Friday, June 3, 2016

The Long Exposure Shot

Thankful for another opportunity to guest blog with 818 Ministry and Rebecca Dotson!!! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

open letter to my stepdad

In the 34th book of Deuteronomy there is a wonderful combination of a modern day obituary/eulogy for Moses. The Word tells us in obituary fashion how old Moses was, where he was from, where he died, the circumstances of his death and where he was laid to rest. But there’s a shift in verse 8 that conveys to us not so much the factual content of Moses life … but it tells us how Moses lived because it says that the people of Israel wept for Moses for 30 days. 

In traditional fashion, there was an obituary published about our sweet Joe. It told the world he was born in Evansville, Indiana to John and Callie Risse, 

he married Patty Decker in 1988

he has 4 sons … Joseph, Jr, Brian (Sharon), Greg (Marcie) and John (Patsy)  

2 step-daughters … Amy (Randy) and Mindie (Jack) 

that there were 16 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren 

What the obituary didn’t convey was the tremendous love and joy that poured from his familiar smile and infectious laugh. His sense of humor was next level and If you never heard him tell the story about the wooden leg he scared my mom with … ask her sometime!! 

It didn’t speak of lifelong Indiana friends like Kenny.

It didn’t tell about how much he loved people like his Sissy, Mike, Jacki, Kathleen and Kisti. 

It didn’t talk about his church family that loved and supported them through thick and thin while they lived in Florida. 

It didn’t tell about the coffee club and just how much the car shows, fixer upper projects and tall tales made the physically hard days bearable. 

It didn’t convey the depth of a father’s pride that framed every story and every memory of his family. From ballgames, academic accomplishments, professional success and personal integrity … not one of us ever had to wonder if he was proud. Likewise, in the light of inevitable places of disappointment or failure, none of us ever had to wonder if he had given up on us. He knew all too well that grace and mercy were meant to be given lavishly. 

It didn’t communicate that if you looked up Grandfather in a picture dictionary, there would be a picture of Joe Risse. A variety of pronunciations would be listed from Papaw Joe to Grandpa to Crappaw (an innocent mispronunciation) … a gentle wisdom accompanied his quick wit and keen storytelling abilities making him the epitome of a grandfather. Our kids will never wonder about the pecking order of creatures living in a hole in the bottom of the sea or about the veracity of the Wolfgator. 

And it certainly didn’t convey what it meant to Joe to be a husband. I never heard him refer to my mom as his Proverbs 31 wife … nor did he quote “come away my love, my fair one … the winter is here” … but I did hear him call from the rooftops and the garage and the car and the kitchen and his sick bed … “Mine?” The questions that followed were as varied as the seasons they loved each other through. Mine? “Where are you? Mine? Did Daisy eat her bites? Mine? Is there bologna? Do you want ice cream tonight? Translating, Can we please go to Love Boat? Mine? Can you hand me those shingles? Mine? Do you want to ride in the “vertial” tonight? 
All the while living out … 
Song of Solomon 6:3 
“ I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine …” in concrete, practical ways. 

In the fast-paced world we live in filled with jobs, school, obligations and events … we seem to think that mourning has a social timeframe of about 3 days … 10 days max. And then life really does, as cliche as it may sound, go on for most of the world. The end of verse 8 speaks the words that Joe would have wanted for each of us … “they grieved until the time of mourning and weeping had passed.”  He didn’t want us to be sad forever. And he blessed us by loving us in a way that will lead us to the One who will bring us through this journey. But make no mistake … there will forever be a void on a porch … whether on Burlington Ave or Azalea Lane … one that’s as hometown as they come with pot of coffee that never ran dry, stories that never grew old and a smile that will be etched in my mind until we meet again. 

II Timothy 4

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Guest Blogging Gig ... He Goes Before Us

I've had the honor and privilege of partnering with a local ministry founded by an amazing young woman! Rebecca inspires me everyday to serve others!!! Check out the amazing, encouraging words shared by women who are laying out their hearts to be an used up for the Kingdom!!!

He Goes Before Us

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Worship 2016

I want you to close your eyes for just a minute ... okay wait ... that won't work since I want you to read ... but you get the picture. This was the lead in for our first Word of the Year small group on Saturday morning ... 

so maybe for us it reads, in your mind's eye ...  

think about how life has changed in the last  10 years ... The last 5 year ... The last year ... That last month ...  The last week .... Maybe even the last 24 hours

That's a picture of how much life could change in the coming day ... The coming week ... The coming year 

and now, shift your focus ... 

The Lord was not caught off guard by the delay of our gathering (by the blizzard that wasn't in the valley) ... I know of circumstances in several of our lives that  bear witness to that. But He alone knew last week that we would need to be sitting together at His feet this morning. 

““Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.””
Jeremiah 1:5 ESV

He alone knew. 

He was not caught off guard by the change in circumstance since he gave you your Word. 

He is the same yesterday, today and Forever ... Hebrews 13:8 

Only the Lord is able to tell us things that we can not know. 

Jeremiah 33:3 
“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”
Jeremiah 33:3 ESV

Heres the hitch in that for me ... I really wanted Him to tell me WHAT WAS COMING ... but it's my testimony that this is how he takes my weakness and prepares me for how He's going to chisel me to look more like Him. 

