Monday, May 21, 2012

What Honor Is Not

I wrote an earlier post on the topics of honor, integrity, and humility here. Each in and of itself are weighty ideas, so I appreciate those of you that waded through that post with me.

In the midst of writing it, it struck me that sometimes, in order to recognize what something really is, we have to distinguish it from what it is not.

So, this post is all about what honor is not.

Because in the earlier post, we establish that honor has to be grounded in integrity, meaning that it needs to come from an honest, true place. Let me clarify that this has everything to do with the person giving or offering honor, not the recipient.

So what happens when honor isn't coming from a place of truth?

Two things came to mind (I'm sure there are more, and would love some more examples!).

1. When honor is not grounded in truth, it becomes flattery. Ego Boosting.
(Proverbs 11:3, "The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.")

I don't know why, but I like the word duplicity. Maybe it's just the sound of it. Regardless, I wanted to know more of what it meant. says duplicity is 'contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action; the belying of one's true intentions by deceptive words or action.'

Ever heard someone say they were talking out of both sides of their mouth? (It's a peculiar phrase, isn't it? Anyways...) Well, this is what it is referring to. Speaking one thing, but really you think and believe something different. Or you say one thing to someone, but turn around and contradict your statement to another source.

Hopefully this isn't something you can immediately identify with. It's usually not what we're striving to do. But I would like to challenge us, challenge myself, to really examine our hearts and see if there are times when we ascribe credit -acclaim, praise, give compliments to someone else - when we don't really mean it.

Maybe there is something about that person that we have a hard time with. A personality conflict. A difference of opinion. And we just have a hard time coming from a place of genuineness when it comes to offering encouragement. It's going to happen. We will not get along with every person we encounter. And if you were under the assumption that was expected of you, I'm officially taking you off the hook. You can breathe now. There will just be some hard people to get along with.

However, we're still called to honor others above ourselves. Romans 12:10, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."

Why? Because God places immense value on you and me, and them. And what He places value on, if we're going to seek after His heart and strive to be like Him, we have to as well. And honor is our way of showing that we agree with God.

So, what do we do? We take this knowledge, this command, and we try to do it on our own, in our own power. And the result? Our words become false, not life-giving or uplifting, from a place of ingenuity.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." - John 15:5

And if we do this long enough, pretty soon we don't know the difference between sincere compliments and hypocrisy. We have to make sure that we don't believe that the lip service we're offering them, or God, is really honorable.

This may sound harsh, but I do think it's important to not take lightly the power of our words. Jesus is the Word of God that brings life. And I think that He, in turn, through the Holy Spirit and Scripture, gives us the ability to bring hope and life-giving encouragement with our words. But if our hearts are not in a good place, our words can't provide that for others.

Luke 6:45b, "For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."

In fact, when you can identify a time when offering honest encouragement is difficult, it's an opportunity to ask God what is it about that situation that is hindering you. This is an opportunity for growth, for God to reveal what is really going on in your heart, and begin to change it so that there are no division between you and others.

So, back to the challenge - if we are going to truly honor, from a place of truth, we have to recognize when we are not being sincere.

On to the second example.

2. When honor is not grounded in truth, it fosters envy and jealousy.
When we are envious of someone else, we are agreeing to the idea that they have something that is better than who we are or what we possess, therefore slighting who God has created us to be.

We are the most susceptible to envy and jealousy when we don't have a firm foundation of who we are in Christ.  Because we don't have a clear idea of the person God has created us to be, we will look to the outside to figure out for ourselves or from someone else what is appealing, attractive, and what will give us what we think we need.

But we can't do that if our feet are slipping, if we're not standing firmly in the knowledge of who we are in Christ. The knowledge that we are loved, affirmed, and accepted because of what Jesus did for us on the cross allows us to begin to believe verses like Jeremiah 29:11, that He does in fact have a plan and a purpose for us, and that it's for our good!

The more we receive these truths...that we are loved, accepted, affirmed, adored, delighted in....the more we don't feel the urge to strive anymore to accomplish or achieve anything in order to be accepted. We don't have to give anything away to be loved. We don't have to look to others to affirm us because we are already affirmed by the Father. We can give up the pursuits of trying to accomplish something to make us more acceptable, because Jesus did what we couldn't at Calvary.

And with this knowledge of who we are in Christ, we aren't as susceptible to envy and jealousy, because we know God is doing something special in us. We can believe that He has our best at heart and trust that we have what we need. And so we can encourage others in the ways that God has gifted them and in the direction that God has called them.

