January Joy Challenge #2: Finding the Balance


Balance is very important in the life of a Christian, but most of us have a very, very difficult time finding it. You see, somehow we have to find the balance between —

Accepting where the Lord has placed us

and yet,

Continuing to learn and grow from the trials

And between–

Accepting and resting in the grace of God to cover all of our sins

and yet,

Striving to be more pure and holy with each passing day

And between–

Accepting the way God has made us

and yet,

Never giving up on improving ourselves

This is all especially personal to me, because about this time in life (speaking only for myself, you understand), I am not always accepting with much of anything (just being honest here). My kids are almost grown up and I find myself nearing the end of the only full-time job I ever wanted. I don’t look like I want to look. I often don’t act or react like I think I should. I am frustrated that I haven’t progressed more as a Christian. And, a few years ago, I started to realize that happy endings are mostly in movies. Thankfully, there are a few in real life, but even those take a ton of work. Mostly, you just do the best you can with what you are given.

And, look, I have a great life. I know I do. I am not complaining–not a bit. But, somehow, I have to figure out how to accept who and where I am–right now– without giving in to complacency and apathy. And that’s what is so hard. And that’s where joy comes in.

You see, if I can’t accept the circumstances in which God has placed me or in who God created me to be, then discontent will reign in my heart, pushing out joy (Romans 9:20; Psalm 139:14; Philippians 4:11). But if I am too accepting of myself or of my circumstances, then there is no desire to change for the better, also pushing out joy (Philippians 3:12; I Corinthians 9:24-27; Romans 12:1-2) . And, so, somehow we have to find the balance.

So how exactly do we do this?  I confess I am not totally sure. But maybe we should start with this week’s challenge:

Take some time this week to do an inventory of yourself.  Think about what you don’t like about yourself or circumstances. Are they things you can change or are they outside your control?

Prayerfully, give the things you can’t control to the Lord (you know–things like the scar on your face, your husband’s horrible boss, the wayward adult child). In fact, go a step further, and thank the Lord for these things, for they have probably led you to a deeper walk with the Lord.

And then, look at the things you don’t like that you can control (things like a huge amount of debt, laziness, bad temper, extra pounds) and develop a plan to start working on them, yielding them prayerfully to the Lord.

Of course, sometimes issues get lost in the big black hole between the can control and the can’t control –things like marriages and wayward teens. Okay then, if that is the case, we do what we can do and then submit the outcome to God, praying confidently for His will to be done. After all, we know it is His will that our marriages stay together and that our teens follow hard after Him.

This challenge is a little deeper this week and a little more work, too. But, I truly believe that until we can find the balance, we will either be stuck in the land of discontent or find ourselves in the fields of laziness and apathy. May we always be striving, instead, for the life of balance, which will lead us to deeper joy.

Joy Killers


Yesterday, I shared some excerpts from a sermon by Spurgeon on the Joy of the Lord. As I thought about his words, I thought of how often I desire to walk in the joyful sunshine of God’s light but then choose, instead, to walk through the dark, cold shade of my own sinful choices.  What are some of those sinful choices–or what I like to call Joy Killers–that are so effective in leading us to the shady side of the street?  The list is probably endless, but here are a few that came to mind–

 Joy Killers

  1. Holding a grudge
  2. Entertainment that glorifies what God hates
  3. Caring too much about what people think
  4. Loving money
  5. Eating more than your body needs
  6. Wasting time
  7. Gossiping about someone else
  8. Caring more about your physical health than your spiritual health
  9. Watching too much news
  10. Anger and Frustration
  11. Caring too much about what you look like
  12. Focusing only on what’s wrong in the world
  13. Making yourself and your needs your top priority
  14. Complaining
  15. Criticizing
  16. Trying to fix, control, and manipulate people and circumstances
  17. Taking something that isn’t yours
  18. Envy and jealousy
  19. Sex outside of marriage
  20. Hating someone
  21. Putting sports (or anything else) ahead of the spiritual welfare of your family
  22. Language that is filthy and crude
  23. Pretending to be someone you are not (hypocrisy)
  24. Abusing our bodies with substances
  25. Twisting scripture to make it mean what you want instead of what it really does
  26. Living only for today, with no thought for eternity

Many on this list are specific things listed in scripture as sin (see Galatians 5). Others are simply unwise to do if we want to live a life of joy. There are so many others that could be added. We humans have been very creative at concocting ways to steal our own joy!