My word this year is worship ... And I had a picture in my mind of what that looked like ... 

But my perception is shifting quickly. Because while worship is my word ... 

Idolatry is my sin. 

“What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.”
Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 ESV

I have spent a tremendous amount of time in the past two years mourning what used to be, what hasn't happened, what appears will never happen, what has happened in the past ... I've lived fearful of what's to come and maybe more to the point what I'm afraid won't come to pass ... 

something I prayed for two solid years over ... Fasted over ... Wept over ... More times than not day and night ...

Because I still trust more in my plans than in His. But no where in the scripture does it say be joyful when everything is going according to my plan. It says ... 

In every thing be joyful ... Eat, drink, Take pleasure in your toil ... That is His gift to us!!! 

And the New testament confirms that in James 
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
James 1:2-6 ESV

Our days were written before the beginning of time ... He is the only one who is able to equip us for what is to come ... No matter what ... 

So as I learn to be a true worshipper of the one who holds all my tomorrows ... 

as I step into the fullness of embracing this 2016 Journey that the Father has for me ... 

as I trust Him with what I can not yet see ...

and believe Him for that which deposits tear after tear in HIs bowl that holds the tears of the saints ... 

what are you trusting Him for today? Could my group and I pray with you on a matter? 

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Everybody Needs a Purvis

Smartphones sometimes think that they are smarter than the one operating them.

I recently jumped into the smartphone world that is home to the one with all the answers. Like when I asked Siri to text my friend and she replies, would you like to text "Jena" and it sounds like the pronunciation of that rather cloying fragrance from the 80's Jean Nate ... even after I try to 'teach her the pronunciation." Or when I try to text my husband and it texts a variety of Randy's whom I have never text ... ever "Date night tonight?? kissy face emoji and all" Or when I say, give me directions to the Plaid Apron and she says, "Did you really want directions to The Plaid Apron?" As if she thinks that I'm not cool (ahem, hip) enough to go there either ... well, it usually makes me roll my eyes and want to punch her ... the non-existent her that is Siri ... in the face as if she's a middle school adversary from many years ago.

And sometimes, just sometimes, Siri gets it right. When I first got my phone, I continually typed the word "precious" next to the word friend and what she gave me was "purvis" ... and so I decided Purvis it would be!! After all, we all have dear friends. And most of us, well we have a bunch of them. When we are 30 we calculate our worth by the number of invitations to Bunco and Panera and this fundraiser or that book club.  By the time we are 40 ... we're tired of playing games(not bunco games, mean girl games) and the ones who are still competing and trying to outdo us or even if it's others they continually target ... well, we just get over it.

As I slide in hard toward 50 though, what I really need in my life is a purvis. A precious friend who embodies what it means to "loveth at all times." Because about now, 'all times' is taking on new meaning. Empty nest, changing body, health issues, mid-life crises, aging parents ... they are taking a toll that requires friendship that goes beyond. And my 'purvis' does just that. She laughs with me and it it gives me the courage to Persevere. She cries with me and it reminds me that this very real season requires Understanding. She sits with me and I am reminded to Rest. She prays with me and over me and I am reminded that Jesus is the Victor. She nudges me and I am reminded to Incline my ear to the Father. She holds me tight and I am reminded that I am Significant.

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Worship 2016

This is how we finished out our Christmas Eve service at Northstar Church in Knoxville, Tn. It was so the Lord. A month ago, I began to really wonder if I'd really listened to the Lord as I sought Him for my 2015 Word of the Year ... Communion. Because from July to December ... I hardly gave  it a thought. I spoke the words "I've really not done communion justice in the second half of the year." To which my dear friend replied, "I'm not sure it was yours to do justice to in the first place." And at that realization ... that my Word of the Year is about Him doing a work in me, not my working out the Word He's given ... He showed me how Communion had woven it's way through out moments and minutes and days and months through this year.

  1. 1
    the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.
    "in this churchyard communion with the dead was almost palpable"
  2. 2
    the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared.
    synonyms:the Eucharist, Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, Mass
    "the breaking of the bread during Communion"
In January, I took a very literal approach to Communion.  I found a cute carafe with a cork, some neat little cups in a wooden box ... filled it with wine and set it out on a table my son gave me for Christmas next to a candle called Northern Lights ... and every night I was intentional about taking communion. By mid-February I realized that it had become routine and so I abandoned the everyday communion idea. February and March were full of intensely difficult and intimate conversations that left my heart reeling and begging for relief. Communion had happened as the Lord filled my mouth and enabled me to speak the very words that laid my most precious human relationship squarely on the alter and forced me to take my hands off of it. But, all of a sudden, Communion felt risky and dangerous.

But isn't that the Truth of Holy Communion ... 
it represents the most risky and dangerous prospect of all ...
The God of the Universe allowed His own Son
to come to earth and become fully man
and die on the Cross for the gift of Salvation 
that many, many reject ... and He knew they would.
Yet He took His hands off
and permitted it to happen?
It was risky because when you 
have communion with 
someone you love ... even the most brief of separations 
is difficult. But when you know that they are enduring
hell ... the tearing apart of your heart is almost 
too much to bear. 