God always meant for our relationships to be honoring, to build each other up and to spur each other on in our faith and to help each other identify our strengths and the gifts God has given us so they can fulfill the calling He has placed on our lives. 

So, bringing it all together, it's important that we are able to offer encouragement & honor from a place of truth, because we value what God does. This reflects of the heart of God and brings Him glory.

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:9-11

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


This post is for those of us that have been known to struggle with perfectionism. (For those that can't relate, feel free to continue reading - it may help you relate to someone in your life & learn how to love people like me).

The Lord brought something to mind this morning that I haven't thought about in a while. It was an epiphany of sorts that He gave my heart a few years back, and one that He's been helping me 'walk out' ever since.

It was this:

That there is a fine line between striving for excellence and perfectionism.

Striving for excellence seeks God's glory and fame, and perfectionism seeks my  personal pursuit for ______________ (acclaim, recognition, sense of worth, control, etc.)

When it's laid out there like that, it seems pretty straight forward, as though there is a clear distinction.

But "the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" - Jeremiah 17:9

Often times, we don't know the motive behind what we do, pursue, seek for, desire after.

We can feel as though we're striving for a noble cause, like justice, situations where things are fair and right. (who would argue against a pursuit for that?)


a closer look at the heart might reveal that at the root of it, it is really a pursuit of my rights, a sense of fairness for how I've been wronged, etc.

(Of course, I'm not talking about social injustices such as human trafficking or other awful atrocities like this. I'm talking about, in comparison, the minor things we face, such as being passed over for the promotion at work, or someone else is recognized for an effort we made, etc.)

In this example, we're ignoring the fact that God has called us to a life of surrender, of laying down our rights and desires for His Will. And the very situation that we're in an uproar about in our life personally may be the very thing God has orchestrated to form in us a better sense of submission to Him, trust in His ways, and humility.

The point I'm getting at is that it can be hard sometimes to really recognize the difference between these two pursuits. And as sheep, we easily wander. We don't know the way we need to go, really on any given day, and need to constantly be seeking the Great Shepherd of our souls (1 Peter 2:25), to walk with Him daily so that He can help us navigate the curvy pathways of our hearts. Only Jesus can help us avoid the pitfalls of our selfish nature, which we will continue to struggle with until He comes back and we go Home.

One example of how this can easily play out in my life is this:

I struggle with trust. It has never come naturally or easily. Thankfully God has graciously been changing this about me, but it is still not a strength of mine. So, in seeking excellence for God, perhaps in the form of planning a ministry event, it can easily become more about me wanting to control how things play out (due to fear of how things will go if all the bases aren't covered, all the 'T's aren't crossed) than trusting if I do my best to be obedient, to plan and prepare, that the results are up to God. In a subtle way, when I choose to try to control instead of trust, I'm saying that God somehow needs me to accomplish certain things in order for Him to do His thing. (HA!) That is one of the most ridiculous lies I've ever heard, but until it's brought out into the light, we can go on living and acting this way, not knowing that it's somewhere deep in our hearts. We go about living lives that contradict what we say we believe.

So, let's expose this lie for what it is! Let's denounce the idea that we somehow have to enthrone our efforts, our way of doing things, our preferences (in other words, ourselves!), and let's allow the only One worthy of our worship to take His rightful place in our hearts!

I read this yesterday, and feel it's one way we can keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, not on ourselves and what we feel we need to do.

Romans 12:3 (MSG), "Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him."

So how do we  1) recognize this in ourselves, and 2)combat this lie?

A good litmus test to know which of these two your heart is pursuing is to look at our response when things don't go as expected.

Are we grieved because we feel as though it was a distraction from God,
are we frustrated because we feel it's something that will look bad on us?

Here's a few distinctions to help you gauge where your heart may be regarding this issue.

