Posts filed under ‘basics of the faith’


BOOTS walking thru leaves

For many, today’s the big day…before the big day…before the BIG DAY…

Cuz Thanksgiving is Turkey day…

The day before is cooking day…

And the day before the day before…?

For some it’s food shopping day, loose ends day, or the last day of work before the holidays. For me it’s all those combined.

Yet I’m also dubbing today “releasing and receiving” day.

I recently talked with a close friend who’s going through a tough season. She described her experience of pouring her heart out to God with tears and gut-level honesty — and how it freed up space in her heart for peace, comfort, and encouragement.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty good.

Because I often get so wrapped up in responsibilities and concerns and “just one more thing” moments that I forget the simple principle of releasing and receiving.

RELEASING my frustrations, disappointments, and struggles

RELEASING my idea of how things “should’ve gone”

RELEASING my white knuckles of perfectionism and control

And making room for…

RECEIVING God’s comfort, encouragement, and provision

RECEIVING reassurance that God DIDN’T drop the ball after all

RECEIVING a fresh flow of the Spirit for TODAY’s challenges…

And I realize that my tendency to hunker down and just “get through it” may be the very thing that’s making life tougher than it needs to be.

Yes there’s still a lot on my plate today…yet a brief releasing and receiving walk just moved to the top of my list!

How about you?

Hope to see you out there…

WOMAN walking on autumn path


November 25, 2014 at 10:45 AM Leave a comment



GAP in freeway (with skyline)

Life in the gap…


I started this poem in 2009 and finished it in 2014. Funny how some things never change: Like our utter dependence on the Author of the story…to help us live out our particular chapter.



Though in truth wish I were

Cuz then I’d have an alibi

For why my life’s a blur


A waterloo of follow-through that never quite completes

A host of good intentions never ever quite set free


INSIGHTFUL yet unable

To apprehend the how

Of letting things I understand

Inhabit here and now


An undertow of “I don’t know” that dulls my aching mind

Til in the end I comprehend my clever sight’s gone blind



has left me broken-hearted

From jumping off high cliffs

And landing where I started


It’s time that I surrendered and found a source of strength

Beyond myself and my own will to get me past the brink



Of how the pieces fit

He knows just when to start

And when it’s time to quit


He knows which tangents slow me up and which ones spur me on

And patiently He whispers until on me it dawns


INSIGHTFUL of the plan

The one that’s in His heart

He focuses my flailing

So I can play my part


So unafraid of twists and turns is my intrepid Guide

That He can work it all for good while I enjoy the ride


EMPOWERED by the freedom

To pick and choose within

The path that I have chosen

In partnership with Him


woman leaping across cliff (blue background)

“Suddenly God, your light floods my path . . . I vault the high fences.
 What a God!” 2 Samuel 22:29

November 15, 2014 at 1:32 PM 2 comments


two trees growing together - into an up arrow (landscape)


Ever find yourself growing spiritually stale?

Maybe even stagnant?

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there at one time or another. You know, those days when you’re not exactly sure what’s wrong—but it’s clearer than clear that something’s not right.

When I feel like that, it eventually dawns on me: “Hey, I think I’m feeling disconnected…”

Maybe from myself. Or my true desires.

Or more often than I’d like to admit…

Disconnected from God.

Which honestly kinda catches me by surprise, because with all my heart I try to stay connected to Him. Though I often fail, I rarely remember making a conscious choice to move away from Him. Yet slowly but surely, I’ve drifted.

Does that ever happen to you?

My guess is, it happens to all of us.

Yet in a way, it’s not all that surprising. In John 15 Jesus uses a variety of words—remain, abide, obey—to repeatedly remind us to stay connected to Him. I’m guessing He mentions it so many times because He knows what a huge challenge staying connected is—with the world, the flesh, and the devil constantly trying to distract us.

He knows we will have to choose—day by day, hour by hour, and sometimes even minute by minute—to make a conscious choice to renew our connection with Him, or without realizing it we will slowly but surely drift backward and just “go with the flow.”

Yet thankfully that’s not the whole story: God has give us mighty tools to combat “drift.”

For one thing, His blessed Holy Spirit is always there to draw us, strengthen us, and work through us. Like life-giving sap in the branches of a tree, the Spirit of God is constantly filling us with life each day that we choose to walk with Him.

