Christ’s Attitude this Christmas

“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

Philippians 2:1-18

It is in Christ Jesus we are able to have His attitude.

  • agree wholeheartedly
  • love one another
  • work together with one mind and purpose
  • don’t be selfish
  • don’t try to impress others
  • be humble
  • think of others better than yourself
  • don’t only look out for your own interests
  • take an interest in others too
  • have the same attitude as Christ

Christ’s attitude:

  • He served others
  • He was humble
  • He was sacrificial
  • He emptied Himself
  • He was obedient to God (His/Our Father)

We can shine brightly this Christmas season by:

  • not complaining
  • not arguing
  • living clean and innocently
  • holding firmly to the Lord

How can we read this passage from Philippians and still be confused as to how to be more like Jesus? Take this to heart during this season. He’s asking you to take on His attitude for something specific. Be like Christ and walk in obedience to Your Father as you approach Christmas.

Braving Grace ®

Simple Grace

Grace: n. the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

What does it look like to live a life of grace?

 “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

What does it look like to be brave?

Bravery – the ability to confront attempts of intimidation

Brave – over come obstacles

When it is difficult to walk out of a lifestyle of grace we are going to Brave Grace.

Braving Grace – our attempt to live out a lifestyle of grace; not just give grace in certain situations, but actually make it a lifestyle. We are going to let it be an unconscious movement in our day to day living as Christ followers.

Brave – having the strength to face fear of difficulty

To be brave means to believe in something. It means you have to have faith in something or else there is no reason to be brave.

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you…”

1 Corinthians 15:1-2

And just as Paul speaks of himself, we can say that whatever we are once we believe these truths, it is all because God poured out His grace – His special favor – on us. We do not have to strive to be brave or to have grace because Jesus does both in us. Our work of bravery is covered through His grace. In a world full of fear and judgement we can confidently look at the future Braving Grace.

Brave – the confident expectation of the Good News

“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…”

Philippians 1:6

The Hope of the World

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Colossians 1:27

The birth of Jesus is certainly considered one of life’s greatest mysteries. A story told from the beginning of time. God calling Himself – the I AM; who was and who is and who is to come. Jesus, right there with His Father through it all, but not making His human debut until centuries later, not in any way that any one could imagine – in an animals’ dwelling, with no room for a bed, birthed by a young virgin girl – in the City of David, Bethlehem.

This time of year will conjure up in each of us different Christmas carols we have heard and sung through the years, possibly bringing warm memories of seasons gone by, the smell of baking cookies or crinkling wrapping paper on an early Christmas morning. In all of the memories and all of the need to make new memories, it can get easy to dismiss the focus our hearts toward the true meaning of the season. We can say with our mouths that we know it’s about Jesus, but just like any other time of the year, what are our actions speaking?

Christ in us – the hope of glory. Christ in us! Christ. In. Us. If we truly believe that Christ is the hope of glory, the hope of the world, we must look at the very beginning of the verse – “to them God willed to make known the mystery…” What is the mystery – CHRIST IN YOU!! This is the good news my friend. During this Christmas season, Jesus is not just a baby lying in a manger. He is THE Christ, Emmanuel, God WITH us, IN us. Our actions need to reflect an excitement to share THAT gift with others this season.


Do I believe the mystery, that Jesus is Christ in me!? And if I do, with whom have I shared this incredible gift?

Wow! What a Month!

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:46-27

In 2009 my husband went on a weekend trip to Frostproof, FL with a group of other men from our church. While there he would give voice to something that his mother said started in him when he was just a little boy of four. I remember her telling the story of a little Mark sitting at First Baptist Church of Merritt Island under the teaching of Reverend Len Turner. She said that one Sunday Mark declared that he wanted to “do what Pastor Turner does”, he wanted to preach the gospel too! So during the early part of the 2000’s when church planting started ramping up across our nation, he started to notice there might be a space for that desire to take place in his life. A little fun fact: First, Mark loves chocolate chip cookies more than most humans which has NOTHING to do with anything but it’s a fact! But sticking to the subject at hand, Mark’s parents named him after the influential pastor, Adrian Rogers who pastored them in their early marriage at FBCMI. *The photo attached to this post is from the early years of Mark’s church history here in Brevard County, and one we found amongst his mom’s keepsakes after she went to heaven.

Fast forward many years, and LOTS of life – our 4 children becoming teens and young adults, career changes, moving from state to state and back again, a diagnosis and passing of his mom (who would have been so excited to see Mark walking out this calling she always knew was in him), and many other of life’s ups and downs – we have seen Jesus move in ways over the last few months that have made all of the years of prayers and patience worth every minute. He doesn’t waste a thing.

After many years, many conversations, many prayers, many hopes & dreams, we are taking Braving Grace to in-person teaching through Sunday morning church services and Wednesday evening Bible studies. We were presented with the opportunity to begin this journey when our friend Scott, from Matthew’s Hope Ministry, offered us gathering space for our Sunday and Wednesday gatherings at their newest location in Cocoa, Florida. Only a few miles from the church where Mark first accepted Jesus as his Savior and the call of ministry on his life is where we call church home for the foreseeable future.

Our heart is to swing wide the doors of discipleship and biblically sound teaching to believers who have a desire to go deeper into the Word of God, and take the gospel message to their Monday through Saturday lives; teaching that equips them to take the gospel into work, school, and to their friends and family. The entire body will be on a mission to take the gospel to all the nations, making disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe everything He has commanded. We will focus heavily on expositional teaching on Sunday mornings, and on Wednesday evenings we will do the same with in a more relaxed environment open for conversation and discussion.

