One From the Archives: Souvenirs from Parke County


Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. – Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)

Note: seeing that we just returned home from a trip back to Indiana, this oldie from the archives seems apropo.  Enjoy and be blessed!

The road started out paved. I crossed the covered bridge at a walk, listening to boards creak and squeak beneath my slow rolling tires. A hard left, a hard right, a high climb up the steep hillside. The close trees on both sides broke open to reveal acre upon acre of muddy fields, cattle, and barns – many leaving so hard that they look like one brisk wind would topple them.

Then the pavement ended, and the mud-and-gravel path began.

This didn’t look familiar.

Yes, I had to admit. I was lost. I had driven off the beaten path to find a different route to Bridgeton.

But, being lost can have its advantages. As I drove around Parke County, I had time for quiet relaxation, reflection and prayer. By God’s grace, the skies were sunny, ribboned with jet trails hanging high in the still air. The temperature was warm.

Here is some of what the Lord showed me, and reminded me of, as I drove around the Big Raccoon Creek area:

1. As I felt my way along the winding country roads of Parke County, I knew that, as long as I followed my compass and kept heading east and south, I would eventually intersect with Bridgeton Road and, from there, the town of Bridgeton. When we lose our way with Christ, all we need to do is follow our compass (faithfully following God’s Word). He will put us back on the path, headed in the right direction.

2. The joy is in the journey itself, not merely our destination. I could worry because I didn’t know where I was. But I knew I would end up where I was meant to. Far better to have faith, rest, and enjoy the ride. Absorb the scenery. Learn from what you see and experience. Be inspired. There is no sense in hurrying through life just to get from point A to point B. We miss so much when our final stop is our sole focus.

3. The adventure won’t truly begin until you face your fear and say, firmly and decidedly, No. The idea of driving – think crawling with wheels – across a 104 year old wooden covered bridge that sounded like it might give way beneath me was not exactly what I would call fun. But, once I had braced the steering wheel and slowly made my way through the bridge – getting past the part of the drive I dreaded – I was ready to move onward into the unknown. When we face our fears head on, we see how irrational they truly are.

4. It is good to go back and remember. Bridgeton is a place my dad used to take us fishing. (Too bad I didn’t like fishing. But that’s another story for another time…). Bridgeton Baptist Church is where I began to learn to appreciate – at age 12 – strong Biblical teaching and a love of Scripture. Big Raccoon Creek at Bridgeton is where I was baptized. I can still feel the sensation of being dunked in the cold creek water, feeling the unnerving loss of control as I went down into the current, and coming up cleansed. That was 35 years ago. A lot happens in that span of time. We change, we grow, we learn, we are influenced… It is good, in a soul correcting way, to go back and remember. Just don’t try to pitch a tent and stay there.

5. There is still at least one place on earth where, if you wave at a stranger you pass along the road, he will wave back. If he wasn’t the one to initiate the wave, that is.

Don’t get so caught up in your planned life route that you inflexibly ignore the surroundings you pass. Don’t forget where you came from. And don’t forget that you are never at a place where the Lord cannot find you and right your path. Life is an adventure. Trust in the Lord and appreciate the trip.

Faithfully Brave

I saw a Facebook post from a friend the other day that said (and I paraphrase here) one will never change until the pain of staying the same becomes unbearable.  There is a lot of wisdom in that statement.  After all, pain can be a great motivator.

This statement reveals the value of pain.  Hurting can either spring us to positive action, to make the changes we need to make.  Or it can bury us, if we choose to merely wallow in it.

Then there is the middle ground between the two: the tepid waters of pain avoidance.  I think we would all agree that difficult times are not exactly a welcome aspect of life.  Many of us invest a great deal of our time in trying to steer clear of the uncomfortable, the unpleasant, the things that hurt.  It is often a learned reaction.

One day when I was in kindergarten, my mom was ironing.  She told me, very pointedly, do not touch the iron.  Stay away from it.  It will burn you.

