Good News


newspaper Don’t you just love good news? I know I do. It seems our world comes up short these days when reporting on good news. If you watch the news at all, it can often leave you feeling anything but good. One thing I tend to say quite a bit is, “God is good.” I really don’t say this flippantly. I choose to proclaim God’s goodness because He truly has shown me His goodness in countless ways throughout my life.  As I continue to walk in relationship with Him, his goodness is more apparent to me day by day and because of it, I want to declare it to everyone.

Lately I’ve done quite a bit of pondering on the goodness of God. I looked up the phrase “God is Good” on the computer and nowhere in the Bible is that phrase found. Yet, the bible does tell us that God is holy (Psalm 99:9), righteous (Psalm 145:17) and that everything he created is good (1 Tim. 4:4). It says that there is no evil in him (Psalm 92:15), and that all his ways are good (Psalm 119:68). God is the complete embodiment of goodness.

Wow, if God is the embodiment of goodness, what a sharp contrast there is to me. I used to think I was a pretty good person. I was raised to believe there were levels of sin and that some were worse than others. I would compare myself to others and think, “Well compared to a murderer, I’m not that bad.  Or compared to so and so . . . well, I’m better than that.” Well quite honestly, that kind of thinking did nothing but make me a judgmental of others.

God had to undue my way of thinking by showing me what the bible says about this . . . “We would not dare put ourselves in the same class with, or compare ourselves to, those who recommend themselves. Whenever they measure themselves by their own standards or compare themselves among themselves, they show how foolish they are” (2 Cor. 10:12). Yep, God just said my old way of thinking was foolish.

When we compare ourselves to others, we may think we are good, we may feel proud because we think we are better, but the bible says this about it . . . there is none righteous not one (Rom. 3:10) and that all of my goodness is as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). Comparing ourselves against others is sin, and all sin is rebellion against God. The bible says we are all sinners and in need of God’s saving grace in our lives. Sometimes I think God has to show us the depth of our own sinfulness so that we can fully appreciate the riches of his grace and therefore be able to extend that grace to others.

Now when I compare myself to God, this is where I see who I truly am. He is holy, I am not. I am an unworthy sinner, saved by the unmerited grace of an amazing God. I know I fall short, daily, hourly, moment by moment. The bible says we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. I know there is no good in me except what is imputed (given) to me by God through my relationship with Him.

Being religious means, we have to earn our way to God by being good enough . . . or try to keep some sort of standard by which we think keeping all the rules we are justified. But if we all would be honest with ourselves, we would know that we cannot. As hard as I might try, I’m far from perfect and I fail God daily. God is the only good and perfect one. Instead of being religious, God wants a relationship with us. We gain a right relationship with him only by believing what He did for us on the cross and walking in relationship with him . . . it’s pure grace. I can’t earn it and I definitely don’t deserve it.

I know I have a sin problem and God provided the solution by coming to earth to die for me. He paid for my sins so that I didn’t have to. We have a choice to either except his free gift of salvation by believing what He has done for us or we can reject him. It’s pure and beautiful unmerited grace. The bible says…By Grace you have been saved through faith, not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man could boast. Romans 8:28 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. It also says…In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. Ephesians 1:7

Basically I now know that there is no good in me apart from God. This is something that God had to work out in my heart and life. He had to change my thinking by showing me who He was through his Word. When I admit my sinfulness and therefore my need of Jesus (a Savior) only then can Jesus come and and work in our heart and lives. As we walk in relationship with Jesus, he then helps us to grow up in our faith (Eph. 4:15) and to overcome the sinful patterns in our lives (Rev. 12:11) through the powerful work of his Holy Spirit in us.

Many days I feel undone by God’s goodness and grace to me. I am thankful that he has removed the blinders so that I can see myself as I really am, a sinner, saved purely by His grace. I deserve nothing, yet He gives me all things. His goodness fuels my love for him and therefore my desire to obey him. He paid for my sins on the cross so that I didn’t have to. I can’t earn or merit my own salvation, it’s purely the work of God’s grace on our behalf. All we have to do is accept it. God loves us and wants a relationship with us. That’s the Good News of the bible.