I have been really convicted lately that we need to pray that we (and those we love) would hate sin. No, we will never be perfect here on this earth, but if we have a heart that is yielded to the Lord and we desire to be pure and holy, it is then, and only then, that we make it possible to have deep, abiding communion with our heavenly Father, thus leading to true and lasting  joy.

Do you have anything to add to my list of Joy Killers?


Facing the Fear

As our congregation bowed in prayer, I found myself distracted by a sudden thought: where is the closest exit? I sighed with relief as I saw a door nearby through half-closed eyes and then went on to think about what I would do if a gunman entered the church. All while we were supposed to be focused on the Lord. I am not excusing myself, but after Friday, I doubt I am the only one finding myself thinking unfamiliar thoughts about murderers and escape routes. What a world we live in.

I never dreamed last week at this time that my heart could feel so heavy for people I have never even met.  That I would be writing about death and murder and fear during the holiday season.  It just feels…wrong. Jesus came into the world to save us and give us eternal life and, while murder is absolutely horrific any time of the year, it seems especially tragic at Christmastime.

We grieve for families we have never met. We hear the cries for gun control from the media. We see Facebook statuses that promote returning God to our schools. Everyone has an opinion.

But there is one thing I haven’t really heard much about: FEAR.

There have been multiple stories of shootings and assaults– Friday’s was the worst, by far, but there have been others. And, if I am not careful, I can start to become controlled by fear.

When something happens like what happened last Friday, we suddenly become aware that we are not in control of our lives. We could be violently shot down at any time. Life could end for us or our loved ones instantly. We start to fear for ourselves, even more for our children. And then the fear grows as we think about what the world will be like for our children and the worry and anxiety can start overtaking us if we aren’t very careful. Or maybe I should say “I”. I may be alone here. Not really sure.

So what do we do in the face of fear?

This has happened to me in the past and there are a couple of really helpful things I do that I thought I would pass along, just in case I am not alone.

1. I thank the Lord for what I currently enjoy.  There is nothing like a tragedy to remind you of the fragility of life and the wonderful gifts we have been given in our spouses, our children, our parents, our siblings, and our friends. We need to thank the Lord everyday for these blessings. Somehow — I can’t explain it — fear lessens in a thankful heart.

2.  I memorize God’s Word. When I went through a very fearful time many years ago, I turned to God’s Word and found many scriptures that speak to fear. I memorized a couple of them and when I would be filled with fear, I would start saying them to myself. It was very comforting and I still go to these verses today when I am struggling with fear.

3.  I am very careful about what I watch and listen to.  I am one who becomes very disturbed in my spirit if I hear all of the negative stuff going on. It will give me such a heavy heart. It is very difficult for me to see that someone’s life has been destroyed and then go about my business of the day. Because of this, I rarely watch any news at all. If something especially tragic happens, I usually will hear about it from someone or see it on Facebook. But I try to be very careful about how much news I feed myself, because that feeds the fear.

4.  I discipline my mind. This is so much easier said than done, although, after many years of practice, I have become much better at it.  I find in my life a tiny thought will become a gigantic worry if I am not very careful.  And so I try to turn my mind away from dwelling on any thoughts of fear and worry.  Although, I have to be honest, I am definitely being tested in this — as is obvious by my thought life in church yesterday!

5.  Dwell on the Truth. God knows all. Nothing happens without His knowledge. Yes, the world’s going to get worse but His grace is sufficient. If we are truly saved, then we truly have nothing to fear. He will take care of us and our children. He will see us through. I have read missionary biographies attesting to this fact. I have talked to people going through the worst of circumstances and yet they see God’s faithfulness clearly. We are not alone and bereft. God has not left your heart or this country.

