‘Tis Better to Give

“The internet never lies.” George Washington

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet just because there is a picture with a quote next to it.” Abraham Lincoln

I honestly read these in the past and for a moment believed they were spoken by the two famous gentleman cited as the speaker. For a split second I had forgotten that the scenarios were impossible as neither speaker lived during the time of the internet or widespread electricity for that matter, and most certainly would not be vaguely familiar with the Information Age in which we live now.

We live in a time when our senses are bombarded from a backlit screen with initials like LCD and CRT multiple times a day. In a time when information is abundant and it seems a large portion of our information about others can be ascertained by social media. Even the term “social media” had to be defined in fairly recent history. In some ways that word seems like an oxymoron to me, yet it is how a large majority of us live, connect, and even socialize. It would only stand to reason when I recently read a quote on said social media that I felt the need to verify it. It was an Anne Frank quote, had a picture of her beside it and it read “No one has ever become poor by giving.”

When I scrolled by it I half-heartedly read it. I passed it by and carried on swiping through friends’ family Christmas celebrations, selfies with big smiling grins, joyful memories and exciting outings, an abundance of recipe and organizing videos sporadically played, and an abundance of goodwill sentiments for those days and the ones soon to follow.

I pondered on that quote, went back to it, snapped a screenshot to come back to when the busyness of the day was no longer a factor, I would also want to verify the source, as “George” and “Abe” have advised.

I decided, after a few internet sources confirmed the beautiful Jewish girl of fourteen years did indeed chronicle those words in her diary during the horrific holocaust, that regardless of the speaker, the words could not have been more valid, the fact that they were said in the midst of more than tragic and devastating circumstances makes them even more powerful but no less truthful.

Those aptly spoken, rather written, words could not have been more timely. The economy of our world would dictate otherwise, that you can not keep that which you give away, we should look out for ourselves and share only from our excess. However the Lord’s economy never works as the world’s. His word says that we are blessed to be a blessing, we are to be cheerful givers, and that we can not lose that which we give to the Lord. (Genesis 12:2, 2 Corinthians 9:7, Matthew 16:25)

No one has ever become poor by giving

Lessons From the Coffee Shop

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

It was a long day. My daughter, the barista, was supposed to get off at 2 pm, but her shift lingered until 3:30. A long line of cars meandered to the drive through and lines of folks eager for their chai teas and mocha lattes curved through the shop. The after-Christmas crowd armed with gift cards and caffeine deprivation descended on the shop like teenagers descend on the last piece of pizza. It was crowded and people were acting, well, very human.

My girl was spent. She climbed in the car and stared out the window for a while. I asked her about her day and waited as she digested the details. “Well, my day started out with a man who wanted some beans ground and I accidentally punctured the bag and most of angry-man-274175_640the beans spilled on the floor. He yelled at me and angrily walked out. A lot of people yelled at us for not getting their orders done quickly. People ordering were just rude and impatient and unkind. Just as I was about to get done just now an older lady yelled at me because her drink was taking too long. Mom, it was awful.”

Her words soon stopped and the tears began to come. She cried and cried. “Mom, people are so horrible. I mean how can they be that hateful, that cruel, over something so small—a cup of coffee. Really? Is it that hard to just be kind?”

As I listened to her and held her as she sobbed, one phrase kept coming to mind over and over again, “Jesus died for them. Jesus died for THEM.” So I took a deep breath and took my 18-year-old daughter’s hand, and said, “But you know, Jesus died for them, too.”

And this young heart, one for whom the veil of the reality of living in a sin-sick world is slowly, but surely, being lifted, said, “How could He do it, mom? How could He love something so horrible, so unloveable? How could He die for that?”

My answer was honest, “I don’t know precious one, but He did. It is a love that’s beyond our comprehension.”

And it is. Romans 5:8 says “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t die for us because we were so good or so clean or so kind or so gentle or so giving or so selfless. Nope. He died for us in the middle of our wickedness. When we rejected him. When we were cruel. When we were dead in our sin, in our selfishness. See, we don’t clean up and come to Jesus. We come to Jesus and He makes us clean.

IMG_4148Until we realize how desperately ugly our sin is to God, we will never realize how beautiful, how powerful, how gracious, how merciful the love of God in Christ is. In some cultures, like our American Judeo-Christian culture, and, even worse, the Southern Bible Belt culture, we somehow equate good behavior with a good heart. I’m here to tell you, no matter how “good” the outward behavior, unless Jesus Christ has come in and radically transformed a heart, there is nothing “good” in a person. The actions may be good, but Jesus says clearly in the gospels it’s a matter of the heart. And when someone is squeezed or goes through a crisis or even has to wait for a cup of coffee, what is inside will come out, and what comes out of a heart not altered by a relationship with Christ isn’t pretty.

