Monday, December 14, 2009

Contemplative Hearts

The calendar says Christmas is only 11 days away...but hearts prepared for Jesus celebrate Christmas every day. The seeds of His love are perpetually born in a prepared heart. As the busy chaos of our American Christmas rages about, let's deliberately prepare our hearts by choosing to quietly contemplate the magnificence of the love symbolized by the incarnation.

Our amazing God, who with a word spoke creation into being, chose to set aside His glory and magnificence to reveal Himself to us in the form of a helpless baby in a dark cave. His love for each of us; His willingness to sacrifice all for lost humanity; His humble example; His confidence in His power to deliver us--all are tremendous sources of hope. Considering the sacrificial, powerful love of God will indeed prepare our hearts for a daily Christmas celebration. Our souls will sing with the angels as we consider the depths of His love. The seeds of love born into a prepared heart will be nurtured into fruitful vines by the same great God who entered time and space on the first 'Christmas.' May your heart contemplate and sing praises to the One who demonstrates His love personally and powerfully every day!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hospitable Hearts

An open heart requires time: time to think, to feel, and to process of all that we encounter. The Christmas season makes it very difficult to have an open heart. Yet, the Christmas story is about a God who took the time and made the sacrifices to open Himself to each of us. The constant, unchanging love of God calls us into His presence. When all others let us down, when we let ourselves down, when the 'idols' of our heart are tipped over and their inadequacy revealed, God's love embraces us. In this season of love, may we each take time to soak in the blessing of His love and then open our love-soaked hearts to those who need refreshment. May we each be vessels of His love overflowing on those walking with us!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Would you like to write too?

Two posts in one day. Please forgive me for cluttering your box. I know at least two of you who subscribe to this love writing as I do. I just discovered that the blog can support multiple authors? Would you like to join in by writing devotional thoughts...perhaps we can motivate each other to write more faithfully. But most of all perhaps we can motivate each other to live authentically for Jesus! If you are interested, send me a note or post a comment. Blessings, Billie Jo

Tis the Season

I truly thought I would be better about writing on this blog. Since I just set a blog up for Riesa, I have been re-inspired! Yesterday was the start of the Advent season. If you have never followed an Advent devotional plan, I encourage you to try it. It is far more than just counting down the is heart preparation. I will use it to inspire me to write a bit. Here's a thought for the week:

It has been said that "Life is what happens while you are making other plans." The plans and activities of Christmas too often become our focus. Preparing our hearts for God's plans is a beautiful part of Advent. Have you ever considered the life interruptions of the folks in the 'Christmas story'?

Consider for a moment Zechariah and Elizabeth. I was delighted to learn that one translation of Zechariah's name means "God remembers" and a translation of Elizabeth's is "His Oath." The nation of Israel had endured 400 years of silence from God. In that void were this faithful couple...Zechariah and out their confidence in God. They were humble, faithful servants trusting in the God of their ancestors. The angel's announcement of God's plan for their lives brought a bit of disbelief and even fear to these godly people. Like Zechariah & Elizabeth, we can get comfortable in our planning and forget to expect great things from our great God!

Then, of course, we have Joseph...a nice Jewish man betrothed to a young girl who tells him she is pregnant but innocent from any immorality. Again we see a godly man...a man more concerned about honoring God than protecting his own honor. As Joseph plans to move on with his life as honorably as he can, the angel appears to him to remind him of God's plans from ages past. The fear and doubts of Joseph's situation pale as he contemplates the possibility of being a part of God's long-prophesied Messiah! Our fears and doubts can be put to rest when we embrace our heavenly Father's plans for us as well!

Finally we have the awesome example of Mary. This young girl has a secure future planned in her mind. She knows whom she will marry and what her future holds as a righteous woman of God in Nazareth in that day and age. Then an angel steps in and announces a change in plans that could cost Mary her life; stoning was the punishment for an unwed pregnant youth. While the Bible tells us Mary trembled at the angel's appearance, we do not hear that she was in fear for her life or that she feared Joseph's reaction. She simply focused on her great God and uttered the lines we can seek to adopt as our motto...'Let it be unto me as the Lord wills.'

So our challenge for this blessed season: May we live our lives in faithful, righteous steps as Zechariah and Elizabeth lived faithfully trusting in the God who promises to never forsake us. And let us respond to the plan changes and interruptions of life with the humble faith of Joseph and Mary trusting in the sovereignty of our great God!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Soul Value

Deep in the soul is a desire for one’s life to matter. It is a longing which aligns with God’s Word. Every soul is of immense value to the Creator; every life matters to God. Yet, the realities of this earthly walk cast shadows that cry out with the words of Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived: “Meaningless, utterly meaningless.” God’s love seems to be a fairy tale we’ve outgrown; the shadows threaten to suffocate us. We fail to remember they are only shadows. Solomon’s father, David called this world the ‘valley of the shadow of death.’ Yet he knew how to walk in the midst of shadows enjoying the blessings of God without fear. We can, too. The love of God is not a fairy tale. Every life matters.

The shadow of death takes on many forms, yet, its source is singular: sin. We live in a world broken by sin. That brokenness often blinds us to the potential and perfection of the Creator’s design. The flame of our desire for a life of meaning flickers in the mundane realities of life and sputters to an ember in the storms: physical bodies wracked with pain and limitations, hearts broken, violence encountered, death faced. Our hearts doubt in the existence of a loving, all-powerful God. The shadows feel like reality; heart desires for meaning and purpose feel like a childish dream. But shadows are not reality; that desire is truth longing to be found. God is loving and powerful and His purposes in line with His perfect design...