Fear won’t disappear in an instant. It will take time. And we will think we have it beat and then it will crop up again in the face of the next tragedy or accident or disease-stricken relative. It is a battle I fight on a regular basis. But we can’t give in to it. We are called to live in love, not in fear.


PSALMS 46:1-3

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.


God’s Amazing Ways

Guatemala City, Guatemala

Tomorrow, my 17 year old daughter and I plan to leave for Guatemala to minister at an orphanage called Dorie’s Promise, run by Forever Changed International. I have taken a few mission trips before, but always with a team. This time I connected with an orphanage down in Guatemala City and made the decision for us to go down alone.

After making that decision, I felt great trepidation in my heart. I had found the orphanage on the internet. How could I even know it was legit? I actually considered canceling. But I had had a few conversations over the phone with the woman who had started the orphanage. I had been impressed.  So we continued on with our plans, although I was still fearful.

But then God stepped in, like He so often does.  Any given week, teams from all over the country go to this orphanage to minister.  Incredibly, the week we are going is the same week a team is going from a church that is only an hour away from us!  The team could have been from Houston or Seattle or Denver, but no, God in His graciousness put us with a team that is only an hour away from us.  And so we got in touch with the leader who not only is going the same week, but has already been to the orphanage. We met for dinner and she filled us with enthusiasm for the upcoming trip. She had nothing but good to say about the orphanage.

I was thrilled and much relieved, to be honest.

Interestingly enough, the other thing that I was feeling extremely fearful about was going to an international airport alone. Our experience in the Port Au Prince airport last summer was absolutely frightening to us country bumpkins and I was terrified of a similar experience. Especially given that our men would not be there to protect us!

But God even stepped in there. The church team is actually taking the same flight from Houston as we are. Lord-willing, we will join the team in Houston to take the international flight. Isn’t God amazing to work out even the smallest details to comfort us?

And, so, it is with great anticipation that we look forward to our trip tomorrow. But it isn’t completely without fear. For my daughter and me to go so far away alone is a bit scary for me, if I am honest. And I never like being away from my family and so that part will be rather difficult, as well.

But then I think of Amy Carmichael, who left her safe and pleasant home in London to be a missionary, not for a week, but for a lifetime. Amy, who didn’t have comfortable (and speedy) airplanes to travel in, but instead crossed the ocean in a ship– a trip that took months and which often brought on terrible seasickness. And I read of the amazing ways God took care of her.

Ah, I am so pampered. It makes me feel weak and ridiculous.  If Amy and I serve the same God, what should I fear?

With that said, I would covet your prayers this upcoming week.  Pray not only for our health and safety, but please pray that we would be given opportunities to share the Gospel. For why feed their bellies, if we can’t feed their souls?  Thank you so much for praying.

P.S. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make any posts on the blog next week, but I do plan to post photos and prayer requests on my Growing4Life facebook page, which you can “like” up in the right hand corner of this page.


Wednesday Wisdom: Believers are the true realists

During these uncertain days, I can’t help but turn to A.W. Tozer and read a few thoughts that he has to say on the arrogance of man and the plans of God, as written down in Revelation. I hope you enjoy these words from his book entitled “Jesus is Victor!” Let’s not forget that we know the ending of the story!

Living in this generation, we are fully aware that the competitive world and our selfish society have brought many new fears to the human race. I can empathize with those troubled beings who lie awake at night worrying about the possible destruction of the race through some evil, misguided use of the world’s store of nuclear weapons. The tragedy is that they have lost all sense of the sovereignty of God! I, too, would not sleep well if I could not trust moment by moment in God’s sovereignty and omnipotence and in His grace, mercy and faithfulness.

The prevailing attitudes of fear, distrust and unrest permeating our world are known to all of us. But in God’s plan some of us also know a beautiful opposite: the faith and assurance found in the church of Jesus Christ. God still has a restful “family” in His church. As believers we gladly place our confidence in God’s revelation of Himself. Although the material world has never understood our faith, it is well placed in the Scriptures. The Bible tells us many things we could learn in no other way.

