April 30, 2017

You Don’t Need to Learn How to ‘Love Yourself’

Last week was Valentine's Day, and I couldn't believe how many times I saw the phrase love yourself. The world of greeting cards, inspirational books, and social media posts is filled to overflowing with this idea that we must love ourselves better (or more) before we can love others. But I'm pretty sure that's not what my Bible says . . . What did Christ call the two greatest commandments? Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Notice He didn't say to love yourself first so that you can love others or God. He said to love others as you already love yourself. Nobody needs to be told to love themselves! We spend so many [...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]


The Secret of Endurance

Once upon a time, there was a young boy named Joseph who was his father's favorite. He came from a large family -- eleven brothers (ten older, one younger) and one sister -- but he was the beloved one. He had all the richest comforts his father could provide, the best robes and the easiest work. He had been chosen above all the other sons to be his father's successor. He innocently (or perhaps naively) shared this knowledge with his siblings -- which, of course, made them jealous. After all, he was only a teenager. He hadn't done anything yet to prove his worth. But eventually they got so jealous, they sold him to some foreigners who happened to pass through the area. Suddenly he went [...Read More]


Is Spiritual Growth Worth the Work?

Do you ever get tired of striving to grow spiritually one baby step at a time - and sometimes going big steps backwards instead of forwards? Do you wonder if it's truly "worth it" to practice self-control, to be consistent, to love the unlovely? Do you ever think... you're going to heaven anyway, so what's the big deal about becoming a better Christian right now? The day-to-day struggles can be wearying. And when you consider how many commands there are in Scripture about how we are to live -- qualities to develop, temptations to avoid, or good things to pursue -- how can we ever hope to do it all? To achieve spiritual maturity? For example, we have this list in 2 Peter 1 of qualities [...Read More]


Steward What You Have

I just finished reading another book about stewardship. Some chapters were really great, and ended up with plenty of highlighted passages. Other chapters... well, I couldn't really relate to them. Because I don't have the resources they were talking about stewarding. I may have the same amount of time as the next person, but I certainly don't have the same amount of physical health or energy. I don't have the same amount of money. I don't have any children. I don't have a sphere of influence at work. I don't have... well, you get the idea. There's a lot I don't have, and I started getting discouraged. How can I steward what I don't have? But then the obvious hit me: God doesn't [...Read More]


When Good Things Become Idols

I've been thinking about idols lately. More specifically, I've been thinking about how anything can become an idol: good things, bad things, and even the in-between sort of things. There's a lot of good things that we can strive for in this life. Financial freedom, physical fitness, healthful living, pleasing homes, productive days, consistent routines, accomplished children, perfect marriages... But when those things start stealing our focus away from pleasing God, they become idols. When they begin controlling our emotions and thoughts, they become idols. When they start making us discontent or whiny, they become idols. When financial freedom becomes more important than [...Read More]


How to Be Courageous

Are you courageous?  No, I'm not talking about the movie. I'm talking about being courageous in the nitty-gritty everyday. Living how God wants you to live. Believing His Word, acting on His promises, obeying His commands. Standing for His truth. It's so easy to be discouraged by everything -- not just the big stuff, but even the mundane things that happen over and over again. The little challenges that wear you down. Like laundry that's never finished, car problems that keep recurring, relatives that frustrate and annoy, money that never seems to stick around. You know what I'm talking about, right? Think about the word discourage for a minute. It means to deprive of courage, to [...Read More]


Separation

Separation is a controversial word these days. There's all this hubbub about being tolerant, and accepting people where they are. Everyone clamors for more love, more grace, more liberty. But God says something different. Do you realize that His Word quite clearly tells us to separate from sin? That God commands us to distance ourselves from unholy pursuits and unrighteous people? That it labels those who are friends of the world as God's enemies? Scripture is quite clear on this, and anyone who disagrees is living in unbelief. Because if God's Word is true, then all of it is true. It cannot contain both truth and falsehood. It cannot be both pure and impure. It is all true, and thus all [...Read More]


Being Abraham: revisited

School is starting up again for my husband. He's about 33% of the way through his M.Div program (4 more years to go, maybe?). And every semester has been a challenge in many ways, but especially financially. But though it's been difficult and uncertain, God has been so faithful to provide just what we need, just when we need it. And every semester, I think back to when he first enrolled in seminary, in August 2010. I wrote a post at that time about what we were anticipating, and how we were (not really) planning to get through it all. We were walking by faith, just like Abraham did when he set out to an unknown country. He only knew that God had called him to go, but he had no idea where [...Read More]


What’s keeping you busy?

Imagine you leave your three kids home one day while you go out to run errands. Before you leave, you give them each a detailed list of things to do while you're gone. They don't know how long you'll be gone - and are encouraged to get their work done first, before they enjoy some playtime. Now fast-forward several hours. You've been busy running around town, meeting people and taking care of business. You finally finish your list for the day, head home, and unlock the door. You walk in to find one child sitting at the kitchen table, diligently working on the next day's homework. Her duties included sweeping the kitchen floor, emptying the dishwasher, and taking the trash out. And guess [...Read More]