Monday, July 22, 2019

What have you got to offer?

Have you ever found yourself feeling like you’re making an awful lot of sacrifices in order to please God?  Well I’m here to tell you today that that’s how it’s supposed to be.  God is asking us to offer Him things that cost us something.  That is what makes them gifts that please Him.

In 1 Chronicles 21, David screwed up (seems to be a theme with David, huh?)  He ordered that a census be taken and God was not happen.   However, David was repentant (also a theme) and an angel told him to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.  

So when he approaches this threshing floor here is what happens:

21Araunah looked and saw him, he left the threshing floor and bowed down before David with his face to the ground.
22 David said to him, “Let me have the site of your threshing floor so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped. Sell it to me at the full price.”
23 Araunah said to David, “Take it! Let my lord the king do whatever pleases him. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this.”
24 But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

What if one of my kids adult kids came to you and said, “Hey, I really appreciate you.  I’d like you to have this $100.”   Of course, you would be shocked (as would I because this is highly unlikely).   And of course you would say, “I can’t take that.  Keep it and use it for the things you need.”  And then imagine that they say, “Oh, it’s fine.  It’s my Dad’s money.”  

Does your thinking immediately change from “What a great kid!” to “REALLLY???????

That’s what happens when we come to God acting as though we are making great sacrifices when we are actually giving him things that don’t cost us much.   God’s probably a bit kinder than you or I but I wonder if sometimes He thinks, “REALLLY?????”

As you go about your day, if you are doing something for God, do something that costs you.   That’s where the blessing lies.

I just love this song.... and think if it often.

Thursday, July 18, 2019


Big word huh?  I only know what it means because my husband has been trying to teach me about it for decades.  He is the king of it, and I, frankly, am not good at it at all. 

The definition is this:

an act or instance of differentiating the self a setting apart of oneself as distinct from others (such as one's family or classmates)

Differentiate means to:  identify differences between (two or more things or people).

In other words, to self-differentiate means to know who you are and only own your stuff and not the baggage of everyone else— to see your part in a situation and how you can fix yourself  but not try and own the mistakes, accusations, challenges and frustrations of everyone else.   


Jesus was such a great model of self-differentiation.  He is often an example of all kinds of good things, but you may have never considered the fact that he modeled healthy self-differentiation.

But in Luke 11 we read a story of how he cast out a demon and the response of the people was either to accuse him of being the prince of demons.   They were suggesting that if he was able to cast out the demons then He himself must be Satan.  

The ones who weren’t going quite that far asked him for a sign from heaven.

In the midst of this, Jesus remains calm.  I’m pretty sure that that would not have been my response in that situation.  But he remains calm and rationally explained things to the people.  He knew who He was and He wasn’t threatened or alarmed by their hatred or questioning.

As you go through today, be encouraged.  You are who GOD says you are.  You do not need to define yourself by what others think — you can simply relax in knowing who you are and WHOSE you are.   

You are God’s masterpiece and everything else that is said or done by anyone else doesn’t count as much as that fact.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Got Godly Parents?

I grew up with amazing godly parents. And I know that some of you do too because I know your parents!

My dad went to heaven 6 years ago at the age of 90 and my mom is currently 90 and going strong at a nursing home in Minnesota. They were incredible people. If you are really interested in hearing more, an old blog entry can give you details about them

When I ask myself the question, “What did your parents teach you?” many things come to mind. My mom taught me about remaining positive and hopeful no matter what and how to be resilient. My dad taught me how to find humor in everything and how to remain humble and kind. They also taught me a lot about money and what it is and isn’t for. They both taught me to obey God and follow Jesus to places unknown because life is an adventure.

Both of them were impressionable young people during the depression, so they were FRUGAL. Money was not to be spent on anything extra, and nothing that could be reused should ever be thrown away. They consistently had this approach to bills:

The paychecks came in and they paid their tithe.

Then they sent checks to support the missionaries they had committed to support.

Then they paid bills.

Whatever was left we had for groceries. Period. Some weeks we didn’t have meet to eat because the grocery budget was small, but we always supported the missionaries.  As I indicate more than once, they never hesitated to help others in need.

Some of you absolutely cannot donate to this fundraiser because of your financial situation yet your heart is really all about kids from hard places. And there is no criticism or shame on my part.

And I know that some of you who have given, have done so sacrificially — as you can see if you look through the history of those who have given, most have given a small gift.

Today I donated $25 to a fundraiser for some friends. A few days ago I gave $10. Last week I gave $25 to something else. A little bit is an encouragement and it helps. And, as i learned from my parents, giving, even when you don’t have an abundance of money, is a privilege and a blessing …. not just for the receiver but for the giver. 

So you know how this ends…. Did you have godly parents? What did they teach you? How about giving in honor of them to benefit children who don’t have the same blessings you did growing up?

Kids safe. Families strengthened and restored. A community of faithful relationships. That is my heartbeat and the heartbeat of our organization.

Think about giving .... if you want more information on the fundraiser click here.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Do your part

Reading the whole Bible through means that there are times when you are going to face passages like this in I Chronicles 2:

 14Jesse was the father of Eliab his firstborn; the second son was Abinadab, the third Shimea, 14 the fourth Nethanel, the fifth Raddai, 15 the sixth Ozem and the seventh David. 16 Their sisters were Zeruiah and Abigail. Zeruiah’s three sons were Abishai, Joab and Asahel. 17 Abigail was the mother of Amasa, whose father was Jether the Ishmaelite.

And the verses before and after this are equally as inspiring.   But there are two takeaways from all this genealogy:

1)  God’s view is the long haul.   We may not see how what we are doing to day might have an effect on the future, but it does.   One of the main reasons that I believe God wanted us to adopt, for example, was for the generations to come.   Most of our children spent time in foster care (2 were from a Guatemalan orphanage but the rest were in foster care for at least a couple years before we adopted them).  We have children whose parents spent time in foster care.   We even have children whose grandparents spent time in foster care.

