Category Archives: sharing the Gospel

Do You want a “Stable” Life?

img_3766We love Christmas. Advent reminds us of the wonder of childhood. And it’s an amazing and wonder-filled story, isn’t it!? After riding a donkey all day, Joseph and his wife Mary, a virgin, arrive in Bethlehem with her in labor — to deliver our King in a stable!

We were in a restaurant having dinner, just minutes from the hospital when my daughter-in-law was in labor… and my son and I were nervous to get her to a good, sterile place for a safe delivery!

But Joseph and Mary couldn’t find a room… the city was booked. A feeding trough in a cave filled with livestock was their best bet.IMG_1035

I heard a story about a 3rd grade Christmas Pageant. The Inn Keeper dressed in sheets had one line, “There is no room at the Inn,” but when he heard “Joseph” explain young “Mary’s” predicament, compassion overtook him and he went off script, “okay, come on in. We’ll find somewhere for you.” We might all do the same!

But our Sovereign God is intentional… nothing in the Bible story is off script or a Plan B detour.

Jesus came from heaven to earth to live among us; He lived a sinless life.  He freely chose to bear our sins, to pay our debt with His life, so that through Him we will never be condemned — though without Him, we deserved the wrath of God.

IMG_5886He would be born in a humble stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. He would perform many miracles, and teach with Wisdom unexplainable. But He would also be rejected and scorned. The “Inn crowd” would not recognize or accept Him. He would be greeted by shepherds (the lowliest, dirtiest crowd) and dine with sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes. His crowning Glory — the plan from the beginning — was His gruesome death on a Cross. He came to Save each of us, if only we’ll believe.

But the trouble is, as I have told you before, you haven’t believed even though you have seen me. But some will come to me—those the Father has given me—and I will never, never reject them. For I have come here from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to have my own way. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them to eternal life at the Last Day. For it is my Father’s will that everyone who sees his Son and believes on him should have eternal life—that I should raise him at the Last Day.” (John 6:36-40, TLB)

IMG_1134“O Holy Night” is one of my favorite Christmas Carols. It gives wonderful insight into why Jesus left heaven:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

“And the soul felt its worth.” Jesus left heaven to rescue you because you are of great worth to Him. God loves you so much that He gave His very life so that you could be with Him forever.” (Michael Youssef)

If there had only been YOU, He still would have come. His love for YOU drove Him from his throne in Heaven to  a lowly stable on earth, to die and be raised to life to set YOU free. You, my friend,  are completely loved  — just as YOU are — by the Creator God of the universe. His Son Jesus, is His personal Gift to you.

Have you opened your incomparable Christmas gift yet?

Are you feeling anything as you’re reading? Could it be Him stirring your soul? God makes Himself known… and when He does, you’ll know it. Don’t be too smart, too proud, too anything to miss His gift, Jesus Christ.

“So what about these wise men, these scholars, these brilliant debaters of this world’s great affairs? God has made them all look foolish and shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense.

He has chosen a plan despised by the world, counted as nothing at all, and used it to bring down to nothing those the world considers great, so that no one anywhere can ever brag in the presence of God.”  (I Corinthians 28-20, 28-29 TLB)

IMG_1142Do not harden you heart when He stirs you with the worth of your soul and His great love. What good is a gift that is never opened?

How then shall we to respond to this unbelievable act of love and grace? Listen to “O Holy Night” with fresh ears and an open heart. The end of the song provides the answer: Christ’s sacrifice (lowly birth, sinless life, death on the cross, and resurrection) is a call for each of us to fall on our knees in surrender, worship, gratitude and adoration.

How may God be inviting you (personally) to respond to Him today?

Christ in your heart is your only hope of glory. He must reside IN you. Have you accepted Him? Not just believed the story in your mind? “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” (James 2:19 TLB)

Matthew 7:21-23 says “Not all who sound religious are really godly people. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but still won’t get to heaven. For the decisive question is whether they obey my Father in heaven.  At the Judgment many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we told others about you and used your name to cast out demons and to do many other great miracles.’  But I will reply, ‘You have never been mine. Go away, for your deeds are evil.'”

Intellectual understanding or belief is not all He is asking.  Going to church isn’t the ticket. Giving and serving are not your admissions price — God has infinite resources.

IMG_1132He wants your heart. Your surrender. Your worship. The God of the universe wants an intimate and personal relationship with YOU through sincere conversation (prayer and reading your Bible). Would you talk to Him now?

If you already know you are saved, know Him and love Him — His gentle words will be even more direct and personal. The more we return to Him and spend time seeking His face and understanding who He is, the more peaceful and joyful our lives will be. The more you and I will be transformed into the likeness of Jesus — and God will be glorified in our beautiful worship!

In the midst of the wonderful energy and excitement of the coming weekend, I pray your soul feels its worth. And that with all that is in you, you find time to praise His holy name. Merry Christmas.IMG_1139



Talked Off the Ledge to Attend a Royal Banquet

IMG_3030Monday. It began with a funny story where yours truly is the brunt of the humor and ended with an amazing Young Life Banquet where Jesus was clearly central: high and lifted up!

