Seeing Through the Obstacles

A lake retreat brings God’s lessons.

The house was beautiful. Decorated like those in a magazine with the latest touches from the Pinterest boards. Plenty of bedrooms, windows overlooking the lake, and a dock perfect for jumping off of into the refreshing waters. But my favorite part was the huge deck that stretched the length of the back of the house. And being a writer, my favorite place on that deck was at the charming wrought iron bistro table with my back to the windows, my Apple in front of me, and a panoramic view of the deep green waters. There, each day, I spread out God’s word and my journal and leisurely visited with my Abba.

Almost immediately there was a fly in my ointment so to speak. (But even those flies carry lessons!)

My table, appropriately located in a cozy nook beside the door and just outside the kitchen window, had one drawback. A large red oak had, years ago as a little acorn, made his home about 8 feet from me, directly in front of my favorite chair looking off the deck toward the lake. Now he was a big old boy, probably 2 feet in diameter, that blocked a large chunk of my lake view. With the door and porch railing hemming me in, there was really no place to move the table that would make a big difference. Adirondack chairs had their place on the other side of the door, so it was my opportunity to enjoy the blessing in spite of an imperfection.

As I sat watching my kids jumping off the pier that second afternoon, leaning this way and that to see them well around the tree as they floated off on tubes this way, or kayaked around that way, enlightenment came. God did what He so often does with me, He made a lesson out of the mundane and the annoying.

As I stood up and moved toward the railing to call to them for some reason, I realized a truth: the closer I was to that obstacle (the tree) the more of my view it blocked. And the antithesis of that: the further I drew away from the obstacle, the more clear my view was of the reality around me.

My spirit stirred. I suddenly was aware of the spiritual ramifications of this lesson from the physical world. We humans frequently have obstacles come into our lives. Whether it is the relatively minor getting a head cold the day you have a big presentation at work, a larger obstacle like having your taxes audited, or a really huge life issue such as a serious illness or tragedy. We tend to see these obstacles as material, physical world problems, but they greatly impact our spiritual walk.

As we face the larger obstacles, we become just like I was with my tree. We are consumed with the big thing in front of us, and not with the rest of God’s plan being carried out beyond that. We can sit in a ladies Bible study, so inwardly focused that we miss tuning in to God’s great plan going on around us. We can stay cooped up in our homes staring at that “tree” of grief in front of us and not be aware of the beauty of the “lake” just beyond us. We may verbally gripe so much about our current obstacle tree, that the only words that escape our lips are negative, bitter, sour words of disappointment and fear. And we may even hide behind our obstacle tree, because we are so used to that ongoing obstacle in our lives, it becomes easier just to live hidden behind it than to make the effort to reach out to the world beyond, despite our obstacle.

So what’s a girl to do? We all have problems.

First, get some distance on that tree whenever possible. When you are staring down that problem a foot away from you every day, it looms huge in your line of vision blocking the majority of what you see. Granted, we have huge obstacles crop up, but we don’t have to give them the central place in our lives and cozy up to them. Just as when I stepped back on the porch I could see more of the lake, when we step back from those obstructions we see more of the world beyond our difficult situation. A rebellious teen in the house? Accept the husband’s offer of a get-away. Finished that chemo and waiting on results of scans? A family celebration or second honeymoon trip might be a good choice. Your best friend is in financial crisis? Offer them your home free for the weekend for a romantic vacation while you are on that road trip to visit the in-laws. Find creative ways to give yourself (or others) a bit of distance from those besetting hindrances and the perspective and refreshment that come with distance.

Second, look beyond. God is carrying out a good plan all around us. If you can’t pull away for a while from troubling issues to get some perspective, then refocus your outlook, and start looking at the part of that view beyond that tree that you can see. The world is carrying on around you, and God has a role for you in that world as long as you are breathing – problems or not! Invest your life in God’s plans beyond your problem. When we invest in others, both are blessed.

Third, examine that tree. It’s just a tree. One with dead leaves and bark and ants crawling on it. It may be a 100 foot tall, 2 feet in diameter tree, but it’s still just a tree, a created thing. It’s just an obstacle. Nothing is impossible with God. Because of fear maybe, have we mentally made that obstacle more mighty than the Creator? He is still in control. He is not surprised by that tree being there; He saw that little acorn fall there and plant itself before we ever had an inkling we’d even be in the same neighborhood as that tree, maybe even before we were born. The good news: He has the axe necessary to get rid of that tree!

