Christians, We Need To Do Better.

“Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.” — Keith Green

Recently I was speaking with a friend who no longer attends church. “The church makes me sick. The people are intolerant, self-righteous hypocrites,” she said.


Of course, I could have gotten defensive. Honestly, I felt a little angry. But when I saw behind her anger, what I actually detected was pain. And so I listened. I listened to her speak about the contractor who took a downpayment for a job he never completed. The Bible study who shunned the gay teen. The Pastor who committed adultery. The prayer requests that turned into fodder for gossip. And believe it or not, there was more.

These are unfortunate and heartbreaking examples I wish I could say are out of the ordinary. But they’re not.

So, how did I respond to my friend? “I’m so sorry that your experience with people who call themselves Christians has been so hurtful. But that’s not Jesus.”

She shrugged. “But aren’t Christians—especially those who go to church— supposed to act like Jesus by following His example?”

That’s when I quoted Keith Green. “Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.”

She laughed. And so did I. But then the conversation got serious again.

Here’s the reality: Christians, we need to do better.

Why? Because people need Jesus. Because we—the church, the Christians—are supposed to represent Jesus. Because people are hungry for truth and for authentic. And quite frankly, they are sick of people who say one thing but do another. That is the definition of a hypocrite. The term “hypocrite” is from the Latin hypocrisies meaning “play-acting, pretense.” Which is exactly what people don’t want.

Many Christians today have fallen into a trap of pretending to have it all together. In fact, that’s a big reason we are called hypocrites. When we pretend to others, we have a tendency to become blinded to our own hypocrisy. This is very dangerous. Take a look at what Jesus had to say:“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27-28

Here’s the truth. All Christians fail to live up to the standard the Bible teaches. This includes me. This is why I need grace. This is why we need grace. But we shouldn’t hide the fact that we need grace as if Christians don’t make mistakes that require it.

I’m not saying to flaunt your mistakes. I’m saying, let people see the progress you are making as you grow in your relationship with Jesus.

We should be genuinely and actively seeking to grow more and more like Christ by allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us and change us. When we pretend on the outside, many times we aren’t allowing God to convict us on the inside. This is how Christianity appears hollow and phony.

The fact that we receive God’s grace on a daily basis is the very reason we will, in turn, extend grace to others.

Showing grace to others is a byproduct of receiving God’s grace.

This is how people will “see” Jesus in us. This is REAL.

If we aren’t awed by God’s daily love and grace, how will we be able to truly extend love and grace to a world that is desperate for it?

What are your thoughts?




Everyone wants to know the secret to something. Dieters want to know the secret to losing weight. Parents want to know the secret to raising responsible, loving children who will grow into productive members of society. And Christians want to know the secret to effective prayer. So, what’s the secret to real intimacy with our heavenly Father?

Let me start by saying, there is no magic formula for a productive prayer life. Having said that, the Bible gives us all the information we need to become prayer warriors—most of them we are familiar with. However, there are a few that don’t get the lip service they rightly deserve.

It’s no secret that Americans are busy. One Gallup poll indicates nearly half of us feel we don’t have enough time to do what we want to do. Books on time management find their way on the New York Times Best Sellers List on a regular basis. And yet, If Jesus is our example of proper time management, His bestseller—the Bible (the world’s best seller of all time) —will be ours.


The Bible tells us that Jesus often retreated to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16).

Jesus made sure to: pray often, alone, and in a quiet and uninterrupted place. We ought to do the same. 

But too often we bulldoze into our day without talking to God. Sure, we may take a moment to pray in the shower, or on our morning commute. There’s nothing wrong with praying during these times, but this is not the quality time necessary to deepen any relationship. We need to have a place where we can drown out the static of the world. A place where there is no motivation but to know our heavenly Father.

In the popular movie War Room, the lead actress (Priscilla Shirer) turned her closet into a place of prayer.

Do you have a place where you can go on a daily basis to be alone and uninterrupted with God?


Unfortunately, the word meditation has been associated with the New Age movement, or even carries a certain mystical connotation. But there is no hocus pocus involved in Christian meditation—it is rooted in the Bible. In fact, we are commanded to meditate.

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” Joshua 1:8

What is mediation?

“Biblical meditation is not about emptying your mind but filling it with truth. It simply means to read a passage of Scripture, think about it, and repeat it to yourself. It’s the first and most important step to memorizing Bible verses.” Rick Warren

Meditation should be solely on the Bible, characteristics of God, and what is revealed about Him.

