Thursday, July 28, 2011


My Marine son has a Latin saying tattooed on his arm –

“If you want peace, prepare for war.”

. . . I’ve thought long and hard about that statement.

If a country desires peace they must have an army, armed and prepared, to protect its citizens from those who desire to overtake it. Soldiers rigorously train for battles they may never face, in order to keep their country secure and safe. But what happens to a country when it’s army is ill-equipped, poorly trained and undisciplined? It is left vulnerable to attack. In order for peace to be achieved a country has to be ready for war in every way.

During my son’s 12 week Marine Basic Training an interesting thing happened. His drill sergeants wanted their platoon to be the very best at everything they did. That meant that every man had to be excellent and if one member fell behind, they all would pay the price. With each training they did – drills (marching), fighting, marksmanship – there was a competition between platoons and the final reward was to be top platoon overall!

My son’s platoon would drill 8-9 hours straight in order to achieve best platoon in drilling. They were right on track for taking first place for top platoon overall but when they got to the rifle range something happened – their shooting was off and they finished in 2nd place. Their drill sergeant lined them up in their barracks and in perfect drill sergeant fashion began to scream and yell at them for taking 2nd place. He was so mad that he took their 2nd place trophy and threw it out the window! And then he said, “There is no second place in war! You are either first or you’re dead!”

If you want peace, prepare for war. . .

As followers of Christ, we are in a war! We have an enemy that hungers for our souls and preys on our weaknesses. He seems to find all the places that we are vulnerable, or ill-equipped. One of his best tactics is to get Christians to think they are at peace when they really are at war, to catch them unprepared and untrained for battle.

Ephesians 6:10-12 in the Amplified Bible says this, “ . . . be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless MIGHT provides]. Put on God's whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents] but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.”

We need to be prepared for the battle. We cannot let down our guard, we must be strong and alert! But what does that look like in our life as a follower of Christ?

We must train just like a soldier does – we need to learn God’s Word and be ready to use it. Jesus used Scripture in defeating Satan when he was tempted. We need to not just read it but apply it to our lives. It needs to be an integral part of our everyday life!

We must develop our relationship with God! We need to know who He is so that we can place our trust in Him even when we don’t understand or can’t see the way. The Bible calls us to walk by faith. Notice that in the first part of those verses it says that we are to be strong in the Lord and that we are to draw our strength from Him. We cannot do it on our own – we need His power, His strength and His might.

So if you want peace in your life as a Christian, you MUST prepare for the battle and you MUST be ready to fight the war.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rocky Mountain Vacation

It was a beautiful summer day in the Colorado Rockies, the sky was a brilliant blue, the river was dancing over the rocks and the wild flowers were showing off their varied colors, there was not even a hint of what was to come.

My family had met for a vacation to celebrate my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Since we all live scattered throughout the United States we decided to pick a middle ground and meet in Colorado. We had 5 wonderful days in Frisco, Colorado a quaint little town nestled in the valley surrounded by snow capped mountains. Near the end of our vacation we all decided to take a 15 mile bike ride down the mountain, beginning in Vail and riding through Copper Mountain and on down into Frisco. My parents are in their 70’s but we felt that it would be an easy ride for them since it was all downhill.

The view was magnificent! I was singing and praising God, it was so amazing to view His handiwork.

But just about a mile from Copper Mountain, I heard someone say to me, “That’s your mom!” I looked off to the shoulder and saw my mom lying in the grass. I couldn’t believe it was her. I thought, “Oh no, no, no this can’t be Mom, she can’t be hurt like this. She’s got to be okay!” I threw my bike down and kneeled down next to her. She was lying on her side and I could see her face. She was mumbling that she didn’t know what happened. My heart was crying out – this can’t be happening. . . How could we have let this occur? We should’ve done things differently – I should’ve stayed with her the whole time, we shouldn’t have let them ride – they should’ve just met us in Copper. Over and over my thoughts raced as I held up my jacket to keep the sun out of her face and waited for help to come . . .

Questions continued to tumble around in my head . . . God,why did You allow this to happen? Why on their 50th anniversary celebration? If You love us so much, why did you let this happen to one of Your dear children? Why?. . . Why? . . . Why? . . .

I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answers to those questions. . .

But really is that the point – to have all the answers? If God had wanted me to know He would have told me. What He desires is TRUST. Trust when we don’t understand. Trust when it’s hard. Trust when we can’t see our way.

We TRUST Him because he is a God who is TRUSTWORTHY. He made the ultimate sacrifice for us by sending His only Son to take our place and die so that we might have life! How can we doubt that kind of love? How can we question His Grace in the face of such demonstrative love?!

Even in the midst of this tragedy we have seen God’s mighty hand at work - protecting, loving and watching over us in so many ways.

And I can truly say, just as David said in Psalm 28:6-7, “Praise the LORD! for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”

We have much to be thankful for – Praise His Holy name!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mirror Mirror on the Wall . . .

As a little girl, my heart’s desire was to be the “fairest of them all”! And if I’m really honest deep down inside I still want to be the fairest of them all or at least right up there with Jennifer Lopez. I want to be beautiful. I want to feel that I’m important, treasured and loved.