Fourth, move to one side. Look at your tree from a different angle. Could your parent’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s be a blessing to draw you two to spend time together in their later years? Could your broken heart over that rebellious teen prepare you to minister to other broken hearts you encounter along the way? Could that car wreck bring a hidden blessing? Could this trial be drawing you back to prayer? Obstacles, in some way, have God’s hidden blessing and glory tucked behind them. He is active in your life. So get a different perspective on that tree and see what good God may be bringing along with it.

Fifth, pray in faith for God to chop it down. There’s never harm in asking God to remove obstacles from our lives. Jesus did that the night before He was crucified; ” ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36 NIV) That last statement gets us! Are we willing to live with that obstacle always there if God chooses NOT to remove it? He’s got a good plan for us. And He’s got the axe… remember?

IMG_5875And last, see the good in that tree. Count your blessings. My tree has a cheerful little squirrel who chatted with me every day of my vacation and a gorgeous green canopy that shaded me from the heat of the afternoon sun. It’s massive presence reminded me of the strength and stability of the Father, and it’s leaves offered pleasant whispers in the breeze. Your obstacle has hidden blessings too. Maybe it restores a broken relationship, brings a new friend into your life, humbles you, makes you sit still and enjoy the moments more, changes the direction of your child’s life, or causes you to listen and understand new life lessons. God is using it in your life.

So let us not grow so focused on the negative. Yes, bad things happen, but like a diamond, they are many faceted, and may have hidden treasures bound up with them. Are we embracing the spiritual lessons that come our way through the pain? Are we consumed with the Father, or are we consumed with the fear, dread, confusion, doubts, and what ifs of this obstacle? Are we angry or tender-hearted? Let us look with spiritual eyes to really see – to look beyond that obstacle!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

The Unappreciated Gift

by returning guest author Brea Burelle

Have you ever received a gift you didn’t want?

You know, the ones you want to return or just stick in your closet and never use.

I have. My unappreciated gift was a car. I received it in 1985 when I was 17 years old. It was a 1967 Brown Mustard Plymouth Duster. That’s right, my grandparents gave me an 18-year-old car when I was 17 years old. They had planned this big surprise. They had stored the car in their basement, backing it in so when they opened the door I could see the car with the custom-made license plate with my name on the front. They were so excited to provide this gift to me and thought they had done so well in picking it out. Well I was so unimpressed that I looked right pass the car trying to figure out what the big deal was about. Plymouth Duster Car2.jpegThe car looked nothing like anything I would want. It was not the right style or color and definitely not like what my friends were driving. How could I be seen driving this Mustard Yellow car? Who were the kidding? I am positive that I must have hurt their feelings, but at 17 years old I could not pull it together to fake my appreciation. It was not until I had to start paying a car payment on a car I bought years later that I fully appreciated the gift of being handed a car free and clear, with no strings attached. In my mind all I could think about was that I wanted what everyone else had. All these years later I look back on this event in my life and wonder how I could have been so unappreciative of the gift I was given.

Just like this car how many gifts have I been given by God that I take for granted and don’t full appreciate the sacrifice made on my behalf. Gifts like: His Love, the Gift of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and the gift of My Salvation. God has also provided me with Spiritual pexels-photo-264793gifts to be used for his kingdom along with more gifts than I can name. He says in His Word in Matthew 7:11 (NET) “If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” God’s is the giver of good gifts.

Then the other day as I was preparing to lead a prayer group and was looking for Scriptures to give other woman dealing with Singleness. I was listening to a sermon on Singleness and the text was 1 Corinthians 7:7 (NLT) “I wish everyone could get along without marrying, just as I do. But we are not all the same. God gives some the gift of marriage, and to others he gives the gift of singleness.”

