not because of anything they did by their own strength, but because they trusted God to release them from a particular area of their lives that held them captive. I have known people who have been freed from the bondage of addiction, who have been able to forgive those who have done unspeakable things to them when they were children, or who now have an incredibly healthy and fully restored marriage after suffering though the hurt of adultery. I’ve known those who have been miraculously healed from a disease and those who have conceived a child after having been told they would never be able to do so. All of them have one thing in common – they trusted God to overcome the impossible in their lives and because of it they share their story with others who face the same circumstances in order to encourage them that God is more than able to do it in their lives too. Sharing your testimony is a powerful tool to bring hope and faith to those in hopeless circumstances.

I used to watch the cartoon “Kim Possible” with my children when they were younger. Kim would always get a message on her communications device from her friend, Wade, when a situation arose that needed her attention. Her first response was always “What’s the sitch, Wade?” and her friend would fill her in on the details that required her to respond with her superhero abilities. There was a never-ending array of “situations” for Kim Possible to battle. And like Kim Possible, most Christians I know face a seemingly endless amount of situations in their lives with the difference being we need God to prevail on our behalf, not a super hero. But what if you’ve never been through some major “sitch” in your life? What if you chose to follow Jesus from a very young age and have never encountered a major storm of life? Does that mean you do not have a testimony?

The truth is that no matter what you have been through or whether you’ve been through nothing at all, we are all sinners in desperate need of a Savior. The bible says we are born with a sin nature (Psalm 51:5). Because we are born human we are capable of sin and have a propensity toward it. And when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, “sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (Romans 5:12). Sin levels the playing field for us all. No matter how “good” you think you’ve lived your life or how “bad” you think you are because of your past, we are all sinners who need the forgiveness of our Savior, Jesus Christ, in order to become redeemed and return to right standing with God. And we all have a story that needs to be shared.

If you are someone who has followed Christ for as long as you can remember and have been spared from having made choices that lead to grievous moral failures, then be grateful to God for having His hand upon you as protection throughout your life and know that it is only by the grace of God that you did not follow a different path. But know also that you should never feel “less than” anyone else because your testimony isn’t filled with regretful choices that led to major problems. You have a powerful testimony that you were born into sin and in need of a Savior. But by the grace of God you were spared from difficulties that many others have faced but you are nonetheless redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. You are proof that you don’t have to go through horrible circumstances to have a testimony and that you can follow Christ for life without succumbing to damaging temptations. You are proof it can be done, don’t ever underestimate the power of that message.

Nobody Loves Me


There is a worship song that says “Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.” It’s one of my favorites because it’s a reminder that the measure by which I am loved is solely based on what God did for me when He sacrificed His son on the cross. Because of God’s love for me and His forgiveness of my sins, I am no longer separated from Him and I have the assurance of spending eternity with my Father in Heaven. It is the litmus test by which I measure whether I am loved or not. The definition of litmus test is this: a test in which a single factor (as an attitude, event, or fact) is decisive. The determination of whether I am loved or not is solely based on the fact that God loved me so much that He gave His one and only Son so that everyone (including me) who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. That is the basis for which I am loved. Not whether I feel loved or not. Not whether someone who I thought loved me told me they no longer do. Not that someone who was supposed to love me and take care of me didn’t. The reason I know that I am loved is because God said so in His Word.

But many people determine whether they are loved or not based on how fulfilling their personal relationships are in their lives. They “feel” loved when someone treats them well and meets their emotional needs. But as soon as that person fails to do so, they begin to feel unloved. They falsely believe that when someone rejects them or disappoints them that they are no longer loved. While it may be true that they are no longer loved by the individual, it does not mean they are not loved. The only love that will never fail to meet our physical, emotional and spiritual needs is God’s love. People will undoubtedly let you down, but God’s love is unfailing.

Right now there may be someone in your life who is failing to make you feel loved. Or maybe someone you thought was there for you has given up on you and you feel the hurt of rejection and disappointment. Maybe your spouse has run out on you and you feel alone and think nobody loves you. But there is One who loves you more than anyone here on this earth can ever love you. And He will never leave you nor forsake you. His love is unconditional, everlasting, and unfailing. His love is healing, comforting and liberating. His love has no limits and knows no bounds. His love is giving but it won’t cost you. His loves brings clarity to your confusion and light to your darkness. His love is pure, forgiving and redeeming. His love covers you and strengthens you in times of weakness. His love drives out fear and builds up faith. His love is immeasureable and secure. His love cleanses and restores. His love is protective and inviting. His love fulfills and completes. His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on you.

