The Key to Hearing from God


For me, this practice seems to usher me from the outer courts into the most holy place of His presence. It is uncomfortable, unnatural and a matter of great discipline…at first. Then, it is all you want. The rewards are immeasurable.

Just writing about it makes me anxious to get to my prayer closet.

Saints have called it holy listening.

“My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Do we know the voice of God? Can we hear the gentle whisper as He passes by? To stand on the edge of glory and have to pull a cloak over our faces like Elijah, we must – we must learn and practice listening.

In a loud world, even the quiet ones struggle with this. Our minds run too quickly.

“After we have entered our secret place and shut the door, the most difficult thing to do is pray. We cannot seem to get our minds into good working order, and the first thing we have to fight is wandering thoughts. The great battle in private prayer is overcoming this problem of our idle and wandering thinking. We have to learn to discipline our minds and concentrate on willful, deliberate prayer.” -Oswald Chambers

Concentrate: to be directed for a single purpose; to give attention to

We have possibly heard all of our believing lives how prayer is meant to be a conversation instead of a monologue. Yet, still – we seem to do all of the talking.

What unsearchable things is God waiting to tell you and I?

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jer. 33:3

Listening in stillness is a beautiful act of faith because it is expectant. You bring your heart to the Lord and wait. It is, in fact, a silent declaration that you believe Him. He says He will speak and we are believing He will.

Early in my faith I thought only some believers “heard” from God. I have since learned – in applying His Word – that He speaks to all of us. The difference is the willingness to listen.

Some tips as you begin this journey:

  1. Have a journal or notebook handy. When wandering thoughts invade, such as what you need to be doing, write them down as an act of dismissal. It helps you to release those thoughts knowing you can look back at the paper. Then turn your mind back to the Lord. This journal is also, and more importantly, for your notes during prayer time. I will often get a song or a single word and write it down to review or study later.
  2. Experiment with silence versus worship music. There are times when worship can help usher our minds better into the throne room. I’ve found, though, that it is best to use this as a warm-up. Songs themselves can sometimes distract from what He is trying to say.
  3. Do not worry about doing it “right.” As I began this process, I would pay too close attention to the last thing I said before going silent. I smile as I remember that. He knows all. He is pleased when you come to Him. There is no program here. Practice is progress. It may just be a matter of retraining your mind to be comfortable with silence so you can focus better.
  4. Do not be discouraged. God loves you. Believe that He is reaching out to you in that love.
  5. Put on your spiritual glasses. As we draw near to God and live in his will, we can better recognize Him all around us. Look around you at work, in the store and at home. Look expectantly for signs of His presence. He is always working – not always visibly – but always absolutely.
  6. His Word will confirm all truth. If what you sense or think you hear from the Spirit does not match up with the Word of God, it is not from His Spirit. We must be students of the Word and remain in counsel with mature believers to discern and confirm direction from the Lord.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Rev. 3:20 (NASB)

As we worship and obey the Lord in spirit and in truth, we prepare the table of our hearts for a feast with the Divine. It is through listening that we open wide the door.

We know from the book of Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything under heaven….a time to speak and a time to be silent. May we come before His holy temple in humble adoration and declare:

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” 1 Sam 3:9


This is part of a series on Prayer. You may begin here.








5 Ways Every Mom Can Capture a Child’s Heart

I’ve always been moved by the truth we often miss in the midst of evangelism amongst the poor.

Empty stomachs have no ears.

Hungry bellies can’t focus on our lessons about God’s provision like the moment we give them a warm roll to chew on. It’s a hard balance for the church today. Thankfully, by His mercy, we learned that gospel truth plants more deeply in the warm soil of love in action.

We nourish their physical hunger and the spiritual antenna goes up. Love can soften the hardest heart.

It’s the same, I’m learning, with the children we raise up.

My son doesn’t really hear my frustrated words about treating his sister with kindness after I made him feel less important than the book I was reading twenty minutes earlier.

My daughter will nod to please because she wants to be liked but her heart will wonder where my priorities are when I say “in a minute” one more time to her request for playing with her.

I pray they are passionate and courageous and sold out for God. I think most days of how and in what ways I will try to teach them the better ways of life. But the truth here in the home where world changers are meant to be nurtured, is that needy hearts have no ears. 