And what girl doesn’t want that?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

When I was in elementary school, some girls told me that I had fat lips. I can remember going home and looking intently in the mirror at my lips to see if they were fat. I didn’t really think they were but if that’s what they thought, it must be true! Gazing into the mirror of childish values, I found myself lacking!

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the perfect student of them all?

If I couldn’t be beautiful well than surely I could capitalize on my talents. So in college, I worked really hard to build a good reputation. I wanted people to perceive that I was perfect, multi-talented and amazing. It guided my every move – the friends I chose to hang around with, the classes I took, the activities I did. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty hard standard to live up to. And I found myself staring into the mirror of other people’s expectations and discovered that no matter how hard I tried, I didn’t measure up.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest mother of them all?

If I couldn’t be the perfect student than maybe I would find my worth in being a good mom. And so as a young mom, I felt the pressure of raising my children and once again I was so worried about what other people thought of me as a mother. I wanted to be the perfect mom – the one who made brownies every week for their kids, who responded gently to their disobedience and who had a clean house. These expectations led to the perfect storm and my poor children paid the price. I saw my reflection in the mirror of what I perceived other people expected of me as a mom and knew I fell short.

Why do I look to other people for my value and worth? Over the years, I have found myself spending way too much time looking at my reflection in other people’s eyes! And in gazing at their reflection of me I made myself vulnerable to their fickle viewpoint and was easily swayed by their opinions and perceptions.

But what do I do with this raging thirst for approval?

Look at what it says in Colossians 1:22 (NLT) “Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”

Do you see what Christ has done for us? His death and our acceptance of His gift, has brought us into His presence and we now can stand before Him holy and blameless without a single fault!

I had this cheap full length mirror in college and when it was tipped back against the wall it made me look 10 pounds lighter. My legs were skinnier, my butt didn’t stick out so far and I loved it! Unfortunately, it wasn’t a true reflection, just wishful thinking. But when we stand in front of HIS full length mirror we see our true reflection.

Our salvation is NOT wishful thinking, what Jesus did to make us holy and blameless in His sight without fault is NOT a make believe hope its truth that we can rely on and truth we can trust!

So when you find yourself looking in the mirror of other people’s expectations turn your eyes to the One True Mirror – Jesus, who took your place, loves you unconditionally and sees you as holy and blameless without fault – and see your TRUE REFLECTION!

“When in the mirror of His love I look at my reflection. I accept myself for who I am with all my imperfections.” author unknown

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tired and Weary

I feel tired because ____________________________? I recently asked this question on facebook and here are some of the answers I got:
---Brain Tumors

---Working 72 hours a week

---Because I lead two tours at the collage, help with cooking meals, and woke up at 4:45am to make them breakfast before they left.

--- I've got a bunch of things I get worn out about:1) I don't let go of work related worries. 2) I try to accomplish spiritual things in my own strength. 3) I procrastinate, feel guilty about it, and have too much to finish at the last minute 4) I don't eat right {happening less often these days} I've got lots more if you want them. #3 is my biggest though.

How would you answer that question? What wears you down and sucks the life from you?

For me, in my life, it’s been many things . . . when my four boys were little - some days would feel like an eternity, with endless diapers, laundry, spilled milk and runny noses. When they were teenagers, it was a different weariness - watching them drive, go on a date, football injuries, school work and many late late nights. And now I have other things that invade my life and pull me into the depths of exhaustion – juggling work and home, hurting people, not enough money, a son that is going off to war, family vacation, a self-employed husband and the list goes on and on.

The Psalmist says in 63:1 “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.”

I can identify with the author of this Psalm. My soul is thirsty and my whole body longs for God. I long to see him, to have an intimate relationship with Him in this parched and weary land I find myself in . . .

I love face to face conversations. If I have a choice of talking on the phone or meeting face to face I will choose face to face any day. I like to watch people’s reactions to things I say, I like to see their facial expressions as they talk about something that is important to them.

And I long for that kind of relationship with Jesus. I want to hear Him laugh, to see His face and His reactions when I am speaking with Him. I want to know that He hears me and that He knows me. Just recently I had the opportunity to take a walk with my Dad (a rare treat). We took a nice stroll up to a nearby Starbucks and sat and talked for a couple of hours over a good cup of coffee(actually I had tea and he had coffee). Oh, how I long to do that with my heavenly Father.

Do you ever long for that too?

In verses 6-8 of that same chapter the author goes on to say, “I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.”

What does it look like to lie awake at night thinking of God? Meditating on Him through the night? I don’t know about you but when I lie awake at night it’s because I’m worried over something or I have too many things on my plate and I’m trying to make sure that I don’t forget any of them. I don't lie awake because I'm thinking of God.

When I’m in a dry and weary land, when I’m worn and fatigued my tendency is to spiral downward, to focus on my feelings, to focus on my exhaustion. But the Psalmist is saying here that we are to turn our hearts towards God remembering the things that He has done for us, how he has provided and met our needs. We then can KNOW that he is our helper. We can sing for JOY and rest in the shadow of His wings. Meditating causes us to cling to the only ONE that can truly satisfy us. And we will find REST in His strong capable hands.
So my weary friend turn your heart towards God and allow Him to qench your raging thirst and satisfy your soul. He is all you need!