I Judge

I judge every single day. There I said it. It’s a fact.

I judge whether I want that second cup of coffee.

I judge how much time it’s going to take me to get to work.

I judge what the weather app is saying my day is going to look like as I look out of the window to see if I believe it or not.

I judge the songs I like vs the ones I don’t. I even judge whether I want to listen to music or listen to podcasts.

I judge what I am going to wear to work while my shower water is warming up, and yes, I put my hand in the water until I judge what the right temperature is….

to me.

I judge whether I have enough in the fridge to put a dinner together or whether I have to pull things out of the freezer.

And all of that judgement I just wrote about comes before 8 am. You could say I am very judgmental and you would be right.

And you know what else is true? All of these judgments I have come out of my heart and tell my mind what to think on these things. So when we make statements like, “You shouldn’t judge”, let’s explain exactly what that means because as humans we judge hundreds if not thousands of things every single day. It is silly to make a blanket statement about judgment when it so a part of life.

I judge right from wrong like I judge the color shoes I choose or the color lipstick I wear. So what does it mean not to judge?

It means we don’t judge motive. We don’t know why people do the things they do. We can’t see their heart and if we’re not careful we will judge them by the standards and health of our own heart’s motives and not their own heart’s motives.

That girl who we deem is wearing clothing that is too revealing? Well, maybe she has self esteem issues, maybe she doesn’t know that modesty is different in different scenarios. Maybe she doesn’t have the privilege of a dad who has spoken to her about what is appropriate and what isn’t. So before we go criticizing her for being a stumbling block, which isn’t my viewpoint on the subject at all, but that’s a different post for a different day, maybe we should find out what she knows about social norms of dressing? Before we judge how that person is spending their money, maybe we can determine that if they aren’t borrowing money from us then it really isn’t our business.

Before we go judging the person for doing something on purpose, we should try to understand why they are doing what they are doing from their heart not ours. Last week I had to buy 12 dozen donuts for my employer for an event over the weekend. I got busy and day by day I procrastinated until the day before the event. The day before the event, my boss asked if I took care of ordering the donuts. I admitted I hadn’t. He then went and ordered them for me. Clearly, I didn’t do what was asked of me. Clearly I didn’t. My first instinct was to think he wasn’t being fair and he was being slightly paranoid, “Sheesh! I was going to do it today! He sees how much I have been working.” It was in that moment when I stopped and took that thought captive instead of accusing him or worse poisoning others through gossip. How long should he give me to get my job done before he does it? What if by the time I got there, the shop had closed and the expectation of the team was a let down? Was my boss truly being unfair or was he looking out for the whole or was he doing me a favor because he knew I was overwhelmed?

Motive- mo·tive /ˈmōdiv/ noun 1. a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.

Judgments. I may not be the only one reading this who makes them all of time. Maybe you do too. I am better at not judging motive anymore since now I know I may never know the reason, especially one that is not obvious. I now know it is unfair to put my impure heart‘s reason on another’s action.

You Are Not Them

You straighten the crowns of others.
You intercede on your knees.
You have abundant love and strength.
You are not frivolous with your words or your time.
You are not scared of the future.
You are a conqueror.
You are God’s daughter. You are a woman who walks in peace.

Let others swing at the wind.
Let others fight meaningless battles.
Let others take offense at words spoken.
Let others point fingers at you.
Let others gossip.
Let others stand in fear of inflation, and rumors of war, masks, mandated vaccines, and shut downs as if God has never done anything for them. Let others build tribes of agreement. Let others worry about who likes them and who doesn’t.

You know your arsenal is not carnal.
You know where your help comes from. You were built brave and strong.

You are not a woman with a chip on her shoulder. You are not a woman who has tell the world how brave she is. No, you look to the future with joyful anticipation. You see the darkness and command light. You are fully rested, assured of your Savior’s promise. You are beautifully loved and adored.

You are saved, redeemed, loved, and transformed. You are ready.

Indulgent

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Matthew 4: 1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

I was complaining to the Lord about not being able to lose weight recently. I am glad that God gets me and that He often stays silent during my whining episodes or I’m afraid whining would become an ugly habit. This time though he answered in his quiet unassuming way.

“You’re self-indulgent.”

WHAT? WAIT! God doesn’t convict! All of his answers are LOVE, LOVE, and MORE LOVE.

ONLY WHAT IF THE TRUTH IS LOVE? 

I balked. “I give a lot of myself. I am in ministry one of the least self-indulgent things. How in the world am I self-indulgent?” I protested as the words began to swirl around in my mind.