Going Dark


One of my all-time favorite TV shows was “24” – to this day I’m still holding out hope that a “24” movie is forthcoming. When the lead character, Jack Bauer, was entering into a situation where he would no longer be in communication with his command point, he would always say “I’m going dark”. That meant they would not be able to reach him and there would be no contact whatsoever until it was safe to do so. When Jack was in his “stealth mode” the object was for him to not be exposed. He was to be unseen and unheard. If the mission became about him, it would all be over and the mission would fail.

I see many Christians who serve the church, their family and friends, their community, and even complete strangers with the same “stealth-mode” mentality. They understand that if their ministry to others becomes about them and not about God’s mission to reach the lost, then the mission will fail. They essentially go dark in order to remain unseen so that God may be seen through them as they selflessly serve others.

I’ve had the honor and privilege to visit Kenya, Africa where I met a couple, who quietly and with no fanfare at all, have served the orphaned children of their community for over 20 years. They have an incredible testimony and a story worth telling. But many years ago when they first arrived in Kenya, they felt God told them that if their ministry ever became about them, it would cease to exist. Because of their incredible love for the children they serve and their abounding humility, they have fiercly guarded themselves against pride. Their ministry has grown beyond anything they could have ever imagined. And they know that if they were to share their story in the United States, they could greatly increase their financial support and further the ministry to reach farther than they ever could with their meager support. But what would be lost is the ability to transform lives through the power of God. Because the ministry is not about them, the impact is far more reaching because God is able to show Himself mighty by meeting their needs time after time when they put their trust in Him. For that reason, they do everything they can to ensure they remain camouflaged and unseen so that God may receive the glory for the hearts that are transformed through they tireless and humble work.

Their story is so extraordinary because humility is the most difficult thing to possess and very few of us have it. And just about the time you think you got it, you’ve lost it. Everything in our culture screams “it’s all about me”. We are programmed to think about ourselves first before thinking of others and that we deserve to have it all so why not look out for number one? No one else is looking out for you, right? But humility says to put others first by giving up what we think we deserve. It means we treat others as if they are more important than us. How often, outside of God’s Word, do you hear that message in our world today? Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s just thinking of yourself less often. We cannot consume our own thoughts. We have to re-train our minds against what we are bombarded with on a daily basis and we must learn to think of others first. And because this goes against everything in our human nature, when it occurs God is glorified because there is no way other than by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can put others first. We just don’t have it in us. And when we do people will be drawn to Him and not us.

Are there areas of your life that need some camouflage? If you think you don’t have a problem with pride, there’s red flag number one. Trust me on this one, you do not want to get so full of yourself that it will take a humiliating moment to bring about more humility in your life. I know from my own experience, just about the time I thought I didn’t have a pride issue, God showed me just how much of one I did have. (Matt. 23:12, Prov. 16:18). We all need a reminder sometimes that it’s not all about us. Ask God to show you the areas of pride in your life and then when He does, repent and go dark.

Blind Obedience


Have you ever heard the term “blind ambition”? Most people have, but could you define it if someone asked you to? My son recently asked me what it meant and like most parents faced with a difficult question, I picked up my laptop and googled it. There is not an exact definition for the term but here’s the best explanation I found: “Blind Ambition is simply that.  You do not have a particular ‘focus’ as to where you are going, or what you want to do.  You just KNOW you want to do something, but where exactly you are headed is uncertain.  You can’t make up your mind, yet you’d do anything to anyone to get there as quickly as you can.  Make sense?  I thought not..but it’s true.”

It’s kind of like having a goal, having the ambition to reach the goal, going full speed ahead toward it but having no specific plan on how you will achieve the goal. It’s when you just “go for it” without really thinking it through first. Like the definition above states – it doesn’t make sense and you don’t know what the results will be but you do it anyway.

So that got me thinking. What if all followers of Jesus Christ practiced blind obedience – the kind of obedience that doesn’t always make sense but you do it anyway. As believers we don’t obey a set of rules, but as an act of love we are called to obey God’s commands not because we have to but because we want to. We shouldn’t need to know all the details and know how everything will turn out. All we have to do is to trust God and obey what He calls us to do. He is certainly not required nor should we expect Him to explain the “why” behind every opportunity He gives us to obey Him. God doesn’t need us to fully understand all that He asks of us. But He does want us to completely obey. Besides, we would be beyond overwhelmed if God showed us the “big picture” of every aspect of our lives.