God’s amazing love gives us all things, redemption through his blood, forgiveness of our sins, eternal life with him and he also promises us abundant life in the here and now. How amazing is that…it’s almost a too good to be true kind of goodness. And the thing is, it is too good to be true and it’s only because of God’s amazing goodness towards us. That’s why it’s called the Good-News! When you have good news, don’t you want to share it?

I am not ashamed of the Gospel (Good News), because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…Romans 1:16

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The Lie of Me, Myself and I


girl-looking-in-mirrorRecently a friend passed on a great quote from C. S. Lewis that led me to some thinking and some self-evaluation. The quote read like this, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

This is so true. It seems like that when I have the proper focus in life (on loving God and loving others) things go smoothly, but when I allow selfishness to creep into my life, this self-focus leads to sin.

Selfishness puts me first. It’s the old, me myself and I mentality. It’s an inward focus versus an outward focus. It’s desiring one’s own way versus God’s way (which is being others minded).

Selfishness whispers things to us like, I deserve this, I’m going to do it my way, It’s not fair, It’s their fault, I need to be heard or get my needs met. Notice how most of these statements contain an I, me or my.

Jesus was the perfect example to us of being other’s minded. He didn’t come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.

Jesus who was sinless, laid down his life so that we could be freed from sins grip and the death we rightly deserved. He paid the ultimate price (his life) so that we could live.

Jesus’ earthly life was a picture of perfect humility. The creator of the universe chose to put on human skin and become like us, so he could show us the way. He could have come as a King or conqueror, but instead he came as a suffering servant (Isaiah 53).

Before his death, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. He then told them that they should do the same (John 13:15). This act of servant-hood and humility was a foreshadow of his ultimate act of humility and love on the cross.

Jesus came to set us free from a life of selfish sinfulness. His death bought us freedom. Galatians 5:13 says,“For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another.” 

Scripture therefore tells us we are to present ourselves as “living sacrifices” because of what God has done for us (Romans 12:1). This means laying down our own wants and desires so that we take on Jesus’ wants and desires for us. It’s in dying to our own selfish desires (sinfulness), so that we become more like Him.

We as believers are called to die to ourselves daily and to take up our cross and follow Him. In doing so we don’t think less of ourselves (because we are children of the King), but rather we think of ourselves less so that we can become more others minded and serve others because of what Jesus has done for us.

He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 2 Corinthians 5:15

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole.He was whipped so we could be healed. Isaiah 53:5

Father God forgive me for the times I’ve given in to the lie, of me, myself and I. Help me to fight the good fight of faith and to live others minded.  Help me to daily take up my cross daily so I can follow you. Thank you that you are good, gracious and loving father. And thank you for this most amazing love ever, a love willing to die for me. Help me to live for you! To you be the glory both now and forever! AMEN

More than Enough


more than enough

It doesn’t take much looking around to notice this world is in a mess. Sickness, heartaches, war, poverty and injustice are just a few of the many problems we see in our world today. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the mess before us that we can lose sight of the truth and goodness of our creator God.

Sometime back, at one of our morning ladies bible studies, we had a discussion about this very thing. These difficult things sometimes leave us to question God’s reasoning behind all the pain, suffering and injustice we see in the world, especially knowing that God is all-powerful and that he could take it all away if he chose to. Many grapple with this very question, “How can a good God allow this kind of pain and suffering, especially the harm of the innocent?”

It is important for us to understand that suffering is not caused by God but by sin. It is a result of the fallen world we live in. In the first chapter of the bible, it tells us that God created everything and called it good. We had paradise and perfect fellowship with our creator. But things went from good to bad when man decided to do things his way versus God’s way. We exchanged the truth of God for the lies of Satan. Adam and Eve did the one thing that God told him not to, (he ate the forbidden fruit) and therefore they experienced spiritual death and separation from God. This is where sin, sickness, suffering and death entered the picture.

But even in man’s rebellion against God, He was still making a way for us. Because of His great love for us (his creation), He had a plan to bring us back in right relationship with himself. He did so by putting on human skin and coming to the earth to live and eventually die for us. His blood was the perfect atonement for our sins. His death defeated death once and for all and made a way for us to come to God. His resurrection was a picture of the new life we can have in Christ so we don’t need to stay in our trespasses and sin but live the resurrected life just like Jesus did.