One of the saddest things my daughter shared with me in her now two years at the coffee shop is the people who are often the meanest and most impatient are the ones wearing the Jesus shirts. In fact, her coworkers, most of whom are not followers of Christ, look for the “Jesus shirt wearers” and use them to stereotype Christians. My daughter has had to explain more than a few times that those people don’t represent Christ. She told them Jesus came to save sinners, and we are all sinners. His love is greater than our sin and His grace is what offers us salvation. Those who claim the name of Christ won’t always be an accurate ambassador of His mercy and grace, but Christians desire to be more like him and less like us.

After that long day, my girl and I sat in the van and cried and we prayed. We prayed for forgiveness for our wicked hearts and asked the King to help us to see as He sees and love as He loves. That night I whispered a prayer asking the King to give my girl some glimpses of grace while she was at work.

After work the very next day she told me, “Mom, this lady came in today and she was so kind. She talked to me about what I was doing and encouraged me and she said ‘thank you.’” It was such a simple thing. It may have seemed so small to that precious lady. But she was a city on a hill to my girl that day. A bright light of love and kindness to a heart that needed to be reminded of God’s love and care for her. A small thing reflecting the infinite love of the Father. And it revealed an otherworldly love to my daughter’s coworkers, those who don’t know Him. It was a chance for her to say, “Did you see that? That’s how my God loves His children.”

So what have I learned from the coffee shop?

  • Ask the King to give me His perspective. I need to always remember that Christ died for all. I can’t expect those who don’t know Him to act like they do. I need to love the hard to love and give away the love of God without expecting anything in return—even if I’m rejected; even if someone is cruel or hateful in their response. Jesus was rejected, spit upon, falsely accused, and hung on the object of shame, a cross. If He did that out of love for me while I was rejecting Him, how can I not love others?
  • If I claim the name of Christ, I need to seek to be an accurate ambassador of who He is. I know I won’t get it right every time, but I do know seeking to be like Jesus could be the healing balm or encouragement someone needs. Even if I don’t say a word, but am patient and understanding in a difficult situation when my flesh wants to scream, I am practicing dying to myself and taking up my cross and following Him. It’s not about me anyway, it’s about bringing glory to Jesus.
  • Take time to be kind. Say thank you. Encourage someone who is working hard. Tell them they did a good job. I never realized how those seemingly insignificant things can reveal the love of God in big and small ways to those you encounter at the grocery store, at the coffee shop, at the restaurant. Your kind words may make an eternal difference in someone’s life. Love like Jesus.

Love Like Jesus

I Need a Do-Over

My oldest grandson had a habit as a pre-schooler of asking for a “do-over.” When little brother was put in the car first, but Jackson wanted to be first; he would want us to get Ryan out and let him go first. When I started down the stairs to go outside before he was ready, he wanted me to come back upstairs and let him go first. When Papa cut his sandwich in half horizontally, and Jackson wanted it cut diagonally, he would ask Papa to make another one and cut it “the right way.” When someone got the toy from the play room but he wanted to get it, once again he wanted it put back where he could go do it. As you can tell, some of these issues were easy to “fix,” while others weren’t. We didn’t always have the time or inclination to “fix” every situation. Since these situations were so common during that stage of his little life, and since our sweet preschooler needed help learning to handle these disappointments, we took to using the term “rewind.”

“I want a rewind” became a repeated refrain around this Gigi’s house! Sometimes we accommodated his requests, sometimes not. Jackson would even walk in reverse to re-set when we allowed these do-overs. As I observed him during those months of frustration, I couldn’t help but think how many times I have wished I could “rewind” a situation and do something differently as it played out the next time. Even grown-ups can use a “do-over” option. Mistakes happen. Tempers flare unintentionally. Words get misinterpreted. Possessions get lost or damaged. Hearts get wounded. Then comes the embarrassment, regret, broken relationships, and the question of how to “fix” the situation. We all long for help with these “if only” situations. The bad news: we can’t really rewind the clock.

But, I have good news! As with any part of life, scripture offers insight into handling these difficulties! So let’s take a look. Warning: You may not like what God’s word recommends, but that doesn’t make it wrong. That just makes you have to choose to do the right-hard-thing instead of the wrong-easy-thing; it makes you put your big girl pants on! Let’s take a look.


