The Word Became Flesh

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

What’s your favorite part of the Christmas story? Is it Mary’s response to a visiting angel? Or perhaps the terrified shepherds tending their flock who found themselves surrounded by the glory of the Lord? I love the image of Magi from the east bowing and presenting costly gifts to a toddler King. If you let them, the details surrounding the birth of Jesus inspire awe and wonder.

I’d like to spend some time with you today treasuring one of those details found in our opening Scripture, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Have you considered the significance of that phrase?

Perhaps you were not aware that the birth of God’s Son—the Word—came on the heels of four hundred years of silence from God. 

That may seem of little consequence to you. Maybe you’ve lived your whole life expecting God’s silence because that’s all you’ve known. But the overwhelming truth revealed in Scripture is that God speaks to His created. He talked with Adam and Eve in the garden after He gave them life, and our first glimpse of Him after they sinned reveals a striking picture of God’s heart.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9

Do you see it, dear one? Even after they sinned, God came seeking them. He desires fellowship with us and wants us close. He calls to us, and He waits for us to respond. When we listen, His words provide life and quiet the soul. They become,

a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  Psalm 119:105

So why would a God of fellowship who distinguishes Himself by speaking to His people remain silent for four hundred years?

It shouldn’t have been a surprise to them. He told them it was coming.

“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.  Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.  Amos 8:11-12

God declared in advance that He would send a famine like no other—a famine of hearing His words. Why would He withhold that treasured gift from His holy people?

Well, usually our loving Father gives His children what they need. But sometimes, when they insist upon it, He gives them what they want.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.  But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me.  So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.  Psalm 81:10-12

The people of God took for granted the gift they had been given. God spoke, but they refused to listen. He desired to fill their mouths, but they decided they didn’t need Him to. They thought they could do it better. So,

. . . they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen . . .  Zechariah 7:11-12

So God stopped speaking. For four hundred long, silent years. And the people eventually realized what they had given up by chasing after their own desires. They longed to hear from God again, staggering from sea to sea, wandering in search of the word of the Lord, but they could not find it (Amos 8:12). They became desperate for it, to no avail. Until . . . once again, God proved His faithfulness.

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman . . . Galatians 4:4

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14). The Word of the Lord returned, this time clothed in human flesh, an expression of God they could see and hear and touch. God’s voice entered the realm of earth again, carried on the cries of His infant Son.

Jesus grew, and God continued to speak through Him. He revealed God’s character and heart, teaching truth to all who would listen. The Word called us back into fellowship with His Father, extending the invitation through Himself, “Follow me.”

Then He poured out His life on a cross so we could maintain that fellowship with God forever. And He left us the gift of His Spirit so we can continue hear and discern the voice of God.

The Word still speaks. Like Israel centuries ago, we must choose whether we will listen.

Have you opened the gift God gave you in Jesus, beloved? Do you listen to the voice of the Word Made Flesh? Is the Word alive in you?

A Season of Hope

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  Romans 5:5

I love Christmas. It’s always been my very favorite time of year.

Don’t get me wrong. If we were strictly talking about weather, summer would certainly get my vote. Warm summer nights, cookouts, and sunshine beat cold, gray winter doldrums any day.

But Christmas to me was never about the weather. It was about the feeling.

Do you know the one I’m talking about? My mother called it sugarplums. Every year, along with the onset of Christmas carols, decorated trees, holiday smells, and exploding trays of Christmas cookies came the inevitable dancing inside my soul that would start in the depths of my stomach and flutter up into my heart.

Excitement would grip me from top to bottom, anticipation building with each opened door on the advent calendar. Finally on the night of December 24th, I would lose the ability to sleep altogether.

I wish I could say that my excitement over Christmas found its roots in its spiritual implications. It didn’t. Although I marveled at the wonders surrounding Jesus’ Bethlehem story, it would be years until I understood its profound meaning to my own life and opened the wondrous gift God gave me in His Son.

No, my sleepless nights and Christmas sugarplums were the result of something much more tangible to my childish mind. They were roused by anticipation over the presents.

You see, although my childhood was rich in love, we couldn’t afford to spend a whole lot on extra things. As a result, if there was something my brothers or I wanted throughout the year, we would be instructed to place the item on our Christmas list.

