Excuse Me, You’re In My Spot


All companies and organizations have a structure or hierarchy that determines the level of responsibilities and decision-making. An organizational chart is used to diagram the company structure, roles and how they relate to one another. In the military it’s called the Chain of Command. The thing that they all have in common is that there is always a top position. There is someone who is ultimately held responsible for the overall vision or mission and who is in charge of overseeing everyone below them. They are rewarded whenever everything goes well but they are also held accountable when things do not go as planned whether they were involved directly or indirectly. Many times they get the credit for work done by subordinates but they can also take the fall for others’ mistakes. It is a huge responsibility to be at the top of the pyramid.

Marriages and families are like a company in the sense that someone is ultimately in charge. The person at the top of the org chart of a family may rely heavily on their support staff such as their spouse, their children, or extended family. But there really can only be one Head of Household, at least according to the IRS. And just like in the corporate and military worlds, sometimes the lines of responsibilities may be crossed or the 2nd in command may have to step in and take the lead for a period of time due to certain circumstances. But in all families there is typically one person who is considered the man or woman of the house.

In Ephesians Chapter 5 God describes His org chart for a spiritual head of the household when He says “for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.” In a marriage God defines the role of the family CEO as belonging to the husband. However, there are many obstacles that can come between a man taking his designated role within his family. Sometimes he may unwilling or may not be equipped to lead the family spiritually. But in other situations the husband cannot occupy the position that God intended for them to be in because there is someone else already occupying that role. I was one of those people – I complained that my husband was not being the spiritual head of our home yet I was the one standing in the way of his promotion into the position that was created for him. There can only be one CEO or Commanding Officer and until that position is vacated then no one else can be promoted into it. It is the same in a marriage. There can only be one spiritual head of the home and while there are many reasons why the husband may not be operating in that role, in my case the problem was me. I was attempting to possess something that was never intended to be mine in the first place. But my husband was too much of a gentleman to just “put me in my place”. He waited and allowed the Holy Spirit to bring conviction upon my heart.

You may be in a situation where you are the spiritual head of your home because your husband is not willing or able to occupy the position. Or if your spouse is deployed or travels with their job and is unable to operate in their role for much of the time then you may have to step in and be that position until they can and will assume it for themselves. But if you are constantly battling with the question of why your husband is not acting as if he is the spiritual head of your home even though he is equipped to do so, ask God to show you if the position is available to him. It just may be that it’s already occupied and your husband cannot be promoted until you are willing to humbly step aside. There will always be difficulties within a marriage when the husband and wife are not in the role God intended for them to be. If that is your marriage, it may be time to say “I’m sorry, I”m in your spot.”

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It’s Gonna Take a Miracle


With March Madness in full swing, several shocking losses by top seeds have many teams feeling the weight of defeat. Long before the final buzzer sounds some teams give up and their body language reveals what they have already decided in their minds. They accept defeat before the game ever ends.

We can easily fall into that same trap in life. We start acting defeated long before it’s “game over”. We look at our situation and cannot see any possibility for a victory. We allow ourselves to believe it’s over and our actions and body language shout defeat. It’s not easy to visualize a positive outcome when you’re surrounded by negativity.

But when we proclaim to believe in God but deny the possibility of victorious outcome in our lives, we are denying the validity of what happened on the cross. We mistakenly believe that it’s impossible for God to fix our situation because it will take a “miracle” to fix it. And real miracles are for people with the most serious problems – like a single mom with cancer, a child with a terminal illness, or victims of disasters waiting for days to be rescued in the aftermath. But miracles don’t have to be reserved for only the extreme situations.

While there are still extraordinary miracles happening all around the world like the blind suddenly being able to see and those who can’t walk standing and taking steps for the first time, there are still  remarkable miracles happening each day that we just fail to recognize. The fact that the sun rises every day is a miracle. The birth of a child is a miracle.  I see miracles happening in the lives of people I know all the time. The restoration of broken marriages that don’t stand a chance, the overcoming of anger that can’t seem to be controlled, the receiving of an unexpected financial gift when the gas tank is empty and so is the bank account, forgiveness toward someone by one who could never imagine forgiving the unspeakable things done against them, and healing for wounds of the heart that were thought to be impossible to overcome are all miracles in my sight.