It takes serious effort and concentration. But the payoff is priceless. “No other habit can do more to transform your life and make you more like Jesus than daily reflection on Scripture…” Rick Warren

We have many thoughts raging within our minds, even in our sleep. And yet, we don’t like to sit alone with nothing but our thoughts. Researchers at the University of Virginia and Harvard University found that many people would rather inflict pain on themselves than spend 15 minutes with nothing to do but think. Two-thirds of the men and a quarter of the women in the study decided to shock themselves rather than just sit and think. (study)

Our heavenly Father knows the benefits of making the time to remove ourselves from the busyness and constant stimulation of the world. We need to be alone with our thoughts in order to ascertain what is influencing and driving us. Christian meditation is not about emptying the mind as in other forms of meditation. God calls us to bring our thoughts to Him and allow Him to transform our thinking (Romans 12:2)

Our thoughts are transformed through meditation when we: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8


In many Christian churches today, fasting has become a lost discipline, rarely discussed or practiced. Chances are you are among the majority of Christians who rarely or never fast.

WHAT FASTING IS: Fasting is defined as voluntarily going without food and/or drink for a period of time in order to focus on deeper prayer and fellowship with God.

We can look at fasting as an exchange of physical needs for spiritual needs. (tweet this)

WHAT FASTING IS NOT: Fasting is not a special tool or method in which we manipulate God to respond like a genie in a bottle and grant our every wish.

Fasting is not just denying yourself of food. As stated above, it’s an exchange of physical needs for spiritual ones. Fasting is not a diet.

Scripture does not command Christians to fast. However, the Bible mentions fasting numerous times as something that is good, beneficial and rewarding. I think it’s worth noting that although Jesus didn’t speak too much on fasting during His ministry, the one time that He gave specific instructions on fasting, in Matthew 6:5-18, He started by saying: “when you fast,” not “if you fast.”


Fasting helps us draw closer to God. We acknowledge through fasting that we need God to live more than food. It should help us break away from the desire to satisfy our own lusts and materialism, thereby desiring God in a new, fresh way. Fasting can help us understand what the Psalmist meant when he wrote, “Like the deer that pants after water, my soul longs for You.” (Psalm 42:1)

Fasting fosters self-discipline in an undisciplined age. Have you noticed the age in which we live seem to despise discipline? We live in a very materialistic society where we are used to getting what we want rather quickly. It seems whether you live in an affluent country or poor one, the world today is becoming more and more interested in what their neighbor has. Even as far back as the 10 Commandments given to Moses, God talked about materialism and being satisfied with what you have.

Fasting provides a way to impose self-discipline in your life. Physical self-discipline “rubs off” into spiritual self-discipline.

Fasting provides guidance. “Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” (Acts 14:23)

The Israelites sought the Lord through fasting when they had been defeated in battle by the tribe of Benjamin in Judges 20:26-28.

Fasting shows humility and dependence upon God. King David was known as a man after God’s own heart. David shows us in Psalm 35:13 an example of humbling oneself before God. “Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them.  I denied myself by fasting for them, but my prayers returned unanswered.”

Fasting Empowers. I look at prayer combined with fasting as the TNT of a Christian’s weaponry arsenal.

The apostle Paul, in Ephesians 6:10-18, tells us that WE ARE AT WAR, not with flesh-and-blood enemies, but evil spiritual forces. He then describes heavenly spiritual armor that God provides for believers. A powerful part of our arsenal includes prayer, as well as prayer coupled with fasting.

When Jesus faced the temptation of Satan, he fasted (Luke 4:1-11). In Mark 9:29, we read that the disciples needed a power from God that comes only through fasting. Matthew 17:20 21 say that prayer with fasting can work spiritual miracles.

While there isn’t a magic formula for prayer, three unlikely secrets to incorporate into our lives are: establishing a secret place for prayer, meditation, and fasting.

What are your thoughts on these unlikely secrets to prayer?

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16

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Five Types Of Christians God Won’t Use

Five Types of People God Won't Use

It’s been over twenty years since I prayed this prayer: “Lord, take all of my life and use me however you choose.” Then I gulped, closed my eyes tightly and held my breath.

I knew I had made the most important commitment of my life—more important than getting married or having children. I gave complete control of my life to the Creator of the Universe. What would He do with me?

I just knew God was going to send me to some remote village in Africa. But He didn’t. I thought He would send me to work in a homeless shelter. But He didn’t. Or maybe He’d tell me to throw out all of my make-up products and go natural. But He didn’t. I expected a drastic event of some kind to take place. But it didn’t.

I desperately wanted God to use me.

This is what He did do: He showed me that ministry had to be on His terms, and not mine. His ways are not my ways. His thoughts are not my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).

God bends and breaks those who speak for Him. And I needed some bending, some letting go of fears, past hurts, and attitudes, and even some breaking.

Yeah, I know. It doesn’t sound appealing. This is because when we become Christians we expect that life will be better. Our definition of better is usually different than God’s. But God’s better is the BEST. This took me awhile to learn (I’m still learning).

It’s true that God can use anyone. He doesn’t show favoritism based on race, age, gender, marital status, sexual past or present, income, or any of our failures. But He will never lower His standards because His standards are true and right and the best; He uses only humble, obedient and surrendered followers.