“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:12-15


1. Our willingness to forgive shows the condition of our heart. A heart sold out to God forgives and receives forgiveness in return. A heart sold out to self reacts, acts sinfully, and chooses NOT to forgive, and therefore comes face to face with the unforgiving judgment of God. This is made clear in the story from Matthew 18 where the servant who has been forgiven much would not forgive the one who owed him little.

“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’  And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:21-35

2. As we forgive, we reflect to the world the unconditional forgiveness and mercy that God has to offer. When we act like the rest of the world Satan wins and the world never sees that glimpse of God’s forgiveness and mercy.

3. If we think we can come to God through religious rituals while carrying unforgiveness and bitterness in our hearts, we’re mistaken. We must first lay down these offenses and forgive from the heart before offering our prayers and acts of worship.

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Matthew 11:25


4. It’s a command.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.” Colossians 3:12-15


Humble yourself.

1. Once again, it’s a command.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord” James 4:10


2. It follows Jesus’ example.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:3-8


3. Turn the other cheek. It takes mega amounts of humility to turn the other cheek when someone has wronged you. Responding appropriately, with godly behaviors when we feel wronged and mistreated will not happen if we are puffed up with pride.

“You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Matthew 5:38-42


Use gentle words.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1


Don’t react to someone else’s bad behavior with bad behavior yourself. In today’s society we often have what my grandma would call a “tit for tat” mentality; we reason that since they behaved badly we are justified in responding to them with what we would otherwise consider bad behavior. Let me set the record straight, nothing justifies our bad behavior. Nothing justifies our sinful choice. We are responsible for every choice we make, including our choice of how to respond when people sin against us.

Control yourself in the first place.

Then you won’t need a rewind! Galatians chapter 5 says it all on this subject:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”  Galatians 5:22-26

I really don’t like this lesson. It reminds me NOT to live in the flesh, when that is exactly what I want to do in the moment. It gives me a higher standard than the world does, and it doesn’t offer an easy out for any of us. If these were just my words, you could ignore them. If these were just noble, wise sayings I could ignore them and get that revenge I really want to dish out. But these are Our Father’s words. Your Creator’s words. And while I grit my teeth as I bend my knee to obey sometimes, I also realize that His plan is far greater than I comprehend. Living life His way will have long-term good effects on my life that I can’t anticipate, and will make us less apt to need a do-over and more willing to walk through the after effects of those “if only” moments with forgiveness, humility, gentleness, and self-control.

Have some fruit – the fruit of the Spirit that is!



Not Always Nothingness


We had completed our outdoor chores just as the day was coming to a close. He had been tasked with leaf raking. His sisters were in charge of distributing the leaves around the plants. I found him sitting on the ground, silent, staring out into seemingly nothingness. I’ve seen him this way multiple times before. He said nothing, never even acknowledged my presence as I approached him. His arms bare, bright red shirt with classic humorous phrase on it, he has always liked shirts that seem to speak for him, for his words are few, they always have been. As I sat down in the grass beside him, I followed his gaze. Nothingness it seemed was in fact the beginning of a beautiful sunset. The blue sky sinking into streaks of pink and orange. Bare trees silhouetted in front of the colorful display. He sat silent and motionless.

I always struggle this time of year. I have for as long as I can remember. When the days are cold and darkness comes early, I tend to give way to feelings of sadness. Maybe sadness isn’t the right word, melancholy perhaps. I have read that many of History’s creative types were prone to bouts of “melancholy”. I take a little comfort in knowing I’m in good company. I find myself struggling until the buttercups begin to show themselves. They are the first to usher in spring and with it warmer days.

As we sat there staring I became acutely aware that the bare trees made me uncomfortable. Their leaves long gone, the deciduous giants looked oddly vulnerable. As the word floated through my mind, I began to ponder. How in the world could something so seemingly strong be vulnerable? Maybe that is why I do not like to look at the trees, perhaps I think that if I am seeing them in that state of nakedness then I am invading them somehow. As we sat there thinking of such things I made a “Hmph” sound. He looked at me, he said nothing. I spoke.

“Hey Bud. What do you think of the trees with no leaves?”

