Christmas: Dispelling the Darkness

One of the blessings of Christmas is: Jesus came to dispel our darkness!

My name is Dawn. People used to tease me when I approached saying, "Comes the Dawn" or "Oh, I see it finally dawned on you!" Probably because of my name, for as long as I can remember, I've looked up Bible verses about "the dawn" or "light."

Some of these scriptures creep into my thinking during the Christmas season, because Christmas is a season of Great Light.

That little baby boy, born in a manger in Bethlehem, was and is the Light of the World (John 8:12). His life is "the life that is the light of men," John said (1:4, 9). 

The wonder of God's plan is: the light of God's Son shines in and dispels the darkness (John 1:4-5).

Isaiah told God's people, "The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them" (Isaiah 9:2).

God's people looked for that light. And one day it came.

Matthew wrote,
"The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, 
and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, 
upon them a light dawned" (Matthew 4:16). 

Jesus was that "great light!"

And Jesus' desire for His disciples  and for all Christ-followers  is that we embrace and reflect His light to others. His light is all that He is: His person, character and purposes.

So Christ-followers are "the light of the world" too (Matthew 5:14a).
We have Jesus' light within us, and when we allow Him to shine out through us, our good works will bless others as we glorify our Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:16).
"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Make no mistake. Without Jesus' light, we would all walk in darkness forever. Even our good works would be like dirty rags before Him (Isaiah 64:6). We would practice sin (1 John 1:5-6; John 3:19-21) and dishonor the Lord.

But if we have trusted Christ — if we are IN Him — we are now "light in the Lord" and are instructed by the Apostle Paul to "WALK as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8).

We "walk" by demonstrating the Light of the Lord in countless practical ways.
For instance, we can:

  1. Mow a lawn for a widow
  2. Sing joyfully in the choir
  3. Make a meal for a shut-in
  4. Encourage a prisoner with a note or card
  5. Share wise counsel with a friend who asks for help
  6. Pray for a friend's healing
  7. Run errands for an elderly person
  8. Take care of a young mom's children so she can rest
  9. Tell a neighbor our testimony of faith

These are everyday demonstrations of Jesus' light in the world.

And in these dark times in the world, it's crucial we walk in His light.

  • We do this when we stand for truth in the midst of lies and confusion. 
  • Or when we suffer for righteousness as Jesus would or even endure persecution for His name. 
  • Or when we cling to holiness when many around us compromise their purity. 
  • And when we seek and praise God — even when it's not politically correct.

The truth is, our light can (and should) shine the brightest 
when our circumstances are darkest. 

When we don't know where our next meal will come from, yet we trust the Lord to provide. When we lose our job, but know our Father will care for us. When our health fails, and we still can sing a song of faith. When a loved one is taken from us, but we still choose to trust our good, faithful God.

One of the many messages of Christmas is this: Jesus came to dispel our darkness. Ultimately, He came to show us how to spread the light of this good news to a world still struggling in the dark.

Are you "light in the Lord"? Are you walking as a "child of light"?


The Treasure You Already Have

Today (Nov. 23) is International Day of the Bible. How many Bibles do you own? 

I've given some away, but more can still go. WHY?
My perspective changed. 

I saw the need.
I watched a woman who never had a Bible embrace the gift of a Bible and weep. 
Let's never forget the precious treasure we have right in our own homes and churches the timeless, tested and Truth-filled Word of God.
Regarding the value of the words of the Bible:
  • "More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold...." (Psalm 19:10a)
  • "...the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times" (Psalm 12:6).
  • "The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold" (Psalm 119:72).
  • "...I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold" (Psalm 119:127).
Walk around your house. Count your Bibles.  How many do you have?
Consider how you might share from your treasure with those who are "dying" to read God's Word.
"... faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17).


Finishing Well ... Shine!

"They still bear fruit in old age ..." (Psalm 92:14). I want to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God until the day I die, don't you?

