Friday, December 30, 2011


Hey friends! You can win a free book!

I've got a new and very exciting project announcement. We've just created a new Facebook page for it. If we get to 500 LIKES today, we're giving away a ton of books.

For some extra tidbits of info on our secret project, click here:

Go "Like" us and you're automatically entered into the drawing!

Sunday, December 25, 2011





Spend 2012 searching Him out and finding out how very much He adores you.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God! -- Psalm 42:11

Jesus came to this earth as a vast fulfillment, carrying with Him all that humanity needed. I've just blogged twenty-three times about the different ways Jesus has touched my life and what He is to me. I could've gone on many more times. But for everything He is, if He wasn't first and foremost Savior, then it would all be for nothing. He could be a great teacher, a great helper, full of wisdom, but in the end, we were still destined to die in our sins and to take the punishment for all we've done, as individuals and as the human race.

If someone didn't come to save us, it would be over. To say Jesus saved my life is the understatement of the century, but at the heart of it all, it is that simple. He saved me from punishment. From death. He continues to save me from harm, from lies, from myself.

Isaiah 9:6

For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

In other words, Savior.

Merry Christmas, in the fullest sense of the Word.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me." Recently my son asked me, "Mom, how do we know that Christianity is THE only way? How do we even know it's true?"

It's a good question. A smart question. It's a question that anybody who is seeking to find truth should ask. If Christianity is worth anything, then it can stand up to this question. And I believe it does.

There are many aspects of Christianity that persuade me to bet not only this current life and all that is in it, but my entire eternal future on the belief that it is true. It sort of begins with the question, is there really even a God?

To me, the idea that all this is a random accident doesn't ring true at all. It doesn't even make sense. There is almost nothing to convince me of it. Looking just at the human body alone convinces me we were created. But not just the whole body. The eye. The inner ear. The brain. And then there's the sky and the stars and the way the sun and the moon work together. Then there's the vast solar system. And wind. And thunder. There are the seasons. Dolphins. There is love.

But there is something else, and that is the question, where does goodness come from? If we are nothing but an advanced form of animal, then why does a man sacrifice his life for a total stranger? Why are we compelled to help the weakest instead of propel the strongest? Why is there a standard by which we all believe we should live by? Why is cheating or stealing wrong, if our instincts tell us to survive by any means? Why do we have character? Nobility? Honesty?

From the point that I concluded that there is indeed a God, then I had to ask the question, is Jesus who He said He was? We know for certain a man named Jesus existed and claimed to be the Son of God. It's not fable. The question is, is it true? I think I'd be less inclined to believe it had He shown up as everyone expected, as a mighty warrior coming to overthrow an oppressive regime and put Israel into power. Turns out that wasn't His plan. It was much bigger. And very much unexpected. It was offered far and wide, to Israel and to its enemies. It didn't come commanding a vast army. It came humbly. Poor and destitute. The savior everyone was expecting turned up at criminals' homes. He talked to prostitutes and outcasts.

Greatness came in many forms the day Jesus arrived on earth, but it came in the most human way possible, too. It came in way so that no man could claim he was left out or uncared for. Freedom and love was offered to everyone, not just a select few. Not just to a chosen nation. To everyone.

And all the prophecies recorded about Him hundreds of years before came true.

He predicted the world would hate Him. He was right. But not all the world. Not me. I, for one, am thankful for a God who took pity on me. But more than that, He took me into His arms.

There is a lot to ponder when it comes to Christianity. Every part of it can stand up to scrutiny. Jesus will not turn you away for your questions. He won't turn you away at all. We are the ones that turn Him away.

The Great I AM invites you to search for the truth. I don't think you'll ever be disappointed in what you find in Jesus.

Final Winner

Congratulations to LisaAnn V! You are the winner of the last Christmas drawing!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


With the coupon craze as it is now, it seems we'd all know a little something about the word redeem. But it has a lot of meanings, and when it turns from a verb to a noun, when we've been redeemed by the Redeemer, the meaning has such extraordinary eternal provision for us that it's best if broken down into small, bite-sized pieces.

As our Redeemer, here is just a sampling of what He has done for us, by His own blood, by His own sacrifice.

1) He has compensated for our faults and the bad aspects of our character and being as well as for our poor past performances and/or behaviors. (Probably *and*)

2) He has atoned for our errors and has made amends for our evil acts.