Wait did you catch that? Wow! God’s Words says singleness is a gift from God. The word gift in Greek is charisma which means “a gift of God’s grace” (charis). So Singleness is not just any gift, but a gift of God’s grace.  Now what am I going to do with this new piece of information. Who wants to hear that Singleness is a gift? Most of us singles ladies consider singleness as a holding pattern until we get married. Our Singleness is supposed to be just for a Season. Why would God consider singleness a gift? No woman I know wants to open a gift that contains the gift of singleness. We surely don’t get excited about being single. We get excited about getting married. Our society puts our focus on marriage. We expect to receive flowers and gifts from the guy we are dating. The excitement of receiving a ring. Then comes the parties, tea and wedding gifts, and the wedding itself. Single people don’t get these things. So, this got me thinking. What is so special about Singleness that God would consider it a gift?

I am sure there are many answers, but this is the one that pricked my heart. As a single woman, I can have a life more devoted to Him. God can have my undivided attention if I am willing to give it to Him. In 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (NLT) Paul say:

I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. 33 But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. 34 His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

God’s Word says I am to use my gift of Singleness, “to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.”  Paul tells us that a married woman has earthly responsibilities and are pulled in many different directions. They have to worry about their husbands and children and how any other ministry they take on will affect them.   As a single, I don’t have to worry about family members being neglected. I don’t have to work my schedule around others. When God calls me to a ministry I can devote my time to it. I can travel and do mission work when needed and called. I can be involved in several different ministries and not worry about family members feeling left out and abandoned. I don’t have to work my quiet time around distractions in my home. pexels-photo-478541I can spend extra time with the Lord and not have to worry about the clock or what is not getting done. If I am willing to give it, the Lord can have all my devotion as I serve him with all my ability.

Singleness may not be the gift I would choose for myself or that any woman would willingly choose, but we do not get to choose our gifts, remember? God does. I have to remember that God is a good Father who loves me and wants the best for me. God does not give bad gifts. But the choice is mine of how I look at my gift of singleness: I can choose to be bitter and unappreciative of God’s gift or I can choose to be excited and joyful about this gift. It is all up to me. If I choose the former, I miss out on all the wonderful things God has planned for my life during this Season or Seasons. If I choose the latter I get more than the gift of Singleness, I get the Gift of God Himself. If I am willing to stay devoted to him and follow his path, God’s Word promises in Psalm 16:11 “You lead me in the path of life; I experience absolute joy in your presence; you always give me sheer delight.” As I continue to serve the Lord and He continues to open doors may I experience absolute joy and sheer delight in being able to be in his presence and know that by walking this path of Singleness, I am walking the path he designed just for me. May I fully appreciate and be excited about this gift that has been given to me.




Back to Basics: Good or Best

God is GoodGrowing up, I heard a phrase that shaped not only how I acted, but how I thought. I heard this phrase leaving to go to school, leaving from class to class, when I went to people’s houses, and basically before I went anywhere in public: Morgan, be a good girl. My whole life with the same standard to pursue: to be a good girl. Make good decisions, make good grades, have good friends, be a good person. And there’s nothing wrong with those things. Actually, by the world’s perspective that’s a commendable goal. But recently, I’ve been challenged spiritually by that same goal that I used to strive to be as a young girl. I was in a meeting when one of the ministers of our church said something that I won’t forget any time soon: Good is the enemy of best. Yeah re-read that again. Whenever I heard that, it was an immediate punch to the gut. Things started pouring into my mind of my life where I had been pursuing good instead of best. Friendships, relationships, decisions about my time, and most importantly my relationship with Christ. But as soon as guilt flooded in, my flesh started excusing all of those decisions by saying, “but they were all good things! None of them were bad! ” And that’s true. But they weren’t best. Good is good, but God is best.

