Running Well When Life Puts Up Roadblocks

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!
— 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NLT)

You may be wondering where I’ve been for the past three weeks. There was a death in my extended family, and the day I should have been writing this blog I was instead driving east with my two kids to get through the mountains before the big snow storm hit.

What a disruption of my routine! What an unexpected turn of events! What a roadblock to my daily life!

Or was it?

Most of my life, I’ve been what you call a “Type A” person. Driven to get straight A’s in school, determined to do things with excellence, to be the best, to knock every item off the to-do list. This approach seemed to work pretty well at first. Schools and colleges reward those who study hard. The corporate world promotes those who are diligent workers. Success in the freelance world comes to those who get results for their clients.

But there’s an area of life where being “Type A” doesn’t help at all: relationships. Being driven to always be right makes for more arguments than reconciliations. Elevating getting things done over the emotional needs of my family and friends results in disappointment and dissatisfaction, not success. Clinging to my schedule and goals instead of making room for helping others in need actually leaves me empty instead of fulfilled.

To run my race well as a Christian, I need to see things differently. I need to measure success the way God does. How does God define “running well”?

If you don’t know the nature of the race, you’re sure to lose.

What if Jesus believed, as some of his disciples seemed to, that he was supposed to gather an army, overthrow the Roman government, and establish a physical kingdom on earth? Even if he had accomplished this task, and lived as a righteous king for 100 years, he would have failed at his race. His race was to be a living example of Father God, healing and speaking truth and offering grace to the repentant sinners around him. His race was to mentor and teach an inner circle of disciples who would spread the good news after he was gone. His race was to live a sinless life, lay down his life at a young age as the sacrificial Lamb of God, and to return to the right hand of Father God so the Holy Spirit could be released to work in God’s people for centuries after he was gone.

Was the cross a roadblock, or a finish line? The answer is obvious to us, now that the story is done. But only by relying on God moment to moment, and obeying the Father’s will, did Jesus finish his race and win it.

Do you know the nature of your race? 

Our greatest commandment is to love God with all our hearts, and the second greatest command is to love others like we love ourselves. But what does that look like, exactly? Life can be full of challenges.

  • Being passed over for a promotion at work
  • Being hurt by the betrayal of a friend or loved one
  • Losing weeks or months to injury or illness
  • Seeing someone in need when you have needs yourself
  • Dealing with the consequences of a mistake you made

What does it look like to run your race well in these situations? Are these roadblocks, or opportunities?

The race isn’t to the fastest, but to the faithful.

I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.
— Ecclesiastes 9:11 (NASB)

King Solomon was making the point that “time and chance” — the unexpected — can happen to anyone. It’s a wise observation, but Jesus tells us something even better: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

Guess what? For every example Solomon uses in that verse there is a situation where relationship with God made all the difference:

- Elijah on foot ran faster than King Ahab’s chariot by the power of the Holy Spirit
- Young shepherd David beat the giant warrior Goliath with one stone and his faith in Israel’s covenant with God
- A humble widow was given oil and flour that never ran out during a famine because of her obedience to provide for God’s prophet
- The Israelites leaving Egypt were given wealth by the Egyptians, not because of their wisdom but because of God’s power
- Gideon was full of fear and doubt, hardly qualified for leadership, and yet God chose to grant him favor and lead him to success

The race is not to the swift — it is to the faithful. When we keep our eyes fixed on God, drawing close to follow the prompting of his Holy Spirit, we discover that there are no roadblocks, after all. There are only opportunities to trust God in fresh ways.

And my trip east to help my family bury a loved one? I learned that God can get me across 1,700 miles of highway in the winter without a drop of rain, much less snow. I discovered that I needed to improve my attitude and stay focused on the love of God if I am to truly bless those I love with my “help”. I saw God empty an apartment full of furniture and “stuff” in one day, and sell a used car in an afternoon. The trip wasn't a roadblock, but a learning opportunity and a chance to bless. I didn’t do it perfectly, but I’m thankful that with God’s help, it was a blessing.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
— Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)

Elijah: An Example of the Power of Prayer


The book of James tells us,

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
— James 5:17-18, NKJV

So let’s look at Elijah’s life and see what it tells us about how to pray. The book of 1 Kings records this part of Elijah’s life as a prophet of God to the nation of Israel. King Ahab was a terribly wicked ruler, and because of his disobedience the curse of drought was brought upon Israel. As God’s faithful prophet, Elijah had the job of informing King Ahab about it.

And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”
— 1 Kings 17:1 (NKJV)

As you can imagine, this made Elijah something of a target. Talk about being the king’s Least Favorite Person! Later, Ahab’s servant Obadiah says to Elijah, “There is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you!” (1 Kings 18:10, NKJV)

God Provides In The Midst of Hardship

During the three years of drought, God did amazing things for and through Elijah.

God told Elijah to camp by a creek for a while, and ravens brought bread and meat to feed him! This obscure hiding place kept him out of King Ahab’s clutches, and when the creek eventually dried up from the lack of rain God told Elijah to go to a certain widow in a neighboring country who God had commanded to provide for Elijah.

Even though we’re looking at Elijah’s life for inspiration, I find the example of the widow inspiring, too. She was scraping the bottom of the jar to make one last biscuit for her son and herself, and then had resigned herself to starvation. She couldn’t see a way out. There was nobody to provide for her, there was a multi-year drought, which meant poor crops and probably a famine.

Then this guy comes up and asks for a drink of water and her last biscuit.

After she tells Elijah her situation, he encourages her.

And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’ So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days.
— 1 Kings 17:13-15 (NKJV)


Because she chose to believe God’s prophet when he said God would provide for all of them, she was blessed! 

Faith Isn’t Foolishness

It’s important to pay attention to what’s happening here. Elijah didn’t just pick someone at random and demand that they take care of him because he was God’s prophet. Being sent by God doesn’t give anybody the right to demand things of others. 

And the widow didn’t just decide to do something reckless because she thought that it would cause God to have pity on her. She didn’t just give a stranger the last of her food because she’d heard somebody teach that sacrificial giving will move the heart of heaven.

1) Elijah asked the widow to feed him because God told him she would.

2) The widow gave away her very last bit of resources because God’s prophet assured her that God wouldn’t let her and her son starve.

