Who Determines Our Worth?

When was the last time you felt foolish… or embarrassed… or humiliated? Pick one. It probably hasn’t been that long ago. You may have felt shame as well.

All those labels try to attach themselves to us when we’ve done something, or been blamed for something that threatens our self-image.  Our self-esteem: something the world works very hard to build up and then tear down over and over.

You constantly hear the concept of self-esteem thrown around. “We need to build our child’s self-esteem.” Doesn’t that actually mean that we are trying to make our child see his identity as something he must maintain by himself?

This is never what the Father intended. We aren’t meant to have to work so hard to keep up an image of who we think we should be.  But back to those words again… embarrassed, humiliated, foolish… aren’t those just words that describe our feelings when our carefully designed self-image is threatened?

If we knew who we really were, would we be inclined to be so concerned about our image? If we recognized that we are heirs to the King would we be as sensitive about what people think? If we constantly evaluate life through the lens of self-esteem and reputation we miss the point.  Nothing… nothing we could ever say or do will make us more God’s child or less God’s child.

Our identity is secure. We are who HE says we are. The Father has determined our value and nothing can change it.  We are His and He determined that we were worth His Son’s blood. Perhaps we don’t need as much SELF-esteem as we think. We certainly don’t need to feel shame that we don’t measure up to someone else’s standard.

Psalm 71:1 says, “In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed.”

We need to rejoice that we have been redeemed and that God calls us His beloved children. We have no need of anyone else’s opinion.

Are you secure in WHOSE you are?

We’re in This Race Together

During the 2016 Summer Olympics, we saw a wonderful example of sportsmanship. But I think we saw much more than that.

In an incident during the women’s 5000 meter race, two runners, Abbey D’Agostino (United States) and Nikki Hamblin (New Zealand) collided. Abbey stopped to help Nikki up and they continued. Soon, Abbey realized she had suffered a more serious injury and struggled to complete the race. Nikki returned the favor and helped Abbey up and they finished the race together. Because of their example of sportsmanship, they both earned a place in the finals.

I just finished a study of First Corinthians and at the conclusion of the study we tried to summarize Paul’s purpose in writing the letter to the Corinthians. What was he after?

I think Paul wanted them to realize that they weren’t in this world to make a life for themselves. He wanted them to understand that they were all in this together. He taught them to worship together and to work towards unity.

Those two Olympic runners had trained and worked for years to have a shot at competing in an arena most of us would never dream of. They came from different countries but had the same goal on that day. When the race began they were focused on one thing, running that race with all they had and achieving their goal.

But then something happened. A collision of their bodies and their worlds. They both made the same choice to put another’s needs before their own. They both risked losing all they had worked for in order to help a fellow runner.

In First Corinthians, Paul asks the church to do the same thing. To come together, to look out for one another and to serve the body of Christ.

Are you willing to set your own goals aside at times in order to help another brother or sister in Christ?

“Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable,  so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other.  So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” – 1st Corinthians 12:24-26(CSB)


Biblical Ways to See 20/20 in 2020

During the Christmas holidays, we watched the movie “The Santa Clause.” In one scene, an elf says to Santa, “Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.” Who would have thought that a movie about Santa would have such a profound biblical truth?

Isn’t that what faith is—believing before we see?

I’ve been thinking about that and about the new year. I’ve been asking God what I should focus on for 2020. Suddenly it occurred to me that there was a play on words there. The best way to focus is to have 20/20 vision.

What would it take to have 20/20 vision in a spiritual sense? Here is what I believe the Lord showed me.

1. Take care of your eyes.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,” – Matthew 6:22

2. Guard your eyes.

“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.” – Psalm 101:3

3. Ask for your eyes to be opened.

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” – Psalm 119:18

4. Ask for your eyes to be turned.

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” – Psalm 119:37

5. Ask for your eyes to be enlightened.

“Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,” – Ephesians 1:18

6. Clean out your eyes.

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” – Matthew 7:3

7. Look beyond what you think you can see.

“As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:19

8. Lift up your eyes.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From where does my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” – Psalm 121:1-2

My challenge for 2020 is to ask God to help me become more intentional about these 8 ways improve my spiritual vision. As I do this, I believe God’s priorities will come into focus.

Will you join me in this challenge?

Mary and Joseph’s Packing List








unnamedThey embarked upon a journey that neither of them had chosen. They were compelled by the government to take a trip that would take them eighty miles from their home. Mary was not just a little pregnant, she was, according to the scriptures, “great with child.” She knew her time was near and yet she had to travel a long and difficult journey that would take about a week to complete.