If you do not have a place you call home for being equipped and for being ministered to, we would love you to come visit us as we start from the foundation up – our foundation being Christ and His finished work – building His Kingdom for His glory! We want to walk in obedience to what God has for us and see you do the same! These last few months have been such a great surprise, sharing it with others is a joy!

This unique human cross was taken at the current church location on Magnolia Ave. and is composed of more than 2,000 people who met for Sunday School at the First Baptist Church of Merritt Island, FL when Adrian Rogers was Pastor. Somewhere in this picture stands Mark’s parents, Kermit and Barbara Cook.

A Summer of Braving Grace

Summer is coming in full swing this month. Here at Braving Grace, living in Florida means summer never ended for the most part, but even here we start feeling a heat that can some days feel unbearable. Summer can also be a time of relaxing a little more, slowing things down for family time, and possibly having a break from the normal “school day” routine. If that is the case (heck, even if it isn’t the case), we’d love to invite you to engage in one of our online devotionals. If you’ve never taken the time to dive into a book of the Bible, that time is now. Visit one of our devotionals today and get started! And we’d love to hear from you if you make that commitment. Let us know what you’re learning.

Summer Devotionals

Click on an image below to get started:

Braving Grace in Galatians
Braving Grace in Hebrews
Braving Grace in Ephesians

Summer Reading Plan

If you are looking to accomplish a great reading challenge, head over to our Bible Reading Plan page and get started. It is never too late to start!! You don’t have to wait to make a new year’s resolution to transform your life through reading the Word!

Click on the image below to get started:

Bible Plan

Get started today. Get started tomorrow. Just get started.

We’d love for you to follow us on social media on our Facebook page. Once on our page hit the sign-up button and invite your friends to join us too! Leave a note for us in the comments about what you’re most excited about in your walk with Christ through reading His Word! There is so much to look forward to this summer!

Don’t Add to It

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

Proverbs 30:5-6

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 1:20-21

Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Adding to the Word means adding anything to it that makes you the center of your relationship to God.

Jesus answered them and said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father God except THROUGH me.”

Adding to the Word means leaning on your own behavior, practices, or traditions to have right standing with God.

You can’t….
Read your bible enough…
Pray enough…
Rest enough…
Serve enough…
Give enough…
Meditate enough…
Do enough…
To be right with God.

Only Jesus. Nothing else. Sure. Should you do all of those things? Absolutely! But THAT isn’t what makes you righteous. Doing all of those things isn’t what makes you a “good person”. Don’t add to what Jesus already did by thinking YOU have to be good. HE was good in your place. Equipping comes from believing that what He said is true and that He is faithful and just to forgive. You read the Bible to know what to believe – That God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. Read the bible to know what to believe about Jesus and how good He is, not to feel good about yourself – God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us; that is very good.

Happy New Year, 2022!!

Happy New Year! I want to encourage you to pull in closer to Jesus this year. There is no better way to get to know Him than to get into the Bible – the Word. John 1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Understanding that we have been given a tangible piece of God through the written Word is paramount to a growing relationship with the King of Kings. We can experience Him in so many ways – through nature, relationships with others, emotions, life circumstances – but to truly know Him and understand His character and personality through these things, we must read the Bible. And there are so many ways we can do that in our technologically driven culture. If you own a smartphone, you can download The Bible App and listen to the Word while you drive, while you exercise, or when preparing a meal, even cleaning the house. We spend hours a day engaging in some form of media so plugging into the Bible instead of binging on the latest season of Longmire is absolutely a better way to start the new year right! Or you may choose to go old-school using your print Bible (this is my favorite way to connect to God).

I am going big this year after being inspired by a friend to do the “Bible in a Month” plan. I am attaching two different plans you can follow if you’d like to join me.

The first is a Book by Book plan making it a little easier to listen straight through several chapters/books at a time. The second is a plan which takes you through some of the Old Testament, New Testament, the Gospels, and Psalms & Proverbs each day. I prefer the second plan as it breaks things up, but the first plan would be more convenient for those of you listening in your vehicle or when it’s not as easy to flip between books. However, the plans are not interchangeable. Choose one plan from below and stick to it:

Get started today. Get started tomorrow. Just get started.

We’d love for you to follow us on social media on our Facebook page. Once on our page hit the sign-up button and invite your friends to join us too! Leave a note for us in the comments about what you’re most excited about in this new year! There is so much to look forward to in 2022!

Transformed Christmas

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Prepare Your Heart
Read Romans 12 & Luke 10:25-37

There is never a bad time of year to renew our minds. Honestly, the holiday season might be the best time to focus on getting our minds off of the pattern of this world and more focused on being transformed by the renewing of our minds. How do we renew our minds? We get in God’s Word.

The holidays can bring unwanted and unwarranted stress into our lives in which we need to be prepared. From long-lasting gatherings with family to holiday work parties, we find ourselves in settings that are not the norm to our day-to-day. Thoughts and interactions may not go the way we expect them to go but the Bible provides us a wonderful outline in the twelfth chapter of Romans as to what we can put our focus on during this season. Let this be a springboard for the future in every area of your life.

What does it look like to have a transformed mind?