Allegorically, it’s the story of each of us. Whether things look and feel good or bad, in our flesh, we are living on the brink of eternal disaster. The good news is we are invited to be children of our Heavenly King! To share in His royal banquet table. Though it’s all up to Jesus, sometimes He gives us a little help from our friends to find our way from darkness to light.


IMG_0528James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

We were keeping Penny, my daughter’s young dog. I took her for a quick visit to the grass before my busy day. I noticed the plastic sheets protecting Rob’s front porch renovation had flipped up exposing everything to the next few days of forecast rain…

Rob was already going to be late to work after hauling 2 grills-on-wheels Young Life was borrowing for the event that night. Surely I could climb on the porch roof to resolve this without help.

IMG_0526No problem getting up the ladder or repositioning the plastic to protect the wood. Penny happily frolicked below. All was well.

Then I inched to the edge of the roof and sat by the extension ladder (all while on the phone with a friend). I quickly and correctly realized there was no possible way to get on the ladder from my current position without falling.

Panic set in… I admitted my predicament to my friend (who had no idea I had climbed onto the roof as we talked), and she offered to come over. I hesitated then accepted. At least she could call 911 if I fell!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10  “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.”

We hung up, so I could call Rob who had climbed all day Sunday for advice (what kind of nut takes a phone up a ladder to the roof?? Thank goodness I did!) He had been this path before…

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.”


Nothing Rob suggested made sense — unless he wanted me to use the extended top of the ladder for torc to bury me after I fell! Tears began to flow.

Just as it began sprinkling Rob said, “This is bad.”

I countered, “I know it is! I’m crying and scared!” All while thinking, why is my calm and steady husband telling me it’s bad… he’s supposed to have answers, not add to the misery.

He said, “No I mean the girl is gone.”

IMG_0463Me: “What girl?” Now I’m wondering why he cares about any other girl in the world when “his girl” is stuck on the roof crying in the rain!

Him: “No, the grill! I dropped off the first grill in the Bonefish parking lot just 15 minutes ago, then went to get the 2nd… now the other one is GONE! This is bad.”

Me: “Wait a minute — PENNY, come back! Good girl, now stay.” (Hahaha… that was repeated continuously as she enjoyed her freedom.) “Oh no, do you think the grill is stolen? Hang up and do what you need to do! I’ll figure this out myself…” More crocodile tears, but I’m capable, self sufficient and reasonable (that’s what got me up here in the first place).

Rob brought back from the missing grill to the roof crisis says, “No, we’ll get you down first!”

IMG_0491I was humbled, out of ideas, and very willing to accept help despite our disconnect. With a little more talking we realized Rob was assuming I was standing when in reality, I was sitting beside the ladder with my legs dangling over the ledge (the position that seemed safest to me when 15 feet in the air).

Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

Perspective is everything… all his catastrophic directives became scary but understandably correct when I stood up. I hugged the rungs and made my way down the ladder, just as my sweet, loyal friend pulled up.

Safely on the ground, we hung up to let Rob find the missing grill. (Despite Bonefish being locked up and dark, it seems the chef was present and had pulled the grill around back. False alarm. Mystery solved!)

My friend and I got Penny inside, then realized the plastic had blown back on the roof! Thank goodness Divine intervention blew it down again and we taped it in place. Most of all my compassionate sister was present with me until I regained composure. Though I was never in real danger (what’s a little time spent on the roof in a thunderstorm?), I was shaken up.

IMG_0509Running a little late, but no worse for the wear, I went about my schedule in anticipation of Act II: The Young Life Banquet — where the real story is told.

I wish you ALL could have been there! An army of volunteers with some incredible leaders transformed a horse arena into a banquet hall fit for a royal celebration! Almost 600 guests began flowing in while over 100 high school and college volunteers served and prepared finishing touches. Smiles, hugs and conversation were so plentiful we had trouble getting the show on the road.

But a well-known and beloved FSU coach could preach with authority what needed to be said, “Y’all need to sit down and be quiet, so we can pray!”

A hush fell over the crowd as he thanked Jesus for all His bounty and blessings, for all the families represented, for the food, the venue and for Young Life… all in Jesus’ name.

Romans 12:6  “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.”

IMG_0515Many spoke after Him. We even had a performance from well-known Christian singers who believe in Young Life and even more so, in Jesus. We sang. We prayed. We laughed. Some cried. We heard stories about how people realized for the first time that they mattered personally to a God who cares about the details of our lives.  A God who says come as you are… through Jesus, I want to bring you from death to Life! Life to the FULL!