The world calls him autistic. I call him awesome. Some would call us cursed. I call us blessed. Many years ago I mourned what the world calls normal, I mourned what I knew would never be. Atypical. We had answers but in the answer there were an infinite number of questions and uncertainties. I never really told anyone at the time of my grief. I hid it. My fear would exit myself in the form of anger or anxiety. Sometimes it still does. He spoke, his characteristic, loud monotone voice like music to my ears.


“They’re okay? They don’t bother you?”


“They sort of bother me.”

“Why?” Clearly he was puzzled. How could I be bothered by something so abstract yet so finite?

“They seem sort of naked or something.”

“But won’t they be back? They always come back.” The leaves were the “they” to whom he was referring.

“Yes. In the spring, when everything starts to grow again. The trees lose their leaves in the fall, they go to the ground and compost down into the soil.”

“Well that’s good.”

“It is, I reckon.”

“If the leaves were there we couldn’t see that bird or squirrel.” I hadn’t noticed them but there they were, doing whatever it is birds and squirrels do in trees on cool days. Scurrying about being an adventuresome bird and resourceful squirrel. They had captured his attention long before I sat down.

In the vulnerability the trees had allowed a part of themselves to be seen that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. To capture the attention of one of the most unique of thinkers. In their vulnerability and loss they were life-giving and were now able to ready themselves for new life and new growth. He had seen that I had missed it entirely. As we sat there in silence watching our new-found friends against the backdrop of God’s paintbrush, I gave thanks for a new perspective, for the reminder that joy comes not from my circumstances around me, but from within. I gave thanks for a unique and amazing boy and his insight into the things that go beyond the naked eye and that in vulnerability there is healing and life renewed.


Putting Together the Pieces

My grandmother has always loved to work jigsaw puzzles.  I have many fond memories of us spending hours in front of a puzzle working well into the night to finish the picture.  Even today at the age of 91 with her being almost completely blind and dealing with Alzheimer’s, she still sits for hours working puzzles.  The puzzles may have become fewer in pieces, but she still loves fitting the pieces together.  When she completes a puzzle she is always excited to show it off, to let you see what she has accomplished of taking all the pieces and fitting them together to reveal the complete picture.

51ktrzbp0il-_sx326_bo1204203200_That is what we are doing when we study God’s Word.  We are taking each piece of knowledge we receive from reading God’s Word and placing it in its proper place to see God’s story being revealed.  We are becoming more Bible literate.  Jen Wilkins in her book Women of the Word: How to STUDY the BIBLE with Both OUR HEARTS and OUR MINDS gives her definition of Bible Literacy: “Bible literacy occurs when a person has access to a Bible in a language she understands and is steadily moving toward knowledge and understanding of the text…Bible literacy stitches patchwork knowledge into a seamless garment of understanding.”

I need to be up front and say I do not have it all together and I am not perfect!   It is not easy trying to be diligent and faithful in spending time in God’s Word on a daily basis.  Let’s be honest, it is a struggle for me and I am sure for many of you.  I get in a routine and then something comes along and messes it up.  One day becomes two and before long it has been a week.  One thing I do know is My God is faithful to forgive me and prompt me to spend time with him.


The other thing I struggle with is how to approach the study of God’s Word.  No book, study plan, or Bible study book can replace just digging in and reading God’s Word and letting the Holy Spirit direct you.  That being said, I am always interested in seeing, hearing and reading how other people approach the study of God’s Word. Are you one that reads the Bible through once a year or do you select a book at a time?  Do you follow a daily devotion or reading plan?  Do you write verses down and meditate on them?  Or do you just let the Holy Spirit lead you in your reading.  Do you use Iva May’s approach in Chronological Bible Teaching reading the Bible Chronologically?  How about Jen Wilkin’s 5 P’s of Sound Study approach in her book: Women of the Word: How to STUDY the BIBLE with Both OUR HEARTS and OUR MINDS?  In Angie Smith’s study Seamless she streams all of the major stories in the Bible together in one thread.  There are so many ways to approach the study of God’s Word, but what are we doing with our knowledge and understanding?  Are all the pieces of the puzzle fitting together?

51jyryn98ul-_sx366_bo1204203200_As we start 2018, do you have a plan?  Did you make a New Year’s resolution to Study God’s Word more?   So how is it going?  No matter what plan you use, make sure that you are seeing God’s complete picture.  Don’t shy away from the things you don’t understand?  I have many times written or said to God, “I don’t understand this passage.”  You know, it is usually not long before I hear someone preach on the same passage or read a book where the verse I don’t understand is revealed to me with more understanding.  As Women of the Word let’s be more intentional in becoming more Bible Literate this next year.