  • don’t think more highly of yourself than you think of others (don’t be a disrespectful know-it-all)
  • think sensibly (put down that 3rd, 4th Christmas Cookie; don’t go into debt to give gifts)
  • love without hypocrisy (don’t plaster on a fake smile to talk nice to someone’s face then turn around and gossip about them -hold on, isn’t that “Maturity 101”? Oops, I better practice what I preach LOL)
  • detest evil
  • cling to what is good
  • show family affection and brotherly love
  • outdo one another in showing HONOR (NOT outgiving with expensive gifts unless that is what honor needs to look like in your specific situation)
  • be diligent
  • be fervent in spirit
  • serve the Lord (and those around you)
  • rejoice in hope (nothing, absolutely nothing is hopeless when Jesus is involved)
  • be patient in affliction (there will be a lot of people who have buried hurts that try to surface during the holidays – read all of the above if you’re tempted to judge them in that hurt)
  • be persistant in prayer (not prayer that is consumed with you thinking everyone else needs to change)
  • share with the saints in need
  • pursue hospitality
  • bless those who persecute you (and gossip about you, and say false things about you, and turn their backs on you – yeah, those people)
  • rejoice with those who rejoice (that will help with your struggle with those who persecute you)
  • weep with those who weep (don’t tell people they need to just “get over it”, cry with them have a little empathy)
  • live in Godly agreement (you don’t know everything but God does)
  • don’t be proud; associate with the humble (in other words, let some humble people rub off on you)
  • don’t be wise based on your own opinions (Proverbs 3:5)
  • don’t repay evil for evil
  • do what is deemed honorable by as many as possible
  • be at peace with everyone as much as it depends on you
  • don’t try to get revenge (ooooo, this doesn’t always look like criminal behavior, revenge comes in small packages too – like giving the cold shoulder, gossip, slander, etc)
  • feed your enemy
  • conquer evil with good
  • bear the weaknesses of those who have no strength (you sometimes have to dig a little and let others express their hearts to know when this is needed)
  • don’t live to please yourself (don’t apologize just to ease your own conscience; don’t exploit others in order to look good)
  • build up your neighbor (who’s your neighbor? Read Luke 10:25-37)

Only do what promotes peace this season – and every season for that matter, but start today. If peace will not come by a decision you’re making, reconsider that decision through prayer and ask the Lord to give you wisdom to make the adjustments toward the outcome of peace. If chaos, frustration, and confusion will likely be the end result – change your approach. Use the above “guidelines” to lead you into heavenly peace; brave grace by choosing to practice a renewing lifestyle according to Romans 12.


  • Continue reviewing this list throughout the season.
  • Where are your strengths and weaknesses in regard to renewing your mind in Christ Jesus?
  • How can you incorporate Romans 12 on a personal level in your day to day life?

We’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts or prayers in the comments below. We are excited to be part of your Christmas! To receive notifications and stay engaged with this Christmas devotional series, please follow us. And please share this with your friends and family!

Enjoy a Christmas Song

Grace for Distractions

“….you are worried and distracted by many things….” ~Luke 10:41

Prepare Your Heart

Read: Luke 4 & Luke 10:38-42

Between the months of November and December, our family celebrates a couple of birthdays on top of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I cannot say that it doesn’t add to the possibility for things to get hectic. Ironically enough I woke up today with many distractions going on in my mind. As I sat to read my bible I found myself wandering off into those thoughts and this same passage from Luke 10 – not a passage we would usually associate with Christmas – kept creeping into my distractions….”you are distracted by many things….” and then I was reminded about a wonderful quote I found from Oswald Chambers that reads like this:

Lord, in my consciousness this morning a crowd of little things presses in and I bring them straight to your presence. In your wisdom say, ‘Peace, be still,’ and may my ordered life confess the beauty of your peace.

Oswald Chambers

This is the status of my heart on many mornings. A “crowd of little things” can become the norm for us during the holidays. But in all of the distractions of life let’s press in close to Jesus today and begin to make that the norm so that our lives become a confession of the beauty of His peace.


  • What is the “crowd of little things” that keeps your mind distracted throughout your days?
  • Do these distractions cause chaos or frustration?
  • You have been given the mind of Christ. If you’re facing many distractions today, give them to Him and thank Him for renewing your mind.

We’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts or prayers in the comments below. We are excited to be part of your Christmas! To receive notifications and stay engaged with this Christmas devotional series, please follow us. And please share this with your friends and family!

Seeking Him. Jesus.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Jesus ~ Matthew 6:33

Prepare Your Heart:
Read Matthew 6:25-34

How do we seek God’s righteousness during this Christmas season? Wise men still seek Him. The “easy” answer is that we pursue right living – making good decisions, being honest, living with integrity, being kind, etc. It’s interesting how we are so trained to default to our own efforts.

If we look at what Jesus said here, we find that He didn’t tell us to go work hard to become righteous. He said to seek God’s righteousness. This means that righteousness is something to be found, not something to be done.

Righteousness is right-standing with God.  The righteous person can stand in God’s presence without guilt or condemnation, fully free from judgement. The reality of Jesus is that without Him, no one can achieve righteousness. If we could do it on our own, His sacrifice wouldn’t be necessary. If we didn’t need a Savior, we wouldn’t rejoice at His birth.

In this season of grace, we are reminding ourselves to focus on the one thing that really matters, which is Jesus. Do we focus on Him by doing good things? The more righteously we behave, does that help us to focus on Him? Or is it the reverse?

Romans 5:17 tells us that righteousness is a gift that we receive. We don’t earn it. But let’s take it a step further. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says:

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption . . .

Do you see it? Jesus became for us righteousness. The KJV says “who is made unto us.”  Became for us, is made unto us – Jesus is God’s righteousness on our behalf. When we seek the One who matters, when we pursue Him in His Word, in prayer, in faith, then we are seeking His righteousness. And from that place, righteous living will follow. We don’t seek righteousness by trying to be righteous. Rather, we become righteous when we seek Jesus. After all, He became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Spend this season seeking the One and find the gift of righteousness. And all the things will be added.


