In case you missed it…Paying the Price

How many mom’s have stayed up most of the night feeding, changing, and rocking a baby so that everyone else in the house could sleep, except them?  How many wives have cooked, cleaned, and run the errands so that their husbands could have his home a place of reprieve?  How many friends have had those “uncomfortable-I don’t-want-to-bring-this up-awkward” conversations with their despondent friend in efforts to restore a relationship?  How many extra shifts, late night emails, and forfeited days off have occurred just so advancement within a career was even just a possibility?  How many college loans, sleepless nights, tanks of gas?  The good things in life don’t come easy.  Love, people, and success are often terribly inconvenient.  But they are so worth it!

It’s not uncommon to be told to “Dream Big.”  I’ve heard this motto on television, seen it printed on pillows, and have even touted it myself.  It’s motivational and a powerful way to remind a person, there is a God-given purpose you were meant to live out.  But what if that motto was switched to “Sacrifice Big”?  Suddenly, those warm, fuzzy feelings seem to diminish.  It sounds less like a fight song and more like a cost.  But what if this is a more complete picture of what “dreaming big” entails?

“Let perseverance finish it’s work…”

“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple’” (Luke 14:25-27).  I can’t say this is one of my favorite passages of scripture.  It’s kind of hard to hear–not really one of those butterfly and roses, lovey-dovey topics.  But Jesus was addressing something critical.  There is a small clarifying comment that perhaps sheds a lot of light on Jesus’ proceeding remarks.  It says, “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus.”  Jesus was gaining popularity.  He was trending.  If it were happening now-a-days, He probably would have had a huge surge of “likes” and “followers,” gaining viral speed on social media and YouTube networks.  He might have even been branded with cute thermoses, T-shirts and quippy hashtags.  Jesus had a crowd of “followers” but He knew that His true friends were the ones who were willing to pay the price.  Jesus didn’t need hype and big dreams.  He needed people who would give up everything they had, everything they held close, for the success of His Kingdom and God’s redemptive story. 

True success is not found in the dreams, it’s found in the trench work.  It’s the day-in, day-out grind of doing your best despite your fatigue, defeat, and obstacles.  Although the dream is the motivator, when the rubber meets the road, the success of the dream really hinges on one’s ability to pay the price.  Being successful is not convenient.  It often takes money, exorbitant amounts of time, late nights, no sleep, and countless cups of coffee.  But the successful person finds, that all those things are worth it for the sweet taste of victory.

Obstacles and defeat will knock on your door like a pesky neighbor.  They will remind you of previous failures, shallow insecurities, and mocking voices from the years past.  You will often begin to question, “Is it worth it?” “Am I doing something wrong?” “Can this dream really become a reality?” but the person who is willing to pay the price, will repeatedly press on through the foggy disillusionment. 

No good thing comes without sacrifice.  Marriages don’t last 50 years without compromise.  Children don’t get sick when its most convenient for work.  Degrees aren’t granted because of good looks and whit.  No.  Rather it all takes work.  If you want to advance, if you want to kick an addiction, if you want to lose the weight, or write the book or get the raise or travel the world…you have to give it all you’ve got and persevere when the stakes are high.  “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).

Sacrifice big so that your dreams become your reality.  You have the potential to change not only your life, but the lives of the generations after you.  Paving your path to success is not going to be an easy road, but you need not fear because Jesus is willing to be with you in the trenches.  When Jesus was preparing His disciples for how He would one day return to Heaven, He knew they would face trials, hardship, and confusing suffering.  He knew the road of discipleship would be war-torn and challenging.  So He reminded them of a promise and a gift, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:25-27).

God sees the sacrifices you are making—your work is not in vein.  Go to Him when you are weary, and let Him breath life back into your lungs so that you can savor every sweet second of success.

The Unqualified

God uses the unqualified.


It is so easy to think because of our sin and our past mistakes that God can’t use us, but God uses every repentant soul to accomplish His good purposes. 


David was an adultery

Rehab was a prostitute

Moses was a murderer

Thomas was a doubter

Paul was Christian killer

Peter was a betrayer


BUT GOD…God can use all things and all people for His glory.  He can work through any dysfunction and meets every contrite heart. Turn to Jesus. He’s not through with you yet. God holds the victory and invites you to it.


“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6

The Lonely Shade Tree

The lonely shade tree. There is stands valiant. bearing the weight of the sun’s glory.

Exposed by the rays that pierce the threaded veins within the leaf.

It has stood here for years, weathered the seasons, carried the burden of rain and heat.

It wrinkles with new bark and old rings, wood solid, firm, aged strength.

Lonely it stands, silhouettes of beauty kissing the amber orange setting sky, a scandalous portrayal in the lunar luminance.

Who sees its awe? Who witnesses its splendor? Who sits in its generous canopy of leafed protection?

Does it go unnoticed? Do the vagabonds receive its shelter?


Oh the lonely shade tree, unnoticed by most.

Yet it there it stands, victorious and steady as it bears the weight of the Son’s glory.

There is none like it, though some may mimic and sway.

It is God’s own masterpiece, a seedling to a stallion.