Romans 10:17 tells us, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” True faith is in response to something God says to us.

That’s why it works.

When God speaks, He fulfills His word. When we respond and take action based on what God has said to us, that’s faith.

The Effective Prayer Is The One That Agrees With God

Every step along Elijah’s story where God tells him what to do and what to say, God fulfills His word. When we look at Elijah’s life, we find out how a “man with a nature like ours” can have such power: by obeying what God told him to do and speaking what God told him to speak.

CHALLENGE: When you come to God about a situation, listen for what God has to say about it. Search the Bible for examples of God’s will in similar situations, and be attentive to your heart as you read. Watch for God impressing you with the specifics to pray about. When we pray in agreement with the Father’s will for a situation, that’s when we see miracles

If you read the rest of Elijah's story, you'll find even more miracles: a boy raised from the dead, fire from heaven consuming a water-soaked offering without a match being lit, outrunning a horse-drawn chariot, being fed with angels' food, being taken directly to heaven without dying a natural death. Read it all in 1 Kings 18-19 and 2 Kings 1-2.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
— 1 John 5:14-15 (NKJV)

Picture credit: Public domain image of Elijah provided under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License by La Vista Church of Christ.

Prayer: It's Not A Last Resort


“I’ve done everything I can think of. It’s still not fixed. I guess all we can do now is pray.”

Sound familiar? Too often, we only think of prayer after we’ve expended all our other options. Whether this comes from a sense of pride (”I can handle this!”) or a misguided sense of responsibility (”I don’t want to bother God with this”), we always lose out when we leave prayer as a last resort.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
— Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

“I wish I could help, but all I can do is pray.”

I used to feel this way a lot. I’d hear about situations that friends and loved ones were going through, and there wasn’t anything I could physically do to fix their problems, heal their bodies, resolve their situations. I felt helpless.

And I felt like prayer was such a small thing. A mere gesture of support. “I’ll be praying for you.” What a nice, Christian thing to do.

Prayer Is No Small Thing

Prayer isn’t merely a polite gesture, an admission that someone is beyond your help, or a shot in the dark. Prayer is the entry point for God’s power to flood into earth’s atmosphere and make things happen

Think about it this way: Prayer — your prayer — is how God’s will gets done. Isn’t that how Jesus taught his disciples (and us) to pray?

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
— Jesus, in Matthew 6:9-10 (NKJV)

Wow! This instruction from Jesus should stop us in our tracks.

First, because it tells us something shocking: God’s will is not automatically done on earth. If everything that happens on earth was already according to God’s will, then why would Jesus instruct us to pray for His will to be done?

And second, we should be struck with wonder: you and I have the awesome privilege of partnering with God to see His will be done here on earth. We get to participate in the best things to ever happen to people: healing from pain and sickness, reconciliation between loved ones, miraculous provision when all seems lost, restoration of joy after long struggle, even deliverance from hell and being reborn to eternal life!

The Power of Prayer

Look at what the Bible tells us about the power of prayer:

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.” - Jesus, in Matthew 18:19 (NLT)

"And these signs will follow those who believe: …they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." - Jesus, in Mark 16:17-18 (NKJV)

And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. - James 5:15 (NKJV)

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. - James 5:16-18 (NKJV)

The example of Elijah fills me with so many exciting thoughts that he’s going to get a whole blog post of his own. Keep an eye open for that.

TAKING IT TO HEART: Have you considered prayer a last resort? Felt helpless and uncertain about whether your prayers do any good?

It’s time to renew our minds to the truth: prayer is powerful. It’s not small, and it shouldn’t be the last thing we try.

CHALLENGE: No matter how many times we’ve prayed and felt that it did no good, our experience is not to be trusted more than the Word of God.

Pick a verse in the Bible about the power of prayer and write it out. Put it somewhere you will see it every day. Say it out loud. Imagine it happening to you.

Prayer: Doing It Right Is Risky

Have you ever heard people pray in church? It’s usually very reverent, very proper. If you learn to pray based on prayers like these, prayers made in situations where the speaker knows everybody is listening to them, you’ve probably gotten the wrong idea about prayer.

Christian prayer isn’t a formal petition in a medieval king’s court. It isn’t a marshaling of our reasons why we should get what we want. It doesn’t need to be calm, cool and collected. It’s not groveling and insulting yourself and saying how great God is.

I really like the “simple math” concept that God showed me a couple of weeks ago. Here’s a similar approach to illustrate the simplicity of prayer:

Prayer = Talking to God

God = King, but also Friend, Counselor, Comforter, Daddy

Don’t let religion complicate a simple thing. Prayer is a conversation with God. Yes, God is the awesome, Almighty Creator of the universe and King of everything and everyone. But he also calls himself a friend of Abraham, the Counselor, the God of all comfort, and Jesus (whom the Bible calls the firstborn of many brethren — our big brother) called God “Daddy” (well, it was in another language, so it was “Abba”, but that’s what it meant).

We Gotta Be Real

Prayer, the kind that we do when it’s just between us and God, starts with one thing above all else: honesty. What’s the point in holding back how we really feel? God knows it already. And when we say it to him, we are expressing our trust. We are letting him in, baring our souls, being vulnerable. This is important. This is intimacy.

And it can be scary.

If we aren’t sure how God will react to how we really feel, being honest is a risk. Will he judge me? Reject me?

Let’s deal with that.

We Gotta Be Brave

When we talk to God, there’s good reason to be confident that he’ll listen. Take a look at this:

"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:14-16 (NASB)

Remember, you’re not alone in life anymore.

Jesus is right there with you, every step of the way, including when you pray. He’s called our Advocate and because of him, God will never again hold our sins against us. 

Real Feelings, Even Wrong Feelings, Belong In Prayer

The Bible is overflowing with examples of people who were blunt with God about how they felt. And guess what? God didn’t strike them with lightning, ignore them, or go find someone else to do his assignments. Take a look at these examples (some paraphrased to modern lingo):

  • “I wish I’d never been born” - Job 3:3 (Job)
  • “I hate those jerks with a perfect hatred. God, I wish you’d kill them!” - Psalm 139:19-22 (King David)
  • “I’m nobody.” - Exodus 3:11 (Moses), Judges 6:15 (Gideon) 
  • “I’m just a kid. Nobody listens to me.” - Jeremiah 1:6 (Jeremiah)
  • “Give me whatever I want, God! I want special recognition and reward.” - Mark 10:35 (James and John)
  • “I can’t do this, God. I’m not qualified.” - Exodus 4:10 (Moses)
  • “What I’m going through is too hard, God. Please make it stop.” - Matthew 26:39 (Jesus)
  • “This hurts so much I could die! I’m so sad…” Psalm 116:3

We can be completely wrong, and yet be honest, and it does us more good than praying something “right” but holding back how we’re really feeling. You’d be amazed what happens when we’re honest with God.

