A Guilty Conscience
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A Guilty Conscience

What do you do with guilt … when you know you’ve blown it and you don’t measure up? Ummm … I’m asking for a friend of course.

I guess we could try to shift the blame … onto a spouse, a child, parents, our childhood … even the in-laws and out-laws. But that doesn’t really alleviate guilt, it just spreads it around.

Perhaps we could redefine the moral code … “God couldn’t mean THAT?!” “Or It must mean THIS.” But that’s a temporary guilt-fix at best, and another load-of-guilt at worst.

Denial is a nice illusion to keep us comfortable and feeling good about ourselves for a little while … but sooner or later you come back to the mirror and face the reality that you really can’t live up to your own standards, much less the standards that God has set.

My favorite coping-with-guilt-mechanism is try harder. Give more, serve more, pray more … focus on all that you are doing right so that you are too busy to see all the places you fall short. But honestly, that’s exhausting … ummm so I’ve heard.

Fortunately God knew that we couldn’t live up to His standard of perfection of purity. He knows everything you know? He can see through our feeble attempts to mask our guilt and He graciously stands with open arms and a loving heart to show us a better way. There is a place where our guilty consciences are cleansed.

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Holding On
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Holding On

What are you holding onto? Perhaps it’s shame from the past, bitterness, or unforgiveness. Maybe your trying to hold onto a wayward child, or to hold a difficult marriage together. Perhaps your holding onto a dream that you are determined to see come to fruition. Maybe it’s your will your way that your fist is clenched around.  We hold many things in our hands, but Jesus gives us permission to loosen our grip and to trust Him with these things we hold onto.

Studying Hebrews recently with a friend, God grabbed ahold of my heart with this amazing verse:

He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high ~ Hebrews 1:3 NASB

The whole stunning verse reads like Jesus’ resume but the piece that grabbed my heart was …

“he upholds all things by the power of His word.”

ALL. THINGS.

That means He is not counting on me to hold things together. And He does so “by the power of His word.” It’s not even a struggle for Him. He holds galaxies together, and He holds the smallest cell in our bodies together …. and everything in between. If you’ve never heard Louie Giglio preach about laminin you should stop reading right now and Google laminin. It’s a protein that holds our cells together and the image will give you cold chills.

Before I surrendered my life to the Lord, I lived as if it was up to me to hold all things together. I failed miserably and it was exhausting. In my striving I was solely responsible for changing myself, finding purpose, and obtaining love to fill my empty places. I was carrying the burden of guilt and shame all the while trying to move forward, never knowing what was ahead. In God’s grace He allowed me to see the futility of that life and gave me a yearning for freedom from the stress of striving.

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Comfort
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Comfort

What picture does the word “comfort” conjure up? A bowl of macaroni & cheese? Sipping cocoa by a crackling fire? The embrace of a loved one? A warm blanket or good fitting shoes? How do you define comfort and where do you look for it?

I must confess, comfort has been an idol in my life. An idol is a false god that causes us to value something more than God. You’ll find out if comfort is your idol when God asks you to do something that is ummm …. un-comfort-able. How easy is it for you to do God’s will God’s way? I struggle when I feel like it’s going to be difficult or it’s going to cost me something … like comfort.

Truth is there is no idol that can do what God can do. When I buy into what an idol is offering I’ve believed a lie. I need to search out God’s truth to replace the lie.

Our culture defines comfort as a state of being that is free from anything difficult; a life of ease.

The Bible tells us God is our Comforter. So doesn’t that mean God will make my life free from difficulties and give me a life of ease? Ummm, I hate to burst your bubble but no.

First, we have to understand that God’s definition of comfort is not the same as the world’s definition. The word “comfort” actually means to come (com) with strength (fort.)

That’s the kind of Comforter our Lord is. He doesn’t come with a pat on the back and say, “There, there … poor you.” He comes with strength! And honestly, isn’t that the best kind of comfort to receive?

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The Election
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The Election

I’m sharing the blog with this week with young people in hopes that it will encourage you to know that God is raising up the next generation for His kingdom. This week a sweet a young lady shares her perspective on the election and Who her hope is in. Enjoy!


With the upcoming election, nerves have consumed our nation. Neither candidate has shown fruit of a believer and many wonder if this is the beginning of the end. New laws, like legalizing gay marriage, has us all wondering what is next.