We know that experientially, don't we?

On Christmas Eve, there were still places that were guarded from full communion in a couple of areas of my life. As we sang that night ... my heart was so inclined toward Mary and her not so Silent Night. I wondered if as she felt Jesus' birth nearing if she wanted to guard her own heart, somehow knowing what was to come ... and yet because the mother/son bond is so incredibly intense ... was helplessly in love the moment He breathed in humanity and let out a cry for the whole world?

Communion at it's most raw, naked, exposed moment. When your heart is unable to resist what it yearns for and fears most become one.

It was during our corporate Communion that the Lord washed over me a peace ... a Joy, Unspeakable Joy ... realizing that every new thing requires an exchange. If I was going to grasp my new life, I was going to have to lay my own dreams and expectations aside. And so as I waited in the front row for everyone to file ... I confessed that I really wanted life to turn out differently than it is right now. I wanted to go back ... to simpler, busier, fuller days. Days where I understood my role and my purpose. The past two years have been full of wrestling against what the Lord has permitted. I swung precariously on a pendulum of resisting communion that I longed for ... the intimate exchange of thoughts and feelings with ones I love ... and grappling at it desperately like I was wrestling a greased pig! I was exhausted. My knees were worn, and my heart was weary. I could stand before the Lord knowing I had done what He called me to do ... but it had taken a toll. And I realized as I sat in a moment of reflection that I was just a little bitter that I'd done my part and I didn't see where God had done His. And so ... once again, I laid down my dreams, expectations, hopes and the fear that what He had planned wouldn't be as good.

Whew ... I guess that's why we had to sit in the front row ... I had a lot to talk to the Lord about before my heart was ready to come to the Table.

I left ... resolved and at peace. Still not knowing many things.

Christmas Eve with the most precious of friends ... laughter, good food ... joy ... communion ... wrapped up our evening.

And as morning came ... the Lord began to unfold a gift ... confirmation that the past two years of praying and weeping were not in vain ... He kept His promise to restore what the locust had eaten over the past two years ... those things only hours before that He had called me to place on the alter ...

A gift from my son that would lead my heart straight into my new word of 2016 ... worship.

So my question to myself was ... what do I need to lay on the alter to embrace Communion? What do you need to lay on the alter so you can come boldly before His Throne? Where are you growing weary? Do you see someone around you who is growing weary ... and how can you encourage them today? Will you allow Him to do His "today work" in your heart so that you can fully embrace what's coming next? 

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Life is not Bulletproof

About 10 days ago, I took a pretty hard fall. I’ll spare you the details, but a hip issue that had almost resolved itself was aggravated and my right knee, which took the brunt of the fall, has been swollen and tender since then.  Last night, I made my way to my favorite corner of my couch to finish up Jeremiah 16-20 and not fully thinking, I leaned into my right knee to make my way to the chosen spot. The pain that shot through my knee brought me closer to tears than the original fall.

Upon waking this morning, the returned pain in my knee reminded me of my miscalculation last night. I quickly showered, dressed, gathered a load of laundry and set the day in motion. A brief text spoke the intent of the day … a few things to accomplish … and off I went, determined to check things off my list today.

Trying to be efficient, on my way past the fridge, I grabbed a bagel … coffee was cold from when Randy left earlier in the day … ok,  let's try the bulletproof coffee "pumpkin pie latte style" … bc I had developed the recipe yesterday, all the ingredients were at the ready except the bullet part and that was easily accessed as well.  Into the microwave went the coconut creamer, the pumpkin, the pumpkin pie spices, the maple syrup … next goes the coffee  … both into my ninja blender … lid in place … with intent,  I grab the handle of the blender, headed toward my moment in the porch swing. But as I turn my attention toward the base of the blender, a pumpkin/maple/dry spice/ coconut milk /coffee BULLET went off in my kitchen as the blender bowl crashed to the floor and all the hot contents are forced out in a crime scene that included my kitchen floor, dining room floor, kitchen wall, foyer wall, cabinets, doors, appliances … you’re getting this picture, right? Pumpkin and dry spices are not water soluble … just in case you aren’t grasping the mess here …

In simultaneous moments, my mind had these two thoughts … What in the world was I thinking? And, this is going to be very painful to clean up!

The memory of how much it hurt to lean on my knee the night before ON THE COUCH sent hot, angry tears streaming down my cheeks as I considered the necessity of cleaning up this mess I had made. Adding insult to injury, I was trapped in my mess … the only way out was through.

Let that thought settle in this morning. Sometimes when we are trapped in our own mess … the only way out … is through. And if it isn't our first rodeo in mess-making ... the thought of having to do this all over again ... well, overwhelming may not cover the range of emotions.