The bible says in John 10:10 . . . “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” The thief (Satan) is the enemy of our souls and he is God’s enemy. Anytime we believe his lies, we allow him territory in our lives and this is what he does. . . He steals, He kills and He destroys. He robs us of the fruitfulness (abundance) that God desires for us.

God doesn’t want us to merely get by, but to be living an abundant life. In 2 Peter 1:3-8 we are told . . . “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

An abundant life does not mean our lives are pain or trouble-free, that would be contrary to the Word. The bible tells us we will share in Christ’s sufferings through trials in this life. But with Christ on our side, we can experience victory in the midst of them. We become over-comers through the blood of Christ and the word of our testimony.

Living in abundance means a life overflowing. When we put our trust in Christ He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us in our journey. By daily walking in the spirit, we begin to experience the “more than enough” abundance God promises. More love, more joy, more peace, more patience, more kindness, more goodness, more faithfulness, more gentleness and more self-control. I know I want to have a fruitful abundance of all these things, and I know God want’s that for you too!

I’ve come up with a list of ten things that I believe will help us in the journey towards the abundant life God promises us:

  1. Putting God First -Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37,
  2. Walking in Loving relationship with Others – A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:39 Proverbs 27:17
  3. Living Humble by recognizing you are sinner saved only by God’s Grace Romans 3:10; Romans 3:23
  4. Understanding who you are In Christ (Your Identity) as a believer Isaiah 43:1, 1 Cor. 6:20
  5. Walking in Dependence of God, daily need for His provision Philippians 4:19
  6. Obedience to God’s Word John 15:14; Luke 11:28
  7. Trusting in God and His Promises Proverbs 3:5-6; 2 Cor. 1:20
  8. Living your life as an act of Worship Romans 12:1
  9. Living Prayerful – Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
  10. Living Thankful – Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

When we make Jesus the Lord of our lives…He becomes “More Than Enough.” He is the only one who can help us to experience the abundant life he desires for each of us!

Living Water


living waterGrowing up, my grandparents owned a little get-away place in Wisconsin. Their property had all kinds of fun and whimsical yard decorations that they had collected from auctions and yard sales. Some of them were old road signs, there was full-size functioning windmill, old mailboxes and  a parking meter just to name a few. There also was wishing well they designed for decorating purposes.

If you can imagine the fun us kids had using these props in our playtime. We would especially love playing by the wishing well. It was a life-size well, like something you’d see in a photograph. It consisted of rocks in a circular pattern that had a v-shaped roof. It also included a bucket attached to a crank with a rope. Now how fun is that?

Us kids would occasionally throw pennies into the well and make wishes. Also in our play, we would pretend to draw up water out of the well to use for pretend drinking and other uses. It’s amazing all the fun kids can have with a little creative imagination.

I was just thinking about that well the other day as I read the passage in Jeremiah 2:13…”My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

Jeremiah’s was a prophet who was sent to warn the Israelite’s to turn from their idols (broken cisterns) to the living water (God). We do the same thing today. We make man-made idols by putting our faith in things or other people to fulfill us. God is the only source of living water that can truly satisfy us.

Just as that fake well could hold no water, this verse reminds me that anytime we try to fill a void in our lives with anything other than Jesus, we are in essence doing the same thing. Living water cannot be drawn from a broken or fake cisterns.

Anytime we try to find fulfillment in careers, things, or even people, we are in essence, drawing from broken cisterns. These things can be good things in and of themselves, but when we make them the ultimate things, they can only bring temporary satisfaction and will always keep us always thirsting for more.

I think this is a sin problem that we all struggle with from time to time. We try to fulfill our God-given longings with things that only Jesus himself can fulfill. Often times can we do this in less subtle ways. For instance, by choosing worry versus praying or by relying on people to fix your problems rather than giving them directly to God. Or we may even find ourselves trapped by addictions that suck the life out of us instead of being set free by the one who promises to give us new life.

Broken cisterns will only bring temporary satisfaction and will always leave us longing for more and never bring the true satisfaction that we find in an abiding relationship with Jesus. God is the only one who can bring that lasting satisfaction that our thirsty soul desires. Jesus is described as the Living Water. His Holy Spirit living in us is what teaches us through His Word how to walk in the Spirit and live for Him. He is the Living water that flows from within us when we abide in relationship with Him.