  • What are ways you can spend time seeking the things of God with as much intention as you seek for the perfect gift for friends and family members?
  • Do you receive God’s gift of righteousness as an actual gift or are you still trying to earn it?

We’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts or prayers in the comments below. We are excited to be part of your Christmas! To receive notifications and stay engaged with this Christmas devotional series, please follow us. And please share this with your friends and family!

Grace to Forgive

“Indeed everything is for your benefit, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to increase to God’s glory.”

2 Corinthians 4:15 (HCSB)

We have all heard it said, “Living with unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” Drinking the poison will always bring more harm and death to the consumer than it ever will to the person who has offended us, and that is not God’s desire for any of our lives. There may be moments where holding a grudge feels good because that person won’t even acknowledge what they have done. But Jesus addressed that lie when He hung from the cross and said, “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) It is important to recognize that unforgiveness is not only a tool the enemy uses to keep us from loving relationships but also a way to keep us separated from the love of God. According to 2 Corinthians 4:15, if everything is for our benefit then that means forgiveness is for our benefit. This cause and effect of forgiveness does not stop short of our own personal benefits; it creates a chain reaction toward something much more eternal than our fickle feelings. The entire gospel message hinges on the fact that, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Jesus extended forgiveness to us even when we would not acknowledge our offenses. When we forgive the way we have been forgiven through Christ Jesus the outcome of that commitment displays grace. Our forgiveness is then extended through more and more people. The grand finale of our obedience is a spectacular showing of thanksgiving and an increase to God’s glory – His glory, reflected in our forgiveness. That is good news, and so much better than the bitter sting of holding on to something God never intended for you to keep.

Dear Jesus, it is my prayer today that you would reveal areas that need my attention in the area of forgiveness. Where there are elements connected to grudges or bitterness, please prune away what needs pruning in order that I may walk with complete wholeness and fullness of life. If there is someone I need to forgive, I pray for the grace to extend through me so that your glory may be experienced in all of my relationships. Glory and honor and thanksgiving, In Your name. Amen.

Think About it:

  • Are there any relationships in my life where I need to “come clean” and ask for forgiveness where I may have offended someone?
  • Are there any relationships where I have held on to past hurts or grudges that I need to address and offer forgiveness?
  • Have I ever received the complete forgiveness that God extended to me through His Son Jesus Christ so that I am able to extend that same grace to others?

More on Grace

I found this from an old social media post. It's no less true today than it was the day I wrote it 8 years ago. It is probably even more relevant to current life circumstances. I pray it blesses you. 

For several months, God has been dealing with me in the area of grace. I have always loved the biblical principle, “for whom much grace is given, much grace will abound.” I will say, and I truly believe it, recently I have come to a new revelation and desire to understand how I can walk in the type of grace seen in the Word; it is not easy.

2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all the grace you need, you will abound in every good work.” It is very difficult to “abound in every good work,” when we are constantly at odds with others. We can fill our lives with “every good work,” going on about doing great things for God, yet never truly understand the concept of grace. We might even walk in His grace over our own lives, accepting it for ourselves but never accomplish the one true “good” work God desires for all of us – Love others as well as you love yourself, this is the second greatest command given by Jesus as He fulfilled His early ministry. yet, many of us do not walk in that love, again, we accept that love of God on our own lives, even to the extent of doing nice things for others, but we still seem to esteem ourselves above all others. This is not walking in grace.

I found it so interesting that one word used to describe grace was the word, “clemency”. Clemency means to have the disposition to show forbearance, compassion, or forgiveness in judging or punishing; leniency; mercy. Those concepts are the basic foundational truths of the New Testament. We are called to receive God’s grace so that we are able to walk in grace and extend grace, compassion, forgiveness, and mercy toward all others. These things should be extended toward everyone, not just those we choose or think deserve it. Deciding who deserves our grace is the antithesis of the Christian doctrine.

Grace means relinquishing our right to be right not sometimes but at all times. In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul learned that God’s grace was sufficient for him, that God’s power was made perfect in weakness. I don’t think he was talking about weakness of the physical body because if you continue in the passage Paul says:

"I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, For when I am weak, then I am strong. I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it."  

He boasted in his weaknesses concerning his reaction to insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties dealing with those people who were wanting to defame the message he was bringing in the name of Christ. These were people who he was trying to reach for the sake of the Gospel yet they refused to hear him, continuing to walk in opposition to him – insulting him, persecuting him, to the point of death. Ha! Now that’s what I call grace! He turned the other cheek, so to say, to the point of looking like a fool!

Grace allows you to do that. It allows you to show a person so much compassion even when they are insulting you or hurting you. To the world you look like a fool, heck, even to most of your Christian friends you are looking pretty foolish in those moments. But God’s power is made perfect in those moments! Resting in that truth is a beautiful freedom. I would suggest anyone try it!

Although it would be much easier to remove the “thorn” (seen earlier in 2 Corinthians 12), grace abounds all the more when we allow ourselves to walk in it through those difficult experiences, loving people through His strength and not our own. An entire world was changed because one man walked this perfectly, and we are called to emulate Him – Jesus!

Grace and Courage to Enter

You can now hear this blogpost on Spotify to listen on the go! LISTEN HERE!