Doesn't God Already Know? Why Do I Have To Say It?

Of course God already knows how we feel. But like anyone in a close relationship, he wants to hear us say what’s on our minds. He wants an exchange of thought, and he designed humans so that putting things into words changes things — mentally, emotionally, and even physically.

Have you ever noticed that just saying your fears out loud sometimes takes away their power over you? Have you ever explained a problem to a friend and right in the middle of talking realized the solution? 

Prayer makes a difference not only because God answers prayer, but because the act of praying changes us. Gives us a fresh perspective. Gives us a chance to dump the negative thoughts out and get rid of them.

TAKING IT TO HEART: How is your prayer life right now? Are you talking to God every day? When you pray, are you holding back how you really feel? 

CHALLENGE: Assess your prayer life and make a decision to be real, be brave, and let God hear what you’re really thinking.

Don’t stop there, though: Listen for his answer, his assurance, and allow the Holy Spirit to change your heart where needed.

What Wonders Will We See in 2018?

Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”
— Joshua 3:5 (NASB)

At the beginning of the year, Pastor Bill asked us to write down how we want to “experience the wonder of God” in 2018. The Bible is full of stories of the encounters people have had with God and the miracles that happened. The same God that parted the Red Sea for the Israelites and caused the Apostle Paul not to be harmed by the bite of a poisonous snake is alive in us today. So let’s stir up our faith by remembering what is possible with our God.

There are so many wonders to consider among the treasures in God’s storehouses. The list could go on for pages and pages.

But God is not a snack machine into which you can just “insert a prayer” and “get what you want”. Jesus explained the miracles that he did like this: “I can of myself do nothing… I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent me.” (John 5:19, John 5:30, John 12:49)

As we draw close to God in prayer and bible study and fasting, God will draw near to us, and he will show us what to do and what to pray. It's when we are praying and acting on our heavenly Father's will that miracles happen.

TAKING IT TO HEART: Are there miracles you want to see in your life and the lives of those around you? Write a list of the wonders of God you are hoping to see this year. Post it somewhere you will see it every day.

CHALLENGE: When you read about a miracle in the Bible, begin picturing how that could happen in your life today. Start expecting God to move in supernatural ways, both big and small. Ask God to open your eyes and ears to see what he is doing and hear his voice.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…
— James 4:8 (NKJV)

More of God Is Simple Math


During worship this past Sunday, we sang these words: “I want more of You, God, I want more of You!”

And I heard in my heart: “More of Me is simple math.”


What astounded me (because hearing from God never gets old) was that as Pastor Bill unfolded the sermon, it became clear that his message was the same as the one I heard in my heart before he preached. The topic was the spiritual disciplines, and he spoke about prayer, bible study and fasting.

If we want more of God (more tangible evidence of His presence, that is, because He's always there), we need to add more prayer and bible study, which usually involves making room for these activities by taking something else out.


If we desire more of God in our lives, it truly is as simple as taking out something we currently spend time on and replacing it with time focused on God (in prayer, in bible reading, in worship).

The real trick is being consistent with it. Skipping a TV show to spend time with God or have a family bible study one night per week will bring a little bit more of God. Replacing our 80’s music playlist with audio sermons, worship music, or audio bible reading, during our 1-hour gym workout every day will bring a lot more of God.

TAKING IT TO HEART: How badly do you want “more of God” in your life? Are you willing to make a change to your daily habits?

CHALLENGE: What can you set aside in your life and replace with "God stuff"? Pick one thing and be consistent for the next 30 days.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…
— James 4:8 (NKJV)

Let's Be Real (Otherwise What's The Point?)


You may have seen me at church this Sunday. I was the overweight, curly-haired lady with the twinkling eyes and the blue jacket. You may not know it, but I’m something of a computer geek. I dream of publishing books that touch people’s hearts, I make fantastic family-style tacos (just ask Pastor Bill), and when I look happy to see you at church, I really am.

But I need to confess something. I’m two weeks behind on this blog. Everything was going so well until the holidays hit, and then after three months of faithful weekly blogging, I slipped up. I missed a week.

“No problem, I can fix this,” I thought.

Another week slipped by, and no blog.

Yesterday I thought, “It’s fine, I’ll just write three and backdate two of them, and nobody will ever know I hadn’t published them on time. After all, who’s reading these things, anyway?”

Hiding Our Imperfections = Shallow Relationships

I was tempted to cover up the lack of posts. But my conscience was hearing from the Holy Spirit, and I started asking myself: What’s this blog really about? What’s our church about? Is that really the kind of online relationship I want to have? One where I hide my mistakes and pretend that I’m perfect?

No. Absolutely not. 

So today this blog is coming out Monday (oops! make that Tuesday) instead of Wednesday, and we’ll probably have two posts this week. Because I’m not perfect, and that’s okay. 

This is real life, lived out Between Sundays.

Is Your Church A Family, Or A Perfection Contest?

If you attend here at LCLC, we hope you’ve seen by now: we want church to be family. Family members are real with each other. We cry together, we celebrate together, we dedicate our children and get baptized together. (And have you noticed the way people tease Pastor Bill about his love for the Rams football team? You should get in on that action.)

Life is too short (and too challenging) to live it alone. We need each other. God designed community to give us all a better life. We can share successes and help each other through failures.

(Speaking of admitting failures: I had to do an Internet search to verify that “the Rams” was a football team. Oh, and did you know? They’re based in Los Angeles! I learn something new every day. Yeah, I’m the type of geek that doesn’t watch sports. See? I’m being real with you.)


Let’s Be Real

(Introduce Yourself in the Comments)

If you’re reading this blog, whether or not you attend our church on Sundays, I want to get to know you better. I’ve shared a few random things about myself in this post, both positive and negative. (Sorry, Pastor, I’m just never going to be a Rams fan like you. I hope the tacos work as some form of consolation.) 

