Category Archives: Faith

Does Prayer Really Change Things?

I’ve been taking so many things to the Lord in prayer lately.
 
Dreams of a homeschool resource center near our home.
 
Concerns over the future of our country. Elections that will determine the course of a nation for generations. 
 

A desire to see my children “walking in the Truth.”Lord, help me live in such a way that my children learn to trust You!

Maybe it’s the fact that I have a five-year old and two grandsons, but the way the culture is heading has me concerned for their futures, too.  The obvious spiritual decline in our churches and moral decay of the culture have become a point of regular conversation between me and God in recent months. More prayer.

By the way, it’s worth noting that my prayers are not always so high-minded. I routinely ask God to help me with the laundry, too. It’s easy to lose sight of the eternal significance that is found in the oh-so-daily tasks of life when bigger things that are totally out of my control feel, somehow, more pressing.

Dishes, laundry, clean up, prepare meals, repeat. Pray again. Begin again. Perhaps you know what I mean.
 
This morning, I had a chance to steal a rare moment of quiet in our busy household. I took it—opening up my bedroom windows to better appreciate the sound of the rain as it hit the roof and cascaded into the gutters. 
Listening to the first real rain of the season is soul-watering for this native Oregonian. As the cool air filled my room, I noticed an old paperback by C.S. Lewis was sitting almost half-off of the bookshelf by my desk. After thumbing through “The Grand Miracle and Other Selected Essays…” I was drawn to an essay titled “Work and Prayer.” Lewis opens his short piece with this statement:
Even if I grant your point and admit that answers to prayer are theoretically possible, I shall still think they are infinitely improbable. I don’t think it at all likely that God requires the ill-informed (and contradictory) advice of us humans as to how to run the world. If He is all-wise, as you say He is, doesn’t He know already what is best? And if He is all-good, won’t He do it whether we pray or not?

The argument Lewis makes in his essay is powerful. He asserts that while God could predetermine every aspect of our lives, and while He certainly does not need our help … He chooses to let us have access to Him through prayer. Praying to our Creator offers “small creatures” like myself the dignity of being able to contribute to the course of events around us.

In other words: through prayer, we are able to modify the course of history.
 

Imagine it! The One who made the rain is, by His own decision, willing to let us bring our concerns to Him. He listens, as if to say, “let’s talk about it in My study.”

We can sway the course of events around us through our prayers.

He bends down to listen

Isn’t it amazing? We are heard by the One who made us every time we call His name. If we’re concerned enough to bring it to Him, the Bible says He bends down to listen.
 
Do you want to change the course of human history? Do you want to see revival and healing and miracles … and run your laundry through with a smile?

Take C.S. Lewis’ advice and meet Him in His study. Take it to the Lord in prayer.

And then—we’ll see.

Prayer Changes Things

Are you hiding behind a curtain?

Do you notice how many moms hide behind a curtain these days? It’s easy to feel inadequate when the images we see on magazines and online show only happy kids and smiling moms. The reality of course, is much different than the facade.

Even though my experience may not be exactly like yours, my hunch is that our stories are not all that different. Women have been hiding behind different kinds of curtains for generations. The image of the perfect housewife from the 40’s and 50’s was a facade that often covered alcohol abuse and infidelity.

The 60’s and 70’s saw the culture plummeting from legalism to liberty in a no holds barred attempt to gain a false sense of self and freedom. We burned our bras and gave “free” love away, only to end up disillusioned. Solomon was right. Truly there is “nothing new under the sun.” The fact that we hide is not new, but the things we hide behind surely are. In 2017, we’re hiding behind a screen. The Internet is like a giant curtain, and in front of it, everyone’s an expert.

Brad Paisley summed it up perfectly in his song, I’m So Much Cooler Online, a song about a young boy who was pretending to the someone else online. As a blogger, I have seen this reality up-close and personal, as many wives and mothers I meet struggle in their search for significance amid a growing sea of voices. “Platform” is what’s coveted now, and many mothers are losing their families in order to find it.

be-authentic

The Internet, as it turns out, is a great place to hide in plain sight. Authentic living doesn’t need a platform, it IS the platform.  Our children need us to be authentic mothers if we are going to have any hope of seeing our them navigate the challenges that lie ahead.  They need to see how we handle our challenges instead of how we hide them.   They need to see us walk through them instead of stoically standing and pretending that everything is okay. And most importantly, they need to see us run to the Lord and ask Him for courage to share our struggles with others so they can walk our hard roads with us.

