Category Archives: Relationships

Why Would God Leave the Ninety-Nine?

Why Would God Leave the Ninety-Nine?

Why Would God Leave the Ninety-Nine?

Have you ever heard the saying that God will leave the ninety-nine to look for one who is lost? I had a bit of an epiphany about that while singing in the shower the other day. One of my favorite praise songs lately is “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury. During the chorus part of the lyrics say:

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

“Leaves the ninety-nine” stood out to me. Then I thought of the scriptures that mention the Parable of the Lost Sheep:

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:12-14 (NLT)

“So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” Luke 15:3-7 (NLT)

Doesn’t that seem a little unfair? 

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You Might Be Making a Difference Without Even Realizing It

Making a Difference...

You Might Be Making a Difference Without Even Realizing It

A lesson I’ve learned over the last couple of weeks is that sometimes you might be making a difference without even realizing it. I shouldn’t be surprised by this. I pray for this all of time. I even claim this as a positive confession from time to time. In fact, I have some daily positive affirmations that I have saved in the notes in my phone. One of them says, “People see Jesus in me. I win people over by the way I live without saying a word.” One of my heart’s desires is making a difference in the lives of the people I encounter. Sometimes though, I just don’t even know I’m doing it!

Dare I say the worst semester ever?

OK, I’ll try to make a very long story short here. This past semester of teaching was…well…horrendous to put it lightly. I mean, it was bad. So bad that I came very, very close to turning in my resignation. The college class that I teach had undergone a complete overhaul and the outcome was an exponential increase in my workload and a decrease in pay…and nearly a complete loss of autonomy, and a severe increase in stress, and tremendous loss of time with my family, and loss of joy in teaching, and… OK I’ll stop there.

This workload (and everything else) also increased significantly for the students as well. It actually felt like our class and new changes were hurting the students instead of helping them. Grades were significantly down compared to previous semesters, and more students were failing than ever before. This is what weighed on me the most because I truly believe in making a difference in a positive way in the lives of my students, and this class typically allows for that. However, that was not the case this semester. Or so I thought.

Making a difference? Yeah right! How about: A lost cause 

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Praying a Hedge of Thorns

Praying a Hedge of Thorns

Praying a Hedge of Thorns

Growing up in a Christian family and in church, I often heard people pray a “hedge of thorns” around someone. This type of prayer could be prayed on behalf of a person that might be wandering off track or pursuing things or people that may not be good for them. For some reason, it always makes me picture the scene in Sleeping Beauty where Maleficent makes a forest of thorns appear around King Stefan’s castle to block Prince Phillip. Of course, Phillip DID make it through that hedge of thorns…but then again that hedge was made by evil forces, not God. 🙂

The Bible gives an example of a hedge of thorns built by God:

“Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’” Hosea 2:6-7 (ESV)

So when should we pray for a hedge of thorns? Here are a few examples when this prayer might be helpful…

Hedge of thorns for unfaithfulness in marriage

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Be a Light in the Darkness

Be a Light in the Darkness

Be a Light in the Darkness

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)

It seems like lately there has been so much awful, negative stuff going on all around us. There have been numerous devastating hurricanes and storms one right after another. Tragedies, attacks, murders and threats are happening both on grand scales and at individual levels affecting families all over the world. Suicide is wreaking havoc on the families and friends of its victims. Racial tensions are causing division. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. A lot stuff going on in the world lately just really kind of sucks to be honest! It’s dark. It’s broken.

Be a light in the darkness...The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.

The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.

On a side note…I have a friend that’s endured a lot of dark and tough times throughout the course of her life. No matter what she has gone through or continues to go through, she continues to stay positive even during some of the toughest times. She consistently remains a light in the darkness and a beacon of hope. This year for her birthday I got her a bracelet that reminded me so much of her that said, “The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.” More Christians need to follow her example to be a light in the darkness. 

Just this past weekend my pastor did a message on “What Difference Does God Make…In the Face of Evil?” One of our pastors pointed out that in dark times it’s an opportunity for Christians to shine even brighter. One of my devotions this week also emphasized the importance of sharing hope and bearing witness of Jesus. It’s kind of been a theme that I’ve seen repeated lately—that we need to be a light.

Now, how can we practically do that?

Practical wisdom on how to be a light in scripture

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True Repentance: What to look for…

True repentance: what to look for...

True Repentance: What to look for…

You hear about people that have done things to hurt or wrong others and then apologize and immediately relationships are restored. Then, that same person may turn around and repeat that same offense only to cause further hurt and damage trust in their relationships. The offended may feel frustrated and confused because the offender apologized, and they truly felt it was genuine. So what happened? Did they restore relationship too quickly? Was the offender really sincere in their apology? Was there really true repentance?

Unfortunately though, sometimes people deliver apologies or want to restore relationship without having true repentance. There are some gauges we can use to discern whether or not a person is indeed fully and completely repentant. There is some evidence that we can look for as well as some indicators that they may not be at a place of full and true repentance yet.

Let’s take a look…

Genuine apologies are offered in true repentance

Previously, I wrote a post about how to apologize effectively. In that post I mentioned a book that Dr. Gary Chapman co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Thomas titled When Sorry Isn’t Enough: Making Things Right with Those You Love http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=hapheapro-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0802407048 in which they detail the study of apologies and how people give and receive them.  The goal of their book was to help people “learn the techniques to effectively recognize and deliver apologies and watch relationships thrive as a result”.