Then we’d wait. And we’d hope. And as the big day drew near, we’d wonder what treasures might actually appear beneath the Christmas tree.

Oh, the glorious excitement that hope brings! Do you remember what it feels like to hope?

I believe it’s safe to conclude we’ve all felt it. At some point, even if only for a few brief moments of childhood abandon, we’ve each allowed the glimmer of possibility to stir our hearts.

And that stirring kindled anticipation, igniting a spark of joyful expectancy within our hearts at the thought that what we wanted just might come to be.

Perhaps that hope even inspired a step of faith.

You bought that lottery ticket expecting your number to come up. You made a big investment, wooed by the promise of greater rewards. Or maybe you opened your heart to take a chance on love.

Then you waited and watched . . . and hoped. And you didn’t get the outcome you desired.

Unfortunately, in a world with very few guarantees, we often end up disappointed. Scripture confirms the validity of our response,

Hope deferred makes the heart sick . . .  Proverbs 13:12

Maybe you’ve arrived at a place in your life where you no longer dare to hope. Shadows of disappointment have drowned out the merriment hope brings, leaving cynicism in its place.

And so stories of a child Savior born in a stable with the power to redeem you seem a bit farfetched. You can appreciate the sentimental wonder of the story, but you dare not open your heart to really believe Him for His promises.

Yet Romans 5:5 makes a bold claim, “And hope does not disappoint us . . .”

How can this be? My own track record proves that hope can certainly disappoint.

Perhaps, but the hope that Scripture offers differs greatly from the hope we’ve experienced out in the world. And that difference changes everything.

My dictionary defines hope as “the feeling that what is desired is also possible, or that events may turn out for the best.” The Greek word translated hope in our Bibles actually means, the “desire of some good with expectation of obtaining it.”

Do you see the difference? Hope as we know it involves possibility. Biblical hope includes expectation.

Unlike anything else in this world we might place our hope in, Jesus includes a guarantee. Every promise made in Christ is as good as done. We just have to trust Him for them.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  Romans 5:5

There is no gift greater than transforming love, and this gift keeps on giving! Will you take a chance on hope, dear one? Will you trust Jesus to change you for the better? I can promise you this time you won’t be disappointed. Better yet, God promises. And He sealed that promise with the blood of His Son. Perhaps it’s time to make possibility your reality.


Shaken and Stirred

Last week we saw that Christ’s presence dwelling and moving among His church produces astonishing results. Unfortunately, Christ will only be seen to the extent that His body submits. But, oh, the glory He reveals when we yield!

Let’s visit a prayer meeting that took place in the early church after Peter and John had been arrested for preaching about Jesus. Upon their release, a group of believers united together in fervent prayer.

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29-30

Do you notice anything significant about their prayer? Is that how you would have prayed?

Consider the words we usually utter when we approach the throne. One obvious difference strikes me about their request. Their petitions didn’t focus on their own well-being. They set their thoughts squarely upon the revelation of God’s glory.

They didn’t ask God to take away the danger, stop the persecution or even to protect them. Theirs was a single-minded purpose. They desired to see God reveal His glory through them. In spite of the danger, in spite of their fear, they cast aside their own desires and exalted His. And how did God respond to His humble servants?

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.  Acts 4:31

Oh, that we would once again become a body whose prayers shake our meeting halls! Notice that God granted their request. He filled each of them with His Spirit to empower them and equipped all of them to speak His Word boldly, in spite of the danger. Not one of them was exempt from the gift.  Dear one, neither are you.

Times are changing. According to Scripture, freedoms we’ve enjoyed as believers will one day cease. How will you respond as persecution rises?

Scripture foretells that more astonishing things are yet to come—some of them terrible, some wondrous—yet all of them remain certain. In the last days, evil will rise and bring with it persecution and war, ushering in a “time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations” (Daniel 12:1).

Yet in Christ, we have glorious hope!

But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.  Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. Daniel 12:1-3

Do you walk in the wisdom of the Lord and lead many to righteousness? Is the glory of Christ revealed in you? Today, you choose whether His light will shine through you. One day, Jesus will return to claim His throne, and your opportunity to choose will have passed.

“How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?” Daniel 12:6

You may not be fond of the answer.

The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”  Daniel 12:7

When the power of the holy people has finally been broken? That doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. Fear not, dear one. God’s plans always find their root in our best interest.