Our earthly life is a gift from the Creator and the purpose of our journey is to discover the Giver. It is that discovery which fulfills the longing of every heart. Strangely enough, the shadow of death is needed to help us find our way. The love of God is so pure and bright, it can only be seen through experience and through the backdrop of suffering. By design, we live and move in this earthly world of brokenness…a world of activities and people in which we can make choices and feel the results of those choices. We become consumed with the joys and challenges in our journey; we seek to find meaning in the details of our days. Yet the grand purpose of God is much higher than the joys of this earthly life and much deeper than the heartaches we encounter. To reach the potential God has worked into the design of the soul, we must connect with the source of life. The darkness forces us to seek what we would otherwise ignore. The suffering of life compels us to reach higher…to refuse to settle for this world and grasp for the divine plan.

The longing of the heart of God was to create a being with a potential to think, to understand, to love and to make the choice for good. The pure, sacrificial, purposeful love of God could be expressed with no lesser creation than humanity. That love is poured into every soul; it is the priceless treasure of our soul. Our lives matter. Every choice we make in this shadow land is an etching in the landscape of eternity. We are writing a legacy in the details of our days with the choices we make; the ink is eternal. Our lives matter because they are part of a far grander legacy. Our lives are part of the heritage of the love of the Creator. Faith in that love, in its evidence on the Cross of Calvary and in the resurrected life of Christ is the victory that defeats the shadows. Live your life in the legacy of God’s love and you will light the path of others. Your life will matter; your desire fulfilled!

Saturday, June 6, 2009


The still small voice of God is easily drowned out by the noisy demands of daily life. Palm pilots, cell phones, text messages…technological conveniences become tyrannical rulers. We allow ourselves to become victims of the world and believe the deception that we cannot control the craziness of our calendars. The truth, though, is that we are the creators of the chaos by refusing to establish priorities for our time. The minutes of our lives are a precious, ever-depleting resource. We are to be wise stewards of those minutes. A key to that stewardship is cultivating a godly character which rejoices in simplicity.

Simplicity is not simple to cultivate in a world with a ‘have-it-all’ mentality that demands multi-tasking. Yet it is not about unplugging from the world either. A life lived with simplicity produces results in a world shattered by colliding desires and demands. Heartbreakingly, it is becoming a lost art. Clarity and goal-directed living are the hallmarks of a simple life. Simplicity is as much the antithesis of an aimless, uninvolved life as it is an antithesis of a scattered, chaotic life. Simplicity refuses multi-tasking and focuses on the task at hand. It is not laziness, nor is it distractedness. Simplicity will not sit and do nothing, nor will it text one friend while having lunch with another. Simplicity is about whole-hearted engagement with the world…one person, one activity at a time.

Cultivating simplicity requires establishing priorities for your attention. There is a wonderful illustration often used in time management classes. A glass jar is filled to overflowing with sand, pebbles and finally rocks. Nothing more can be added and not all that needs to fit can do so. A second jar…empty is brought alongside. The larger rocks are placed into the jar, then the pebbles, then the sand and finally a carafe of water is poured into the jar. ALL fits. Our lives are exactly like that. Rightly ordering our life’s priorities will allow everything to fit. We will not be overwhelmed; our hearts will have peace that reigns and our lives will bless others.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Character Trait: Diligence

Gardening has always opened up my eyes to heart truths and this past week was no exception. Earthly endeavors often reveal spiritual truths. Let's consider how the character trait of diligence produces fruit!

This year I decided to take some of our lawn and transform it into a garden. It seemed like a simple enough idea--especially with the aid of a handyman and his rototiller. In just a short time and for a small fee, my lawn was freshly tilled. The soil appeared rich and ready for fruitful production. With the addition of a pretty white fence, my plan was appearing successful.

Yet, I knew in my head--though not in my back and muscles yet--that the real work lie ahead and it would require much diligence. Transforming the purpose of that piece of land would require much more than a thought and a one-time effort! For me, the spiritual parallels refresh me as I plod along with my desire for transformation.

The plan to transform the lawn into a garden is not unlike Jesus Christ's plan to transform our lives. Jesus takes lives into far grander purposes than simple existence and He uncovers and remedies the hidden things which hinder those grand purposes. Though my lawn was useful and even enjoyable, a garden will nourish and satisfy far more. Like my lawn, my life without Christ was useful and enjoyable to myself and some others but devoid of true purpose or eternal blessing. Furthermore, under the surface of my lawn lay many undesirable things: pests, stones, useless weeds and even nutritional deficiencies. My life without Christ was the same: hidden things in my soul which prevented the beautiful legacy God desires in every life. More critically, of course, God created humanity for more than existence. Lawns are fine just as lawns but a life without Christ is a travesty.

As I plod through the earthly work of transforming the lawn into a garden, the rocks seem to multiply each time I cultivate; the weeds re-root themselves--even though I was sure I got them all--and grubs are ever appearing. Yet, I know there is progress. The roots of the weeds are not as deep, the stones not as large and the grubs are less in number. Diligence is bearing fruit already.

My spiritual life is the same. Sometimes I weary at pulling up the weeds of sin and rocky parts in my heart still remain, yet Christ is transforming me too. Every time the ground of my soul is plowed with His word, when the tines of conviction uproot a weed of sin or penetrate a stony part, I am transformed a little more into His likeness. His eternal work is producing results even when I can not see them. My part is simply to diligently seek Him and trust His transforming power!

Transitioning from existence to purpose is not a speedy process. Living a life purposed upon revealing the glory of God in the daily details is a life-time work. It requires earthly diligence to prepare the way for His eternal work. Adding diligence to our character is needed so the soil of our hearts will be prepared for His seeds of grace.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Marriage Prayers

Good morning, friends. This isn't a writing, per se but just a sharing of notes that may bless you. They are 'prayer sheets' compiled from my prayer journal and a recent sermon. One page is for the wife, one for the husband--with much, obviously, duplicated on each. Families are always under the enemy's attack, aren't they? Our prayers are a powerful weapon sure to give us victory.