Children need to feel loved first.

mom child

When any relationship is based solely on duty, behaviors may adapt short term while the heart only hardens or breaks.

Forced obedience is one route, but it won’t follow them out the door. Or bring them back. Souls return to grace over law every time.

If I want my influence to go deep and long, it must be rooted in something other than my authority.

Authority is a gift to be stewarded well. All Moms know it’s a daily struggle to balance law and grace. Lately, in our home, grace has just been needed much more.

I don’t want perfect behavior; even I can’t pull that off. I’m praying for molded hearts. Here are five ways I’m working to earn the ears and mold the hearts of my children:

My promises are “Yes”

All of God’s promises are yes in Christ. As a bearer of His goodness, I want to keep my promises. We are careful in our home about using the word, and when we do, we consider it important to follow through. We will all fall short of God’s faithfulness, but we can then point our children to the One who keeps every promise. When I forget, I try to apologize quickly and tell my kids I need their grace. When I do keep my word, I build credibility with my kids. So when the day comes that they have hard questions, they come to me as trustworthy. Words only go so far when the actions don’t match. How can I focus mostly on their actions but ask them to focus on my word alone? I’m paying attention to see that my actions match my words.

Strategic Prayer

We don’t need to wait for the hard teen years or the various school challenges to arise for our prayers to truly matter. Only parents know the most specific emotional, physical and spiritual needs of our families. Every single need can be targeted in prayer with scripture. We can even pray for their hearts to be receptive before we teach them a principle we value. For the things you see in your children, have you tried prayer as a first approach? It is powerful and provides a peace in our home and heart as Moms. One important note: let them hear you praying. The seeds may not be visible, but the fruit will follow.

Quick Response

If quick obedience is requested, will our children have ever seen us respond as quickly to them? How long do they wait on us to give them our full attention? What priority do they hold in our day? How long do we really have to capture their hearts? I’m working on dropping what I’m doing the moment they ask me to hold them or play for five minutes. We can’t always do this. What if we responded quickly when we can? It trickles over to their quick obedience. Children need to know they are a priority to us. They need to see it, feel it, experience it first hand.


For all the days of discipline, praise can go a long way. Kids are as hungry for praise as we are. Some are just plain starving for it. When my days are heavy with “No’s” (and that’s often in the younger years) – the house can start to feel heavy with frustration. How often are we looking for opportunities to encourage with our words? Positive affirmations often work much better than constant correction. I’ve found the more I praise, the more often my kids want to obey. We talk about praise in our home. Praising God and sharing His love with others. We invite the kids to think about how they can encourage others. We can’t make their choices for them, but we can lead their hearts. We start by praising them.


There is just nothing like the breaking of laughter in the midst of stress. It is absolutely healing. For grief, frustration….and even anger. For our kids, it just helps break the ice. Tickling is quite common here. When awkward comes in, the tickle monster comes out. Parents need laughter too. Sometimes the family just needs to remember that we are on the same team. That not every issue is worth fighting over. That we can even laugh at ourselves. When children struggle to communicate, they understand touch – whether it’s through tickling hands or loving hugs. It’s about a return to joy and the bigger perspective. Perhaps the issue is not as important as us loving each other in the moment.

We live with needy hearts. Little or all grown up, all anyone needs to know is that they are loved. It’s a daily goal to capture those little hearts with grace so they will desire the law of the Lord. Perhaps, along the way, we will learn more about grace ourselves.

One Way to Encourage Your Child: Name the Gift

I sat down to write a note of thanks and found another drawing on the table.


Scribble to some. Imagination and vision to another. The creator always knows. Isn’t it always how we see it?

And I remember the one I should have saved.

There were about eleven copies. Annie brought them to me one day and presented them as usual. “For you, Mom.”

They were all of the exact same thing. It seemed like mountains. And each picture had a circle at the bottom with a dot in the middle. I said, “Annie, what is this?”

“It’s a foot, and that’s a boo boo.”

“Ann, is your foot hurting?’

We found out that day Ann had an abscess on her foot. She didn’t just come up and tell me her foot hurt. She expressed herself through art. And right then at that moment, I said it.