Consider for a moment the power struggle that rages within you. Each day you must choose whether to bow to your own self-will, or to bow to the leadership of the Spirit. More often than not, your own desires win the battle, quenching the Spirit’s power.

Yet in the last days, the power of the Spirit will rise victorious. Christ’s own will finally learn to overcome and claim the victory Jesus purchased for them through the cross. As in the days following the church’s conception, believers will choose to abandon self-will, leaving its power broken. Christ’s church will rise, yielding to His Spirit in glorious surrender, uniting in the love and unity glimpsed at the birth of the church and restored in time for the return of the King.

Beloved, you and I can hasten His return.

You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  2 Peter 3:11-12

As we choose to surrender to the work of the Spirit in our lives and allow Christ to sanctify and renew our minds and hearts toward His purpose, we move us toward the fulfillment of God’s great plan of redemption.

Like the Disciples who paved the way for us, will you choose to live radically for Jesus, abandoning all else to the rise of His glory? I pray that you will, beloved,

. . . so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe. Philippians 2:15

Then our eyes will finally gaze upon our Lord and King without a veil. Glory rises, dear one. Will you allow it to rise within you?


Look at me and be astonished; clap your hand over your mouth. Job 21:5

We love to be amazed. Ordinary doesn’t cut it for this generation. Average barely gets a mention. But when something really wows us, we can’t help sharing what we witnessed.  Phone lines, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts start buzzing, and news of the astonishing spreads like wildfire.

Unfortunately, most of what we’re compelled to share has nothing to do with Jesus. Somehow the One who brought us the ultimate “wow factor” has been reduced to short, encouraging Scripture quotes to help remind us that He even exists. Amazing is left to great football plays, astounding special effects, or even the ridiculously stupid. These days, we don’t really expect to be astonished by Jesus.

Perhaps we’re missing something. According to Hebrews 13:8,

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Have you been astonished by Jesus? Have you encountered Him in a way that so filled you with awe that you couldn’t help but share it? He means to astound you, dear one. Jesus specializes in the extraordinary.

When was the last time the glory of Christ’s presence ignited you to share what you experienced?  What happens when you meet with other believers? Do your church services and gatherings reveal the unexplainable in a way that even non-believers can’t help but talk about it?

That’s the legacy of the church handed down to us through Scripture. Church didn’t start out as orderly programming that followed a workable schedule and met expectations each week. Church began as groups of believers encountering the presence of the God they worshiped and becoming empowered beyond their abilities to reveal His glory.

Consider these reactions of unbelievers as they witnessed what was happening in the early church.

  • Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Acts 2:7-8
  • When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13

God’s presence among His people caught the attention of the lost. They couldn’t help but take notice. What they witnessed defied what they could logically explain.

Perhaps the most astonishing miracle occurred among the believers themselves.

Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Acts 2:43-46

Thousands of Christians from different backgrounds, with different personalities and unique desires, united as one. With hearts full of joyous praise, they shared all they had. Selfless love permeated the church,

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:47

Come to think of it, it sounds like the early church fulfilled what Jesus claimed to be the greatest commandment in all of Scripture.

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27

Scripture teaches that when believers fight among themselves, we act like “mere men” (1 Corinthians 3:3).  Quarreling indicates a quenching of the Spirit; it reveals that we’ve chosen to exalt our own desires instead of submitting to His. Unity expressed through love, however, reveals Christ’s presence in our midst.

You may be wondering, is such unity even possible? Scripture confirms that it is. In fact, it’s not only possible, it’s God’s declared will for His church. And remember, dear one, God’s will always comes to pass.

One lingering question remains: will ours be the generation in which He fulfills it? That depends on each one of us. Will we choose to yield our personal desires to the leadership of His Spirit and allow Him to once again astonish the world through us?

Jesus knocks at the door of His church. Perhaps it’s time we let Him back in.

The Proper Response

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1:7

Last week we learned that our path to salvation begins when we possess a proper fear of God. That can only occur when we hold a proper view.

Too many of us have such a small view of God that we can’t recognize our need to fear Him. We don’t revere Him; instead we place Him on almost equal ground with ourselves. We offer Him a nod on Sunday mornings, then spend much of the rest of our time ignoring Him.

Yet when we visited God’s throne room with Isaiah, we witnessed his profound response to seeing God’s glory revealed. He was terrified.