May these bless you...and I will be writing soon. I've been immersed in a class for certification as a 'homeschool teacher.' (Should have had this course ten years ago!) I did write this morning on gardening but am not ready to post...vacation is coming, writing time should be increased! Blessings!



Marriage is:

· A union created by God
· A mission field, a university of instruction on unity
· Treasure to be valued, honored and protected
· Forum for learning to love—to truly build a relationship
· Intended to produce Godly children (perhaps natural & spiritual for those who are beyond child-bearing ages—and each partner is a child of God anyway)
· Intended to produce the image of Christ’s relationship with the church.
· Not intended to fulfill my personal purposes of companionship, pleasure & fulfillment; though those outcomes will result IF my focus is on God’s purposes

Prayer is a necessity:

· Seek scriptures for one another. Wrestle for each other. Colossians 4:12
· Seek to see God’s work and His glory revealed to children. Build a legacy. Psalm 90:16,17
· Triumph is in mercy. Hide in Jesus. James 2:13
· Be confident in God! Hebrews 10:35

Duties of wives- 4 commands for wives - Ephesians 5:22-33

· Submit to husband as to Christ v.22
o Submission is not slavery but rather loving cooperation with your husband by recognizing his divinely appointed leadership responsibility.
· Recognize headship of husband v.23
o Just as the body needs a head…and the head a body, so does a marriage union.
· Be subject to own husband v.24
· Reverence (and respect) husband v.33
o Love (caretaking, giving time/attention) comes naturally to women…respect is more difficult but commanded (and needed).
o Respect his: burdens, worries, needs, convictions, perspectives, fears, sacrifices, relationship with God—and God’s work in your husband
· Qualifications to the command “submit in everything” 5:24-33
o Her God and her soul must come first (Matt. 22:37, 38; Luke 14:26, 27; I Cor.. 7:10-16)

Specific Admonitions

· Encourage spouse to develop his potential…to become the man God wants him to be.
· Be uniquely suited to spouse; trust God to fit you together as you obey Him.
· Speak his language of love not your own…know how he feels loved.
· Confess your shortcomings…seek God’s grace to obey His ways in relationships. Recognize that strengths/weaknesses are God’s tools for transforming each of you.
· Serve sacrificially. Trust God to meet your needs rather than demand consideration.
· Submit to God’s timing in your needs, in your husband’s growth.
· Move Over! Your husband’s job is to lead, not yours.
· Follow! Be his partner.


Marriage is:

· A union created by God
· A mission field, a university of instruction on unity
· Treasure to be valued, honored and protected
· Forum for learning to love—to truly build a relationship
· Intended to produce Godly children (perhaps natural & spiritual for those who are beyond child-bearing ages—and each partner is a child of God anyway)
· Intended to produce the image of Christ’s relationship with the church.
· Not intended to fulfill my personal purposes of companionship, pleasure & fulfillment—though those outcomes will result IF my focus is on God’s purposes

Prayer is a necessity:

· Seek scriptures for one another. Wrestle for each other. Colossians 4:12
· Seek to see God’s work and His glory revealed to children. Build a legacy. Psalm 90:16,17
· Triumph is in mercy. Hide in Jesus. James 2:13
· Be confident in God! Hebrews 10:35

Duties of husbands – 8 commands vs.19 - Ephesians 5:22-33

· Be head of wife v.23
o Think biblically in the home…with regard to finances, loving – everything. Wives are created to be a ‘help-fit’—wives are fitted to help their husbands.
· Love wife as Christ loved the church v.25
o Consciously put the wife first…die to ‘self.’
· Love wife as own body v.28,33
o Just as you care for your body’s needs, care for your wife’s needs.
· Nourish (bring up, care for, protect) v.29; 6;4; I Peter 3:6,7
o Treat wives as ‘fine china’ not melamac or disposable plates.
· Cherish (to foster or warm in one’s bosom)
o Encourage. Embrace…physically affectionate.
· Be joined as one flesh vs.30-31
o Woman was taken from the flesh of man…and given back to become One. Marriage is to create a One-ness of mind & heart…of plans & purposes.
· Leave Parents for your wife v.31
o Emotionally join to your wife…the daily habits & ways of doing things in the parental home may not be ‘what works’ in your marriage.
· Cleave to your wife (Matthew 19:9)
o Build up your wife; build your home with your wife.

Specific Admonitions

· Encourage spouse to develop her potential…to become the woman God wants her to be.
· Be uniquely suited to spouse; trust God to fit you together as you obey Him.
· Speak her language of love not your own…know how she feels loved.
· Confess your shortcomings…seek God’s grace to obey His ways in relationships. Recognize that strengths/weaknesses are God’s tools for transforming each of you.
· Serve sacrificially. Trust God to meet your needs rather than demand consideration.
· Submit to God’s timing in your needs, in your spouse’s growth.
· LEAD with sacrificial love!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Character: A Spirit of Reverence

The second trait on my list of Christian character is fear. I was surprised earlier this week when I read in Proverbs 28:14 ‘happy is the man who is never without fear.’ The words stopped me as all of the foolish fears of life eddied through my mind: the fear of aging and infirmity, the fear of disappointing or offending others, the fear of failing, and the fear of shame. The list is endless of those things that we can fear. Yet, those are the fears of evil which destroy life. Clearly the wise writer of Proverbs spoke of fears which lead to blessing, reverent fear…an awe…which protects from evil and leads to life.

There are earthly things which inspire a reverent fear. Electricity is one. We often take its power for granted but unleashed electricity is indeed a fearsome, deadly force. The wind is another. At times it is a gentle, refreshing breeze and others a destructive force beyond the control of our best efforts. The only fear, though, that leads to happiness is awe of our eternal Creator. As a Christian, holy fear is that aspect of our character which flattens us before our mighty God. It is the reverent awe of lying prostrate before the King of Kings which transforms a child of God. It is an attribute of great value in the character of a child of God.

