Tag Archives: be transformed

More Than Good Intentions

send meLip speak…good ideas…to-do lists…plans…even our dreams.  Without actions what are they worth?  Not much really…

I confess, I am an idea generator.  I love talking and planning and dreaming about “someday.”  But lately something has been happening to my heart, it’s a desire to do something, an urgency for action. But at the same time my dreams, plans, and to-dos, these things that I talk about doing, have begun changing radically.  And these words from David in Psalm 39 were like throwing gasoline on a fire.

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered – how fleeting my life is.  You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.  My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.”

Can I just tell you how many days I have felt like a shadow? Rushing around only to sit down at the end of the day and wonder what actually got accomplished? To be fair, dinner does need to be made, the laundry absolutely needs done, and as much as I would love to just live in a paper-plate-no-dishes-to-be-done-ever-again-house it isn’t a real expectation.  Raising a family is a lot of work, and very important work too! But recently, my heart has begun to bear a new burden. The imprint of a new heartache has begun to take shape.

In March of this year I began praying in a different way.  I began asking God what He wanted for me, or from me instead of consistently the other way around.  This is a terrifying prayer when you realize that he has begun to move, that you heart is actually being changed.  It’s a terrifying realization when you accept that you would be willing to walk away from your current life, answering the call of “not my will, but thine, be done.” Because these are not my dreams, these are God’s dreams for me.  It’s when you look around and realize that there is so much that you haven’t seen before when viewed through the eyes of Jesus.  It’s when you realize the discontentment you, your husband, and children have been fighting could be for a bigger purpose and you pray for their eyes to be opened to all that you are now seeing.  You begin to pray that their hearts find rhythm with yours, a beat of love, because there is so much evil in the world, so much hurt, and you can’t save everyone but what if it’s just one?  Even just one would be worth it.  Andy Stanley said, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.”

Current conditions on the Greece-Macedonia border are cold and rainy. Due to the situation on Lesvos in Greece, Samaritan’s Purse predicts that approximately 20,000 refugees will attempt to cross the border in the next few days. Infants are wrapped in plastic bags to protect them from the rain. Clothing is inadequate even for current temperatures, much less dropping temperatures that will follow in the next few weeks. Soon it will not be possible for people to sleep outdoors as they will be at significant risk of hypothermia, particularly infants, young children, and the elderly. (Samaritan’s Purse Responding to Refugee Crisis in Europe, 9/10/15)

Children are being wrapped in plastic bags to be kept dry and warm while we debate which coat to wear.  It’s so much easier to stick your head in the sand (I am great at this) and to pretend that if you don’t know it’s happening it isn’t.  However, a lack of knowledge does not alter the reality of the situation. If you have the stomach and desire, Ann VosKamp shares her experiences from her trip to Iraq in this post from May, 2015.  It broke my heart, sickened me, and has impacted me in ways I can’t even put into words. Basically, it has haunted me since I read it 4 months ago – consider yourself warned.

Into Iraq #2: What the News isn’t telling You & Why We Can’t Afford to Pretend It’s Not Happening [Sozan’s Impossible Choice — and Our Very Possible One]

This is but a drop in the bucket and it’s not just “out in the world”, it’s in our cities, our neighborhoods, in our very own backyards.

“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father.” (Ephesians 3:14) And I feel compelled by an urgency.  I have to move beyond my good intentions to a life marked by action.  I don’t want my busy rushing to end in nothing.

And all of a sudden this afternoon I found myself singing an old Garth Brooks song,

This heart still believes
That love and mercy still exist
While all the hatreds rage
And so many say
“That love is all but pointless,
In madness such as this
“It’s like trying to stop a fire
With the moisture from a kiss”

And I hear them saying,
“You’ll never change things
And no matter what you do
It’s still the same thing”
But it’s not the world that I am changing
I do this so, this world will know
That it will not change me
(The Change, Garth Brooks)

Let’s start more than a conversation, let’s start a movement.  Shout to the world that you will not be changed, that you will not ignore the hurt, that Jesus through us, in love and mercy, will prevail.  Find your passion, grab hold of it, and use it to make a difference, if only just in one life! It’s scary amazing what God can do with a willing body!

This was the prayer that Abide delivered to my phone this morning.  It was amazingly appropriate…

Dear Jesus Christ,
I want to be a part of what you are doing in the world today. I believe you want to use me right now. I want to return to my first love, to you.  I want to be your hands and feet this very second.  Help me to believe and live by my convictions with every beat of my heart today. In your merciful name.  Amen

Here I am.  Send me.