I know what you’re probably thinking, Morgan what are you saying? I do so many good things! I probably would agree with you. But I want to challenge you, are the things you do, the friendships you have, the relationships you make, are they best? In my personal life I had been settling for good, when best was still an option, and clearly still available. The definition of best is “of the most excellent, effective, or desirable type of quality.” So I started asking myself this question in every decision of my life, “Morgan are you consistently pursuing best?” Now hear my heart, I am not aligning myself with perfectionism, because that’s not possible with my human heart. I’m trying to align my life with Christ in every area. And here’s the thing: I’m starting small and then working my way up. I am asking myself, Morgan is lying on the couch watching Netflix for 6 hours straight best? Is scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat the best use of my time? Is checking out with the same cashier every time I’m at Walmart and not saying one word of encouragement or not saying one word at all best? Is that friendship that drains me spiritually best? Is that guy you are talking to good or best? Am I consistently pursuing righteousness? Am I consistently pursuing a deeper relationship with Christ? Am I consistently pursuing intentional conversations with people to share about the gospel and what it has done to my life? I know these are hard questions, but I believe that Jesus changes everything, and that He is worth nothing less that our very best. When Jesus becomes the center of my focus, everything changes because He changes everything in me. I start looking for the best in my circumstances, the best in people, the best opportunities to make His name known, and even looking for the best in myself. So ladies, I challenge you are you pursuing “best decisions” in your life? I won’t lie, it’s hard. But oh so worth it, because I’ve realized something that’s changed my life forever: Jesus is best. And when Jesus is best in my life, He changes everything.


It’s your choice: Good or Best?

When the Tables Are Turned

A young friend in her late twenties came to me recently with an unusual concern.

She is the only one in her small group who has chosen not to drink alcohol because of her Christian faith. It’s not that she’s never tasted alcohol. Nor is she rigid, prudish, or legalistic. It is a conscious choice she has made.

I don’t know all her reasons. Our conversation was more on the reactions she had received to her choice than on the choice itself. She had made that decision when she realized that alcoholic beverages offered no benefit to her and didn’t draw her closer to God, and that there are always risks associated with drinking alcohol. So she made the intentional decision not to use alcohol. In my mind I immediately thought of the verse in 1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable,” and I understood her decision.

But that was not the case with others she had encountered. At a small group meeting the prior week, she had found herself conspicuously being the only one not consuming alcohol. She did not feel out-of-place in her spirit and was enjoying her fellowship time. She also had the strength of character to not feel compelled to drink just because the rest were. So where was the issue? One of the young men approached her offering a drink. She declined, and he reacted!

He was offended that she wasn’t drinking. He chastised her for it and questioned her on it. She explained that she wasn’t judging him; she had just chosen not to consume any alcohol. A discussion ensued and suddenly she was the one feeling judged for her abstinence. We are told in Romans 14:16 to “not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil.” So she had to stand up for her convictions to another member of the body of Christ, one who should have been encouraging her and building her up instead of undermining her convictions.

Has our society so infiltrated the church that this is what we’ve come to?

Has it become a world where it is “politically correct” in the body of Christ to be so open-minded about alcohol that we condemn those who choose to abstain?

In another situation, a family friend in her early 30s recovering from alcoholism encountered her church friends, who knew her well, drinking at a class gathering they knew she would attend. She was surprised and let down. How could brothers and sisters in Christ choose to exercise their “freedom” at the jeopardy of her sobriety? Is Paul’s warning forgotten? “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.” (Romans 14:21)

A skewed view of grace has been slowly rising to the surface over the years, one that says a follower of Christ can do anything they choose and it doesn’t matter because God will forgive. Has the church bought into this so much so that a person who walks in purity and holiness is seen as an affront to this false interpretation of grace? In Romans 6:15, the apostle Paul admonishes us, “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” Are we so caught up in our freedom, that we are careless with our responsibility toward other believers?

Just as Christ has given us grace, we are called on to offer grace to those around us. In our Christian walk, let us extend compassionate love and care by respecting others weaknesses and not causing them to stumble by our actions. Let us also refrain from judging another for choices they make, that while they don’t go against scriptures we would perhaps consider a sin for us.

And on the other side of that coin, let us all also refrain from undermining a brother or sister in Christ who has chosen a higher standard than we are living. That is often difficult, especially when we feel conviction or condemnation simply by being in their presence. Instead of questioning the high road they have taken, when that conviction comes upon us let us pull aside, and seek God to see if He is using their example as a way of calling us to a deeper walk of holiness.

They Were Sheep Without A Shepherd


Scott Martin produces and publishes a daily forecast for a popular weather blog. My favorite part of his forecast is “This Day in Weather History.” I like History, I do not so much like the weather, nor do I prefer a lot of information pertaining to it. I am the odd-woman out in our house. I am the only member sans a radar app or warning type apparatus thingy on my phone. A suspender exposed James Spann does not give me cause for panic. As my husband publishes his “Midday,” he rarely brings to my attention the details of the forecast that are not of interest to me.