Many Christians will not be of much use to God because of mindsets and behaviors that limit the Holy Spirit.

First Thessalonians 5:19 calls it “quenching the Holy Spirit.” I don’t know about you, but I need as much Holy Spirit in my life as possible. I never want to quench or suppress Him.

If you and I want God to use us, then let’s be careful not to fall into any of these categories:


There are many Christians who enjoy the benefits of salvation but never relinquish control from their tight little fists. Jesus is the savior as well as LORD. He deserves the right to not only guide our lives but override our attempts to make selfish and harmful choices. Holding onto control is pride. It is saying that you don’t trust God to handle your life.

If the Holy Spirit isn’t the one in control of your life, then SIN is in control. 

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6

If we want God to use us, then we must move over to the passenger seat and let the LORD drive.


Oh, how humans love to judge, criticize and blame—and we’re so good at it too! We should be. Humankind has been developing our inner critic since the Garden of Eden. The devil, the Accuser, (Revelation 12:10) was there to spur it on. So, if we are accusing and judging others, we are cooperating with the schemes of the devil.

The Holy Spirit will not work through people who are bitter, angry and judgemental.


The carnal mind is the mind of the flesh and senses. Our senses are an unreliable guide and often contradict the Word of God. We live in a time where it is not only popular but acceptable to lower our standard of moral behavior. It has become increasingly prevalent to live in sinful lifestyles that go against the word of God.

The world and the carnal mind shout things like: Follow your heart. Look out for number one. Do what feels good. The Bible tells us the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). To put others first (Philippians 2:3-4). And not to copy the patterns of the world, but to let God transform our thinking (Romans 12:1-2).

The flesh wants power, money and to be content at all times. We are inundated with messages that tell us what we must have in order to be happy. The Bible tells us if we love God, then we will not love the world and the things it offers (1 John 2:15).

Do not be fooled. Those who live in blatant sin and love the world will not be used by the Holy Spirit. Our usefulness to God is based on whether we are submitted to the sanctification process. This simply means we are in the process of surrender to God at all times.

Holiness is not optional in God’s economy.

“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21


Let’s face it, the Christian message is and always has been countercultural.

We need to face this fact as we choose to follow the Great Commission of sharing our faith (Matthew 28:16-20). When Jesus told us to go and make disciples it was a command. If we are not sharing the Good News, we are not obeying Christ—plain and simple.

Worry is another form of fear. Fear has the power to paralyze. This is why it’s such a popular tactic of the enemy. Fear simply stated is unbelief, which also reveals our lack of trust in God. Faith and fear cannot exist together. Our deliverance from fear is based on faith. We need to understand that faith is not something we generate on our own (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith is a gift. God gives us faith to be courageous.

If you’ve been stuck in fear, repent for your lack of faith and ask God to increase your courage. Memorize a few scriptures about courage to recite when you feel afraid. Here are a few: 1 Chronicles 28:20, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Ephesians 6:10, Deuteronomy 31:6-8

If we want God to use us, we must courageously step out of our comfort zones.


Somewhere in the midst of all the 21-century technology, we’ve lost the discipline of discipleship. God wants more than a quick prayer on our commute or a five-minute devotion read on our smartphones. Going to a weekend church service is great, but it doesn’t take the place of consistent one-on-one time with our heavenly Father.

We make time for the things that are truly important to us. If knowing God is important to you, it will show in your priorities.

If knowing God through His word and prayer matter to you, you’ll do it.

We must be consistent students of the Word who obey what it says. Obedience to the Word will show through our faith and faith will show in our actions. Service is a byproduct of a mature and growing Christian. If we want God to use us, we must make His word, prayer, and service priorities.

Halfhearted, lukewarm people don’t change the world. God calls us to be world changers!


5 Reasons I'm Patriotic and You Should Be Too.

Let me start with an admission: My view might be a bit biased. For you see, both sides of my family include veterans who’ve served this country. My oldest son followed in the footsteps of my father and is currently serving in the United States Air Force.

Two years ago, on the 4th of July, I stood with tears running down my face as I watched my son graduate from basic training in Texas.  It was hands down, the best Independence Day of my life (despite the heat and humidity)!

Kevin and me at his graduation from basic training in Texas. Biased or not, I believe that every Christian should be patriotic toward their country. Yes, this country has a bloody history. And yes, I realize we are smack in the middle of a bizarre political season where partisan angst divides both major parties, making it disconcerting for all Americans. But nonetheless, I still believe there are a number of reasons that Christians should be patriotic. Please allow me to share a few.

1. Freedom Is Not Free

Christians should understand the issue of sacrifice more than anyone. The  death of Christ was a horrendous, bloody, and selfless sacrifice. Though the death of mere mortals in no way compares to the death of Jesus, we should be humbly appreciative of those who’ve given their lives for this country (John 15:13).
Not a Christian?