As I made my way to my mop and bucket then back into my kitchen, I was fairly certain I was leaving a pumpkin trail, but I refused to look back and see what I was leaving behind because I still had to figure out how in the world I was going to clean up this colossal mess. My mind was reeling as I looked for the tools I knew necessary … because the hurt in my mind is so fresh from last night, I came up immediately with solutions … God, you could send someone to my door to help me clean this up … maybe Randy could arrive unexpectedly and help me … if only Jena were home … if only I hadn’t stupidly fell in the first place … the conversations in my head were not productive …

and then a still, small voice whispered … “I have some things I want to show you … wipe up as much of the as you can with paper towel, fill the rinse bucket with really hot water … fill the sink with cleaning water and do this a little at a time … and listen to My Voice.”

So with some pain, I wiped up as much as I could just bending at the waist, I moved mats and stools and a few things that were on the floor, filled the rinse water bucket with hot water and lowered it to the floor … I filled the sink, poured a little lemony cleaner into the steamy water and as I began to listen to His Voice he said …

“How much easier would this be if you could just get down on your hands and knees!”  

And I realized that I had avoided getting down on my hands and knees to clean up this area because in my heart, I knew how dirty it was under the cabinets and under the mats and beside the fridge. But I didn’t want to take the time to put in the hard work to get it really clean … I just wanted to do my weekly “a lick and promise” clean up so that from a distance, there was the appearance of clean. But in reality, there was an unseen sticky mess under the mat, a spider web in the base of the kitchen stool, cobwebs under the fridge and I’m serious I have NO IDEA what that was under the cabinet base.

And that’s when He began to show me Truth.

How much is my own heart just like my pumpkin nightmare? I know there’s some work to be done … sin to be removed, dirt that needs tending to, repairs that need mending, a few sticky messes in places which aren’t evident at first glance, cobwebs where I’ve given up and things I can’t even identify where I’ve given in. Oh, I do enough clean up to make everything presentable from a distance, but when you get up close and personal, there’s such evidence of the need for a deep clean. And how much easier would it have been to spend the time on my knees, letting the Holy Spirit do it’s refining, cleansing work on a daily basis, rather than pushing things to the side, sweeping them under the mat, refusing to look closely at what was right before my eyes and going on to things that brought more immediate pleasure. But then comes the “bullets” of  a life that is not bulletproof bringing us painfully to our knees, realizing that there’s a lot of dirt we have to wade through to find clean again. And, just like me with my banged up knee, we are helpless to do this the easy way. We have to listen to the voice of the Father who plots the course for us and then takes us gently through the process of cleaning out the unkempt places in our heart.

Perhaps you find yourself as I did in the midst of a crime scene this morning. Maybe the bullet launched was from your own actions … or possibly it’s the shrapnel from bullets sent in by our adversary. Regardless of the circumstance, the triage of scripture is the same! Will you settle yourself before His Throne, even if you can only bend from the waist.

Ps. 71:1-3
In you, Oh Lord, do I take refuge;
Let me never be put to shame!
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
Incline your ear to me, and save me!
Be to me a rock of refuge,
To which I may continually come;
You have given the command to save me
For you are my rock and my fortress.

Romans 7:21- 8:1

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being. But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in  my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Ps 51:7
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Monday, August 3, 2015

mission trip devotions Extravagant faith

Extravagant Faith

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Scripture Reading Matthew 14:26-33

Reread: Matthew 14:22-33 and Mark 9:14-29

About two weeks ago, a dear friend text me to say she was headed to Kansas City for a week. Her sister-in-law needs help. She has a brain tumor ... and she’s dying. And while that’s hard enough, Jill doesn’t know Jesus. The conversation we had later that day went something like this ... 

“I want to take every opportunity to pour in Jesus. I LOVE her. And she doesn’t know him. Would you just pray that the Lord would give me just the right words to speak and that the Holy Spirit would soften her heart?” Janie asked. 

“And would you just pray that I’m doing the right thing? My fellas and girls are here. College is coming soon. I treasure this time with them, but I think this is the right thing to do.” 

I promised her I would pray. I asked another prayer warrior friend to pray. I prayed faithfully ... but somewhere between praying and believing my faith ... failed. 

In Matthew 14:26, Jesus calls to his disciples as he makes his way to the boat by walking on the water. They found themselves in unfamiliar territory and they were afraid until they heard the voice of the Master. When they recognized Jesus, Peter said, “If it is you Jesus, command me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus said, “Come.” 

It’s hard for me to picture a mission trip, where the enemy has such a stronghold on the lives of those we hope to serve, that faith wouldn’t fail for some of us at one time or another. Because we probably find ourselves in a similar place as the disciples. We feel confident that the Lord has called us to the reservation and right now ... we are excited!! We may have even said something like Peter does ... ok Lord, if it’s you, just tell me to go and I’ll go! And, Jesus didn’t call Peter out on the water SO THAT HE WOULD FAIL, nor did he call us to South Dakota for anything less than to accomplish His Will. 

And so, according to the scriptures, Peter went ... because Peter knew Jesus’ voice and had faith he had heard his command. I’m struck this morning by this ...   Jesus had only asked Peter to do ... what Peter ... had requested ... Jesus to ask ... Peter to do ... 

Have mercy!! 

Peter had faith Jesus had called him ... Peter WANTED JESUS TO CALL HIM 

 ... until he saw the wind ... 

It’s in the “until of a moment” that whatever you have been feeding begins to flourish. 