  • Perfectionism has an idea of what the end product will look like, and gets upset when that doesn't materialize. (Focus is on the results)

  • Seeking excellence seeks to do the best with what God has given you, and leaves the results up to God. (Focus is on God, leaving the end product to Him)
  • Perfectionism can lead to anxiety, if things don't go as planned, as though something has gone terribly wrong. It can lead to doubting God's sovereignty and control.
  • Seeking excellence recognizes that His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8) and knows that what can sometimes look like a disaster to me can be the very thing that God uses to reveal His beautiful, redemptive work. (I'm sure no one felt that Christ's crucifixion, at the time, was the right thing that needed to happen.)
  • Perfectionism can be about building my own self-image, trying to control how others perceive me, what I'm capable of, and is pretty much all about me. It can take all my time and energy and distract me from other important things around me.
  • Seeking excellence is about representing God has His child, as part of His family. It's about 'living a life worthy of the calling I've received' (Philippians 1:27), showing reverence for Who God is and that He deserves my best efforts. Ultimately, it's all about what God.
I wish I had a way to wrap this up with a pretty little bow, but I guess I'll just leave you where I'm at myself - just meditating on this and hoping that the truth of it continues to seek down into my heart. 

We were made to worship God and to be in relationship with Him. We were made for His glory, so let's make this life about how we can make Him known.

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Waiting, Hope, & Expectations

One thought that has been on my mind often in the past few months is the realization that our expectations, whether conscious or not, are so closely tied up in that which we place our hope. I don't remember the source, but I heard recently that the thing that we are waiting on is what we're ultimately placing our hope in.

-Waiting on our circumstances to change - because we're secretly hoping that will bring us what we feel we lack.

-Waiting on our spouse to change - because we feel this is required before we can step into all that we are called to be.

-Waiting on _____________ (what are you waiting on right now?)


-Waiting on the Lord to either change our circumstances, or perhaps better yet, to change our perspective of our circumstances, so that our hope is not in something that is ever-changing and unstable, but in Him that is Unchanging and our sure Foundation (Isaiah 33:6).

-Waiting on the Lord to cultivate in us an acceptance and love for our spouse, whether he changes or not, because God desires for us to cling to Him for our deepest needs and security. And in that, He promises to bless our obedience, as we honor our spouse. (1 Peter 3:1)

I'm not saying that desiring different circumstances or seeing Godly change in our spouse are bad things. Not at all. The danger is when we start to attach expectations to how this should look and start to believe we need those expectations to be met. At that point, from my perspective, we're no longer placing our hope in the Lord, to move and change things as He sees fit or to work in spite of these things, but we're placing our hope in the change - which may or may not ever come.

"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame (does not disappoint), because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." - Romans 5:3-5

I don't know what your experiences have been, and by all means, I am neither an experienced expert on this topic nor do I claim to do this even 90% of the time. But the few times, by the prompting and empowering of the Holy Spirit, that I have been able to recognize when I have misplaced expectations and surrender those desires to the Lord, rightly putting my focus and hope back on Him - in those times, I've been able to understand Romans 5:3-5 a little bit more clearly.

Because when I'm able to release what I grip so tightly, that I feel I need in order for ___________ to happen, that which I was holding is no longer obstructing my view. God now has the room to come in and give me a glimpse from His perspective, so that I can see what I truly need
because God's thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8), sometimes I don't understand. But in His mercy and grace, He provides the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7), which is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).

So - how does it work? How do we change the focus of our expectations? Or how do we go about even figuring out if we have misplaced expectations?

(As a task-oriented person at heart, I love practical application.)

I'm including the practical application because it's easy to look at all of this on an intellectual, logical level. To grasp that God should be the Source and that we should look to Him. But seriously, how to we direct our hearts to Him?

I've found it's pretty hard to pray about something for very long, as I continue to get into God's Word, and it not really be what God wants for me. He is faithful to renew our minds and shift our perspective so that our desires align with His. (Psalm 37:4) And because God loves us, and as any parent can relate in wanting to make sure their child's needs are met, He desires that we find the true Source for those needs. Him.

"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope." - Psalm 130:5

"In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation."

 This is something I understand on an intellectual level, but I pray will become something that my heart is familiar with and that I know from experience as well -

When we learn to truly place our hope in Christ, the only Hope for our salvation, we never have to fear that it's misplaced or that we will be ultimately disappointed. He is Jehovah Jireh (The Lord will provide). He is the One in which our deepest needs will be met, because we were made for Him. He knows what needs to happen in our lives, in order to craft His character in us through the work of the Holy Spirit. We can trust that He will use the circumstances we face (good & bad) for our good, if we will surrender them to Him.