What did she pack to take on her trip? Only what she and Joseph could carry themselves. There were no luggage handlers to load and unload their baggage. There were no suitcases with wheels and handles. Mary and Joseph didn’t take several changes of clothes, toiletries or reading material to entertain them on their journey. They didn’t take an extra pair of shoes or dress clothes for an evening out while they were away. They likely only packed the bread they would eat on the trip and perhaps a blanket or two if they had an extra. Talk about traveling light!

But they took one other thing with them. They took a complete trust in their Heavenly Father who had told them He would care for them.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”Psalm 23:1 (ESV)

They knew God would care for them because He had promised to do so and they believed Him. That doesn’t mean they didn’t fight some doubt but after all, if Mary was in the final days of her pregnancy, they’d had several months to wrestle with their doubts. I would like to think that by this time they were beginning to have some assurance in their hearts that God would keep His promise to them. He’d already seen them through the long pregnancy and the ridicule that they likely experienced from their friends and family.

They knew what a shepherd’s job was. They knew that if God was their shepherd, he would lead them and feed them. He would also protect them, provide shelter and keep them safe. He would care for their every need like he’d been doing since the day the angel had told them of the coming of their son, Jesus.

They were indeed, as helpless as sheep. They were vulnerable and weak. But they knew their shepherd was able to meet their needs. They were in want of nothing.

What do you need from your shepherd? Do you believe He is able and willing to care for you? Spend a few moments this Christmas season thanking Him for all the ways He gently and lovingly cares for you.

For the Lord is your shepherd, you shall not want.

Which Will You Choose?

“Ignorance is bliss.” I’m sure everyone is familiar with this phrase. Or, how about “what you don’t know can’t hurt you?”

I think most of us at times, would like to think that we can hide behind ignorance. If we don’t know about it then we don’t have to worry about it and we aren’t responsible to do anything about it either. But God has a different view of ignorance.

In Ezekiel 45:20 the priest is told to atone for the sins committed in ignorance. It was still sin even though the sinner was unaware that he was sinning.  And in Ephesians 4:20 Paul says that the Gentiles had been “excluded for the life of God because of their ignorance.” That doesn’t sound like bliss to me.

So, if ignorance is not a good thing, what other options do we have? I can see only two.

We can rebel and turn away from what we know or we can be obedient to act in the way God’s Word directs us.

1 Peter 1:14 says as obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance but like the Holy One who called you, be holy in all your behavior.”

In order to step out of ignorance, we must make the decision to become informed. We have to learn what God’s word says, and then we must choose to do it.

Deuteronomy 28 is an entire chapter outlining the blessings the Lord had for Israel if they chose obedience. It also outlines the consequences of choosing rebellion instead.

It’s really very simple. We have three options; ignorance, obedience or rebellion. Only one allows us to receive the blessings God has stored up for us.

Which will you choose?

When the Christmas Season Hurts

You may be celebrating your first Christmas without a loved one. Or perhaps you just lost your job and have no idea what the future holds. Maybe you long for the Christmas in your memories when you and your family were close and could all celebrate together. You might be facing Christmas in the midst of broken relationships that you have no control over.

We all have imperfect lives that we share with other imperfect people. At Christmas time, it seems that all the difficulties are magnified because we want it to be the perfect season, the “Hallmark” Christmas. Even before Hallmark got into making movies, they had their Christmas card commercials on TV that gave everyone those warm fuzzy feelings about the holidays. This may cause us to set our expectations too high.

I learned long ago that it is a rare occasion to have all my family together at Christmas. Last year was one of those years and it could be a long time before it happens again. I’ve learned to be thankful for those family members that I have around me each year and enjoy my time with them rather than waiting for the “perfect” Christmas with everyone present.

But maybe your family has had some bigger challenges and aren’t even speaking to one another. The holidays can become something you dread instead of look forward too.

This is when you must remind yourself of the reason for the season. Jesus came to give us hope. He brings peace on earth. And only He can bring peace into our families. Only He can comfort our hearts in the midst of our sorrows.

If Christmas looks bleak from where you stand, change the direction you are looking. Turn around and look for those you can bless. Finding ways to brighten someone else’s holiday will bring joy to you as well as others.

How can you show the love of Christ this Christmas?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” – John 14:27

Help With Your Laundry

Doing the laundry can be an unpleasant experience. When I had a houseful of little boys it was sometimes downright disgusting. It’s not something you would want others to see so it’s done out of sight if at all possible. Sometimes in a separate room or the basement. Far from where you would entertain guests.

