A Ring

Woven into our study of Ephesians this past semester, a very intelligent teacher has come to share her knowledge of Christian martyrs. Last week we heard about a man by the name of Thomas Cranmer. He ended up being very well liked by King Henry VIII. So much so that Thomas was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. However, not everyone was a fan and the kings council worked up a plan to arrest Thomas. King Henry heard about this plan and not only warned Thomas, but gave him his royal ring. When the men came to carry out their plan, Thomas heard them out and then showed them the ring. I would have loved to have been in that room!

You see, the ring held the authority of the king. With Thomas possessing the royal ring, he could have very easily turned and had the accusing council thrown into jail. The ring was power. Something so small, but because it bore the seal of the king, it had the final word.

When our teacher mentioned the royal ring, I immediately pictured the cross. The work of Christ on the cross and our response to it, act as our royal ring. Like the council came for Thomas, satan comes for each of us. His plan isn’t new. In fact, he started with Adam and Eve in the garden. He would love nothing more than to arrest us with lies and lead us into the slavery of sin. But again, we have a choice. Look at Galatians 5:1 where Paul says, “For freedom, Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to the yoke of slavery.” Who doesn’t want to be free?

Go back with me to Galatians 2:20 and read these freeing words. “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Because Christ, the Son of God, willingly gave his life for ours, we can live in freedom. We do not have to live like our old selves. We do not have to live in fear and shame. We can live in freedom by standing firm in our faith because we know who gave himself in our place. So to the devil we show our royal ring by pointing him to the cross! We remind him that as believers, we are sealed by the King of kings and Lord of lords!





Today the younger kids and I planned on joining in on a field trip to the zoo. We got all ready and headed out only to get stuck in a huge line of cars. After waiting our turn, we finally got to the overflow parking lot and I kinda made my own space. EVAs we walked closer to the entrance, we were met with a sea of people. More buses than probably our school district owns and lots and lots of strollers. The kids were excited and I was mentally preparing for the wait to even get into the zoo. Then it hit me, we don’t have to do this. We stopped right there on the sidewalk with people going around us and I told the kids the situation. This place is going to be nuts and I asked if they would want to make a new plan. What if we took the money we would have spent going to the zoo and spend it on a toy instead? One of them actually said, “Now that’s a field trip!” We tracked back to our car, moved an orange cone and were on our way. A choice was made and we had a great time!

You know every now and again, people will ask me about having 7 kids and how am I so calm. This question is almost always asked when the kids aren’t with me. I finally came up with an answer. It’s a choice. I can choose to be calm or I can let anger, frustration, stress and outside circumstances dictate how I act. You know who pays the price? My husband, kids, friends or any other poor sap who would have happened to get in my way at the zoo. The worst part is it must grieve the heart of God. If I say I am a believer of Jesus and my desire is to reflect Him, what am I saying to others about who He is?

Look at Ephesians 4:31-32 with me. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” I know for a fact that I have and do display all of these bad things at one point or another. I’ve held onto bitterness and let my wrath rise. Oh, and the evil speaking, yes that too. I would add in that for me, when I am afraid, it comes out in anger. However, we are told that this shouldn’t be. We are to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving and these are the total opposite of what came naturally for me. What makes all the difference is when you not only accept and believe, but let Christ forgiveness become part of you. It then is what naturally flows out of your heart.

Do I still have struggles with my anger? You bet. Do I just love everyone? Some people are harder than others for me to love, but I try to because the deep root of God’s love in me. The conviction that comes quickly is pretty helpful when I’m not pouring out what has been freely given.

Keep reading what comes next in Ephesians 5:1-2. “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.” In order to imitate someone, you have to get to know them, study all you can and talk with them every chance you get. This takes time and discipline, but it gets easier the more in love you fall with God.

I would give anything to go back in time and walk in love, treating others differently. So many words I carelessly let fly and hardened my heart to those who I found difficult or not like me. Sometimes a girl that has grown up in the church and takes in all the right information, but lets it stop in her head, can be a very poor reflection of love. But, I have a choice.  I can begin again and each new day. “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 4:22-23) This tells me that the Lord has mercy on us, His compassion doesn’t run out and He is faithful.

May each of us look more like the forgiving Christ in the way we walk this weekend. I pray others notice and tell you so!

What to Wear

I have this little 4 year old daughter, who really is something. She changes princess gowns several times a day and uses more lipgloss than all of us put together. VIV.jpgShe speaks about Jesus and loves going to Bible study. A beauty inside and out. Yesterday was no different and she had on a beautiful costume. I told her, “You look just like a princess.” She responded with, “That’s because I am one!” And there you have it. She knows who she is and dresses accordingly. Sounds so simple if you are 4 doesn’t it?

