Silencing the Gospel

As someone who wants to be an encouragement to others, or better yet, who feels called to be an encourager to those in the faith, I find it difficult to write blogs these days. There is so much negativity in our lives and so much evidence of the world going in the pooper that it can become daunting and seem useless.

But then…

God’s Word busts through the darkness and reminds me of the true hope-

the ONLY hope that is ours in Christ Jesus.

“…but the Word of God is not chained” 2 Timothy 2:9

That is our promise from God. It is why we have the Bible. To remind us of the hope we have. To encourage us and enable us to preach Christ to the world. To put importance on the things that are truly important and not the argue the things which will fade away.

Paul wrote these words with physical chains attached to his body. Chains that served to stop the progression of the gospel; yet COULD NOT AND NEVER WILL.

They stopped Paul from traveling and spreading the gospel physically; but they never stopped God’s Word. They never stopped Paul from praying for and encouraging his fellow believers.

Our world is pressing hard to silence the gospel of Jesus Christ; but, it cannot be stopped. Don’t let physical chains stop you from boldly proclaiming Christ. Be the light, share God’s goodness and mercy to all who come near.

What are your chains? What is Silencing the Gospel in Your Life? Whatever it is, surrender it to the Lord. Allow Him to work through you in spite of those chain so that everyone may be encouraged by your faith.

Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

What Teens Really Need

“Teens are a lost generation.” I don’t believe this to be true but I have heard this statement many times. The term “lost” in this regard is to say they are unreachable or worse, un-salvageable.

The truth is, they aren’t lost and definitely not un-salvageable.

It would be more accurate to say that teens are misguided. Misguided by peers, society, the sinful exploitations of their culture and by us-their parents and christian leaders. Teens already know what TO do and what NOT to do. What they lack is the discipline that comes with experience and the EXAMPLES of discipline that come from godly people. 

These years are pivotal as they seek to process and formulate all they’ve been told and it is vital that they have a reliable Christian influence. True stories of perseverance. Regrettably, these stories are hard to find. Divorce is skyrocketing-especially among Christian families, churches split over petty indifference, and much of the world suffers from depression and indifference brought on by their circumstances.

Circumstances are a natural part of life and it is immature naive thinking to expect not have to deal with hardships. Circumstances will either derail your faith or define godly character. It’s easy to admire “bootstrap” living yet never strive to achieve it for ourselves. When circumstances get tough we retreat and hide behind the excuse of can’t and shouldn’t have to. When things seemingly crumble, and people fall short of our expectations, we give up and blame God. With this example in place, it is no wonder teens rebel against authority and traditional structures and abandon the faith.

We can continually point out the deficit in this generation; but, if we fail to make positive changes toward securing them for Christ, they will be lost.

Teens are looking for modern examples of godly people living a disciplined life with godly integrity. It’s a big call but one we’ve been empowered to live through Jesus Christ.

We have everything we could ever need in Jesus Christ. When He becomes all we want, only then can we begin to live a disciplined life with godly integrity.

[photo courtesy:]

Four Ways to Spot a Good Leader

I have always been a fan of the apostle Paul…well, pre Paul/then Saul torture days excluded.  This past few days I’ve been re-reading his letters to the churches and they just solidify my fondness for his teachings.

One cool thing about Paul, even in his Saul years, is that he was dedicated. When he was following the path of a Roman Jewish leader, learning the laws and torturing Christian, he did it with great exuberance. He was the best.

When Jesus revealed Himself to Paul on the streets of Damascus, Paul changed everything about himself, his way of life, his loyalties, his character and even his name. Paul dedication was now to The Lord and nothing deterred his mission to advocate for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The other thing I love about Paul is his desire to see others live abundantly through Jesus Christ with joy and thanksgiving. He learned first hand what it takes to be a good follower of Christ and that makes him a good leader for us. Paul doesn’t tell you to do or endure anything he has not endured. His life is chronicled in the pages of the New Testament for us to learn from.

Here are Four Ways to Spot a Good Leader:

Check their Fruit

What kind of influence do they have on others? What impact are they having for the Kingdom of God? Are they pointing people to Jesus or themselves? Are they actively making disciples?

A good leader will point people to Jesus and encourage the people to seek God and live by faith.

Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV)

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Observe their Conduct

Is their behavior consistent with a follower of Jesus Christ? Do they act the same out of the view of influential believers as they do with them?

Philippians 3:17-21 (ESV)

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

 Listen to their Language

Do they use perverse or ungodly language? Is their talk unwholesome or crude? Do they gossip or slander? Are they truthful?

1 Samuel 2:3 (ESV)

“Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”

 Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)                                                         

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Witness their Works of Faith

Are they all about themselves and what they can do or do they rely on God and give Him the glory granting them provisions, ability and opportunity to serve Him.