Please drop a comment below, introduce yourself, and tell me one or two random things about you! If you see me on Sunday, tell me something real. Something about your week, your family, your dreams, your struggles. 

Because real is where it’s at.

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.
— Jesus, in Matthew 18:20 (NKJV)

Diamonds Out of Dust

Do you ever feel like you’re under pressure and life won’t give you a break? These times of trial can do one of two things: 

1. Weaken us.
2. Strengthen us.

Some people fall apart under pressure, and others really start to shine when the heat is on. What makes the difference between the two?

We can call it “attitude” but it really comes from perspective

When your outlook is grounded in uncertainty and the suspicion that you’re on your own in the midst of hardship and God is just watching and judging your performance, then it’s easy to despair. When things get tough, you take the easy way out. When problems pile up, you give up.

But when your outlook is grounded in the knowledge that God is with you, he loves you and is there to help you get through every challenge, then your attitude is going to be positive. When you fall, you’ll get back up. When you’re tired, you’ll draw on strength from God and keep going.

Diamonds Out of Dust (a song by Hawk Nelson)

This song is so encouraging, because it reminds us that good things can come out of great pressure. Coal when squeezed in the earth becomes diamond, and when polished it’s a sparkling reflection of every ray of light.

Next time you’re facing something difficult, make the choice to see it as your next victory. Remind yourself, “This is exactly the sort of thing that God can help me overcome! And when I come through the other side, I’ll be shining.”

That’s Why The Promises Are There

The Bible records for us many things that God said, so we can be sure how he feels about us and about the troubles we face. Here's a few to brighten your week and strengthen you, whatever you face:

…be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’
— Heb 13:5-6 (NKJV)
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
— Jesus, in John 16:33 (NLT)
So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
— Jesus, in Luke 12:32 (NLT)

The Gift of Choice - Giving, Part 5


The new year is around the corner! Last week we said love is the greatest gift, and it is out of love that God gives us the gift of choice. Even though it comes at great risk to ourselves, the people around us, and to God himself, he gave us the freedom to choose good or bad, forgiveness or bitterness, love or selfishness.

The gifts aren’t always between two things (good or bad), but also between many things: where to put our time, our attention, our money, our energy. There are so many choices in life!

We may wonder whether this gift was really a good idea, but if we trust God then we trust that he knows what he’s doing. Somehow, free will is his best for humanity.

Sowing and Reaping: The Circle of Life

Giving and receiving (sowing and reaping) is the circle of life. It’s everywhere. Trees receive sunlight and nourishment from the earth and they release oxygen into the air. Dead leaves fall and put nutrients back into the earth. In all parts of nature, some things are consumed and other things are contributed, and a balance is established that keeps the world from falling apart. Built into the natural world are cycles that perpetuate that balance.

But unlike nature, which operates by physical laws and pre-programmed instinct, humanity has a choice.

Parents take care of children when they are young, and children take care of parents when they are old. Or they don’t. We breathe in air and sing out praise to our Creator. Or we don’t. Of all the parts of creation, mankind has been given a choice about how and what he gives back from what he’s been given. 

Thankfully, God didn’t leave us in the dark, ignorant of the consequences of our choices. He gave us a road map, an instruction manual, a record of God’s early history with humankind that illustrates how the world works.

Making Good Out of Bad

In the Bible, God tells us to care for the poor, to love those who are unkind to us, to watch out for each other’s best interests. These aren’t always the obvious choices, which is probably why he spells them out.

He knows how his universe works. The Golden Rule is designed to help us sow good seed, because God wants us to live in a harvest of good. And when Jesus said, “Bless those who curse you,” He’s saying sow good seed even in the face of bad seed, because if you return evil for evil, it only brings more pain to your life. 

Doing good to someone who does evil to us is one way we can turn a bad thing into a good one. Giving to someone in need when we also have needs is one way to bring provision into our lives.

It goes against the grain, doesn’t it? It is often the opposite of what we feel like doing, but it breaks the cycle of the negative and opens the door to blessing.

TAKING IT TO HEART: What choices do you face right now? Set aside your emotions for a moment and consider your choices in the context of today’s post and the others about sowing and reaping. What choice NOW will sow the kind of seed you want to harvest LATER?

God wants to see you blessed in all areas of your life. Choosing what you eat today will sow seed for (or against) your future health. Choosing how to respond to teachers or employers (remember, both attitude and action are seeds) sets the stage for your future success. The cycle of seed and harvest applies everywhere.

CHALLENGE: Find a way to remind yourself of this principle. A sticky note on your bathroom mirror (”Choices are seeds”), a pop-up on your weekly calendar app — find what works for you.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
— Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

What Is The Greatest Gift? Giving, Part 4


It’s almost Christmas. Do you have your shopping done?

Many find this season stressful, and not least because of the high expectations set by those around us. Advertisements assault us from every direction: TV, radio, social media, flyers and catalogs in the mail. Children submit wishlists and spouses slip hints into conversation. The pressure is on to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.

The Best Gift

Let’s be honest: life is often messy, and Christmas is one of the messiest times. There’s no way I’m going to solve your Christmas problems in today’s blog post. But whatever you’re facing this year, whether it’s blended or divided families, whether it’s loneliness or overwhelm, there really is one gift that makes everything better.


Wait, wait, WAIT — don’t tune out. This isn’t a Hallmark commercial, and love isn’t just a warm, fuzzy feeling. Here between Sundays I am committed to giving you only the most practical and useful of tips for living real life in the trenches until Jesus comes back or we make it home to see Him face to face.

When I say “love” will make things better, give me time to show you that love is a powerful force, and one that truly makes a difference.

The Power of Love

Are you out of patience? “Love is patient and kind.” 

What about envious of others who appear to have endless resources to celebrate Christmas with gifts and toys and new things? Does it hurt your pride when everyone wants to spend Christmas at your brother’s house instead of yours? “Love is not jealous or boastful, proud or rude.”

We often read 1 Corinthians 13 (the “love chapter”) as if love is something to aspire to, something that we should “work on” and “improve ourselves” so that we can be like that, too. I’m not saying you can’t look at it that way. But what if we look at it this way:

When Love is in us, it gives us the ability to do what Love does.