Miracles do happen today – the question is do you believe in miracles? Or are miracles reserved for someone else with a greater need? God does still miraculously heal, it just doesn’t always look like we think it should or how it did in the days when Jesus walked the earth. We’ve become cynical in our day and instead of expecting a miracle we walk around defeated and deflated. But the truth is we are only as defeated as we allow ourselves to believe. When we listen to the whispering lies of the enemy of God, we begin to doubt in our minds and feel the outcome of defeat before it ever happens. But when you are a born again child of God, you are never defeated because the victory has already been won on the cross. Either you trust in the gospel and the power of the cross that you cannot see but is there nonetheless, or you trust in the powerless lies of the devil and what you can see with your own eyes.

In 1980, an unheralded group of college ice hockey players from the United States won the Gold Medal at the Olympic Winter Games. The medal round match on February 22 was of particular interest, as it was played against a heavily favored squad from the Soviet Union in front of an American crowd in Lake Placid, New York who were whipped into a patriotic fervor by the Cold War. Al Michaels’ memorable broadcast of this game, including his interjection—“Do you believe in miracles? YES!”—as time expired on the 4–3 U.S. victory, earned the game the media nickname of The Miracle on Ice.

The situation you are in may be in need of a miracle. You can either believe in imminent defeat or you can fight like you believe in the victory that was won on the cross and start expecting your miracle. The question today is “Do you believe in mircles?” My answer is, YES!! I believe.

Giving Up or Giving In


I used to think that giving up and giving in were essentially the same thing. I thought that both meant you were defeated, only one meant you quit trying and the other was simply admitting you’d been beat. But over the years I’ve come to realize they have two very different meanings. And you can have very different outcomes in your situation depending upon your choice to give up or give in.

Beginning at an early age most children are taught to never give up. No matter how tough things gets, you should never, ever quit – you must keep trying to the very end. I was made to believe that if I gave up it was weakness and defeat. I believed the same about giving in. I thought that giving in meant you were throwing in the towel before things got too ugly. You knew you couldn’t hold off the inevitable so you just went ahead and admitted defeat. Both choices carried such a sense of shame and disappointment.

Today I see the two much differently. I know many people in very difficult situations. Whether marital, financial, health, or relational issues with family or co-workers, it seems problems today have reached an intensity level that is almost too much to bear for those involved. People are fighting for breakthrough in their circumstances but many times they no longer have the strength to continue the battle and they give up. It’s just too hard and we are only meant to take so much. Certainly there are some that can hang in there much longer than others and have a will to overcome that is truly remarkable. But everyone has a breaking point – the point where they say “I give up.” It is difficult to witness that moment when someone quits trying because there is still s0 much shame associated with giving up. When we give up we are admitting that we have failed and we are unable to overcome.

But giving in can be very different and depending on who or what you give in to, it may not be a sign of weakness but a sign of great strength. Just like when I was a child, giving in means throwing in the towel before things gets too ugly. When you wave the white flag of surrender, not to defeat but to God, you are admitting you can no longer fight in your own strength and you are putting your trust in God to fight on your behalf. The weight is lifted because you quit relying on yourself and begin to rely solely on Him. It takes faith to give in to God but a lack of faith to give up.

It’s never easy to give in because when we do so it means we have to let go of whatever it is we are handing over to God. It means we no longer have the ability to control the outcome but that we are entrusting that outcome to God and having the faith that it will be far better than anything we could have done. Letting go is difficult but hanging on for dear life to an out-of-control situation will never be a better choice than letting go and letting God.

Giving up is losing hope, but when you give in to God, you haven’t lost hope, you’ve simply shifted your hope from the unreliable to the always reliable Rock. Giving in means to yield in favor of another – you make the choice to give the power to God to move upon your situation. You stop opposing God and begin to work with Him instead of against Him. It is not weakness to give in to His ways, it’s freedom. It requires humility on our part to submit our lives to God and when we do we are set free from the burden of trying in vain to control our circumstances.