3) He has saved us from our sins, our errors and our evil deeds. He has saved us from the curse, the eternal consequences and the punishment we deserve.

4) He has regained possession of us in exchanged for payment, in our case, His life for ours. He paid the ultimate price to get us back to Him.

5) He exchanged Himself for us, taking our place of punishment, taking all that we deserve and putting Himself in our place. He exchanged His rightful place as King of Kings and Lord of Lords to hang on a cross as a criminal, which was our rightful place.

6) He paid the necessary price to clear our debts. What we owed we could not pay. He made sure He paid everything for us to be totally clear of the debt.

7) He fulfilled and carried out His pledge and His promises to all His children, that He would conquer the world and sin and rescue us from depravity.

8) He bought our freedom.

That pretty much says it all, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Isaiah 12:2 - See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.

In some of the worst crises I've faced in my life, I would've told you at that moment that I was not strong. In fact, most of the time you'd find me in a heap on the floor, praying for strength between sobs.

But I've found it interesting over the years, as I've pondered what it means when the Lord says He is our strength, that I was much stronger than I gave myself credit for. And in fact, I actually came through much of it unscathed, even though my tear ducts got a good workout.

Strength, of course, comes in many forms. And it's different for every person. But there is one thing I am certain of: when God tells us He's our strength, we often look in the wrong place to identify that strength. We look through human eyes. We try to be strong in and of ourselves.

But God's strength is different and it often looks different than our perceptions of strength. It usually starts from the center of our being, our soul, where no one can see but God. We may look utterly pathetic on the outside, but there's something that's stirring inside of us, telling us there is hope, that things are working for our good, that He has a plan we can't see but we can trust.

If we're going to go by feelings, which is how most of us navigate anyway, I "feel" the strongest when I'm in God's word, especially when I'm reading it out loud over a situation. I believe Him when He says His word never returns void. I believe Him that His word is mighty and strong. I believe Him when He says He's able to do more than we can hope for or ask.

And that belief is strength. It's not bulging and ripped, like it's on steroids. It's quiet and resolved, waiting on Someone bigger than ourselves. It's trust in the dark.

Pray for strength and you will find it through Jesus, sometimes in the most unexpected and quiet ways.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Psalm 91 has become one of my favorite passages over the years. It paints such an enduring and beautiful picture of God as a mighty fortress overshadowing all He loves. To stand in His shadow is peace like no other.

Over the years, Jesus has been my shelter in many ways, more than I can count, really. But a few stick in my mind. I remember being on my way to work, running right on time for once, when my mom called to ask me to come by and sign some paper work. I was aggravated because I knew it would make me late. It ended up saving my life, because had I not stopped by my mom's work, I would've been right in front of the Murrah building when it blew up in Oklahoma City.

More recently, I ended up in a very strenuous ordeal that seemed to be heading into a lawsuit, much to my dismay. Even though I knew I had not done anything wrong, it looked like disaster ahead. I sat on my back porch and prayed the Psalms over my situation, calling down Jesus' help. I was delivered.

More often than bombings and lawsuits, Jesus shelters me from a cruel world, a world that does not accept Him or me. He protects me from my own thoughts, even, reasoning with me when I'm being unreasonable, or paranoid or anxious over the smallest of concerns. He reminds me of how valuable I am to Him even when others don't see me as anything near value. I haven't been on a small sailing vessel lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been hit by some mighty big waves. Yet...I am sheltered.

Does that mean bad things don't come my way? Not at all. We all know Jesus made it clear that in this world, we would have trouble. But He has overcome this world, and if we let Him, He will provide shelter from both the hot and the cold, the dark, the loneliness, the anger and bitterness and more. And that's just naming what we know about. Imagine all the things He's sheltered us from that we don't even know about.

Needing some shelter from the harsh winds of life? Or more specifically, this particular time of year? See below...

Psalm 91
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Monday, December 19, 2011


There is coming a moment in history when everything as we know it will change. As Christians, we often pray for this moment (come, Jesus, come!), eager to be in the arms of the Savior who loves us.

But when we behold Him, I don't believe there will be an ounce of us that will be able to stand. The sight of Him returning will be the end of everything we know, as we know it. Time and Choice will be no more. He will be both righteous judge and righteous warrior. The description that Revelation offers strikes in me both awe and terror. If ever there was a picture of a warrior, this is it:

Revelation 19
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. 15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. 16 On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

I cannot read this without chills rushing through me. This brings so many emotions to the surface. I know for whom He is waging war, and I know what side I am on. But I still don't know that I will not tremble at the sight of this mighty Warrior. The fact that He is Faithful, True, Righteous and Fair makes this even more monumental, because there have been great warriors throughout history, but none that perfectly embody all that is right and good and of God.

