February 20, 2017

The Problem with Fig Leaves

In the beginning, God created the world and its inhabitants, and all was spectacularly perfect. And God created two special beings in His own image and placed them in a beautiful garden, filled with trees that were pleasant to the sight and good for food. Along with the trees that provided regular sustenance, there was also a tree of life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And God gave man a very simple, clear command: "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat." One day a shining serpent appeared and began to prey on the woman's inner desire for that one forbidden thing, subtly twisting God's words and [...Read More]


Ten Important Things You Should Do in 2017

What are you hoping to accomplish in 2017? Whether you set New Year's resolutions, pick a word for the year, or simply choose a handful of goals to pursue over the next 12 months, the beginning of a new year is a perfect time to step back, reassess your priorities, and set markers to steer you in the direction you want to go. There's a reason we tend to do all that in January. My theory? All the new toys and gadgets we get for Christmas inspire us to carve out time to try new things, push us to re-organize our possessions to find room for everything, and motivate us to improve a skill or expand our understanding in some area. Plus there's the whole "new calendar" vibe that encourages us [...Read More]


The Unexpectedness of the First Christmas

The virgin birth of Christ in Bethlehem had been prophesied hundreds of years before it actually happened. But it happened in a way that was completely unexpected. Mary was just an ordinary girl. Joseph, just a simple carpenter. The manger in Bethlehem was surrounded by itchy hay and the sounds and smells of working animals. Not to mention the shepherds, who were the outcasts of society, were the last people who would be invited to worship a king. Think back to that time... It had been four long centuries since anyone had heard God's voice. Four hundred long years of pure unbroken silence. No divine messengers. No prophets. No visions or dreams. Just four hundred long years of [...Read More]


You Only Live Once

You only live once. It's become a trite catchphrase over the past few years, annoying to some and overused by others, but that doesn't make it any less true. You only live once. You don't get a do-over after you die. You don't reincarnate as another person or being of some other kind. You live once, and then you die, and that's it for life on this earth. You only live once. You only have one short lifetime to make a difference, to say kind words to those who are hurting, to love the unlovely, to share the gospel, to be an example, to help the less fortunate, to make a direct impact with your words and actions. You only live once. After you die, though your soul will [...Read More]


Thoughts on Giving Thanks

There’s something special about this time of year, when so many people start meditating on everything they have to be thankful for. As Christians, we have an even greater reason to be people characterized by the habitual giving of thanks — not just for abundant physical blessings, but so many spiritual blessings too! The blogosphere is teeming right now with various thoughts about practicing gratitude -- from historical perspectives, to its uniqueness among Christians, and even some of its challenges. I hope you'll take the time over the next few days to work through some of these links! Why We Should Be Thankful for the Gift of Gratitude -- Why is it so critical for Christians to [...Read More]


A Plea for Christian Americans

Christian Americans, the world is watching us. Our countrymen --  our neighbors -- are watching to see how we will respond to the unprecedented election of such a controversial figure and the fear and hatred that is running rampant throughout our nation right now. Whether you voted for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or someone else -- now is the time to prove our Christian values to those around us. Now is the time when we must show our obedience to God's command to love our neighbors and do good to all. Now is the time for us to reach out with respect and humility, with kindness and grace, toward all men and women -- no matter what our political beliefs or backgrounds. I am a [...Read More]


What Truly Matters about This Year’s Election

My heart is heavy as I consider tomorrow's election. Whatever the result, our nation will suffer. We are being torn apart year by year as we fight our way to subduing the opposing parties. I can't think of a single friend who is truly happy about how things have progressed in this election. Even those who stand firmly behind a particular candidate have expressed frustration at some of that candidate's actions and attitudes... never mind the interchange between staunch supporters of the two main candidates and the problems inherent in the parties themselves. Those who dislike the winning candidate will point fingers at whoever voted for him/her, and blame those who chose not to vote for [...Read More]


The Great Exchange: From Death to Life

In and of ourselves, we are nothing. In fact, we are worse than nothing... we are like dirty pigs wallowing in our own filth, thinking we're the richest most enviable creatures on earth. But as any one who's seen at a pigsty can tell you, pigs are clearly neither rich nor enviable. We're not much better. We are like dumb animals, too enamored with our best efforts to notice how poor we really are. In fact, Isaiah says all our best works are no better than filthy rags -- like the kind you would use to wipe up pig slop. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh… Humans are selfish, depraved creatures full of death and sin. We have no hope for redemption in and [...Read More]


Beginning My Missionary Journey: the College Years

In my last post, I began sharing the story of how God called me to home missions. I went off to college with a burden on my heart for spiritually oppressed people and a specific call to prepare for full-time Christian service as a pastor's wife. I wasn't sure how all the pieces fit together, but God was still writing the story... The final two things God used to direct my missionary journey were faithful involvement in ministry and a short-term missions trip. During my first semester in college, I got involved in an regular outreach ministry on the weekends. We would travel to nearby nursing homes, women and children's shelters, and local churches to minister through puppet shows, [...Read More]


Beginning My Missionary Journey – The Early Years

I had the opportunity recently at a ladies' meeting to share the story of my missionary journey -- how God led me to prepare for becoming a missionary-church planter, and then used that call to direct me to a husband and place of ministry. When I mentioned it on Facebook, several of you expressed a desire to hear the story too, and I decided to share it with the hope that it might be an encouragement to all. My story begins -- as all of ours do -- with God's call to salvation when I was a young child. But fast forward about 12 years, and the story of my missionary journey begins. I could sum the beginning of that journey with the words of Abraham's servant in Genesis 24, when he was [...Read More]