What do you think I did?  Yes, curiosity got the best of me.  And I ever-so-gently placed my hand on the hot iron.

Mom was right.  It burned.

I learned a valuable lesson that day.  Avoid touching hot irons at all costs.  The pain in my hand drove that lesson home.  And, to this day, over forty years later, I have never again willingly put my hand on the business side of a hot iron.  (Unfortunately the other lesson about listening to your parents didn’t stick so well…)

Granted, this particular lesson could have been learned by simply listening to Mom.  But, it’s funny how wisdom has a way of escaping our grasp in the moment.

And there is some pain that is simply unavoidable.  The hurt of a loss can be hard to take.  But, in all painful circumstances, we can choose one of three reactions:

1. Wallow in pity.  Mourn, yes.  Don’t deny what you are feeling.  But don’t pitch a tent there either.  Life goes on – your life goes on.  When we choose to let painful hardships roll over us, when we capitulate to the pain, we have in essence given up.

2. Hide in fear.  We can choose to run away from the pain.  But where is the value in that?

3. Turn the pain around and use it for good.  How can we reach someone who is hurting with true empathy if we have never experienced pain?  How can we understand what someone is going through if we have never faced difficulties ourselves?

You see, our lives are not about us.  We all face pain in varying degrees at different points in our lives.  When we choose to be brave, to stand on faith in Christ, to not be defeated, then we “let (our) light shine before others, that they may see (our)good deeds and glorify (our) Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, ESV).

What if Jesus, in the garden, sweating blood and pleading with the Father to “let this cup pass” – knowing full well what He was about to face (the humiliating kangaroo court of the Jews, the brutality of the Romans, the excruciation of scourging and crucifixion…) – had chosen to walk away?  What if He had opted to not face the punishment He did not deserve?  Now, I do not right this to open up some theological debate about whether Christ could have walked away from Gethsemane.  I am simply saying this: consider the ramifications.

Consider the outcome.

When we are bravely faithful in the face of pain and hardship, we give God the glory.  When others see what we face and say, “How did he survive?” or “Where does she get such strength?”, we have an open door to glorify God.

The best things in life come when we are faithfully brave.  Whatever you are facing today, stay strong in Christ.  Seek Him first.  Wait for the Lord.  Don’t just put on a brave face – be honestly, faithfully brave!  If you are hurting, let people see you are hurting.  But let them also see you know that God will use this bad situation for something good.

Because He will.

Because He already is.

You have the opportunity to use your difficulties to bring someone hope.  You survived this – they will too.  God never left you – He won’t leave them either.  Pain gives us empathy.  And empathy leads to understanding, which puts a finer point on the love we show others.

Remember… the light of Christ that you emit may the light someone else sees at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

Being Bezalel

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men… Colossians 3:23 (ESV)

There is no feeling, no rush, like the joy of being caught up in a creative moment.  When the pistons are firing and the creative juices are flowing, the right mix of inspiration and perspiration working together to come up with something unique and beautiful and purposeful and useful..

Creativity is (I believe) part of that spark of life God blew into man when He formed us from the dust of the ground and breathed life into our nostrils.  We are made in His image and God is the Ultimate Creative Being.  And each of us has received God given talents to use to His great glory and purpose.

Consider Bezalel:

1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, 4 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, 5 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. 6 And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: 7  the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furnishings of the tent, 8  the table and its utensils, and the pure lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, 9 and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin and its stand, 10 and the finely worked garments, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the Holy Place. According to all that I have commanded you, they shall do.” – Exodus 31:1-11 (ESV)

I cannot imagine the utter, fearsome joy of being consecrated as God’s official artist.  What an honor!  Bezalel must have made Michelangelo look like a chump.  But he must have been very humble as well; I’m not so sure God would impart such holy work to one who is full of himself.