In this season, we celebrate that unto us, a Child is born, a Son is given. But it would do us good to also remember that this Child grows into the greatest Warrior in the world and the battle that He leads will be the greatest in the history of the world.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


The fact that Jesus was both fully God and fully human is utterly mind-blowing yet also fully comprehensible to those with child-like faith. I suppose it is because we understand that in order for the human race to be saved, a human sacrifice had to be made. What is harder for me to understand is the vast love Jesus had to have in order to leave a kingdom He ruled to come down and dwell among this mess.

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is from John 1:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

He became flesh and dwelt among us. It is the great gift and love of God. And it also helps us understand that we are capable through Him of all He asks of us, because He showed us how to be both human and filled with the Spirit of God. He showed us the two can exist together and not only that, were made to exist together. He showed us that He understands every human weakness and need we have, and He fully intends on making us strong and fulfilling His promises not only in us, but through us as well.

That little Baby who shivered in the cold, who became not only human but poor and homeless on our behalf, is worth every effort of our praise and our thanks. Jesus left comfort to bring us comfort. He left prosperity so that we might have our cup overflowing. He left His throne so we could understand we are children of God--heirs, in fact.

And now we have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of Grace and Truth.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


The older I get, the more reliant I am on Jesus as my Helper. In my twenties, I was glad He was there in a crisis, but I assumed I had most everything else under control. The older I get, the more I realize that I'm so utterly dependent on Him that the thought of Him not being there causes me to desperately panic.

Luckily, He tells us He will never leave us or forsake us. But I often wonder how people get by without Him because I know for certain that I cannot. I've tried. It wasn't pretty.

I am learning that not only am I reliant upon Him in times of crisis, but I also need Him as much in times of prosperity and blessing and peace. Because I'm such a weak and feeble-minded human, I cannot balance either crisis or blessing with any amount of grace without Him.

In fact, I've learned more times than I care to share that I can hardly open my mouth without Him. When I'm not relying on His grace, His care, His Word, His love, my words are like clanging symbols, and that's putting it nicely.

Unbelievably, I'm not a bother to Him with all this help I need. He promises it to me. And He wants to give it to me. I'm such a wreck most of the time that without Him, I'm really better off just standing perfectly still and putting duct tape over my mouth and a blindfold over my eyes. There's a good chance then that I might not cause myself or someone else to stumble. Otherwise, I'm a mess waiting to happen.

I need to give Him every minute of my day, rely on Him for every moment with which I'm confronted. Otherwise I am overwhelmed by greed, jealousy, self-doubt, sin, selfishness, envy, strife, offense, passiveness, aggression, anger, disappointment...I could really keep going on for quite some time, but you get the picture.

I'm a mess without Him. He loves me and that's why He's always willing to be my Helper.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Last night came the most adventurous sleigh ride I've ever had the displeasure of taking. And I use the word "adventurous" in place of "torturous" because this is Christmas and I should be posting "feel-good" stories. To make a long story short, I was taking my husband's family's traditional sleigh ride with Clydesdale horses to look at Christmas lights through a neighborhood when suddenly one little girl's balloon popped, the horses reared and then bolted, with all twenty of us attached to the rickety cart on wheels. With horses out of control and the driver frantically trying to get the horses under control, we're zipping around corners and I'm screaming at all our kids in the back, "HANG ON!!!" Finally he got them slowed down. My 16-year-old nephew who is sitting next to me looks at me weirdly and says, "I thought for a second the phone in your pocket was vibrating but that's actually you." Yep. Nerves-of-steel Rene, shaking like a leaf.

One time I witnessed a bread truck plow into a concrete wall going sixty miles an hour on a highway. I was right behind him and the first person to stop. I got out of my car, intending to run up to help him, but as I tried to move my feet, they literally felt like lead. I looked down because they weren't moving at all even though I wanted to help this guy. Another man stopped, luckily, and I eventually made it to the victim, but not like I'd wanted.

I've had brief moments of courage through my life, intermittent at best. For the most part, I'm not superbly courageous.