This amazing Revelation—the final section of the holy Scriptures—tells us plainly that no human being and no world government or power will have any control or any say in that fiery day of judgment yet to come upon the earth. John’s vision of things to come tells us clearly and openly that at the appropriate time the direction and administration of this world will be taken away from men and women and placed in the hands of the only Man who has the wisdom and power to rightly govern. That Man is the eternal Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Revelation describes the age-ending heavenly and earthly events when our Lord and Savior is universally acknowledged to be King of kings and Lord of lords. All will acclaim Him victor. God’s Revelation leaves us with no doubt about that.

In our present period of time, however, there is little recognition of God’s sovereignty or of His plan for His redeemed people. Go into the marketplace, into our educational institutions and—yes—even into our popular religious circles, and you will find a growing tendency to make mankind large and to make God small. Human society is now taking it for granted that if God indeed exists, He has become our servant, meekly waiting upon us for our will.

In the face of this kind of human thinking, I want to make a case for the committed Christians in this world. We are the true realists. We confess that we do not hold the powers of life and death in our own hands. We have sensed the importance of John’s vision in the Revelation. We are assured that God is alive and well and that He has never abdicated His throne. While others may wonder and speculate concerning God’s place in the universe, we are assured that He has never yielded to any of His creatures His divine rights as Lord of man and nature.

It is for this reason that the Christian believer, related to God by faith, is assured of final victory. Even in the midst of earthly trials, he or she is joyful.

—Jesus Is Victor!


Find this book on Amazon here.


Where are we placing our trust?

This week is going to be very indicative of the direction the majority of Americans want to take this country.  They will show this by voting for one of two very different men. Will we move towards Socialism or will we continue in the tradition of Capitalism? It is of huge concern to many and there is a tremendous divide between the two camps.  The question hangs in the air today: which direction will it be?

As I wait with nervous anticipation the outcome of Tuesday’s results – the 2012 United States presidential election – I  have to ask myself the question: Where am I placing my trust?

Is it in the man who runs this great land? Is it in the system of Democracy? Is it in the judicial system or in Congress?

Or is it in Someone who is so much greater than any of these?

When I stop and turn my eyes to the Word of God, I find there that God is the maker of the earth and heavens (Genesis 1:1).  He is the One who controls the comings and goings of Kings and Presidents (Daniel 2:21).  God watches over even the lilies of the fields and the tiniest sparrows (Matthew 6:25-30).

This would lead me to believe that God knows exactly what is going on in this country. He is not unaware of our concerns and fears. Isn’t that a comfort? I know it is for me. You see, if we aren’t careful we can find ourselves all upset about something over which we have very little control.  But what does that reaction show the world?

I would submit that it shows them that really, when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of living, we don’t quite trust God to know best.

Of course, we don’t always understand. Of course, it doesn’t always look best to us. But there is a huge tapestry that encompasses all of history. We are but a small part. We can’t see the whole thing.

As I write this, I feel like I am just writing clichès — the stuff we have all heard a million times. But does that make it any less true?

Perhaps we need to be reminded that God holds Tuesday’s outcome in His hand, no matter what it is.  Yes, we need to vote. Yes, we need to pray. But, after we have done all we can do, then we need to trust.  Let’s show the world that our trust in God is greater than our fear of man.  We know personally the One who controls the universe and nothing should make us waver!

Will you join me in showing the world that our hope is in the Lord?

When the rains come rushing down

As I lay in my bed last night trying to figure out what I should write this morning, my daughter came in to say goodnight. We are expecting a major storm here today and so we are all a little nervous.  Before she left my room, she spent a few minutes saying goodnight to Belle, our little white dog. And then she said, “When the winds start to blow and the rain comes rushing down, hug Belle extra hard, ’cause she’s scared of the storms!” She was being silly, but her words struck a chord inside. I knew that God had hugged our family extra hard this year and it was time to tell you about it.

Nine months ago, almost to the day, we made the decision to leave the church we had attended for twenty-five years. I am not going to go into why we made that decision, as we love the people at that church very much and certainly wish them no ill will.  But we both knew that God had made it clear: we were to move on. We had poured our hearts and souls into that church and it is probably the hardest decision we have ever made.  And around us, the winds started to howl and the rains came rushing down. We felt alone and adrift.