How is this possible?
No matter our health, no matter our circumstances, we can still make the choice to SHINE! 
So many choices we can make to shine.
  • We can make choices of joy when happiness is out of the question.
  • We can make the choice of contentment when circumstances change.
  • We can decide to trust instead of fear, taking courage and moving forwardtrusting God's love.
I don't want to shine for myself.  I want to reflect the glory of the One who said, "... I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).

And Jesus says to us:
       "YOU are the light of the world ..." (Matthew 5:14).

Hearing those words, I want to shine as a light in our cultureto point people to the truth of scripture and the love and goodness of the Father.
  • "But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until the full day" (Proverbs 4:18).
  • "The light of the righteous shines brightly ..." (Proverbs 13:9).
  • "... those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above ..." (Daniel 12:3).
A song I learned in childhood still rumbles around in my thoughts and motivates me today. I want to sing it for all my life:

"Jesus bids us shine, then, for all around.
Many kinds of darkness in the world abound:
Sin and want and sorrowwe must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine." *

* http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Jesus_Bids_Us_Shine/


All Lives Matter and Here's Why

So much talk about who's lives matter. 

I'm thinking:
  • of the slaves who died on slave ships ...
  • of those killed by ISIS ...
  • of those the Communists imprisoned and killed in Siberian camps ...
  • of those in Hitler's ovens ...
  • of those killed in abortion clinics ...
  • of those murdered on our streets every day ...
All of their lives mattered!

So much cruelty and hate.
I believe ALL lives matter because we are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
It's man's inhumanity to man—a terrible sin problem—that leads to lives not "mattering" today.

Only the Lord can solve this. Only the Lord can change hearts and the way we think about each other (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 12:2). 

In the meantime, our laws and authorities can do their best to prevent our hateful acts and punish those who intend to do people harm (Romans 13:1-3). Civil Government is divinely ordained and for our good. (See note at end about evil government.) 

I am thankful for public servants who put their lives on the line to protect us against evil-doers. 

The Bible says, "Be kind to one another ... tenderhearted, forgiving" (Ephesians 4:32). It's a choice! Christians, we can do this in Christ, who loved and forgave us.

Love people; don't hurt them.

How can you show someone love and kindness today? Show YOU MATTER! in a practical way!

[Note: Are we to obey authorities, as Christians, when they ask us to act in unbiblical ways? No. When "forced" to sin against God, Acts 5:29 says, "We must obey God rather than men."
See "Should We Obey Governments That Are Bad?" by Matt Slick]


Warm Me Up, Lord!

My granddaughter Jenna and I had our second "God, Grammy and I" time a few weeks ago, studying the first chapter of Elizabeth George's book for "tweens," A Girl after God's Own Heart.

We talked about: 
  • the importance of the heart, 
  • how we can have a "heart check-up," 
  • how having a heart for God includes responding to God's love, 
  • how a heart for God means we are willing to let God lead us, 
  • and especially, how crucial it is that our heart is "hot" for God, not lukewarm (Revelation 3:15-16).
It was a time of teaching and sharing with Jenna, but I found myself in deeper self-examination too.
We need to take the "temperature" of our heart and make adjustments if we're not hot ("on fire") for the Lord.
I don't want to be a lukewarm Christ-follower.

John of Kronstadt, a pious Russian Orthodox Christian, once said, "Your Lord is a fire: do not let your heart be cold, but burn with faith and love." *

I found myself praying two questions:

(1) Lord, how can I turn up the heat of my love for you? 
(2) Where do I need to warm up my life for your glory?
Are those the questions in your heart too?



Lies: Thoughts Led Astray

As I watch television these days, I see our enemy, Satan, hasn't deviated much from his initial strategy. Even as he tricked Eve and then Adam with his lies, the devil delights in tripping us up with rotten lies.

Satan's lies, according to 2 Corinthians 11:3, lead to to thoughts being "led astray." We start justifying sin. We call it by another name. We wander into wickedness because we aren't anchored to truth.