Not only that, but He’s given us each other. Many times we trudge through the Christian life like long-suffering Lone Rangers, as if we were intended to gut it out on our own. Yet we were never meant to live in isolation. We are relational beings by nature, and we grow best when connected to other people. Scriptural commands like “love one another” and “go and make disciples” weren’t given to make our burdens heavier; they’re actually gifts from God to lighten our load and stimulate growth.

“Doing life together” with other believers – whether older, younger, or peers – is one of the best ways ever to stay more connected with God and the practical truths of Scripture. When you see your friends growing, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, and learning to serve others in Jesus’ name—it’s quite contagious. It’s also an excellent reminder that both vertically and horizontally, connection and growth do in fact go together!

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Proverbs 27:17

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend…”

If you’re feeling disconnected today, why not get together with a friend this next week to talk, listen, and maybe even pray together. You might be surprised at how much lighter your load feels – and how growth inducing it can be!

November 14, 2014 at 8:47 PM Leave a comment


ROOTS LIVE: cut flowers don’t

This is a post from a couple years back…

Thought maybe I could a reminder…how about you?

 The other day as I sat in my kitchen, one of my pastor’s recent sermons came to mind. I found myself chuckling, remembering the kids reading “expiration dates” on various food items he’d brought in from home, including the Twinkie, which was so full of preservatives it would apparently last forever! Then I sobered up as I remembered the serious analogy the pastor had drawn from this lighthearted game of show and tell: that we all have an expiration date because of sin – and unless we deal with that terminal condition, nothing we value, including our very lives, will truly “keep.”

As I sat there thinking, my mind began to wander to the beautiful flowers on the dining room table in front of me. A Valentine gift from my husband, they were really starting to come into their own now. Over the past few days the arrangement had almost doubled in size because some of the buds that had originally been closed were now opening up in full splendor. A bouquet that had started out with only small red and purple flowers now boasted extravagant lavender and ivory blossoms as well. It was truly breathtaking!

But in an instant, a new realization changed my whole perspective. These are cut flowers, I thought. They’re going to die. Even though the new buds had blossomed and were behaving for all the world like a “live” plant, every single one of these flowers was, in fact, already dead. The truth then struck with double force as I suddenly pictured a pruned rose bush standing next to the cut flowers. The rose bush looked ugly, and quite honestly, dead as a doornail, while the bouquet looked fresh and alive and full of promise. But the reverse was actually true! At most, the cut flowers would last only a few days, while the rose bush would, all things being equal, probably live for years and years to come, possibly even producing fuller and more beautiful roses as a result of its barren season of pruning. I felt a strange mixture of sadness and excitement.

My mind then wandered back to my beautiful Valentine bouquet sitting in front of me. No woman, when her husband or boyfriend brings her flowers, thinks to herself, “Hey buddy, what’s the idea of bringing me a bunch of dead plants?” But unromantic as it sounds, that’s the reality! And no one who looks at a worldly person who seems “to have it all” thinks, “Oh, that poor person is dead in their sins.” But they are. They may blossom and grow intellectually, creatively, financially, even relationally; but spiritually speaking, unless they’ve been made alive in Christ, according to the Bible they’re already dead. And when they reach their “expiration date” this side of heaven, they will suffer loss – regardless of the lush foliage or breathtaking blooms they may seem to have sprouted. They’re rootless, and cannot sustain life.

Depressing as this sounds, especially just after Valentine’s Day, there is still good news. VERY good news. Because the exact opposite of this scenario is also true. Those whose lives are truly grounded in God, who have had their sins forgiven and been made “alive in Christ,” really, truly will live forever. Even if, during times of pruning, their branches happen to look barren and dead. Because what’s most important is their roots. ROOTS LIVE: cut flowers don’t. It’s as simple as that.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” JOHN 15:5-6 

 In all honesty, I will probably still be delighted the next time my husband brings me flowers. After all, it’s a beautiful gesture, and very romantic. But from now on, cut flowers will also be a “fresh” reminder to cry out with all my heart, “Oh Lord, plant my roots DEEP in You!”

November 13, 2014 at 9:59 PM Leave a comment


maximum BELIEF stopwatch

Here’s another find from the poetry archives…

I dedicate it to my dad, who once remarked: “You seem to think faith means praying and praying until you know exactly what to do. For me, taking that first step forward IS faith.”

How many times have I nodded,
“Oh yes, I believe that too”
Yet after the fact, when push came to shove
It’s nothing I’d actually DO?

How many times have I listened
Furiously writing out notes
That sat on my desk til I cleaned out the mess
From the stories I never wrote?