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4 
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. Hebrews 4:16 
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.  Ephesians 2:18

David’s desire in Psalm 27:4 is something I pray on a regular basis. There is a sense of wonderment when I consider that David did not have the culminating end point of a relationship with Jesus, he only had the promise of the coming Messiah. The level of passion and obedience it required to stay in right-standing with God without ever seeing Jesus is worthy of human envy. (Maybe that is why Saul hated him so.) Yet, the Lord dubbed David, “a man after God’s own heart.”

So many people are waiting on a man to give them permission to be set free, to let them know they are redeemed, counted worthy, and seen as righteous.

I was watching an episode of King of Queens called “Patrons Ain’t”. In the episode Doug and Carrie, the lead husband and wife duo, donate money to a school library in order to feel better about themselves. When Carrie notices they aren’t listed on a plaque as giving as much as they had, she wants to tell the director of the library. She and her husband bicker about how uncouth that would be – Doug not wanting to embarrass himself with something so petty. Somehow the situation becomes a “spiritual” matter and they find themselves sitting in front of a priest asking him his opinion with Carrie hoping for permission to be recognized. The priest finally encourages them to drop it and Doug feels justified.

This silly sitcom example reminded me that we have a great high priest named Jesus and we don’t have to go to a priest for advice or to know what God would have for us. When Jesus died and rose again the veil that hung in the temple was torn from top to bottom. That meant that everyone could have access to God through the Holy Spirit and no longer through a priest or an infallible man. It meant we could come straight to God with our requests and our needs. It meant we could receive Him as our ultimate sacrifice and we would not need to put on a performance or prove ourselves to receive His grace and blessing.

When I watched the King of Queens episode it reminded me of how often we feel the need to seek out validation or agreement from people who may or may not always have our best interest at heart; even really nice, Christian people; even our family members who are believers. We have to have confidence in who we are in Christ more than we have confidence in someone else. We already know that the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, we know what is right, but I believe that we trust the opinion of the people around us more than we trust the still small voice of the Spirit. And I certainly believe that there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors, but when the counselors are not in agreement with THE Counselor, we must have the courage to enter into obedience with the plan of God over what others might think they know is best. God gave us permission to fully trust Him when He gave His Son to die on that cross.

Today have the boldness to enter in to a conversation with your Heavenly Father. If you are facing a holy discontentment, or maybe an unsettling in your soul that you just can’t quite put your finger on, stop asking everyone else what they think, and just ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what He’d like to show you. He is always faithful. Even when we can’t see the end from the beginning, we know He will complete what He started. We are His temple and He wants to show us where to take it!

Grace and Peace,


New Month. New You.

Today is the first day of a new month. This new month has a new season on the calendar – summer. For some of us, this new month doesn’t just represent the physical change in weather patterns, but also a new season of life patterns. For over a year, my husband and I have been praying and seeking the Lord to give us clarity regarding some of our life circumstances. We’ve been forging through an incredibly difficult season of life with the death of a parent, career changes, uprooting family to care for those things, and the experience of transition on a level that can really take a toll on a person. But in the middle of all of that, God just kept telling us to keep moving forward, keep encouraging people to know Him more, and that He’d make things clear in His timing (Proverbs 19:12). When you’re in the middle of an experience that just hurts, you want nothing more than to rush down that path as quickly as possible. But that isn’t always what will bring the most growth.

Maybe you find yourself in the middle of a tough season. Today, be encouraged to take advantage of some of the bible studies that you can find here at Braving Grace. There is no better way to move through a season than to spend time soaking in the Son. It will give you the nourishment your spirit, soul, and body need in a way that no summer vacation, spring break, or winter holiday every could.

Click on one of these links for devotional studies:

Much Love,


Control Your Time, Please!

As I sat in my chair after the question was asked of the panel of leaders, sweat beads started to form on my brow. “How do you balance motherhood, work, family life, and everything else you do to help lead others?”  Sure, a question that many women sitting in the room were probably wondering. Just like the women who were chosen to inform and inspire us, we had a desire to lead well in our homes and in our vocations.  As the question was asked, the entire panel laughed out loud, shaking their heads up and down, making quick little remarks to one another as if to assure us, “yes, we get it, our schedules are a crazy mess too!”  But the heat was crawling up my back until the moment I heard these amazing words come from one of the speaker’s mouths:

“Time management is one of the most important things to finding success, but it can also be a huge SACRIFICE for some of you sitting in the audience. It does not come natural to everyone, even to people who are successful. But it must become important to you if you want to be successful as a high-capacity leader.”   

I wanted to jump up and down and yell, “YES!” For years, I have been told that I am a high-capacity leader. Frankly, I haven’t always known how to say, “NO,” well and ended up with more on my plate than I should.  Yep, I could get the tasks done, make the trip, lead the group, but only at the expense of everyone around me – sacrifice. The sacrifice of family time, the sacrifice of sleep, even the sacrifice of happiness – this panel speaker confirmed that Time Management is in fact a sacrifice. That day I realized, I must decide what I’m willing to sacrifice in the time I have been given in order to accomplish what God has given me to accomplish.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:” The chapter goes on to list out the different things that take up time in our lives. Birth, death, taking time to sow into dreams, tearing down things that do not belong, building up things that do, crying, laughing, grieving and dancing, even a time to decide what things to keep and those things to throw away.  That’s a lot to accomplish day to day.  And according to Solomon, God already knew that we would be faced with having to make priorities and having to decide how to manage our time in this life well. And one of the New Testament writers reminded us: “God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3)

God gave us the ability to control ourselves – it is one of the Fruit of the Spirit, self-control.  Time Management is largely about managing and organizing the hours of each day – controlling our time. It is not some magical day planner, an alarm buzzing from your smart device, or an app you can download to your phone. Sure, all of those are great tools to help us manage our days but, when it all boils down to it, managing our lives and our time to reflect our priorities is something in which we must be intentional.