Notice the last half of verse 6 (in King James): in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee (Exodus 31:6, KJV).  It is God Who gives people the gifts to create, to work, to bless.  Whether you work in oils or inks, the written word, or music of all sorts, God has enabled you.  If your gift is less artistic and more artisan, creating furniture or motors or what have you, it is God Who has gifted you.  No matter what your hand finds to do, no matter what the gift you are blessed with, it is God Who has supplied the skills.

When we choose to employ our God given abilities – no matter what those abilities may be – to the glory of The One Who gave us those gifts, then we are being faithful.  And God works through our efforts to bless others (and we, in turn, are both the source and recipient of God’s grace).

However, when we choose to ignore the gifts we are given, we miss out on those blessings.  In fact, we take a turn in the wrong direction, for we are being disobedient.

Bezalel was gifted by God to do His will and His work.  We each are gifted as well.  Each unique and uniquely blessed.  Each with a part to play, a role to fill in the body of Christ.  Your gift may be a profession or it may be a hobby.  Either way, seek the Lord in your giftedness.  He has created each of us to serve, according to His design.

The Positive Double Negative

5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:5-6 (ESV)

It is easy to underestimate God.  Often it isn’t His ability that we question as much as His willingness.  “Yes, I know God can do anything.  Nothing is impossible for Him.  But will He help me in my situation?”

God is a God of promises. His Word is filled with them.  And He has never welched on any promise, never broken any covenant.  God is Truth and, as such, He fulfills His every promise.

One of His great promises is to ever present with His children.  Indeed, each believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling inside him/herself.  He is our Counselor, our Comforter.  The Lord is, truly and literally, always with us.

The phrase “I will never leave you nor forsake you” is beautiful in its promise.  The word “never” is translated from two Greek words (οὐ μή) which together form a double negative. In other words, the writer of Hebrews is emphasizing the fact that God will never ever leave us.  He will always be with us.

When God says “nor forsake you”, the word “nor” is another double-negative in the original Greek.  And “forsake” (ἐγκαταλείπω) means to abandon or desert.  Put it all together and we see that God will never ever leave us; there is absolutely no way He will leave us behind.  After all, He is the Good Shepherd Who leaves the flock to find one lost sheep.

Therefore, what have we to fear?  The Infinite Creator God is on our side.  Who shall we be afraid of?  Who is bigger than God?  Money and possessions may bring a certain amount of power and comfort, but they are chaff compared to the strength and might of the Lord.

Paul perhaps said it best:

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39 (ESV)

Rest easy.  God knows what you are facing.  The trials may be fierce, the situation painful.

But not hopeless.  Never hopeless.

You have your Heavenly Father on your side.

You have Jesus interceding on your behalf.

You have the Holy Spirit living within you.

You have God’s grace, which is sufficient for all your needs.

You have God’s love, and you always will.

Nothing can separate you from God’s love.

Wait patiently on the Lord.  He knows what He is doing.  Trust in Him, even when it makes no logical sense.  Rest faithfully in His goodness and strength.  Pray.  Sing praises.  Rejoice!

Will God help you?  Chances are He already is!

Humbled by Grace

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

Grace – the wondrous gift of unmerited favor from God – is, quite sadly, a theologically divisive subject.  People argue and debate about “cheap” grace and “free” grace and grace for this but not for that… It is as if so many want to deconstruct grace and use the materials to reconstruct a grace-built box in which to contain God Himself.

Perhaps the problem is that grace is such an unnatural state for we sinful humans.  Grace itself is an unearned – and unearnable – gift from our Eternal Heavenly Father.  If we could earn it, it would no longer be a gift.  It is by grace (through faith) that we are saved.  It is by grace that the painful things serve not to destroy us, but draw God’s children closer to Him.  It is by grace we are sustained.  It is by grace we are strengthened.

And all of us need God’s grace.