2. We Are Christ’s Ambassadors Where We Are

It is Christ’s missional message to make disciples of all people. We cannot reach those whom we do not first love. The United States of America is our home and our mission field. Therefore, we must love this country and her people.
2 Corinthians 5:20, Acts 1:8

3. God Uses The Government For His Good

Every ruling authority that exists has been established by God (Romans 13:1-2). Those in authority are described as servants and ministers of God. God often uses the government for carrying out His purposes (Romans 13:4). Those in power hold their power because of God (John 19:10-11) and can be removed by God (Ps. 75:7, Daniel 2:21).

4. Our Nation’s Foundation Was God-Centered

Historical revisionists would like us to believe otherwise, but the founding of this nation was God-centered. Take a look at any number of our founding documents. See link below:

5. God  Commands Us To Be Thankful

As Americans, we have so much to be thankful for. If you are reading this, my guess is that your take-home income is more than a few dollars a day. And most likely you have access to clean water and a restroom. This is not so in many parts of the world.

One-third of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day.*One in ten people lack access to safe water. And one in three people lacks access to a toilet**

Always be joyful. Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This country may not be perfect, but as a Gallup poll from 2012 shows, however, there are 150 million adults worldwide that would permanently move to America given the opportunity. The next highest preference was the U.K., with 45 million, then Canada and France, with 42 and 32 million, respectively.

People around the world know that America is blessed!

My hope and prayer on this Independence Day: as you and I enjoy our freedom to celebrate—pause from the BBQ, family gatherings and fireworks to thank God for this great nation and the sacrifices made by so many.

Please join me in prayer for our country.

LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments”(Nehemiah 1:5). Please hear our prayer for The United States of America as we humbly seek You. Father, we thank you that we have the freedom to come before you, first because of what Christ has done, and secondly, because we live in a country that protects that very freedom.

We confess the many sins committed against you and ask that you would forgive us and heal this country (2 Chronicles 7:14). We pray for a revival of faith in Christ Jesus throughout the United States—in our homes, churches, businesses, and government.

God, your Word tells us, “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:10-24). As Christians, we exercise our authority over the enemy and rebuke the powers of darkness over our country, in the powerful name of Jesus (Luke 10:19)!

Where darkness of the enemy and sin have prevailed, Lord shine Your light! Shine over all government and military leadership, giving them wisdom to make godly decisions. We pray that you would rise up God-fearing leaders who put You and Your Word first. We pray for the courage of Your people to stand up for the truth of Your Word and to live it.

We praise Your Holy and Most High Name, Jesus Christ!


Of course, my list is not exhaustive. Perhaps you can think of other reasons to honor our country. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.



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Scott and Me Mountain hike

The Greatest Adventure Of Our Lives

My husband, Scott and I recently took up hiking. We started on a whim last summer. With our kids now young adults, we were looking for something to do together that would also keep us in shape. Scott loves adventure, spontaneity, and sports. I love routine, planned adventure (if that’s even a thing!) and jogging.

Hiking has been a bridge to our gaps. That is until Scott attempts to venture off the trail. You see, I like the trail. The trail satisfies the “planner” in me. The trail feels safe. The trial has been traveled. My adventurous man loves to go where few have traveled. He likes to climb up rocks, and trees.

I holler at his back as he hoists himself higher and higher. “Scaling rocks is not part of the trail. I am not a billy goat!”

He laughs and keeps on climbing. He reaches the top of a jagged peak and hollers down to me.

“Babe, you’ve got to see this!”

I crane my neck. He looks the size of an ant way up there. I shake my head violently to make sure he sees. “No, I don’t!”

He begins to climb down. I take a few steps back. Then a few more. I know what’s next. He’s going to try and get me to climb those jagged rocks! Now I begin to pray. Maybe you’re laughing too, but this man of mine is well known for his many injuries throughout the years. I have a problem with cuts, bumps and bruises while trying to enjoy nature. As I pray, I hear God’s still small voice in my spirit (1 Kings 19: 11-13).

I’m a God of adventure.

What? Oh, Lord.  I like safe and comfortable. And I thought you are a God of peace. This is not peace. This is scary!

Daughter, My perfect love casts out fear. I want to make your life a glorious adventure in which we travel together. I know how ambivalent your heart is to all of this. You long for the adventure that an abandoned life to Me can be, and yet at the same time, change frightens you. You feel safe and comfortable when things are predictable. In this way, you feel you have things under control. You are addicted to comfort, and control. I want you to break free and discover the adventures I have for you! That is when you will truly have peace—when you trust Me to be in control.

