Getting Over It


Gifts are not something you should have to “get over.” Particularly when you are on the recieving end and it is a good gift from a good giver. Even beyond that, especially when it is something hand-made by the ultimate Creator of all things.

When we were made, we were knit together by God (Psalm 139:13).
This means we were purposed, planned. If I knit something, I surely decide what colors and textures to give it based on my purpose for it–a blanket, a scarf, a pair of gloves. {Ok, I don’t actually knit, but if I did…}

And when we become believers in Christ Jesus by faith, God makes us anew. We receive the Spirit inside of us. We are meant to grow and the more we pursue and draw near to God, the more He draws near to us. (Galatians 3:14, James 4:8)

With the Spirit’s indwelling come the various gifts for the building up of the body of Christ which is the Church, which is meant to grow, which means our gifts {used in love} are for the benefit of all peoples to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 27; 1 Thessalonian 3:12)

Send us your best travel stories and get a chance to win a free trip for two! If you'd like to learn more, go visit gifts must be received and put to use to be enjoyed. We must recieve them. When we offer their outflow to others, they, too, can choose to receive that.

For too long, I’ve been hung up on using the gifts God has given to me without concern of how they might be received. I am getting over it. Because these gifts are not from me nor for me. We are all God’s workmanship, or His masterpiece as the New Living Translation says. Note that it doesn’t say “you are God’s workmanship,” it says “we.”

Pursuing intimacy with God is how we receive the good gifts of the Spirit. And staying rooted in that intimacy is how we rightly {humbly} offer them to others for God’s purposes.

We each have gifts to use. Sometimes we might find it difficult to recognize them in ourselves. I found this short article easily sheds light on the topic in a relatable, every day context–a conversation with a child.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms,   1 Peter 4:10   NIV.

Whose Image?

Well since this is tax day and a familiar passage hit me during my pastor’s sermon with fresh insight yesterday involving a coin, it seems appropriate to share it.

And he saith unto them, “Whose is this image and superscription?”
Matthew 20:22 KJV

Some Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus with a trick question about whether or not it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus wisely has them bring a coin (a denarius) and asks whose image is on it.

“Caesar’s,” they replied. “Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”

The word “image” struck me yesterday. I usually read scripture in the NIV which says, “Whose portrait is this?”

The ESV says “likeness.
The Message says “This engraving–who does it look like?”
All of  these convey the same meaning and understanding.

Still, it’s funny how reading God’s word in different translations than we’ve grown accustomed to can be used by God to shed new light on familiar truths.

Because when I read this passage in the KJV and the word “image” stuck out to me, it made me think of Genesis.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:26-27 KJV

So the image on the coin represented Caesar…. give him what is due him {earthly ruler, earthly currency}

But as Jesus says next…”give God what is God’s.” We are his creation. We belong to him.

What is due God is summed up a few verses further down when Jesus answers yet another question meant to entangle him:  What is the greatest commandment in the Law?
(Matthew 22:36)

Jesus replied:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (v 37)

We are made in his image — with a heart, soul, mind. Give God what is due him. All of us.


How Should We Be Like the Manger?

The manger had to do with available space and time.

Reading in Luke this morning, I am dwelling on God’s plans and timing.

In Luke 2, we read how God planned the time for Christ to be born, and for it to coincide with the first ever census while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  It’s the type of detail I’ve often overlooked when reading scripture, but we must ask ourselves, why is it there for us?

God caused the Romans–in His great sovereignty–to document a census that puts historical evidence of scriptural truth before men. Then and now. (There’s a whole other topic to dwell upon, how God provides evidence, yet still requires faith.)

But this census also caused Mary and Joseph to be in Bethlehem when Christ was born (which fulfills prophecy), AND it also meant the town was packed with people.

[box] While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn,   Luke 2:6-7[/box] 

How Are We Like the Manger?

  • Humble accommodations – God could have sent His Divinity to earth in limitless ways with limitless means. The fact He sent a baby in a manger was purposeful. Christ was not sent with priority on comfort and convenience, but on humility and sacrifice.
  • Available spaceThe contrast of a town too full versus an available manger can serve as a picture of our hearts. If my heart is full of my interests (which usually involve comfort and convenience) is there room for Jesus to reign there as my King? 

God holds time. 

God fulfills promises. God chooses to work in a way that involves man. Sending us to be the hands and feet to deliver the good news of Christ is also purposing humble accommodations for the divine.  

God make us, keep us, humble and available–first and always before You, and to those around us to do what You call us to do.

“As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” John 17:18.

What is the Real Mission?

What is the real mission?