So one afternoon when I heard his exclamation of “Oh Wow!” It gave me cause to pause.

Me: “What Wow?”

Scott: “On this day is 1918 there were 504 sheep killed by a single lightning strike in Utah.”

Me: “Weird.”

Scott: “A herd of Sheep gather closely together in a storm and the shock from the single bolt traveled from one to the other.”

SONY DSCThen I began to ponder on that one. If I’m honest I’ll admit I’m still pondering. As a devoted sheep my initial thought, “Where was the shepherd?” Common sense would dictate that the shepherd was likely seeking shelter. Perhaps he had the influenza… After all, 1918 was the year of the terrible influenza outbreak that claimed so many lives. It was known as the Spanish Lady and it ravaged the bodies of the young and healthy. The world had never seen a pandemic of such epic proportions. Maybe the shepherd had been drafted into the First World War. Another pandemic that claimed the lives and ravaged the bodies of the young and healthy. Maybe he was close by and like any other human in his situation, was powerless against the force of nature that still can not be tamed.

I then had the realization that the closeness of the herd is what allowed the electricity to travel from one to another. They were one mass and not several individual sheep standing exposed in the storm. While I’m sad for the Sheep of 1918, their death 99 years ago serves as a lesson for me. My Shepherd will never leave me. His Word dictates His thoughts regarding Sheep with no Shepherd, Matthew 9:36 says, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

My life storms, pestilence, even war and death do not drive Him away. In fact, during those times He is right beside me. He is filled with compassion. My Shepherd pulls me close and offers me protection. He does indeed have power over the forces nature, and as my quiet time this morning reminded me, He is not bound by the laws of physics, gravity, space, and time. All are irrelevant when He is involved. Like the long dead sheep of 1918, His herd is to behave as one. The Shepherd likes it when we stay together, huddle close in the storm. When one of us grieves, we all grieve. When one of is struck, we are all struck. Not all this divisiveness and hostility. All the Sheep unified in obedience to the Shepherd.

I wonder how different our world would be if we would act just so.

“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” Ephesians 4:1-6.

Stay In It!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-2

We have heard it said so many times that, as believers, we are in a race. It’s a race that has many twists and turns. The terrain is sometimes rough and the road is long. We all face challenges as we are going through life. There are losses and there are gains. Jesus endured these same things to be the example for us as we are on this race that is set before us. We must look to Him, the founder and perfecter of our faith to get through the race. One version says that He is the author and finisher of our faith. If He is the author and finisher, that means He is writing the story. He is aware of where we are in the race at all times.

We have runners in our family. They love to run. My husband ran a marathon a few years ago. My daughter ran cross-country in high school. They have done sprint triathlons and 5k races. There are also others in our extended family who participate in these different types of races. They run for exercise. They love it. Depending on the type of race that they are preparing for determines the type of training that they participate in.  Intense, daily, endurance-type cross-training such as swimming or biking for the longer races. For the shorter races, running and conditioning several times a week. Regardless of the race, they have to stay in focus and keep their eyes on the finish that they want to accomplish.

running-runner-long-distance-fitness-40751The race that is set before you right now may be parenting a house full of children, or caring for an aging parent. It may be a major illness or the grieving process in losing a loved one. A wayward child. An unfaithful spouse.

Many factors can determine the outcome of a physical race and whether you complete it or not: being prepared, proper shoes, stretching, lightweight clothing, proper hydration and food.

We need to condition ourselves in our journey as believers:

  • Study God’s word. He says that we show ourselves approved by studying. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15
  • Pray earnestly, without ceasing. (I Thess. 5:17)
  • Don’t give up. Build endurance (Heb 12:1)
  • Be intentional in your spiritual life. Every. Day.
  • Trust God. Exercising your faith. It will strengthen you.
  • Look to Jesus. He is our kind and loving savior who is with us every single step of the way. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut 31:6

I love that before mentioning the race that is set before us, scripture refers to the great cloud of witnesses that are surrounding us as we are on this journey through life. It reminds us that we are not alone in this race. Many have gone before us and have just finished before us. Real people, with human strengths and weaknesses just like us that have left their examples to the value and blessing of living by faith. Read about these inspiring saints in Hebrews 11.