From start to finish it was all about Jesus. Our desire is that the name of Jesus would be lifted up every time we have a Young Life event, and Monday’s banquet shouted His name in praise! I sensed no one wanted to leave…

While most good things come to an end, God’s love doesn’t! He is the Living Water. Jesus said in John 4:14, “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

IMG_0518That’s what I saw happening as guests reluctantly left for home, and others worked together to transform the royal banquet hall into an arena ready again for horses.

As I read posts and heard the buzz Tuesday morning, it was obvious Jesus is still working — welling up in us the desire to love and seek Him, and to carry out His purposes — wherever we fit in His body.

Hebrews 4:16 “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

IMG_2954We had prayed for all the details of the night we could think of. John 14:13-14 says, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

The rain held off and hearts were touched. I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen the end of how Jesus will use that night where some broken people humbly sought to proclaim Jesus and what He is doing with the hope of ultimately sharing the Gospel with Tallahassee’s adolescent population.

IMG_3591Ephesians 3:20-21 says “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” And AMEN!

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 link to Tallahassee Young Life


Are Your Favorite “Verses” Really in the Bible? Surprise!

Over the years we’ve coined some pithy, tweetable idioms and given credit to Scripture. Some are fun and even useful.  This post is mostly for enlightenment and laughs… oftentimes our stumbles are harmless and not far off the mark.

IMG_0809Other common “verses” attributed to the Bible are heresy — meaning unTrue with a capital T. It’s human nature to try to fit God and His Word into a box we can understand — but He’s so much bigger than that. When we add our human understanding, values, and morals to the Bible, we sometimes land on dangerous ground. These distortions are serious business, and I’ll cite Scripture to debunk them.

“When God closes a door, He opens a window.” Mother Superior actually says it in The Sound of Music. I love the musical AND the sentiment. Maybe because it allows me to spiritualize my own desires a bit? I’m sure we could also find an argument that it’s saying there’s always a path with God.

Mostly harmless, but it’s not in the Bible. The Bible does say, “What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts, no one can open.” (Revelations 3:7)

“God will never give you more than you can handle.” No. It’s not there. I’ve been underwater, overwhelmed, devastated… where I couldn’t handle it. This “verse” sounded more like a taunt than encouragement at the time! When we’re in situations beyond what we can handle on our own, it forces us to turn to God in humility and weakness. With Him all things are possible. Two similar but different verses offer encouragement —

IMG_09922 Corinthians 4:8 promises “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing.” That I can attest to. God meets me and shows me the way to restoration every time. I don’t try so hard in my own power any more.

Maybe the “verse” originated in 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

“God helps those who help themselves.”  My research attributes this popular “verse” either to Benjamin Franklin or Aesop’s fable, “Hercules and the Waggoner.” There’s danger here if someone applies it to the gift of salvation, because salvation is through Christ alone. Ephesians 2:8 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–“

However, we do join in the work of sanctification/ spiritual growth even though it is by grace through faith. And there is definitely something to the fact that when Jesus asks us to “go,” we usually have to move in faith before He offers more.

IMG_0273All things work together for good…”  You might say I’m nitpicking here… but context matters on this one. We often use it to paint a rosy picture of something “good” being just around the bend from a present hardship.

What the beloved verse, Romans 8:28, says is this: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Subtle, but different.

Romans 8 is a gory chapter. Read verses 35-36, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.'”

Then verse 37 proclaims, “No! In all these things we are more than conquerors.” IN THE MIDST of suffering and persecution the Christian has great HOPE! All that bad stuff that’s happening is turned into God’s servant for HIS purposes and our good.

IMG_0921“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” No — lol. Sorry moms. But it is Biblical, sort of… so use it! James 4:8: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” But, in Matthew 7:18-23 Jesus also warned us to be concerned more about the sin in our hearts than our dirty hands (probably goes for bedrooms too) — so don’t go overboard. 😉

“Hate the sin, love the sinner.” Sounds Biblical, right? Not there, directly. It loosely quotes Gandhi in 1929, “Hate the sin and not the sinner.” In AD 424 St. Augustine similarly said: “With love for mankind and hatred of sins.”

There is a close Biblical principle in Jude 1:22-23 (MSG), “Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.” The “hating sin” part is coming under fire today, as many resent God’s guidelines in His Word — so this is probably the best of misquotes!

IMG_2096“Spare the rod, spoil the child” is the “verse” I thought I knew. It’s popular and again, pretty close. A precocious child may point out that Proverbs 13:24 actually says: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Discipline can come in many forms. Just be sure to remember another discipline verse spoken by Jesus to Christians: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” Revelations 3:19

This too shall pass.Not quite the Bible, but a misquote of Old English poetry. In “The Lament of Doer” the troubles of other mythological figures are called to mind. Each refrain ends with “that passed away, so may this.”

There are related Biblical passages… Matthew 24:35 says “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” It’s definitely comforting to know that all the sorrows of earth will one day be gone, but when we say this too shall pass, it’s usually with resignation.

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

IMG_1840“Rejoiceth in the pollen of Spring for tomorrow the vehemence of summer doth assuredly come.” Reflections 4:10

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