The greatest adventure of our lives is knowing God intimately and abundantly. God dearly wants each person to discover how wide and long and high and deep His love is for us (Ephesians 3:17-18). That kind of love can be overwhelming and even frightening. It takes faith and trust. I believe this is why many people, even Christians, choose to limit their knowledge of God. The more we know Him, the more we risk the possibility of being taken from our comfort zones. And how very sad this is. We have settled for mediocrity because it feels comfortable. All the while, we still battle fear. God wants so much more for us!

I get the feeling God is going to teach me many more lessons as Scott and I traverse our trails (or lack of trails!). But for now, I will ponder today’s lesson and I hope you will too: God is a God of adventure. He wants to break us free from mediocrity.

Scott stands with his hand extended, looking down at me with a smile. I take a deep breath, wipe a tear from my eye and take hold of Scott’s hand as God takes hold of my heart. Goodbye, comfort zone!

It’s time for an adventure!

Is God whispering to you to give up your addiction to comfort and control that results in mediocrity?


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Do You Like Brownies?

Dad’s Brownies

Two teenagers asked their father if they could go to the theater to watch a movie that all their friends had seen. After reading some reviews about the movie on the internet, he denied their request.

“Aw dad, why not?” they complained. “It’s rated PG-13, and we’re both older than thirteen!”

Dad replied: “Because that movie contains nudity and portrays immorality, which is something that God hates, as being normal and acceptable behavior.”

“But dad, those are just very small parts of the movie! That’s what our friends who’ve seen it have told us. The movie is two hours long and those scenes are just a few minutes of the total film! It’s based on a true story, and good triumphs over evil, and there are other redeeming themes like courage and self-sacrifice. Even the Christian movie review websites say that!”

“My answer is ‘no,’ and that is my final answer. You are welcome to stay home tonight, invite some of your friends over, and watch one of the good videos we have in our home collection. But you will not go and watch that film. End of discussion.”

The two teenagers walked dejectedly into the family room and slumped down on the couch. As they sulked, they were surprised to hear the sounds of their father preparing something in the kitchen. They soon recognized the wonderful aroma of brownies baking in the oven, and one of the teenagers said to the other, “Dad must be feeling guilty, and now he’s going to try to make it up to us with some fresh brownies. Maybe we can soften him with lots of praise when he brings them out to us and persuade him to let us go to that movie after all.”
The teens were not disappointed. Soon their father appeared with a plate of warm brownies which he offered to his kids. They each took one. Then their father said,

“Before you eat, I want to tell you something: I love you both so much.”

The teenagers smiled at each other with knowing glances. Dad was softening.

“That is why I’ve made these brownies with the very best ingredients. I’ve made them from scratch. Most of the ingredients are even organic. The best organic flour. The best free-range eggs. The best organic sugar. Premium vanilla and chocolate.”

The brownies looked mouth-watering, and the teens began to become a little impatient with their dad’s long speech.

“But I want to be perfectly honest with you. There is one ingredient I added that is not usually found in brownies. I got that ingredient from our own back yard. But you needn’t worry, because I only added the tiniest bit of that ingredient to your brownies. The amount of the portion is practically insignificant. So go ahead, take a bite and let me know what you think.”

“Dad, would you mind telling us what that mystery ingredient is before we eat?”

“Why? The portion I added was so small. Just a teaspoonful. You won’t even taste it.”

“Come on, dad, just tell us what that ingredient is.”

“Don’t worry! It is organic, just like the other ingredients.”


“Well, OK, if you insist. That secret ingredient is organic…dog poop.”
Both teens instantly dropped their brownies back on the plate and began inspecting their fingers with horror.

“DAD! Why did you do that? You’ve tortured us by making us smell those brownies cooking for the last half hour, and now you tell us that you added dog poop! We can’t eat these brownies!”

“Why not? The amount of dog poop is very small compared to the rest of the ingredients. It won’t hurt you. It’s been cooked right along with the other ingredients. You won’t even taste it. It has the same consistency as the brownies. Go ahead and eat!”

“No, Dad…NEVER!”

“And that is the same reason I won’t allow you to go watch that movie. You won’t tolerate a little dog poop in your brownies, so why should you tolerate a little immorality in your movies? We pray that God will not lead us unto temptation, so how can we in good conscience entertain ourselves with something that will imprint a sinful image in our minds that will lead us into temptation long after we first see it?

Today’s challenge:

“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.” 2 Timothy 3:16

Most of us like the first part of the sentence—scripture inspired by God that teaches us what is true. But the second part—make us realize what is wrong—we begin to put on the brakes. And that second sentence, well, we don’t really like so much at all. We don’t like looking at our wrongs. In fact, we’d rather hide those little sins (dog poop). Yes, we’ve become masters at hiding our “crap” in with good ingredients (chocolate). You know, good ingredients like, going to church, giving to the needy, etc. etc. The stuff people see on the outside. At least that’s what we hope. But here’s the truth. People know we have crap. How do they know? Because we are all human. And all humans sin and have the tendency to hide it. (for more on this subject, see:

Satan knows this strategy too. He realizes he cannot tempt us with dog poop brownies. No, he must hide the poop in with things that are sweet. But just like the teenagers in the story, we’ve allowed ourselves to be deceived by the dangers of allowing a little sin here or there into our lives.