The problem comes when we try to discern who should be the recipient of God’s grace.  As if one person or group’s sins is any greater or more insidious than our own.  The minute we say, “These people are not welcome in our community because they are __________________” (fill in the blank with any sin), then we fail to extend God’s grace.  We fail to reach out in love.  We do not recognize the truth of their – or, more importantly, our own – situation because of the blindness caused by the log lodged in our own eye.

It seems to me more than a little hypocritical to feel so certain of our own salvation, the gift of grace extended to us that washes away the otherwise permanent stain of sin, while denying – or at least placing prerequisites upon – others whose sins seem so hideous to us.  Are we so good?  Are we so pure?  Would any of us have given a second thought to dining with Jesus, considering the prostitutes and societal outcasts He chose to be with?  Jesus never said, “Deal with your sin, then we’ll talk.”  He said, “Come to me, all who are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Our problem is universal: pride.  It is pride in our own imagined purity that causes us to look at someone else and level the charge of “sinner” upon them.  If that idea is offensive to you, perhaps now would be a good time to stop and reconsider some things.

When we judge another – especially when we excuse our judgment under the false pretense of discernment – we are choosing to be proud.  We forget from whence we came.  We fail to see the excremental unworthiness of our own pasts.  We place ourselves on some level above them.  But, remember this: we have no idea what someone has been through.  No idea of the hardships and pain that have led people – each of us included – to make some unwise life choices.  As we drive along our life’s path, each of us goes off into the ditch at some point.  To judge another is to abandon them in the ditch – the polar opposite action of the Good Shepherd Who leaves His flock to go find the one sheep who went astray.

None of us deserves God’s grace.  And yet:

…he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. 11  Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? – James 4:6-12 (ESV)

Sin is truly the great equalizer.  We have all fallen far short of the glory of God.  And we could all use a healthy dose of humility and, God willing, His grace.

The Thornbush Harvest

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?” – Luke 6:46 (ESV)

It’s a more than fair question, and more than worthy of our consideration. It lies at the heart of what is in our hearts.  It speaks to how much we have continued to conform to the patterns of this world, and how much we have been transformed by God and His Word.  After all, if we are not following Him, seeking His kingdom first in all things, our transformation will be limited.

In the verses immediately prior to the above passage, we see this is part of a larger teaching about how to discern (as opposed to judging), and the clarity required to clearly suss out the truth about another person or situation.  We have a huge, sinful log in our own eyes that blinds us from the ability to see the reality behind the surface.

We see rightly when we view the fruit being born from a person, or ministry, or business, or community… When you see the tree for the fruit it bears, you can discern accurately.  Grapes don’t grow on thorn bushes.

I find it interesting to clear the editor’s subtitles away and read Scripture as it was intended: a cohesive whole, flowing and orderly, not chopped up into bite-size passages.  In doing so – in reading the narrative as a whole – we find something quite interesting.  Jesus says (as recorded in Luke 6:45), “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  Then, immediately following, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?”

I imagine Jesus pausing – a Selah moment – between those two sentences.  He doesn’t expect an out-loud verbal answer.  He doesn’t need one.  He already knows.

What Jesus is doing is putting in motion the thought processes of the listener.  In the moments of intimacy, in conversation, in discussion… When we are at our most honest, our most authentic, being real… what flows out of our mouths?  Does what we say mesh with what we do?  More importantly, does why we say what we say mesh with why we do what we do?

If what we claim to be Christians, we need to back up our words with right action.  It doesn’t mean we are perfect, or that we expect perfection from others.  It doesn’t mean we try to present ourselves anything we are not, and we are nothing without Christ.  We are imperfect, filthy sinners, given a gift of salvation – a second chance (or third, or fifth, or one-hundredth) to be set right by Our Lord and Savior.  We should be humble, not haughty.  Justified, but imperfect (our perfecting being a lifelong process called sanctification).  Utterly unworthy yet wholly (and holy) redeemed.  A vessel for filling.  A lump of clay for forming.  A slave to freedom and righteousness.