We see this in our homes, government and even the church. The consequence of these wayward thoughts for Chritians? False, corrupted devotion to Christ.

Read this progression for yourself:

Another version, The Message, puts it this way:  
"... I'm afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ."

Paul was concerned that Satan's lies might corrupt God's people from the simplicity that is found in Jesus. This corruption might come: 
Satan is crafty—so sneaky—and skilled in deceit. We've got to become alert to his "wiles and intentions" (2 Corinthians 2:11, Amp.).
We can't afford to play loosely with the truth of Scripture. We've got to know, embrace and obey the Truth!
God's goal is for His children to obey, serve, worship and enjoy Him. Satan wants to keep us from doing these things. 

Our battleground is the mind. And we must "destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV).

And that brings up another area regarding truth.

Our enemy wants us to major on the minors, always arguing over scripture. We must confront the lies of proud arguments and intellectualism ("speculations ... every lofty thing") and return to the "simplicity" that arises out of love for the Lord. (* Note)

God's Word calls Christians to sober watchfulness and alertness to Satan's lies (1 Peter 5:8; James 4:7). The best way to be alert to lies is to learn to recognize the sound teaching of Scripture (1 Timothy 6:3). The Lord loves us, and He will never lead us astray when we abide in His Word (John 8:31-32). By knowing the Truth and living in accordance with it, the Truth will set us free from any lies that threaten to ensnare us.

Sincere and pure devotion to Christ must be our standard and motivation.

What lies are you believing today? Are you dwelling in truth so you can be alert to deceit?

* Note: We must cling to the truth, but not be given to disputing (being argumentative) (Philippians 2:14). Our aim must be "a sincere and pure 
devotion to Christ"--which also means devotion to the Word of God. 
It's all about the heart. We can have good "talking points" to share truth 
without being argumentative (an attitude based in pride.) 
We must proclaim the truth of scripture out of 
sincere love for Christ and the Gospel, not to "prove a point."


God Used Nails

I needed this reminder today.
I can't fix everything.
The truth is, I can't really fix anything by myself.

It is God enabling me -
working in and through me,
in the power of the 
resurrected Christ -
that makes any change possible.

"... for without Me,
you can do nothing."
(John 15:5b)

"For from Him and through Him
and to Him are all things.
To Him be glory forever. Amen."
(Romans 11:36)


The 'Perfect' Presidential Candidate

What are you looking for in a Presidential candidate?

I'm looking for a person with:
Obviously, I choose scriptures as my criteria for solid leadership because I believe the Bible is God's manual for successful living.
If candidates think adhering to and living by biblical truth isn't important, I wonder about their leadership strength. 
George Washington, our first President, said, "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." (See what other Presidents said, here.)

(And a point might be made that it's harder - if not impossible - to live out these biblical truths without knowing the Lord.)

But back to politics.

Unfortunately, there is no "perfect" candidate. 

Every candidate has strengths and weaknesses. Every person - no matter his or her aspirations - reaps what is sown (Galatians 6:7-8).

So we need much wisdom as we survey the candidates.

Lord, help us seek You 
to discern the best candidate for our times.


Are You on an Adventure?

I'll write more about this in the coming year as I "flesh out" three goals" God gave me for the rest of my life."

But today, I just had to share the freshness of going on a new adventure with God.

And encourage you to do the same!
Don't let your walk with God grow stale!
What is your new adventure with the Lord? Does it require Faith? Courage? Strength? A new sense of freedom?


Aiming for a Better Target: Heaven

Where we aim in life is crucial; it shapes everything else we do.

I sat in a bus, gazing out at a Middle Eastern hillside. Sheep grazed as their young shepherd sat on the edge of the roadway. His mind was single-focused, far from the busyness of city life. As was mine.

Above the barrenness of the landscapeexcept for tiny patches of green beneath scraggly shrub treesthe expanse of sky drew me in.