"The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing." - Psalm 145:15-16

"Every day your Father does something new. He molds and shapes. He guides and refines. He rotates and contours and buffs around the edges. Every single day." - The Resolution for Women, Priscilla Shirer

"Lead me in your truth, and teach me; for you are the God of my salvation; on You do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:5
"The Lord intends to keep his people dependent upon himself. He has everything they can need. He intends to supply all their needs; but he will be applied to. He will have his people wait on him, and wait for him. In doing so, he will try their faith, fortitude, patience, and perseverance. He will sometimes put them to a severe test, but he will never fail them, forsake them, or leave them destitute. If they trust in Him, plead with Him, and wait on Him, they will be raised to a state of comparative security, for they need not fear any man, or any circumstance, or any state they can be in. The Lord will be to them their God. He will do for them all that God can do; and that is, all they can require, all that is consistent with their welfare and His own glory.

Believer, you may be independent of all creation by realizing your dependence upon your God, and waiting upon Him continually. You must believe the love He has to you, His watchful care over you, His delight in you, the promises He has given you, the provision He has made for you, the glory He will get by you, and the honor to which He intends to raise you. In so doing, the fear of man will die, joy in God will spring up, the peace of God will fill your heart and mind, your dependence on creatures will cease, and you will be happy in looking only to the Lord.

"My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from him." - Psalm 62:5

"Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt you to inherit the land– when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it"   - Psalm 37:4
                                                                                         -James Smith, of Cheltenham, New York, 1869

I know this morning - one of the rare times I'm up before the sun - I'm choosing to lay my requests before the One who has the ability to fulfill my deepest needs and greatest desires. I will choose to wait in expectation on Him, and fix my eyes on Him, not the object of my request, trusting that He will respond as He sees fit for my good. Because He is good. And He loves me.

The same goes for you. He is for your good. He loves you. So, will you join me in this? Just one day at a time, one step at a time, surrendering the expectations, plans, agendas, to-do lists, etc. to Him, and allow Him to establish what He desires in our lives?

And just a further challenge: why not spend a couple minute worshiping Him this morning? Allow Him the opportunity to remind you how much He does love you and allow that amazing truth to refresh your heart. We only love because He first loved us. When is the last time you soaked in His affection for you?

You are for me - Kari Job

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What Have You Been Doing Lately?

"Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves with the same attitude, because He who has suffered in His body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing in what pagans choose to do - " 1 Peter 4:1-3

Whew - God is really speaking to me this morning regarding several different issues, but in the way that only women can understand, they are all related and intertwined, and so I'm slowly trying to digest it.

(Side note: my husband and I ran across a book once called "Men are like waffles, Women are like Spaghetti," referring to how for women, life is all connected and overlapping, like noodles on a plate. But for men, they have their own little compartments, neatly stored in their own little individual nook (maybe the only thing they do neatly, depending on the man), like waffle cubbies.)

So, needless to say, I'm having a noodle moment. So, hopefully you can follow me.

The main topic is something that God first started speaking to me about in college through Dr. Larry Crabb's book, "Inside Out." I highly recommend it. I have a list of about 10 books that have been hugely influential in my spiritual life. Some of those I  fully believe God led me to for that precise season. Inside Out was one of them, pretty close to the top of the list.

It's a very deep book, as Dr. Crabb is a deep person, so I won't try to summarize. Rather, I'll just say that part of it is about recognizing that so often we fall into the trap of approaching the gospel (and therefore our relationship with God) with the belief that it offers us relief from today's life.

Let me make a clear distinction here. By relief, I do not mean Hope. The Gospel always has and always will offer Hope, because Jesus Christ is our Hope. If your gospel doesn't bring you Hope, I would seriously examine what you're believing to make sure it's established in Truth.

What I am saying is that so often we want relief in the form of our problems being fixed, or better yet, eliminated. We can fall into subtle traps of believing that if we're just obedient enough, just get into the Word more, just pray more, than we'll feel better. We'll see change.

Yes - those things can happen. And often they do - because God pours out His grace abundantly and overwhelming on us, all the time.

HOWEVER, if we set our faith on the fact that God will always respond in the ways that we think He will to offer us relief, we will be set up for a fall. A hard one. And possibly into doubt...exactly where the enemy wants us.

Sometimes, the hardships we face - the disappointments, the hurts, the physical ailments - they won't go away. They stay, despite our spiritual disciplines and attempts. So, what then?

This is where I get excited - I know, sounds weird. Please stick with me.

This is where, if we will hold on to God long enough, we can experience Him a new and powerful way. Because what we see happen here is that He starts to strip away our false expectations of Who He is, how He moves, and what this relationship thing is all about with Him.

He reminds us, like in 1 Peter 4, that in this life, we will face trials (that's also in James 1:2-4).

"Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves with the same attitude, because He who has suffered in His body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing in what pagans choose to do - " 1 Peter 4:1-3

Arm yourselves with the same attitude - in other words, expect it. Be prepared to suffer - not because you're making bad choices and therefore reaping the consequences - but because we're choosing to no longer make those decisions and you're therefore now facing new struggles.

Example - Because you're spending time in God's Word and developing a closer walk with Him, you know aren't as comfortable watching the certain TV show anymore. It's not that it's 'all' bad - it's just that there are a few off-color jokes, some sexual stuff that you used to just dismiss - but now you're just not sure you can rationalize it anymore. So, even though you enjoy it, you decide that it's not the best way to spend your 30 minutes in the evening anymore.

Enter very slight suffering. A little bit of dying to what the flesh wants in order to foster your close relationship with God.

But now, you don't have the connection with the co-worker you used to, discussing the latest episode over lunch. You explain a little of why you chose to not watch it anymore. Now the relationship feels distant and you really don't have anything to talk about.

Enter more suffering - loneliness, missing a past friendship.

I'm sure you get the point.

This really challenges me in some ways, because even though I don't consciously subscribe to a faith based on my convenience and comfort, my flesh is very invested in those things and rears its ugly head, A LOT. And so it's in those moments where I have to choose what I am going to fix my eyes on. Will I allow the discomfort, the unmet need, the disappointment direct me to Jesus, to seeking His Presence and a deeper understanding of Who He is, or do I choose to focus on the lack.

Back to the example above. I think part of our problem is that we stop here. We sense God directing us to take that step, to give up the TV show that in turn led to a loss of relationship. And then we focus on all that we've lost. All that God has told us to give up, or has seemed to have taken away. And we question, assuming that if God has called us to do something, then it will come with a certain set of emotions, that it will look differently.

And we miss Him. Because instead of looking to Him in place of those things, we're now looking back at what we've given up or lost.

But if we persist, if we continue to meet Him in His Word, to seek His face, what we discover is a new sensitivity instead of the numbness that the media we were exposing ourselves to had caused. We now have a greater sense of His direction and discernment on decisions. And we have peace because even though it's not all fixed and okay, we know that we're exactly where He wants us. 

And perhaps, just perhaps, your co-worker begins to take notice of the changes in you. Even though she may not be quick to say anything, she's thinking and wondering what is going on. She's challenged by the stance that you've taken. And God begins to move in her life as well.

And we gain a new perspective that pain is not always bad. That despite our hurt and loneliness, God is still there, speaking and directing us. That His Presence isn't mutually exclusive with our disappointments, but that He meets us in them and shows us that He's greater than our fears and lost dreams.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Our FPU Story

So, we are getting the privilege of sharing our Financial Peace University testimony this week in the two sessions we have currently going at our church. In preparation, I wrote out what will probably be the long version and will get condensed, especially since my husband is the main one sharing tonight. :) Neither one of us are big public speaker types, but we won't refuse a time to share how God has been SOOO faithful to us and to give Him the glory for where we are today.

So, I thought since i had written it up anyways, I would just share it here, in hopes that it will bring encouragement to anyone that may be where we were 3 years ago, and to anyone working the Dave Ramsey plan now. Keep at it!

Our story -

Thanks for letting us take a few minutes to share our FPU story with you. We were introduced to FPU by James and Cynthia Caine, who were willing to share their story and how God was using FPU in their lives. It encouraged us and led us to join FPU, and so we hope that in the same way, God will use what He has done in our life to encourage you.

We were married in November of 2005. We both entered into our marriage with a very simple financial plan – just that we wanted some money. But we both didn’t really have much else in regards to that. We were never really careless with our finances, neither being big spenders, but we still didn’t have a handle on it. All we did know was that we wanted to be good stewards of what God had given us, so we decided to join a Crown Financial small group about 3 yrs into our marriage. We learned a lot of great biblical principles about why we should be good stewards, but left without really knowing how to get there from where we were.

At the time, we figured that because our income was greater than our monthly expenses, our bank account should be growing each month. But that wasn’t the case. In fact, there were even months we had overdraft fees. And at the time, our only emergency fund was our credit card, which we also used for large purchases to pay off over time. We did not have any savings, and definitely thought that having a car payment was just how you did things. And even though we weren’t ready to start a family at that season of our lives, I couldn’t help but worry in the back of my mind how we’d ever be at a point where we could afford an addition to our family if we couldn’t even really make ends meet, just the two of us.