Because of that, the cross has always fascinated and perplexed me. I am fascinated by Jesus' courage in the face of the grimmest ordeal any human has ever had to face. And as has been explained to me over and over about courage, it's not the lack of fear, it's walking through it. It is evident that Jesus wished more than anything that it could be done differently, imploring the Father to try to find another way.

It has perplexed me because I cannot comprehend it. I can't see or understand how He did it. Sometimes I don't even know why, on one of those days where I'm a certain disappointment to God, man and even my dog. How could He do that for us when He had the absolute ability to save Himself and put all his accusers to shame?

It is a wonder, and maybe I won't fully comprehend or understand it until Heaven. But I am thankful for His courage. On the days when I'm truly seeking His face, I find that I have a little more courage than the day before. Oh, I still shake like a leaf most of the time, but luckily I'm clinging to the Tree of Life.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


When I think of honor here on earth, the folks in the military immediately come to mind. They seem to encompass the characteristics that I want my nation to stand on. I find that true for firefighters, police officers...all the people who put themselves in harm's way to protect something bigger than themselves.

I decided to look up honor in the dictionary. Jesus is not only to be honored, but He is honor. I loved these definitions, because they all apply to Him. So I thought I'd list them here, so our hearts can dwell on them today as we focus on honoring Jesus, whose birth we celebrate this season.

A good name or public esteem; a good reputation

A showing of usually merited respect with recognition

A person of superior standing, now used especially as a title for a holder of high office

One whose worth brings respect or fame

An evidence or symbol of distinction

An exalted title or rank

A badge or decoration

A ceremonial rite or observance

An award in a contest or field of competition

Chastity and purity

A keen sense of ethical conduct

One's word given as a guarantee of performance

Social courtesies or civilities extended by a host

Jesus embodies Honor. We honor Him by conducting ourselves the same way, as best as possible. As we think about Him today, let's honor Him with our very best, from our thoughts to our conduct to our generosity.

Revelation 5:13
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


When I was a little kid in Sunday School, I remember them teaching about how Solomon could've asked for anything, all the riches in the world, but instead he chose wisdom. I'd nod, wide-eyed, but inside I was thinking, "What an idiot."

Well,what do kids know? Now as an adult, boy do I treasure wisdom. And I sure wish it was more abundant in our society. I wish people sought it out more. I wish I had more of it.

With wisdom comes this amazing thing called Perspective. They're like best buddies. It's what you wish you could give your kids when they come home falling apart because someone wouldn't talk to them or share their coke or whatever. Perspective is what you have to offer after you've lived awhile, hoping to pass it down to the person just beginning a journey you've already been on.

Wisdom in general is superb. It's like a lifeline. But supernatural wisdom from On High, now that's a whole other realm of awesomeness. Coupled with Perspective, Jesus can give us insight into ourselves, into situations, into His word, that otherwise we'd be incapable of seeing. Wisdom allows us to love those who hate us. It allows us to turn the other cheek. It allows us to hope when everything seems hopeless. Jesus allows us glimpses into His heaven, where all is right and where Wisdom rules with power and might.

Wisdom does some very cool paradoxical things too, like giving us the ability to prosper while helping us realize the wealth of the world leads to nothing but emptiness.

Jesus is Wisdom in the flesh. And learning about how He lived His life while on earth helps us gain the wisdom we need to prosper the kingdom of God while we're here too.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


OK, let me tell you the cool thing about not having everything you need exactly when you want it. First, let me remind you that you actually do have everything you need. If you're reading this, it means you have food, water, electricity and a roof over your head. Most likely, you have way more than you need, by the grace of God.

But if you find yourself frustrated by overdo bills and things breaking down, try to get a glimpse of God's prospective for a moment.

In America, most of us don't know what it means to need provision. We work, we get paid, we go buy what we want and the cycle goes on and on. We can very easily slip into believing that we provide for all our needs, forgetting God blessed us with the ability to work and blessed us with citizenship in a wealthy country.

I think God doesn't allow our every need to always be met so that He can remind us Who is our provider, and show us all the cool ways He can provide. The amazing thing about watching God provide, rather than providing everything for ourselves, is that He rarely just does "one" thing. When God provides, lots of things happen, lots of people get touched, lots of big and little miracles take place that bring God's love right into the center of our lives.