Are you ready to be authentic?

A Strong Warning About False Teachers

A couple weeks ago, my heart broke as a woman who claims the name of the Lord Jesus invited her followers on social media not to “overburden” their conscience by hesitating to vote for a pro-abortion candidate.

In a Facebook post, this woman said,

“…I’d like to suggest that voting for a pro-choice candidate in this election, or any election, need not overburden your conscience.”

Through her blog, she went on to give a defense of her opinion that was utterly devoid of any evidence of Biblical truth, stating that abortion is a “debatable” topic and that government should make decisions on behalf of women and families.

“Given the complex nature of these and other issues, the degree to which the government should make decisions on behalf of women and families regarding pregnancy is, and should be, debatable.”

Debatable? Not according to God. Not when it comes to the murder of unborn babies. We can talk all day about what the role of government should be in the lives of the we, the governed, but abortion is another animal. Men and women, if you love God and know that you are going to stand before Him someday, your conscience should be terribly burdened by what is happening to our unborn in the name of “choice.” Anyone who suggests that God doesn’t care about it is not listening to the Lord—or cannot listen because they do not know Him.

God’s Word warns us against false teachers. If there was ever a time to be on the lookout for them, the time is now. We are living in a generation of biblically illiterate, immature Christians—people who, while claiming the name of Jesus, and wanting His mercy, forgiveness and salvation, do not wish to carry His cross.

false-teachers

This was evidenced by the thousands of people who cheered her post and encouraged her in her deception. These people are easy targets for wolves among the sheep, and they are blogging, pastoring and counseling God’s children away from, not into, what God says is truth.

Our hearts should break over what breaks God’s heart–and abortion is at the top of the list of things God says he hates. Here’s the Truth, according the the Bible, which is the believer’s final authority:

Proverbs 6:16-19  (NIV)
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes,feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Isaiah 49:1 Before I was born the Lord called me;from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. Every baby whose life has been snuffed out at the hands of another human being belonged to God.

Are we so foolish as to believe He will not exact wrath and pour out His righteous anger over us for NOT “overburdening” our conscience? God forms us in our mother’s womb and has spoken our names before we took a single breath. Oh, how we have sinned against the Lord in this nation by calling evil “choice” and excusing sin for the sake of convenience.

False teachers promise peace when God says there will be judgment—and teachers who suggest otherwise are wolves in sheep’s clothing. False teachers tell you that you can live in sin and that God will not discipline you. These are all false teachings.

Get in your Bible, Christian! Know the Word of God. Don’t be fooled by false teachers.

 In the end, we will stand before the Lord and give an account for the way we lived our lives. I, for one, am willing to carry the burden of the unborn on my conscience until the Lord comes and makes it right. As believers in Christ and in His gospel, we have no choice in this matter.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it best before he was executed at the hands of the Nazi regime:

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Click here for a companion podcast!

Jesus cares. He knows and loves… you.

I was at the beach last week, and made a point each day to get out (before the little people awoke) for some time with my sweet Jesus. Nature has a way of calming my spirit and pointing me to my Creator, and this particular morning was no different.

I sat that morning just amazed with the good things He given our family, good things that have often been hard at the start – things we didn’t know to ask for, but He knew we needed.

jesus-loves-you

While we were at the beach, we had a chance to send money with a family member to provide months of food for the family of our sponsored Belizean child.  This took such a small sacrifice on our part for such a great reward for his family!  We have the opportunity to take a distant role in watching a little boy grow, learn about forgiveness and Jesus and eternity and have an chance at a better life – an opportunity to change generations. What a blessing for our children!

While we were there, a friend messaged me and we had an opportunity to take in a puppy – the breed I knew we wanted next.  I wasn’t so sure we were ready for a puppy, but my friend said, “Sometimes God’s blessings take a lot of work.”  I let that percolate for a while and realized she’s right.  Sometimes things that are really good for us in the long run take a lot of effort, effort that will shape the character of us and our children.

