The Surprises of 2017

I had no idea.  I’ve been thinking about how life with God is such an adventure.  Last January 1st I spent time reflecting on the previous year, and in prayer.  God gave me Hebrews 11:8 as a theme verse for the year.  Then on January 2nd I read this in My Utmost for His highest:

Heb118 I didn’t know what was next.  I wasn’t expecting anything unusual really.  Then in March I spent a weekend with Sandy Richter, and two weeks later I knelt on the grave of Paul in Rome and the words that came out of my mouth were, “Lord, help me be faithful to preach the Word, in season and out of season.”  (Is the Word ever out-of-season?!)  In April I applied to seminary, in May I was accepted at Asbury, in June I stood in the pulpit on a Sunday morning as a guest speaker for the first time, and in September I started classes.  A year ago seminary was not on my To Do List, and here I am one semester into the game.

I still don’t know what’s next, other than the Inductive Study of Mark class I registered for this spring.  I really am enjoying being in seminary, but I don’t have an end game… In fact, not knowing “why” makes school a continual faith exercise… I am here because I am obedient, not because I have a plan.  As long as I check-in with The Master Planner on a regular basis, He will certainly keep me headed in the right direction.

My verse for 2018 is Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  I wonder what the new year holds… I wonder if I am already standing ankle deep in the rising river waters?  Last January I didn’t give my theme verse much thought, this year I am paying attention!

Tell your story – How has God been busy in your life this last year?

Renounce Shameful Ways

2 Corinthians 4:2 “We have renounced secret and shameful ways…”

Let’s talk about these words.

Secret – done, made, or conducted without the knowledge of others, designed or working to escape notice, knowledge, or observation, something that is or is kept hidden or concealed.

Shameful – disgraceful or scandalous, mortifying, humiliating, dishonorable, shame = the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, disgraceful, regrettable.

Renounce – to give up or put aside voluntarily, to give up by formal declaration, to repudiate, to disown, to abandon.

We, as followers of Christ, are to abandon and give up all things (behaviors, thought patterns, words, etc.) that are shameful, disgraceful, improper… the things we’d rather keep a secret.

We so easily hide issues in our lives.

What do we hide? What would we be embarrassed about if it were known?  (And I’m not talking about events and sins of the past, that’s a different shame issue.  I’m talking about things you are doing or thinking right now.)

Part of the problem is that we think sin is like olive oil that floats in little bubbles on top of the water.  We think that sin can be compartmentalized and that it doesn’t affect the rest of our lives.  This is a LIE.  Sin is really more like food coloring in water.  It permeates everything.  The whole jar of water turns red.  Sin affects our relationship with God, our relationships with others, and is not easily contained.

I often ask this question when interviewing women who wanted to become Bible study teachers, “Is there anything in your life right now that, if revealed, would negatively impact your witness for Christ?”

How would you answer?  What is God bringing to mind?

We must renounce these behaviors as soon as they spring up (or Christ makes us aware of them). Renounce the whole thing until there is no hidden thing of dishonesty or craftiness about you.

If God is speaking to you about something, do not walk away from it.  Be obedient. Confess to God.  Acknowledge that you heard Him.  Ask for help, wisdom, direction, conviction.

Then confess to another person.  Ask for accountability.

We must maintain a continual watchfulness so that we have no secret, shameful things to be concealed.  Let us be women of integrity.

Let Go. Die Quickly.

I tuned in to an old play list while running yesterday and the song “Let Go” by Barlow Girl popped up.

“Yeah I trust in You, I remember times You led me, This time it’s bigger now, And I’m afraid You’ll let me down, But how can I be certain?  Will You prove Yourself again?

[Chorus:]  ‘Cause I’m about to let go
And live what I believe
I can’t do a thing now
But trust that You’ll catch me
When I let go, When I let go

What is this doubt in me , Convincing me to fear the unknown, When all along You’ve shown, Your plans are better than my own, And I know I won’t make it, If I do this all alone…”

Ladies, why is it so stinking hard for us to trust God?  Every time I am left to my own devices I make a big mess of things… my historical track record is not so awesome.  But all along God has shown that His plans are better than my own!  His track record is fantastic!

So I was thinking about you – my friends – and I wanted to encourage you to LET GO, to SURRENDER.  Stop hanging on and trying to exercise some imaginary control over everything… your kids, your husband, your health, your life…

And I was thinking about myself – as I am embarking on a new ministry.  I remember well sitting in a leadership workshop with Chris Adams (of Lifeway) and she made three BIG points:

(1) Seek God Early.  Early in the day.  Early in all your ministry plans.