Hebrews 11:6

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Who are you following?

Are they leading you toward Jesus and stronger faith?

What about your life?

Are you being a good leader?


[photo credit: jgracepennington]

Four Ways to Help Your Child Prepare Spiritually for School

It’s back to school time, and, if you are like me, you feel both excitement and dread.

I’m excited to have made it through the summer with the children at home, bored, arguing, tracking in on my freshly mopped floor, eating a months worth of groceries in a week, and constantly, well, there and under foot.

And now, let me introduce dread. The dread of early morning mayhem, homework, arguing, parent meetings, fundraiser, sporting events, new learned attitudes and habits to deprogram and just the lost feeling of security by having my little family constantly… there and under foot.

Amid the bipolar feelings of joy, sorrow, peace and angst, perhaps the most notable concern for me is the effect this year will have on the spiritual health of my children.

Here are a four ways to help your child prepare spiritually for school:

Pray. I know this seems obvious; but, prayer is truly the most valuable tool we have as parents. We can’t always be with our children whispering wisdom in their ear; but, God can. There is nowhere they can go to be out of His reach and that alone is invaluable. Pray with them before they head to school each morning and invite them to pray with you. Encourage them to voice their concerns to the Lord with a thankful heart. Intercede for them while they are at school and school functions. Pray over them at night while they are tucked in their beds.

Educate. Run through scenarios of possible temptations or problems and help them think through how to handle them in a godly way. The hardest part on this one is balancing the information with sensitivity to their psyche’. Sometimes running scenarios can create fear and anxiety. Provide Bible verses to back up doing the right thing and making wise choices. Two verses I use constantly with my children are

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Combine Forces. It is much easier to stand firm when you have at least one buddy. Connect with parents you know hold the same values you do and brainstorm proactive ways to prepare your children, together, to withstand problems. Make sure the children know they can depend on each other at school and have each others backs.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Communicate. Be in constant conversation with your child. I know this can be the most challenging part, especially if you don’t have a good relationship with your child. However, it is vital that your child knows that you care enough to ask every day and you will love them no matter how that conversation goes. Keep pointing them towards Jesus and help them make wise choices. If you aren’t sure how to get through to your child, pray! Ask Jesus to give you wisdom, understanding, and boldness to communicate truth to your child.

Also, communicate with their teacher, school staff and other parents. The more you are present in your child’s school environment, the more equipped you will be to respond to situations or even head them off.

Now, I’m not saying to be, “that parent;” but rather, be present by means of helpful and available. Your positive input into the school and classroom will help you gain credibility with the teachers and staff. When you voice a concern or have a suggestion, you are more likely to be heard instead of dismissed as yet another parent who is never there but always willing to tell the teacher how to do her job.

Bottom Line: No matter how much we prepare our children, teach them to do right, take them to church, abstain from certain shows, words and people, ultimately, it is still up to them to choose the right path and make this faith their own.

Sometimes, unfortunately, it is the bad choices that nurture the strongest faith. Just keep giving them to the Lord, stand firm in your beliefs and values and love them through it.

I pray that as you continue to nurture your child’s heart for the Lord, He will bless you with a bountiful return for your labor. Have a great school year!


{photo courtesy:}

Three Essential Truths Children Need to Know

Ephesians 4:24

“You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your mind; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Alright, I’m going to be blunt here. Christians are not living in true righteousness and holiness. In fact, most of the time it is difficult to pinpoint who in a crowd is a believer and who isn’t.

There is just as much perverse talk, corrupt actions and negative attitudes in Christian environments than in secular. The only difference being that the Christians are doing it behind the backs of those who will call them out for their actions. And this is true for our children too.

One of my sons suffered culture shock when he entered middle school. Three elementary schools were mixed together, so there were numerous children he didn’t know bringing in untold back-stories, home-lives and faith; but, this wasn’t the problem.

What bothered him was seeing his friends lives take a 180. The same children he grew up with, who professed Jesus in elementary school were cussing (including the “F” word), indulging in perverted conversation, bullying, and disrespecting authority, themselves and each other.

This bothered him so much that he became physically sick at the thought of having to go to school. He even opted to eat lunch in the counselors office rather than sit with his peers.

We were talking about it at the dinner table, trying to console him and give him a pep talk in preparation for the next day, when my high school son decided to offer his consoling remarks, “You think that’s bad, just wait till you get to high school!” My heart sank to the pit of my stomach. I felt sick. Then I uttered the most un-motherly words to my high school son. I said, “Please don’t ever tell me what goes on in high school.” He laughed…but I was serious.