Still Moments – Come As You Are

This Sunday the invitation is a simple one – come as you are. Wherever you are, in whatever condition you may find yourself. Let rescue begin…this is why it’s to Him I run.

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
(Crowder, Come As You Are)

Into Every Life…God as Comforter


Ok…this concept from Matt Chandler blew my mind. The first time I read it I thought “nice quote.” Then, after reading it through a couple of times and allowing it to penetrate through the cliche part of my brain to something deeper I began to really get on board with what Matt Chandler is saying. Let’s call this the head to heart transition. Take a few moments and reread these words today. Allow their meaning to seep into your soul.

“Comfort is the god of our generation, so suffering is seen as a thing to be solved, and not a providence from God.” Matt Chandler

Suffering as a providence from God, a blessing maybe? Let me clarify and say that I don’t believe suffering is the blessing. The bad, the mess, the hurt is not the blessing. I will not ask you to swallow the “suffering is a blessing” pill.

But before we get to where the blessing can be found answer this question, where do you turn when things begin spiraling out of control?

When we are hurting, searching for an escape it is so easy to medicate, to mask, or to smother our suffering. Or at least to try anyway…with a drink, a pill, food, shopping. Understand that it doesn’t have to necessarily be the “taboo” things that are destructive. When we reach for “stuff” first, we will constantly find ourselves reaching, going back to the well for more, trying to fill the hole, trying to escape our suffering. This is shaky ground and I will just say this. Pretending “it” doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. The only place to find healing is digging all the way to the root and then laying it down at the foot of the cross. It WILL hurt, and it is most likely NOT going to change over night but everything that happens in this life happens for a reason. Of that I am confident and unwavering.

Let me share with you what I have learned first hand…

When we are hurting, we want someone to sit down next to us, take our hand, and tell us it’s going to be okay, even if he or she doesn’t really believe it. We want to pretend, at least for a little while, that everything is all right. That in that very moment in time, everything is fine, and all that has happened or is yet to happen will just go away—the hurt, the shame, the fear, the consequences. In the absence of being able to turn the clock back, in the absence of being able to change the course our life has taken, we want comfort. We want to be loved and assured. And many times, the last thing we want to hear is that our pain has a purpose. We want to wallow in our pain; we want to have a pity party for ourselves. We want to scream at God that He has made a mistake and demand that He fix it. God doesn’t make mistakes, and search as we may for an escape route, the nearest exit as it were, from our current situation, it is in these situations that we really begin to understand what God is really like. I have been there, desperately searching for the emergency exit, but though we may not want to accept it, what we are going through has a purpose—God’s Word tells us exactly that. If you are there today, I pray as I write this that God’s words will penetrate your heart and you will be able to see God through the haze of your pain…I have come to realize that sometimes bad things are going to happen. Sometimes terrible, unthinkable, unimaginable things are going to happen, but it is God’s will. He has not turned His back on me, and I can use these things to make me bitter or I can use them to make me better. I love what Charles Spurgeon says; maybe you too can identify with his words. “I bear my willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord’s workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see most.” (An excerpt from Run and Be Still. )

When we are suffering what is the first thing we look for? Relief, an escape, a way to stop or avoid the pain. That is our human nature. We need to take a fresh look at Jesus in times of suffering, to understand better the promises He makes us when we find ourselves in the valley. Let me encourage you that in our suffering, God wants to be our comfort. Herein lies a major blessing if we can shift our thinking to see it as such. If you aren’t there yet please don’t give up. Just stick with me and keep an open mind. Know that on the bad days, God has not left you. He has not forsaken you.

I encourage you to look again at Jesus with the words from Laura Story’s song, Blessings.

What if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise


Into Every Life…

We’ve all been dealt cards that we wish we could exchange. There have been times we have been ready to lay our hand down and just fold and walk away, but during the month of May I want to challenge you to see those cards for the blessings that may spring forth from them through this series that I have dubbed, “Into Every Life.” I want to challenge your definition of a “good” life and look at what a blessing may sometimes truly look like. My prayer is that as we do this we will begin to see our hand through the Dealer’s eyes.

“Into each life rain must fall,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous words……but what if, as Laura Story in her song Blessings asks,

What if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

What if…will you join me this month as we look at this what if? If you know someone else who needs some encouragement, someone whose umbrella is tattered and torn from the downpour they have been weathering, would you please share this with them? Invite them to take this journey with us for a very real look at pain and blessings.