Love is what empowers us, allows us to achieve the desired virtues of patience, kindness, humility, courtesy. Love is the fuel. Love is what transforms our perspective and powers our engines.

When you’re frustrated with someone, don’t say, “I should be more patient. God is love, and I should be loving, so I need to be more patient to be like God.” 

Try this instead: “God is love. God lives inside me, and provides an endless supply of his love. What if I look at this person the way God does? God loves this person. God was there when they were born, watched them grow and saw every moment of pain and shame and sadness they’ve ever experienced. I don’t like the way they’re acting right now, but when I think about how God knows everything about them and still loves them enough to suffer and die for them, I see that I can be a messenger of God’s love by being patient even when they’re rude.”

Instead of seeing love as something to strive for, see it as a gift already given that we need to exercise. Love lives in us, because God lives in us.

God Gave It First

You don’t have to wake up with enough love to make it through the day. If you feel like your reserves are empty, don’t worry! God has provided everything you need.

The apostle John says, “We love God because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

God loved us enough to give us Jesus, and when we accept this gift we become children of God, re-made in his image. It doesn't happen automatically, but is something that we can grow in, like a newborn child learns to walk and talk. 

TAKING IT TO HEART: What is your greatest challenge this Christmas season? Whatever your challenge, think about how love can transform your situation.

Deciding on a gift to give someone? Struggling to make ends meet during a time family members are expecting gifts? Lacking someone with whom to share the holiday?

Have you thought about making a gift that reflects how well you know them and how much you love them? What about the gift of your time, and just taking each family member out individually for a simple ice cream cone where you can listen to their hopes and dreams for next year? 

If you’re alone, maybe you can find someone else who is lonely to share a meal with and share God’s love by your presence. Or maybe you could have a “date with God”, light a candle to represent his presence in the room, eat a special meal and watch a movie with him, talking as if he’s there. Because he is.

CHALLENGE: Start practicing love in practical ways, using it as the motivator for each relationship interaction. “I have love inside me. How will I exercise it in this moment, with this person?”

P.S. Don’t forget to exercise love on YOURSELF. You can’t “love your neighbor as you love yourself” unless you apply God’s love to yourself first.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
— 1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)

What Are You REALLY Sowing? - Giving, Part 3

Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.
— Luke 6:37-38 (NKJV)

Giving Is About More Than Money

Money is a big thing, but it’s not everything. Even on a purely physical level, when we think of giving it should go beyond the dollars in our pockets.

We can give our time and our attention. We can give many other resources like tools, coats, blankets, or food. We can give rides to church, a listening ear, a compassionate hug.

Not only are there many physical actions and items we can sow, but there are also spiritual ones, like Jesus mentioned in Luke 6 (for example, condemnation or forgiveness).

Physical Seeds and Spiritual Seeds

Have you ever received a compliment, but you could sense there was something else behind it? Maybe they were flattering you and weren't sincere. Maybe you sensed that they looked down on you and were dispensing compliments as if from a superior to an inferior. Maybe you had a feeling that they were buttering you up because they wanted something from you.

What about this: Have you ever seen somebody who always volunteered, was at every event and part of every clean-up crew, but there was something about them that didn't add up? They were there, but they were never happy about being there. Or perhaps they were always trying to control the situation.

Every time we sow a seed, there is a spiritual aspect to it related to the intention of our hearts. Lets say I volunteer time at the soup kitchen, but in my heart I condemn the people I see there, judging them based on appearance and whether I think they qualify for charity. If I do that, I am sowing my time towards those in need, but I am also sowing condemnation. So when it comes time for harvest, that’s what I’ll get back.

The spiritual side of sowing is often overlooked, because it’s invisible and there’s a time lapse between when you sow and when you reap.

Hidden Seeds Revealed

What spiritual seeds are paired with the physical ones we sow? Here are two short lists to jog our imagination.

Negative seed:

  • Judgment
  • Condemnation
  • Resentment
  • Bitterness
  • Selfishness
  • Fear
  • Unbelief

Positive seed:

  • Forgiveness
  • Grace
  • Hope
  • Generosity
  • Cheerfulness
  • Patience
  • Faith
  • Love

See how this works? It’s possible to administer discipline and correction in love. It’s also possible to help someone begrudgingly while harboring resentment. You can give money to the church and do it in fear. And you can bow out of a troubled relationship with faith.

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
— 1 Corinthians 13:3 (NASB)

TAKING IT TO HEART: Think about the good things you do. Are you doing them with an inner attitude of love, joy and faith?

Now think about areas your life seems full of negativity. Is there a connection to negative seed you’ve sown in the past?

CHALLENGE: The next time you sow a seed (a word, an action, or a physical object), be intentional about sowing spiritual seed along with it.

Volunteer, and do it cheerfully. Write a card to someone you don’t get along with, to sow hope and grace. Share your stories in the comments below!

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
— Galatians 6:7-9 (NKJV)

How Do We Give To God? - Giving, Part 2


Giving To The Church

The tithes in ancient Israel were how God provided for the financial support of the tribe of priests who served the nation as their full-time jobs. Tithes also provided for the maintenance of the temple. Some tithes also provided for charity support of widows and orphans who had no family members to provide for them.

Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the LORD of hosts. “All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land.
— Malachi 3:8-12 (NASB)

Notice what God is saying here: when the Israelites withheld their tithes from the temple, they were holding out on God. In those days, the nation of Israel had a covenant agreement with God. Obedience to the agreement brought blessing, while disobedience resulted in a curse. But sometimes the curse took a while to show up, and the people would see their neighbors breaking the law and still prospering. Pretty soon, they felt like there wasn’t much benefit to obeying (verses 14-15 of the same chapter).

Today as believers in Jesus, we are free from the curse of the old covenant (see Galatians 3:13). But the principle of sowing and reaping is still in operation (see the first post in this series: What You Give Is What You'll Get). The person who gives generously receives a bountiful harvest.

Charity Isn't Just For Non-Profits

As we see above, God takes it personally when we cling to our resources instead of using them in ways that He has taught us. Let’s look a little closer.