Don’t be deceived that if you give in you lose. When you give in to God the victory is already won (Col. 2:15, Heb. 2:14) and you are set free from the worry and the weight of going it alone. And remember, don’t ever give up. Not because it means you will have failed but because giving in to God is always better than giving up. If you are in the middle of an intense fight in your life, choose now to throw in the towel and surrender your fight to Jesus. He stands ready for battle on your behalf, “for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2Chron. 20:15)

Line in the Sand


Have you ever had that moment in your life when you just knew in an instant that there was going to be no way around it. You were going to have to take a stand. You just couldn’t sit back and let things go on as they had been. It was time to draw a line in the sand, a line that defined the boundary of that which you were unwilling to cross. And what constitutes that moment is different for each of us. But when you are faced with it – you will undoubtedly know it.

My family has had some “line in the sand” moments recently. One of them came when my youngest son wanted to try out for a part in a play that I was not familiar with. I did my homework and found it was a coming of age story about the lead character’s choice to do something in the moment that would allow him to “fit in” with the popular kids or to make the choice to do the right thing and stand by his not-so-popular friends. He made the choice to do the right thing. I was on the verge of relenting but still wanted to voice my minimal concerns to the director. I fully expected that after we talked my mind would be at ease. But toward the end of the conversation he told me about a particular scene in the play. Ironically, in that instant I went from “pretty sure we’re doing this” to “absolutely not”. We drew a line in the sand we were morally unwilling to cross.

My older son recently watched a video at school on “The Invisible Children”.  They only saw a portion of the video but his heart was stirred. Last night the story behind the children and the atrocities that are occurring in Uganda at the hand of Joseph Kony became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter. Ryan watched the full video and in that instant he knew – it was time to draw a line in the sand. He had to do something. So he launched into action and made plans to be part of the movement to stop Joseph Kony in 2012.

What is it in us that defines such a passionate discontent with something that we’re willing to risk judgement and criticism by others in order to stand up for what we so strongly believe in. What is it that drives us to take action in a moment in time yet we overlook other seemingly important issues and situations? I don’t have the answer. All I know is that each of us has something – some cause, some situation, some decision that will ignite a holy discontent in us when we come face to face with it. For some it may be a monumental world stance against an evil that must be stopped. For others, it’s a choice to not participate in something that goes against our morals and convictions. But whatever it is for you – never be afraid in the moment to draw the line in the sand. That goes for anyone who is faced with the decision to act when the moment occurs for you.

But speaking solely to those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior – if you are saved, should it show? Shouldn’t people be able to tell what you believe in by your actions and not just your words? Shouldn’t the lives of others be enriched because you are born again? Living out your faith is going to take a lot of courage and determination. And not to mention a complete reliance on the Holy Spirit. James asks what good is our faith if we only hear (or read) the word but don’t act on it. (James 1:22-25). God’s word is meant to drive us into action. We were created to bear the fruit of what we believe.

With today’s resources such as news outlets and social media networks, we are much more aware and knowledgeable about what goes on in our world. We live in a time in which we are responsible for things we see happening around us. We are accountable for the issues that are within our ability to act upon. We can no longer stick our heads in the sand and pretend like we’re unaware when we are confronted with the issues that call for action. Who needs your voice right now? Who in your family, your community, or the world needs you to rise up into action so that they might have justice. Who needs you to restore hope to their situation? Who needs you to draw a line in the sand?

It’s All About the Company You Keep


It has been said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. There is no doubt that those who occupy the majority of our time have a direct affect on who we are – good or bad. But the motive behind who you spend your time with can also have an impact on both yourself and others.

There is a deep desire among people today for authentic relationships. Many have befriended a person only to find that their new “friend” was only seeking a relationship for whatever they could get out of it. These types of “friends” are constantly asking themselves “what can she do for me?” The result of these superficial friendships is that many people today are suspect of anyone who desires their company and therefore keeps them at arm’s distance. When people seek a person’s company simply for their own personal gain or just to be able to tell others that they’ve spent time with a particular person, it is no doubt repelling and hurtful. This type of self-seeking friendship is rooted in the insecurities of those searching to find their identity based on who they are associated with. Their identity is found in what others perceive them to be, not who they really are. The outcome will only be temporary because if your identity is found in who you associate with, others may be drawn to you, but only as long as you have a connection to your identifier.