How many times have I wondered
“Why isn’t God coming thru?”
When had I been listening His voice would ring clear:
“My friend, I’ve been waiting on YOU!”

November 10, 2014 at 4:06 PM 2 comments

DISCIPLESHIP BOOKS – “Tools for Your Toolbelt”

blonde woman with toolbelt - closeup (landscape)

If you’re starting to mentor a younger believer for the first time, it can be helpful to draw on the experience of others. There are many books on the subject, but here are a few that are great to have in your mentoring toolbelt!


ONE-TO-ONE DISCIPLING, Multiplication Ministries International  Cost: $12.50   (Order #: M5500)

This is a 9-week study that covers the basics of the faith, including: assurance of salvation, attributes of God, the Bible, prayer, the Holy Spirit, fellowship, witnessing, temptation, and obedience. It contains detailed instructions for the discipler, and is designed to be done one-on-one – although it also works in a small group. This material is excellent, but can be a little dry unless you add the “relational” element, in which case it becomes riveting!


EBOOK Cost: $49.95

DVD Cost: $49.95

This is a 48-week, year-long study of the basics of walking with Christ and becoming a disciple. This can be done one-on-one, in groups, or as a whole congregation, and is available in ebook and video format. Topics include Knowing God, A Call to Discipleship, The Grace of God, The Cross, Sin & Repentance, Hearing the Voice of God, The Disciple’s Disciplines, Relationships, Spiritual Warfare, The Church in Acts, Advancing the Kingdom, Passion, Purpose & Giftedness, and Making Disciples.


THE LIFE YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED, John Ortberg  Cost: $14.07

With a new chapter on prayer and added discussion questions, this expanded edition of The Life You’ve Always Wanted offers modern perspectives on the ancient path of the spiritual disciplines. But this is more than just a book about things to do to be a good Christian. It’s a road map toward true transformation that starts not with the individual but with the object of the journey—Jesus Christ.

I’ve personally found this book to be extremely transformational, especially its fresh look at the “spiritual disciplines.” Such concepts as the practice of slowing, appropriate smallness, celebrating a dee dah day, and training vs. trying (easily the most influential concept for me in the past decade) have made transformation in the Christian life not only more accessible – but considerably more enjoyable as well!

COUNSELED BY GODMark and Patti Virkler  Video workbook: $6.95   Paperback: $9.95    Audio/Video: $36.49 – $76.85



Pastor Mark Virkler shares his one-year quest to hear the voice of God, and the principles for hearing God’s voice that he learned from Habakkuk 2:1-2. He then started employing a 2-way method of  journaling with God, to record the words and pictures he began to hear from the Lord. In these 13 lessons, he teaches about various areas of our lives where we can receive wonderful counsel from the Wonderful Counselor, while recording what the Lord shows us through 2-way journaling. It’s amazing how this process of “watching” and “listening” to the Holy Spirit more deliberately can deepen your relationship with God – and your understanding of His work in your life! 



The Church needs believers who are willing to learn to spiritually mentor others, who are willing to act as spiritual elders, fathers and mothers in the faith. Younger believers need help learning how to grow spiritually, get equipped for their calling, and do the works of Jesus wherever they live and work. Larry Kreider offers instruction on how to mentor other believers through encouragement, daily prayer, etc. This is an incredibly humble, authentic view of what it’s like to be a spiritual parent – including a long-range view of mentoring over a period of decades in a person’s life. I was glued to every page… 

I hope these resources give you courage to help younger believers get established in their faith . . .   as you do your part to fulfill THE GREAT COMMISSION!

May 7, 2013 at 1:58 PM Leave a comment

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Writer... speaker..."growing edge" seeker


Each new day offers a fresh opportunity to learn or languish, stagnate or grow. Like all sincere Christians, I face the ongoing challenge of finding THE GROWING EDGE.


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1. LISTEN without interrupting
(Proverbs 1:8)

2. SPEAK without accusing
(James 1:19)

3. GIVE without sparing
(Proverbs 21:26)

4. PRAY without ceasing
(Colossians 1:9)

5. ANSWER without arguing
(Proverbs 17:1)

6. SHARE without pretending
(Ephesians 4:15)

7. ENJOY without complaint
(Philippians 2:14)

8. TRUST without wavering
(I Corinthians 13:7)

9. FORGIVE without punishing
(Colossians 3:13)

10. PROMISE without forgetting
(Proverbs 13:12)

2014 NaBloPoMo!

NaBloPoMo November 2014