Can you see this? Peter steps out onto the calm waters ... feeling pretty good about the whole thing ... maybe he takes a deep breath and his chest expands just a little bit ... he squares his shoulders toward the goal ... knowing the other 11 are looking at him ... from the boat.

The word says this ... “so Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus.” FAITH

You know that confident ... swagger.  

“But when he (Peter) saw the wind ...” 

He saw the wind. I’ve been on the beach when it was windy and I could feel the wind on my face, but the word says saw ... Psalm 107:25 says “for He commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea” ... 

... waves ...

Is as vivid in your mind as it is in mine? The evidence of the wind is the waves licking at Peter’s ankles, then his knees. His feet are still firmly on the surface of the water ... but the assault of the waves becomes his circumstance ...

When have you found yourself in a circumstance where the evidence around your suggested danger or failure, but you had been called out by the Lord ... and in your excitement, you jumped out of the boat and went ... but then ... you began to consider ... all the possible outcomes?

Here Peter finds himself at the “until of the moment.”

Pause right there for a minute ... don’t miss this because it’s so important. 
Peter saw the wind ... he could feel the evidence of the danger just below the surface ... 

Peter’s faith failed and he miscalculated the winds as the danger. 

Could it be that the most common cause of failure is our miscalculation of where real danger exists. Setting up the greatest difference between the Lakota and us. You see ... we look at what we want (success, fame, fortune, sex, acceptance, love, freedom) and we fail to see the danger in it. The world tells us if we go to church, life will be “peachy” and we begin to believe the lie. We think we are so far removed from homelessness, addiction, abuse and failure that we cozy up beside the very sins that lead down that path and expect to remain safely under the protective umbrella of Grace without consequence. We think that under Grace, we are free from the natural order of this world ... and nothing bad is ever going to happen to us. We aren’t going to become pregnant or get a disease or go broke or be thrown in jail or lose our family because we love Jesus and He won’t let that happen. We live like we believe that the natural order of things will be interrupted when we act according to our own will because we love Jesus when it comes to our sin. But when it comes to His Will, we question why He would ask us to do something we KNOW we can’t do. 

We trust Him to forgive the sins we want to commit, but we fail to trust Him in the obedience He asks us to offer.  

The Lakota live lives that are diametrically opposed to that ... we introduce them to Grace that completely contradicts all that they know to be true in this world. They know they are going to live a life of alcoholism, abuse, homelessness and failure. That is their natural order of things. They don’t see that for the few that have professed a trust in Christ that their life is a whole lot better. They see that the natural order of things happens. Alcoholism leads to fatherlessness. Drug abuse leads to addiction. Sex leads to a baby you weren’t ready to raise. 

And just as you and I don’t see that we could ever fall prey to those things ... they see no way out of those things by falling and praying. 

We believe we are immune to the consequences of sin because we hold a cheap view of His Grace, death on the Cross and Resurrection. 

They miss out on Grace because they have an overrated trust in things of this world. And both miscalculations leave us wondering if God is who He says He is. 

We don’t recognize the dangers because we believe we are immune to their consequences and the Lakota can’t see Hope in their circumstances. Believing that the supernatural work of the cross is more powerful than what they know in life is just as difficult for them to believe as it is for us to believe that one day we could be in their shoes. 

We don’t see the ploy of the enemy in sin:They don’t recognize the Hope in Christ. 
They are equally devastating lies that the enemy tells us about the gospel. 

So on the eve of serving people who desperately need to know the supernatural power of the Cross and the Resurrection of Jesus, would you spend some time preparing your heart for this sacred work. 

Will you stop and take a look at what you will inevitably tell them is the high price, the treasured gift that Jesus gave to them on the Cross ... now will you reflect on what your life and your decisions reflect about the cost of the Cross? 
Is there unresolved sin in your own life that you need to bring before the Father? 

What are you believing God for this week that is EXTRAVAGANT? 

and on June 17 @ 9:30 in the morning, I even stopped what I was doing because the Lord impressed on me the need to pray. Lord ... soften her heart to your Holy Spirit. Lord ... give Janie words to speak. Lord ... we know you are able. Lord ... please be with Janie. 

And then, later that afternoon, came the text ... 

Honestly ... I read that text as I parked my car in the driveway ... and my hands shook! Tears filled my eyes. I text Janie ... 

It would be a few days before I actually got to hear the story. And as I once again conveyed my response to her text ... I had a confession to make. 

“Janie, I realized the moment that your text arrived that I prayed just like you asked. I believed that God could do all the things I was praying. I thought I believed He would ... but I didn’t ever expect that the text was coming.

Can you hear Peter talking to himself, forgetting that Jesus knows his thoughts? What was I thinking? What am I doing? Oh no ... the other guys are watching! Do you see him glance sideways ... how quickly does the swagger turn into wondering where can I hide? 

I know that the scripture doesn’t say that ... so how is it that I feel so certain that something LIKE THIS happened? 

Stick with me here ... 

And, “Peter was afraid.”

According to the scripture Peter was afraid ... before he began to sink. Peter’s faith failed him RIGHT HERE ... 

you see, there is always a moment when any action can become sin. And somewhere between recognizing the possible danger and sinking ... sin happened.  