Annie, you are an artist. You express your feelings through art.”

She smiled. And I believed. I spoke out what I believed for her future. For her right now.

If words have power, and they do…..and if parents have influence….and we do….what have we spoken over the life of our children? Is there something waiting to spring forth when we activate that faith in a child?

To name the gift is to believe in what we see developing within them. We open doors to hope and purpose when we are specific and intentional with our words.

What life can you speak forth in your child today? Name the gift and watch that child shine.

What Michael Phelps Can Teach Us About Prayer: Pushing Through

After Michael Phelps received his eighth gold metal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games someone asked him what made the difference. What separated him from all the other swimmers? He said that after all the other swimmers were done with practice and got out of the pool, he remained.

Michael Phelps just stayed in the pool.

When the last splash of water hit the pavement from the drip of a lesson done, this Olympian pushed harder. He took one more lap, one more backstroke and dreamed once more of a greater story. Many times, I’m sure he was alone.

Dreams for something bigger and better will include some isolation. To push along when you feel alone is not easy. Doing the hard thing over and over again separates great from good. And what we do in our places when no one is watching prepares us for when millions are.

Perseverance and longevity are not just physical strength lessons. They are the price we pay for spiritual maturity. George Muller was the Michael Phelps of prayer. He just kept praying when everyone else gave up.

I began reading Muller’s journals in the midst of a deep born hunger for prayer about three years ago. His was the only lesson I could not grasp. The term “pushing through” felt rough and hard. I wondered why we ever needed to pray more than once for something. If God really heard and we had as much faith as we could muster at the time and dotted all the right i’s, why did we have to play it on repeat? If we really believed we would receive, didn’t asking for it again negate that faith?

In the midst of these questions, I was finding myself praying for things which did not seem to bring fruit fast enough for me. As my prayer life was strengthened through long times of listening, adoration and targeted Scriptural prayers, my mind still wondered about the practice of “praying through.” I knew that, too often, I would give up too soon.

When my daughter was facing a possible serious medical procedure at a very young age, the Lord directed me to the first chapter of James. My faith was faltering because I wasn’t seeing results from my prayer the way I wanted to. A friend of my husband even felt moved to drive three hours to our home and prayer over her. That day I had very little faith to agree. I missed a great opportunity to believe in agreement with a man I barely knew because my worry trumped my faith. When our deepest concerns for those we love the most come head to head with our prayer life, we find our default faith. Sometimes the fear of losing what we love masks the love He wants to fill us with. (This is why hard days need friends. When you can’t see past your feelings, ask someone to believe for you). I’m so thankful that friend believed.

In that season something directed me to the book of James because verse four was for me.

“Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Just that portion and that portion alone in the midst of this known section on trial made my heart burn within. God was not finished yet. I was pulling out early. I needed to get back in the pool.

But it was more than wrestling in prayer for one thing. It always is.

Praying through is about answering the same question we wake up to every day:

“Do you believe?”

And I’ve found out that there is a faith only found in the process of praying through. Coming to Him over and over again about the same thing provides a depth to our prayer life that we need and don’t even recognize. It’s not a begging. It’s not a fight against God. There is a wrestling within ourselves, our death to self. To busyness about the wrong things – always. But there is also an opening up over time. A listening. A sensitivity to the request….”teach me, Lord, how to pray.”

It means I haven’t figured it all out and that’s okay. It means He wants to draw us to Himself instead of a formula.

George Muller prayed for twenty years for a lost friend to be saved. What did he say in year ten that he hadn’t said by year eight? I don’t know. But that man gave his heart to the Lord as Muller was dying. To pray for that long means he found a contentment in the asking. He found contentment in the One he was asking. His persevering prayer became a conversation.

This is where our talking meets up with listening and we adjust the need. We grow up in Him as we allow the Teacher to walk us through the asking.

Some days we just say, “I trust you.”

Other days we say, “Help me believe.”

And, finally, other days He does the speaking. “Just rest. I’ve got this.”

No matter the need, the circumstance or the prayer, perseverance seems to be the ticket. How many people have quit just short of a breakthrough?