Fast forward to the fall of 2008, where we had the privilege of being in a small group with James and Cynthia Caine. Once they shared their FPU story with us, Immediately I could sense this was something God wanted to do at Community, and in our own lives personally, and so FPU was implemented the following January of 2009.

For us, one of the big light bulb moments during the first few weeks of FPU was about the detailed budget. Since we had never found a budget that worked for us, I was personally pretty intimidated by this point. (Budget was a bad word around our little one-room apartment, something I believed meant that I would have to do without what I wanted.) When we got into this part of the course, and realized just what money we had been spending, we were shocked! We had no idea that we were spending so much money in some areas, and definitely would not have intentionally set aside that amount of money to go towards things like eating out, where we had nothing to show for it later (except maybe in our waistlines).  All of a sudden, instead of being something restrictive, the budget became a source of empowerment, allowing us to consciously choose where we wanted our money to go each month, making sure that it lined up with what we valued and agreed upon.  It was really a life-changing moment for us. And we were able to identify areas we could start to put some of our monthly income into paying off debt.

Now that we had a plan, we were able to really face our debt with gazelle-like intensity. But we still knew, that because we both weren’t very good with finances, that we needed God to be doing all this through us. He honored our attempts to be obedient and faithful stewards, and there was time and time again when He provided either new forms of income, or met a need through some other way.

And you know how I mentioned that little fear in the back of my head that we’d never be able to have a baby. We could see a little bit of light in the distance, knowing that the money that was now going towards debt could someday be freed up for a baby.

As a testament to God’s goodness and faithfulness, only 7 months later, we were finished with Baby Step 2 and debt-free, except for the house. And we no longer had the idea that we needed a car payment, and definitely had given up the habit of using a credit card, period, forever. Two short months after that, we were pregnant with our first child, who is now 19 months old.

Even now 3 years later, we’re still as committed to the program as we were the first few weeks. Even though it’s taken us a little bit longer than average, due to having a baby and other life events, we are excited to say we’ll be finishing Baby Step 3 in a couple of months, and will be able to start investing for our future, at the ripe old age of 30. Praise God for His faithfulness and patience with us now and in the future!
I'd love to hear your story as well!

Friday, January 20, 2012

What's your Perspective?

This is nothing new and revolutionary. 
Well, nothing new. It can be revolutionary if we let it.

The idea starts with a question.

How much time have you spent on your knees lately?

The Lord has been speaking to me about the topics of honor and integrity lately. The importance of honoring Him - and what that really looks like in a life - and the importance of honoring others.

(Just a little fun fact - according to, the word 'honor' is found in the Bible 211 times, at least in the NIV translation. That's a lot. Compare that to other significant topics, such as love appearing 686 times, 'forgive' 121 times, and 'pray' 367 times. Just wanted to validate that it's something God made a point to mention a few times.)

I don't know if you've ever met a person that really seemed to have the honoring God thing down, but it's pretty incredible. It's actually pretty apparent that there is something different about that person, too. It's like they walk with an understanding of the gravity of what is means to esteem others better than themselves. (Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.")

Their lives are characterized by a stillness, a patience that is required to truly offer people your time and attention, acknowledging that they are worth it. It illustrates the truth that God has called us to be in relationship, and that relationships are important.

They place value on the people around them.

I've been contemplating this in terms of my relationship with God.

Do I understand the gravity of what it means to live my life in a way that honors Him?

Do I consider how my actions and attitudes fall in line with what is pleasing to Him?
Do I think of what He places value on, and therefore accredit value to it as well?

And where does integrity come into all of this? states that integrity is defined as
1.) adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2.) the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.

To live with integrity means that we're honest - authentic - IE., no shady stuff going on in our lives that we're not really wanting other folks to know about.

No false pretenses. What you see is what you get.

I believe in order to live lives of honor, we have to get to a place of integrity first. You can't fake honor. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's called manipulation. (More on this in a later post.)

Integrity is grounded in Truth.
Integrity requires having a proper perspective.

And in order to have a proper perspective, we have to be in the right position to see correctly.
I was reminded of this today as I knelt in front of my desk at work. I don't normally spend a lot of time looking at things down there. (Just in case you are interested, there is quite a bit of dust on my computer case, paper scraps that have compiled over time, scattered randomly. I could go on, but I'll spare you.)