I got a little bit of a taste of this princess experience a few weekends ago, when my husband and I went to a fundraiser that required cocktail attire. How fun! There is something about stepping out of your ordinary into something saved for the occasional. Jeans get old and Sunday outfits don’t express much. Because I know who I belong to, “the King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16), it makes sense that I dress in a royal way. However, that isn’t always practical and serving my family in jeans is much easier. So, I’m thinking I will look at the other ways we can dress like daughters of the King.

The Bible talks about the things we put on. We can turn to the book of Proverbs and read about a woman where “strength and honor are her clothing” (Proverbs 31:25). I think these come in all our sizes and we should daily put them on. We can flip to Ephesians, a book I have been studying with an incredible group of women, and see lots of things we need to put on and never hang back up in our closet.

The man writing the book is named Paul and he says we are to “put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11) Paul then goes on to list out each piece of armor starting with “the belt of truth” (Ephesians 6:14). Today in our study we heard how truth is foundational. And guess what? There is only one unchanging truth and that is God’s Word. Once you get your truth in place, you put on “the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14). Sometimes Christians toss around words that not everybody knows exactly what they mean. Righteousness can be one of those words. Good ole Webster defines righteousness as “acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin”. Only the acceptance of the work of Christ on the cross covers us in righteousness. The thing that strikes me about a breastplate is that it covers your heart. Sounds extremely important, doesn’t it?

We keep going and Paul tells us what shoes we need to be wearing. He says “shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Shoes of peace that never go out of style. I wonder how people would react to us if when we stepped into a room, we brought peace? Next, we are to be holding “the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16). If and when darts come a flying, you better believe I want to be carrying a shield to protect myself. It might seem like a rather large accessory, but trust me, faith is essential. On our heads we are to put on “the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17). Keep the truth of Christ saving you from your sin and eternal life as your future, firmly in place. Satan will come at you with his lies to make you doubt, but you keep reminding yourself of your salvation. The last piece is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Your sword that can be used to defend and fight back against evil and all this changing world tries to throw at you. However, a word of caution. Don’t go around wielding your sword and hurting people. Its my experience that people captive in their sin don’t need a slash with a word from my sword.

So, back to my princess dress wearing daughter. We went outside yesterday to play and she was again dressed as royalty. She told me, “I’m ready for the ball”. She looked stunning in the sunlight. However, a wardrobe change happened during our play time. She ran inside and came out wearing a black top and black leggings. She had put her hair up in a knot on top of her head. Soon, she picked up a kid safe bow and arrow and took aim. The contrast in her appearance shocked me a bit, but what a picture! We too can be a princess always ready and engaged in the battle! Maybe we won’t be wearing a beautiful ball gown, but jeans become royal when they are worn by royalty.

*As I was typing this, Tony Evans sent out this tweet: “You have royal blood flowing through your veins. Hold your head up, you represent the King of Kings.” Amen!!



Shocked and Encouraged

Yesterday while driving to pick up the kids from school, I was listening to a teaching by Dr. Tony Evans. The man loves the Lord and His Word. He has a way of proclaiming truth with a bit of excitement. It is quite refreshing. The message is entitled The Kingdom Agenda and it is worth listening to for yourself. Not to far into it, Dr. Evans begins reading Psalm 128. This may not mean much to you, but for me it is significant. This is where I got the name for this blog and it is a promise. God’s promises throughout the Bible often give you instructions to follow in order to see the promise. I’ll type it out for you:

“Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine. In the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life, yes, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!” Psalm 128

We are given so much instruction here. God clearly states we are to fear Him and walk in His ways. How do we do that? Start back in Exodus 20 and read the ten commandments given to us by God. Then jump into the New Testament and read John 13:34. It says “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you may love one another.”  Much easier said than done at times. Some people can be a challenge. I’m pretty sure I am a challenge to some as well. Anyways, keep yourself in the Bible and “walking in His ways” becomes clearer and your heart  responds to what you learn.

Continuing on in Dr. Evans message, he talks about the table. I’m not sure what your table looks like and who sits across from you, but I do know it should be an important place. He talked about his table and what they used mealtime for. We could have very well been sitting at the same table! So much laughter, planning, scripture reading, prayer, dreams and at times discipline take place here. Sometimes I look around as we all are sitting together and know this too won’t last. One will leave for college in a few years and others will follow. Our “olives” will grow up and the Lord will plant them elsewhere.

My prayer for all of us today is that we will fear, trust and obey the Lord. That we will walk in the instructions He has in place for us. I pray you experience happiness and blessings in your obedience. And whatever stage your olives are in, I pray you are passing on love that makes for deep roots.