The busyness of ministry had captured my thoughts for nearly a week, but now, on a long bus ride to visit the country's tourist sites, my mind drifted to simpler things. Oh how sudden solitude can adjust our perspective.

Suddenly "alone" in my seat, I thought of heaven. I recalled words I'd read in Bible college that stirred my heart as a young girl: "Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity *

For a solid week, while it seemed I focused on earthly things, my ministry was securely rooted in the eternal. I shared God's practical truth and reinforced a teaching on the Christian worldvieweloquently shared by one of our speakers. I testified about the day I'd decided to follow the teachings of Jesus. I listened as women shared from their hungry hearts.

And then, as I witnessed God's work of transformation in many, I thought, "How wonderful! This little patch of Earth is becoming a bit more like heavena place of joy and peace, a place where God fills our thoughts."
Thoughts of heaven make such a huge difference 
in our attitudes and behavior!
Lewis wrote: *
     "If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. 
     "It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this."

In his book Heaven, Randy Alcorn wrote: **
"Our minds are so much set on Earth that we are unaccustomed to heavenly thinking. So we must work at it. ... We need a generation of heavenly minded people who see human beings and the earth itself not simply as they are, but as God intends them to be." 
Returning home, I thought about some of my favorite scriptures: "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:1-3).

As we seek those things that are above, we are actually seeking God and His purposes in the world.

I was more determined that thoughts of heaven would fill my mind.

I even placed a target above my computer to remind me to keep an eternal perspective.

  • I could target effective ministry. A worthy goal.
  • I could target better relationships. Again, well worth my time.
  • I could target many things.

But if I will target heavenif I will live with eternity in mindI will get these and other profitable things "thrown in."

And God will be honored.

Where are you aiming? Do you need a better target?

* C.S. Lewis quotes: Mere Christianity, (Harper San Francisco paperback, 2015), p. 132.
** Randy Alcorn quote: Heaven, (Tyndale House Publ,) p. 21.


The Secret to Surviving Life's Floods

When I am inclined to give in to feelings of being overwhelmed ... when circumstances stack up against me until I feel I'm slipping beneath their control ... when I'm struggling because my problems seem insurmountable and constant ... when I tremble, fearing I am not enough to get through a deep trial ...

I know with certainty God has not left me without His presence, His power, His promises, His provision, His peace.

He is a God who rescues, who comes to our aid.

We see this with the Children of Israel, time after time,

"I am the LORD your God, and I rescued you from Egypt, 
so that you would never again be slaves. 
I have set you free; now walk with your heads held high" 
(Leviticus 26;13, CEV).

When catastrophes come, when our enemy floods our lives with more than we think we can handle, we are keenly aware of our need for rescue. Our need is for God. And we can walk in freedom, with our "heads held high," in Him.

God knows our needs, even the ones that threaten to crush us. The ones that swirl around our heads, seeking to drown out our effectiveness for the Lord. I've read the word "rescue" many times in the Bible - some say different forms of the word appear more than 500 times!

Rescuing is what our God does. He rescues us in salvation from our sin (Matthew 1;21), and then He keeps on rescuing us in our foolishness and selfishness - making us more like Christ.
Though our circumstances may not always change in exactly the way we hope they will, our Father rescues us from hopelessness. We learn to rest in the Rescuer and His purposeful love.
The scriptures remind us:

God rescues the weak and needy (Psalm 82:3-4).
He inclines His ear to us and hears our prayers (Psalm 17;6). 
He is our stronghold in the time of trouble (Psalm 37:39). 
He delivers us from our distress (Psalm 107:28). 
He knows those who take refuge in Him (Nahum 1:7).

Truly, when the enemy comes in like a flood, I know the One who holds my head above the water. I know the One whose name is Faithful and True.

Do you feel like you're going under for the third time, drowning under your circumstances? Stay connected to the One who delights in rescuing His children!