Honest confession. I don’t like to run. Period. My feelings are that the only good thing about running is that it is faster than walking.  I did do a 5k several years ago, but nothing else. I have stood on the sidelines and cheered them all on for years and wanted to participate, but I’ve never managed to stay in training long enough to do it again.  I’ve made excuses and let other things hinder me from participating in a race.

pexels-photoBut…I’m done with being a spectator. In a few weeks, I will be a participator in the race.  I am scared and intimidated and frankly, I want to go the opposite direction from where everyone else is going. But guess what! My family will be cheering me on at the finish line. They have encouraged me and have run with me and even pushed me at times when I thought about giving up. I have trained, probably not enough, but I am getting into that race with these guys. I’m getting stronger and more sure of myself. It has not and will not be easy, but I’m going to do it. My goal is to cross the finish line!

Keep on even in your race of faith, even if you don’t feel like it. There is a place where you get your second wind and push past the pain or the heat or the hard to breathe time. My husband says it’s there, but I haven’t gotten there yet in running. Some days life is very hard. Some days it’s easy and you wish it wouldn’t end. The struggle is real. But the reward of crossing that finish line and entering our eternal reward is real. I believe that those who have already completed the race that was before them are watching from heaven and cheering us on in our own race that is set before us. They will be meeting us at the finish line. As Rick and Bubba so famously say, “Stay in it!”



Back to Basics: Mentoring

The 5 Basic Ingredients & How to Carry out Your Mentoring.



Hey Girls! Grab your cup of coffee and let’s chat. This should be informative!

So in our last Back to Basics we discussed tips for finding the person God wants you to disciple or the mentor you’ve been longing for. Hopefully you have taken action in that direction – and yes, diligent prayer over the issue is taking action. Think ahead for a moment. What happens next? Once you find the right person to mentor or be mentored by, what does the relationship look like and where do you go from here? Just as every person is different in personality and every marriage is different in the way it plays out, every mentor relationship will be unique and personal. But there are several ingredients that go together to make a healthy, fulfilling discipling relationship. Scripture memory, witnessing, and other aspects of spiritual growth and training can be added in, but these 5 ingredients are the core:

  1. pexels-photo-446169Prayer
  2. Studying God’s word together
  3. Worshiping together
  4. Sharing lives/building a relationship
  5. Accountability

And just how you do it also varies.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Decide whether to have one-on-one mentoring or a group you are mentoring. A group makes best use of your time.
  2. Set a regular place to meet: a home, church, coffee shop, conference room at work, etc.
  3. Find a regular time to meet whether weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or something else. Make it a calendar event.
  4. Set the length of the meetings – 1-2 hours works well. Respect each other’s time: be punctual starting and stopping.
  5. Determine the duration of the discipling relationship: a one year commitment is usually good. It can be extended if you both wish, but always schedule another ending date so the relationship doesn’t waste away in awkwardness.
  6. Agenda. Have a routine planned that will take place each time, but be flexible to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
  7. Determine the focus of the mentoring based on the greatest need of the disciple: salvation, spiritual growth, training in how to study the Bible, moral accountability, developing spiritual disciplines, prayer for an ongoing and desperate situation, developing leadership in a more mature believer, etc.
  8. Choose a course of study such as read though the Bible together and discuss, do a topical study, use a Bible study booklet, or read and discuss a Christian book.


Advice to Mentors.