With reverence and fear as an integral trait, we will not only read the Word of God, we will seek to see it become alive in our relationships with others. We will take His Word not only as our standard but as the reality in which we long to live. Our choices will never become completely perfect…our humanity is not eliminated as our character transforms. Fear of God, though, will lead us to trust in His design, to obedience to His ways. His blessings will overflow into the details of our days. Our lives, and the impact of our lives, will reap eternal rewards with a heart that is humbly reverent. Rejoice today in trusting submission to the Creator…in laying before Him every worry and care knowing that He can and will bring good!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Character: A Spirit of Humility

Developing Godly character is an endeavor worthy of whole-hearted effort. One of the most beautiful promises of scripture is found in 2 Corinthians 3:18...oh, to be transformed into the glorious image of the Lord! What a privilege! In the coming weeks I look forward to gazing upon those character qualities which are essential to Christians. We will start our journey considering the blessings of a humble spirit.

Scripture promises us that that the character trait of humility is the companion of honor, long-life, wealth and wisdom. Making this attribute even more appealing is the fact that it is the key to entering the presence of the Lord. This characteristic is so important to God He provides seeds of it in every life as a precious gift. Humility is elusive to us because we mistake those seeds as flaws in our design.

Like every gift from God, Satan seeks to pervert God's gifts and destroy us with the perversion. Humility is simply accepting our shortcomings with confidence in God's design of us and in His power to use our weaknesses. A humble spirit believes the words of Jesus that 'His strength is made perfect in weakness.' Human pride, though, encourages us to try to hide our shortcomings from the view of others and even ourselves. Hidden truths in our lives are dangerous and can topple us in a crisis. Our shortcomings and weaknesses are part of the design of God that helps us see His greatness. These 'deficiencies' are the seeds for humility! Embrace them and rejoice in Jesus.

As the old sayings goes, God doesn't make junk! We are priceless, perfectly designed creations of the One, True God. He has designed us to need Him. Humility is simply recognizing that and seeking Him.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shortened Version

Just sharing a more concise view on the gay marriage issue...and I am hoping to do the 'as promised' devotions on character. Perhaps today! Blessings to you.

Guest Viewpoint Submission to Press & Sun Bulletin
TOPIC: Governor Patterson’s Gay Marriage Bill
April 17,2009
Billie Jo Youmans, Port Crane, NY607-648-5006

Defining the gay marriage issue as a civil rights matter is an effective strategy in the battle for public opinion; however, it is a deficient and even deceptive definition. The underlying question which better defines the issue is “Where should one look to determine proper standards of behavior in society?” The roots of this controversy actually run deeply into the foundational structure of America. The gay marriage issue is more accurately defined as a strategy to separate civil law from biblical constraints.

This progression from laws based on the Word of God to the intellectual reasoning of man is a dangerous evolution. In fact, the founders of our country warned that separating American law from biblical morality would destroy the nation. Sadly, there is a growing desire and willingness for society (mankind) to determine what is morally good or bad. The Bible standard is now judged as archaic and even evil. The ‘gay marriage’ issue has become a tool to reshape the social structure according to the whims of humanity. Man’s track record for determining right and wrong is frightening. We need the guidance of God individually and nationally.Another inaccuracy in the debate is the allegation that Christian opposition is rooted in hatred and fear.

The truth is that calling sin, sin is the most loving, courageous action any of us can do for ourselves and others. True love will never affirm behavior that is contrary to God’s directions. Love is of God and love is God—love must then agree with God. Christian opposition to gay marriage exists because it is a union based on overt rejection of God’s Word. Our ‘civil’ society may decide to call this union a marriage but God can not and Christians must courageously choose to answer God’s call to love and obey His Word.

The gay marriage issue is a matter of America’s future. The decisions made about this issue will either honor the foundations of our nation or continue us in the direction that began with prayer being eliminated from schools. The debate deserves clarity and honesty not strategies to pursue hidden agendas.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Civil Unions

This is a very long piece and may be of no particular use to you dear folks who are reading. This first paragraph should give you enough clues as to whether you want to invest the time to read or not. I would certainly understand if you do not. Those who know me will probably be surprised that I have struggled with my personal position on the issue of civil unions (e.g. gay marriage). My view of the legality of marriage as a Christian issue was obscured by my own inconsistencies. Since I knew God’s love and righteousness are never in conflict, I suspected my dilemma was rooted in my own misunderstandings and misguided heart.

I share my struggle not as the perfect analysis of the issue but as a seed that others might consider how their own worldview and even their own passion for God’s Word might impact their thought process. As a Christian, I knew I "shouldn’t" support redefining marriage but didn’t know why. My journey to a peaceful conviction on this has been an education in history and in understanding my worldview more fully. Ultimately it has led me to a deeper determination to learn, to know and to apply God’s truths to my own sins and my own life and a desire to see my brothers and sisters in Christ do the same.

Looking at Civil Unions

The same-sex marriage issue seems to have become little more than an opportunity for the church to battle homosexuality. The church’s arguments against gay marriage feel hollow to me—punitive, defensive and sin-centered. Homosexuality is a sexual sin like adultery and premarital sex but we often tend to demonize it. My perception, perhaps misguided, is that gay marriage is often simply a target for our distaste of that particular sin. Trite phrases bandied about such as ‘God created Adam & Eve, not Adam and Steve’ offend me and do nothing to define the issue. The ‘church’ seems to have drawn up to the civil union battle lines with God’s mandates against homosexuality (which I agree with) and advanced no further. Unfortunately those mandates alone failed to convince me that restricting marriage is the necessary conclusion to recognizing homosexuality as sin. For me, Godly convictions must be joined with an understanding of foundational issues and historical precedent to become effective ammunition. As I’ve struggled to find integrity in my personal beliefs, I have to come realize the battle is much more complex than I understood.