But when the one you spend time with and whom your identity is found in is Jesus Christ, people will easily identify you as such by the time you spend with Him. They will be drawn to God, through you. And those friends who seek your time when your identity is found in Christ are friends you can trust to be authentic and loyal because they are drawn to the goodness of God in you, not just you. They seek audience with you because they desire the qualities and characteristics you possess as a friend of God. Friends like these will not be asking “what can she do for me?” rather, “if He did all that for her, can He do it for me too?”.

So, who are you spending your time with? Through your friend choices, you are literally transforming your life. But most importantly, what image do you portray to those who spend time with you? Are they being transformed into your image or into the image of Christ who is in you? Examine who you are associating with the most. Is it the only One who can enable you toward who you were created to be? Or is it someone you think will increase your value in the eyes of others if you are associated with them? If it’s the latter, it is time to increase your contact with your Father in heaven who created you and knows you – not who others perceive you to be, but the real you. And seek to spend more time with other Godly friends who will enable you to become transformed into the image of Christ as you share authentic relationships together. After all, you are the company you keep. Who would others say you are? And who do you want to be?

Misplaced Trust


During a recent thunderstorm I was lying in bed listening to the heavy rain and wind outside. Although the wind made it sound like there was complete chaos going on just outside my window, I felt an unusual peace in the moment. I began to think about how people react when a “life storm” hits their otherwise calm existance. Do they experience that same peace I felt that night or is their response something much different. How you react during the storms of life greatly depends on who your trust lies in.

Whenever there is a big thunderstorm at our home my grandmother who lives with us reacts with worry and fear. She can’t sit still. She comes in and out of her room as she tries to stay calm but she can’t help but keep looking out all the windows to make sure everything is still ok. If she was in the middle of something and a storm comes up she stops everything to direct all her focus and attention to the storm even though she’s in the safety of our home. She prepares for the worst possible scenario by readying her flashlight and ensuring that if it gets too bad we’ll all head to the basement for safety. She wants to talk about the storm and relay all the information that the weatherman has communicated on TV. She thinks there’s no chance that the storm will quickly blow over and fully expects it to last a very long time. Even if there is no severe weather in the forecast, if she sees clouds outside she assumes that a bad storm is coming. And although at 99 years old she has been through many, many thunderstorms and has come out of them completely unscathed, she still becomes consumed by the most current one.

Even as Christians don’t we respond that way many times to the storms of life? We worry, we can’t be at rest, instead of being full of faith we fully expect the worst case scenario, we put all our focus and attention on the storm and we are fearful of what’s going on around us even though we’re under the covering of God’s protection. We expect our storm to last a very long time and we quickly forget the previous storms we’ve been through and survived. Yet we proclaim our belief in Jesus, the very One who calmed the storm by rebuking the winds but like His disciples we lack faith and are fearful when the storm hits. We put our trust in our own abilities to overcome our storm. We become consumed by it and allow it to steal our focus away from the only place it should be. We too easily brush off the promises of God’s word that says that we are to be without fear because God is with us wherever we go. (Joshua 1:9). We forget that His word also says “When I am afraid I will trust in you”. (Psalm 56:3). Our trust is completely misplaced if it is anywhere but in God and the promises of His word.

When our trust is in God, not only can we experience a calm before the storm, but we can experience complete calm during the storm. When we surrender control of the situations and circumstances in our lives that usher us into the darkness of a storm, there is an inexplicable peace that overcomes the effects of the storm. And when we can continue to rejoice in the Lord even when things are spiraling out of control, His grace will sustain us through the storm. Philippians 4:6-7 promises “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” He is faithful in His promises. If you are in a storm and everything is raging around you and fear and worry are consuming you, it’s time to put your trust in the Jesus. Cry out to Him and ask Him to calm the storm. Then praise Him that He is the only One who can. The storm may continue to rage all around you but the storm within you will subside. That’s a promise.