The point I'm getting at is that this isn't something I'm aware of on a daily basis, when I scoot my chair up to my desk to start work. I don't normally see what is under there because I am not normally positioned to see it.

But today I was led to take a minute, get on my knees, and worship. To posture myself in a way that represents honor.

And when I chose to do that, I saw something I don't normally see.

The point I'm getting at is not that the desk and random paper scraps were not important, or even what God wanted to show me.

What I mean is that when we humble ourselves, slow down and choose to position ourselves in a way that acknowledges that He is worthy of our honor, we start to see things we were meant to see.

Start to see things as they were meant to be seen.

He starts to show us stuff that He's been wanting to share with us, but our view has been too lofty, too distorted.
Maybe because we've been haven't been rightly related to Him.
Maybe we've been too busy to slow down, to take in the scenery.
Whatever the case, we weren't in position.

So, back to my original question.

How much time have you spent on your knees lately?

What have you and I been missing, what are we not seeing, because we haven't been on my knees, positioned to receive from God?

I've heard the definition before in a teaching that humility is just being properly related or "positioned" to God. He is placed in higher esteem because in truth, He is worthy of that position. It's just the facts.

God > me.

But humility isn't about degrading ourselves or thinking less of ourselves, either. We were made in the image of God and we were created by Him for Him for a purpose - fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139).

Humility is about being rightly related to God - making nothing more or less of ourselves than who He created us to be.

And once God is in His right position in our life, and we fall into our proper place, we're able to honor Him and others from a place of truth. Integrity.

Let me streamline this a little bit.

I believe in order to live lives of honor, we need integrity. And in order to have integrity, we have to be able to see things as they really are, from a proper perspective.

Humble. On our knees.
So, I believe, if I am to truly live a life of humility, as I'm called to and which is necessary in order to honor others, I need to spend a lot more time noticing the dust and random scraps of paper that I've been missing before.

It's only when I take a posture of humility and honor that I can catch a vision of
who God really is,
who I really am in Him,
and what it is He wants me focused on.

So is your life busy? Are you distracted? Do you know what the dust looks like under your desk? Your bed at home? What scraps have been finding their home in your carpet at home?

There really is something about carving some time out of your day to get away to a secret place, where you can get on your knees.

And stay there past the urge to jump back into your schedule and routine. Stay there long enough to experience His stillness and peace, to meet with Him, and to catch a glimpse of

His Perspective.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is What You Want What You Need?

Sometimes I think I'm pretty smart.

Maybe not consciously, but my actions seem to show otherwise. I somehow convince myself that I don't need to get into the Word often, that it's not that important, or that I've been in it enough in the past to 'cover me' for a couple of days or weeks.


"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" -Jeremiah 17:9

What is true?

In me, there is no good thing. (Romans 7:18). Apart from God, I can do no good thing. (John 15:5)

When I choose to not get into the Word, to consciously and intentionally connect with God, I'm not just staying in some neutral zone. I cannot continue to move forward with His work without Him.

Because you know what happens? It becomes my work. And you know what that is? Lifeless. Dull. Striving. Distraction. (refer to Romans 7:18 & John 15:5 above)

There is no neutral zone. The enemy wants me to think there is. That all I'm doing is just choosing to rest. I deserve rest, right? It's just too hard to seek after the Lord all the time, right?

Another lie.
"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

What I am really choosing when I don't choose to spend time in God's word is not to rest, but to slowly allow my mind to revert to it's old way of thinking.

And you know who that looks like? Not Jesus, that's for sure.

But as it states in the beginning of John 15:5, if I choose to abide in God, I can bear good fruit. It's conditional on my connection and close relationship with Him.

And you know one awesome truth that still astonishes me today as much as it did the first time I heard it?

God, the Creator of the Universe -who is totally capable of just telling me to do something & asking for my obedience, period -chooses to allow me to not only partake in His Work, but He'll even give me a joy and a passion for it!

Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourselves in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

He has the ability to change my heart, to give me a desire for Him, His Kingdom, and what is good for me. He can make me passionate and excited about what He has called me to do so that it's a joy and a delight for me to do it!


That's Grace.

Which brings me to what inspired this post in the first place.

I had an old Passion song in my head this morning, and I believe God was bringing it to mind to remind me of what to ask Him for.

"Give me one pure and holy passion. Give me one magnificent obsession. Give me one glorious ambition for my life, to know and follow hard after you." - One Pure and Holy Passion, Passion

When I feel less than enthused, when I feel dry and uninspired, distracted by many things, God says we can ask for the desire to seek Him.