Though I would readily define myself as a passionate follower of Christ, the pro-gay argument that same-sex marriage is a civil, personal rights issue resonated more clearly in my heart than the conservative Christian position. Agreement with the arguments for individual freedoms and personal rights fits well with my own rebellious heart. I found myself questioning whether civil unions might not allow those engaged in a homosexual lifestyle to grow in understanding of love and ultimately draw closer to the source of love, God Himself. Not knowing that my country had a clear history of basing laws on biblical principles, I was pierced with the accusation that founding laws on faith-based convictions was equivalent to Christians taking the government captive. As I read the debates and opposing positions, I relied on my own understanding rather than God’s clear prescription because I have been trained by society to do that and because that is my natural proclivity.

Clarity on the issue of gay marriage is obscured by the emotional intensity of the debate and our individual desires for privacy in the sexual arena. However, the underlying question which focuses this debate for me is “Where should one look to determine proper standards of behavior in society?” Clearly, the issue of civil unions is rooted in the desire to separate civil law from biblical constraints. There is an appearance of rightness in the statement ‘You can not legislate morality.’ However, the reality is that all laws reflect morality—the question is ‘Whose morality?’

Historically in America, the morality of laws is founded upon the Word of God. In fact, the founders of our country warned that separating American law from biblical morality would destroy the nation. However, there is a growing desire and willingness to allow society (mankind) to determine what is morally good or bad. The Bible standard is being judged as archaic and even evil. The ‘gay marriage’ issue is a tool to reshape the social structure to reflect a more politically-correct worldview. Man’s track record for determining right and wrong is frightening. We need the guidance of God individually and nationally.

The church has recognized this threat to the biblical standard and risen to defend it. Unfortunately, the enemy (Satan, not the gay community) orchestrated this attack in an area where the church is weak: sexuality. The sacredness of biblical sexuality leads us to shroud private relationships and this shroud lends itself to misuse. The evil one capitalizes on this veil and the desire for individual rights of privacy encouraging its use as a mask for sexual sin. The voice of the church, God’s representatives, has been strangled by its own sexual immorality. High divorce rates among Christians, sexual abuse within the church, statistically high reports of pornographic addiction by believers and illicit sexual activities of public church leaders have decimated the ability of the church to respond to this threat with effective integrity. Yet while the bible standard has been devastated in the personal lives of Christians, recognition of its necessity and wisdom remains in the hearts of believers. It is right and good that the church seeks to encourage our country to consistently apply the Bible standard to every life.

Alongside the issue of who determines right and wrong is the issue of loving and affirming each individual. God consistently and constantly calls the church—His people—to love. Confusing love and affirmation is deadly. True love will not affirm behavior that is contrary to God’s directions. Love is of God and love is God—love must then agree with God. Gay marriage is impossible simply because it is a union based on overt rejection of God’s Word. Our ‘civil’ society may decide to call this union a marriage but God can not. It would be unloving and inconsistent for a follower of Christ to support a law which clearly rejects God’s laws.

Another consistent and constant call of God is that of obedience. It would never be the will of God for a Christian to encourage sin. Rather, we are to encourage people to seek Him, to know Him more fully and to honor His law in our lives. I believe calling sin, sin is the Christian’s responsibility and the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and others. God’s Word is the best, the only, foundation for life. As a Christian I must stand firm against gay marriage because it is in obedience to the will of God and therefore the most loving decision.

All of us who know the Lord have been drawn to Him through grace, not condemnation. We will not reach those trapped in homosexual sin through judgment and criticism. Nor will we reach them by encouraging sin. The path to sharing the love of Christ is in our obedience and love to Him. May we all more fervently seek to learn, know and apply God’s truths to our own lives—our own sins. The beauty of His holiness will appeal to those who do not know Him if only we who bear the name of Christ will submit to God’s ways and seek to live with integrity.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A needed nudge!

Good Morning! My writing has been stalled as my mind has been awhirl with questions for God and a sense of immersion in the chaos of this world. Confusion is never a good time to speak audibly or in writing...even at my clearest times I fear mis-representing the Lord. But thanks to a nudge from a dear friend to write more and a stirring from the Lord, I hope to begin a series of devotions on Christian Character. Would you join me in praying for that little project?

And a little 'gift' for you today is a prayer from an email I receive from a missionary organization. These folks newsletters are always short and speak deep into my heart, I hope you enjoy. If you'd like to sign up for their newsletter, here is a link to a current article on their website is

a prayer for today
a prayer for today a prayer for today Lord, help me to always remember that your word is a light to my feet and a lamp to my path. Help me not to be led astray by the seductive suggestions of men. Let me always follow you for you are the true light and life that I need. Amen!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spirit & Soul

As I reflected on the attributes of the spirit and those of the soul this morning, I was struck by the truth that only Jesus can unify these powerful aspects of our individual lives. Both are created by God, touched by Him and entrusted to us in union with our bodies. Both are powerful entities with great capacity and without Christ, it is the soul, the spirit (or even the body) which seeks to determine the course of our lives. Seeking to understand the soul and spirit intrigues me--care to continue on a path of looking at them?

We have considered before that the soul is a treasured creation of God. God holds us responsible for guarding our soul. In creating humanity, God's very desire was to connect and relate to His creation--our souls are the mechanism for that miraculous happening. Like the spirit, the soul can be damaged, devoured and even lost. Souls can thirst, be without knowledge and even 'vexed' to death by others. God alone can heal and redeem a soul from the power of the grave...from the power of lies or violence done to it. Yet he allows us to participate in touching the souls of others through love and even simple words. The capacity of the soul to link with others is both a privilege and a responsibility.