The book of Proverbs gives us another insight: “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given.” (Proverbs 19:17 NKJV

It’s not just giving to the church that God takes personally. It’s when we give to those in need. Our God is near to the broken-hearted, the hurting, the defenseless. Jesus even went so far as to say that when we act in compassion towards someone in need, it’s as if we’re doing it to Jesus himself (Matthew 25:34-45).

When we take care of their needs, God will take care of ours.

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.
— Luke 6:38 (NKJV)

TAKING IT TO HEART: Is there anywhere you have held back resources that God is nudging you to sow into His Kingdom, either to a church or directly to someone in need?

CHALLENGE: Ask God to show you where He wants you to sow some good seed. It might be money, time, a helping hand, or something else. As soon as you see what it is, don’t hesitate. Sow it, knowing that in doing so you are “more blessed”.

I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
— Acts 20:35 (NKJV)

What You Give Is What You'll Get - Giving, Part 1

He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
— 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NKJV)

During Thanksgiving and the Christmas season we hear a lot about charity, compassion and generosity. In the midst of gratitude for what we have, we are called to remember those who do not have as much.

It doesn't stop with Christmas, though. As Christians we are called to a life of generosity all year round. How does that work?

Spiritual Physics: Sowing and Reaping

In repeated examples throughout the Bible, God uses the analogy of sowing and reaping to describe spiritual principles. It is a simple but striking concept: when you plant seeds, you get out of it what you put into it. There are a couple of layers to this thought.

First, seeds reproduce after their own kind. An apple seed produces an apple tree. A tomato seed produces a tomato plant. Have you ever noticed that people who are kind to others often receive kindness in return? The guy who is always there to help his friends load their moving trucks is the guy who will have plenty of help when it comes time for him to move.

Sadly, this also works with negative seed: when we are rude to others, they are rude right back. When we are unwilling to help, it’s not likely anybody will be there to help us, either.

Second, your harvest will be in direct proportion to how much seed you planted, if all goes well. If you plant ten rows of corn, you’ll get ten rows of corn stalks. Want a big harvest? Plant a lot of seeds.

Looking again at the guy who helps his friends move, it’s likely that if he helped one friend move then that’s the friend who shows up to help him. And if he helped ten people move, he might have eight of them show up to help on moving day. All other factors being equal, more sowing equals more harvest.

Like Sunrise and Sunset, You Can Count On It

Christians are called “believers” for a reason. We believe the Bible contains vital information for life that God has inspired to be recorded and then preserved for His people through the centuries.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
— 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB)

So what does the Bible teach about sowing and reaping?

We’re going to examine this more in the coming weeks, because many things in life work on this principle. After the great Flood, God declared that He would never again curse the ground and wipe out every living thing on the earth, no matter how evil man becomes. He said, "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease." (Genesis 8:22 NKJV)

The natural principle of “seedtime and harvest” is listed right next to night and day, winter and summer, as an immutable fact of life on earth. No wonder Jesus emphasized it so often in His parables. It is part of how the world works, and it applies to more than the plant life.

TAKING IT TO HEART: A farmer sows the kind of seed that he wants to harvest later. What kind of seed have you been sowing? Kindness, money, friendship? Bitterness, complaining, selfishness? How much seed have you planted? A little, or a lot?

CHALLENGE: Ask God to bring to mind one type of seed to sow more generously, and another type of seed to stop sowing. Pray for mercy, that there would be a crop failure on the negative seed you’ve sown, and ask God to multiply the harvest on the good seed. 

A Mystery In The Deep (One Way God Speaks To Us)

I was ankle deep in the ocean waves, sand shifting under my feet. He beckoned me deeper, and the waves came up to my knees. But it didn’t stop there.


This was a dream, and in the dream, an angel drew me under the waves and into the sea, spiraling down as I held my breath and hoped I could handle going as deep as he wanted me to go.

The underwater world was bursting with life. Colors I’d never seen before in real life dazzled my eyes. And as we took this undersea tour, I had the distinct impression that when God draws you into His ocean, you can breathe underwater.

But before I could test this theory, I woke up.

The Lord likes to puzzle me.

Over the years, I’ve concluded that it’s because He loves relationship. And because He knows me, inside and out. It’s one of our private jokes, like the kind best friends have. If He gives me a puzzle, I’ll think about it until the answer to it comes clear. The enigma of breathing underwater combined with the idea of God drawing me deeper into the waters of His Spirit stayed on my mind for years (it’s still there).

And then this song came out…

And this one…

Seems like I wasn’t the only one God spoke to using the ocean metaphor. In fact, I think it’s safe to say God wants us all to go deeper with Him.

TAKING IT TO HEART: How does God get your attention? Do you have a way to recognize when He’s talking to you?

CHALLENGE: Think back over your life. When did you most clearly feel God was telling you something?

Did He speak through Christian friends? Something in the Bible you read? Did you have an impression in your heart or an idea in your mind? Share one of these moments with a trusted friend. Ask them how God gets their attention.

BONUS POINTS: Leave a comment below with a story from the Bible about God interacting with someone. What's your favorite part of what God did?

What Defines Your Reality?


Reality is a tricky thing. Even on a purely natural level, it is a profound mix of “fact” and “perception”. Every day we make decisions, small and great, based on what we understand to be true. These choices determine the quality of our lives here and now, and even impact eternity.

When our choices have such serious consequences, it's pretty important that we examine what factors influence our perceptions.

Two Women In The Rain

Two women spend a night in the rain, each in her own tent on her own campsite. Same night, same storm, same campground. Same brand of tent, same kind of sleeping bag and other camp accessories. One of them has a great time, and tells her friends later it was her favorite trip. One of them is miserable, and swears off camping for the rest of her life.

“Camping in the rain is the best.”
“Camping in the rain is the worst.”

Which version of reality is true? It depends upon what she values, doesn’t it? One woman valued the adventure of braving the elements and surviving without her usual comforts. The other valued a warm, soft bed, solid walls that kept out the wind and noise, and a peaceful night’s sleep.

Values are a part of perception.

The Elephant and the Blind Men

A story is told of six blind men who are introduced to a creature they've never encountered before. Each places a hand upon the creature, feels it, and later declares what the creature was like:

“It is a creature like a snake,” says one.
“No, it is like a wall,” says another.
“It is more like a great, leathery fan,” says the third.
“It is like a pillar,” says the fourth.
“No, a rope,” says the fifth.
And the sixth says, “It is hard as wood, and smooth as a spear.”