We can ask for a hunger for His Word.
For eyes to see His truth.
For a heart that is undivided, so that we not only believe the truth, but we truly embrace it wholeheartedly.

And He will give it to us because He knows that it is what we need. More of Him.

And it's what He wants!

More of us!

I don't have to pretend to be excited about getting into the Word. (Sometimes I am...often I'm not, if I'll be honest). I don't have to come to God with any pretense. I can just come to Him as I am.

Lazy. Fallen.In need.

And He wants to respond. And He will respond, when we seek Him with all our hearts. (Jeremiah 29:13) And He will continue to amaze us. Thrill us. Excite us. And give us a love for Him.

He is the Source, and we just have to stay connected.

"There is none like you. No one else can touch my heart like You do. And I could search for all eternity long and find, there is none like You."

Friday, January 6, 2012


"With great power comes great responsibility." - Uncle Ben, Spiderman

Okay - so living with a geek for the past 6 years has kind of rubbed off on me a little bit. But regardless of the source of the statement, I still think it holds a lot of truth.

We have all been given the ability to influence, whether for the good or detriment of those around us. I think this is particularly true for women. I think that women have been given the ability to influence, lead, and on the converse side, manipulate, in ways that men cannot. (I'm not insinuating women are greater than men - I also think the statement is true for men - they can lead and influence in ways that women were never meant to.)

Before I go any further, let me put out this little disclaimer: The following is not meant as a bash of women or men, but rather I'm trying to just put the facts out there to explain how the choices that we make as women do have a great effect on those that God has placed in our lives (specifically if you are married, the man that God has placed as the head of your household), and that we need to consider the circle of influence that God has given us when making choices that will either sew peace and righteousness, or chaos and confusion.

Examples of how women have chosen to use their power for harm:
There are so many Biblical examples portraying how women can influence men to second-guess what God has spoken or promised. One well-known example is Eve in the garden, choosing to personally question not only God's command, but to question his intent as well. ("For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God." -2 Corinthians 2:11) And we know how it played out - Adam chose to follow Eve's example, instead of standing firm in the leadership role He was placed in, and the rest is history. (Genesis 3)

Another example is Sarai, Abram's wife. Not believing God's promise that He would grant Abram a son, she chose to take matters into her own hands by offering up her slave instead, rationalizing that she could at least have a surrogate child this way (since God was obviously not following through with His end of the deal). (Genesis 16) And once again, you see man following a women's suggestion - choosing also to disbelieve and question whether God meant what He said.

(On a side note - I find it rather funny that after Sarai's slave, Hagar, gets pregnant, Sarai becomes upset because it's not turning out the way she thought it would, and so she comes back to blame Abram about it! (Genesis 16:5) I have to be honest and say I can relate to the temptation to blame when something doesn't turn out the way I planned. Anyone else want to admit to that one?)

I go into these examples because I believe it's one way God has chosen to reveal the power a woman has been given in order to offer advice, wisdom, and discernment to others. Wives have the awesome ability to offer insight to their husbands, an incredible gift when that is given prayerfully and in humility, not trying to manipulate and control, but as God intended. And single women - you have the ability to encourage & offer that same gift to the people that God has placed in your life as well.

Examples of how women have chosen to use their power for good:
Look at Esther! Here is a woman that was placed in the role as queen in order to plead for the lives of the Israelites. She chose to accept the place of honor God had granted her, and with humility, advised her husband, the King, to show mercy. (Esther 7) Because of this, the people of God were saved.

And I'm sure the list could continue, but for the sake of this note becoming a novella, I will get to the conclusion.

The other day the Lord brought to mind Proverbs 14:1,
"A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands."

Whew -does that hit anyone else in the gut like it does me? It's so true. I don't know how many times I've set out to be encouraging and uplifting to my husband, and then end up tearing down those efforts with my nagging and nit-picking tendencies. And what about the times I don't even recognize I'm doing this?

What if we recognized the power of our suggestions - that they will either bring light, clarity, and freedom, or deception, confusion, and bondage?

I pray that the Lord would reveal to us what we have been given the ability to do - to build His Kingdom by using our power for good - for choosing encouragement over criticism, humility over our need to be right, submission and trust over control - love over fear.

"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." Acts 1:8

"Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you." - 2 Timothy 1:14

"for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7

because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." 1 Thessalonians 1:5a