Thursday, January 25, 2024

Scared or Sacred

When Greg and I watch shows, we always have the subtitles scrolling. I read them even when I can hear or know the language. I love having them scroll across the screen and miss it when we don't have it. 

Last night the word sacred was in a sentence and for a split second I read scared. I thought, "Oh my goodness. The difference in the English language for sacred and scared is the simple flip of two letters!"

Oh my goodness. Isn't that true about our lives as well. A sacred moment can be flipped upside down with a simple flip of belief. When I am scared, I allow fear to rule my life, but when I focus on the sacred, you know that which is good, right, and holy; it transforms the moment! It transforms me.

In that split second, I had this incredibly deep insight. 

Where do I allow scared to be in my focus instead of sacred? 

Now, that is worth pondering and flipping around when needed.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Questions Jesus Asked

When our children were young Greg used to ask us, "Have you asked a good question today?" I confess at first I thought he was asking me this because I wasn't being thoughtful, but I realized over time as I matured that he asked this because questions have the power to help us learn. He had heard someone ask this question and was so moved by it that he started asking us as a family. 

When I went to seminary, I was taught how to ask good questions when I studied, but it was Dr. John Dent, my editor at Lifeway Publishing that taught me in such a way that I caught the power of a good question.

Then one day I heard Amy Orr Ewing, a female Apologist, say that Jesus asked 153 questions. I had to look them up. I started searching the gospels for every question that Jesus asked. I discovered so much. But the thing that stuck out to me the most was that Jesus used questions because questions reveal what is in the heart! 

I took 82 of those questions and created this video for a speaking engagement for Grace University. I put them in chronological order so that His questions will scroll based on when He would have spoken them. I was so surprised because as I watched the video I noticed that Jesus' questions scrolling actually provide the plan of salvation and that if a person watches the video with the intent to hear they could believe in Jesus just through His questions. 

Yesterday, I was talking with Dr. Tom Steffen about the questions Jesus asked and told him about this video. So, I decided to go and watch again today. This time what surprised me was how worshipful it is to just sit, watch, and listen as the video scrolls. Tears started rolling down my face at the beauty of a question simply spoken. 

My hope is that you will take the time to just sit still and watch the video. Read, listen, and receive whatever God might speak to you through the questions Jesus asked. Which one resonated in your heart today? I would love to know!

Shalom, y'all!

Monday, January 22, 2024


Do you ever struggle with your will?  I know I do! The other day I had a care worker walk into my house. I had never seen her before. The care workers have clear instructions to enter downstairs through the garage to my parents quarters. 

I was so surprised by someone entering my home as if they belonged. She was a sub and very young. She never made eye contact or introduced herself.  She was about to start walking through the whole house in snow covered cowboy boots. I confess fright and anger were very close to unleashing on her. 

I knew I needed to let Mom make the decision on this person so I willingly held my thoughts at bay. Mom found out she had not eaten. She asked for food for her. So, I went to make her a sandwich. I know we need to model the gift of hospitality. So even though I did not approve of her mannerisms, I willingly served as mom asked. 

Once she was gone I went down to ask Mom how it went. Let's just say we will never use her again. We were all shocked by her behavior because most care givers are so willing to help and be of service. She was too young and honestly did not have the will to be a servant. This is crucial in a caregiver.

As I am choosing descriptive words based on John 10:1-18 to describe the Good Shepherd to help me examine shepherd leadership. Today, I am meditating on the word WILLING.

WILLING is an eagerness to help or to do something with prompt obedience. It is done because the person wants to, not because they have to. 

Jesus was willing to give His life for us. No one made Him. He did it of His own free will.

As a leader in my home, I find myself often in moments where my willingness might be called upon. This was one of those. I have to determine in my heart to will to honor someone that might not act honorably like this care giver. I might need to willingly obey my mom like in the moment of making a sandwich. Honestly, that part was easy. I love serving my family. It was so much harder when the expectation and assumption of how the care worker should behave was not met. I did not have an eager will to serve her. Ugh.

Yet, isn't it the very ones that don't meet our expectations or assumptions that we need to be willing to serve? Think of the fact that Jesus died for our sins. How many still fight against him? Yet, He gave willingly and because He did great blessings come to those that receive. 