He’s given us a gift of some time at the beach for a chance to rest and create family memories that patch some holes worn by years of my husband’s health needs.

I sat there that morning and soaked in the knowledge that My Creator – not just any creator, but my creator! – created this water, every grain of sand, every minnow, every person walking by!  Yet he knows my heart and knows what I need to become more like Him.  He knows I need to make sacrifices to provide for others.  He knows we need the hard work and joy of a puppy for the relationship and comfort that a dog offers to my animal-loving children.  He knows I need to rest and make memories with my family, and He knows the holes worn by years of struggle. He used His people to write His heart in this book so I can know Him more and learn how much He cares about me.  Jesus loves me. The all powerful, omnipotent, unfailing creator of the universe loves me, cares about me and knows what I need.

And you.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:25-26 (NIV)

He loves you too.

Trusting God More Than My Midwife

I am now 32 weeks pregnant with our first son.  He is such a cutie too!!  I know this because I got an unexpected peek at his adorable face.  I was just going in to have a recording made of his heartbeat, but as an added bonus I was given an awesome 3d sonogram of his face.  Truly amazing!  My daughters, who were with me at the time, were as delighted as I was squealing, “He’s sooo CUTE!”

So, now it’s countdown time until we meet this little chub-a-lub of a miracle from God.  Eight more weeks of my stomach growing even bigger (which is hard to imagine at this point)!  Eight more weeks of using the excuse, “I’m pregnant and don’t feel like it.” :)  Eight more weeks of feeling those incredible flutters, kicks, wiggles, jabs, and hickups from a little person moving inside my body.  Eight more weeks of drinking coffee with a guilty conscience because I know my midwife doesn’t approve.  And, that’s not all she disapproves of!

trusting-g0d-midwife-logo

I love my midwife…I really do.  Even though she makes me turn in a food log to her every visit and tells me all the things I shouldn’t be eating and drinking- I still love her unconditionally.  Boy, she sure knows how to lay on the guilt too!  Who knew that carrots and snow peas were not a good choice of veggies (too much sugar, she said).  Why is juice bad for me?  Again, too much sugar, she said.  Why can’t I have Special K cereal for breakfast?  It’s my favorite cereal.  Oh right… too many carbs, not enough protein.  What’s wrong with my ham and cheese sandwich for lunch?  Full of nitrates if you didn’t get the meat cut from the deli, she said!

I think my best approach to the mandatory food log I give her every month has been to have a sense of humor.  When she questioned why I was still drinking coffee every morning, my response to her was, “Have you tried my husband’s cinnamon latte???  Why would I give that up?”  I love to make her laugh when she reviews my log.  One particular food log was full of humor and she enjoyed reading it so much that she kept it in my file.  I had written entries like, “Breakfast:  homemade bread and homemade raspberry jam from the Mennonite bakery in Westcliffe, CO… now don’t tell me I can’t have that!”  And, from another day’s entry, “Went to Olive Garden for lunch: you don’t want to know what I had.”

In all fairness, her intentions are good for me.  I know this.  she just wants a healthy me, a healthy baby, and a healthy delivery.  So, thank you Lord that my midwife wants the best for me.  Thank you that she holds me accountable for what I eat and drink during my pregnancy, even though she drives me crazy with her do’s and don’ts.

Ultimately though, the health of this baby is in God’s hands.  I have been trusting Him throughout this pregnancy, from the moment of preconception when I heard Him speak to me, “NEW LIFE.” and “YOU’RE KEEPING HIM FROM COMING,”  as I made the choice to stop my birth control.  I believe this baby boy has a special purpose and will be a blessing to everyone he meets.  I am trusting God for health in my body, as well as this baby’s, and I believe He will orchestrate a healthy delivery for me.  There are of course battles I fight in my mind that are brought on by strong hormones.  Overwhelming feelings of doubt, worry, frustration, fatigue, guilt, confusion, to name a few!  That’s why it is of the upmost importance to combat those feelings with God’s Word.  There are so many powerful verses in the Bible that talk about trusting God and being strong and courageous.  Here are 5 verses I have chosen to fill my spirit with:

  • Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Isaiah 40:31 – but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.
  • Romans 15:13- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.
  • Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

There are many voices we hear during pregnancy.  Advice coming from lots of well meaning people such as family, friends, midwives, doctors, and even strangers!  But the most important voice we need to listen to is from the Holy Spirit.  Keep your trust in Him.  He is faithful. His love never ends, and His mercies are new every morning!