Lord, may we make a commitment to spend more time in your Word.  Not just to gain head knowledge, but to gain understanding so that when the end of 2018 comes around we may be able to see each piece of your Word revealed as a beautiful picture of YOUR LOVE for us from Genesis to Revelation.


Poured Out

Charlotte’s hearty and joyful laughter on the other end of the phone and then,

“Mama you really do wanna be Jewish don’t ya?”

My response,

“We already are Char.”

Not really, not in blood line, at least as far as I know, but we have been adopted by the very One who came as Messiah. So by way of grafting in, we are a little Jewish. The laughter was preceded by the reminder that that night at Sundown would begin the Feast of Booths and by way of observance we Martins would be making our way to the front steps to celebrate the goodness of the King. To ask His blessing for the next year in more ways than we even know to ask for.

There was a time in history when a great temple stood as the dwelling place of God and the Rabbi would make his way to the pool of Siloam (the place of healing), fill a vessel, pexels-photo-149687.jpegthen pour out the water out like an offering. As the water made its way down the temple steps there would be praise for blessings had come. The healing was on the way and Messiah was coming and there was the solid reminder of the water the Lord provided from a rock while the Israelites wandered in the desert.

The King once spoke of Living Water and I can’t help but think this very act was in the forefront of His mind when He said it. So some couple a thousand years later, in a crude but no less symbolic nature, in Warrior Alabama, we Martins gathered at the top of our steps, a vessel filled with water, a glass pitcher given to me by a precious friend, who in doing so reminded me to allow the King to fill me up to be poured out again. As we congregated we read some from the King’s book, we prayed and Scott Martin spoke blessings over his flock. Rudimentary and not a word spoken in Hebrew, but no less significant. There is power in speaking blessing over those who have been entrusted to us.

After the paternal blessings, the male son, Shelton, had the privilege of pouring. As I watched the water move over the mortar and stone, making its way down the steps I marveled at how beautiful the very act was. Tears blurred my vision as I pondered how the King poured Himself out willingly for me. As I tucked Shelton in that memorable night he asked about the following year and would we observe the Feast of Booths as we had that night. He asked about the Year of Jubilee and he asked how I knew about “all that Jewish stuff.” I explained that I didn’t really, but we Martins could use much in the way of blessing and it just was something I needed to do.

Like most everything the King asks of me, despite the uncomfortable nature associated with it, ultimately it is for my benefit.

Shelton was satisfied with those answers and gave me a hug and an “I love you mom.” He settled himself under his covers and I reminded him that he is dearly loved, that I love him more than he can imagine, but that Jesus loves him even more. As I reflected on that day I was once again reminded of the perfectness of the plan, how I am loved. Loved enough for One to pour Himself out for me.


Resources: https://bible.org/seriespage/13-pool-siloam-connecting-sukkot-and-messiah


A “Don’t Miss” Repost of Iva May

Had to repost this from Iva May’s Chronological Bible Teaching blog – too good to miss!

The One Year® Chronological Daily Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), January 9 Isaac assumes he is about to die (although he lives for many more years) and promptly decides to bless his son Esau before his death. Rebekah overhears Isaac and Esau’s conversation and quickly concocts a plan to secure Esau’s blessing for Jacob. Jacob ignores…

via Recognizing Deception — Chronological Bible Teaching

Becoming a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit


I am a person who likes to read.  I usually have two or three books going at the same time and more stacked nearby waiting to be read. However, I have a problem:  I don’t always finish the books. Something always gets in the way.  It seems I get about ½ way through a book and we start a new bible study or life gets really busy or sometimes I lose interest when something better comes along.  Are you like this?  I admit it:  I AM A QUITTER.  I start things and can’t seem to get them finished.  I can also be a procrastinator or start something and wonder why I agreed to do it.  What are you thinking about quitting?  What have you quit, given up on?  Is it something small like a project, book, or bible study?  Or is it something big like your marriage, your job, or your New Year’s goals?  Did you even set a New Year’s goal?  Have you already quit?  Well, I 51ceqnhm8el-_sx322_bo1204203200_recently read a book called A WOMAN WHO DOESN’T QUIT: 5 Habits From the Book of Ruth by Nicki Koziarz.