After participating in a mission trip over the summer, a local church member shared with me how the real mission of every day life became clear.

On the trip, I noticed a man in the distance, in the park close to where we stood. I knew God was telling me to share with him, just go talk to him. Ask his name and about his life. 

The compassion felt for this individual while on a mission trip highlighted the mission field present at home, every day. I’m going to be very purposeful now, with who I talk to, how I talk to them. Making it a point to talk to them.

How easily are we interrupted in our daily lives to stop and invest in someone around us?

This is the last post of this series on how short-term mission trips can make us more sensitive to God-directed opportunities in our daily lives.

 God, show me where and to whom you’re directing me to go and love, sharing the truth of who You are.

Seeking a Small World Perspective

“The world got smaller.”  

This was the perspective switch shared by one church member after a mission trip to China. He’d never traveled abroad before. And it wasn’t the quickness of flying from one continent to another that brought this perspective switch. It was recognizing the commonalities rather than the differences.

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rules over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. “”

Genesis 1:26  NIV

We are all created by the One Creator, in His image and likeness. We are all set above the other creatures that He created.

Yet, we live such separated lives.  It’s not just a people group across the ocean, but also a neighborhood across town, or a person across the street. When we look in our human way of thinking, we see differences. When we live and breath by the Spirit, He reveals our likenesses. He created it.

Lord, give us compassion for people. Help us to recognize our common position before You and yield our thoughts to Yours, our ways to Your instruction. Show me who You’re asking me to love that is different than me. Help me to see that as I obey, You’ll show me how we are the same.






Yielding to God’s Plans – Life Lessons from Mission Trips

Recently, I interviewed several people who went on various mission trips over the summer. Some of them had been on trips before. Others had never been on a plane. Some traveled within the states and others overseas. Yet, there were common threads from each story. I’ll be sharing thoughts on these commonalities over the next few posts.

The first common thread was this:

Our plans were derailed and God showed us what to do AFTER we got there. 

Repeatedly, I listened as mission teams shared the experience of arriving to their destinations only to find the areas of service they’d planned were not going to happen. Doors closed.

The teams described their responses to God. Ok. We’re here. Show us what you want us to do. We trust you. We’re depending on you. We’ll wait on you.

And of course, God showed them what to do in every experience.

It got me thinking about yielding to God’s plans on a daily basis, in our “ordinary” lives.

When we go out of our comfort zone, out of our familiar patterns, perhaps it’s easier to depend on God. To turn to him and say, we don’t know what to do. Show us your will.

Being somewhere that strips our self-confidence to navigate highlights our dependence on God.

What if we would seek him that way each day?

Instead of being lulled into a sense of self-sufficiency, routines and pursuing our own plans, we could daily pause to recognize and acknowledge in prayer that we are dependent on his leading.

A popular quote in recent years from John Piper is, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.”    .

While it’s not ours to know all God is doing until he is ready to reveal it to us, we can consciously choose to be trusting of and dependent on him.

Let’s pray to seek and yield to God’s plans in our every day. After all, that’s what our lives are made up of, our every days.

You can read a full post by John Piper on his quote here.

If We Want to See Miracles

So I started a job recently and my postings have taken the hit. I’m getting myself  in a new rhythm. The job is exciting because it’s a ministry position–the opportunity to contribute for kingdom impact. What’s better?

In some ways, it seems a miracle I’ve gotten this post up. I hope the simple message speaks to you as it has me over the last few days.

I’ve been thinking about weddings.

My anniversary was several days ago, and my parents’ anniversary was Monday. Maybe that’s why I found myself  meditating on  the wedding in Cana.

But one  verse  struck me anew. A verse with instruction that ushered in the first of Jesus’s recorded miracles:


His mother {Mary} said to the servants,

“Do whatever he tells you.”  John 2:5 (NIV)

Jesus told the servants to fill stone jars with water, jars normally used for ceremonial washing.  
They did.

Jesus told them to draw some water out and take it to the master of the wedding banquet.
They did.

The banquet master had no idea what had taken place, but he knew this wine was different.

Who knew the miracle that had just been performed?

The servants did. The disciples did.

Consider the timing by reading the first chapter of John.

  • John the Baptist is preaching, “Make straight the way for the Lord.”  – see John 1:23

  • Jesus is at the Jordan and John proclaims Him the Lamb of God, the Son of God.  – see John 1:29 – 34

  • The first followers of Christ appear, including  Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathaniel  – see John 1:35 – 49

  • Then, within days, is the wedding in Cana where the miracle occurs.