Faith and Revival: Seeking God

Early in August, Life Action Ministries and its division for women's outreach, Revive Our Hearts, enter a special week of seeking God. It is a time of heart examination and prayer for revival (personal, corporate, in the Church).

This "Seek Week" is meant to prepare the teams for another year of outreach both at the ministry headquarters and across the country.

It has been much more than that for me.

It has been a JOYOUS reminder that God is transforming my heart and making me more like His Son, Jesus. He truly is a "rewarder" of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). I've seen growth and change over the years. And I rejoice and give God glory for that.

It's why I personalize and pray this scripture every year during Seek Week,
"Will you not revive me again, 
so I can rejoice in You?" (Psalm 85:6)

There are many scriptures that encourage us to seek the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:11; Psalm 14:2; 27:4, 8; 63:1; Proverbs 8:17; Isaiah 55:6-7; Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 6:33)

When we draw near to God, He draws near to us, and He cleanses and purifies our hearts (James 4:8; Psalm 51:10). Oh how we need this!

American Christians, we need to seek, know and rejoice in God, just as at the foundation of this country. 

As I watched the GOP Debates last night on Fox News, and heard the candidates discussing America's problemsfinancial debt, terrorism, computer hacking, abortion/Planned Parenthood, corruption, lawlessness, etc.I had this compelling thought: 

"These solutions might help temporarily, 
but what America really needs 
to solve all these problems
 is genuine Revival
America's Christians need to seek the Lord now!"

Byron Paulus, Executive Director of Life Action Ministries challenged us with these words by Jonathan GoForth (from the foreword to Oswald J. Smith's "The Revival We Need"): 
"If we all had faith to wait upon God in intense believing prayer, there would be genuine, Holy Ghost Revival...." 
As I've thought more about this today, I know the sad truth is, many so-called "Christians" are not really believers in the first place, so it's hard for them to "drum up" the faith to believe God for revival! We must have saving faith first! (Matthew 7:21-23)

Richard Owens Roberts wrote:
"Part of the tragedy of the hour is that people are trying to muster up faith. They hope they have inherited it from a grandparent or a parent. They think that perhaps by exposure to people of faith that faith is theirs. Faith is a gift of God, just as repentance is" (Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25).

For the Christian, revival is linked to faithpraying faith. Roberts also said, "Without faith it is impossible to please Him. We can pray all we like, but if our prayers are not prayers of faith, there is no consequence."

I have to ask myself, "Am I seeking God with true faith, asking Him to work in ways, perhaps, He has never worked before? 

What am I anticipating God to do?" What are you believing God to do?

Quiet our hearts to seek You, Lord.


The Heartbeat of Revival

My heart is breaking for all that I see in the news. The corruption, the lawlessness, the rebellion and pride — and all the behaviors that come from sinful hearts. It feels like the evil one is on the rampage.

And I keep asking myself, "Where is the church? Where are God's people? How are we reaching out to love others and teach the truth? Where is the evidence we have a connection with God that makes a difference?"

I am thankful I am part of a ministry (and its outreach to women) that calls all its members to a time of seeking God each year. This "Seek Week" is meant to refocus our hearts on the truth of the Word of God—not to make us "feel guilty," but to help us realize we still need the outpouring of grace that we received at salvation, the grace that God bestows on us daily to make us more like Jesus. 

We never outgrow our need for God's glorious grace.

Living for the Lord is not about perfectionism or legalism. 
     It's not about pride or self-accomplishment.
          It's not about self-condemnation or comparisons. 
               It's not about fixing ourselves or self-help.
                    It's about desperately needing God's help!

As Christine Hoover says in her book, From Good to Grace
"Sanctification is led by the Spirit from start to finish. 
He does the convicting, forgiving, sanctifying and transforming." 
(1 Thessalonians 5:23)

So in seeking God, we simply receive His grace and then respond in bold faith and complete obedience in every aspect of life.