What I Want Them to Remember When I’m Gone

A few weeks ago, I was making dinner for a family in our church that has been dealing with some undiagnosed health struggles.  My daughter came in to ask what I was doing, and as I explained the situation to her, I thought to myself, “I want them to know this was important to me.  I want them to remember that their mama loved people.”  There are so many things in our days that I hope they don’t remember as the big issues of life.  I hope they don’t remember that I sometimes love my sleep more than I love them.  And sometimes, I seem like I love my clean house more than I love them.  As I finished cooking, I continued to mull over this thought.  What do I really want them to remember about me?  I do want them to remember that I love people.  But what if their gifting doesn’t lend them to hospitality and service?  What if people are tiring and loving others is a challenge to them?  I still want them to remember that I loved people, but there’s more.

when-im-gone

I want them to know that I loved them.  Hard.  I hope they know that I loved them more than I ever knew was possible in my body.  But, even that is not enough.  Because while I hope they know that they are loved by me for every breath they take, what about the day that I am gone?  What does that leave them with beyond a memory?  A legacy, I hope.  A love that teaches them how to love others, and builds confidence in them; I pray it gives them that.  But will that change their life?  Give them strength and vision for their hard days and the calling God puts on their life?  Maybe in some ways.

But still, my love is not enough for them.  But there is a love that is.  And that is what I hope they remember, and know without a shadow of a doubt.  I hope that one day, when they think about their mama, they can say, “My mama?  She loved Jesus.  With everything she had.  Loving Jesus made her love us, and other people, and our daddy with strength only He can give.  She loved us, and sometimes she yelled, and sometimes she chose the wrong things, and she wasn’t perfect.  But she loved Jesus.”

I hope that one day my kids want to be like me.  I hope I give them an example they want to follow.  But if He calls my sweet girl to a life of singleness and missionary life in another country, I don’t want her to be floundering for how to live life because she just wanted to love her kids like her mama did.  And if my boy is introverted and struggles to love people, I don’t want him to feel like he’s failing.  I hope and pray that they go after Jesus with all their heart, soul and strength.  That they can say to themselves “In living this life, I’m gonna love Jesus. No matter what.  Just like my mama did.”

Dear Church: Please Stop Trying to Be Relevant.

I received a message from a woman last week who was desperate to reach her wayward son. “I don’t want to offend him,” she lamented. “I don’t want him to think I’m irrelevant because I believe the Bible.”  She went on to say she was even more confused about how to reach her son because her pastor was unwilling to address cultural issues. You know,  we need to be careful not to “push anyone away.” Her pastor’s passive stance on issues that her family is facing confused her. Her struggle deepened. After all, what good mother would push her son away with Bible verses-n-stuff? Sounds a little “yesterday,” and “churchy” in today’s progressive culture, don’t you think? But is it?

I might be all alone here, but I think our struggle for cultural relevance is robbing the Church of the one thing that actually makes us relevant.  We sure can draw a crowd with our hipster services and feel-good gospel—but tell me, how’s that working for us?

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A few days ago, I read the story of a young Christian rocker named Trey Pearson. He has joined a chorus of other Christians in embracing his “true self,” by “coming out” as gay—leaving a devastated wife and broken family in his wake. In the name of being his “authentic” self, he has embraced what God says leads to death. With acceptance from people he thinks speak for Jesus, Trey has chosen to deny God and exalt himself. Trey said this was a “defining moment” for him – a moment when he finally found himself. Like so many before him, Trey has traded God’s truth for his own.

What’s a Christian to do? It’s a little bit of a crowd-shrinker I know, but here it is:  the answer is not to run toward “our truth.” The answer is to run away from it! The answer is to run toward the Way, the Truth and the Life— toward the One who died to set us free by His truth.

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My heart truly breaks for this young man, and for all those who will follow him. It’s age old spiritual warfare—SW101, if you will: Take out the pastor and declare open season on the sheep. Satan knows if he can take out a man or woman with a platform, he’s got a clear shot at those who follow that platform. So where were the true Christians when this man with a platform was engaged in one-on-one spiritual warfare with the enemy of his soul?