We often describe the fear of the Lord with words like reverence, respect, and awe. I’ll admit I’ve used those words myself to explain its meaning. But while those are all elements of fearing God, I don’t believe they encompass it entirely. Strong’s concordance adds these definitions for the word translated “fear” in our Bibles:   

“to be afraid, be frightened; to revere, respect; to be awesome, be dreadful, be feared” (Strong’s, 3772, p. 1512).

What Isaiah experienced reflects the rest of the definition. He witnessed something awesome, dreadful, utterly frightening, and he became completely undone.

Isaiah isn’t alone in his response. The apostle John, beloved disciple of Jesus and New Testament recipient of Christ’s saving grace, received a visit from his risen Lord while in exile on the island of Patmos.

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me . . . When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”  Revelation 1:12, 17-18

God’s grace doesn’t make Him a cuddly teddy bear. When you finally see His Glory unleashed, you will tremble. Perhaps, like John, you will fall at his feet as though dead. But the beauty of grace is evident in Jesus’ response to John. To those who recognize God as wholly other and worthy of honor, to those who in reverent fear choose to submit their earthly lives to Him in repentance and receive by faith the sacrifice that Jesus made for them, to those Jesus lovingly responds, “Do not be afraid.” And we needn’t be.

The fear of the Lord leads to life:  Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.  Proverbs 19:23

Through repentance and faith in Jesus, fear of the Lord propels us into His safe embrace. He becomes our Rock. Our Strong Tower. Our Shelter in the storm. Our Rest. We become His, but the question remains: What next? How does one respond to such a great gift of grace?

Abraham, father of our faith, provides our example. Acts 7:2-4 tells us,

The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’

So he left . . .”

At the beckoning of God, Abraham left his people and his home to go to a land he’d never seen. Why would he do that? How could he so easily and completely abandon everything to follow this God? 

In the midst of a polytheistic culture that offered its worship to many gods, Abraham met the God of glory. Wisdom was born in him as Truth penetrated his heart, and he knew this was the One True God. Imagine the magnitude of such an encounter that would convince him that all he had ever been taught to believe was wrong. Like Isaiah, Abraham beheld something awesome that conceived in Him the fear of the Lord. 

Yet this fear did not send him running to the hills. It sent him chasing after this God he realized he simply could not live without.  Abraham’s fear of remaining distant from God surpassed his fear of approaching Him. He was compelled to follow, and the path led him smack dab into the blessing of God.

Abraham shares this experience with every great hero of faith recorded for us in Scripture.

  • Moses met God through the flames of a burning bush, and his encounter led him to abandon the safety of his desert life and challenge Egypt’s Pharaoh on behalf of God’s people.
  • Paul, guardian of Jewish law and zealous persecutor of the early church, came face to face with the glory of Christ on the road to Damascus. Blinded by the Light of Truth, he dropped to his knees in repentance and emerged from the encounter willing to follow Jesus to his death, suffering for the cause of the very One he had persecuted. 
  • Even the first Disciples shared this experience. They had been fishing on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus called to them, “Come, follow me.” How did they respond?  At once they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:18

They each responded to the revelation of God in their lives with the same reaction: they left behind all that they had known to follow. Beloved, what has changed, that God would seek any less of a response from us?

How have you responded to the revelation of God’s glory, dear one? Have you surrendered everything to follow your Lord and King? If not, He’s waiting.

It Starts With Fear

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10

Whether we like the idea or not, Scripture tells us to fear God. The Bible repeatedly links our receipt of His blessings and promises with whether or not we have a heart that fears Him. According to Proverbs 14:27, fearing God propels us toward life:

“The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.”

The word “fear” unsettles most of us. When we associate it with how we ought to feel about God, we often want to run from Him, not toward Him. The thought conjures images of an angry tyrant perched on a fiery throne looking to see where He can dole out judgment and wrath.

Yet we also discover in Scripture that God is love (1 John 4:16), and in that love, He offers mercy. Most of us can easily embrace those attributes; those aspects of God’s character hold a bit more appeal.  In light of that, we often choose to disregard Scripture’s warning to fear God altogether, tossing it out in favor of friendship with a very approachable and forgiving God.

Unfortunately, if we don’t begin by acknowledging that God is worthy of our fear, we can’t enter the safety of His love.