  1. Always begin with prayer dedicating your time to the Lord to use as He sees fit. And always pray for wisdom for yourself as you lead them.
  2. Your goal is to love them with the love of Christ.
  3. Your purpose is to teach or train this disciple from what God has taught you.
  4. Your job is NOT to fix this person’s flaws nor be their Holy Spirit – He is the one who convicts them of sin and guilt.
  5. Offer your young protegé loving correction for the sin in their life. Hold them accountable. But love them even when they fail.
  6. Be absolutely genuine with the ones you disciple. Fakiness or a holier-than-thou attitude can’t be in you when you disciple someone. Drop your mask.
  7. Be faithful to your commitment. Don’t give up and bail on your disciple because you get busy, feel insecure, sin yourself and don’t feel worthy, or for any other reason.
  8. Mentor, you are not perfect, and you are not expected to be. Admit your failings to your mentee. Learning occurs even when our disciples watch us deal with our own sin, failings, and awkward moments. (If it is a grievous moral failure on your part you should strongly consider handing them off to another mentor while you get your life back on track spiritually. And DO confess and ask forgiveness from them when you have sinned.)
  9. Never lead your disciple into sin! (“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!” Mathew 18:6-7; “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.” Romans 14:21)
  10. Besides the scheduled meetings, make yourself available as much as possible to your mentee. (However, do protect your marriage and family commitments.) Be available for calls, texts, emails, visits (including emergency ones), and spontaneous casual friend time. Include them in holidays and special events, or invite them to be your roomie on the next ladies retreat.

Now that you are praying and seeking one to disciple and you know what the expectations are, it’s time to step beyond your awkward feelings and act obediently! You will struggle and grow and open up being painfully honest when you don’t really want to be. You will be forever changed. You will never regret investing in others for the kingdom of God. It’s time to step out of your boat and walk in faith with Jesus! You can do this!

So finish your coffee and leave us a response. Let’s get this conversation going!

Thingamabobs? I Got Twenty… I Want More!

Just like The Little Mermaid, I have a ton of junk. So why is it that I am still browsing Amazon for things to add to my wish list? Why do I go to Barnes and Noble when I have thirty unread books at home? Why do I clean out my closet only to fill it with more v-necks? If you live in America, you probably know what I am talking about. We know we don’t really need new tennis shoes, but wouldn’t those lime green ones look so cute on our feet? We know we already have fifteen coffee mugs, but doesn’t that one with the quirky quote fit perfectly into our palm? We know we just bought a new journal, but isn’t that one totally adorable and completely reflective of our personality?

Although I have everything I could need materially, I still have a consumer mentality. Do you ever find yourself in that same boat… or Target aisle? I know that having belongings does not make me more or less godly, but if God really has complete control of my life then what does He have to say about the way I spend my money? Recently, I have realized that I fill my life with objects more when I am not as in tune with God. When I am not following God’s heart as closely, I have a gaping chasm in my life that I try to fill with brightly colored JUNK. Sure, I could use those tennis shoes to walk to a homeless shelter and share the Gospel or use that coffee cup to share some caffeine with a friend in need of a listening ear, but do I? Nope. I hoard. I save. I keep to myself. Because in my selfish heart, those belongings were never intended to further the Gospel. My selfish heart intended those belongings to fill my empty heart so that I can wander farther away from the God of “people before things.” This is when my consumer mentality becomes dangerous: when I consume to replace God with possessions.


Even though we pretend that this is a new phenomenon, the conflict of objects before God is nothing new. From Solomon in the Old Testament to the rich young ruler in the New Testament, generations of believers have dealt with the problem of how to handle materialism. Solomon was given divine wisdom (2 Chronicles 1:6-12) by God, but he still struggled with looking for satisfaction in possessions. In Ecclesiastes 2, Solomon explains all of the material ways he tried to find satisfaction from wine and gold to houses and concubines. However, he concludes, “Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” (Eccl. 2:11) Did you catch that? “NO profit under the sun”! So where is the profit in life? If the profit is not under the sun, then it must be above the sun. God is the only profit. God is the only thing that will satisfy our hearts. We know this. But do we KNOW know it? In the deepest caverns of our soul, do we truly believe that only God can fulfill our life purpose and make our life profitable and worth living? I am honestly not there yet. I am still holding up my, “But it was on sale!” excuses.

So is there any hope for us? Is there hope that we can fix our Disney-amplified need for “gadgets and gizmos aplenty”?