The truth is, the age of innocence is dwindling. This degradation of moral character is trickling down to the elementary level at an alarming rate.

I learned this the night I helped chaperone an elementary school lock-in. Girls were parading around with cell phones, engaging in caddy conversations and talking about boys. Guys were huddled in groups whispering, laughing and pointing at others. One boy made a sexual comment toward a girl who, thankfully, had no clue what he was saying. It was an eyeopener.

We can’t isolate our children from worldly influences-nor should we want to; but we do need to educate them to handle it.

Here are three essential truths children need to know.

  1. As a child of God you are not ruled by sin-When you accept Jesus’ payment for sin, there is a transfer that takes place, Dead to Sin~Alive in Christ. This doesn’t mean the absence of temptation. It means that the option to say, “No,” comes with the power of God helping you resist. Our children need to know that they will be confronted with the desire to do ungodly things, they will want to do some, if not all of them, saying no may be difficult and unpopular but it is essential for their spiritual growth.
  2. Sticking to godly principles in the heat of temptation displays true maturity-Satan has our youth believing that indulging in worldly pleasures displays their maturity, like a right of passage into adulthood. When in fact, it takes more maturity and strength of character to resist temptation.
  3. Developing godly character takes time-You are a new creation created in Christ Jesus; but, there my be a breaking in period. That old self with it’s sinful desires will not give up easily. Temptations will hit daily and the desire to give in will still be there. The key is to feed the spiritual nature so it is more dominant in their mind and will hopefully be the “go to” voice in the heat of temptation.

Temptation is indispensable for providing growth opportunities and refining godly character. But when our children are ill-equipped to withstand it or fail to see the need to resist; they will live fruitless lives or abandon their faith all together.

Not of Myself…

Romans 11:36

For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

God has been teaching me so much about His call, His equipping, His love and His faithfulness.

I love to write. I would belabor the lessons God showed me to craft a read-worthy post in hopes that others would learn with me. It was a labor of love and one I took seriously. But, somewhere along the way, it became a labor. It became all about the post and less about the lesson learned and the time spent with Jesus.

This past year proved to have many labors, so, writing was set to the wayside. My time with Jesus became just MY time with My Lord.

I didn’t realize how much I needed this. As a “Martha” I put laboring for the Lord above sitting at His feet and simply spending time with just Him for Him and for me.

I began realizing that I was creating a business in serving Him that hindered my true call to follow Him and live in His power and His strength to fulfill His calling on my life-to write and to speak. And, although these ministries were good ministries to serve in, they were not mine to do.

At the She Speaks Conference by Proverbs 31 Ministries, God spoke very clearly this message, the one He has been carefully teaching me this past year. I MUST sit at His feet (as true disciples do) before I can be sent out with His message.

So, here I am. In full surrender. Humbly at the feet of my Savior. With all my insecurities and inadequacies held high for Him to take and use to honor and glorify Him.

Not of myself…

Not of myself…

Not of myself…

God wrecked me in the best way! I am in full abandonment of myself.  Where I once was reluctant to speak, I am now burning with new passion for His message!!

Praise God for His calling, His equipping, His love and His faithfulness!!

Here I am, Lord, send me!


Today’s blog is part of a Linkup. Go here for more inspiring blogs about being wrecked in the best way.

Common Mishaps with Group Salvation Invitations

This post is from the archives; but, as we head into the VBS season I thought it might serve useful.

“I shared the gospel; but when it came to the invitation, several kids raised their hands who I don’t think were really ready. How do I handle this?”

Group invitations to follow Christ can be tricky. Especially if you ask them to publicly indicate their decision. Here is what I typically end up with:

    • First is the kid that was too busy carrying on their own conversation about their mom’s speeding ticket or something to hear what I said.
    • Next, is the child I was certain had already accepted Jesus as their Savior and had even been baptized but has just indicated they accepted Jesus for the first time.
    • My personal favorite, the schizophrenic child, who raised their hand for every response.
    • Then the few who I feel certain are authentic responders because they paid attention and even answered a question or two.

So what does this mean? Which one is saved?

I don’t know! No one can truly know but God. Our job, as disciples of Jesus, is to share the Truth with everyone we can and trust God for the results.

It is not for us to determine who is ready; and we certainly do not want to turn someone away who might truly be ready.

What we may see as a good candidate may not really be. The attentive child who knew answers may have only repeated what he heard in Sunday School but have no clue what it means.

The rambunctious poster child for ADHD, who seemed like she wasn’t paying attention may have been sharing the speeding ticket story because she really understood sin and was sharing an example.

The child who previously accepted Jesus as their Savior and thinks he needs to know, may just have some questions. Ask them about it. There may be reasons why they are wanting to respond again.