Maybe it's true in your life too, but nothing ever breaks around our house at a convenient time when we have plenty of money. It often happens when there's no way we can fix it on our own. Over the years, Sean and I have stopped being so dependent on a credit card for emergencies and more dependent on God. It's amazing what happens when we're willing to wait. Suddenly answers come. Kindness comes. Money comes. Things get fixed.

Jesus is our Provider, and not just for earthly needs either. If we wait patiently on Him instead of trying to fill our holes with food, money, cyber space, shopping, TV, etc., we'll get to see Him move, and watching Jesus move in our lives keeps those holes from getting there in the first place.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Although Jesus promises to provide for all of our physical needs, He tells us that we cannot live on bread alone. He reminds us that our souls need to be fed as much as our bodies, with the good stuff too, not the junk.

With the focus on healthy eating these days, we all understand what it takes to keep our bodies healthy--though we might not make the best choices! (Ice cream, anyone??)

Yet sometimes we are not as careful with what we feed our souls. Just like eating Twinkies and Taco Bell everyday will lead to bad health problems, feeding our souls with junk TV, lies from Satan, and meaningless material things will lead to a collapse of our spiritual health.

Jesus promises us He can and will supply sustenance for each of us. We just have to ask. We certainly live in a parched and dusty old land, don't we? The grass might be green under our feet, but the world around us is cracking like a scoured desert. I believe with all my heart that we can only live a balanced life with the sustenance He provides. Everything else is futile. It may temporarily feed a need, but in the long run, it will die out just like everything else.

Jesus promises to sustain us for the long haul. For eternity, actually.

He is the Bread of Life. The Living Water. Let Him fill you up in every way this Christmas season!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Sometimes late at night, when things are going poorly in my life and I'm all alone crying out to God, I wonder, "What do people who don't know God do at a time like this? Who do they cry to? What do they ask for?"

Even in the hardest of circumstances, I believe wholly and fully in the Giver of Life. Even the most beautiful and perfect moments in my life, apart from Him, mean nothing. What is love if it doesn't last for eternity? What is hope if it is not given by the One who keeps me in His hand?

Jesus tells us that we are His lambs, and that He picks us up and carries us against His chest, close to His heart. When it is dark and I am lonely, if I listen carefully I can hear the thump-thump of His kindness and gentleness.

There is so much comfort knowing the Creator of life promises to sustain us long past this time on earth. Death is so hard because frankly it is unnatural. It doesn't compute with how we're made. You would think that after all these thousands of years of death, we'd all resign ourselves to the fact that it happens and will happen to us. But don't we fight it? Aren't we shocked when a loved one is ripped from us? It never feels right. It's because we were meant for life, not death.

Through what Jesus did on the cross, we can have life and have it abundantly. And forever. Death has lost its sting!

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I'm glad we have England and some other nations who still have kings, because that's about the only way we can experience it in the here and now. Can we say Will and Kate? Man, what majesty! What ceremony! I loved every minute of it.

Every time I watch something like that, I can't help but think of my own King, Jesus. We think Will and Kate had ceremony and such? Jesus is Lord of all and King of all kings. I don't think we can truly imagine what it is going to be like to be in the presence of this king until we get there. The glory we are going to behold will send us to our knees, worshiping, singing, praising!

I think of the throne, the crown, the angels. The celebrations that will go on and on for eternity. My heart soars with hope and love for Him.

Here on earth, though we can't see it now, we must remember it is there and declare our complete loyalty and all our efforts to the king. We were made to bend our knee and worship someone. The devil offers many choices, but there is only One who is worthy of our complete loyalty and affection. He is trustworthy, true, kind, full of justice and peace. The list goes on. The point is that He is the only perfect king.

Like the magi, let's bring our gifts and give our lives to Him.

Friday, December 9, 2011


There are two times in my life where I have felt the peace that passes all understanding. Neither time was any of it my doing. I hadn't prayed or showed any extraordinary kind of faith. All of the sudden, in very dire circumstances, a peace so tangible I could've sworn it was touchable, swept over me. For just a few minutes, I experienced perfect peace. It was a calm that was other-worldly. It made me realize how at war my soul is most of the time. It was like the stillest, most glass-like water you've ever seen. It was like a breeze-less day in need of no breeze.

I can still remember the times very vividly and I often refer back to them, hoping to get that peace again sometime in my life. I don't know if will ever arrive again in this life, but it sure gave me a glimpse of the next life to come. If that's how it feels to be in heaven, I'm ready to go!