They were nowhere to be found. I noticed Trey was flanked by two of his “pastors” in an image on his blog. He talked about how these “pastors” were instrumental in helping him. A true follower of Jesus would have loved Trey enough to be honest with him. Honestly? The Christian life is about denial of self (Colossians 3:5) rather than the embracing of it. If we embrace our “true selves” then look out—because literally, all hell will break lose. In our natural self, we’re lost. But nevermind that. In the name of love, at least some of the Christians around Trey have sacrificed truth on the altar of compassion.

“Love” is taking on new forms these days. Except that it’s not loving to lie.

Dear Church, please stop trying to be relevant.

I was a pastor’s wife for nearly 20 years. As such, I can promise you right now that some church leaders are scratching their heads at this article, wondering how we got here.  So let’s be honest: we blew it when we ostracized a group of people because they sin differently that we do. When I was a young Bible college student, I knew heterosexual couples who were totally sinning on the weekends—but the guy who said he struggled with same-sex attraction got the boot. What a mess we made. Unfortunately, instead of recognizing our sin and  admitting that we are all broken in different ways, we’ve fallen off the other side of the narrow path. Now, we are sacrificing truth on the altar of mercy.

In the name of being culturally relevant and often, in direct rebellion against God, many churches have turned a blind eye to the sin of abortion, covered up the sin of its pastors and priests, hailed gay marriage as “progress,” and quietly condoned assisted suicide as “brave.” Even worse, we’re silent. When did we start believing that speaking the truth in love equals silence or timidity?

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

When did we forget the grace of Jesus on our own broken lives? When did we forget to talk about it? When did we stop believing it?

We may think we’re drawing people to Christ by quietly accepting this massive shift in the culture, but the evidence is clear: our silence is costing this generation dearly. Among the casualties of a “relevant” church is the inconvenient truth that, aside from rare chromosomal anomalies, our DNA is set at birth. We’re either male or female.

Bottom line? I don’t think the culture wants our wishy-washy “relevance.” They don’t need our fancy programs or big buildings. The youth of today are grappling with issues we could not have even imagined twenty years ago. They’re being bombarded by bold lies that are causing many of them to do irreparable harm to their bodies and minds. What is our answer? What do we say, Church? We say the truth—in love—and we leave the results up to God. That’s freeing, really; to know we’re not responsible for the response, we’re just responsible to bear witness to the healing grace of Jesus.  We are simply called to tell people that truth exists—and that God defines it.

This is the challenge of the Church today: to tell the truth, as it’s put forward in the Bible. To stand for righteousness. To proclaim the gospel to a generation who thought Barak Obama would bring them “hope and change.”

 Under the watch of the “relevant” church, devastating lies have taken root in the culture. The depth of deception we are facing runs deep and wide, but God’s Word tells us that the gate that opens to life is narrow. The road that leads to life is difficult. It requires that we come before the Lord daily and ask Him to help us live in His truth, not ours.

 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

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The road is narrow—but it leads to life, and not just any old, run-of-the-mill life … abundant life.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10

The thief is lying to us, as he has been doing since the Garden of Eden. Jesus says, “Follow Me, and I will give you LIFE!” Life that’s worth living and worth sharing. Life that’s bold and courageous. (Joshua 1:7) Life that’s rich and abundant. So no. I’m not against using the technology and music of this age to reach people with the gospel. I love the concert-worthy music many of today’s churches provide and, dare I say, I enjoy a delicous latte on my way to Sunday School. These things are good; but I have to ask: In our effort to be seen as “relevant,” have we lost the thing that makes us truly relevant? Because the thing that makes us relevant doesn’t need the trappings of modern “Christianity.”

What good is an entertaining church service that fails to entertain the questions that this generation is asking? What good is it if we can’t articulate compassion and truth in a way that clearly addresses the message of the cross? The cross is hope.

…and hope does not disappoint. Hope has a name. It’s Jesus.

The truth of the gospel has not changed. The saving power of a relationship with Jesus is all the relevance we need.

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Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”Ephesians 4:25