The spirit is 'life itself' and scriptures lead me to view it as the driving force of our lives. It is a gift from God which can be shaped, weighed, directed and lost. The human spirit is capable of all the fruits of the flesh of Galatians and is subject to the influence of evil spirits. It can be affected by music, broken by perverse words or sorrow. The spirit can be steadfast, stubborn and even set against God. However, the spirit can not be retained by the power of man. It is a gift of God, a possession of God entrusted to a body and soul.

While Adam was said to be a living soul, Christ is called a life-giving Spirit. It is our spirit which unites with Christ at salvation; our power source becomes the Lord Himself! The soul of the believer unites with the souls of other believers and scripture says we are 'one soul.' Jesus Christ is the Truth, the only truth, which can shape, heal and direct our individual lives into a unity of purpose. Without Christ, our lives will enter onto dead-end paths or self-defeating endeavors which destroy us from within...with Christ, we have peace and power for this life and eternity. As the body of Christ, the unifying power of The Truth becomes ever more vital. But that is another subject entirely! Blessings to you as you seek the Truth and the peace of living in Him.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Holy Ground

Our souls are a magnificent creation of the Lord--intricate and complex beyond my ability to comprehend. The dynamic interaction of the body, soul and spirit produces an ever-changing entity to study. Even 'minor' sicknesses slow the body and turn the flames of the spirit down dampening the soul. Yet, an expression of appreciation or even a random song can sometimes make our spirit soar and our souls rejoice. I suspect our souls are indeed a battleground of the Lord and like Joshua we need to be reminded to take off our sandals--to understand it is Holy Ground to contemplate the soul. As I wander in this thought land, my own poverty and lack is ever-present. My soul is awed with the love of God which reaches out, the power of God which is able to use imperfect vessels and the presence of God which sustains.

The power and value of the soul seems in stark contrast with its vulnerability. The soul can often be touched by a simple word or a kind gesture more effectively than with the most well-orchestrated program or performance. As a society we tend to value individuals based on their appeal to us and their ability to produce what we need. Our God values individuals because of their amazing potential to love. May we feed on His love today that we will simply spill over onto a soul near us who needs His touch.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Soul Value

Have you been contemplating the value of your soul...of every soul? It is an incredible joy to consider how immensely valuable souls are to the Creator. Our souls are an amazing aspect of our humanity, a creation of God which belongs to God. With all wisdom and love, He has given us the responsibility of stewarding this possession of His--our souls. It is only with stubborn trust in the wisdom, love and power of God that our souls can be nurtured, grown and ultimately saved.

Much danger exists for the can be devoured, destroyed and even lost. The enemy, Satan, hates our very souls and longs to destroy them. The soul is a point of attack in many aspects. We will explore those points in the coming days. But more exciting, we will explore the beautiful design God has for our souls.

Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. He paid the redemption price for our souls and healing and deliverance is ours for the asking. The course of our life is determined in the soul...seeking and serving the Lord is an act of the soul. As we move forward with this thought train, John 10:10 seems to be a great reminder that God's desire is for our souls to lead us toward joy-filled, abundant life!

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thinking Out Loud

Good Morning! Today's 'blog' is not a complete train of thought at all. My prayer is that it will be a train engine which brings us along a track of discovery. My mind has been drawn to explore the complexities of our humanity...the characteristics and inter-connectedness of the soul, spirit & body. It is only the Word of God which can power this sort of journey...only the Word of God which is powerful enough to bring clarity and unity to individual lives and to humanity overall. Will you join me on this journey and share your comments? I don't have answers but do have a soul desiring God...and His Word promises great blessing in such a focus! Come along.

Christianity is 'soul business.' The Creation account tells us that God's crowning creation was man...God gave the breath of life and man became a 'living soul.' Corinthians tells us that the first Adam was a living soul and the last Adam (Jesus Christ) a quickening Spirit. God's plan for His Creation is above our full comprehension but what a joyous focus. Ephesians tells us that God's desire for every soul is transformation into the likeness of Christ...what a glorious destiny He has planned for us.

Yet the scriptures, and life itself, bears witness to souls damaged and lost on life's journey. Our souls are created and kept by God but every individual has a responsibility for their own soul and has impact on other souls. Our souls can actually be 'knit together' and believers are to be of one mind and soul. My desire is to explore how we, as Christians, can live out the destiny God has called us too--and how doing that will help others on their journeys too!

May Paul's prayer cover our journey: And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Soul Nourishment!

We can use the challenges of life as a doorway to the banquet hall of God! Without a heart intent on worshipping God, the best this world has to offer will only give us empty calories that leave our souls starved. In fact, much of this world is actually poison to our souls which leaves us feeling without strength and sometimes desperately ill. It is these dark days of disappointment, confusion and sickness which inspire us to lift our eyes above the seen and seek the One who is unseen.

As our eyes glimpse the healing beauty of the magnificent Creator, our souls began to heal and grow. The unchanging goodness of God is the source of nourishment for souls damaged by the empty calories of our culture's menu and the deadly poison of sin. When our eyes feast on Him, we began to feel stirrings of worship. Worship becomes the food our souls so desperately need. Our soul health is restored and our lives powered by His greatness. Enter into His banquet hall today!

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
(Psalms 37:3)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Purposes Fulfilled!

Hiding in the Lord is the place to be. Contrary to our rejection of the mental image of 'hiding', it is the place of rich, abundant living and purposes fulfilled. As God's workmanship, humanity is an incredible creation. We are beings with passions and drive and ability. Sometimes so much so that we begin to think all of life depends on us...and is about us. The storms of life bless us in that we are inspired to call out to the One who is above all and who longs to nurture us. In our recognition of our limitations is the doorway to becoming all God intends for us. May we run to Him today and rejoice in the purposes He has for each of our lives!

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in thee my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of thy wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry to God Most High, to God who fulfils his purpose for me. Psalm 57:1,2

Thursday, February 26, 2009


As the Israelites journeyed in the desert, they encountered resistance with each new city. Simple requests to pass by were often met with fear and rejection. Like them, our faith journeys often seem to be filled with battles, distractions and discouragements.