But the wonderful thing about loving the Lord is that we have no control over what happens. This might worry some even more. Isn’t it up to us? No. Trusting God means that while this world is heading down a sinful path, God is still fully in control and he knows exactly what He is doing. We are called His children for a reason. We are not supposed to take control. We are to trust our Father- who knows what is best for us.

After all, God is sovereign. That is taught all throughout the gospel. In Proverbs 16:9 Solomon proclaims, “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” So while man is getting all riled up about who will lead us these next 4 years, God has already predetermined the winner. He will govern our nation and everything will turn out the way He wants it to. It’s as simple and wonderful as that.

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Hands of God
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Hands of God

Discouragement and worry about the future runs rampant these days. But God is still on the throne and He is raising up the next generation. I am sharing the blog this week with two young people who love the Lord. Our future is in His capable hands. Enjoy and be encouraged. 

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” ~ Deuteronomy 7:9


It is the biggest decision but with an outrageous reward. The hands of God are a stunning place to be.  

When I took my first step into the journey it was fun and exciting, but when I learned it could be for an eternity, I took another step closer to God’s hands. The seeds were sprouting in my body. I was starting to feel more happiness. I started to imagine my favorite things like the sweet scent of ice cream. I had a good feeling to share God’s Word because when I imagine something great others should too. When time soars away, the hands of God make that eternal.

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Healing At Bethesda
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Healing at Bethesda

In John 5 the compassionate love of Jesus collides with an invalid in a stunning picture of healing, grace, rescue and God’s overwhelming love and kindness. People say, “God helps those who help themselves.” But truth is God helps those who cannot help themselves. His compassionate heart is drawn to the helpless.

This man could not get from where he was, disabled on a mat, to where he thought he needed to be, the healing water. His efforts had failed, people had failed him, and the waters were out of reach.

It’s not a physical disability that plagues me but oh, I can be so lame! Circumstances paralyze me, or the inability to do what I know God wants me to do. Actually, utter helplessness sets the stage for us to experience God’s power. If I never get to the end of me, I will never get to see Him do what I cannot do.

The first thing Jesus asks the man is “Do you want to get well?” This seems like a no-brainer but it’s an important question. A 38-year old limitation could be working for us. Maybe it’s the excuse that keeps us from the hard work of changing. Maybe we receive attention from that thing. It can protect us from taking responsibility … “oh I’d love to but I couldn’t possibly do THAT because I have THIS thing.” Sometimes staying in a known less-than-desirable pit feels safer than walking into an unknown future with an invisible God. Don’t be deceived. There is no place comfortable apart from the Comforter.

The man had a choice to make; so do we. Will we offer the Lord our excuses or offer him our faith? If the man had made excuses he would have sat on his mat another 38 years.

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Nicodemus and the Samaritan Woman
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Nicodemus & the Samaritan Woman

I love that John put these two stories side-by-side. I love the contrast in personalities of Nicodemus and the Samaritan Woman. And I love that Jesus met with each one personally and offered them eternal life. 

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Whoever. Anyone. No matter who.

I find great comfort in that. I am admittedly much more like the Samaritan woman. You may be more like Nicodemus. I hope you find yourself somewhere in-between these two polar-opposite characters. And I hope you realize you are the “whoever” He came for.  And He is everything you need.

Nicodemus came with a title. The Samaritan woman came with a reputation.

Nicodemus had a name. She is nameless.

Nicodemus had a religious pedigree and was highly favored. She was pagan and despised.

His acceptance from the religious council did not get him into the kingdom. Her rejection from others did not exclude her from God’s love.

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Samaria and Beyond
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Samaria and Beyond

God has been rocking my world recently with Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

I’ve always thought of Acts 1:8 geographically. In other words, Jerusalem would be my center, my family or home, Judea my neighbors, Samaria a little farther out, and the “ends of the earth” would be beyond … probably requiring a mission trip. However, God is showing me the only travel required is to travel outside my comfort zone.

Thinking geographically about this verse makes my world the center and moves me out from there. Thinking spiritually makes God the center and then moves me out to reach people the farthest spiritually away from Him. By the way, it’s never a good idea to be the center of your world. When “going” means traveling it’s easy to check out of this verse… Resources or time may prevent us from “going,” right? But we can all go with our lives, our hearts, and our love to those that need to know God. Don’t just go with your Bible, go with your whole heart.