We are living in times where the Word is being twisted and taken out of context in order to allow us freedom to justify sinful behavior. This is another way Satan uses God’s good ingredients and mixes in a little of his own. Our heavenly Dad’s Brownies contain only the finest ingredients and are not to be substituted! Friends, it’s time to get real.

How To Get Real

Just own it. Own up to ways you’ve comprised God’s best ingredients for poop.

Embrace the truth of God’s word that shows where you’re wrong.

Stop making excuses. You’re not fooling God, and most likely not anyone but yourself.

Untie yourself from things that lead you away from God.

Stay in the Word every day. The Word is a sword that cuts through Satan’s schemes.

As Christians, we are faced with difficult choices—especially in today’s culture. Should I watch this? Should I wear that? Should I say this? Should I agree with that? Should I ignore this? Should I speak up about that?

The answer is the same today as it’s always been: THE BIBLE. We’ll be deceived without it.

Happy Friday! Hope this has given you some food for thought (Psalm 34:8)
In Christ’s love,

The original author of the brownie story is unknown.
Picture from



“A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE.”  I bet you remember this iconic slogan created by an advertising agency more than four decades ago to promote the United Negro College Fund scholarship program. I bring this up to make two points: our minds are like sponges and should not be taken for granted.

The mind is a gift. What we think about—and don’t think about—is serious business to God. Especially considering the mind can potentially store 100 million thoughts. This is why we must be choosy about what we do with our minds.

I’m sure you’ve heard it stated that we are a culture of overstimulated minds. I agree with this, but I also think we are a culture of extremes when it comes to our minds. We are most likely either overstimulated or on autopilot. You know what I’m talking about. Have you ever been driving and suddenly realize you’re almost home and you don’t even remember getting there? It’s kind of scary, actually.  There could have been an accident.

Our minds are so stimulated these days that we are desperate for respite.

Unfortunately, we don’t give our minds the kind of respite it truly craves. Instead, we allow it to become idle.

Idle : not working, active, or being used. not having any real purpose or value. not having much activity. lacking worth or basis.

Idleness means you have no particular goal in mind and thus you can be easily distracted. I think overstimulation has left us more susceptible to distraction. Sin is an easy distraction that begins in the mind. You don’t have to be doing anything or acting out in any way to sin. It comes so naturally that we don’t even realize it’s happening most times.

We tend to let our minds wander, thinking about whatever it wants. Our minds are a haven for sin— tucked back in the innermost parts where no one can see. It’s the perfect spot for those dirty pictures, movies, and past sexual experiences. Or how about those angry, jealous, prejudice, covetous and downright hateful thoughts? All of this can be going on while we engage in conversation, do our jobs, drive our cars, and tuck our children in bed at night.  

If the mind is a battlefield, an idle mind is the devil’s playground. It’s easy to allow ourselves to believe we aren’t in control of what we think since thoughts tend to fly in and out all day long—even while we sleep. But the truth is, we can have more control over our thoughts than we give credit to.

How To Control Your Thoughts

In Romans 12:2, the apostle Paul challenges us to renew our minds. In Philippians 4:8, Paul also tells us the types of things to fix our minds upon. Second Corinthians 10:5 says to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  Romans 8:6 says, “letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to light and peace.” And finally,  as Christ-followers the Bible tells us we have “the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

So, a Christian IS, in fact, able to control his/her thoughts through the power of the Holy Spirit! Allowing our minds to become idle means it’s not under Christ’s authority. This is why the Bible warns us to “stay alert” (Ephesians 6:18) and to fix our minds on godly things” (Philippians 4:8, Isaiah 26:3).

The Trouble With Idle Thoughts

The Bible gives us many disastrous results of a mind not fixed on godliness. But King David’s example is heartbreaking (2 Samuel 11). It all starts when David abandons his purpose by staying home from war. He allows his mind to become idle, leaving him open to temptation which eventually turns to sin when he takes another man’s wife. The sins continue to mount when the woman, Bathsheba, becomes pregnant. David tries to cover up the sin with deception. He then murders Bathsheba’s husband. Eventually, his many sins are exposed but the consequences were far-reaching. Not only does the baby die, but eventually his own sons rebel against him.

Indeed, the mind is a terrible thing to waste. So, let’s not waste it by allowing dangerous idle thoughts to have control. We’ve got the power to take charge of our thought life by living in submission to Christ. And prayer is the best place to begin.

Prayer: Father God, I don’t want my sinful nature to control my thoughts. I realize that idle thoughts can easily lead to sin. Your Words says if I allow the Spirit to control of my mind it leads to light and peace. I take captive thoughts like_______(fill in the blank) and bring them into submission to Christ Jesus right now. When sinful thoughts come in, I will continue to submit them to you and then fix my mind on Your promises and things that are good and worthy of praise.