What Seek Week has always done for me is point me back to the power of the Gospel. And then it calls me to pray for and respond to the Lord as He speaks. And part of that response is to pray for revival to come to the Church today.

Life Action Ministries was founded by Del Fehsenfeld, Jr., in 1971. I joined the team that first year and met the Lord in a powerful way. 

I was intrigued by his intimacy with God and passion for the Church. His heart was right and ripe for God to use him in a big way! 

He looked at the world and saw its sinfulness, but then he looked at the Church and didn't see much difference. That was his burden and the thing that kept driving him to his knees.

I believe:
God is sovereign in when He sends revival, but he calls us to prepare our hearts for that good season of refreshing.
The graphic above expressed the desire of Del's heartthat God's people might seek the Lord for revival. And he often said to congregations across America, "Let it begin with me ... with you."
That is still the heartbeat of Life Action Ministries.

Byron Paulus, the Executive Director and President of Life Action Ministries today, recently shared these words:

"We can be at the right event. We can go to the right place. We can gather with the right people. But we can truly miss God. We can miss a glorious visitation."

I'll be praying during "Seek Week" that none of us will miss what God wants to do, and if you are reading this, I pray that this will be your prayer:
"Will you not revive us again, 
that your people may rejoice in you?"
(Psalm 85:6)

Let it begin with me.


Conception: There Are No Accidental People!

In light of the Planned Parenthood fiasco - the sad news about babies' parts being harvested and sold - I find this quote a fresh reminder that there's more at stake than a baby's body. 

In her book, The Making of a Mom, Stephanie Shott says,

"The conditions of conception do not determine the value of a life. In our minds there may be accidental parents, but in the mind of God there are no accidental people. Each one is a masterpiece—each person is a miracle created by God in spite of the way that sweet baby was conceived" (p. 31).
For us to chop apart a human masterpiece, with no regard for the Creator, is one of the tragedies of life.
"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it" (Psalm 139:13-14).

Each one of us is a divine design. And God places within our bodies a unique little soul. 

Stephanie, founder of The M.O.M. Initiative, has a word for all pregnant moms who might read this post today:

"Sweet mom," she wrote, "you were in God's heart before you ever entered your mother's womb. The same is true for your baby. The process of pregnancy is nothing short of the making of a miracle ... a miracle that includes you."(p. 35)

And, she writes (p. 38), "God creates those tiny treasures we call children, but He uses mothers to paint strokes of love, character and integrity into their hearts and lives. You are the brush, sweet mom, and you only get one chance to choose each stroke well."

Let's protect each masterpiece!

Are you struggling with being pregnant? While I do not personally endorse any agencies here, there are so many people (and agencies) you can contact online that would love to help you keep your baby or give it up for adoption. Please don't turn to abortion. And if you have already aborted a child, you will find help too. You don't have to go through these life choices alone.


The Hope for Earth's Evils

So much evil in the world.

So much overwhelming ugly news. 

So much that tempts me to run and hide until Jesus returns. 

But it's precisely because I believe Jesus will return that I have hope. 

We are to "comfort one another" with the promise of His return (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). 

And it's not a passive thing. We're to be "alert and sober" and ready to stand for the Truth... "to encourage one another ... to build up one another" (1 Thessalonians 5:6-9). 

We've got to remember: 
Ultimately, evil does not reign. Jesus does!

  • Remember that the next time you're watching a TV newscast that makes you fearful. 
  • Remember that when you read about Christians being martyred for their faith around the world.
  • Remember that when you think the enemy (Satan) and all who do evil seem to be winning.

Remember the words of this Isaac Watts hymn about the blessings that will come when Jesus reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords:

Blessings abound where'er He reigns; 
The pris'ner leaps, unloosed his chains,
The weary find eternal rest, 
And all the sons of want are blest. *

Are you living in light of eternity, when the glorious King, Jesus, will reign forever?

- Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Hymn: "Jesus Shall Reign Where'er the Sun" by Isaac Watts, 


A Mirror of Christ

Oh that this might be true in my life, Father God.

I want to be more like Jesus!

Is this the cry of your heart too?


6 Choices to Love When It Feels 'Impossible"

Sometimes we think someone is just "impossible" to love. Maybe we love the person (down deep), but circumstances make us question that love. Frustrated, maybe even angry, we might say, "I can't do this one minute more!" But ...

If we know Jesus, we can always choose to love.

The Lord modeled Unimaginable Love for us .... "agape" love. The kind of love that sacrifices to save the life of another.

Jesus loved us while we were weak and ungodly (Romans 5:6-8). He was even willing to die for us wretched, unholy sinners, showing His amazing capacity to love (John 15:13; 1 Timothy 2:6). And the truth is:
In Christ, there are many choices to love that we can make.
Making choices to love may sometimes mean "tough love," working harder to express love in ways people might not expect, but ways for their good. All love should be an outpouring of the love of God within our hearts.

So what kind of love can we choose in tough times?

1. Choose Unlimited Love

"...'love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength ... love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30-31, ESV).

It makes sense that when we wholly love God, our love for others will be more complete. We will love others even as we love ourselves. In fact, we will think more about their needs than our own (Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:3).

The "all" of love for God motivates our unlimited love for others ... and that's amazing!

2. Choose Unselfish Love

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends" (1 Cor. 13:4-8a, ESV).

This familiar "love passage" details many choices love makes. Our enemy tells us it's time to throw in the towel when a friend or loved one acts up or behaves unwisely, but godly love continues to make selfless choices for another's benefit.

And it's persistent too (Love never ends)! Unending forbearance. Unending belief. Unending hope. Unending endurance.

3. Choose Unhindered Love

"A friend loves at all timesand a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17, ESV).

Adversity ... struggles ... deep trials ... frustrating circumstances. A loving person comes alongside others in these tough times with understanding, encouragement and practical help.

The "all times" means there is nothing that can hinder the outreach of our godly love.

4. Choose Unveiled Love

"... just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34b-35, ESV).

The amazing truth is that our choice to love—especially in the tough times—is a powerful testimony to the world. We unveil and illustrate Christ's agape love to the world and perhaps whet sinners' appetite for the Savior who embodies such love.

5. Choose Unfailing Love

"Above all things, have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]" (1 Peter 4:8, Amplified).

Love doesn't "cover up" sin in the world's sense of hiding or disguising or even redefining sin; but love does know how to "cover" offenses with forgiveness, extending great grace and mercy.

Sometimes love confronts; 
sometimes love makes new boundaries. 
But always, love keeps flowing.

6. Choose Unreasonable Love

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:43-44, ESV).

Love your enemies? That sounds unreasonable, doesn't it? And sometimes it feels like those "enemies" are in our own house!

But Jesus commands we love with the kind of love that doesn't make sense to the world. We actually pray for our persecutors. We turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). We go beyond the norm to win an opportunity to show Christ-like love.

So ... what kind of choices to love will you make today?


Broken without Tears

For many years, I associated brokenness with weeping. Lots of it. 

If I saw a woman weeping at a revival meeting, I assumed she was deeply broken before the Lord. And if I turned another direction, and saw a woman sitting in a pew with her arms folded, I assumed she was hard in spirit or fighting the Lord.

Oh, how mistaken I was.

Over the years I've learned the truth - from experience.

I remember one church service when I bawled like a pinched baby. But if I'm gut honest, I have to tell you – I was a big fake. I wanted people to think God had touched my heart. I wanted people to think I was broken. (It hurts today to even think I would do that. Did I think God didn't know?)