Turn up its leaves, to kiss the sky. A sign of life, of grand design.

Behold it’s radiance, purpose and strength. It holds resilience in its trunk, each branch reaches abandoned to the One .

The One in the beginning a long, long time ago, who nourished a sapling that grew by the heat of the Son.

It stands by its lonesome, now tall, mature reflecting the heavenly beams, glistening in the crisp air.

A reflection of the One who provides its needs.

It, too, speaks of the Creator, a reflection or righteousness, roots down deep, seeking the living water of the One who sustains.

It claps its hands singing praise to the Devine beams of all things good.

For all of creation brings delight to the Maker of beauty who makes all things right.

Living Life On Purpose

Sometimes I hear people say they are bored and don’t have much to do.  Recently, I caught my husband stating that he was bored, and I couldn’t refrain any a longer.  I blurted it out and said, “Being bored is a bad quality; there is so much life to live.”  (Maybe slightly judgmental, but thankfully he took it well!)  I remember the day when yawns were prevalent and days felt aimless, but those were the days when I lacked purpose.

Years ago I found myself struggling with old wounds from a tough break-up.  I was reading books, soaking up the content like water on a dry plant, as I wrestled through the faith related effects from the confusing loss.  On one particular family vacation, I took a pile of books and spent hours on the beach and late at night reading, learning, and sorting through the meaning of life.  One day, the tide was so high that there was no beach left to sit on.  While the family went into the condo, I remained seated on a rock, with my prayer journal in hand… me, God and the waves.  And my hands began to pen the impression He revealed to my soul in that moment.  He was moving and was opening my eyes to see that I had purpose, rooted in Him.  I did not need to be dependent on my relationships.  I didn’t need to rely on my circumstances or even my abilities.  God had called me as His child for a purpose, and I realized in that moment, there was much work to be done. 

When you discover you are made on purpose for God’s purpose, suddenly life takes on a depth like never before.  There are opportunities designed just for you.  There are people that only you can bless.  There are tasks that would be done better by you than anyone else.  Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ..You are not here by accident.  You are also not in your current situation by accident.  If you open your heart up to God, He will open your eyes to see that there is purpose in both the big and small things that surround you.  There are people, places and things that need your special gifts, talents and touch.

There is a parable that Jesus tells in Matthew 25:14-30 called the Parable of the Talents. To summarize it there is a man who is going on a journey who entrusts three different servants with his property.  Servant A, we’ll call him Freddy, he gives 5 talents.  Servant B, we’ll call him Eugene, he gives 2 talents and Servant C, we’ll call him Max, he gives 1 talent.  The property owner leaves for a long while.  Freddy took his 5 talents and traded them and made five more talents.  Eugene was able to take his talents and also make two more talents.  But Max dug a hole and buried his master’s money. After a long time, the master returns and decides to settle his account with the three fellows.  Each reported what they had done.  The master told Freddy and Eugene how proud he was of their return on their invested talents.  He told them both, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’” Matthew 25:23.  But when the master got to Max, he said some pretty harsh words and gave Max’s remaining talent away to someone who would use it wisely and with purpose.

There are talents and gifts that God has given specifically to you.  There are callings and passions, He has written on your heart.  You have a role to play and a purpose to live out.  Live with adventure, risk, put yourself out there, take a chance, dream, pray boldly, say yes in faith, move mountains with a mustard seed, seek God with all your heart and find your purpose in Him.  This is when life gets full and boredom ceases.  Satan will always be quick to add distractions and discouragement.  Failure will seem like a closed door, but persevere.  Move forward and prayerfully rely on God with each trembling step. There is much life to be lived and much work to be done.  Today is the day to live on purpose so that one day you’ll hear “Well done, good and faithful servant”! 

A Review of the Book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

“Can you help this weekend with the youth ministry?”  “Would you mind bringing the main dish for the potluck tomorrow?” “We really need assistance with this business proposal and you seem like just the guy that could help!” “Would you be able to loan me a couple bucks for my lunch, just this one last time…put it on my tab”  Week in and week out, we are bombarded with needs and requests that feel less like a question and more like an obligation.  Quickly, we can feel less like volunteers and more like “volun-told” victims as we begrudgingly say “yes” for the “umpteenth” time.  Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend co-authored, “Boundaries: When to say Yes How to say No to Take Control of Your Life” to address this exhausting path of boundary busting.

In a culture of multi-tasking and bountiful balancing acts, it is hard to know when to draw the line.  Often saying, “no” creates anxiety because much is risked. What if it hurts someone’s feelings?  What if they get angry? What if I miss out on the promotion?  What if my boss thinks I’m not a team player?  What if I scare my kids, disappoint my mom, cause the ministry to fail, miss the sale, lose a friendship… etc.  The “What-if’s” haunt us causing us to allow our fences to breakdown into open gates where people and organizations trample us to the ground.   The book Boundaries addresses many of these areas by first identifying the definition and need for boundaries, and then systematically going through boundary-keeping in specific relationships (i.e. family, spouse, children, God, work, and even social media). 