I’m still praying for people I’ve been praying over for years. My prayers have changed. And so have I. And I just bet there are about a million people out there today in the same place. Waiting, hoping, still waiting. Possibly tempted to get out of the pool and wonder if any of the work, the time, the faith is worth it all? Perhaps other people would say it’s foolish. To believe for such big things only God could do. To get up early and get on my knees again. To go above for others when it doesn’t seem to matter. To serve behind the scenes or give generously when the world says to hold tight.

Faith won’t always make sense.

But I’m writing this today for myself and everyone else out there who just knows in your gut that God always comes through.

Whether it’s been two days or twenty years, it’s worth it to believe. For that dream. That healing. That restoration.

God is still in the business of redemption. He is the God who answers prayer. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Get back in the pool.

Get back in the pool

One more lap. One more prayer. Today. Because I’m walking my spirit into hope.

“..suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Rom. 5:3-4

When Anger Sets up Camp

My four-year-old daughter stomped her foot, placed her hands on her hips and huffed, “I’m mad.”

Way to own it, sister.

We don’t have to look long today to witness anger in society. We may just find it inside. For some, a spirit of anger was passed down. You don’t even know how to respond without anger. For others, it’s just one disappointment after another, stuffed down to rise another day.

Anger says: I want my way and I must take it by force.

As we look into scripture we will see that anger itself is not the major problem. It’s what we do about it.

“In your anger, do not sin.” Eph. 4:26

You and I were made with beautiful threads of emotion to enrich and fulfill our lives. God made you with emotion. He did not make emotion to rule over you. This verse helps us see we will FEEL those emotions. But it also tells me there is a space between my feelings and my actions. That space is crunch time for the Christian. What we do there and how much of the Spirit we allow to flow will affect our maturity, our harvest and our joy.

“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Don’t read this so literally that you miss the point. This doesn’t mean that you have to fix ALL YOUR STUFF before your head hits the pillow or it’s too late. The point is the longer you wait the harder it is. Because the longer anger visits, the more likely it will set up camp.

set up camp

King Solomon said that “anger resides in the lap of fools.”

Let’s define reside: to dwell permanently; to settle; remain for a long time.

When you let anger it, it means to stay. There are many, many people walking around today on the brink of rage because anger came to visit and stayed too long.

God asked Cain why he was so angry. He stepped into that space between anger and the first murder recorded in scripture…to help. Cain let the tent pegs go into the ground, and anger turned to rage.

The longer you play the tape in your mind concerning that circumstance and how wronged you have been, the deeper the lies take hold. And one of the deepest lies anger can tell is this: revenge provides relief.

lie anger tells

I call anger the black widow of emotion. Because the more we feed it, the more it strangles us. We can rationalize anger probably more than any other negative emotion. We’ve all been “wronged” at some point. For some today, you may not even remember the last time you liked people. Because somewhere along the way frustration led to anger and anger led to bitterness.

Here is what you and I need to know as Christians in this discussion: Our yesterday does not have to define our next days. You really can KNOW what it’s like to laugh again. To find joy in people again. To take a deep breath of release.

Christ makes me better. He calls me to better. I don’t want to excuse my behavior or my response. I want to look different to the world. I want a harvest. You can decide today to start over in Him and redefine your label. If you see yourself as angry, began to say “I’m free in Him. I release those who have wronged me.” If others have seen you as angry, let God show them through you what redemption looks like. He can do it.

You don’t have to live angry. There is a better way for you. It’s through Him.

10 Catalyst Conference TakeAways

Don’t you give your life to something small. –Andy Stanley

Andy is telling the story of the man who would walk into the room every Tuesday and ask him, “Watcha workin on big?”….and I’m dreaming for my own children. Because story does that.

We weren’t meant to think small, dream small or settle. When we dream in the image of a BIG GOD, small stays at the drawing board and we walk out into the mystery of miracles.

Doubt dies unborn if it’s never spoken. – Christine Caine

Your mouth, believer! Your mouth. What power resides there! It’s not question of IF doubts will assail. They will. It’s about what we do with that doubt. What faith will we give life to today? What will we speak forth about our family, ourselves, our city, our church? What are you saying? Do you believe? Let’s shut down doubt at the door of our minds and say, NO – if my God said it, He can do it. We are well able to take the land.