But guess what?  Our grandchildren are not in foster care.   And based on how well they are all doing right now, their children won’t either.  We broke the generational cycle.   As I read genealogies I am reminded that what we do today doesn’t just impact those around us, but can change the lives of every generation to follow.

2)  God uses both the just and the unjust to fulfill HIs plan.  As you read through genealogies in Scripture, you can see interesting folks who were part of the line of Jesus.   Some interesting characters there include Ruth (remember her — she left all that was comfortable because of loyalty to her mother-in-law and ended up being an ancestor of Jesus).   Rahab is in that line as well but she was a prostitute and the fact that David is part of it all is crazy because he was an adulterer and a murderer.     They each had their part to play in God’s master plan, however, and so do you and so do I.

So today if you are feeling obscure…. or if you are thinking what you do doesn’t matter… remember that time in God’s eyes is different than ours.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Step by Step

Ever heard the old phrase … walking “in the light?”  I heard it growing up from my parents and my mom explained it this way.

She told me that God doesn’t always show us the whole path ahead.  It’s like we are in the dark and He holds a flashlight.  He gives us all we need to know to just take the next step of obedience.  And He shines the light on that next step.   We just need to take that next step of obedience.

I’m not always fond of that methodology.  I would prefer to know the big picture and where I’m going to be way more than one step down the road (or at least I think I would).  But God just asks us to take that one step in obedience and He will be there with us.

One of today’s songs (I couldn’t pick just one) reminds us that he is with us in the next step

When you're feeling you've given all that you've got
I'm with you in the next step
Giving you in the next breath
I'll be the voice saying "You're gonna make it"
When you're out there on your own
You are never alone

The second song we promise God to take every step in obedience while we follow Him.

And finally, an old classic says:

Step by step you lead me, and I will follow you all of my days.

Worried about next year, next month, next week?  Wonder what is ahead.

All we need to do is walk in the light of obedience for the next minute, the next hour… the rest of today and the light we need for tomorrow will be there then.

A famous historical figure once said, “Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow has enough trouble of its own."  Know who that is?

Monday, July 08, 2019

Wordless Groans

Have you ever been in a situation where you have no clue what to even say?  The pain, the struggle, the stress of life can be so overwhelming that we have no idea what to even pray.   This is the exact moment that Paul is referring to in Romans 8:26.  He says:

…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

The Spirit takes over for us when we are at a loss for words…. and knowing the gravity of our situation, the Spirit himself doesn’t even have words…. but knows that God understands wordless groans.

A line from today’s song describes this type of situation:

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS

it goes on to say

I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night
It's true, I will rescue you

So take heart.  Those whispers, those wordless groans, are heard.  God is sending an army to find you and rescue you.   Maybe the army is already here and you aren’t recognizing it… so pay attention.  Your rescue is just ahead.

Friday, July 05, 2019

What's on your horizon?

There are two kinds two kinds of people in this world:   People who put people into two groups and people who don’t.

OK, that was just to get your attention.

There are two kinds of people in this world:  The ones who see good things ahead and the ones who plan for nothing but the worst.  I’m married to a person who firmly believes that if you expect bad things to happen you’lll never be disappointed.  I argue that it is a really crazy way to live because I always plan on things getting better, otherwise, who could get up in the morning?

Isaiah 40:22 reminds us that it is God Himself who sits on the earth’s horizon.  If that is the case, how can bad things be there?  :-)

The song I’m sharing today has a line it that I love….

it says, “I see grace on every horizon and forever and ever His heart is my home.”

Let me digress for a moment and tell you a story about my son Tony.   He came to live with us when he was 20 months old as a foster son and we adopted him right after he turned 4.   He is now 24 and living in Minnesota.   But this story is one we have told and retold many times and every time the thought and profundity of it makes me cry.  (Here is a picture of him when he was about that age so you can see how cute he was..

When he was four he was getting ready to be baptized.  Bart explained it to him multiple times in four year old language — the pastor will put water on your head and pray for and ask the Holy Spirit to live in you.   And then Jesus will come into your heart and live there forever.  

The day of his baptism arrived and having heard this a bunch of times, Tony knew exactly what was going to happen.  Bart asked Tony, “Tony…. do you know what is going to happen today?”   And Tony said, “YES!   The guy is going to put water on my head and that means that I will live in God’s heart forever!

Wow.  Out of the mouth of babes.  We will live in GOd’s heart forever.

How can we not see grace, positivity and hope on every horizon when we know that our home is God’s heart?

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Are you being outwitted?

As you read this passage from 2 Corinthians, see it if reminds you of any situation you’ve ever been a part of:

 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

As we journey though life we all have situations where we are hurt and disappointed by someone.  Groups of people — congregations, employees in an organization, members of a family — are often hurt by the actions of a person.   This has been happening for literally thousands of years as we see here.  In the church at Corinth, someone screwed up and hurt people…. and he paid.   Lots of people inflicted punishment on him.   

Paul says, “Enough is enough!  It’s now time to reaffirm your love and forgive him.  

The most significant portion of this scripture however, is the “Why” behind it.   Why did Paul tell the people at the church in Corinth to offer grace and forgiveness?  So that Satan wouldn’t outwit them.   Paul points out that the scheme of the enemy is to cause strife among God’s people and to keep stirring it up for a long time.

If you are in a situation where someone has screwed up and everyone wants to continue to punish them, recognize this dynamic for what it is — a group of people being outwitted by the enemy.  Forgive, offer grace, move on — because that is what allows us to live in victory.