And yet in another service, I sat in my seat, staring ahead with my arms folded across my body. Anyone looking at me that day might assume I was either fighting God or zoned out. In truth, my heart was breaking over a sin that had me in its grasp. My crossed arms were me trying to hold myself together! I was silently crying out to the Lord in that church pew. I was begging for His mercy and help.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss addresses this misunderstanding about brokenness in her book by the same name: Brokenness: The Heart God Revives.
"For many, brokenness conjures up the image of the shedding of tears – having a deeply emotional experience," she wrote. "They think of a time when they were deeply stirred by a song, moved by a message, or touched by an experience.

"Unfortunately, countless people have shed buckets full of tears and yet have never experienced a
moment of true brokenness. It is difficult to conceive of being truly broken without our emotions being involved. But it is important to understand it is possible to shed tears without being broken, and it is possible to experience brokenness without shedding any tears at all."

So what is brokenness? 

Brokenness is not a feeling, not an emotion. True brokenness requires a choice. It is an ongoing act of the will.
For the Christian, brokenness is meant to be a lifestyle!
  • Brokenness means agreeing with God and aligning my now-softened heart with His. 
  • There is no room for stubbornness, only submission. 
  • The broken person is repentant and contrite, ready to call sin "sin" and to press forward into holiness.
In that pressing forward, there is no self-reliance. The broken person realizes there is no hope for change apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in the human heart. There is no confidence in personal works or righteousness, but only in the all-sufficient grace of God.

Tears may come, especially in people with more tender temperaments, but not a single teardrop needs to fall for true, godly brokenness to occur.

The key is the condition of the heart.
  • "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18).
  • "The sacrifice of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).
Tears or no tears, God sees the heart and knows if we are proud or if we have a humble, broken heart before Him.

What does God see today as He studies your heart?

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


Heartbroken and Praying

I am heartbroken by recent choices our government is making, but it's been many, many years since we were truly "one nation under God."

We have wandered far from the truth of scriptureoften twisting it to fit our sinful passions or selfish perspective. And even in the Church, we have corrupted the commands of God and principles for holy living.

Rather than rant about these things, I have turned to prayer. 

I want to seek God with all my heart. 

"... seek the Lord your God and you will find him, 
if you search after him with all your heart 
and with all your soul" (Deuteronomy 4:29, ESV).

I am asking Him to remove any areas of pride* and sin that would prevent Him from working through me to reach my cultureto reach individuals who so desperately need to know the truth of His Word.

"Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! 
Try me and know my thoughts. 
And see if there be any wicked or hurtful way in me, 
and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24, Amp).

I am bending my heart that I might better bend my knee.

Is that your desire too?

* "Are You a Proud Person or a Broken Person? - Revive Our Hearts post

Graphic: adapted, Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 


The Secret to a God-focused Day

Graduation speeches rank from the trivial to the tremendous. I am still impressed by the Naval Admiral William H. McRaven gave last year at the University of Texas at Austin. McRaven said:

"If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. 

"Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

"And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better."  *

Such a simple thing, making a bed.
But it sets the stage for bigger and better things.

Meeting with God in prayer or in His Word are likewise simple things to do. But if we will do it, early in our day, it can set the stage for a walk of faith and obedience all day long.

Spending time with God early in the morning helps us focus on Him and what is important. And what is more important than seeking and doing His will?
Invite God to work in and through you during your day.
Spend time with God in the morning, and then, if you have a miserable daytests or tough circumstancesyou can still pillow your head at night rejoicing in God's presence, and that He will encourage you and give you hope for tomorrow.

The Psalmist said, "Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul" (Psalm 143:8). And again, "Oh Lord, in the morning you hear my voice...." (Psalm 5:3a).

Jesus gave us an example of morning communion. He rose up early in the morning to pray to His Father in a solitary place (Mark 1:35).

Such a simple thing, meeting with the Father in the morning.
Such a simple-but-precious habit. A life-changing choice.

So make your bed. And then kneel down beside it and start your day with God. It's a wise choice!

Do you meet with the Lord each morning? How does it influence your decisions all through the day?