How do you struggle with a willingness to serve?

Monday, January 15, 2024

Stages of Life & Producing Good Fruit

I saw this picture on the National geographic page and I instantly saw the stages of life, too. But, I saw the physical and spiritual stages of humanity... me and you.

The budding stages are birthed through childhood when we are just beginning to form and about to reveal our personality. This stage just wants to burst out and get started. 

The flowering stage is the young adult. When our youth, vitality and beauty is in full bloom. We honestly think this is it as so many come to us for our nectar. Eventually, our petals get knocked off and we don't feel so beautiful anymore. We don't like our blooms being plucked because it effects our beauty.

The second budding stages are the middle aged years where our youth and vitality begin to fade, but we know we have good fruit but the stage of life we are in has hidden our beauty again. We think we have lost our purpose and beauty, but we are actually about to bear our most beautiful fruit. We must just keep waiting and growing. In this stage, if we are wise we lose the arrogance of our youth and grow in humility. 

But the truth be known that the various seasons we have journeyed are what make us gloriously fruitful in our elder years. This is when we can be plucked by anyone and bear good fruit. 

The last stage is full of good fruit that is meant to be plucked and eaten to nourish the next generation of blooms. This stage rejoices at their fruit being plucked and eaten. This stage doesn't mind giving its fruit away because it knows this is how to yield a greater harvest. If we are wise we will fill our lives with those in this stage and eat as much of their fruit as we can.

Whatever season you are in, each season has its own beauty and purpose. We need each birthing stage for good fruit to nourish those around us. Each stage has its highs and lows. But one thing remains in each stage, without the Vine or the Branch it dies. 

Just as these buds are beautiful so are you right now where you are in your stage of life. Embrace it and learn the lessons from it and be patient as they are revealed. This is how good fruit is born.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Types of Shepherds

When I take the time to slow down and really meditate on a passage, I start to ask more questions and see things I easily overlooked. Like, Why does Jesus say, "thief and robber" to describe those that are not the good shepherd? (John 10:2)

In my simple thinking, I thought of them as the same thing, but Adam Clark Commentary had a thought that caught me.

A thief is cunning and does it secretly.

A robber is aggressive and not afraid to do so publicly even if it turns to violence.

Now imagine a leader that does not care about the people. It is harder to discern the thief because they do their work in secret. It is hidden so you don't know who or how they are hurting the flock. They are more manipulative in order to get their gain.

A thief can turn robber when pressed, but usually the thief prefers the thrill of secret manipulations than outward aggressions. Maybe they like the appearance of being good.

While the robber just wants what they want and will do whatever it takes. They love the thrill of adrenaline and getting away with it. They don't care what you think.

No wonder sheep run. 

No wonder it is important we know the Good Shepherd. He gives life and He gives it abundantly. He sacrifices for His sheep. He provides good pasture and gives freedom to move about. He knows you by name and calls you by name. You know He is trustworthy in meeting your needs and giving you more than you would ask for. There are no secrets and no violence. He cares.

What kind of shepherd are you following?  Remember, shepherds represent leaders. Consider all areas of your life. 

Here is the deal. We cannot know the Good Shepherd if we do not spend time with Him to know His voice and know His character. Once you know, you know. You do not want to follow those that want to steal, kill, or destroy.

How do you spend time with the Good Shepherd? Well, reading the book of John is a great place to start. Personally, as a woman I love the book of Luke because it has women stories. This is why theologians refer to it as the Women's Gospel. You might consider reading the Psalms and Proverbs.  When I am hurting or in grief I read the Psalms so I can know how to talk to God. When I am struggling with people I read Proverbs so I can better understand how to interact with humans. The point is that the Bible helps you to know the character of God. When you know and understand His character you will recognize His voice and when it is a thief or a robber.

We must always ask ourselves questions, too. What kind of shepherd am I? Do I draw people to the Good Shepherd or am I doing it for me? 

Kind of convicting!

Shalom y'all!