We all have dirty laundry. It’s really laughable to think about how we hide that sort of thing thinking it would be inappropriate for others to see.  I’m sure all of us have laundry stories. None of us would be shocked by yours.

I remember a season when I was in a difficult circumstance. I’d just had my seventh child by an unplanned C-section. My husband was self-employed and working long hours. I needed help with household tasks and the laundry for nine people topped the list. While I didn’t relish the idea of others doing our laundry, there were a few close friends that I felt comfortable entrusting that chore to. I knew they wouldn’t love me less when they saw my disgusting laundry!

Can I tell you that this picture is a picture of the church? While it isn’t really appropriate to “air your dirty laundry in public” there are people God has put in your life who will not only still love you when they see the ugly things in your life,  they will pull out their washboards and help you sort it out and scrub it clean.

Sometimes we just need to allow others to see into our lives so they can come alongside us and help us work through our stuff. Maybe they can’t solve the problems but they can listen and perhaps lighten the load a little. And God has just the right people in mind for you. People who won’t be shocked by the things you share but who will roll up their sleeves and start scrubbing.  Be willing to do the same for them.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” –
Galatians 6:2(ESV)

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”1 Thessalonians 5:14(ESV)


Do you know of someone that could use this word of encouragement today?

Please share this with your friends. Perhaps it’s just what they need to get through their day.

Sometimes You Gotta Do the Hard Stuff

Several years ago, I sent my 15-year-old son on a plane by himself. I knew it was the right thing to do. But it wasn’t the easy thing to do.

And I don’t think it was a coincidence that at the same time he was changing planes in Chicago, I was working on my Bible study lesson. The lesson was about how difficult it would have been for Paul and Silas to send Timothy to the Thessalonians by himself. He was young and inexperienced but they had confidence that he would be fine.

I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I thought about how God orchestrated that moment to show me something. As I wrestled with the feelings a mother gets sending her children off on their own, I heard God speaking to my heart.

There are many times that God asks us to do things that seem hard. Many times we feel stretched beyond our capacity to face the challenges that are set before us.

But the good news is that God has full confidence in us as he asks us to do the hard things. He already knows the growth that we will experience by trusting Him as we take steps that might feel a little scary.

What are you facing that seems hard today? Be encouraged! God will walk each step with you. As a mother, I couldn’t go with my son on that plane, but I knew that my Heavenly Father was right there with him.

And who knows what work the Lord did in that young man — and his mother — because we were both bold enough and brave enough to trust Him with the outcome.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” –Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

Jesus is Always Out of Reach

Jesus is always out of reach? What? Is that a misprint?  No, it isn’t a misprint. It’s true. But there is a catch.

I believe Jesus IS always out of reach… if we stay where we are. Picture Jesus standing in front of you with hands outstretched toward you. I believe you will never reach him if you refuse to move.

All he requires is that you take one step toward Him.  Just one step to let Him know you truly want Him. And stretching forward without moving an inch from where you stand doesn’t count. He will still be out of reach. We can pretend we want Jesus and lean forward, stretching as far as we can. But if we are unwilling to move toward Him, how serious are we, really?

The good news is that as soon as you take that step, He quickly closes the gap and draws you into an embrace like nothing you’ve ever experienced

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8(ESV)

God’s Response to Spilled Milk

Back in the days when I had seven boys around my dinner table every night, there was a high probability that something would get spilled. And during the season when we were foster parents and had nine boys at the table it was almost a given that there would be a clean-up necessary during the meal.

Our youngest foster son was three when he came to live with us. He was a precious little guy who needed lots of love and patience. One night at the dinner table, he not only spilled his milk but spilled his brother’s at the same time. Waving his arms around as he told us something he was excited about, he bumped both cups at the same time and milk went everywhere.

The horrified look on his face broke my heart. He expected major consequences for his actions, but that wasn’t how we operated at our house. We simply cleaned it up, poured another glass of milk for each of the boys, and went on with the meal.

I think this is how God wants us to expect Him to respond when we do something that makes a mess. Instead of His response being,  “now look what you’ve done!” I believe He comes alongside us and says,” Here, let me help you clean up this mess.”

As a mom, I know that sometimes my patience wears thin and I may respond more harshly than I would like, but God never runs out of patience with us. He is always ready to help us with the messes that we or others create in our lives.

How do I know this? Because God showed us that this is how He works. He saw what we’d done and sent Jesus to help us clean up the mess. If He was willing to do that, we can be assured there is no mess we can make that He will not help clean up.

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)