Who is right? Is it the man who touched the trunk, the side, the ear, the leg, the tail, or the tusk of the elephant? 

The scope of our viewpoint and the information available to us is part of perception.

The Two Hungry Children

Two children miss breakfast and are very hungry when lunchtime arrives. By a stroke of misfortune, both of their lunches were accidentally thrown in the trash by an over-zealous cleaning lady at their school. The class has a midday field trip, and because of the unusual circumstances, their teacher has only her own lunch to offer the children to share. Each child receives a half-sandwich and a handful of grapes. A few of the other children in the class offer odds and ends from their lunches as well: a slice of apple, a few crackers, a granola bar, a piece of cheese.

That night, one child goes home and tells her parents how thankful she is to have such a kind teacher and classmates, people who gave up their own food to help during her time of need. The parents write a thank you card to the teacher and send an email to the school principal commending the teacher’s generosity and self-sacrifice.

The other child goes home and complains about how the school lost her lunch, how the teacher refused to buy her something but instead offered a mere half a sandwich when she was already starving, and the other children only gave her their “scraps”. The parents write a scathing email to the school principal condemning the teacher for discrimination and treating their child like a “dog” by offering scraps, as if they couldn’t have reimbursed the teacher for buying their child a “real lunch”.

Which story is the school principal to believe? Each set of parents has a different perspective, even though the children experienced the same event.

Attitude is part of perception.

A Funeral and Two Mourners

A young woman dies in a hit-and-run accident at night and her body is found the next day. The best guess of the medical examiner is that it was a high speed vehicle coming straight at the girl from in front of her, and with the evident head trauma the girl died upon impact.

At the funeral, the girl’s aunt stands over the grave and sobs. All she can think about is how frightened the girl must have been during her final moments of life, seeing that car's headlights coming straight at her. The aunt has nightmares for years, and still cries every time she thinks of her niece.

But the girl’s uncle feels quite differently about the situation. At the funeral, he places a bouquet of flowers on the grave and says a brief prayer of thanks that his niece didn’t suffer. She had fallen down a slope on the side of the road where she was out of sight from most headlights, and if the vehicle had not killed her instantly, she could have been in agony for hours before she died. Every time he thinks of his niece, he grieves that her life was cut short, but he is always thankful that her death was quick.

Neither of the mourners really knows what happened that night. Each of them imagines the events differently, and their memory of their niece is colored by a different set of emotions.

Imagination is part of perception.

What Reality Will You Choose to Believe?

If reality is colored so heavily by perception, and perception is influenced by values, knowledge, attitude and imagination (among other things), then how are we to live? How are we to choose, when life puts two paths before us?

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
— Proverbs 14:12 (NIV)

As Christians, we believe the testimony of the historical document called the Bible. We could get all theological and deep about how “inerrant” it is, or whether it ever contradicts itself, or the possibility of translation errors. But the bottom line is that we choose to trust the wisdom that is recorded in that book.

We believe that God created the world and made humanity to be like him. As our Creator and Designer, it’s a no-brainer that he knows what’s best for us. So when he tells us what kinds of behaviors are “good” and which are “wicked” (a word that means “twisted”, bent from its original shape), we know that we’re better off following his instructions.

Because of this, we use the Bible to determine:

  • what values are good
  • what “facts” are true
  • what attitudes are beneficial
  • how to best use our imagination.

How God interacted with people throughout history and how Jesus interacted as the exact representation of God’s character (Hebrews 1:3) are clues to the abundant life the Creator intended for us all along. As we filter our perceptions through the wisdom contained in our "instructional manual", our lives will reflect more and more the reality that we see there.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
— Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Is Distraction Stealing Your Destiny?


This past Sunday, Pastor Bill spoke about moving from being distracted to being intentional about where we spend our time (see the Facebook livestream - starting about 31 minutes in). A study at the beginning of 2016 showed Americans spending over 10 1/2 hours per day during the week looking at a screen (mobile devices, TV, computers, etc). That’s over 50 hours a week — like a full time job with some overtime!

Our assignment this week is to take an honest look at our screen time and find areas to cut back on distractions and expand our time spent in real relationship. But where shall we start?


God isn’t far away and uninvolved in our lives. He’s right here, even as you read this. The Holy Spirit is with you and in you, and knowing what to do is sometimes as simple as asking the question in prayer and listening for His answer.


As with any improvement effort, it helps to collect data so you can make an informed decision. Track yourself. How many evenings a week do you spend in front of the TV, browsing Facebook or YouTube, or playing video games? How much of your “free time” is spent with a screen instead of in relationship with a person?

When measuring, also consider the nature of the screen use. Is it entertainment? Escape? Keeping up with the news or the lives of your friends?

Look for ways to fill that desire in a healthier way, one more directly interacting with people in ways that further God’s work in you and them. You can replace watching TV with playing games with a family member or pursuing a hobby that uses the gifts God has given you. Replace social media with actually calling a friend.


Once you see an area you can change, go for it. Don’t wait, start today! Cut out the distraction and replace it with something better. If you don’t have a person available to fill the time in real relationship, spend that time in relationship with God. Listen to online sermons or worship music, read your Bible, pray about your life and your loved ones.


Your brain is used to the stimulation it was getting from TV, social media, or other screen time. It can be like a sugar or caffeine addiction: when the stimulation suddenly stops, you may experience restlessness or agitation. After a couple of days of change, you may want to go back to the comfort of the old habit. Hang in there! Replace the old with the new, and keep at it until the new becomes the habit.


The time we have here on earth is finite, fixed. We will never get this time back. Every hour we spend distracting ourselves from heartache, pain, or boredom is time that could have been spent pursuing healing, answers, and the purpose that God has for us. (Yes, you have a purpose!)


You're not alone in this. Especially if you challenge a friend to join you in cutting distractions. Share this post, leave a comment below, or simply bring this up in your next conversation. Use the power of positive reinforcement to keep you motivated!

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
— Ephesians 5:15-16 (NASB)

How Do I Have A Relationship With A God I Can't See?


Some churches (like ours) talk a lot about having a relationship with the living God. We say during worship, “Use this time to connect with your heavenly Father.” We encourage each other to “stay close to God” during hard times. It sounds really spiritual, and people around us in the pews look like it’s working for them.