The Lord did not abandon His children and He does not abandon us. With faith guiding their journey, the Lord gave victories and used rejections to build His people. While we can experience that as well, we have another role 'in Christ.' We are 'cities' that others come to. In Christ, we have the joy of serving as a spot of refreshment and encouragement for others.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:14)

Someone will be needing a stop at your city today! May your heart be solidly resting in the love of Christ that you can shine a blessing on their path. And may you find a welcoming city in the times of your need as well!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Sometimes the struggles that weigh on me the most are those of my loved ones. In those times I rejoice that my position in Christ allows me to 'armor up' and do battle on their behalf. I didn't grow up in a praying family or a praying church, so I rely on a variety of tools to help me stay focused on the battle. Though prayer is simply heart-felt conversation with God, my mind tends to wander if I don't use prayer points and guidelines. If that sounds like you, this might be a warrior guide that would help: Whether you need prods like me or not, we all need great truths from God's word, so here is a wonderful 'in Christ' warrior truth:

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Sunday, February 22, 2009


The book of Joshua, with all its battles and victories, is a tremendous inspiration to me. So for our morning encouragement, let's use Joshua's word to God's people to encourage us:

One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you. (Joshua 23:10)

Sometimes it feels like there are a thousand attacks on worries, the political scene, health, jobs, parenting issues, a culture bankrupt of morality, and on and on. But IN CHRIST, we are assured of victory. As we stay solidly focused on Him, it is God Himself who fights for us. The pressure and the fear is removed in Him. Worship Him today and have confidence in His victory!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Needs and Power Supplied!

One of the things I appreciate about being sick is it reminds me of a great truth Rick Warren stated in The Purpose Driven Life..."it's not about me." I'm usually a high-energy person who loves to be busy--and sometimes I forget that 'the flesh profits nothing.' Those things I rejoice in doing, while perhaps good and useful, aren't God's work. They are things I like to do and while they may bless others and even be used of God, the purposes God has for me on any given day will be accompanied by the power to do them! When I'm sick I am reminded and rejoice in the truth that God gives me all I need to complete HIS tasks for a given day. It is His power that quickens me and His power that holds me fast. Praise God this walk of faith is NOT dependent on me...It's all about Him!

So, two verses to share today to remind us of truths about "Life in Christ":

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19)

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Power to Witness

What does a witness do? A witness is one who has seen something and then shares it. Yesterday we looked at how confession and forgiveness give us the freedom to watch God work in us. We must move forward and not get stuck looking at mistakes from the past--they have been confessed, forgiven and wiped clean. We must refuse to focus on the seeds the devil has planted. Instead, we need to embrace the power of the Holy Spirit to look for God's hand on our lives and on those around us. We know, Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil and He is victorious. So, today the verse that seemed to jump out at me was this:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Living in Christ gives us the power to see and to share with others the vision of God's glorious work!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Freedom of Forgiveness

What a joy that God established a plan for redemption that included forgiveness. We know that the forgiveness we have in Christ is a tremendous richness. It restored access to the Heavenly Father; it is necessary for eternal life...but there is another joy in forgiveness we often don't consider. There is a freedom and transformation in forgiveness that simple amnesty could never have provided.

To seek forgiveness implies an understanding of having done wrong. To seek forgiveness requires us to allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and unveil areas that need cleansing. In my prayer journal, I have a page for confession. On it I put down all those ugly attitudes that cloud my view of Him and the work He is doing--the irritation with others, the mis-placed priorities, the troubles that threaten to drown my faith in His sovereignty.

Then I claim 1 John 1:9. I've confessed them, He needs to cleanse them. God is faithful. He will bring to mind the roots of those attitudes. He will show me the pride, the sin and the blindness of my own soul. And in that heartwork, He continues with the work only He can do...transforming this fallen, selfish being into His workmanship. Praise God, "He's still working on me" and is faithful to continue it.

So the encouragement today: embrace confession, rejoice in forgiveness and watch Him work!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Burden Bearing

The heartaches and struggles of this world can feel oppressive. In Psalms we read that God is our burden bearer. In Ephesians 6:2, we are called to bear the burdens of others. Are you wondering where the encouragement is in THAT?

Well, if you are like me, you mis-read or substitute words sometimes. My tendency is to think I am to ‘fix’ or remove the burdens of others. Clearly God knows my limitations and has not asked me to do that at all. In Christ, I am called simply to share the weights of those around me. As I share those weights, I am called to witness Christ. Witnessing is watching Him work and sharing the beauty of Him with our fellow travelers.

With my eyes fixed firmly on Jesus, walking with Him in the yoke that is light, I will not be overcome by the hardships of this broken world. I will be blessed and a blessing! Let us stay close to His side and lift a load for someone today.

(Matthew 11:30) This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Have you ever felt like you were not quite what someone else expected you to be...or perhaps you've felt completely rejected for who you are? It's so painful it can rob you of motivation, energy and joy. There is a glorious truth for us to counter every one of those times: we were chosen in love, in Jesus, before the world was ever founded!

The unconditional love of God is another of those mind-boggling truths we can explore for all eternity. We know how hard it is to give such a love but we also know how blessed it is to receive it! God has ALWAYS known us, ALWAYS wanted us and ALWAYS loved us. May we all rejoice in being chosen by Him today and show His kind of love to those who think we just don't measure up!

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Ephesians 1:4)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Heirs of unsearchable glory!

For our look at the beauties of life in Christ, let's consider all that we inherit when we live in Him. There are literally hundreds of scripture verses which discuss inheritances. Romans 8:17. tells us we are joint-heirs in Christ. 2 Corinthians 8:9 reminds us Christ gave up all the glories of heaven to suffer on earth that we might receive this inheritance.