First and foremost, we must determine those things that are priority.  If we do not recognize our priorities it is going to be difficult to manage our time. Secondly, we need to prioritize our priorities.  Because sacrifice is involved in managing our time, we need to determine those things we are willing to put on the altar each day. Each day may change. I may determine that today I am going to sacrifice a little time with my kids because yesterday I took them to the beach and had a picnic. Sacrifice does not have to hold negative connotation. In regard to time management it can look like prioritizing each day, one day at a time, even if you do that monthly. You can look at your calendar to see if you have or haven’t spent time with a friend or a child. Maybe you do not physically keep a calendar but you still know if it has been days since you have taken a much-needed exercise break.  Either way, prioritizing your priorities is a must!

If you struggle managing your time and knowing when to say NO to one thing in order to say YES to something else, I would like to challenge you to take 15 minutes to do two things:

1) Write down anything in your life that is a priority. It can be people, events, activities, personal care, etc.

2) Then, using your priorities list, make a second list and organize those priorities in order from most important to not as important.  (I didn’t say least important because ALL priorities are important, right!?!) 

Once you have done these things pray over the list. Ask the Lord if there are any areas in your life that you are making higher priority than necessary. Pray that He will show you what your “most important” priorities need to be and those you can push a little further down the list. Ask Him to help you recognize when things need to shift. And then thank Him for giving you the ability to control yourself and your time. 

For those who love technology:

LIFEHACK is a great tool to use for time management. And the great thing about Lifehack is that they just updated the latest and greatest tools for 2021!

I’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts about today’s blog devo in the comments below!


Scripture References:
Ecclesiastes 3:1-9
2 Peter 1:3
Matthew 6:25-34

Woefully Pitiful or Wonderfully Irreplaceable

I was likened to a football player.  Being barely over five feet tall, a football player is not exactly something in which I desire to be compared. And frankly, none of my counterparts sitting in that room that day fit the description either. Upon this strange likening, I found myself slightly caught off guard.  It was my understanding that I had been chosen to help lead a children’s ministry, not be a linebacker on a football team. But for some reason, on this particular Monday the day after a long Sunday, the pastor felt the need to use football as an analogy of being displeased with those whom he called employees. Apparently, someone didn’t drive the proverbial ball far enough down the field. It seemed that maybe the quarterback was throwing interceptions. I guess if we were a football team that might have been acceptable in this meeting, but we weren’t a football team. We were a group of people who had worked tirelessly loving and serving people the day before. We were prayed up, we were believing for breakthrough in people’s lives, we were full of faith that people were being saved.  But clearly there was pass interference and it trumped anything good that God could have done that previous Sunday. The coach went on to say none of us were really needed; there were many people who could do our jobs; any minute someone else could step in and do what we do. I pondered the absurdity of his words amidst the shock at being spoken to this way and realized he was right.  I was not the only person in the world who could lead a children’s ministry. I was not the only person who cared if little kids learned about Jesus. But there was one thing that “coach” was wrong about: I am not replaceable because I am the only me. I was the only one God created uniquely and wonderfully to fulfill a purpose in this world, in that specific place, at that specific time. The hard truth was that he was wrong in saying that I could be replaced. Sure, someone else could do my tasks but no one could replace me. No one would love those kids the way I would love those kids. No one would take the time to minister to and lead those children’s volunteers the way I would. And many years ago, while God knit me together in my mother’s womb, He knew all those things. Over the course of 40+ years He was working something out in me so that I could be confident in His truths and would recognize when someone was speaking outside of those truths.

Fast forward a year or so, a new team, a new coach (due to ending my career contract with the previous team, and being given another opportunity to serve this new coach). This coach was different. He didn’t speak coach speak at all. He spoke God speak. He made comments that inspired partnership. He even validated and encouraged those people who no one else would have considered encouraging. Sure, they deserved being encouraged, but didn’t he see that the person was a drug addict? This girl he was saying would be a pastor, didn’t he notice she had pock marks indicative of a meth issue? That guy who came to church with the smell of alcohol on his breath, why was this pastor telling this guy that joy was his birthright? This guy probably didn’t even know his biological father. This “coach” was nuts! But wait, was he nuts? Or was he actually pastoring, was he ministering healing and hope to people? I hadn’t experienced this type of leadership in my life. I’d caught a glimpse of it over the years, but this guy went to another level.  And it dawned on me, God was trying to use this guy to soften the blow from being treated as a player in a game. Because this leader determined to speak life, people grew and were able to walk out purpose in their lives. Not live feeling pitiful.

The truth is, most of us are painfully aware of our pitifulness. Most of us don’t need a reminder that we can be replaced. We know deep down there will always be someone who could do our job.  Even as a wife and a mother, someone technically could step in and do that job for me. My own natural capacity isn’t fooled into thinking I am the end all, be all.  But the bottom line is this:  God made each one of us creatively and uniquely. We are all wonderfully irreplaceable. That is why He sent Jesus. That is why Jesus did what He did. People do not need to hear that they are replaceable. They need to hear how much they are loved – it is the goodness of God that leads people to change. They need to hear that even in their scrawniest of attempts they are valuable. Everyone already fixates on their weaknesses so they don’t need reminders of those things. They need to be reminded that where they are weak, HE is strong. Where they fall short, He bridges the gap. Make people feel important, and the return on that simple investment will be priceless! Jesus already paid the price and it wasn’t so we could discount that with a half-off code or a gross comparison to being a football player when we’re just trying to do life as a people trying to love other people.   We are fully precious in His sight!