We ended up settling in at a large church and decided to just sit back and take in the teaching of Pastor B. He is a godly man who teaches in such a way that all of us not only learn a lot, but also enjoy it. But each Sunday, we would go to church and sit down to listen. After the service, we would get up and we would look around. No one cared that we were there. We didn’t matter. And, lest I give the wrong idea here, let me be clear: our new church was very friendly. They really were. It was just we went from being surrounded by what felt like a comfortable family to being surrounded by strangers.

But then God did something amazing. He brought a family into our lives that truly wrapped their love and care around us. I am not sure they will ever know how much God used them in our tumultuous year. When we were in our loneliest hours, we clung to them. They probably got sick of us always making a beeline for them after any church service, being so thankful not to stand so conspicuously alone.

And slowly, but surely, God did amazing things that came out of our obedience to Him.  I would like to share just a few with you.

When we left our church, one of our secretaries for our business was our old pastor’s wife. We knew when we made our decision to leave, that we were probably going to put our business into an upheaval, as well as our lives. And, a few weeks after we left the church, she handed in her resignation. We had a crazy, terrible month and then God, as He often will, stepped up and provided a wonderful woman who we heard about through a family in our new church. The story of how she came to us and how the situation was perfect for her, as well, is almost…well, miraculous. It could have only been a God thing. She has been such a blessing to us. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, God gave us an extra blessing by bringing her hard-working nephew (also a member of our new church) to work for our company a few months ago. We would have never met either of these employees if we hadn’t switched churches.

Another really cool thing God did was orchestrate an almost instant friendship. I had spoken at a Moms’ Group at a local church last spring. As I spoke I talked about some hard things and mentioned that I had recently switched churches. After I was done, a lady came up to me and told me how much she had appreciated what I had said and we chatted for awhile. I had a feeling we could be friends. And then we realized that we now were going to the same church. Over the course of a few months, our friendship has grown and she has introduced me to several other ladies at the church.  All because I “happened” to speak where she “happened” to be.

I also have a dear friend who has supported my blogging for awhile now. She is such an encouragement to me. Her husband and mine have become friends, as they both are in the same business. We knew this family because our kids go to school together and lo and behold, this family goes to our new church, too. We have so enjoyed getting to know them better.

And, finally, I want to share with you how I have prayed for my children. That, by far, was my biggest concern in switching churches. And so I prayed. A lot. And God has answered in big ways. Oh, it is taking time, as all friendships do, but I can see friendships that are starting to blossom for each one of them.

I am humbled and oh, so thankful.

And, so, God has stepped up to provide for us in ways we could never have foreseen. The rain came rushing down and He hugged us extra hard. He provided for our needs, and even a few wants, as we stepped out in obedience into the unknown.

God is so faithful!

And, so, may I leave you with this? Don’t ever let fear keep you from obeying the Lord. Yes, you may end up in the middle of the field with the wind howling about you and the rain rushing down in a torrent, but that is when God hugs you extra hard.

Lamentations 3:22-24

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

7 Steps to Raising the Perfect Teenager

My {imperfect} teens (and twenty-something!)

I can almost hear the snickers now. Especially from those of you who actually know my teenagers! There are no perfect teenagers, and my teens aren’t any exception. So, if you clicked on this blog post for a formula for raising teenagers, this is not the blog post for you. But if you are interested in hearing some of the things that my husband and I have learned while raising {imperfect} teenagers, then keep reading.

1. Realize your teenager is a sinner, just as everyone on this earth is a sinner. This means that when they come home and tell us their side of story, there is probably another side. I recently had someone e-mail me to tell me something that their child had heard in our home a couple of years ago. What she said was completely inaccurate and even heretical. I don’t know how their teenager had come away with that, but somehow they had. And so when our kids come home and tell us the teacher or coach was really mean to them, or their best friend double crossed them, or their boyfriend broke their heart, always remember there is another side to that story. Try to find out what it is before reacting too quickly.