What we say and do need to line up, as do the reasons therefore.  If we call Jesus our Lord, we need to be following His example, seeking His will, submitting to Him with our whole hearts, trusting Him in all things.  It is in doing so that we find our house to be a well-founded structure, able to withstand the storms that rage against us.

How to Get Your Neighbors Really Annoyed At You

…without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)

I have seen a lot of things in my life thus far.  (Most of them on television, but that still counts, right?)

I watched as man first walked on the moon.  (OK, I was two years old at the time, but my mom propped me up on the couch and had me watch as Neil Armstrong descended the ladder and step onto the powder of the lunar surface. Or the surface of the Nevada desert, as some believe.)

I saw the Soviet Union fall, and the Berlin Wall pulled down.

I saw Friends get renewed on prime time TV not once, not twice, but for ten seasons.  An entire decade!

One thing I have never seen: a man constructing a huge wooden ship in his landlocked front yard.

Noah’s ark was massive: 450 feet long (that’s one-and-a-half football fields, folks), 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.  My yard is about 10 foot square, with an anemic little tree plopped in the center.

Noah built this huge gopher wood vessel by hand.  Astounding, right?  Not as amazing as the fact that Noah built the ark not only because God told him to, but with plans God Himself revealed.

So, who was Noah?  What made him so great?  All we know is that Noah was a man who “found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8, KJV), a man of righteous integrity.  A rare find to be sure in a day so populated by such great evil that it made God sorry He had ever created man.

And Noah did what God said.  Despite how crazy it seemed.  No matter what the neighbors thought.  (I cannot imagine how freaked out my neighborhood association would get.  Or the city.  I wonder if Noah pulled a permit…)

All joking aside, I think about Noah’s great faith and then I compare it with my own.  Noah built a huge ship, by hand, following God’s instructions.  No engineers.  No power tools. No factory or rigging or power tools.  No dock.  Then he filled the thing with two of every animal (which begs the question: did Noah have a problem with unicorns and jackalopes?).  He did all this, facing what had to be the biggest case of peer pressure ever… (Of course, Noah – being the righteous man he was in such a profane and sinful time – was already the odd man out.)

Then I think about my faith.  I think of the much smaller things God asks of me that I do not do.  I wonder how many opportunities to be Noah pass me by – pass us by – because I am too uncomfortable, or too preoccupied, or too busy, or too lazy.  Could anything be more blessed than seeking the LORD, hearing His voice and heeding His instruction?  What if God said to me, “Build an ark.”  Would I say, “I think you have the wrong guy.  Bob Vila doesn’t live here.”  Or would I say, “Yes LORD.”

With faith, nothing God asks of us is impossible.  Our abilities pale in comparison to might of God working through His people.  Without faith…

Run (or Location is Everything)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. – Psalm 46:1-3 (KJV)

I keep scanning the real estate ads for just the right spot to run to: “Secluded cave, 500 sq. ft., wooded surroundings.  Close to home yet far from civilization.  Electric, water, high speed Internet.  Ideal hiding place to escape all that stress!”

I have yet to find such a listing.

There are days I just want to run.  Run away from the stress.  Run away from the doubt and worry.  Run away from myself and everyone else.

The problem with problems is that they are an inescapable fact of life on this earth.  “In this world, you will have trouble,” or so Jesus warned us.  But He didn’t stop there: “Take heart!  Be happy! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33).

When facing life’s obstacles, we are not supposed to run away from them.  The only running we are to do is to God.  In Him we find our shelter, our strength, our guidance – whatever equipping we need to face today and the challenges we face.

Paul, when hounded by “a messenger of Satan”, begged the Lord three times to rid him of this “thorn in my flesh”.  But Jesus did not remove the thorn.  He did not take away the problem.  “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV).

When we try to run from our problems and fears, all we do is make things worse.  We can take a vacation from them, perhaps.  But after a week on the beach, we return home to discover those problems are still there.  Perhaps the Lord is trying to tell us something.  Maybe, just maybe, He has a purpose for all those nagging troubles that keep plaguing us.