But the truth is that even when my soul feels distracted and discombobulated, I still experience the peace that comes from knowing Jesus. It may not always be tangible like what I expressed, but it is there nevertheless. It is most especially there when my faith connects with His heart.

Even, though, when my faith falters, Jesus is still Peace. He is the Prince of Peace, and this kind of peace is offered to all the world. It encompasses so much and promises more than we could ask for. It secures my eternal future. It shelters me from the fiery darts. It calms me in stormy seas. It never lets go. It holds me upright when I want to faint. With this peace comes so many promises from God. Jesus's peace is truly the peace that passes all understanding. If we look around at our world, it seems that we should not have peace. It seems impossible. So the fact that we do is testimony to all that Jesus offers through His Word.

Often, glimpses of His peace come in the darkest part of the night. When our life is bright with sunshiny prosperity, we rarely stop to feel the peace. We are at peace with the world and all is well. But the world always fails us, in one way or the other, and then we find ourselves in the dark, curled in a ball, praying for relief.

Jesus stands in the dark with us and He holds out His hand. The moment our fingers connect, peace fills our hearts, because suddenly we know whatever happens here is not the end. He is in fact the end. And the beginning. We can place everything in His hands and know that it is all safely kept with the God of the universe.

Now that is peace.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Being an author myself, recognizing Jesus as the author of all is supremely cool. It kind of bends my mind to realize He didn't write the word...He is the Word. He was and is and always will be the spoken Word. All was created for Him and through Him and in Him.

John chapter 1 is my favorite passage in the Bible. (OK, I have a lot but this one is definitely top 3). It stirs such awe in my heart to picture Jesus as the author of the universe and all that it contains...that He created my soul and all that makes me fearfully and wonderfully made. And that the author chose to enter the story. There are some of my stories I would NOT want to enter!

As an author, I know what it takes to form and mold and create. And I'm just working on one little book. God's majesty and power come into clear focus when I realize the amazing capacity for which He has to create. If I only look at the human body and all that it does, I'm astounded. When I look up at the stars and the sky, I'm astounded. When I watch a tree grow, a baby cry, a cloud float by, the waves crash...the list is endless. And it is all created by His hand.

His story is the greatest that ever was and ever will be, and it has infinite meaning and eternal consequence. I'm glad to be a part of His story. I'm glad for everything that He authored. And I'm thankful that He graciously passed on creativity to His people.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


The "good news" of the New Testament often gets passed right over. In all that faith encompasses, we Christians often forget the good news is that it's not our "goodness" that gets us to heaven. I see this so often missed in our modern culture. People spew hateful words at those they consider "sinners" while forgetting very quickly that they're one of those "sinners". We all are.

It is by the grace of God that truth found its way into my heart and that I believe in Jesus.

There is no other way around it. We can't point our fingers and scream "sinner" at somebody. We must pat our heart, declare that we are "sinners", but we've been saved by grace. That grace is extended to everyone in the world.

The good news is that I am pure not by my own accomplishments, but by the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He is righteousness. My very best is but filthy rags. And most days, let's face it, I'm not at my very best. Those rags shouldn't see the light of day!

When snow falls during this Christmas season, don't we all just peer out our windows, marveling at how pure and white it is, how right when it falls, before a footprint touches it, it is flawless? It is gleaming with goodness, isn't it? I don't think it's any mistake that this modern society celebrates Christmas in the dead of winter. There is so much symbolism around, snow, cold, all points to Jesus. Weren't we like those dead old trees, dormant and lifeless? But then the pure snow falls, saturates, disappears...and then the Sun comes in the Spring and we are raised in the newness of life!

It is no doubt hard to watch sin--in our lives and others'. Mostly I think it is because we know how damaging it is, how much death it brings. But God made a way. My filthy rags are as clean and white and bright as snow.

Thank You, Jesus, for making me white as snow.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


The cool thing about Jesus is that He gives purpose and He is purpose. What I mean by that is that we were first and foremost created to worship Him. We are His beloved, and we honor and respect Him by giving Him our affections. In that way, He alone is our purpose.

By making Him our purpose, and recognizing what we were born for, we are then transformed in order to have purpose. As we worship Him, we feel His heart. And when we feel His heart, we begin to understand what He wants us to do on earth. We don't find purpose in order to win points in heaven. There is nothing we can do that will pay for our sins. That is done through Jesus Christ. But we find purpose by understanding love and compassion and mercy, and giving in that way, the same way God has given to us.