Stir and Disturb. – Andy Stanley

Leaders are called to stir up the dreams within the people they serve. Are we disturbing the status quo enough to make a lasting difference and cause others to dream again? We must keep wonder alive in the hearts of those we love. Who knows but what dream they have that will change the world.

Awakening starts with thanking. –Chris Brown

To awaken our world to the crisp morning joy of our Lord, we must be grateful. We take light into the darkness of despair when we rebuke the lie that He is not enough. He cannot inhabit praise we never bring forth. But when we do, walking through the doubt, the darkness and the thoughts of lack – we find a new song. It’s a song the world needs to hear. To give thanks is to bring Him glory right where we are. It’s why we were made. And it will awaken the wonder of those around us to the God we worship.

Be a student, not a critic. – Andy Stanley

Because if you are a critic before you are a student, you shut down the wonder. What if progress is disguised as a different you don’t like. What if you don’t have the entire background story of someone’s life or theological stance. What if the church thought well of each other first.

Impossible is where God starts! – Christine Caine

If you were sitting in the room with 11,000 people and your spirit didn’t jump, you missed it. THIS can stir and disturb and rock your maybe into a big wide open YES for His call. But it starts with HOW we see what is right in front of us. When  you hear impossible, will you know God is about to enter the circumstance? Why do we pray for miracles and then live within our own power, giving Him absolutely no room to bring a miracle. If your dreams are small enough to accomplish on your own, they are not big enough. If what you are asking for is just NOT done, that’s the realm God has room to move in. Recently, I came against a statement about what could not happen with prayer – and guess what? God answered. He specializes in impossible. Don’t miss it!

Replace how with wow.  – Andy Stanley 

Ideas make the world go round. Details come later. When we shut down an idea because it feels TOO BIG, TOO UNDOABLE – we miss the opportunity to display the power of God to the world. What if we responded first with “WOW” instead of I just don’t know how that will happen. Let’s choose to wow the world with the dreams stirring within. Be the one in the room that says, “What if God did this for us, through us?” What if…….

If you are in Christ, you are always on the other side of the Red Sea. – Trip Lee

He HAS rescued us. He HAS redeemed us. He HAS moved on our behalf. How often do we talk about what prayer He has not seemed to answer instead of counting the miracles lined up behind us. Perhaps our nighttime ritual should be to count the miracles. Remember – God created the heavens and the earth with his outstretched arm. NOTHING is too hard for Him.

Here’s my job: when you’re drowning, I find you and bring you to the surface. – Brene’ Brown

We are family. It starts at home and moves into the church. When we see someone drowning – we reach down. We get down on their level and pull them up. None of my stuff matters when my husband is drowning in life. To flourish best, we flourish together. If one is weak, we are all weaker than we are strong.

Remain suspicious that God is up to something good. – Margaret Feinberg

In the midst of it all. Right there. Right now. He can make something good spring up. Are you making room for Him. Are you on the edge of giving up today? Call someone. Reach out. Pray again. Don’t you give up on a God who is out for your very best.

The Lord Wants to Dance with You

Seven years ago we gathered, a small group of us, in the home of a wonderful prayer warrior couple. It was a finishing, a closing retreat to thank the Lord for all He had done for us and through us in prayer ministry. During the time, someone began to speak prophetically over a few people in the room, and the man asked me if I liked to dance. He sensed a nudge from the Lord telling me to dance for Him. I had just met this man.

I grew up dancing. There is something about the beauty of the body suspended in open air.

SK DancingWe were created for worship, even in….perhaps mostly through….our bodies.

Add sound, this utterance created through the very breath of God, and you are captured. The movements enhanced, the eyes following. To watch the dance is captivating. To create the dance can be exhilarating.

In 2 Samuel 6, the writer tells of when King David, “wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.”

It was spontaneous. Unplanned. Unscripted. The springing forth from this joy that caused him to express outwardly what confidence he had in His God. To do so with all his might meant he was unbound.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

That word freedom comes from the Greek word Eleutheros, which means unbound, unfettered….the state in which one can act and move without restriction or hindrance.

When the Spirit can work unhindered within us, we will worship Him without restriction.