So why do we feel such a need to know what’s coming next? Why do we find it so hard to just obey the step that God has placed before us? Pride and fear are two obstacles that get in the way of blind obedience. We believe we know better than God what the best plan of action would be or we’re too afraid to step out in faith and do what He has called us to do. What is it that you know that God has told you to do that you’re waiting for the full picture to develop before acting on it? Could it be that God is giving you the opportunity to practice blind obedience and to trust Him even though it may not all make sense right now? In John 14:15 Jesus says “If you love me, keep my commands.” It’s not complicated or difficult to understand. Do you love Jesus? Then just obey Him, even if it means you can’t see beyond the first step. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

When You Live To Be 100


This past weekend we celebrated the 100th birthday of my grandmother, Sissy, as she is affectionly known by to her family and friends. It was a celebration of a life that began in 1912 and has been witness to many incredible events throughout this century. Sissy began working as a telephone operator when she was just 16. At the time, she was the youngest employee to ever work for the phone company. She grew up on a farm in Tennessee which she and her three sisters and two brothers helped maintain in order to provide for the family’s needs. I believe it was through her humble beginnings she developed lifelong habits that are worth sharing and learning from.

Wash your face before breakfast – I’m sure this habit was necessary growing up for Sissy because her day began long before breakfast with chores on the farm. She came in after morning chores to “wash up” for breakfast. She still does this every day. I know that I need to “wash up” in the Word before I start my day. The spiritual cleansing that comes from beginning the day with God sets the tone for the entire day.

Have something sweet with every meal – Sissy has a dessert with every meal. Now that may sound crazy for those of us desperately trying to watch our weight but her small indulgence at mealtimes prevents her from a fullblown, whole cheesecake meltdown that might occur if she deprived herself. Every day she has 1 small chocolate donut at breakfast, 1 small chocolate chip cookie at lunch and a 1-scoop ice cream cone after dinner. Moderation is the key that has allowed her to enjoy the things she likes while maintaining self control.

Get excited about the small things – Every day at 3:00 pm Sissy looks out her window with great expectation as she anticipates the delivery of the day’s mail. She if filled with joy when there is something in the mailbox that is meant just for her. Too often we miss the pleasure of the small things in life because they become too routine for us.

Make molehills out of mountains – Whenever something big happens in Sissy’s life that would send others into a stressful frenzy, she seems to have a knack for letting it roll off her back. She doesn’t waste her energy and emotions on getting upset about the things she knows are ultimately in God’s control and chooses to spend her energy and emotions on the people that matter most to her

Keep a routine – Sissy is as predictable as they come and has been for as long as I can remember. She wakes up at the same time every day, washes up, has breakfast, reads the paper, has lunch, watches the same soap opera that she has watched for over 45 years and then enjoys a little afternoon nap (which she vehemently denies). Knowing what your day holds and the peace of knowing the One who holds it in His hands takes the guesswork out of how to respond when the routine is interrupted. She knows what her plans are every day and when the unexpected happens she turns to God and trusts Him with that which is out of her control.

Tell your story often – I’ve heard them all a hundred times but I still enjoy hearing Sissy tell the stories of how she started with the phone company, how she met my grandfather, what it was like to live during the Great Depression and where she was when JFK was shot. She loves to tell her story to anyone who will listen. And no matter how many times you tell your story there’s always a part that someone may have not heard before. Or there is someone out there who needs to hear your story, that needs to know they are not the only one who has experienced what they are going through. Tell your story and tell it often.

Make an actual phone call at least once a week – Sissy is pretty hip but she she is definitely not up to speed on social networking and texting. She uses her old rotary dial telephone to keep in touch with her friends and family. There is something special about a real phone call and hearing the voice on the other end that is lost through emails, texting and social media. People need to know we’re willing to take the time to pick up the phone and call them. I bet right now there is someone you’re thinking of that you should call.

Put on your make-up when you’re expecting guests – Even at 100 years old, Sissy still takes time to care about her physical self. As difficult as it can be for her she puts on her make-up, sprays a little perfume and combs her hair when she knows someone is coming to see her. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19-20) and we are never too old to take care of ourselves and our bodies in honor of God.

We may not live to be 100 years old but we sure can learn some valuable lessons from someone who has. I know I definitely have. Thanks Sissy.