Therefore, Christian purpose isn't born out of piety, but rather out of gratitude. We give to the poor at Christmas not because it's the thing to do, but because we understand how much God cares for the poor and how rich love and generosity are through Jesus.

Purposefully engaging in what matters to God is in itself worship. Allow this season to be purposed in Jesus and see what opens up in front of you and what God's heart reveals.

Monday, December 5, 2011


If Jesus coming to earth and dying on the cross for our sins taught us anything at all, it was that God has immense compassion for His creation. Since we, as humans, have had a hard time throughout history understanding this, He sent His Son to earth so that we, in no way, can say, "God just doesn't understand." He indeed understands hunger, anger, betrayal, disappointment...the list goes on.

If there has been anything God has taught me in the last decade, it has been compassion. Boy, we are are non-compassionate people, aren't we? If we do not understand it, we make no attempt to. If we haven't walked in their shoes, we just assume they've brought their suffering upon themselves.

I was that person for many years, the one who thought everyone should just suck it up and get tough. I figured if bad things were happening to a person, they probably brought it upon themselves. Coming from an athletic background, there was no room for excuses...or sympathy...or compassion. I had a short list of what reasonably constituted the need for compassion. Everybody else needed to get it together.

I think one of the biggest questions Christians and non-Christians ask of God is, "Why all the suffering?" We look around and see so many bad things happen and wonder why God allows it.

I don't know the full answer to that question, but I think God has taught me a piece of it over the last decade. If we don't suffer, we as human beings do not understand how to help others or have sympathy for them. If we go through an ugly divorce, we then suddenly understand that marriages are often complicated, and we begin to see others' situations in a different light. If we go bankrupt and lose our house, we begin to understand what it's like to have no one to turn to for financial help. If we become chronically ill, we understand why it's hard to get out of bed. If we suffer from depression, we begin to see similar faces, like our own, in a crowd at the mall or at church.

Everything that we suffer on earth, God promises to use for good. I believe it is for our good and for others' too. We simply, in our own power, do not have the capacity to be fully compassionate. If we did, then we wouldn't have starving children and hate crimes and bullying. Since we cannot do it in our own power, God shows us a different path, a path that leads straight into our heart and opens it up so that we might leave a footprint of compassion on the world.

We know what it feels like to receive compassion. When have you messed up, forgotten an important appointment or a birthday, burned an expensive meal, lost a valuable item, only for someone to say, "It's okay. No worries. I promise." Doesn't that just melt your heart?

God says it everyday to us through Jesus. He has compassion upon us and our very weak, often terribly brutal, nature. With compassion in place, self-righteousness has nowhere to go but away. You can't be compassionate and self-righteous at the same time, because self-righteousness by its very nature lacks compassion.

Jesus is Compassion. He is the very picture of what God's heart is. He stoops down and holds the hand of the person everyone else hates in the world. He hugs the person who is the dirtiest and smells the worst. He feeds and shelters and carries and touches those that the world casts a scornful eye to. Are you that scornful eye or the hand that reaches out?

Remember the compassion that was given to you by God through Jesus Christ. Understanding that you have received it in its most sacrificial form allows you to give it every single day.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


By nature, I'm an optimist. I can see the sunny side of a mud pit. I just like to have hope. But as I've grown older, and lived more, I have begun to see how hopeless life really is. I'm still optimistic, but maybe with a bit more reality thrown in. I guess I've come to realize that there are very few, if any, completely happy endings.

Except, there is One who promises us a happy ending. Up front, He tells us we will have trouble. There are days when I feel that is a horrible understatement, but accurate nevertheless. Still, He says, follow Him and He will overcome on our behalf. In fact, not even death can swallow us if we put our hope in Jesus.

The cool thing is that in His grace and mercy, we also have hope for the here and now. If we didn't have that, wouldn't we all be like, "Let us die already!" What would life mean if it was just about a good ending? But Jesus assures us that He has plans for each of us here in the present: day to day, hour to hour. Psalm 146:5 says "Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God."

It's really impossible to have hope in situations. I mean, we can certainly try. I'll be the first to admit that nothing comforts me more than believing I have complete control over a situation. But it's an illusion, isn't it? Control? We really don't have control over anything. But there is One who does.