When He has full reign in our lives, we will experience complete freedom from the fear or thoughts of man. King David had no concern for those around him. He found his joy in the Lord and the result was a dance.

Later Samuel notes that when King David’s wife, Michal, saw him leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.  She was jealous of the joy and freedom that can only come from the Lord. Because deep down, she wanted it.

Two days ago, I had a dream. I was dancing. I felt the freedom and release of those days on stage long ago. And then, what some may call coincidence, I “happened” upon the song “We Dance” by Bethel today. And while lying in bed, tears rolling down, I felt the Spirit speak to me.

I want to dance with you.

It was not just a call to dance before the Lord, but to take His hand and dance with Him. Immediately I traveled back in my mind to that moment of prophecy. I noted that in the dream, I looked better, stronger, more graceful than I believe I really am.

God sees us as beautiful.

Then stronger, louder in my heart than before, was one sentence. “I love you as you are.”

He sees you differently than you see yourself. He knows your weaknesses, but He’s focusing on your strengths. He rejoices over us with singing and then gives us a new song.

There is a song inside of you. It’s for the Lord.

The music of our soul is worship; it’s why we were made. But worship is more than singing with the mouth or dancing with the whole of us. The song is from the Spirit, and He is wooing you to the Creator who breathed the stars into place.

Do not despise the joy you see in others. Take the hand of the Lord, turn your face to Him and sing your song. He just may ask you to dance.

5 Reasons to Memorize the Word of God

may the word dwell

“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have but do this with gentleness and respect.”      1 Peter 3:13-15 (NIV)

What a great reminder for our place as believers in the world in which we live. We should look different and activate our faith by casting off the fears of man so we can be the living examples of what it looks like to experience the peace of the living God. We’re called to set apart Christ as Lord and be prepared to give an answer for that living peace, that hope the world is starving for. So how do we do that, practically?

I’m going to address the second part today and hope it stirs up someone in the family of faith. You have been given all you need for godliness, and it’s found in the Living Word. Here are five reasons memorizing that Living Word will help you be an effective disciple:


A woman asked me one time if I knew I would go to heaven when I died. At the time, I was not born again. I replied that you cannot know that for sure. She replied with 1 John 5:13….”I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Isn’t is interesting that I remember the exact verse twenty-one years later? It’s because it changed my life.

Testimony begins with story but it does not end there. That woman has testified to me through her life and her story. But it was her ability to quote just the right WORD to me at just the right time. The Spirit enabled her, because that is one of His jobs (John 14:26) The Holy Spirit brings to remembrance what He teaches us, but it is our choice to put the time in and set our minds at that Word so we can be ready.

The call to be prepared to give a reason is not just about salvation. How will you answer when the world questions you about cultural issues? Will you just say “I feel ……” ?

Will we answer, ” I think….” ?

We can offer those responses and we all have feelings about issues. But eternal things will happen in the spiritual realm and lives will be changed when our reasoning is the truth of God’s Word.


Paul told the church at Thessalonica he was thankful that they had received the word of God when they heard it from him…and accepted it as more than words of men, but from God – a word “which is at work in you who believe.” (1 Thes. 2:13)

We need to receive and take to heart the Living Word. We know we are called to be more than hearers, and that starts here. Actions will follow our true beliefs and true beliefs come from the heart. Those who truly yearn for the truth of God will invest in that Word, which is an act of receiving all He has for us.


The Israelites struggled so often with obedience because they forgot. They forgot the works of God. When it was not visible to their eyes that God was at work, they stopped believing and chased after their own desires. This is why it is so important in the Jewish traditions to tell stories and pass down the faith. When we memorize scripture and go over what we have put to memory – we are REMINDING our spirit what we really believe. We are choosing to speak and THINK on the goodness of God instead of the outer circumstances we see. We must choose to remember WHO God is in the midst of struggle. So we memorize verses ABOUT His goodness as we walk through the valleys of life.

memory verses


That phrase “at work in you” from the Thessalonians text is beautiful. The Greek used there is “energeo” which means to “produce.” Because the Word is truly alive and active – it ALWAYS produces SOMETHING. This is what it means that “it never goes out void.” Even when you don’t think you are getting something out of your reading time, you are. It’s alive. But we take it a HUGE step forward when we memorize it, because that leads to meditation.