2. Be the person you want your child to become. Don’t expect your child not to cheat if you cheat on your taxes. Don’t expect your child not to lie if you call in sick to work when you aren’t sick. Don’t expect your child to speak respectfully if you don’t speak respectfully to them or to your spouse.  This is one of the greatest challenges as a parent and one we failed miserably sometimes.  I would hear one of the kids speak angrily or unkindly and I would cringe, hearing the echo of my own angry and unkind words.

3. Teach basic doctrines of Christianity.  Kids have BIG questions. Be prepared with the answers. Why am I here? Who is God? Why can’t I have sex before I am married? Why can’t I see that movie? Why is that music group off-limits? When they are little you can get away with a simple “Because I said so” to many of these questions. But if you try this tactic with teens it will most certainly breed rebellion. They need answers. And they deserve them. So it is our responsibility to not only know the answers but to talk about them with our kids. We have held conversations about everything in this house. And we always take it back to God’s Word. What does God’s Word say?  Ultimately, we are teaching our kids that they are accountable to God. It doesn’t really matter what we think. It only matters what God thinks. Many of the questions are hard and sometimes we don’t have the answers. So we search God’s Word together or we ask a pastor we trust.  But don’t avoid the questions!

And one more thing about this — oftentimes these conversations take place at the most inconvenient times, like 11pm. When the kids want to talk, don’t let a little thing like sleep get in the way.

4. Love them unconditionally. They are not always easy to love. They may shout “I hate you!” but inside they are crying “please love me, anyway!” Don’t give up on them. They can be mean, spiteful, unkind to their friends, disrespectful, and liars. Deal with the behavior firmly but keep loving them!  Make sure there is never a doubt in their mind that they have the love and support of their parents.

5. If Dad is around, make sure he is involved. If you are a single parent, I know that God is faithful and He will most definitely meet your needs. But if Mom and Dad are in the home together, then it is critical that you work together. Mom needs to treat Dad with respect and refer the kids to him sometimes for permission or discipline. Dads need to encourage conversations with their teens. Many dads grow uncomfortable with their kids as they grow older, especially their girls. Oh, they love them, but they are not quite sure what to do with them. But this is when girls need the love and listening ear of their father most. Just keep listening and loving. Keep helping Mom with discipline. Don’t make Mom field all of the tough questions. This is a partnership. It is so important that Dad doesn’t disappear during this critical time.

6. Have fun together. For our family, we love camping together. It is a time we can all get away from the routine of life and just relax and laugh and have fun. Our kids are between the ages of 13 and 22 and they still all go along when they can, because we have a great time. When I was growing up, it was sports in the backyard. We had countless football, soccer ball, and bopper ball games in the backyard. The neighbor kids would come and even my {non-athletic} mom joined in the fun. For your family, it may be something else. Maybe you all love shopping at Saturday morning yard sales or you have a family game night. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but it is important that you all do something fun together on occasion. And, by the way, movie night doesn’t really count, since there is no bonding taking place when all eyes are staring at a screen.

7. Pray, pray, pray. I can’t stress this one enough. Because when I look at all of the other points I have listed, I can see where Eric and I failed miserably many times. But God meets us in our failures and His grace covers them. It is really one of those small (or is it great?) miracles in life. Don’t pray for good grades or for them to be the football star, pray for the stuff that matters. Ask God to give them a hunger for His Word. Ask Him to bring them godly spouses. I have been praying Mark 12:30 for my kids since they were born, “Please help them to love You with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength,” pours from my lips almost every day for my kids.

I have so much more I could say, like: don’t expect too much but make sure you expect enough. And if your kids have godly grandparents, let them be a support to you. But, alas, I guess this isn’t a book, so I will stop now.