Peter stepped out obediently, he walked confidently ... and then came the wind. Still no consequence. THE WIND ISN’T WHAT THREATENED TO TAKE PETER UNDER. Noticing the wind wasn’t where Peter’s faith failed. But when Peter began to weigh out in his heart all the things that might happen as a result of the wind ... he was afraid. 

And then came the consequence. 

“ ...he was afraid and beginning to sink ...” Let that word “beginning” wrap itself around your heart ... linger there, just ... for ... a ... moment. It doesn’t say that Peter went under ... he isn’t drowning ... the waves haven’t swept him away ... he doesn’t flail ... he isn’t calling out to his buddies for a lifejacket ... he isn’t even trying to swim back to the boat ... and, we don’t hear a voice choking on seawater gasping out ... 

Peter’s faith didn’t fail him long. Because He KNEW that Jesus was able and wiling to rescue him. 

Peter KNEW. How often is what we know contradicted by what we feel? We feel like the odds are against us ... we feel like what we’ve been asked to do is impossible ... we feel like there is no way ... we feel like there is no hope ... we feel like ... 

and and then we think, “Is God who He says He is? Did mean what He said?” And secretly, in places we don’t let many see ... we whisper in our heart, “Do I believe any of it anyway?”  And we too ... begin to sink. 

Beginning to sink ... Peter cried out “Lord, save me!” 

Oh that we would be like Peter!!! Because guess what??? 

We are going to become afraid. 

Our thoughts are going to wander toward the “what ifs” of life. 

And our faith is going to fail us. 

Peter didn’t wallow in his sin, he didn’t try to rescue himself, he didn’t throw up his hands and say, “I knew this was going to happen. I knew I couldn’t walk on water!” 

He cried out to the Lord and IMMEDIATELY Jesus reached out His hand to Peter ... rescued him ... 

took hold of Peter saying, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt? 

Hear the tender voice of the Father precious ones. Read that again and again until you hear the Daddy voice of Jesus. 

Jesus didn’t shame Peter, he pointed to his sin. Jesus doesn’t look at Peter and say the things we are prone to say ... he didn’t tell Peter to save himself ... he didn’t mock Peter to the other disciples ... He simply pulled Peter out of the shackles of sin that were pulling Peter under the obstacle separating him from Jesus that MOMENTS earlier Peter had supernaturally been given authority to overcome. 

The world looks at this story and they think that Peter’s failure is in beginning to sink. But Jesus looks at Peter’s heart and calls out his sin ... doubt. And carries him back into the fellowship of those with whom he is doing life.

And what is the response to rebuke? They worship. 

So today, is there an area where you need to cry out to Jesus? 

Are you flailing around trying to save yourself? Making excuses for why you are drowning? 

Has He rebuked you in an area of your life that requires response? 

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mission devotions

The sermon today isn't available yet. I know because I just looked ... I was pretty sure that it wouldn't be, but I was so moved by what Scott taught today that I had to spend some time reflecting over it with you!

He began the heart of the message by asking the question ... "Why Am I Here?" and took us back to the beginning ... like as in Genesis 1. Now, lots of people have read Genesis 1. I have renewed my interest in this text as I have started teaching science again this year. I am absolutely fascinated by the Creation Story! I have become thoroughly convinced that belief in a literal 7 day creation story is foundational to our Christian walk. In Genesis 3 ... the serpent begins to chip away at the foundation of the woman's faith in God's sovereignty by asking the question "Did God really say that?"

Eve had no reason to doubt Adam's word ... but because the negative seed was planted by Satan, that doubt grew into questioning ... and questioning into rebellion.

WOW ... The real downfall began when the serpent began to infiltrate Eve's mind with DOUBT ... subtle doubt at first ... not doubting God, but 1st doubting her helpmeet ... Adam.

Had Adam failed her in some way that deserved her doubt? They were in the land of pleasure and delight ... the Garden of Eden.

Had he forgotten to take out the garbage, not been sweet enough when the snuggled up last night, spent more time tending the animals than making her feel special?

Yet doubt entered. And sin was quickly on its heels ...

chipping away at the foundation ...


Let's look back at the dialogue between Eve and the serpent. In Gen 3:1b the serpent says, "Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?"

Now, I wasn't there ... it's taking some liberty to give voice to this snake ... but can you not hear his voice dripping with disgust?

Really, really did God say you can't eat from any tree? Overstating the case, knowing the seed of truth that existed - there was only one forbidden tree - He knew that it would take the hard sell to make his case.  He had to make it sound like they were being deprived because they couldn't have it all! So he planted the seed that they couldn't have any!

Eve responds correctly, The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say "You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it or you will die."

Hold on ... ok ... I'm taking liberty again, but after all, I am a daughter of Eve ... I know what wells up in my mind as I read those words ...

I start out strong ... We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden ... and then the words of the serpent, the condesending tone in his voice (the you gotta be kidding-tone), the question that he placed before me (Are you really that stupid?) ... slams headlong into the truth ... and doubt creeps in. My faith waivers ... and the unthinkable word comes out ... BUT ... and I turn my eyes away from Jesus and toward the serpent and lean into what he is saying ...