Monday, January 8, 2024

The Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18)

As I study King David as a shepherd boy to shepherd king, I am studying what Scripture has to say about shepherds. I am asking God to give me 4 or 5 words that will best define a good shepherd that I can use as a starting point to pursue.

Ezekiel 34 provided a solid warning to shepherds on what God is upset about in how shepherds are shepherding their flocks. God is very upset with shepherds that only feed themselves and prey on their flock.

While John 10:1-18 provides us the example of what Jesus has to say about the good shepherd. 

I have chosen these five words to describe a good shepherd based on Jesus' teaching.

1. Know(n) = Intimate relationship built on communication (listens, speaks, hears, calls, leads, follows).
2. Sacrifices life (lays down life, gives willingingly, and entry point for salvation).
3. Willing = Freedom to choose both for the Good shepherd and the sheep
4. Blesses = Good pasture, salvation, life, abundant life, flock/family, belonging
5. Builds His flock = future, purpose

A bad shepherd is not known, listened to, or followed by the Good Shepherd's sheep because bad shepherds...

1. Are not known
2. Do not build relationships
3. Do not sacrifice
4. Do not bless
5. Do not build community
6. Do not give freedom.

Bad shepherds steal, kill, and destroy because it is all about taking and not giving. They do not care.

What should I do as a sheep? 

I need to...
1. Listen to the Good Shepherd.
2. Follow the Good Shepherd.
3. Know and be known by the Good Shepherd.
4. Receive the blessings of good pasture and abundant life.
5. Become a part of the flock and enjoy what it means to belong.

A Good Shepherd provides safe pasture and serves for the benefit of the flock. I love how in this passage we are shown that the Father gave freedom to Jesus to choose to be the Good Shepherd. Jesus willingly chose to be our Good Shepherd. In verse 9 did you notice that Jesus allows the sheep the freedom to go in and out of the good pasture. It is a choice. Just as the Father gave Jesus a choice, Jesus gives us a choice to go in and out of the good pasture.  

I love the beauty that is revealed in a relationship between the Shepherd and His sheep. This is something worth basking in and pondering on both the spiritual level, but also on the leadership level. 

Do you know the Good Shepherd? 
Do you know what the Good Shepherd has done for you?
Have you received what the Good Shepherd has provided?
How would you be described as a shepherd (leader)?

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Imitate me!

It seems lately that I am really struggling for a focused Bible study time. There are so many interruptions, distractions, interests, and well lack of focus. I find myself praying, "God please let me meet you."

This morning I had to snort when the thing that God used to hit me was this truth.

You know how Paul says, "I urge you, then, be imitators of me" (1 Cor. 4:16). Well, somehow I have never heard or caught that this is embedded in a section where Paul is talking about how God was using him and the apostles as an "exhibition" or "spectacle" for the world, angels, and men. Paul then lists off that they were fools for Christ's sake. They were weak, disreputed, thirsty, poorly dressed, buffeted, homeless, laboring, reviled, persecuted, slandered, and viewed as refuse! (1 Cor. 4:10-13). Oh and I urge you then be imitators of me!

Oh my! Personally, I do not like that list. When I hear about being an imitator of Paul, I want to focus on writing and speaking the truth with a profound clarity. I don't want to focus on suffering and struggles. Yet, this is the list Paul gave when he said, "Be an imitator of me."

I don't know about you, but I know I sure fall short in my imitation of Paul much less Jesus. 

Paul reminds us that the kingdom does not consist of talk, but it comes in power. See, he did not persevere through these hardships alone. He had Christ in Him and the power of His Resurrection at work. This is what Paul wants us to imitate. No matter what comes our way to surrender ourselves to God and let His power manifest itself in us and through us.

The reality is life is hard. Relationships are a struggle even when we love someone. No one is exempt from suffering. We all suffer. But, how we suffer matters. This is the key distinction. Do I do it with grumbling and complaining or do I do so by the power of Christ in me?

I admit it I don't always get it right. Ugh. Paul says it is required of stewards in the mysteries of God to be found faithful (1 Cor. 4:1). So when you mess up, pick yourself back up. Acknowledge it, bring it to God, and ask Him to help you to walk in His power and not your own.This is how we can join in being the imitators of Christ just like Paul. 

Shalom y’all!