King David was committed to meditating on the statues of our God. This practice carried him through his faith struggles because he treasured the law of God. Meditation on the Word, for me, is to toss it around in the mind until a concrete lesson settles in the heart. I repeat it over in my head or speak it out loud throughout a day or week and allow my heart to consider what that living Word means for me.

Meditation is how the Word moves from the head to the heart.

As the Word moves to the heart, and we choose the discipline of thinking on that word, it finds its home there. Right in our heart. This is the beauty of living out Colossians 3:16. For when the Word dwells in our hearts richly, Christ becomes our richness.


Three of the first verses I put to memory are found in the beautiful Psalm 119.

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (vs. 9-11)

There is this hiding – this tucking away – that protects our life. How can we stay pure today? Temptation is on every side. In Genesis we are told that sin is crouching at our door step – wanting to master us. No wonder Paul continuously exhorts us to stay alert!

We must hide ourselves in Christ and we must hide HIS TRUTH in our hearts, so that “we might not sin against” Him. In Psalm 19, David asks the Lord to keep him from “willful sin.” Breaking away from willful, habitual sin takes complete surrender, accountability and the power of the Holy Spirit. May we seek to keep from that hard, hard road by preparing ahead of time to be alert, run from temptation and guard our hearts so that we do not even ENTER willful sin.


The Word is alive and active and extremely sharp. It’s beautiful, life-giving and filled with hope. And when you begin to feast on that Word, Christ can bring even those things which feel dead back to life in your spirit.

May you know that God loves you, and He gave you His Word to express that love. Be blessed today!





If You are Willing & Obedient

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to memorize Romans 8. About a month ago, I followed through, and it’s just been so good for my spirit. This season is one of follow through for me, and it comes down to obedience.

I’ve often heard that when you are unclear of the Lord’s direction, just go back to the last thing He asked you to do and obey. Sometimes the next thing…… is the thing you  meant to do but left on the starting block with good intentions.

Often it seems like a small thing. The person you needed to call. That apology you meant to make. The neighbor you keep meaning to reach out to. We can minimize these nudges as meaningless or unimportant. They aren’t.

Sometimes it’s bigger and you enter a season of stretching. Recently, for me, it has been both. Regardless, there is one thing I keep learning about obedience: the longer you wait, the harder it will be.

There is a difference between willingness and follow-through, and God wants both. The prophet Isaiah offered the nation of Judah prosperity and blessing that was conditional. The blessing required willful obedience.

“If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land.” (Isaiah 1:19)

The word used in the Hebrew for “willing” is only used in the same manner one other time in Scripture. Every other mention of this word includes a negation in the Hebrew, which would signify the opposite of volunteer. Here is what that means for us: God doesn’t want to have to talk us into an obedient heart.

King David speaks of a time in Psalm 32 when his strength was sapped as in the heat of summer because he waited so long to repent of his sin. When he confessed and found mercy, he expressed a response from the Lord to his heart….and to ours.

“Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.” (vs. 9)

Hear that? Don’t wait so long next time, David. Come to me swiftly – obey quickly. I am FOR you.

He promises to instruct David and watch over him. That’s the promise we all want. The good promises of God are found on the other side of repentance and obedience. As I’m intentional about asking God to direct me to take any action He would have me take, I’m also praying for the courage and strength to obey…and do so quickly.

May our willingness to obey meet with action out of love for a God who wants the very best for us.



Kumbaya, Fertile Ground & The Forgiveness Echoing From Charleston

He was walking casually through the house singing the words so naturally, playing with a few random toys. I caught the words and I asked him, “Josh, where did you learn that song?”

“From the chipmunk movie,” he responded.

“Something good from a movie,” I thought.

My husband got home and I told him. He pulled the boy close to him and said, “Do you know what Kumbaya means, Josh?”

“No, daddy.”

“It means come by here, Lord. Come by here.”

I read recently that Kumbaya was written by Robert Winslow Gordon in 1927. When he later had it recorded it was sung in Gullah (a creole language) on the islands of South Carolina, reportedly between Charleston and Beaufort.

Charleston. “Come by here, Lord. Come by here.”