Are there personal relationships or situations where a leader has undermined your value? It’s not easy to admit this because we live in a culture where we are told to respect authority and leadership so we fear that maybe we really are broken and don’t deserve to be valued. We live in a culture where we fear having truthful conversations. Well, Brave Grace and recognize that you are valuable. Determine to get into the Bible if you’re not fully certain if what you are being told about yourself from a leader or close friend is pumped with Godly truth. There has to be an element of personal respect and a Godly foundation of understanding who HE says you are before you might recognize when something does not line up with those truths. Respect and value starts with you first respecting and valuing yourself through the knowledge of who you are in Christ Jesus!

Grace in the Waiting

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Psalm 27:13-14

Waiting. If we’re honest, most of us do not like waiting, yet it seems that most of our lives are spent waiting for something. From the moment a mother waits for the baby to be born until the moment loved ones wait for a person to breath their last breath, life goes by one waiting moment at a time.

Waiting is not easy. Waiting is hard. In a 2-day delivery world, waiting is made almost impossible – even if you wanted to wait. But waiting is necessary. God wouldn’t have breathed the words, “…be strong and take heart…” in regards to waiting if it didn’t require a little brawn. Waiting isn’t for the faint of heart. Thankfully, we don’t have to conjure up the strength and brawn it can take to wait.

If you’ve ever carried and delivered a child, you probably understand the necessity of waiting on a level that others may not. For ten full months the child remains unseen, and in a single moment, all of the waiting comes to an end and a baby is born. As a woman who has carried several children past full-term, I can attest that most waiting evokes the same emotion and need for grace as does waiting for a baby to be born. None of it is easy. There is a level of grace that is needed in any waiting. Even enduring the arrival of a baby, I still need an immense dose of grace just sitting at a stop light at times!

Imagine, for hundreds of years the world awaited a Messiah who was seemingly unseen. He was the Promise longed for; the answer to all of the world’s sin. And even still, centuries after Jesus was revealed, Romans 8:19 declares that, “…creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God.” All of us are in a waiting process. The waiting process makes the gift of grace so much more valuable.

I consider the prophet Isaiah who was declaring the promises of God without knowing he’d ever personally experience all he spoke of. He did not see the promise of the child being born unto us. He did not get to meet the wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace. He only got to tell of the promise. He didn’t get to see the physical human representation of grace through Christ Jesus, but that didn’t stop Isaiah from speaking of Him as if he’d already met Him. Isaiah remained confident, and he walked braving grace, declaring the Word of the Lord, all while waiting.

During this season, ask the Lord to reveal to you the grace He is providing for you as you wait for that thing you know you are waiting for.

Grace and Gifts Abound

Read: Genesis 26:17-22 

We see here in Genesis that Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley where he set up their tents and settled down. He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them. Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”). Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

An unlikey passage that made for an amazing devotion one morning as I sipped my coffee and waited for a revelation.  I love those moments when God drops a word into your heart from a portion of scripture that you would never imagine He would speak directly to your life.  To get to the story and application…

Isaac had settled in Gerar and goes about his business sowing seed, raising cattle, growing richer and richer as the days went by.  Well, this made the Philistines jealous so they went and filled in the wells which were dug by Abraham’s servants (Isaac’s daddy).  The King tells Isaac he is too powerful to stay among the people and sends him on his way.  Isaac then moves into the Gerar Valley where he is faced with disgruntled shepherds.  No one twittered so these shepherds could know that Isaac was coming to pitch a tent and make the valley his home for awhile. So it’s to reason they were frustrated but it was how they handled their frustration that spoke to me. 

In this story, Isaac prospers so much that the King sends him away.  I was moved by the fact that Isaac faced a group of people who determined to argue with him over the blessing of the fresh water when he was in a land that was able to provide more than enough for everyone who inhabited the region.  They were arguing over the blessing! 

I believe that is like many people today.  We don’t recognize that there is blessing, according to God’s riches in glory, for everyone.  Each one of us is given gifts and abilities in order to serve and encourage others.  Instead of recognizing that God has given to us all an equal measure we decide to argue and walk in accusation towards others.

“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

1 John 3:17

When we shut up our hearts for love toward others, we’re acting as the Philistines who shut up the wells of Isaac’s father, which was provision for the people.  God wants us to use our resources to love others, not to argue and dispute over who has the rights to the resources – the Word says:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights…”

James 1:17

None of anything in this life is for us anyway, it’s all meant to be spent for the good of others.

Don’t spend life involved in arguments and discord. Rather, get along with what God is calling you to and pray that you are able to spend the resources to bless and not to accuse others of taking what is yours.  There is enough to go around! 

God, Grace, & Government

Ouch. I didn’t pick a sneaky title, I just went straight for the jugular – I am talking about God and Government all in one fell swoop! Some people will see that title and ignore me. They won’t want to hear what I think about politics considering they are averse to anything of the sort (and that’s not really what I am writing about anyway). But those of you who decided to see what I have to say, sit back and let’s talk! After all, that’s what a blog is for, right – so we can engage in conversation that most people don’t really want to be part of but we insist on sharing our thoughts anyway!?

So here goes…

It all begins with grace. That’s it. Sorry to let you down. Especially those who know I have a tendency to get a little sassy when I talk about my opinions. That is not the direction I will take today. Today is more about saving relationships in this heated time we find ourselves in as a nation.