When you run, where are you going?  Are you trying to run away from the things that trouble you or cause you pain?  Or are you running to our Loving Heavenly Father for help?

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. – Psalm 121 (KJV)


Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. – Psalms 119:18 (ESV)

God is a God of wonder.  Everything about Him gives cause for amazement.  His ways are far greater than ours, His creation is far beyond any human “invention”, His love for us is astounding beyond full comprehension.

If we are viewing our lives as bleak, or hopeless, or without meaning, perhaps we aren’t opening our eyes wide enough. Familiarity breeds contempt, and we can easily get lulled into a sense of complacency.  We are anesthetized by comforts (at least here in the western world), and believe we deserve all the good stuff we receive.

The truth is, if we begin to feel that spiritual numbing, we need to change our focus.  if something is drawing us away from God in all His wonder and awe, we need to earnestly seek Christ.

With open eyes.

With an open mind.

With an open heart.

When we do this, we find He is there waiting for us, with open arms.

What is keeping you from opening yourself wide and running to Jesus?  Is it guilt or sin?  Self loathing or doubt?  Too busy or worried or overwrought to give God a second thought?  Burned by religion?  Hurt by believers?  Afraid of what family or others might think?

Whatever it is, whatever is hurting or hindering you, I ask you to stop, find a few minutes, grab your Bible, and just talk with God.  Tell Him what’s going on.  Open your heart and mind to hear what He has to say.  Trust Him.  He is not a human being.  People will let you down.  God will not.

Cast off your anxiety.  Toss off your burdens.  Walk away from the past.  Ask the Lord for forgiveness.  Embrace His love, not the lies others have told you.  Don’t wait to feel loved.  Accept it on faith!  Know that God is with you, God is for you, God is far beyond any barriers or attempts to box Him in.

Be open with God.  Rest in His goodness.  Seek the Lord.  He is there for you, open and ready to love you, no matter what.  Open your eyes to see Him.  Open your heart to receive Him.

Romans 12 Resolution

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Today we bid a fond farewell to 2014.  For some of us, “goodbye” seems not quite as fitting as “good riddance.”  However this past year went down for you, the New Year always springs forth with hope – a clean slate, a chance to afresh, a whole new year ahead, brimming with promise.

Many people will make New Year’s resolutions. Most will not keep them, either because they planned no follow through on setting their goals, or they’re waiting for a genie to pop out of a bottle and fulfill their wishes.  Perhaps we approach the idea of change all wrong.

We all have aspects of our lives and ourselves that we want – need – to change.  But before we change our behavioral patterns, we have to first change our thought patterns.  We have to change how we view the world around us, other people, ourselves.  (When the Bible says we are to love others as ourselves, it is not a prescription for self loathing.  The Lord is telling us to love others just as much!)

Romans 12 lays out a great set of parameters for a transformational New Year’s resolution: to truly live out what it means to follow Christ.  But, before we can do that, we have to change our thinking – “renew our minds” – and be transformed (literally metamorphosed) from conformity to the world’s ways of thinking and acting to God’s will and ways.

It isn’t easy.  Be ready to face opposition.  Be prepared to be tempted.  But be strong in the Lord.  Commit to Him and keep following His Word.  Trust in the Lord.  Stay in Scripture every day and, as Paul says, pray without ceasing.  Love others first.  Accept God’s grace.  Quit beating yourself up.  Stop trying to change everything by your own power then feeling defeated.

2015 is upon us.  Ring out the old, ring in the new!  Take some time to prayerfully read Romans 12 and make a commitment to change.  You are not the one doing the transforming.  God is.  But, we are called to be faithful in doing what the Lord calls each of us to do.  So keep on truckin’.  Keep following Jesus.  Trust Him, follow Him, seek Him, watch for Him.  Don’t worry about the results.  That’s God’s department.

Have a blessed and wonderful New Year!