When we put our hope in His loving-kindness, His power, His holiness, His wisdom, it completes everything. We know He knows it all, so though everything might appear to be falling apart all around us, He is the anchor that keeps us steady.

"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." Romans 15:13

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I am, by my own admission, terrible at rest. I don't enjoy it in the least bit. Once, when I was put on bed rest, it was like torture. When I have the flu, at the exact moment I feel I can stand up without passing out, I'm going around and doing something.

I'm productive by nature. If I watch TV, I also fold laundry. If I'm walking from one room to the next, I'm carrying something that needs to be moved there. It might sound like I'm a work-aholic, and maybe I am, but the fact is that I enjoy work. I like to work hard. I like the feeling of accomplishment, whether it is cleaning out a closet or making a meal.

But interestingly, Jesus talks quite a bit about rest. God famously rested after creating the whole world.

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, "Come unto me, all who are weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Then right after that, in verse 29, He says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Although physical rest is important, the rest of the soul is the most remarkable. Although our body sleeps, our souls do not. And when you think about it, how do we actually get our souls to rest? How do we calm ourselves down? Even when I'm sitting perfectly still, my mind is racing through this and that.

Rest like this can only be achieved through the One who created our souls. Jesus promises us He is gentle, humble, and that we will find rest in Him. He calls to the weary and burdened. And rest in Jesus encompasses so much: physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, relational...the list is almost endless.

He only requires this: that we come to Him. Is anything quite as frantic as the holidays? As the world buzzes by you in a blurred, frenzied rush to celebrate what many don't even understand, you can stand still in Him, your soul can be quieted, and your burdens can be taken.

I am so glad He gives rest, He requires it for us, and He helps us to it.

Jesus not only tells us to rest, He is the rest.

Friday, December 2, 2011


I have never quite gotten used to Jesus as friend, or even as He calls Himself: my brother. I desperately want to be friends with Him. It reminds me of how I react when I'm around people I really admire. I basically give off the exact opposite impression I want to make, only because I want so badly to know them better.

So multiply that by ten thousand with Jesus. I want to call Him friend, but at the same time, He knows all about me, and that's a problem because even my closest friends don't know everything about me.

And frankly, I've seen how some who call Him "friend" treat Him. *Use* Him, more precisely. And I don't want to fall into that category. I don't want to take Him for granted or ask for things selfishly. So instead, I keep a safe distance, like a friendly wave from a neighbor. Makes you smile but you don't have to get too close.

The problem with Jesus is that He isn't satisfied with a neighborly wave. He never has been. He made a tremendous sacrifice so that I could call God "Daddy" and I could know Him as my friend.

Amazingly, He always draws me near, even when I'm uncomfortable and even when I'm acting in an unworthy manner. I'm power waving and He's trying to hug. The hug usually wins out.

At the end of the day, He is and always will be a far better friend to me than I am to Him. I can't possibly repay what I owe Him. I can't possibly give back according to what He's given.

He's that friend that you always wish you had, the friend you can never possibly be, and the friend you never want to let go.

One of these days, I'm going to completely let go of all my relational hang-ups, and I know that will be the beginning of the friendship He always wanted for us. For all of us.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,[a]
and his life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:1-5 NLT

I have been fascinated by light for a very long time. We often think of light and dark as being exact opposites, equal in every way. But it isn't true. Think of how a tiny point of light can illuminate a dark room. Yet a tiny point of darkness in a light room is hardly significant.

I have found that the Light...the source of all light...illuminates all my dark places, in every corridor of my soul. Where ever He is, in my life or in others', He lights the way.

I think that is why I am so drawn to Christmas lights. They remind me of the twinkling inner workings of the Holy Spirit, who never lets any part of me fall into complete darkness. I have certainly seen the dark side of the moon in my life, but even then, I witness tiny points of light winking against the black sky.

Jesus has truly been the Light in my life. John 1:1-18 is my favorite passage of the Bible. I read it every Christmas season, reminding myself He is the Light to a dark world, and He is the light from which every good thing comes in my life. Oh, how I would be covered in dark hopelessness if I couldn't see the Light! The power of the Light, to chase away the darkness, has allowed me to overcome my struggles, my doubts and fears, my failures, my selfishness, and everything else that comes along with the black night.

He is the light of the world, but in His extraordinary compassion, is also the personal and beautiful light in my own soul. Thank you, Jesus, for being the warm, glowing firelight against the bitter cold realities of my life.