 “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; . . . But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him.”  Psalm 103:13, 17

Fear marks the beginning of our journey toward redemption. Do you fear Him?

I confess that for a long time, I didn’t. I heard so much about God’s mercy and grace that I couldn’t wrap my brain around the thought that I should fear Him. It didn’t compute with the image I had been given. I was told God was my friend.

As a result, I had a carefree attitude toward sin. I didn’t think it mattered much. After all, grace covers it, right?

Perhaps this is one reason why much of Christ’s church looks so little like Him today. Salvation doesn’t begin with grace; it ends there. Salvation begins with fear.

Let’s consider an example from Scripture that reveals a biblical response to God. The prophet Isaiah experienced the remarkable privilege of seeing God’s glory revealed.

“ . . .I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.” Isaiah 6:1

Verse 5 records his reaction to what he saw.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

Isaiah reflexively offered one singular response to His glimpse of God’s glory: sheer terror. He cowered in God’s presence, acutely aware of his own depravity for the very first time. God’s perfect holiness laid bare his own impurity, washing it in righteous light. He realized this Supreme Being had every right to smite him, and he declared himself ruined.

Praise God the story doesn’t end there. In response to Isaiah’s mournful cry, a seraph circling the Lord in worship took a coal from the altar and approached him.

With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”  Isaiah 6:7

Pardon purchased through the altar of sacrifice has a way of changing things. Isaiah no longer cowered, distraught over his condition. Instead, full of gratitude, he offered to stand boldly for the Lord.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:8

A beautiful transformation took place within Isaiah’s heart, all brought on by his proximity to God’s presence. He saw God as He truly is and responded with:

  • Fear – He recognized his depraved state and saw that he deserved punishment.
  • Faith – He believed God’s promise that he had been pardoned, not by anything he had done to earn it, but by the grace extended to him by God through the altar of sacrifice.
  • Repentance – Gratitude gripped him and he no longer wanted to live for himself, but rather for the Almighty God who had chosen to extend His mercy and save him.

All three responses ushered Isaiah into God’s grace. Jesus extends the same grace to us by His sacrifice on the cross. Like Isaiah, we must believe in its power to receive it, but we can’t fully apprehend God’s grace without first possessing a proper, reverent fear.

Did the fear of the Lord mark the start of your journey? Do you hold an accurate view of God's greatness? Of His holiness? I hope so. Without it, you won’t truly repent, and without repentance, you miss salvation.

Yet the beauty of fearing God is found within this truth: Once we have a proper view of God and receive His grace by faith in sincere repentance, we need never fear anything else. We become His, sealed and tucked under the shelter of His wing. And all His awesome, terrible might no longer stands opposed to us. He exerts it for us.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of . . . Well, everything.

God Shows Himself Strong

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV 1984

I was at my wit’s end.

Of course, in those days, it didn’t take much to get me there. I had two little boys under the age of three and a husband who was rarely home.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you know you just can’t take one more minute? Your circumstances have spun out of control and your emotions are spinning right along with them. In that moment you realize you’re capable of just about anything. Desperation has a way of blurring once clear lines between right and wrong.

This particular night, the boys and I had made it to the end of a very long day. The baby finally slept upstairs, settled in for his last nap of the day before his final feeding and, God-willing, a decent stretch of sleep through the night.  All that remained was to tuck in my two-year-old, and I would have about 20 minutes of peaceful time to myself before my husband came home and wanted my attention.

My son decided he didn’t agree with the plan.

Instead of joining Mommy for sweet stories and prayers in idyllic bedtime ritual, my oldest decided he would pitch a fit—a LOUD fit, complete with kicking and screaming.

Trying to avoid my own angry outburst, I proceeded to reason with my two-year-old. Oddly, he wouldn’t see reason.

My patience waning, my stern voice threatened him with spankings and various other punishments. On he screamed, defiantly pushing me away with flailing wails.

Then suddenly another sound erupted above my head. The baby’s cries now pierced the silence upstairs, competing with his brother to be heard and satisfied.

Anger erupted out of me in a violent wave. I screamed at my son and grabbed him, ready to punish him. I looked at the little boy in front of me, not seeing my beloved firstborn. Instead I saw the cause of all the chaos, and something rose within me that wanted him to pay.  