When our oldest was a pre-teen we were SO clueless. That stage felt a lot like I had felt as a brand new mom, holding that tiny newborn in my arms. I looked at the awkward and opinionated 12 year old and wondered what in the world I was supposed to do with her? But as we fell into the role of parenting teens, we learned that pre-teens need a lot of boundaries. They are emotional, oftentimes angry, and downright disrespectful at times. They will shout that they are the only ones not allowed to do something and they will sometimes be right about that. But through it all, we stuck to our guns. We didn’t give in. And I will tell you the ages between 13 and 16 were ROUGH–especially with a couple of them (I will refrain from mentioning names!). But right around the time they turned 16 things started getting so much better. All of a sudden there weren’t so many battles. And they started talking to us about their problems. We could trust them and loosen up the boundaries. It was a very gradual process. But we have never, ever regretted the firm boundaries we clung to during those tough early teen years. And now, with my older kids, we trust them. We see that they want to please God and we aren’t worried about what movie they are going to or what is on their phone. We know that they have reached a place where they understand their accountability is to God. Sure, they will make mistakes, just like we did, but they are headed in the right direction. Interestingly enough, they will often ask our advice about many of the choices they face each day. It is such a blessing!

No, there are no perfect teenagers, just as there are no perfect parents. But if our kids profess to know and love God and the fruit of their life gives evidence of this profession, what more could a parent ask for?

Can you see that ant?

There is an ant here. Can you see it?


We recently installed granite in our kitchen. It is a lovely variegated stone with tans and creams and black.  And while I absolutely love how the granite looks, I realized that there is now an awful lot that I can’t see. It is so good at hiding dirt that it is hard to tell that there is any unless you rub your hand across it and feel the gritty surface.

This fall has brought an onslaught of ants to our kitchen sink area and, like you may have already guessed, they are hard to spot on our new counters. They hurry and scurry across the surface, but I really have to look to find them in the multicolored granite.  Now, when my counter tops were a single light color I could easily spot any insect invader.

Hmmm…those ants remind me of sins that go unnoticed in my life, if I am trying to live with one foot in the world and one foot out.  When I am caught up in worldly passions and interests and am trying to mix it all up with my love for Christ and holy living, then I tend to minimize or not even notice the sin in my life.  Instead of contrasting my sin against the purity of Christ, I compare my “weaknesses” and “flaws” to those of  others. “I am not as bad as they are,” I say.

And you know what? When we compare our lives to someone else’s we always have a hard time finding our own sin. It’s there, but it’s like a little miniscule ant getting lost in the big world full of sinners. But when I look towards Christ, my sin all of a sudden shows clearly, like a giant spot of black grease on a white shirt.

I have been thinking about this a lot recently and, to tell you the truth, sometimes it can be overwhelming. When I compare myself to the purity of Christ it isn’t hard to see how and why I don’t measure up in God’s eyes in a thousand different ways. But that makes salvation all the more glorious!  This is one reason it is so important to see my own sin clearly. But not only does this help me appreciate my Savior more, it also gives me an opportunity to show the world that there is victory over sin!

So many of us live in a constant state of defeat. We languish in bad habits and hurtful attitudes for our whole lives. Why?

*Eric Ludy says this: “We are so used to hearing futility, we are so used to hearing about the failure, and we know the failure in our own life, that we don’t believe in victory anymore.”

I believe that’s true.

But it is only by acknowledging sin that we can even begin the journey to victory. And sin, especially in the life of a Christian, can be subtle and hidden.  Oh, God will show us if we are looking for it, but if we aren’t, it tends to get lost in our worldly lifestyles, just like the ants on my granite counter top.

May we be wholly devoted to becoming like Jesus. May we throw away our pride and our rebellion, so that we may instead be aware of the sin in our life, and then repent  and grow as a believer. May we truly understand just how sinful we are so that we can better understand just how awesome our Savior is! And may we show a dying world that there is victory over sin!


I Corinthians 15:56-58 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.


*Eric Ludy “The Spirit is Willing” 

Wednesday Wisdom: A Call to Prayer

“Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to life. How a man can live and not breathe is past my comprehension, and how a man can believe and not pray is past my comprehension too.”  These words are part of this excerpt from J.C. Ryle’s book entitled: A Call to Prayer. This book is short and easy to read and challenged me to make proper prayer a priority. I highly recommend it.