I have a question for you today.  What would you say most people spend their days longing for?  Happiness? Where would you find happiness?  In success?  How do you define success?  Would you find contentment in more money, time, or possessions? Is your joy held captive under someone else’s power? In search of unconditional love have you given away the keys to your kingdom?

Like a junkie, in need of a fix, we compromise what we hold dear, we give away the very best parts of us, in search of love, happiness, contentment.  If I just have this person’s love or approval, this possession, this amount in my bank account, you fill in the blank, then I will be happy.  I promise you, if the “this” that you are searching for is found anywhere but at the foot of the cross you will keep searching. Your “if, then” statement will never be complete.  People will let you down, there will always be something newer, shinier, and fancier to lust after, there won’t be enough hours in the day to climb the ladder of corporate prestige.

There is a bible verse that I bet we have all heard Luke 12:34, wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.  I challenge you today to look again at that verse and commit it to heart knowledge instead of just head knowledge.  To do that, answer this question for a quick litmus test.  What is the last thing you are thinking about when you go to bed and the first thing you think of in the morning? That will begin to tell you where your treasure is.  I am not saying that you have to be super spiritual, we all have things on our minds and hearts that weigh heavy on us at times and become overwhelming. God wants to share in all of these things with us.  He wants us to treasure a relationship with Him.  We need to begin to allow God a voice in our day, in our thoughts, in our plans. Begin to take back control of your life from those external circumstances that we have no control over.  Allow Him to open your eyes to true joy, contentment, and love.  I heard a great quote this week from Matt Chandler.  “You will live your life or it will live you.”

So today, I ask you again.  What do you spend your days longing for? What do you treasure?

Do Not Conform – Brought to you by Apple


Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world…are the ones who do.   -Apple Ad Campaign

Originally written as an advertising campaign for Apple, I read this and heard a personal call to boldness. A call to be transformed in Christ. Isn’t Apple’s message in line with Romans 12:2? “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

How do we do this boldly? By being a round peg in a square hole. That’s about as clear as mud, right? Here is what I mean. You will, even today, be given at least one opportunity to take a stand for Christ, in Christ. Not necessarily in a bold evangelical, accept-God’s-gift-of-salvation kind of way (although He does provide those on occasion.) Instead, we can be bold in showing, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.  This is choosing the high road when it would be so easy to just go with the flow and follow the crowd. This is choosing what is right over what is painless.  This is choosing acceptance over anger, forgiveness over bitterness.  This is choosing truth over lies, no matter what the consequences.  This often creates waves, draws attention, and always requires courage.

John Piper says, “The evidence of boldness is whether or not a person is making choices throughout the day that revolve around their desire to avoid conflict. If so, then that is a clear sign that cowardice is winning out over courage.”
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NLT)
Wherever you go, whatever you face the Lord is with you.  So go boldly and with confidence knowing you are not alone.  As the Apple ad said, if you are one of the “crazy” people who stand out from the crowd, be prepared because people will quote you, disagree with you, glorify or vilify you. Just don’t let them ignore you and never settle for status quo.  And always believe that you can change things, one bold act at a time.

A Remarkable Challenge

20130812-080246.jpgStop and think about something this morning.  Here is what I am asking you to “Be Still” over this week. You leave your fingerprints everywhere.  This isn’t a matter of hygiene but instead a matter of the heart.  The people you work with, the stranger at the grocery store, your spouse, your children, your teammates, your friends, everyone of these groups of people are marked by your fingerprints.  How are you marking them?

Jesus in is the everyday dealings in our lives. I believe this is where He lives.  Yes, He is most certainly in the grand, big plans.  He is in the mega-churches and the revival conventions.  He resides in the Joyce Meyers, David Jeremiahs, and Billy Grahams of the world but no more so than he does in you or I.  Stop and think about that for just a moment.  If, you are a follower of Jesus, a disciple, He is as available to you as He is to each and every notable disciple that has come before you.  More than that, you have every bit as much opportunity (and dare I say responsibility) to reach out to those people that He places in your path on any given day.  There is a need for the “big-leagues” but never discount the “little league” games that you and I are involved in every single moment of every single day. These can be just as remarkable, sometimes even more so.  Think for just a minute, how many people can one person reach, even if they have the platform of television and radio?  (And that requires a the listener to be actively searching for something.)  Now, how many people can you and I, and every other follower of Jesus reach in a single day, where they are, bringing a message that person may not have even realize they needed.  I am not talking about preaching hellfire and brimstone, but reaching out instead in love, kindness, forgiveness.  These, the fruits of the Spirit from Galations 5:22, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness are things of this world that are quickly disappearing.  We are called to be different.  We are called for something more.  We have an opportunity, everyday, to plant these seeds and maybe, through God’s careful tending though everyday people like you and I, that seed will grow into something bigger.  If that isn’t remarkable, I don’t know what is.