Quietly He began to reveal to me the things that needed to be examined. When you’re overwhelmed, you go shopping or take yourself out to eat.

Yes, but I don’t always buy things for myself, I buy things for Cameron, for Erin or Doug, or friends, or family and I rarely eat alone, I phone a friend.

Then it hit me. He didn’t say I was selfish. He said I was self-indulgent. Meaning, I don’t ignore the needs of others but I don’t accept that I have a craving outside of the will of God. It becomes a behavior to examine carefully any time it promises satisfaction that can only be found in God.

Self-indulgence is a pleasure seeking mechanism where we can get stuck in an unproductive cycle of behavior. It doesn’t mean the behavior is bad in of itself but it means that it will do us no good and may even harm us long term. It doesn’t mean we’re using the mortgage money to buy shoes but it does mean something is missing in relationship to God.

We’re great at masking self-indulgence but the temptation of Christ following his baptism shows a necessary process to fulfilling our walk with Christ. After 40 days of fasting and prayer, Satan himself comes to Jesus and tempts his appetite.

Appetite

Let that word sit with you.

Whisper it. Appetite

Appetite, it was the first temptation of Adam and Eve right? Something is being withheld. Something that we crave. Something that God can’t fulfill or worse is withholding. Jesus passed the test when he answered that it wasn’t only physical bread that man should live on but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. He didn’t say eating was wrong, he said it wasn’t the only thing, and more importantly, he said there was something even more important we needed.

Christianity in America is indulgent in nature and definitely requires observation and self-examination. We aren’t in a famine of things that feed the flesh, we are in a crisis of famine in regards to conviction. The question the Lord was posing to me was, “When am I enough for you?”

The tendency is to exalt yourself because the give to get mentality is so strong in America and comparisons run rampant. This leads you to believe that you may be in a place to judge me:

“Well, I don’t shop so I don’t have this issue.”

Only, if we’re honest, we often have an appetite for something.

Opinion maybe?

Workaholism? It feeds our ego.

Laziness? Oh, this is a big one. The excuses for appetite here are many.

“I work all day.” Honey, we all work all day.

“I attend a small group.” So we give to get.

“I just finished a big project.” Again, give to get.

“I teach a small group.” You got my attention but is this considered reasonable Kingdom service?

I’ll tell you when leading becomes self-indulgent though. When it’s more than you were told to do. When it violates the ministry code but feeds our ego.

One semester I taught four small groups. It meant 4 times a week I was absent from my husband. He was not happy, but people “needed me” and there was “no one else”. You already know what happened no need to guess. My work suffered because I had to study to stay ahead and tweak lesson plans if class was heading in a different direction. My marriage struggled because I was out of order and out of the picture. My ministry suffered because our church says teach one, take one leave time for your family and friends so I had usurped authority. Oh but I was taking one for the team I reasoned. Many want to teach one but don’t take one. So we burn bright and burn out. I noticed another thing too.

The heavens were brass during this period as I was self indulgent doing my own thing. Ok let’s move on.

“It’s time for some much needed self care.” Yes, you need self care but how much is too much?

“I haven’t had a slice of cheesecake in such a long time.” Maybe not, but what have you eaten a little too much of? Social Media? Don’t get mad I am in self examination mode.

“I deserve it.” Sometimes we think we have done something heroic when all we’ve done is what any other normal human being has done.

Or the easiest appetite temptation the appetite of self promotion and judgment of others,  “I can’t believe how they spend, how they think, how they live, how they exalt their life, I don’t do any of that. No sister and note to myself, facts are you sin in other ways but whose keeping score of that? Appetite for judgment is alive and well.

What the Lord was pointing out to me that day was that instead of taking my issues to God, I took them to Nordstroms or went to lunch and nursed it.

What do you do when God reveals a thing that has you spinning your wheels and going nowhere?

I’ll write about what I did in another post. Stay tuned. For now consider this question:

What in your life needs a little less you and lot more Jesus?

 

I’m Proud of TLC4WOMEN

I have taught TLC for women for 16 years now. It is not lost on me all that I have learned.

That women go through some stuff meant to take them out.

That the war on women often is waged by other women.

That no matter how horrific your life has been, someone else has been through things that would have taken you out. We all have our own giants to slay.

But Jesus….