Let’s skip ahead to the New Testament. Our relatable friend, the rich young ruler, had similar issues. He came to Jesus in Matthew 19 with questions about what good things he should do. This guy obviously had his life figured out. He had money and the power to rule even though he was still young. (How did he pull that off?) But he was still dissatisfied and searching! He came asking Jesus for more answers. He had even tried being religiously obedient and following all the rules, but he had to ask, “What am I still lacking?” (Matt. 19:17-20). Y’all this next part gives me chills. “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete…'” Here we go! Ready for the answer to being complete? “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matt. 19:21)


Is that really the answer, God?! To be complete, we need to have less? To be complete, we must give away our possessions? To be complete, we have to leave our home and follow a homeless Messiah? That is not logical to every cultural compulsion that having more things makes us feel more complete. And while we are on that word “complete” I want to clarify its meaning, especially since many of your Bible translations may say “perfect” instead of “complete” in verse twenty-one. In Greek (I know it’s another language, but this is important!). In Greek, the word for “perfect” or “complete” is teleios which can mean 1. brought to its end; finished 2. wanting nothing necessary to completeness 3. perfect 4. that which is perfect. So to be finished, wanting nothing else to be complete, or to be perfect we must follow Christ’s command to let go of physical possessions in exchange for spiritual treasures in heaven.



[Side note that someone needs to hear: this word teleios is the same “perfect” that Jesus uses in Matthew 5:48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We are to be finished as Jesus is. We are to be complete as Jesus is complete. This verse is not a call to perfectionism, but a call to wanting nothing else and being complete in Jesus as we already are!]



All considered, I do not know if God is calling you to sell your house and live transiently giving away your money to every person who lives beside you in a cardboard box. However, I can say without a doubt that Jesus wants you to find your satisfaction in Him and not in belongings. You must personally seek out God’s will for how He wants you to use your belongings for Him. Just make sure that God and His Kingdom are always the focus of your material world. When we use things for God and not as a god, we will find ourselves finished, complete, and lacking nothing.



On Nation Under God

Fireworks, watermelon, American flags, cookouts, and patriotic music – these are just some of the things that make up the Fourth of July for many Americans. As we prepare to celebrate, my mind wanders back to those Independence Day celebrations of my formative years….

I recall the warnings to be careful with sparklers and firecrackers and the cold refreshment of hand-cranked homemade ice cream at the end of a sweltering July day in Alabama. I also vividly remember as a kid the first time I heard the joke “Do they have a 4th of July in England?” After thinking No, of course not, and then Why would England celebrate our independence from them; I finally realized Oh yeah, July 4th is just a date on the calendar. (I’m slow. I know.) That little moment woke me up to the rest of the world. Suddenly, I was a child of the world, not just an American. In a similar way, we as Christians in America need to wake up to the world.

As an elementary school kid, patriotism and love for our “dear ole USA” was encouraged. And as a Christian, honoring and respecting our country and its laws went hand in hand with the godly values taught. Prayers were said at school (back then) and the pledge of allegiance to the country was recited at the church Vacation Bible Schools. It was all meshed together in my mind – the whole “being an American and being a Christian” thing. Somehow faith and nationalism became mixed in the minds of many. And now we find ourselves as adult Christians who serve up Western culture right along with Christianity at times.

This Independence Day as we ooh and aah over fireworks displays set to our favorite patriotic tunes, let’s plan to do some self-evaluation.

  • Let’s separate those expectations based on American traditions from expectations based on the mandates of Scripture.
  • Let’s realize that respecting our country is good, but honoring God is best.
  • Let’s be more concerned over the fact that the people we encounter each day are lost souls rather than that they are Democrats or Republicans – foes or friends it seems these days.
  • Let’s exercise our freedom to pray and speak about Christ more than we lament how we feel those freedoms are being threatened.
  • Let’s fight against those inner tendencies to buy into the American dream more than we sell out to Christ.
  • Let’s respect all nations, peoples, tribes, and tongues, and develop a hunger to pray for them, relate to them, love them with the love of Christ, and reach them with the Gospel.
  • Let’s treat every man, woman, and child we meet – no matter where they come from, what they look like, how they are dressed, what color their skin is, or how much the media tells us to fear them – as they truly are: men, women, and children Christ gave His life to save.

Enjoy celebrating America’s birth! Examine your perspectives. Let’s live out Scripture even when our walk is oddly out of sync with American culture. And take some time this holiday to demonstrate Christ’s love to all the folks you encounter at the fireworks display!