Yes, I read the whole book.  You can’t stop reading when you are trying to find out the habits of a person who doesn’t quit.  There are several reasons why I read the book, but here are two of the biggest: (1) I could relate to the title. We have already discussed that I can be a quitter and I can procrastinate; (2) The book of Ruth is one of my favorite books in the Bible.  Who can pass up a love story when you are single and still waiting on your Boaz.  However, one thing I do know about Ruth – she was not a quitter!  In fact, Ruth over-excelled.  What can Ruth teach us all about not quitting?  This I had to learn.

If you are not familiar with the story of Ruth.  Stop right now and grab your Bible and read the book of Ruth in the Old Testament.  Or better yet go to www.Biblegateway.com and read it on-line.  It is a very short book with only 4 chapters.  But WAIT!  Don’t be a quitter and forget to come back and read the rest of this post.


Now back to the book, Nicki gives 5 habits we should apply to our lives.  You will need to read the book to learn the habits.  Yeah, I know the easy way is for me to tell you, but that doesn’t accomplish our goal – to finish what we start.  In the book she uses practical applications combined with Biblical truth to make her points.  It is an easy read.  What I liked the best is that each point has a current relevant example from Nicki’s own life and in the next chapter she uses the story of Ruth of make the same point, contrasting someone prone to quit with Ruth, one who didn’t quit.

Nicki was convicted by the verse in Luke 16:10 when she wrote the book:

He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much.

Some quotes from the book that really stuck me were:

“A committed woman learns to choose what she wants most over what she wants now.” (i.e. set goals, don’t think you have to have everything now)

What is important to you?  What is important to God?

“Thoughts become words.  Words become actions.  Actions become reality.”  This is so true!

“Refinement becomes redemption when we fulfill our responsibility to wait in expectation for the Redeemer to carry out HIS plans.”

Are you in a time of refinement?  Romans 8:18 says: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” Where does your dependency rest during times of refinement, on yourself or God?

“Living under the covering of God means we are asking God to ‘see over’ our lives.” 

Am I open to the movement of God in my life?  How can I share what I have not experienced?  Am I living under God’s covering?  Am I open to him “overseeing” my life?

girl-3047297_1280One of the excuses I usually use to either to quit on my commitment or not do to something is “I don’t feel like it.”  Do you use this excuse too?  Well Nicki convicted me on this.  Just remember these are Nicki words not mine: (1) “Commitment has nothing to do with feelings; (2) My defeat comes from my thought and actions.”  Wow!  She continues on with “We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control our reactions.”  Isn’t this so true in life.  We are always reacting with our feelings.  We let our feelings take over allowing bitterness and anger to build up when things don’t go our way, or when something happens to us over which we have no control.  How about when someone else doesn’t fulfil their commitment.  How do you react? Do you get mad or angry, or become bitter?

The Bible has a lot to say about bitterness and anger and how it can affect our lives.

Job 10:1 “I am disgusted with my life. I will give vent to my complaint and speak in the bitterness of my soul.”

Acts 8:23 “For I see you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by wickedness.”

Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice.”

Hebrew 12:15  “Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and defiling many.”

Proverbs 14:16  “A wise person is cautious and turns from evil, but a fool is easily angered and is careless.”

Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but one slow to anger calms strife

James 1:19-20 “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”

I am the only one that can control my reactions.  I want my actions, reactions, and feelings to reflect my commitment as a follower of Jesus Christ.

I have had Philippians 4:11 posted on my desk for many years.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.”

board-928392_1280So the next time you can’t make a commitment to do something, are thinking about quitting on something you have commit to do, feel like procrastinating or letting your feelings control you, or are showing apathy.  Ask yourself, Why?  Why are you quitting?  Why are you reacting this way?  Why are you anger at that person?  Take a really hard look at why you are making these decisions. Appreciate what you have and give it some time and prayer before you react.  Are you acting as the world would have you act?  Or are you fulfilling your commitment to do what God has called you to do even when you don’t feel like it?  Do you jump into a commitment due to the pressure of others?  Are you allowing yourself to become defeated when you don’t commit, spiraling down into a world of defeat so you don’t even try?  Don’t be a quitter.  Be a Ruth.

Ruth committed to going with Naomi.  She fulfilled her commitment even when things around her looked bleak.  She could have let feelings keep her back, but she moved ahead in faith.  She didn’t allow anger and bitterness at her situation to keep her from going out and finding food, working tirelessly.   Ruth was not in the ideal situation but she kept herself open to God working in her life.  She stayed the task even when Naomi gave her some crazy things to do.  She met the needs of others around her even when she didn’t have much herself.  She kept moving forward in faith that she could accomplish what she started.  She learned to be content with the life she was given which allowed her life and situation to improve as well as Naomi’s. And in the end, God approved and gave her a husband and child.