How many angels have come near just recently, only Heaven knows.


We sat in the small prayer room, the five of us, today. We reported on illnesses, needs, praises. And we turned to Charleston – this church, these people of God thrown into the spotlight. The whole world watching.

Then a friend in the room mentioned a miracle. A man she knows who has struggled with racism, maybe all his life. He lives in Charleston. He drove by multiple churches on a day following the shooting and the parking lots were overflowing. And then the Spirit did what the Spirit does best – He touched that man. The man said he broke down. He wept. He apologized. He asked forgiveness. In an unexpected moment, no words from another, no preaching, no condemning – he was touched by the love of God. He has reached out to ask forgiveness for those he has offended in the past.

One story in a cloud of stories moving across the land.

All that we hope for, strive for and pray deeply for, the Spirit can do in one short moment with one simple touch.

The Bride of Christ has been tested, and the family of God in Charleston has responded with grace. When forgiveness is the most common word being used, Christ is being glorified. And all over the world, in hearts and cities and small towns, there is fertile ground. Because when trials produce authentic worship, souls are intrigued. Hearts are made pliable again.

In prayer, the Spirit spoke to me about fertile ground today.

“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12

There are souls, people we have waited upon, perhaps prayed long years for. Many seeds have been planted over time and, like Apollos, we are being called upon to water the seed of faith. It is time.

There are many hurting hearts around us. In Charleston and perhaps across the street from our home. Is there unplowed ground in which we need to offer the work of love and forgiveness.  Ground that has been dry for a long time. Is there a seed we need to plant or water?

Multitudes, multitudes are in the valley of decision! Even now! Who needs our encouragement to persevere? Who needs our courage to share Christ? Who needs our forgiveness?

Forgiveness – as we’ve seen in Charleston – has a ripple effect. Oh, grace, grace be upon the hurting, the grieving souls. And love lead us as we take our place in the ripple and walk in the Spirit of Christ. May we be sensitive and obedient to nurture the seeds of faith in the souls we know and encounter.

Kumbaya, My Lord. Kumbaya.

The Suffering Saint

“For God, who said, Let light shine out of darkness made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

It seems notable that Paul mentions this kind of glory as “displayed in the face of Christ.” There is a different kind of glory going on here – in the making of all things new. Christ was glorified in his suffering.

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered…” (Heb. 5:8)

The light of the world can shine within our hearts because He walked through His darkest day on a dusty road to Golgotha. The light shines out of darkness.

I find hope deep within this promise: that God brings light out of the darkness. It starts in our hearts – our hoping, living, breathing hearts. When all is dark around us and it seems there is no hope, God is stirring within. Like heat on a humid day, hope rises.

To know Christ is to know suffering. Paul declared that we carry around the death of Jesus, so that His life may be revealed in us. This revealing is a process secured in the trials we overcome, and the securing is different for each of us. The time table, the means and the grace we will need to persevere. Though outwardly we feel and see and believe in the wasting away – inwardly there is a kind of renewing found only in the suffering saint.

How was James able to reach this place of consideration: that trials produce joy? Had he persevered through enough that he hungered for the intimacy he found only there? He desired very much that perseverance would “finish its work.” How many of our trials come because we are unfinished within?

What truths can we cling to in the midst of this finishing?

  • That our good Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials (2 Peter 2:9)
  • We will be hard pressed on every side, but not crushed. (2 Corinthians 4:8)
  • No pain can compare with the GLORY that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18)
  • NOTHING can separate us from the LOVE of God that is found in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39)
  • His grace WILL BE sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

What is incomplete in us was finished on the cross. Though our sanctification is life-long, our redemption was sealed in the final words of Christ.

“It is finished.”

Salvation is working itself out in us, we can be sure. We wait for the GREAT REVEALING. When the Lamb will lay down with the lion and all will be made well. Until then, we cling.

Peter instructed us to cling to the Word as to a “light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in [our] hearts.”

Jesus is the Morning Star. May He arise in our hearts as we suffer unto affliction, even for His great Name. And may we heed the Word like the brightest bulb in a dark and damp cave.

“What, then, shall we say in response to this?

If God is FOR US, who can be against us?”  Rom. 8:31