I ask again whether you pray, because a habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian. All the children of God on earth are alike in this respect. From the moment there is any life and reality about their religion, they pray. Just as the first sign of life in an infant when born into the world is the act of breathing, so the first act of men and women when they are born again is praying. This is one of the common marks of all the elect of God, “They cry unto him day and night” (Luk_18:1). The” Holy Spirit, who makes them new creatures, works in them the feeling of adoption, and makes them cry, “Abba, Father” (Rom_8:15). The Lord Jesus, when he quickens them, gives them a voice and a tongue, and says to them, “Be dumb no more.” God has no dumb children. It is as much a part of their new nature to pray, as it is of a child to cry. They see their need of mercy and grace. They feel their emptiness and weakness. They cannot do otherwise than they do. They must pray. I have looked carefully over the lives of God’s saints in the Bible. I cannot find one of whose history much is told us, from Genesis to Revelation, who was not a man of prayer. I find it mentioned as a characteristic of the godly, that “they call on the Father” (1Pe_1:17), or “the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1Co_1:2). Recorded as a characteristic of the wicked is the fact that “they call not upon the Lord” (Psa_14:4).

I have read the lives of many eminent Christians who have been on earth since the Bible days. Some of them, I see, were rich, and some poor. Some were learned, and some unlearned. Some of them were Episcopalians, and some Christians of other names. Some were Calvinists, and some were Arminians. Some have loved to use a liturgy, and some to use none. But one thing, I see, they all had in common. They have all been men of prayer.

I study the reports of missionary societies in our own times. I see with joy that heathen men and women are receiving the gospel in various parts of the globe. There are conversions in Africa, in New Zealand, in Hindustan, in China. The people converted are naturally unlike one another in every respect. But one striking thing I observe at all the missionary stations: the converted people always pray.

I do not deny that a man may pray without heart and without sincerity. I do not for a moment pretend to say that the mere fact of a person’s praying proves everything about his soul. As in every other part of religion, so also in this, there may be deception and hypocrisy. But this I do say, that not praying is a clear proof that a man is not yet a true Christian. He cannot really feel his sins. He cannot love God. He cannot feel himself a debtor to Christ, He cannot long after holiness. He cannot desire heaven. He has yet to be born again. He has yet to be made a new creature. He may boast confidently of election, grace, faith, hope, and knowledge, and deceive ignorant people. But you may rest assured it is all vain talk if he does not pray.

And I say, furthermore, that of all the evidences of the real work of the Spirit, a habit of hearty private prayer is one of the most satisfactory that can be named. A man may preach from false motives. A man may write books and make fine speeches and seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a man seldom goes into his closet, and pours out his soul before God in secret, unless he is in earnest. The Lord himself has set his stamp on prayer as the best proof of a true conversion. When he sent Ananias to Saul in Damascus, he gave him no other evidence of his change of heart than this, “Behold, he prayeth ” (Act_9:11).

I know that much may go on in a man’s mind before he is brought to pray. He may have many convictions, desires, wishes, feelings, intentions, resolutions, hopes, and fears. But all these things are very uncertain evidences. They are to be found in ungodly people, and often come to nothing. In many a case they are not more lasting than the morning cloud, and the dew that passeth away. A real, hearty prayer, coming from a broken and contrite spirit, is worth all these things put together. I know that the Holy Spirit, who calls sinners from their evil ways, does in many instances lead them by very slow degrees to acquaintance with Christ. But the eye of man can only judge by what it sees. I cannot call any one justified until he believes. I dare not say that any one believes until he prays. I cannot understand a dumb faith, The first act of faith will be to speak to God. Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to life. How a man can live and not breathe is past my comprehension, and how a man can believe and not pray is past my comprehension too.

Never be surprised if you hear ministers of the gospel dwelling much on the importance of prayer. This is the point we want to bring you to; we want to know that you pray. Your views of doctrine may be correct. Your love of Protestantism may be warm and unmistakable. But still this may be nothing more than head knowledge and party spirit.

We want to know whether you are actually acquainted with the throne of grace, and whether you can speak to God as well as speak about God.

Do you wish to find out whether you are a true Christian? Then rest assured that my question is of the very first importance — Do you pray?

Ryle, J.C. (2011-01-10). A CALL TO PRAYER. Kindle Edition.


The Kindle edition of this wonderful book is only 99 cents over at Amazon. Click here if you are interested in reading this little gem.


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