Today, you will have at least one opportunity to be remarkable and it doesn’t require a huge gesture, it just requires eyes that have been opened by Jesus to see people the way he sees them.  Ears that are listening for the prompting of the still small voice of Jesus.  A heart that has experienced the love of Jesus  and in response is overflowing in gratitude.  Feet that are following in Jesus’ footsteps.  And hands, to leave the fingerprints of Jesus on someone else’s life.  No matter how small and insignificant that gesture may seem to us we are part of a much larger plan and all of the pieces have to be present for the puzzle to be complete.  Today, I am writing as much to myself as you.  Don’t get caught up in the grand gesture, the desire for greatness.  Be diligent in the small things, see and take every opportunity that God presents and you will gain an understanding of remarkable.

Lord and Savior, my Father and my Teacher, as I begin this week let me do so with a humble heart.  Please release me from the desire to save the world and instead fill me with the desire to reflect You to the world.  Help me to understand the true meaning of living a remarkable life, not in notoriety and fame, but in the quiet dealings of a life lived in your grace.  Help me to leave your fingerprints, not mine, on everyone I touch today.  When I forget please remind me.  I will be tempted by all sorts of things, to distract and to detract, from the message that I live.  In these moments Lord, help me to dwell in You to renew my spirit.  Lord, help me to live remarkably by your standards.

Please join me this week as we continue on our search for a remarkable life.

What are you holding on to?

20130808-092857.jpgMy son battles with stress-induced anxiety.  When under pressure, he becomes hyper-sensitive.  Everything is enhanced and he will become very aware of any ache, pain, or sound to the point of maddening distraction. He is on sensory overload. He becomes agitated, begins to shut down, and cannot see reason.  He also avoids, at all costs, that which is causing him the stress.  It literally slams on the brakes of his life and our family.  In exasperation I have talked, I have pleaded, and I have yelled.  (I am not proud.) I have prayed over him, prayed for him, and prayed with him.  Yesterday we found ourselves in the middle of one of his firestorms and I finally looked at him and asked that one simple question…What are you holding on to?

He is reaching out for help with one hand but the other hand refuses to let go of the frustration and agitation.  Have you ever found yourself in a pit like that and it seems that no matter how much you climb and struggle you only get deeper?  What are you holding on to?  It is only dragging you back down, slowing your progress.  God is not going to pry it out of your hand. You must open your hand and let it go.

I love the story of the mountain climber who, when stranded, hanging by a single rope with nowhere to go but down, he finally yells in desperation, “If there is a God up there, help me.” To his ultimate surprise and astonishment an immediate reply was forthcoming.  “Yes, ” said a thundering but kind voice, “I will help you.  All you have to do is let go of the rope.”  The startled mountain climber thought about this for a moment, and again raised his eyes to heaven and asked, “Is there anyone else up there?” Author, Gerry Boylan puts it this way.  “I am seeking God without seeking God’s help.”

Stop fighting.  Stop struggling. Wave the white flag.   Release the death grip of control.  Surrender.  The actual act of surrendering is the easiest thing you will ever have to do. Getting to the place where you are ready to surrender may, in fact, be the hardest.  Your victory comes through surrender.

Father, you know what is on my heart today.  You know what I have my fingers clamped around, what I am unable or unwilling to let go of.  You know what my heart is holding hostage.  Please change my heart Lord.  Help me to loosen my grip and let go.  Help me to forgive, to move on, and most importantly open my eyes  so that I can see the freedom that surrender brings through your salvation.  Through You Lord, and only through You, I know that I can claim victory.  Lord, save me!

You can’t DO peace…


Calm me, O Lord, as You stilled the storm. Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm. Let all the tumult within me cease. Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace. (Celtic Traditional)
If you claimed yesterday’s prayer as your own (More than a cliché) and found your heart longing for more than a cliché as I did, the next logical question is, “So, now what?” You have a longing for something more. For me that longing is for calm, for peace, for still waters. Don’t we all want that? Peace in your family. Peace in your marriage. Peace in your job. Peace from an illness. Peace from pain. Sometimes it feels like we are engaged in a great battle and all we want is a break, an opportunity to say “Time out!” so that we can catch our breath before re-engaging. If you are like me you have recognized your need for something more and you have realized your inability to find this on your own. Without the hand of the savior guiding and holding onto us we will inevitably slip back into our old patterns and tendencies. I get very quickly tired of battling against my sinful nature when I try to do it on my own. I do not have enough in me, on my own, to defeat all that weighs me down. That is when we need to cry out “Lord, save me!”