(2) Die Quickly.  Let go of your own plans, goals, and control.  Surrender to God’s purpose and control in your ministry.  Christ calls us to die.  Keep on dying to yourself and your plans.  A mark of maturity is your peace and confidence in God’s control.

(3) Obey Continually.  Keep on doing it until you are given other instructions.  Do not grow weary of doing good.  You will reap a harvest if you obey and do not give up.

Let Go, ladies.  Let God.  Let’s work on dying quickly, so He doesn’t have to come and wrestle control from us… : )

I cannot see it…

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?”  John 4:11Traditional well in Senegal, Tambacounda region

The Samaritan woman talking to Jesus was confused.  How in the world could one could get water without a rope and a bucket (or a pot)?!  Yet Jesus had clearly said that He had water and she could have some of it.  She was perplexed.

I think I must be like her sometimes – it seems like I limit the work of God, I hesitate in obedience, because I cannot imagine how in the world He would do it.  Yes Lord, I hear You clearly – but how in the world are You going to do that? How?  I cannot see it.

I am convicted that I must obey what I hear clearly, and let God sort out the how… After all, He is the Lord of the Universe and the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills.

Details TBD.

She was talking to me…. Guest blog by Liz Hile, Justdoit

“If you’re like me, sometimes you get a little frustrated that God doesn’t reveal His plan for your life to you in a tidy little 5-10 year prospectus.

Maybe you’ve read that God has good works he’s set aside specifically for you to do, but you’re still waiting on the memo that details what those things are!

In Judges 13, it seems that Samson’s dad felt like that, too.

You see, an angel of the Lord told Samson’s mom that Samson would be a Nazirite and gave her special instructions to follow. Samson’s dad prayed for the angel to return so that he could get some more specific details. He asked, “What’s Samson’s life gonna look like? What will his mission be?”

The angel’s response makes me laugh, “All that I commanded her (Samson’s mom) let her observe.”

It’s just like us to over-complicate things, isn’t it? God may not show us right away where we’re going, but He makes it very clear for us how to get there: just follow and obey. Do each day what you already know you should do – repent, be baptized, pray, serve, love, give, forgive, teach, make disciples, etc., and that’ll put you on a sure path towards greater revelation of God’s will for your life. When we love God enough to do what He’s already made plain in His Word, we can be confident that He will reveal even more of Himself to us (John 14:21), including His dreams, His vision, and His plans.

So, instead of getting frustrated about the murkiness of the future, let us patiently live out what God clearly wants us to do today.”

Are You A Mature Christian?

She’s at it again: * Guest blog by Susie Walther,


Would you say that you are a mature Christian?

Why would you consider yourself “mature” in your faith?

Susie writes, “I recently attended a Verge conference, and one of the speakers cited some recent statistics from the Barna Group regarding women in the church.

She said that 74% of Christian women consider themselves mature in their faith.

But the Barna poll also revealed that less than 25% of those same women actually shared the gospel, helped the needy, valued volunteering/serving or gave financially to support ministry, and that only 13% viewed their main role in life as being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

So, that really begs the question – exactly what do these women mean when they say they’re “mature?”

Obviously, Christian maturity for them has little to do with being a disciple, which would involve spending time with Jesus through the Christian disciplines of daily quiet time and prayer, and intentional involvement in the Great Commission. Maturity for these women did not include the pro-active sharing of their faith, serving others intentionally, helping the world around them or giving generously out of their monetary means.

So, again I have to ask, what the heck do these women mean when they call themselves “mature???”

Are they defining maturity as time in grade – you know, “I’ve been a Christian for 10 or 50 years…so I’m mature” or “I’ve attended church all my life, so I’m mature?” Are they the ones who “read through the Bible once?” Are they dubbing themselves mature because they’re uber-involved in their kids’ lives or they home school, eat organic foods, run marathons and are nice people? Is maturity to them volunteering once a year on a missions trip or helping with VBS, attending a Bible study, listening to Christian radio, and reading Our Daily Bread when they can?

Whatever the case, we should be absolutely alarmed because we are a generation of Christian women who consider ourselves “mature in Christ” who don’t live like we need the Gospel and certainly aren’t living our lives to advance the Kingdom of God.

Righteous King of Heaven, wake us up from our slumber and show us the peril of our deception!”

So I ask you again, “Are you mature in your faith?”

What evidence of maturity can you point to in your life?