Here are the top three that I have encountered:

    1. Terminology Confusion:  Churchy words and phrases can be confusing. If the previous gospel presenter ask them to Trust Jesus as their Savior and you offered them the chance to ask Jesus in their heart, this may seem like two different things and confuse the child. They won’t want to reject Jesus and may think they need to do both.
    2. Wrestling with Disobedience: Children will experience times when they don’t “feel” saved and may wonder if they need to do it again. Satan loves to plant doubt. Talk to them about the reason behind their feeling of not being saved. Maybe they are having trouble breaking old habits or saying “no” to temptations to be disobedient. Explain to them that we all have the trouble of still wanting to do things we shouldn’t and sometimes that doesn’t go away quickly (the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41) Thankfully, salvation is a FACT not a FEELING.
    3. Not Really Saved: It is possible for a four year old to give their heart to God and never doubt their decision and truly grow in their faith; however, there may be a child who accepted Christ at four but, now that they are older and have a better understanding, feel they were not really saved and desire to do so now. There will be children who go through the motions of what is expected but really not understand the significance of what they are doing. If this is the case and the child feels like they need to respond now, let them.

 Only God can see a person’s heart; and thankfully, the outcome is in His hands.

So what can you do? Keep sharing the gospel.

Trust the Holy Spirit to work through you in connecting Truth to these children.

1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV) 

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

The Depth of Sacrifice

I’ve never given much thought to Judas.

Written off as a betrayer, I didn’t see much reason to consider him or his life or what may have led to his choices. But, lately, I’ve been thinking about him. Wondering what went through his mind. Questioning his heart and his motives.

Were his motives ever pure? Was he excited to be part of the twelve? Did he hope to be different…changed? Did he try? What did he see when he looked into the eyes of Jesus?

Did Judas believe?

I think Judas spent three years seeing the proof and knowing Jesus was with the Son of God; but, he expected more.

He wanted more.

More from this world and more for his pocket.

He expected to live a privileged life. He heard words like “Kingdom” and “King” and “God” and he stayed around waiting for the pay off. After all, Jesus spoke of it. But what Judas didn’t understand was that the payoff wasn’t to be from this world or in this world and he got tired of waiting.

Every time Jesus healed or provided in miraculous ways and walked away with nothing monetary to show for it, it pierced Judas’ heart creating a foothold for the enemy.

Jesus knew Judas would betray Him. He knew his heart and mind, his character. He knew Judas had the proclivity to seek his own gain above all else, would set into motion the final phase of God’s plan of redemption. Jesus knew; yet, He invited Judas to know Him and to learn from Him.

Jesus poured into Judas as He did all His disciples, teaching them, training them, providing for them and showing them how to serve. He washed their feet…Jesus washed Judas’ feet.

When Jesus hung on the cross paying for the sins of the whole world, the sins of Judas were thrust upon Him just as Peter’s were and His mother, Mary’s, Mother Theresa’s and Ghandi’s and Charles Manson and mine and yours.

I’ve considered Judas the worst of the worst for his betrayal; but, how many times have I chosen the world over Jesus, comfort over ministry, popular over the least of these?

As we head into the Easter weekend consider the depth of sacrifice Jesus gave.

Not just His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, which I don’t make light of; but, His daily sacrifice. Showing mercy, grace, compassion, love and servitude to those who feared, hated and betrayed Him.

The Lazarus Effect had a Jesus Affect

Have you ever been asked this question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Or, maybe even asked this question yourself?

There are many valid answers: bad choices, God is redirecting, the testing of faith…But there is one you may not have considered.

Bad things happen to good people to deter good faith…

When God changes us and His work is evident through us, the power of that testimony, our testimony scares the enemy. He can’t rival big works and good conditions, so, he brings chaos to confuse the onlookers. This happened with Lazarus in John 12:9-11.

Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 

So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for ON ACCOUNT OF HIM many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him

Can you imagine? Poor Lazarus had already experienced death. He not only experienced it, he DEFEATED it through the power of Jesus Christ…hence, the problem. His testimony was so bold that the chief priest sought to kill him to prevent more people from trusting in Jesus through his story, his life’s testimony. He was living proof that Jesus Christ IS.

This Lazarus Effect had a Jesus Affect on the Jewish people and so, the Jewish leaders sought to not only kill Jesus; but, also, Lazarus.

Do you feel like the closer you get to God, the worse your physical life becomes? Cling even more to the One who proves Himself over and over again to be worthy of your praise, worthy of your trust, worthy of your all.

Conflict will only mask your faith story if you let it.

Show conflict who your Christ is. 

Share your faith story and watch the Jesus Affect ripple through the lives around you.

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 25:15