“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” 

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Balloon-Prayers that make it past the ceiling

When my son, Kevin was four-years-old, I bought him a helium filled balloon. As soon as we got outside, he intentionally let the balloon go. He watched as it floated higher and higher in the sky until he couldn’t see it any longer. Then he exclaimed with delight, “Take care of my balloon, Jesus.”

Later that evening as I thought about Kevin’s sweet gesture and contemplated how many times I have released prayers to heaven like a balloon. Yet, at times, I really wasn’t sure if those prayers reached their destination.

For many of us, as we grow older, the struggles of life seem to have crashed over us like violent waves on the ocean. We become jaded and lose hope that God really hears or cares about our little prayers. Still others have grown up in the ritual of religion. We attend church out of duty and our prayers have become stale and cliché.


Prayer is simply communication with God. But this isn’t just any communication. This is our creator, the Almighty God we’re addressing. Let’s face it, talking to an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God requires some faith. The good news is, God has seen to it that we each are given the gift of faith.

“ accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:6

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (emphasis added)

I don’t know about you, but  sometimes I wonder if whatever faith God gave me, is buried too deep in my own doubts. I’ve often felt like the father in the book of Mark who asked Jesus to heal his son.

“Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 
Mark 9:21-25

This is exciting because even though God has given us faith, it can be increased!



Or at least listen to it. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Romans 10:17

Reading the Bible is like planting a garden. God’s word is the seed that we must tend to regularly or it will wane. We must become familiar with the Bible by reading and meditating on its contents. If your faith is feeling weak or not existent, reading the Bible is the first place to start. Take a look at what Jesus says in Mark 24:

“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Mark 4:24-25 NIV

God expects us to grow our faith through His word.


“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” James 1:22-24

In order to increase our faith, we must not only read the word but put it into action by living our lives according to it.


I’m not talking about testing God to see how far His patience will go. I’m referring to proving God is faithful and true to His word. Look for God’s goodness and activity in your life as you put His word into practice. Malachi 3:9-11 (NIV) offers one way the Lord says we can prove Him faithful to His Word. “Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” As we prove God, our trust in Him grows which fuels our faith.

Trials and difficulties are a way that God strengthens our trust in Him, thereby increasing our faith. No one escapes hardships. What’s important is how we respond to them.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3 NIV

God furnishes the means whereby faith can be increased: reading the Word, applying the word by putting it into practice, and proving the Word of God faithful.

In this way, our prayers will make it past the ceiling!

Need prayer? Post in comments below or send me an email.

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Is Lying Always Wrong?

“Mommy, are you mad?”

It was 3:33 am when my precious four-year-old daughter, Charity woke me. I know this because I squinted to focus on those dreaded red digital numbers glowing from my nightstand.Our entire family had been sick with the flu. So yeah, I was mad to be awakened. Did I tell her that? Of course not.

I pulled her into bed with me. “No, baby. I know you’re sick.”

Did I tell a lie to my daughter? Well, technically I did. She asked if I was mad because, in our home, everyone knows they’ll face my wrath if they dare awaken me in the middle of the night. Even though I’m a morning person, they also know not to talk to me until after my first cup of coffee as well (smile). My initial reaction to Charity was that of anger, but it was instantly obliterated by love and compassion.

I wholeheartedly believe in the 9th commandment. I believe that God wants us to be people of truth. However, I have come to the conclusion that telling the truth is more than just not telling lies. What I mean is, there’s a difference between lying and not telling the truth.

In my research on this subject, I have learned that theologians are divided on this issue. Some—like Saint Augustine—believed that it is never permissible to lie. But others—like The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer disagrees. Bonhoeffer proposed that God’s standard of truth entails more than merely “not lying.” Rather, to be true to God in the deepest way means being obedient to God, not merely conforming to “rules”—a kind of blind legalism. He believed there are situations where it is not only morally permissible to lie, but obedience to God requires it. And so he lied when he involved himself in deception after deception as he conspired against Hitler and the Nazi regime in WWII. On April 9, 1945, he was seen  kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God just before his execution.

I realize the example I gave about my daughter is small compared to Bonhoeffer’s. It’s minuscule actually. But I believe the ethics behind the action are the same, and that is why I agree with Bonhoeffer. I also agree with Rehab, the prostitute in Joshua chapter six who lied in order to preserve a higher moral imperative—preserving the lives of two Jewish spies.

Please understand that I am not saying that all moral judgements are relative. Rather, I think there is a hierarchy of values that should be relevant when making moral decisions. Truth telling holds a high value unless something greater trumps it.