Anger has a way of bringing out the worst in us.

Thank heaven something else rose up that was even more powerful.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Stopping mid-stride, I set my screaming child down in a chair and collapsed to my knees, sobbing. I buried my face in my arms on the edge of the chair and began to cry out to my God. It was the first time I had ever stopped to pray right in the middle of a difficult situation.

I cried out desperately for His help, begging for His intervention. I confessed how tired I was and acknowledged I was at the end of my rope. I thanked Him for my children and told Him I didn’t want to hurt either one of them. I had glimpsed the depravity of my flesh and knew I needed something greater than me.

I don’t know how long I prayed. Eventually the words ceased but the sobs remained.

Finally, I began to pull myself together, my motherly instinct reminding me I still had two little boys to care for. As I lifted my head to face my son, realization dawned. The atmosphere in the room had changed. Silence greeted me.

My eyes met my son’s. He sat perfectly still, staring at me with wide eyes. I listened upstairs. Nothing.

My God had quieted the screams of both my babies without a single touch from their mother.

I lifted my son off the chair and hugged him to me. He slipped his little arms around my neck, and I carried him upstairs to bed. After sweet prayers and bedtime kisses, I tucked him in and checked on the baby. I found him sleeping peacefully.

I returned downstairs, dumbfounded. It shocked me to see such evidence of God’s mighty hand in something that seemed trivial in the scheme of things. Crying babies?

But God delights to show Himself strong to those who give Him the opportunity.

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 NKJV

I’ve learned to expect God to move on my behalf. You see, Scripture reveals God on the edge of His seat, combing the earth, searching out vessels for whom He can demonstrate His strength.

Dear one, will you turn your heart toward Him and allow His eyes to rest on you?

What Do You Seek?

Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”  

John 1:38 NKJV


What do you hope to gain by following Jesus? Have you ever really thought about it?

Are you after His blessing and favor in your life? Do you need Him to fix your financial situation? Do you need His healing touch? Is your marriage broken?

We all have things in our lives that would benefit from Jesus’ intervention, and He longs to intervene! But sometimes I believe we miss God’s blessing in our lives because our focus remains on the things we need Him to do for us instead of centering on Jesus Himself.

Dear one, Jesus longs to transform your heart above all else.

I recently came across this letter I wrote to Jesus in February, 2009. I penned the words in a journal in response to Jesus’ question to His disciples in John 1:38.

I share this letter with you for one purpose: that you might reflect on your own journey and consider what you’ve sought Jesus for. What have you given Him to redeem?

He came to heal your every wound, to fill every empty place, to empower you to greatness in Him. But He will not begin to change you if you don’t seek to allow him to. He does not take what has not been given. He will only touch those things in your life that you freely offer Him.

Jesus has called me to transparency. We can’t hide who we are and simultaneously walk in Christ’s light. So today I share with you a little piece of my heart, unedited, taken straight from the pages of one of my journals. As you read my prayer to our Savior, I ask you to join me in lifting your heart before Him. If His Spirit moves you, offer the words to Him as if they were your own. Or better yet, let Him lead you in writing your own prayer of surrender. Be blessed, dear one.


My Dear Jesus,

How do I even begin to describe what my heart wants to say to you? You are the filler of all my empty places. You continually bind up the pieces of my broken heart until it can begin to beat again with strength and new life.

My journey with you has not been easy, but it has been worth it. You have opened my eyes to see a glimpse of the glorious mystery that is You. I will never be the same!

At times I’ve wanted to run from you . . . thank you for holding me in your grasp and giving me the strength to hold on.

I commit to you this day that I will bind myself to you for eternity. I choose You! You are Love, Life, Joy, Peace, Comfort, Happiness . . . none of it is found apart from you. Teach me to be a woman who doesn’t want what you can give her . . . who just wants You. I want your Spirit to permeate every ounce of my soul. Empower me to grasp the depth of your love. Have your way, Lord!

I commit to walk in your Truth. I will live by your Truth, stand in your Truth, walk in Truth, speak Truth. Lead me Lord!

My heart’s desire is to be a woman of freedom, totally sold out to You. I will not let the enemy have control over any part of my heart. He will nave no authority here. I am yours! Show me “my truth” Lord. Who am I, and what needs to go?