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him  John 2:11  (NIV)

[box] The purpose of this miracle was to reveal His glorious truth to his followers . [/box]

If we want our faith strengthened……..

If we want to see His miraculous activity……. {though like the banquet master, the world does not recognize it},

We must follow Mary’s instructions:  Do whatever He tells you.

And perhaps our obedience will bless someone who’s watching, just as the wedding servants’ obedience blessed the disciples.

Lord, by Your Spirit let us discern Your voice to obey what You instruct. Then we will see Your glory and grow in faith to do Your work.

 Raising Surrendered Hearts –


Truth and Grace – From the Only One

Truth and grace.

In Christian circles, these two words are familiar, and they go together.

But, in our daily lives {our daily, proclaimed Christian lives} are they lived out together?

A familiar verse sparked new awe for me this past week. I’d read, memorized and shared the words over the  years, but fresh amazement flooded my heart and mind this time.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ  ~ John 1:17 NIV

So here’s what I’m thinking. We {people} have an inclination toward one or the other.

  • Truth. If there was a circumstance in which we had complete truth and someone else had it all wrong, how gracious would we be {could we be} in communicating that truth? Even with the simplest things, the non-eternal things?


  • Grace. Sometimes standing for truth {holding ourselves and other accountable to it} is a separating event. We are to live holy lives because God is holy. He is our father and has instructed us on how we should live. But at times, we’d rather let things be covered by grace than adjust our behavior, or uphold God’s word out in the world.

God so loved the world.

Love is the motive to reveal truth while dispensing grace.

The one human scenario in which I can easily imagine an interaction laced with truth and grace is between a parent and a child. And isn’t that the closest we can come to understanding God’s incredible, wonderful love for us?

And in the same context, we can understand His expectation for us to integrate truth and grace into our daily behavior.

Lord, recalibrate our hearts to be broken with

the overwhelming love you hold for all people.

May we remember we are but spiritual beggars,

completely dependent upon the truth and grace of Christ.

Fill us with compassion we cannot have on our own.

Create a hunger and pursuit to live out your will, to surrender our

daily living to your ways and instruction.

Because You are Lord.

Because truth and grace came through Jesus Christ.

And they still do. Ignite your Spirit in us and spill it out in our world.



One Word Brought Me to Awestruck

Do you ever just get struck by one word?

Even in a familiar passage, sometimes God uses one word to speak new depths to me.

Psalms 139 {one of my favorite passages} has one of these words: KNIT.

 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb ~ Psalms 139:13   NIV.

What’s involved with knitting?

Decision and purpose.

  • What will be knit?  A scarf, a blanket, a baby’s sweater {it starts with purpose}

  • Based on this purpose,  what colors and textures will be selected? {personality, gifts, talents}

  • How is it formed?  Personal touch. Intentional  and detailed motions of the hands doing the knitting {God’s fingerprints on a life}

When I think of God knitting me together for a purpose, with intricacies He selected, I am awestruck.  Which is fitting as I began studying Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg this week. {Join me as I follow this online study at Women’s Bible Cafe}

I expect to be blogging about how God shows me where He is at work and ways He increases my sense of awe for Him in the every day.

Your Turn. I’d love to hear about a word in scripture that thrilled you, revealing new depths. Or, what have you seen this week that filled you with wonder and awe?

Raising Surrendered Hearts-




Jesus Changes Everything

He {John the Baptist}  went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins~ Luke 3:3

Have you ever tried to imagine living in that place, where the baptism of repentence was first proclaimed?

A shift from the ongoing, bloody animal sacrifices to a call for repentance outwardly proclaimed through baptism in water.

Talk about a paradigm shift.

Perhaps that’s why the ancient scripture of Isaiah’s prophecy, puts it this way:

“A voice of one calling in the desert,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.

Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.

The crooked roads shall become straight, and all mankind will see God’s salvation.'”

Note all the reversals. Valleys filled in. Mountains lowered. The crooked straightened.

Our Lord Jesus changed everything.

Jesus fulfilled the law and offered us grace through faith in His ultimate sacrifice as forgiveness of all sin. And, He changes our hearts.

When asked, “Jesus, what is the greatest commandment?”

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, and all of your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (see Matthew 22:35-40)

Jesus changes our selfish hearts bent on our own desires, our own performance, our own plans and molds it into a heart that yearns for God and to please Him.

What does God desire?  Draw near to Him with a sincere heart and assured faith. Discover hope, and love there. Be spurred on toward good deeds and encourage one another.

Suggested reading: Hebrews 10: 1 – 25

Spend some time in listening prayer, asking God, “What do you want of me, Lord?”

Image via by Andrew MacDonald.