The five basic languages of apology are:

  1. Accept Responsibility—this is basically just admitting you are wrong and accepting full responsibility for your actions
  2. Expressing Regret—this is a genuine “I’m sorry” and show of remorse for causing pain
  3. Make Restitution—in this form of apology you commit to making things right
  4. Genuinely Repent—this shows the sincere desire to modify your behavior and future actions
  5. Request Forgiveness—in this apology language you recognize the need for forgiveness, and you physically ask for forgiveness

A genuine apology that contains all five of these aspects may be an indicator of true repentance. However, words can only go so far, and as the saying goes…actions speak louder than words. So there are some other things to look for as well. Continue reading

Scriptures for Troubling Times

Scriptures for Troubling Times: God gives us promises throughout scripture. We can apply these scriptures to our situations and circumstances to give us peace, to build our faith, to encourage us, and sometimes to even turn the situation around.

Scriptures for Troubling Times

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve shared about preparing for the storms of life and some ways to endure those storms when they come. One of the practical ways we can endure and overcome these storms is to utilize God’s word. We can use scriptures for troubling times.

God gives us promises throughout scripture. We can apply these scriptures to our situations and circumstances to give us peace, to build our faith, to encourage us, and sometimes to even turn the situation around. God also tells us to remind Him, or put Him in remembrance, of His Word. When we remind God, we remind ourselves too! (Here’s a great post on the subject by Victoria Osteen.)

“Put me in remembrance; let us argue together; set forth your case, that you may be proved right.” Isaiah 43:26 (ESV)

In order to remind God, we have to find and know the verses first to be able to use those scriptures for troubling times. It’s helpful to make a list of some go-to verses to access when those times arise. I’ve put together just a few of my personal favorites here. 

General scriptures for troubling times:

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19 (ESV)

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37 (NIV)

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 (NLT)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)

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What I Learned From the Ladies at Craft Club

What I Learned From the Ladies at Craft Club...multigenerational lessons...

What I Learned From the Ladies at Craft Club

God has been impressing upon me lately about the importance of multigenerational learning. I think He especially wants all of us to grasp the importance of learning and gleaning wisdom from people older, wiser, and more experienced than us. I think this is extremely important for upcoming generations. (I’ll talk more on this in future posts.) My mom and I were just discussing this concept not long ago, and we started talking about how much I’ve benefitted from something as simple as the Craft Club at our church.

Several years ago I decided to get involved at the Craft Club at my church. To be completely honest with you, I have NO IDEA why!! I am NOT crafty. At all. Not even a little. My mom, Jacki, and my sister, Shawna are the highly talented, crafty people in our family. Maybe I was just excited about Christmas (that, however, IS TOTALLY me!), and the Craft Club was making Christmas decorations for the church and for our Christmas Train event. I figured as long as they didn’t put me on sewing and they showed me what to do I’d be fine.

I think I benefited more than they did!

Well, I really think they got the raw end of the deal, but I had a GREAT time! Except for maybe scalding my hands one too many times with a hot glue gun. I’m sure they never ceased to be amazed at how long it took me to complete a project. Those ladies, especially my mom, ran circles around me with embroidery too. I think my mom finished 4 embroidery pictures in the amount of time it took me to complete one. They can’t say I didn’t warn them though! Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my projects were lovingly “redone” or repurposed after I left! Ha!

Even if they didn’t get as much benefit from me, I sure will treasure the amount of wisdom, love, patience, empathy, fun, and knowledge (and I could go on) that I gained from my time with all of the amazing ladies that I worked with there. I will never forget some of the life lessons and multigenerational friends that I acquired over the years in Craft Club.

A sponge soaking up wisdom

I often say that I love being around older people and listening to them because I just feel like a sponge soaking up all of their wisdom. At the Craft Club we had women of all ages. However, we did tend to have a larger number of more “mature” women. Typically, we went to Craft Club during the daytime so it was really convenient for retired women. Each and every lady that I encountered there had a different lesson to teach me. Continue reading

How Christians Should Be Like Dust

How Christians Should Be Like Dust

How Christians Should Be Like Dust

This past week my family and I took a vacation to Colorado. It was amazing! Believe it or not, it was the first time I’ve ever seen the mountains up close and personal. Talk about amazing and inspiring…I could stay in the mountains for a LONG time and write and study and write and study… I’ll post a few of our pics on Instagram. In addition to sightseeing, hiking, and fishing, we participated in some pretty adventurous undertakings too! We did some summer alpine activities on a mountain in Breckenridge. We ziplined through the mountains (in the rain!), and we also went white water rafting.

While we were there, we also had an opportunity to attend a church bible study in Canon City with some family. The kids weren’t quite as excited as I was about this activity, but I sure enjoyed it! Call me crazy, but I eat that kind of stuff up. It’s super fun for me. I especially love gleaning wisdom from older, more experienced people. However, the coolest bit of insight I gained at this study was from my 15-year-old cousin. And of all things…her insight was about dust.

We are like dust

One of the passages we studied was Genesis 28:10-19 about Jacob’s dream at Bethel. My young cousin focused on verse 14 in this passage:

“Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions–to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants.” Genesis 28:14 (NLT)

She explained how this made her think of Christians being like dust, pointing out that dust spreads in all directions and gets everywhere. Then another lady brought up a verse that came to her mind which also indicates that we are like dust:

“For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” Psalm 103:14 (NLT)

Their conversation got my wheels turning about the qualities of dust and how we are to exhibit some of those same qualities as Christians. This also reminded me of when I studied salt and wrote previously about the qualities of salt and how we should be like it.

Let’s talk about some of the qualities of dust that we should emulate… Continue reading