So grab Nicki’s book and read it for yourself.  Let God speak to you.  Don’t live in defeat as a quitter.  Excel in the commitments where God has planted you.  As you read:  Let your thoughts become words, your words become actions, and your actions become reality.  Think in the long-term not in immediate gratification.  Remember:  “Refinement becomes redemption when we fulfill our responsibility to wait in expectation for the Redeemer to carry out HIS plans.”


Favorable Change

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Stingy eyes evidence of the tears the day before as I tried to insert my contacts lenses I pondered to myself how in recent history I had gone through a record number of contact lenses evidence of multiple crying episodes. The day before, my friend had declared she was moving away. I’ve heard it said that major events and good things occur in threes. Like three pregnant women at the same time, three blind mice, the three little pigs, the three primary colors from which every other color can find its basic origins. The ships that carried Christopher Columbus’ to find The new World: The Nina, the Pinta, and The Santa Maria. The three cord strand that is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12): The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus’ resurrection after 3 Days. I could go on and on. Well maybe not me, but with help of an internet search engine I could.

So when the for the third time a sweet dear friend told me she was moving away all I could do was cry. It was a true answer to prayer for her and for her family, but for me, it was heartache. For the others whose lives she had invested in, it was sad. I’d watched her over the last several years, she had been the very words of Jesus that had come to life for me.

Jesus said in Matthew 25: 36-40:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

qag0vcte_600x600_a538b01aMy friend, she had fed me. She fed me on multiple occasions, but one of the most memorable was when we were moving, living out of boxes, and she called me and said, “Hey! I have a Beef Bonapart that I am bringing to you Martins right now.” There was no time to protest, no time to argue, she didn’t even give me the option to say no. She brought that delicious baked pasta right to my front door, handed it over, said, “Enjoy! I love you!” and she left.

That evening I was tired, I was stinky, I had worked all day in preparation of my new living quarters and I was hungry. I’d long ago resolved that dinner would come in the form of a grease stained paper bag, with some mediocre fast food option to sustain me through the night. Yet, there I was sitting at a makeshift table with my family, enjoying a homemade dinner on a paper plate, with a plastic fork, she’d brought so we could eat that pasta dish.

She’d invited me in countless times, even in the days when she barely knew me. I was in essence a stranger and she opened her home and welcomed my rowdy Martins and me. She told me once, regarding her Mama’s house, “Mimi’s house isn’t fancy but it is welcoming.” I knew exactly what she meant, for her house was the same. It wasn’t fancy, but is was warm and welcoming for sure.

clothes-hangers-coat-hangers-plastic-hanger-hang-39518She didn’t exactly clothe me, except she daily reminded me that Colossians 3:12 tells us to, “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” She reminded me by being dressed that way herself. She challenged me to dress the same way, to exhibit compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

I can honestly say I’ve not been in prison physically, shackled up and sentenced to serve jail time by a judge, but I have been shackled up spiritually. I’ve been so fearful and anxious that it were as if my extremities were shackled to the wall. She knew I was in jail, that I couldn’t free myself from those things. She didn’t have a key to liberate me, but she knew the One who did, and she would intercede to Him on my behalf. Both in my hearing and not. She would pray for me and I can honestly say, there were times I never told a soul that I was wrestling yet that did not stop her, she would sit with me and she would pray.

I have been sick. She has prayed for vomit and pain, for test results and for strength. She has prayed for peace and for comfort. She has prayed without ceasing not just for me, but for countless others as well. Heaven alone knows that astounding number. She taught me the benefit of “Well, let’s just pray right now.” When she would be asked to pray for someone or some situation in particular, she demonstrated there truly was no time like the present. She’d say the aforementioned statement and then she’d get to it, petitioning the King for healing. I am, I was, one of the least of these.

When my friend announced her leaving, I cried because there are some kinds of change of which, I am not a fan. I cried because I know that she is so much like Jesus that I would miss the reminders of Him, (she would argue this point with me here, further demonstrating her humility and supporting my statement.) We prayed together that day, and she reminded me of a solid truth, “When you walk with the Lord, change is always in your favor.” As the time came for her to embark on the new phase of life and new adventure and ministry Jesus had already prepared for her, I was challenged. Unknowingly she has challenged me, and Jesus clarified that challenge.