I’m not suggesting that lying is ever right. What I’m proposing is, lying is indeed justified for a greater good. Knowing the greater good requires wisdom. True wisdom comes from God, the source of all truth (Proverbs 2:6, James 3:17, Isaiah 65:16, Psalm 33:4). Deception is always wrong, but in some cases, it can be less wrong. As the saying goes, we may need to choose between the lesser of two evils.

All of that being said, the main objective or principle for telling the truth shouldn’t be about what is morally prudent for us, but what would be most pleasing and honoring to God.

What do you think? Please join the conversation in the comments below.

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Inspire Me Monday – Week 231


Stop Lying To Yourself

Humans are masters of deception. We don’t like to admit it, but it’s in our nature to cover things up.

The first sin in human history started with a lie when Adam and Eve tried to cover the result of that sin.

We lie to avoid punishment and embarrassment.

We lie to gain advantage and self-esteem.

We lie to keep doing what we want.

Lying begins at a young age when children learn how to avoid punishment. Often when a child is punished for lying, rather than doing it less, they learn to get better at it.

Winston Churchill once stated, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”

A fundamental question we will face in this life is: What will be my authority? Will it be public opinion or what God says is true?


“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6

God not only is truth, he desires truth. He wants us to be honest with Him, with others and with OURSELVES.

“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” John 8:31-32

If we lie to ourselves, we are likely to lie to others. Lies, especially the ones we tell ourselves, stunt our spiritual growth and keep us from the freedom Christ desires for us to experience.

If we cannot be real even in our own head, how can we truly grow?

God knows the devastation that comes from lying and wants to protect us from it.

“Do not steal. Do not deceive or cheat one another.” Leviticus 19:11
“Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.” Colossians 3:9


As a kid, I was terrified of quicksand. I thought that quicksand was this mysterious mud that was lurking just around the corner. I was always on the lookout for it. But as I got older, I discovered that quicksand is an unrealistic threat. Or so I thought. . .

Lies are a lot like quicksand. They appear to be a non-threat. But once you’re sucked in, they cover you in darkness, distorting TRUTH. Then the darkness begins to feel warm and comfortable. And before you know it, you’re alright with it. Forward motion and growth are nonexistent.


Because we are masters of deception (some more than others), we even fool ourselves into believing things that are false—and we refuse to believe things that are true.

How do you know if you’re not being honest with yourself?

The first indication is feeling uncomfortable with the idea that perhaps you are indeed keeping things hidden from yourself.

Remember, we keep things hidden in order to protect ourselves or to keep doing something we want to do. But God is a much better protector than we are. He wants to free us— even from ourselves (John 8:31-32).


“Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.”
Psalm 119:29NLT

Emotional state

We’ve all experienced hurt and disappointment. Sometimes those emotions trick us into thinking things that aren’t actually true. If we are emotionally reactive to something or someone, it may remind us of something painful or unresolved in our lives. It’s these areas where telling the truth to ourselves is difficult.

For example: If you struggle with trust issues based on past hurt, you may find yourself anxious, angry or scared to trust a new friendship. You may find yourself reacting to a new relationship in ways that are not warranted. In fact, your reaction is most likely based on who you are and your unresolved issues, and not the new friend.

When you find yourself having a strong emotional reaction to something or someone—pause. Ask yourself: Is this emotion related to the present or is it triggering unresolved baggage?

Notice Your Thoughts

We all want to believe our thoughts are an accurate reflection of reality. Unfortunately, our thoughts can be extremely inaccurate. Often, our inaccurate thinking reflects painful realities that we don’t want to admit.

Think about the last time something really hurt you or made you extremely angry. I’m not talking about the person who cut you off on the freeway. I mean to search your heart and mind.

Did you think of it?

Now, take that person or issue before the Lord. It could be that the one you feel hurt or disappointed by is the Lord. It’s no secret to Him. It’s time to stop hiding behind emotions. If we want honesty, this is where it begins.

Ask God to reveal the TRUTH.

Then WAIT.

Sit still and be patient.

You may want to journal what God reveals.

Notice Your Behavior

When your behavior is not consistent with who you want to be—pause.

Invite God into the situation for truth and clarity.

Ask yourself: What is motivating this behavior? What do I need to admit to myself about this behavior?


His arm is not too short to reach us, even in the quicksand of our lies. We all need a good dose of honesty.

Has God seemed distant to you lately? It could be that He’s calling you to be honest with yourself and with Him.

“Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you,   nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore. . .So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm,  and his justice sustained him.”
Isaiah 59:1-2, 16.

Spiritual growth begins with honesty. Honesty begins within our own heart and mind. We must be real inside first.

Let’s stop hiding. Let’s stop pretending. Let’s be honest.

Call out to God today and may God bless you with courage as you strive to move forward in TRUTH.

I’ve included a fantastic song about honesty below. My prayer is that it leads you to God’s truth, love, grace, and mercy. He’s waiting for you with open arms.


Comments are always welcome!

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