Here is what I offer you. I give you my heart to be molded and shaped to beat in time with yours. I submit my will to yours, trusting that yours is far better. Take control! I give you my teaching. You have given me a gift. It is for Your Glory. I surrender it to your will and your use. Direct my path.

I offer you my selfishness, knowing that only you have the power to change it. Teach me the glory of the fast.

I offer you my fear. My flesh wants to shrink back from the glory that awaits me . . . your perfect plan for me. I can’t yet see it, but I know the enemy desires to keep me from it. I will not let him win. You are the victory.

I offer you my pride. Oh Lord, what a hard battle that has been. You were there when you saw my growing need for acceptance take shape. You watched in sorrow while I allowed the enemy to shackle me in his yoke. You caught each tear that fell so they would not be wasted. You brought beauty from my pain. I praise you Lord, for your absolute goodness!

I know that pride will be an ongoing battle for me because of that pain. Lord, I give you my need for the approval of men. Help me to walk in freedom. May the use of my gifts ever be about your glory and not mine.

I am weak, but I am yours. I am fearful, but I am yours. I am broken, but I am yours. Take control and lead me on the path I am to take. Let my thoughts be your thoughts. Have your way with me, Lord, that I may dwell in the abiding place of your love.

I love you, Lord. Thank you for showing me how.


Do You Love Jesus?

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.       

1 Peter 3:15

A few days ago, a friend of mine shared a story with me about her visit to her son’s elementary school for parent visitation day. This particular day, a little girl in his class had the privilege of being selected as the “star of the day.” She was given the opportunity to share some things about herself with the other students. After telling some stories about a few fun adventures she’d experienced, she finished by adding, “And I love Jesus.”

Caught off-guard by this bold declaration, my friend rejoiced inwardly that this child had been able to proclaim love for Jesus in the public school! Anxious to see what would happen next, she watched as the little girl selected three students from the class who could each ask her one additional question.

One child wanted to hear more about her trip to Disney World. A young boy asked about the NFL game she’d mentioned. And then the last little girl surprised my friend by raising the startling question, “Why do you love Jesus?”

All eyes rested on the star of the day. Why, indeed? A hush fell over the room as both the children and the visiting parents waited to hear her answer.

The hush grew to a tense silence, her unanswered question hanging in the air on pins and needles. No reply followed. The star could find no words to speak in response. Minutes passed before the teacher finally redirected the conversation and brought her time of sharing to a close.

And what of the little girl who wondered why this Jesus was worth loving? She never got her answer.

My heart goes out to the star of the day. I probably would have sat there dumbfounded as well if someone had asked me that question at her age. If I had found the courage to muster up a reply, I’m quite sure my answer would’ve disappointed—at least if the words that came out accurately reflected what was in my heart. “My parents told me I should.”

I spent years fearfully dreading the reality that Christians are supposed to witness to others and share the hope of the Gospel. I never wanted to tell anyone about Jesus. More than two decades would pass before I realized why it frightened me so much. The truth is, I didn’t have anything to say.

I had no real testimony to share. I had lots of knowledge about who Jesus was, and I had learned to respond with the “right” answers early on in Sunday School. But I missed knowing the most important piece of all: Jesus Himself.

I was 26 before I even realized there was a difference. How did I discover it? Jesus showed up one day when I was working through a Bible study.

It was business as usual, filling in the blanks in my workbook so I wouldn’t be embarrassed by empty spaces on the page at our next small group meeting. And then one question—four little words—changed my life forever. “Do you love Jesus?”

I lifted my pen to answer “yes” without even thinking. I knew the right answer: of course! But that day Jesus decided we were going to get real. I’d been pretending long enough, and He had determined to let me see the truth about myself.

Conviction fell over me like a shroud, drowning out any pretense. In that moment, I saw what He saw. I didn’t love Him. I never had. I’d been saying it all my life—at least within church circles—but they were just words on my lips that didn’t match the reality of what lived within my heart.

I remember my hand trembling as I struggled to answer the question. I couldn’t put down the answer I’d started to write, and through the blur of tears, I managed to scratch out two letters on the page. No.

In that moment, I was changed. You see, I encountered the Living God, and I heard what He was speaking to me. I chose to see what He revealed about the darkness in my heart as I stepped into His marvelous light. But what changed everything was my response to the encounter. I wanted to remain there. I wanted to love Him. I wanted to offer Him my heart and trust Him to teach me about Himself. I wanted relationship.