Jerusalem represents those in relationship with God. God met with His creation in a tabernacle in a desert, a building in Jerusalem, and then the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus (John 1:14). Now, the Holy Spirit dwells in the believer’s heart. Jerusalem symbolizes the True Church, those that are in Christ and closest to God spiritually. Dwelling with God brings an inner life of love, joy, and peace. You are at home with Jesus. To witness in Jerusalem means I get to point other believers to His character and His promises and to walk people deeper into relationship with Him. I admit this is the most comfortable place to minister. I love to be with God’s people.

Judea is people outside of God’s kingdom, but not too far. Maybe they proclaim to be believers, or even go to church but have no real heart change. They may be “spiritual” or perhaps moral but deny Jesus … lukewarm … not terribly “bad.” It seems they just need a little nudge and they could be in the kingdom. It’s hard to minister here because Judea thinks they’re close enough. They use spiritual things to alleviate guilt but have not yet experienced the real freedom that the Cross brings. Nothing short of being in Christ will bring eternal life, satisfaction and joy to a person’s life. Residents of Judea need to be walked all the way to Christ.

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Walls
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Walls

Wall: a work, or structure … intended for a defense or security.

Walls defend, secure, and separate but man-made walls can also crumble.

What walls have you built? What do you count on for your defense? What work or structure are you looking to for security? Is it a bank account, education, or an image? Walls … we all build them.

We so easily look to “works” to defend ourselves. We can work to buy that home in a desirable neighborhood in hopes that others will find us acceptable, and our reputation will be defended. We feel safe and secure in our pretty homes.

We can “work” in an attempt to make ourself look better to God by serving more, and checking more religious boxes. Perhaps people will not know what a mess we really are if we build a nice religious wall to hide behind.

Anger is a defense strategy, it distances others from us. We allow prejudice against anyone different from us to separate us. We may even call our walls boundaries, but boundaries actually create healthy relationship. Walls distance us.

Knowledge can be used to keep others at bay. Wisdom knows better but knowledge without wisdom and love is a dangerous thing. Pride is a big ugly isolating wall.

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Brown Paper Wrapping
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Brown Paper Wrapping

This is a guest post written by my friend, Ann Glover.

I have to admit when I was asked to write this blog, this was the LAST thing that I wanted to write about. I even had this great spiritual lesson all tied up in a neat bow that God had given me a week earlier. But life as a Christian isn’t tied up in a neat bow. As a matter of fact, God is showing me that some of His most precious gifts come in smelly, ugly brown paper wrapping that’s been kicked around, smells to high heaven and that no one really wants because it isn’t pretty! It isn’t one of those “oh my gosh, God is SO good!” moments. It’s one of those “surely this can’t be from You! I think it was delivered to the wrong address. I think you meant this for the person down the street who doesn’t go to church, is living the worldly life to its fullest, and seems to be enjoying the good life ALL without YOU in her life!”

And then God comes to us and says, “No, this is for you. I wrapped it especially FOR you! I know it doesn’t look pretty. I know if you had a room full of gifts to choose from this is the last gift you would choose. But see, I can’t give you what’s inside of it apart from the ugly brown wrapper that it comes in. And I REALLY want you to have what’s inside! So I’m giving this to you to unwrap. It will take some time. You will get dirty from the mess and the muck as you peel each layer off. You will begin to think it’s not worth going through the mess to get to the good stuff. There will even be days when you grow so weary of all the layers that you’ll begin to wonder if there really IS a gift at all and be tempted to give up! Is there really an end in sight? You’ll wonder if there wasn’t some other way, a simpler way, a better way, an EASIER way for me to give you this gift than to have to go through all the mess in order to obtain it. And My answer is NO! I’ve weighed every scenario, looked at it from every angle, taken into consideration that you are from dust, how much strength, stamina and faith you have, AND what will bring the greatest joy to your heart…. and this is it! It is the PERFECT gift just for you! I know from the outside it doesn’t look like much but trust Me, you’re going to LOVE it! I made it with my own hands out of an incredible love for my precious child. I just couldn’t imagine NOT giving this to you, even it means having to go through the ugly wrapper to have it.”

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