In John 7:38 Jesus said…”If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” 

If you’ve ever been super thirsty and dehydrated, you know what drinking a nice ice-cold glass of refreshing water is like. It’s life-giving. This is what the Holy Spirit does to us through God’s Word. He fills us, replenish us, it refreshes us and it satisfies us. We must continually drink from the fountain of life to find the lasting fulfillment of God.

When we put our hope in broken cisterns and make wishes, it’s like wishing for empty promises. Wishes leave us wanting or desiring a certain outcome instead of putting our trust in the only One who can truly satisfy. Jesus is the ultimate source of Living Water that our thirsty soul desires. God wants our highest adoration for Him and Him alone. He want’s to be number one in our lives and out of the flow of that abiding relationship with Him, where we daily drink in his Word, we will draw up Living Water that will then overflow in us and to the lives of those around us.

Thank you Father God for your living Word. Forgive us for when we try to find fulfillment in things other than you. If need be, set us free from the things that bind us to broken cisterns. Help us to daily drink of your Living Water that we may be refreshed and renewed and filled with your Holy Spirit. Thank you for who you are and for all you do for us. To you be the glory both now and forever. AMEN

Seeking the Truth


bible1

…Your Word is Truth. John 17:17

We live in such crazy times. Media saturates our minds and we are often left grappling to find the truth and make sense of it all. Currently, the definition of marriage is now in the hands of lawmakers who are trying to redefine what marriage is.

I just read an article recently, that states one of the nation’s largest public school systems is preparing to include gender identity to its classroom curriculum, including lessons which teach the idea that there’s no such thing as 100 percent boys or 100 percent girls. A little scary don’t ya think?

Unlike us fickle humans and the world we live in, God never changes. I love that about Him. Hebrews 13:8 says…”Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.” That is so comforting to me to know we serve a God who is unchanging in the ever-changing times.

So where do we go to find the truth? Straight to the author of life himself. The one who created life and instituted marriage is the best source for the truth. God gave us his Word so that we may discover who He is and what He desires for each of us as his beloved children. Romans 15:4 says, “Everything written in the past was to teach us…” The bible also states that these things were written that you would believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name. John 20:31

Through the discipline of reading God’s Word, He speaks to us and we begin to know him and have relationship with him. God gives us the bible as a map for life. It’s His living Word that speaks to us allowing us to know Him and be known by Him.

I know that without directions, I would be lost. Without God, we are lost. The bible is God’s directions for us in the journey of life. The bible tells us that His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). We need to do the work of reading and studying God’s word so we can correctly handle the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) and we can only know the truth of who God is through His Word.

The bible says…God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). It lays the foundation for who we are and what we were created for. The bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that he loved us before the foundations of the world. It also states that all things were created by Him and for Him (John 1:3). The bible is God’s love story for us. It tells the story of the fall of mankind and what Christ did for us to bridge the gap between himself (holy and pure) and us (sinners).

The bible is absolute truth and is inspired by God. Meaning men under the influence of God’s Spirit penned the holy scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:16 says…All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

We all know that there is good and evil in the world. In this day in age, if we don’t stand for the truth, we will most certainly fall for a lie. The bible tells us not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). The bible states that God is good. When we understand that God’s nature is good and that he only desires good for us, we can learn to trust him and His word in all circumstances, even the most difficult things.

God states that all things work together for good, for those who love Him, for those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:29 God is calling all of us to a relationship with himself. He is our creator God and in Him is the truth. The bible promises…You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 Seek Him today and know the truth of His Word!

What love is . . .


handsheartAnother Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Cards, flowers, red candy hearts and romance. Some may call it a glorified Hallmark holiday, but hey I’m all for any holiday that celebrates love. Us women, we’re just naturally hard-wired to love, God created us that way.

Valentine’s Day originally got it’s origin from an early roman Priest named Valentine. At the time, Claudius the emperor, was persecuting the early church of Rome by not allowing soldiers to marry. Claudius did this with the presumption that unmarried soldiers fought better than married ones who were worried about their families back home. Valentine, because of his faith, secretly took it upon himself to marry these soldiers and was imprisoned and eventually put to death for this act. He died a martyrs death for a cause he believed in, marriage.