Jesus speaks to me somewhat unconventionally. He essentially said to me, that I wouldn’t be missin’ her and the Jesus in her so much if I acted more like Him. If I would take the time to do for others the very things my friend taught me to do.

The King’s word says in Proverbs 7:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” I’ve not been trained in the metallurgic arts, but I know enough to know this is absolutely the truth, for I was a rusty, dull, piece of iron, heavy and laden with fear when along came my friend, who acts like Jesus and helped to sharpen this ol’ gal up.


The Year of Living Dangerously

So here it is, the dawning of another year. Memories of the passing year linger–reflections of intimate talks with dearest friends, adventures with too quickly growing children, lessons learned and fears faced. It’s been a tough year, far too full of change. My oldest baby leaving the nest, opening the first pages of a new chapter in her life. A chapter that reluctantly catapulted my husband and I into a new season of parenting. Precious friends moving hundreds of miles away, and some taking their first breaths in the Far Greater Country.

As I ponder how much has changed in 12 short months, I intentionally adjust my focus to the goodness of God. A dear friend reminds me often, “When you are walking with God, change is always in your favor.” I didn’t fully understand what she meant until this year. Now I know that while change can be good, change is a trial. James 1:4 says that trials grow us into maturity, a maturity that makes us perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Change is part of the refining process. Refining is the process that draws us nearer to the heart of God. Refining is painful. It causes us to step deeper into the waters of truth. When you step deeper into those waters, your heart will be wrecked. You will never be the same. And I’m not. And that’s a very, very good thing.

What God has shown me most this year is His faithfulness. He is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will never leave me nor forsake me. He is for me. He is with me. He is all I need. He is enough. Inhabiting and clinging to His faithfulness this year has opened my eyes to the majesty and beauty and power of who He is. It has made me courageous enough to trust Him, wholeheartedly. It has given me new eyes to look for Him in the big things and, most importantly, in the small things.

pexels-photo-759435Every year when the after Christmas quietness settles in, I reflect on the year that’s passed and ponder the new year. I sit before my Abba and ask. What do I need to focus on? How do you want to grow me? How can I serve You? How can I fall more in love with You?

Last year was a year of learning humility; a year of learning to trust when I cannot see; of learning that God keeps His promises. And what this year? I’m a bit hesitant to put into words what my Abba is engraving in my heart. But I keep coming back to this one thought. This will be the year of living dangerously. What does that mean? I don’t know. But I know I want to trust God more. I want to step my feet into the Jordan confident the Lord will part the waters and do what only He can. I want to become small, so He can become great. I don’t want to despise the day of small pexels-photo-754355.jpegthings, but look for Him in the big things, and in the seemingly insignificant minutiae of life. Will you join me in being audacious enough to take risks, to step out of the boat, to genuinely lose your life only to find it in Christ?

To live dangerously involves risk. If you are willing to truly surrender all and follow Christ, it will be perilous. Jesus will upend the tables of your heart and He will wreck your life. Honestly, that does not make me want to run headlong into the new year. But I am asking the King for a willing heart. And I am asking Him what it means to live dangerously for Him. Here are a few things I’m asking myself. Ponder them with me and, if you will, join me in living dangerously for the King this year.

Would you risk setting aside the busy-ness of life to simply “be still and know” God?

Would you risk putting to death your visions of the future and let God direct your steps?

Would you risk setting aside the good to seek after the best?

Would you risk setting aside service for God to simply sit at His feet and fall in love with Him?

Would you risk letting the Word of God come alive and burn in your heart?

Would you risk loving those who are unlovable?

Would you risk letting God reveal the darkest recesses of your heart?

Would you risk completely forgiving those who have wounded you?

Would you risk trusting Him when you cannot understand? When the road is long? When the road is hard? When the way is dark?

Would you risk speaking of His love when it is uncomfortable or awkward or inconvenient?

Would you risk seeking God wholeheartedly? Asking God boldly? Knocking on the door of truth persistently?

Would you risk serving God even when you are unnoticed and unappreciated?

Would you risk finding joy in the difficult days?

Would your risk your heart and mind and soul to the painful process of being transformed?

Would you risk becoming less so the King can become greater?

Would you risk losing your life to find it in Christ?

Would you risk loving Jesus more than your own life?

Would you risk complete obedience to the King?

Would you risk opening every corner of your heart and mind to Him?

Would you risk letting God know you and love you completely?

Would you join me in this year of living dangerously for Jesus? He is alone is God and He is worth it. More than worth it. You will never be the same. And that is a very, very good thing.