And so the little girl who had grown up in church, attended Christian school, prayed the sinner’s prayer, and married a Christian man, finally got saved at 26.

I began a relationship with Jesus, where I invited Him to lead and I would follow. This time, love shaped the foundation instead of knowledge, and He began to heal my broken places. He started to transform my heart, and the more I discovered about Him, the more I realized I wanted more of Him.

Today, if you were to ask me, “Why do you love Jesus?” you would find I have no loss for words. Instead of Christian platitudes about the cross and salvation, I would tell you sincerely that I love Him because He rescued me out of my emptiness and taught me the way of love.

He is the source of every good thing in my life. He whispers encouragement to my soul when I’m fearful. He assures me of His love when I’m broken and losing my way. He meets me in His Word every time I give Him the opportunity. He has given me purpose. He empowers me to be what I can’t be without Him. He rejoices with me in gladness, and He catches my tears so He can redeem them and bring beauty out of my pain.

Beloved, I love Jesus with everything that I am. He is worth every moment I give Him, every battle I fight for Him, every prayer I utter to Him. I pray you will not settle for knowledge about your Savior. Press your way past the crowds “doing church” and enter the inner sanctuary where His Presence dwells. There He waits to reveal Himself to your seeking heart.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:13-14

Drowning in Doubt

Okay, Lord. I’m ready to step. I think. I just need you to confirm this is your will.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dialogued with God over the issue of doubting His will. In fact, the words above just appeared in my journal this morning.

I don’t believe I’m alone in that struggle. I’m pretty certain if you’ve sought to follow the Lord at all, at some point your heart has wrestled over that same question. We struggle in our ability to discern whether the desires prompting us to action stem from God’s will or flow from our own. Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we don’t. Either way, God honors those who at least try.

That brings us back to our friend, Peter. Last week we looked at how his bold faith sent him over the edge of a boat and out onto the water. We also uncovered an important step he took beforehand that we often miss: he checked with Jesus for permission before he got out of the boat.

Unfortunately, Peter didn’t remain on the miraculous heights where he began. At Jesus’ Word, “Come,” Peter stepped out on the water and began to walk toward Jesus.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:30-31

My heart goes out to Peter, perhaps because God has been showing me so much of myself within his story. Maybe you can relate too.

I desperately want to experience everything God has for me. Don’t you? If I can help it, I don’t want to leave anything on the table that Jesus meant for me. I don’t want to be one of the disciples left standing in the boat wondering if that blessing could’ve been mine if only I’d had the courage Peter did.

Like, Peter, I expect great things of God, and when I believe I’ve heard His instruction, I will leap from the boat with both feet and start walking straight toward Jesus.

Unfortunately, our similarities don’t end there. Invariably, as I begin to step, waves start breaking at my feet and I grow unsteady. Wind rises up against me, and I find I have to fight to keep moving forward. My thoughts move from His promise to my view of my circumstances, and the doubt sets in. I begin to wonder if I heard Him right in the first place.

And with that shift in focus, I start to sink. What began as a bold adventure of faith marked by God’s miraculous provision transitions to a rescue mission. I find myself thrashing about, trying to keep my head above the surface of the water. And once again, Jesus must reach out his hand to catch me and lift me onto dry ground.

I’ve decided I’m tired of repeating the cycle. I’m tired of allowing doubt to rob me of the completion of Jesus’ blessings in my life.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for Jesus’ mercy and His faithfulness to lift me out of the muck and head me back in the right direction, but why keep stopping our forward progress to back peddle because of my doubt?

Once again, I hear Jesus calling me out onto the water. I’m ready to step, and I know that He’ll be right there with me. But this time, I’m asking God to keep my eyes on Him and keep my ears tuned His promise.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

I am weak, but He is strong. I am fearful, but He is certain. I am broken, but He heals. I cannot keep myself above water, but Jesus can keep me so I do not sink.

God offers a promise in Jude 1:1 . . .

To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ . . .

And in verse 24 . . .

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—

Jesus is able to keep me from falling. I don’t need to keep stumbling backward. I just need to keep my eyes on Him, lifting the shield of faith against the doubt the enemy sends. With my focus securely on Jesus, I will not fall. He who promised is faithful.