But let’s just get real for a minute. What if it’s NOT working for you? What if you walk away from church feeling like you’re missing out on something that everyone else has?

You may have wondered:

If God is invisible, if He is Spirit and I am flesh, how in the world do I “connect” with Him?

You are not alone. The desire for a real, tangible encounter with God is built into our souls. The good news is that God promises that "you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13) But what does that mean? How will you know when you've "found" Him?

While God still does show up in dreams and visions and even speaks to people in an audible voice now and then, most of the time the relationship He has with us is more subtle than that. That's why Christianity is called a "faith". But that doesn’t mean it’s boring or intangible.

You see, God knows you better than anyone else on earth. And once you start pursuing Him, He’ll show up in very tangible ways. Like when He played my favorite song every time I got in my car… and then even played it when I went into several different retail stores. I didn't notice it at first, but He's patient. Eventually it dawned on me that it couldn't be a coincidence. God was saying something to me.

How did He get a Christian song on the playlist inside TJMaxx? And why on earth would He bother? Because He loves us. During that season of my life, I really needed the message He was sending: “I love you enough to surround you with reminders of My presence, everywhere you go.”

And I’ve never forgotten it. Knowing He cared even about such a little thing transformed my relationship with Him.

QUESTION: Do you believe God when He says that He’ll show Himself to you, that He’ll “dwell with” you and “be in” you? Or does that sound just like so much churchy mumbo-jumbo?

CHALLENGE: This week, ask one of your Christian friends how they have experienced the reality of God in their life. Decide if this is something important to you, and if it is, ask God to reveal Himself to you in tangible ways.

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
— Jesus, in John 14:23 (NKJV)

P.S. Did you really think we would resolve the biggest question in the human experience in a 500-word blog post? Nah, you knew better than that. God used the entire Bible to illustrate how He interacts with people. Stay tuned and you’ll hear plenty more about it.

Old For New

One of the ways we stayed connected with God during the week is by bringing Sunday worship into our Monday through Friday lives. (I love that one of our commenters already brought this up a couple of weeks ago!)

I heard "Old For New" for the first time this month. I was drawing in my living room (one of the ways I like to relax) and not really paying attention to the video on my TV at first. Then I saw what was happening on the screen. It was an hour-long worship service and they were baptizing people next to the stage while the band played and the people sang, and the words suddenly hit home.

Joy, begin to rise
Hope, begin to light the dark
Our God exchanges old for new

Dawn has conquered night and
Death has lost to life and now
We are exchanging old for new

Oh, the depths of joy in this song. The hope and excitement of that first love came rushing back. What a miracle that we daily exchange old life for this new life, ever new, every day a clean slate, a fresh start!

You turn our flame into a fire
In you we walk in the impossible
We take Your love into the world
We let our light shine
We let it burn!

Let’s let our light shine during the time we have between Sundays. This is the time we can shine the brightest, as we walk through the dark nights of the soul that surround us in the world.


Make the most of that YouTube app on your phone or smart TV. Create playlists of your favorite worship songs. Not sure where to start? Bethel Music and Elevation Worship both have songs we use here at LCLC, and their playlists are set up so that if you watch one song, it will automatically go to another, and another, and another. Great for when you’re working out, driving, making dinner, or for background music in the house.

P.S. Here’s the 1-hour worship service, which includes the song “Old for New”:

When You Can't Find Time For God


Do you ever feel like you want more time with God, but it’s hard to fit it in?

It seems almost blasphemous to say “I don’t have time for God” but at the same time if He knows everything, then surely He’s seen your schedule and will understand. Won’t He?

Yes. Yes, He will. He does see everything, and He has counted the hairs on your head. He knows when a bird falls out of the sky, and you better believe He cares about you more than a sparrow (see Luke 12:7). He knows all about the soccer ball games for your kids, the extra shifts at work, the homework and studying for finals, the hours in the ER, the long commutes. 

He sees, and He cares.

How do I know? First, because that's what the Bible tells us. But also because my experience in life proves it out. He saw me when I was drowning in this struggle as a young mother.

My Father in heaven and closest friend watched as my “alone time” with Him disappeared, as every daylight hour was spent interacting with children or catching up on lost sleep. If you haven’t had kids, you may not know this, but some toddlers want to FOLLOW YOU EVERYWHERE YOU GO, INCLUDING INTO THE BATHROOM. Talk about no privacy!

Before having children, I hadn’t realized how much I relied on my alone times with God. I worked in an office, and I had prayer time available during my commute, bible study during lunch, prayer and praise during walks on my breaks. Plenty of opportunity to fill my God tank!

But as a young mother, if I started to sing a worship song and closed my eyes to soak in God’s Presence, it wasn’t 30 seconds before little hands were tugging on my pants leg and demanding I pay attention to the castle they’d built with blocks on the kitchen floor. After a year with a toddler and an infant, I was baffled and drained and desperate. Surely God didn’t intend for mothers to completely lose their relationship with Him just because they were caring for little ones? What was I missing?

I had to learn to do God-time a different way.

If your schedule is packed full and leaves you hungry for more of God, you may relate to this struggle. If we’re to draw closer to God, how are we supposed to do that with all the demands on our time?

Are you ready for a paradigm shift? Brace yourself: 

Instead of trying to squeeze Him into some corner of your schedule,

start including Him in everything you’re already doing.

Just stop for a moment and let that sink in. Picture it. Imagine God right there with you every minute of your busy schedule. Available to help, ready with answers, inspiration, strength when you need it most. 


TAKING IT TO HEART: Do you have a constant awareness of God’s presence with you and in you every day? Or do you mostly think about Him on Sundays or in a quick prayer right before you fall asleep? If PG&E could read your God-meter, what would it say?

CHALLENGE: Make God a part of every moment. It may be easier to start with times you can be alone during your normal schedule. What about your commute, lunch hour, break times?

Use those times to re-focus on Him, to remind yourself that He’s right there with you. If you are on your way somewhere, ask God to be part of what happens when you get there, to give you wisdom for decisions, courage for facing conflict, or kind words to share with those you meet.

P.S. If you CAN carve a chunk of time out for devoted time with God, you’ll be glad you did. But whether you make time for “God dates” or not, becoming more aware of His presence in you every moment is the ultimate way to live!