“I find rest in God; only he gives me hope. He is my rock and my salvation. He is my defender; I will not be defeated. My honor and salvation come from God. He is my mighty rock and my protection. People, trust God all the time. Tell him all your problems, because God is our protection.” (Psalm 62:5-8)

Max Lucado says, “We must let go of our own security to experience lasting peace. Lasting peace comes only from God. We cannot have the peace of God until we have peace with God.” I personally love that last statement. Looking for peace without God is like trying to swim upstream, it is exhausting, a constant battle. We can’t fight our way to peace. Peace comes from letting go, it’s not something you “do.” Lucado goes on to say, “Experiencing Jesus’ peace often comes at a great price to our idea of security – what we can control. We have to let go of what we know and step out in faith.” This is where faith stops pretending and becomes real.

Today I heard this thought provoking question. When you reach the end of your life will you be able to look back and say that you really lived? Today, are you living or are you simply existing? Are you chasing a peace that always seems just beyond your reach? Maybe today you find yourself someplace you never thought you would be and you aren’t entirely sure how you even got there, but you know there has to be more than simply existing. If that is the case I invite you to seek God, allow yourself to “be led beside the still water.” Let Him have you, really have you. All of you, not just the pieces that you are willing to let go of. Choose what is better, choose peace. Find your rest in God.

Only God gives true peace – a quiet gift He sets within us just when we think we’ve exhausted our search for it. – anonymous

Troubled Waters, Part B

20130804-131825.jpg“So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.” (Matthew 14:29)

PETER GOT OUT OF THE BOAT! Yesterday (Troubled Waters, Part A) we looked at how Jesus rescued Peter from drowning after Peter took his eyes off of Jesus during his walk across the water. But how did Peter get there in the first place.  Did he fall overboard?  Was he pushed?  Peter choose to get out of the boat.

“PETER GOT OUT OF THE BOAT!” I can see the chaotic scene in my head, hear the disciples screaming for Peter as the storm rages around their boat.  It is 3am and they are exhausted from fighting against the wind and waves for hours.  Then they look out into the storm and can add terror to their list of ailments as they think they see a ghost, because who, or what, could be walking across the water towards them in the middle of the night in the middle of a storm?!  It is an impossibility!  Then, Peter, realizing that it is Jesus, gathers his robes around him and steps over the edge of the safety of the boat (what little it was providing at the time) and jumps right into the wind stirred waters.  They had to be looking at him like he was crazy!  What was he thinking?!  Was he suicidal?  Not in the least.  Peter was going to where Jesus was, in the middle of the storm.  Peter was following what Jesus had commanded him to do.

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said, “Come.”  (Matthew 14:28-29)

The disciples had no control over the weather that night and they were fearing for their lives.  In the same vain, we don’t get to choose our circumstances.  No matter how hard we may try to manipulate things there will be days when we are huddled in our boats riding out the storm.    When we find ourselves there we have two choices.  We can choose to be like Peter, follow the Lord’s command and “come” which means stepping out of the boat right into the middle of the storm or we can take the safe route and huddle in the boat like the rest of the disciples.  God wants us to choose Him.  He can’t make us get out of the boat, but He is there among the thunder and lightning and driving rain bidding you to “come on in.”  Jesus saved all of them that night, but in the process Peter sought out Jesus and was the only one who got to walk on the water.

Some will say that Peter failed because as he “saw the wind” he began to sink.  But it was Peter’s willingness to risk failure that helped him to grow.  His faith and trust in Jesus and His power and promises grew exponentially that night as Peter had an intimate, personal encounter with Jesus right in the middle of the storm.  Theodore Roosevelt says “It’s not the critic who counts;” (the disciples sitting in the boat saying “Is he nuts?”) “not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.” (“Peter sank, if I would have gone out there I would have kept my eyes on Jesus and run over there to him in half the time.”) “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.  So that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

Ignore your critics.  Making the choice to follow Jesus out where the sea is high and you lose your footing is a hard and scary choice.  It goes against every fiber of your being but it’s where Jesus is and he has commanded us to “Come.”  So I will go, out into the crashing waves, out into the deep to meet Jesus.  If that means trying and failing, at least I have failed while trying.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
-Oceans (Where Feet May Fail,) Hillsong United