Grace Wins the Game

"For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ." -Romans 5:17 I am always on the lookout for God-signs in my life. It's one of the ways God speaks to me. Two things He uses in my life to confirm my direction are rainbows, and the number 17. The rainbow is symbolic of grace and God's promise, and the number 17 is also symbolic of grace to me. One rainbow, 7 colors. I was born on the 17th, and married on the 17th. It seems whenever I look at the clock it's 17 past the hour. Often when I travel I end u


"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." -Romans 15:7 We have a performance complex in the world today. We tend to believe that we are accepted for what we do, not for who we are. Business works this way. Politics works this way. It's hard to focus on accepting the who versus the do, since in work situations the "do" is essential for success and profit. But what about you and me? Are we only accepted for what we do or don't do in life? Unfortunately we will end up in depression or some other extreme behavior if we continue to believe this lie. The truth is that God loves and accepts us before we do anything. This truth is often easy to f

Seeking God for His Presence vs. His Blessings

"And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever." -1 Chronicles 28:9 A mentor of mine was in town, and he was talking about the importance of seeking God's presence. "So many people seek God for what He can do for them, but that's not what's important. What's important is seeking God for His presence." There is so much that vies for our attention from the time we're young until the time we leave this earth. The world makes us think certain things are

Embracing the Tension

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 Have you ever felt tension in your life? There are negative tensions, like anxiety or worry, and positive tensions, like weight-training. According to Webster's online dictionary, the type of tension we're talking about means "either of two balancing forces causing or tending to cause extension". In every life, there is a tension that exists between who we are now and who God is calling us to be. Switchfoot says it best in their song Dare to Move: "The tension is here, The tension is here; Between who you are and who you could be, Between how it is and how it

Giving God the Glory

"The land of Egypt will become a desolate wasteland, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord. "Because you said, 'The Nile River is mine; I made it.'" -Ezekiel 29:9 "I did that." "I built that." "Because I deserve it." In our Western way of thinking, we often think that the reason for our success is because of us, even if we believe in God. The mindset that, "It happened because of me," pervades our society. But, is this really true? The Bible says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17) Would we be able to have life without Him? The Psalmist knew the value of pr

A New Heart

"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations." Ezekiel 36:24-28 You know, when we begin to think about the New Year, there is a lot of talk about New Year's Resolutions. In 2007, Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol did a survey of 3000 people to see how many actually fulfilled their New Year's resolutions. According to his findings, a staggering 88% of people do not fulfill their New Year's resolutions. What does that say about us? I think it says that only 12% of us k

The Greatest Gift

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 6:23 Have you ever seen the movie It's a Wonderful Life? It has to be one of the greatest American movies of all time, released in 1946. The film stars George Bailey, a man whose dire circumstances result in a depression so bad he makes up his mind to take his own life on Christmas Eve. Just as he is about to jump off a bridge, George's guardian angel, Clarence Odbody, makes himself known to George and intervenes on his behalf. Clarence then takes George on a journey, showing him the impact his life has had on others and how their community would've been vastly different if George had

Workers in the Bible

"Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was." -Acts 18:1-3 Often we might think that the first disciples lived as missionaries like missionaries do in the modern day. We might think that all of the disciples were supported completely by the early church to go and preach the gospel. But, Paul was a tentmaker. His friends Priscilla and Aquila were also tentmakers. He said, "We work wearily with our own hands to earn our

Paying it Forward

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed - not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence - continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." Philippians 2:12 & 13 Have you ever done something nice for someone who didn't really appreciate it? Have you ever performed a gesture of kindness only to realize that the person on the receiving end didn't care, or wasn't reciprocal? Not feeling appreciated isn't the greatest, but we have all experienced this at one time or another. Have you ever mentored someone, spent hours on a worthy project, or given financial aid, only

Spiritual Pollution

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." -Romans 12:2 I am a big fan of preventative health. Anything we can do to help avoid the devastating effects of disease through exercise and nutrition is very important to me! Most people who have a knowledge of preventative health know that everyday, we are bombarded by things that can have damaging effects on our bodies — chemicals, pesticides, and hormones in our food, stressors in our lives, and toxins from our environment, such as pollution from auto exhaust and electr

Getting Refueled

"The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul." -Psalm 19:7 Have you ever felt worn down? I'm sure we've all felt burnt out at one point or another. Just like a car needs gas to go, we need to fill ourselves up with spiritual fuel. When our lives get hectic and we get stressed, we need to know where to go to get refreshed. We need to understand that we're not superhuman — we will eventually run out of steam. But with God there is unending supply! Our connection to Him is like an umbilical cord to that supply, but in order to receive more we need to draw on it. We need to seek God. We need to be honest with Him, so no blockages can get in the way. We need to be filtered through wo