Can't you just see her ... me ... casting her eyes downward, shuffling her feet like a 10 year old, "yeah, but He did say we couldn't eat from the tree in the middle (the most beautiful one) and if we touch it we'll die (what's so special about the one in the middle that we would surely die?? and if it's that special, why wouldn't He want me to have any?)"

Shame creeps over me even at this very moment knowing how often I have treated God's boundaries with this sort of wishy-washy selfishness! Oh, I have my own high-horse issues ... what we commonly refer to as 'the big sins' ... you know, the ones that we can talk about in lofty terms because the rubber of our tires of life never really meet that road today (even though in truth they did, at another time in life, when today's friends didn't know me. Sound at all familiar?) ... you make your list, I have mine!

My life is littered with times where I questioned whether what God said is what He meant. L.I.T.T.E.R.E.D.
For many years I believed that God's Word was filled with stuff I couldn't do ... not stuff I shouldn't do, stuff that would bring death to the spirit in me, stuff that harms me ...  Just me being petulant and childish and looking at what I couldn't do ... pushing out my lower lip and stamping my foot.

Who am I that I should think myself worthy of questioning the HOLY GOD/CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE??

And yet I find myself right back where I started ... with a question ... not the question Scott asked that I thought I was going to start with ... Why Am I Here? exactly ... but a question ... Who Am I?  What Do I Think I'm Doing ... and it's almost like at this season of my life I have to ask that question before I can even get to the "What am I doing here?" question!!!

Because here's the deal ... Before I can look at Why I'm here and how I relate to God, Myself, Others and His Creation ... I have to reposition myself to see that in that equation, it is God that is on the very top rung of that ladder. It really doesn't matter why I think I'm here, if I don't first realize that I am here primarily to bring Glory and Honor to the most high God.

Oh, it matters why God placed me here ... and I am here to relate.  Just like the sermon today said I'm purposed to relate to God, to myself, to others and to His Creation ... God's plan matters.

And He's calling me to remember that it matters more than my plans. Jer. 29:11 says, ‘ “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “'

In the New International Amy Version it often reads, "Do you know the plans I have for myself Lord? Are you listening? Hey God, pay attention here ... Now, make me rich and don't let anything bad happen to me while I walk around out here in this big world, okay, yeah you created the world, I know, but Lord have you seen all the cool things around today ... if I could only have _______ then my future would be great!”

It's funny, this morning I found myself kneeling at an alter thanking God for changes in my home, for the blessing of a son, provision for my family ... asking Him to ????draw a friend, ????comfort a boy, heal a baby, a woman, a marriage, protect a soldier and give direction in a new venture - pleading with Him to keep me out of the way because I am persuaded that this idea of protecting our testimony is so life changing!

And He answers.  Again.

So I'll move into this week not wondering, "God, is that what you really said for me to do?" But I will go in whole-heartedly, knowing that Your Word stands on its own, Your call is irrevocable and my obedience is required.

Lord Jesus, keep my eyes fixed on you even as the enemy tries to whisper in my ear that surely I misunderstood ... misunderstood what You have for me to do, who I am in You, my value to those who love me and the circumstances of my day!

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Extravagant Love

I got a text this morning that says, “Jake asked me to pray last night that he would love Jesus in his heart more than he does Legos.” 

The chuckle in my tightened as tears formed in my eyes. And the words of Jesus in John 21 echoed, 

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

And Jakes words collided with these verses. Jake would eat, sleep and drink Legos. He knows them, understands them, desires them, saves for them, asks for them. When he is with his Legos ... is attention is fully devoted to them. For some people it’s sports, for others movies, for some intellect ... we all have our own “LEGO” that we love. But this morning, the words in verse 18 struck me ... and I thought, “I bet Jake has a Lego shirt! And maybe a hat??” And the mama in argued, he’s a kid ... let him be a kid. The verse I think that what Jesus is saying is ... you can make what seem to be your own decisions now, as a young person, but because of the decisions you make today, later on, someone will decide for you ... and you ain’t gonna like it. And then Jesus commands Peter, “Follow me.” 

In Jake’s little-boy-who-loves-Jesus heart, his prayer request spoke such depth. Let me love Jesus in my heart more than most treasured possession. 

So I would ask us today ... Who or what is your Lego? 

Will you trade it in for a greater love of Jesus? 

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

I Trust You ...

Lately, I've been praying many of the same prayers over and over and over ...

I'm thankful that Jesus doesn't become weary hearing me ...
       but I'm making myself sick. Literally. The stress of needing to know has taken over my life.

And as of today ... there's a stink load that I don't know.

What I do know, however, is:

God loves me and those I worry about more than I could possibly love any of us!

There is a Holy Spirit ... and I'm not Him.

There is a divine plan ... whether I can see  it or not.

He is my Rescuer, Redeemer and Refuge.

He is strong ... and I am weak.

So ... I will practice praying every prayer with this conclusion ...

whatever the outcome ... I will trust You Lord.

Because I do ...

Lord, help me when I don't!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Ramblings of the Heart

I stand the fence and wander in my heart to the place where 
we used to find one another so easily. 