Jesus took a walk through our life and called us to himself. Jesus invited us to a relationship where shame and pain could be healed. Many said no thanks, but you, mighty women of TLC, you said yes. You studied his word faithfully and took him up on his offer to endure the wound care, taking out any infection and stitching you back up to heal. You came to TLC and trusted women, the very ones who hurt you. You did the hard work of healing not because it was easy but because the idea of growing old,resentful, and bitter was not appealing to you. You did the hard work of reconciliation.

My heart is for you. If you are reading this, I urge you to find a solid group of women that can come along beside you and love you right where you are. The expectation is that they will lower your bed before the master physician.

My heart is for you Transforming Life Center 4 Women. You have been my teacher, my cheerleader, my safe place and my love for Jesus has grown exponentially through your leading.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Resurrection To Deception

Riu Palace Riviera Maya

Every day on our vacation I walked by her.

This faceless, right-hand missing statue.

She holds a water bucket in her left hand.

It’s rather small, I wonder how she fills it?

She is surrounded by Phoenix.

Early Christians adapted the Phoenix to signify death, burial, and resurrection after the mythology story.

It wasn’t lost on me that this statue, if it is symbolic, has resurrected without a brain, without power, unable to give the right hand of fellowship, and without rest. The right hand also signifies favor and sonship.

So it is with some who although born again are not at peace.

Can you imagine how she walks through life?

Threats real and imagined have stolen her thoughts.

These perceived threats that hold her tomorrows, steal her peace, her rest, and more importantly, without her right hand of fellowship, her power.

I begin to see her from my imagination.

Does her anxiety keep her up at night, infiltrating her every thought and conversation as she flails at the wind pretending to be strong in her own might?

Lacking in faith she runs here and there looking for a manmade solution.

Her need to be significant to a social construct is flimsy at best.

Scared of the future she is afraid to lose what little she thinks she possesses and yet she has no hand to put more in.

Here she stands.

Memorialized.

A resurrection of conflict and deception.

Adorned without the only things that make her His. His hand in her right hand.

She stands upright in declaration sure she has fooled the world. For you see, she has anointing in her left hand but can’t grip her appointment.

So she poses.

She stands sure she has it all together. She believes she is the model of transformation.

She is the new version of the emperor who wears no clothes. We smile at her because to tell her the truth is to bring wrath upon ourselves.

Without the ability renew the mind, she is lost. I wonder how long ago she lost herself?

A woman at war within herself and she can’t even see it. Vapid at best.

“You were resurrected for so much more”, I tell her as I pass her by to sit quietly on the ocean to read my book on this fabulous vacation. “I wish you knew you can create a life that is happy if you just let go.”

Then the Holy Spirit whispers:

“She believed her own press instead of pressing in.”

I answer with a deep sigh, “Nothing smacks you down quicker than the humility of the stumble when your eyes are closed and your ears are stopped up. Lord, thank you that even in the middle of a rest you allow me see visuals of what I don’t want to become.”

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.” Proverbs 3:13-18 NIV

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13 NIV

“The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Psalms 110:1 NIV

The Breaking of Day

Traveling through the sky this morning before daybreak I could not help but be enamored by the heaven above me, the ground below me, and the dawn before me. God is wondrous and is too great for me to even speak His name in this moment. He created everything from nothing and spared no detail.

My heart soars with love for Him alone and His mysteries. I may never understand the depth of His thoughtful nature toward us since His nature is too great a force for me not to believe that His everlasting love surrounds me.

He alone gives His angels charge over me and commands the beauty of His art to produce with intention. He activates His every thought meticulously forming every cloud and mountain. Could He alone have made the world plain? Of course He could, but why would He limit us in examples of the creativity that exist through Him? He admires beauty and creates a palate of sight and sound, of color and dimension.

When I look out of this plane’s window I marvel at all that I see and yet, and still, everything my eyes gaze upon in this moment was not enough for Him. He created me, He created you, in His image and called us His crown of creation.

How that is even possible I will never have any idea, but I’m grateful. Yes, truly I am grateful.

I will spend the remainder of my days in awe and wonder of His majesty. I will spend my days in surrender to His will and firmly planted in His hand.

Fully worshipping.

Fully believing.

Fully His.

Take a look around you today. Admire each and every convenience that is set before you. Look at the sky wherever you may be. Look at the trees and scenery that surrounds you and admire its beauty. God made all of that for you. Beloved, you are truly loved with an everlasting, enduring hope for your success.

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭8:1-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We’re Back!