Sweet Surrender

"Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him" - 2 Timothy 2:11 What does it mean to surrender? In many contexts, surrendering has a negative connotation — one that implies resignation, abandonment, or defeat. But, in the Christian sense, surrender is actually a good thing. One definition of surrender means, "to give up in favor of another".* When we surrender our lives to Christ, we give up our own way of doing things and favor His will over our own. In order for us to do this, we have to be able to trust Him. Trusting in God's love is the only way to experiencing the fullness of our new life in Him. Before the Apostle Paul was a disciple of Jesus, he

Cast Your Cares on Him

"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'" -Matthew 11:28 You know, in this world we live in, it is easy to be stressed. There is so much to take care of, so many things that happen — it's amazing we get through some things. The number of people taking anti-anxiety medication has skyrocketed in America. According to USA Today, 1 in 5 people take behavioral medications. Life transitions, illness, difficult family members — sometimes life seems like more than we can bear. I love the footsteps in the sand poem. When I was younger I found it cheesy, but its so true that during difficult times our Heavenly Father carries us, li

Our One True God

"But the LORD is the only true God. He is the living God and the everlasting King! The whole earth trembles at his anger. The nations cannot stand up to his wrath." -Jeremiah 10:10 From the time Israel was released from bondage to Egypt until the time of Jesus, the Israelites struggled with idolatry. Even though they had been given a set of instructions by Moses (the 10 Commandments), they still rebelled against the guidelines God gave them and set out to live the way they wanted. As such, they began to worship idols, starting with the golden calf, when Moses was on Mt. Sinai getting the instructions for living from God. (Exodus 32) We humans have always had the same nature, trying to fi

The Throne of Grace

"So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." -Hebrews 4:16 Do you have anyone in your life who is really irritating or difficult to be around? Is there anyone you work with or in your family who is this way? We all have people in our lives that if we had the choice, we wouldn't be around them, or would only be around them for short periods of time! An intercessor who has a prayer ministry gave me some very valuable advice when I asked her about a situation I was struggling with related to someone else. She said, "You need to pray to God on behalf of that person and come to the throne of

Taking Responsibility for Our Faith

"But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." -Hebrews 5:12-14 There comes a time in our Christian walk when we take responsibility for our faith. We begin to understand that our lives have meaning beyond what we can see right now. We realize it's not all about us, and we feel more confident in who God made us to be. We've grown up in the knowledge of God and of His character, and we have a better understanding of His will for the earth. We learn to fight for others who may not know God as well as we do. Nehemiah was someone in the Bible who took responsibility for his faith. Check out his prayer to God on behalf of the nat

Forgetting the Former Things

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-20 Are there things from your past that you keep going back to? Old mistakes, past regrets, personal failures, or things that you still feel guilt over? Are there things that you need to "forget" or stop dwelling on in your life? In the Old Testament, when the Israelites were far away from God, rebelling and worshipping other gods, the prophet Isaiah was one of the prophets who called them into account. But, even though the Israelites had done horrible things, (even sacrificing their ch

We Are Not Silos

"For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone." -Romans 14:7 Have you ever thought about the fact that your life matters? Sometimes we can get into the mindset that it's just us, all alone by ourselves, and that what we do doesn't affect other people. But, if you were born into this world, it took someone else to bring you here! Even if we don't think so, we have the ability to affect others, directly or indirectly. My husband and I had attended a marriage conference where the teacher challenged us to remain faithful to the covenant, (or promise), we had made to each other — not just on behalf of our own family — but on behalf of our culture and the w

Faithful in the Small Things

"But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you." -1 Samuel 12:24 One night, our worship director put us up to a challenge: "If you're feeling discouraged, or like you're hitting a brick wall, let me ask you a question: Are you doing everything within the area that you've been assigned? Have you exhausted every resource you have available to you? Have you done everything with what you've been given?" There's a great fact about Native Americans — when they killed a buffalo, they used EVERY single part of that buffalo — from its head to its hoofs. Nothing was left unused. They knew that if they were creative, they c

God Doesn't Play Favorites

"Then Peter began to speak: 'I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.'" -Acts 10:34 & 35 All throughout the history of the world, things have happened that are less than ideal. People have hurt people and there have been wars. Class warfare, discrimination, and racism have existed and still exist today. In the Kingdom of God however, God plays no favorites. He loves each of us the same, much more than we will ever know. (Ephesians 3:17-19) Sometimes we may think that God's blessing or approval is only reserved for "special people"; that it's based on God's criteria of random characteristics

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