It’s True

I’ve found that even though I’m 43 years old, there is still this need for me to gain my dads approval. When I write a new post, I send him the link to check it out. I kinda hold my breath a bit, waiting to see what he will say. The other day when I wrote was no different. I typed out a bit about my experience with loss and the suffering that follows. He reminded me of verses we shared in December. It’s found in the book of John. It appears that some followers of Christ stopped following him because his teaching was hard to accept. Then this happens. “So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘You don’t want to go away too, do you?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69)

I looked back in my Bible and this was the passage that I read days after this past death. It was the words I needed and exactly what my heart knew to be true. My dad texted back these wise words, “I absolutely hate some of the significant losses we’ve faced. However, our options as Christians are limited…and that’s a good thing. Because it brings us back inevitably to the only One that can really help.” To deny how we feel about a situation and pretend everything is ok, just isn’t being real. However, being able to find comfort in your suffering, that is only done by the One living inside of you.

I’ll tell you this and not in a boastful way, but as a testimony to this being true. I had gone to the doctor for weeks by myself for sonograms and blood work during the last pregnancy. When you’ve had 7 children, this all can become routine. This day turned out to be nothing like I had expected. You see the heart beating and the little body forming week after week. Then the next time you go, the heart has stopped and mine did a little too that day. My doctor, nurse and sonogram tech were beyond kind. I was hugged and comforted with such compassion. Then it was time for me to leave the office, which is in a hospital, and I wasn’t sure I could do it. How do you walk out after you walked in excited, but you are leaving completely crushed? There was only one option. I needed the Lord’s help. He would enable me and he did. Not only that, but when I passed people walking in, I looked into their eyes and smiled. Because I did not know what news they would leave with or maybe what loved one they were visiting in the hospital. So, I gave what I had and knew it was not in my own strength.

If you keep reading in the book of John, you come to this truth. “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33) It’s true. Our only real peace, joy, comfort and help comes from the One who conquered the world. We can live courageously knowing to whom we belong and what he has done. We can keep close to the One who offers us an entire book, the Bible, filled with words of life. Don’t go a day without filling your mind and heart with these words. You can not give what you do not have. Trust me, it makes all the difference.

Even If

I’ve started listening to Mercy Me again after seeing the I Can Only Imagine movie. One song in particular has gotten me thinking. It’s called Even If and the words are ever so true. The chorus goes “I know you’re able and I know you can, save through the fire with your mighty hand, but even if you don’t, my hope is you alone.” If you’ve lived more than a day, there are things that have happened that don’t make sense. Your plans didn’t work out or the healing did not come. You might have asked the age old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”. Maybe you just haven’t been able to get your mind and heart around the fact that you prayed, you sought the Lord and put your trust in Him. However, the total opposite happened. Can God be trusted now? Well, that depends on who you know God to be. Do you know and trust in the one and only God? Do you believe in the God who not only created the entire world, every human, animal, plant and the list could go on? Do you trust in the God who loves you so much that He sent His Son to pay the price for your sin? After the death of His Son for us sinners, He brought Him back to life on the third day and then He took Him home. Does this sound like the God you know and trust?

The song continues, “They say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain. Well, good thing, a little faith is all I have right now. But God, when you choose to leave mountains  unmovable, give me the strength to be able to sing it is well with my soul”. mustard picThis reminds me of the verse in Matthew 17 where Jesus says, “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you”. Have you ever seen the size of a mustard seed? One of my boys recently brought a small container of them to me. My husband had put some in a bottle to remind me to have faith, even a little. I shared with him this verse and said from what I understand, they can grow to like 15 feet. Doing a little more research showed me they can be anywhere from 6 to 30 feet! His response amazed me. He said, “I wonder what 1,000 seeds could do?”. What could 1,000 peoples faith planted together look like? Maybe you’ve been apart of a church, concert or conference and seen this first hand. It’s pretty powerful.

However, this doesn’t answer our question of what if that mountain does not move? The healing, provision, protection or whatever else you have asked the Lord in faith for, has not moved. Now what? I can give you a few examples here, but my story might not even come close to yours, but suffering is suffering to me.  Almost 7 years ago my mom died from cancer. Did we not pray enough? Was our faith not the right size? Did God not see this diagnosis coming? There’s more. For the past two Christmases , as we have celebrated the birth of baby Jesus, we have simultaneously mourned the death of two babies, miscarried before we ever got to meet them. How does this fit with the faithful, powerful, mountain moving God I believe in? Am I going to continue to trust Him after all of this? My honest answer, that comes with every bit of my heart, is simply yes. How can I not? Has He not been faithful to carry me close during these heartbreaking deaths? Absolutely! I have not a clue how anyone who doesn’t know the Lord even gets through a good day, much less a crushing, changes everything kind of day.  Goodness, I could type pages of scripture that the Lord led me to during the early days that followed. His love for me has never been louder than it was then. Do I understand? I really don’t, but I trust Him. I can say with certainty it is definitely well with my soul. It is well because I know the One who knows when to move mountains and when to leave them right where they are.