I stand in a muddle of emotions that capture my breath 
and threaten to allow the enemy to speak words that are not cloaked in Truth.

Though they hold just enough reality of circumstance 
to create the fear of plausibility.

I'm not sure how hope rises as disappointment falls
or how faith holds on in the face of blatant disregard.

But it does. I do. Every single time that he doesn't,
I continue to believe that He will. 

Rescue that doesn't come places before me the scripture 
Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

My heart is sick with absence and knowing and hoping 
beyond what I can see.

And yet in the same breath, faith is the absence of knowledge
wrapped in the knowing of the Word. 

Sin comes wrapped in the woman the Proverbs warn about 
and the chains are tightly bound around him. 

Dripping words that give immediate satisfaction and usher 
in sin fall like rain on a cold January night, stinging like fire. 

Veiled eyes think that kindness is the same thing as acceptance
and tolerance for sin.

Arms spread and heart exposed because the shield of Truth has 
been laid down to grasp the flesh.

And the spinning begins, like a death-spiral and the ground screams
closer with every passing moment.

Eyes unable to see clearly that the chaos is about to meet 
in the middle of the crossroad.

A yes or no will be required with your heart and action
no longer will empty words mask Truth.

So on my knees again today, I watch for your return 
from the slop that the world offers as love.

Believing that you will remember 
and I will be there to see.

Monday, February 9, 2015

He Knows

I'm trusting God for something.

I'm trusting Him for something that when I wrap words around it ... my heart, without fail, screams at my mind that it "can't possibly understand." I know you recognize the gut-lurch reaction that occurs when you've tried to share something with someone who just doesn't lay hold of the gravity of the situation.

There's only one thing of true importance that I've ever prayed for longer ... it's been well over a year now that I've watched the enemy continue to win battle after battle. I've watched Satan twist truth into daggers, dress up sin like a Christmas gift, weep like the victim, sneer like the victor and wave the banner as if to rule a kingdom.

I've responded poorly. Fear, hurt, anger and unbelief have rendered me seemingly useless in this season. Some days I have stay in bed ... other days I was up moving and there was the appearance of life, but I could not recount to you one of the activities that consumed the 18 waking hours of the day. I could go on about the difficulties but honestly, I've dwelled there long enough that I've made myself sick of the refrain.

In difficult times I've asked the Lord to give me a song for the day. I did that because Zephaniah 3 tells me that the Lord is mighty to save and He rejoices over me with singing. He has been so faithful to give me that gift. Sometimes it's a new song (Hello My Name Is lasted a while) ... sometimes it's an old standard (It is Well) ... sometimes it's something from the recesses of my mind (I am a promise, I am a possibility) ... other times it's a lyric I don't even recognize and I have to Google it (I'm Alive) ... for the past few days it's the new song by Jeremy He Knows wakes me ... and because my silent,drifting tears ... the ones that glue my face in a snotty mess to my pillow ... carry me pleading with Him to redeem the situation. I need to know HE Knows. But the past few days by the time I hit the shower, the song by Kristian Stanfill Always filled my thoughts. I confess that as I listened to the lyrics in my mind ... I lingered on the edge, waiting for Him to help me understand ... understand how, over a year later, My God is going to come through ... how, over a year later, this lingering could be categorized as anything but delay ... how, over a year later, I am supposed to continue to hope that My Help is on the way ...

but this morning this lyric resonated over and over ...

"oh my God, He will not delay, My Refuge and Strength always, I will not fear, His Promise is true ..."

Delay ... isn't over a year a delay? I live in a microwave, text message, instant message world where I expect things to happen now. And while I'm patient about many things ... patience here is wringing my heart out I want resolution. My heart needs a victory. My soul needs a glimpse.

But has My God delayed??

No ... He has not.

Several months ago, I picked my sister up at the airport. She was scheduled to arrive at 10:45am. When I arrived at the airport, I checked the monitor to see if her flight was on schedule. Next to her flight number were the words ... ON TIME. But friends, if I'd shown up to the airport on Friday, because I was anxious to see her ... despite the fact that there were planes arriving, people pouring through the gates ... she would not have arrived until Sunday. Frustration, wishing, praying, begging every person I know to pray, crying ... would not have changed the fact that she wasn't coming until the appointed time. If I'd stood in the corridor demanding to see her ... would that have characterized her absences as "delayed"? No ... she arrived just when she was supposed to arrive.

This is exactly how I'm responding in this situation. It's gone into ugly ... and my response speaks far more about me than it does My God.

This morning as I listenedd to the song ... I was reminded that just because He hasn't fully answered my prayer yet, does not mean that He has delayed. It simply means it is not yet time. It doesn't mean he isn't answering my prayer, even now. He's working in the midst of this difficult process and when the time is right ... because His Promise Is True ... His Love Will Shine Through.


I wish I could say that it's easy to wait, but it isn't. He's refining me in this waiting process and strengthening my faith ... some days I want to give into the popular and forgo the righteous because it circumvents waiting ... but it also moves me into disobedience and that is a dangerous place for a Believer in Jesus Christ.

What are you asking God for in this season that seems impossible?
What verses will you pray over this circumstance as you wait?

The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph 3:17

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