From the Garden of Eden we can see that God is the author of healthy boundaries.  These health boundaries provide security protection, and ultimately freedom so that we can live the life God has called us to live.  “Boundaries define us.  They define what is me and what is not me.  A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership.  Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom.” (page 31, Boundaries).   When we conform to fear, guilt, unhealthy obligations, people pleasing, or addictions, we abdicate the right to govern our lives within the freedom and safety of God’s will for us.  The book Boundaries reminds us that it is ok to say, “no” and even necessary at times.  This right has been given to us by God especially if the motives behind our “yes” and breaking of our boundaries is harmful to our minds, bodies, and soul.  Destructive thinking and harmful habits can ruin our bodies, weakening our defenses against Satan and heartache.  The book Boundaries sorts through the damaging patterns and empowers the reader to exercise autonomy, limits, and forgiveness.

Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend walk us through how appropriate boundaries are established and nurtured in childhood.  Many times, though, people suffer trauma and tragedy during childhood that impedes normal development, often causing a breakdown in healthy boundaries later on in life.  The counselors walk us through many true-life scenarios with practical tips on how to recover from these wounds so that future havoc is prevented.  The main take-away from this book is that you are in charge of you and others are in charge of themselves.  Only you can control your emotions, your response, your feelings, and reaction.  You cannot control another’s actions.  If you set up a boundary that another family, friend, coworker…etc. does not like, they may feel angry or hurt.  They may try to take their frustration out on you, but as a beloved child of God, you have permission to remove yourself from carrying their outbursts and seek shelter within your God-given boundaries.

The book offers much insight into identifying areas of broken boundaries so that the reader can identify and prayerfully confront their internal struggles.  Filled with logical steps in how to establish, develop, strengthen, and mature self-boundaries, the authors remind us that, “Life without boundaries is no life at all…Part of this process of healing is regaining our boundaries.  As we become like [God], he is redeeming our boundaries and our limits” (page 269 & 270, Boundaries)

If you long to have more control over your life and emotions, this book will illuminate truths of God to bring the freedom God intends.  It sheds light on the difference between “turning the other cheek” and being a “slave to Christ, not man.”  As the ever growing “to-do” list lengthens and life feels more out of your hands, permit yourself some time to read Boundaries so that you can find new freedom in Christ and more victory in your life. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Cor 3:17

Wisdom

Every year, I joyfully oblige in the silly birthday candle tradition secretly hoping, as the old wives tale goes, that if I don’t share my wish with anybody, it will come true.  But, even though I don’t spill the beans on my cake-candle-tradition, my dreams often don’t come true.  However, I still try making a wish again the next year.  Who doesn’t want their wishes to come true?

What if God came to you during one of your birthday parties and said, “Whatever you wish for, I’ll give to you?”  What would you wish for?  I would probably wish for something along the lines of good health or protection—something that secured my loved ones or my own safety.  Others may wish for a new car, a million dollars, to finally get married or have a baby.  But rarely, will you hear a person ask for “wisdom” as the one request.

“That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’  Solomon answered God, ‘You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?’”  2 Chronicles 1:7-10

Photo by Natasha Fernandez on Pexels.com

This request by King Solomon honored the Lord.  He gave King Solomon not only wisdom but worldly wealth and blessing as well.  Solomon knew that wisdom was a gift from God.  He recognized it was necessary and valuable in order to be successful leader.  He craved it more than wealth and desired it more than power.  And God was pleased.  So pleased, he blessed Solomon above and beyond. 

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” James 1:5.

Wisdom is the one birthday wish you can count on.  According to James, if you invite God into your circumstances and ask Him to provide you with wisdom, He is faithful to grant it generously.  The more you read about wisdom in scripture, the more it appears that this is a very important thing to God.  He is pleased, honored, and revered when we seek wisdom.  Why is this?  Because seeking wisdom is seeking more of God, Himself.  Proverbs 8:22-23 personifies wisdom in such a way that some may argue that Jesus, Himself, is the Wisdom of God.

“The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
    before his deeds of old;
I was formed long ages ago,
    at the very beginning, when the world came to be.”

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”  John 1:1-3

If Jesus is the Word of God, He must then also be the Wisdom of God because God’s wisdom is revealed through the Word.  At the dawn of Creation, the chaos that formed into order was crafted in the divine wisdom of God Himself.  When we (as both Solomon and James exemplified) ask for wisdom, we are asking for the very nature of God to be revealed in our plight.  Whether we are seeking guidance on a decision, help in handling a situation, words for a challenging discussion, clarity for a future game changer or hope in a mucky ordeal, God is ready and waiting for us to ask Him for wisdom.  He has provided His Word to guide with knowledge and wisdom.

God is such a gentleman.  He will not impose His wisdom.  He will not force it on us or give it without request.  Instead He stands, patiently waiting for the righteous to call out for more of Him.  “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” 2 Chronicles 16:9.  God is ready to benevolently share His wisdom to those who ask.

Next time you take that big breath to put out the birthday candle flame, remember there is a wish you can make that will come true.  As you seek the wisdom of God, you seek more of who He is.  Invite Him in, seek His guidance, and dance in His generosity.  The best part is, you don’t need to wait for the birthday cake; it is a dream that can come true every day.