The media paints a picture of love that is primarily driven by those fuzzy wuzzy feelings swirling around inside of us. But is that truly what love is all about? What happens when love gets tough and the fuzzy wuzzy’s disappear? Is true love really all about romance?  All of us girls would like to believe in the Cinderella story, but all to often real love turns out to be anything but a fairy tale. True love grows only through sacrifice. The bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). Even our ability to love is given to us by the one who is love himself. God created us for himself, to love and be loved.

The bible tells us . . . This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10. God’s love came down from heaven and put on human skin for us. Love paid the penalty of our sin with his death on the cross. Then Jesus arose from the dead so that we could find new life in him . . . and live.

The bible tells us . . . we love, because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). God’s love story for us is written in the pages of His Word. God pursues us, redeems us and then calls us is beloved bride. True love is selfless. True love is sacrificial. It sacrifices itself the well being of another. God demonstrated this for us in this . . .  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). True love is not defined by feelings but by the deep abiding truth of God’s love for us. Once we accept his love for us. . . only then does it free us to truly love others with God’s pure and sacrificial love towards one another.

1 Corinthians 13 describes this love to us like this . . .  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

Thank you Lord Jesus for your amazing love for us. Thank you for sending Jesus to us. To live for us, to die for us and to redeem us from the penalty of our sin. What an amazing love! Help us in turn to live our lives for you and in obedience to your Word! Thank you for who you are and for all you do for us . . . and thank you for showing us what true love is . . . Thank you sweet Jesus!

Experiencing His Presence


Raindrops_in_a_Puddle_AbstractThis morning I was sitting here at my computer with my head turned towards the nearby window. I was sitting and staring and the rain cascading down outside. This was more than our typical mist-type rain. It was really coming down pretty hard.

All of a sudden urge to go outside and stand in the rain. . .  and so I said, “Ok Lord,”. . . and I did. Bare feet and all I waltzed outside and tiled my head back opened my hands and just stood there in the rain. I began to feel every single drop hitting my face and arms and something about it was so beautiful, it almost felt magical. I was thoroughly enjoying it.

I stood there for what seemed about five minutes till I was completely wet and chilled enough that I thought I’d better retreat back inside. Call me crazy or what, but I thought that was a bit odd for someone who typically doesn’t like being wet and especially doesn’t like the feeling of clingy wet clothing.

As I sat here afterward I was thinking what was that all about, a thought came to my mind of something I had prayed earlier this morning. I prayed to feel a touch from God and I believe the rainfall was an answer to that prayer.

So often I look for God in the big things but he wanted me to know that he’s there in the everyday things. I often feel God presence when I stare at the ocean, watch a beautiful sunset, or look in the eyes of a newborn baby, but I must confess that sometimes fail to see him in the ordinary everyday events of life.

This reminds me of the truth that the more we start to look for God, the more we start to see Him everywhere and in everything. Sometimes I forget this, and need a reminder. I am so thankful for a God who answers prayers and see’s to it that he always gives us just what we need. I had to laugh because we as humans can tend to be super forgetful (some especially more than others, and especially me, teehee).

I also am reminded that in order to experience God, we sometimes have to enter into our surroundings and be willing to let ourselves get wet. God is there in the common as well as the uncommon. Often times when we step out in faith we strongly feel his presence with us, but I think he wants to remind us that he’s in the everyday experiences as well, walking through life with us.

I am reminded of the verse found in 2 Chronicles 16:9 which reads: “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” God wants us continually looking to him so that he can show himself strong in us and in the everyday things of life. Thank you Lord for a reminder of this truth.

As we are in the midst of this Christmas season, I am reminded of the greatest gift God gave mankind. He sent his one and only son for us, our Immanuel (meaning God with us Matt. 1:23). God help us be mindful that you are always with us, that you never leave or forsake us and that you take great delight in us. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for our sin. Give us eyes to see you in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary! Help us to live lives worthy of the hope you have placed within us! Thank you for who you are and for all have done and for your continual and faithful expressions of love towards us! To you be the glory both now and forever! AMEN