And what is that inheritance? The great hall of faith chapter (Hebrews 11) outlines some of what we have inherited simply through faith in Jesus Christ! Every piece of our inheritance is a wealth we won't exhaust in all of eternity: the riches of God's grace, the glory of His righteousness, the promises of God, eternal life. It is incomprehensible what Jesus has done for us. So, today, in this time of fear and struggles, share with someone a glimpse of the riches God wants to shower upon them!

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; (Ephesians 3:8)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Morning Encouragement

Good morning, hope the Valentine's focus on love has your heart still singing! For our 'In Christ' focus, my heart was impressed with these words from Romans 8:1,2There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. A friend brought the Lucado book "Give it all to Him" this week and it uses a trashman analogy. Lucado encourages us to release all that trash that builds up every day. I don't know about you but that confession part of my daily prayers always has thoughts or feelings that I DON'T want to keep with me. What a joy we can give it all to Jesus. I'll post a piece from that book as a note about 'today's thoughts become tomorrow's actions' but I've filled your boxes enough for now. Be blessed!

Chosen Parents

You are the parent God chose for your child. Isn’t that a puzzling, sometimes overwhelming concept? As we begin walking the labyrinth of parenting, the paths ahead are blessedly shrouded. The parenting journey includes delights beyond imagination and thorny passages which instill fear and frustration. God’s Word tells us the Creator Himself shepherds those with young and guides them on the paths; yet, it doesn’t always feel that way. At times the complexities of parenthood give the illusion that God stepped off the throne as challenges were assigned or that perhaps He confused us with a wiser, more loving and experienced parent. The reality is more incredible than we can begin to grasp. In His infinite love and wisdom, God chose each parent and each child as unique, perfect gifts for one another. The blessings are mutual…the plan perfect.

God uses the tool of parenthood to craft His family likeness into earthly moms and dads. He longs for His glory to be revealed in the parenting privilege. Nearly a decade and a half ago, we brought our baby home from the N-ICU with overwhelming joy, awe, fear and a numbing sense of inadequacy. The ability of a five-pound baby to bring a prideful heart to its knees is powerful! God continues to use the University of Motherhood to draw me unto Himself, to unveil the reality that His strength is revealed in my weaknesses—and what a superb reality! My pride had rejoiced in meeting the challenges of life head-on. The magnitude of the responsibility for nurturing this precious life shattered every competency I had ever relied upon. Parenthood has taught me I do not need to be in control and managing every detail perfectly. It has taught me that struggling is okay! It is not a sign of defeat to be engaged in a battle. Struggles simply strip away the deceits which have hidden the doorway to God’s strength. The inequities and burdens of life create opportunities for God to transform parents and to begin drawing our beloved children to Him. Struggles are to help us embrace His presence in our lives with confident hope…with certainty…that His plans and purposes are perfect. As we hold fast to that hope, the very image of God begins to shine forth in our lives—changing us, lighting our children’s paths and touching all those around us!

Beyond the challenges of parenthood lie mountains which dot the landscape of our children’s future--mountains woven into the design of our children’s lives by their loving, heavenly Father. His love for our children is greater and more perfect than ours. God would never allow a mountain for which He has not provided provisions for conquering. Parents are a key part of those provisions. The parent God chooses for a child has the strengths—and the weaknesses—to guide their children to the Shepherd Himself. God longs to take the hands of our children and guide them in life. Leading our children to the One who provides abundantly is the key task of our parenting assignment. Treasure the challenges on your parenting journey as the doorways to Christ. There is a splendor possible through embracing God’s presence in the trials of life which will produce faith that perseveres and moves mountains aside.

Loving Yourself

We fill our calendars and our lives with things to do…and even strive to include good & ‘godly’ things such as family time, church activities and devotional times. The speed of life seems to whirl more quickly with each passing year. Jesus calls us to come to Him for His yoke is light and He gives rest. He summed up our duties of life in only two commands. Perhaps life would feel more manageable if we focused just on those two things…let’s consider.

The first commandment, though immensely challenging, makes instinctual sense to us. “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind & strength.” God designed our hearts to seek Him. Recognizing God’s greatness is a glorious, progressive experience which culminates in total worship of Him. But that second command is challenging from the start. “Love others.” Quite frankly, others are not always lovely. Then, it gets more difficult, “love as you love yourself.” Love me? Many times I am even more unlovely than others. Seeking to love God is a sweet challenge. Loving me—and loving others—is decidedly less appealing.

There is a beauty, though, in every word of Christ. This commandment is indeed a treasure chest we will delight in unpacking! The love Christ is compelling us to give to ourselves and others is ‘agape love.’ It is the pure, beautiful love of God which we behold and pursue in the first commandment. Paul articulates it in the ‘love chapter’ of 1 Corinthians. Paul helps us clearly understand that love is a verb…actions are what love is all about. Let’s look at those verses as just ‘actions’ for a moment:

Patient. I don’t need to get even.Kind. I seek to give and to do good.Content. I don’t want what others have.Humble. I don’t need to make myself look self-important.Peaceable. I don’t always have to be right.Courteous. I show respect.Serving. I don’t have to get my own way.Calm. I don’t blow up and lose my temper.Forgetful. I don’t keep a list of ways I’ve been hurt.Righteous. I want the best for others.Truthful. I love God’s word and try to obey it.Protective. I don’t say hurtful things about (or to) others.Positive. I believe the best about others.Hope. I believe good will come.Endure. I will not give up.

As we consider the actions of love, we realize that loving ourselves with His love is not self-centered at all. It is purely other-centered love rooted in the love we pursue in the first commandment. We can not give this love until we behold it in the presence of Christ in our own lives. To love ourselves is to be in relationship with Jesus—and that will transform us and our relationship with others. May your love for Him grow moment by moment and your life be transformed!