Blue White Job Post _ Vacancy _ Announcement Flyer-4

 

A new season of TLC4Women is ready to begin and I am so excited to start up again. It seems that it has been a long time coming. We will have studies in two ways this year. Please do what feels most comfortable to you. We will have in person gatherings Monday evenings at 7 pm beginning August 24. We will have Zoom gatherings on Tuesdays at 7 pm beginning August 25. Registration will be required so that we may order books and get them to you ASAP. Cost is $16.00

To register for in person gatherings please register here

To register for Zoom gatherings please register here

 

It’s A Little Thing

Driving through the Grand Tetons to Yellowstone on vacation, my husband easily spotted buffalo, elk, antelope, even a mink. I said aloud, “Jesus I only want to see a Moose. If you could just show me one please.”

My husband smiled and patted my arm. I no sooner said that then we drove around a corner and we saw this:

Yes, I am sure you are laughing as we did upon seeing it. I told my husband, “Don’t laugh too hard, God is just reminding me of specifics in prayer and that we need to take this vacation lightly.” So I said, “Ok Lord, you got me! Now just so we are clear I’d like to see a real moose please. If it’s not too much trouble to make that happen.”

We spent three days exploring. We saw chipmunks. squirrels, swans, geese, and everything you could imagine. We walked a little ways on a moose trail and my husband said, “Do you think God is just going to bring a moose to you? Maybe we need to hike in?” I smiled and said, “No, he’s going to show me a moose. I won’t have to work for it that way. I just have to have faith and know.” We went to the gift shop and I bought my granddaughter Erin a stuffed moose toy in faith.

The last few hours in the car I whispered, “I know I’m going to see a moose at the last minute. You’re dramatic that way.” We drove out of the park and heading towards Cody Wyoming. My husband said, “Sorry Babe, I really thought you’d get to see your moose.” I patted his arm and said. “My mom said I have always had great faith. How are you a Pastor and you’re already giving up on seeing a moose?”

We drive out of the park a good hour and a half and just as the sun begins to go down I point to a meadow and say excitedly, “WHAT’S THAT?” My husband, and I know he is stunned and excited because he never talks like this says, “That is a frickin’ moose.” I laugh and say, “THANK YOU JESUS!” Then we get out of the car to take pictures.

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So why do I tell you this story? Because God is interested in every little thing in your life.

Big or small.

Silly or serious.

When you begin a conversation that turns into a prayer life, these things begin to happen.

My husband said to me that this story doesn’t seem extraordinary in and of itself. Then he said, “But I’ve seen it happen to you so many times that it is extraordinary.” And it can happen to you. Just believe and trust and know. Does it happen all the time? No, but happens most of the time and it builds my faith and I hope it builds yours.

He Saw and Believed

Dear Cameron Joshua and Erin Marie,

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Today there is a crisis in our nation and the country is in a Stay In Place order due to a virus called Corona virus, which means we aren’t able to meet together for what for us is the most blessed celebration of our faith, Easter Sunday.  I have been missing you both so profoundly as you, Erin, turn 6 weeks old, and you, Cameron, turn 3 in a few weeks. I am missing more of your life than I ever thought I would but today Hope resurfaced.

Today my beautiful grandchildren, today, your Papa got up and made coffee for us, then he showered and put on a suit and tie. I followed his lead and dressed for church as if it was any other normal Sunday. We got in our car and drove off to the church.

John 20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.

Today your Papa went into an empty church, and said to the essential staff that it takes to preach an online message to and said, “The church may be empty this morning but so was the tomb and we are going to proclaim the WORD to more people than we would have reached normally.”

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Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

Your Papa met Jesus when he was not much older than you are and he has proclaimed him since. He wasn’t going to stay home and not reach anyone on this day, THE DAY,  our faith is built on. He was going to go to his pulpit and shout it out to the world. This isn’t any ordinary day and this isn’t a day to be taken casually. Is any day really?

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If you’ve ever preached to an empty room it isn’t easy. You get feedback and body language from those who are present and came to hear. It helps you move forward but your Papa has been doing this a long time. And he pushed through knowing he was called by God to give Hope and an invitation.

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So today he was a Pastor to a world who is scared that they will get a virus. He preached for you both, that you always know that Jesus is the center of our life. He preached to the ones who still don’t know about Jesus and he reminded me and himself that Jesus is the center of it all. While God has sat us all down, Papa is still doing what he has called to do.

I wrote all of this out in my bible today but just in case it is lost, technology will live on. One thing you will have forever is that Nana and Papa love you with their whole heart and you have a strong legacy of prayer and service to the Church and Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! He is Risen. We have hope and God’s Promises.

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