I have a friend. She and I have different moral matrices (according to ZDoggMd and Dr. John Haight *see video below) and hold differing views about God and Government. Despite our differences, we love one another and have had a friendship that has been forged by commonalities, life milestones (some heartbreaking, others exciting), and time. As of recent, we found ourselves in the midst of a conflict that revolved around the need to be understood, each by the other, the subject matter involving politics which we both feel very strongly about. After several minutes of back and forth, we had recognized we were at an impasse and needed to step away from the conversation. We said all we could say, and we were most likely only going to hurt one another more deeply if we didn’t step away. I have to admit, she made the first move to stop the conversation and allowed me the last word, for that I am grateful as I tend to fight to the end with every intention of reconciling, not necessarily winning.

This is probably a scenario many people face – especially during this season where so many of us have differing views about how things should be. There is no better time to operate out of that place of grace than right now. When engaging in conversation about God or Government & politics, everything must be seasoned with grace. I do believe that is what Jesus wanted. And we see it time and again in Paul’s letters to the churches of the New Testament. He always begins each letter bestowing the grace and peace of God through Christ Jesus before he delves into conversation.

So what does grace look like when it comes to God and Government:

Grace looks like stepping back from a conversation that has no real bearing on eternal destiny.

Grace looks like choosing words that do not cut or intentionally create anger. Only using words to uplift and edify. (ouch, I am preaching to the choir with my quick tongue – please forgive me)

Grace looks like being willing to see another person’s perspective and be ok if you don’t agree with their narrative.

Grace looks like understanding that people are searching for answers and calling them idiots because they do not have them is NOT the answer.

Grace looks like making an effort to understand your own views and not just touting a party line (remember we are talking about politics here) because it’s all you’ve ever known – ignorance is not bliss, it is lazy (and yes, I said that with as much gracefulness as I could muster – even Paul in his letters was intense in his debates to convince people that their ways were foolish – read our Galatians Devos to see him in action).

Grace looks like believing the best in others, including yourself.

Grace looks like confidence in recognizing your faults without cowering under the pressure to disregard those beliefs because someone doesn’t agree with you. (This requires actively pursuing grace in all of those other areas up there, so be mindful)

We are in what is most likely the most volatile political climate felt by our generation. The things happening in our world are not the worst things that have ever happened in history – countless lives are lost in every generation because of the carelessness of mankind. But, for our generation and those younger, we have not experienced the level of division and discord being felt currently. We have got to rise up and be willing to have conversation without the desire to decimate our “opponent”. That has never gotten humanity anywhere! Braving grace regarding God and Government may be a daunting task but extending God’s grace is the only way we will survive what is ahead of us without destroying relationship with others. And that is really the only true eternal currency in God’s kingdom – people. Neither Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Mike Pence, or any other government official have the power or the money to infiltrate the very being of mankind, that right is reserved for the Creator. That knowledge should give us all a starting point to braving grace during the next several months of social media craziness and the conversations we will have & hear regarding God and Government.


*P.S. This is an excellent video discussing the psychology behind why we have conflict and how to navigate in it well. Disclaimer: I am not promoting the author/speaker outside of this specific video. I am not to be held responsible for individual perception of said resource or it’s effects on the viewer. It is not meant for furthering biblical studies, but solely addresses human behavior.

Braving Grace in Relationship

Something that hit me the other day is that grace is NOT a Fruit of the Spirit. Grace is in fact the very essence of God, the very nature of Jesus Christ, the absolutely embodiment of the Holy Spirit. If it is in Him we live and move and have our being, then it is likely that the entire reason we need to embrace this radical grace is in order to live at peace with people. That doesn’t mean our interactions with people will always feel warm and fuzzy, but it means we do need to find a way to “live at peace with all men” as much as it depends on our part. Finding peace sometimes means confrontation, and too many times we will shirk away from those moments because we don’t truly understand how to navigate ourselves when there is tension.

In our relationships Braving Grace might look something like this:

Regardless of who is right or who is wrong, we need to determine in our hearts to allow people to be people. I know when I am wrong I appreciate when someone allows me the opportunity to be heard. When we allow others to be real it opens doors to healing in our hearts and in many cases even our physical bodies. That doesn’t mean it won’t get ugly, consider the pruned tree in all of its ugliness. That pruning down to ugly gives way to something more beautiful. That should always be our outlook when dealing with confrontation or difference, that something beautiful can burst forth if we can get past the discomfort of disagreement.

It is very possible our relationships will face some discomfort at times. That is why it is so important to understand grace.

If you find yourself in relational discomfort today ask yourself where you could brave grace with the other person. Where do you need to put trust in the gap? Where do you need to give the benefit of the doubt? Where do you maybe need to see that other person the way Jesus sees them?

I’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments below. Or visit our daily devotional to learn more about walking in grace.

Be encouraged. Brave Grace.



You Are the Church

Don’t mistake your identity as the church for what it means to “assemble together”. Don’t wait to “go back to church,” YOU ARE THE CHURCH! People always say, “the church isn’t a building” and they are right in saying so! Now is the time to embrace that truth and walk in your identity AS the church! Worship Him anyway – you don’t need a live band to sing to Him. Take communion anyway – you don’t need someone else to hand you the bread and the juice to remember His works. Read your Bible anyway – you don’t need someone else’s eyes to do that for you! And continue pressing in to the amazing ways God has provided for us to connect through distance! Be encouraged! Brave Grace!

Global Grace

Some time ago, I heard an interview with Joel Houston, Worship Leader for Hillsong Australia.  In his interview he discussed the idea of the Global Church.  I would normally hear something like this and think, “wow, that’s great…it is good to reach out and touch the nations with the Gospel,” after all, that’s what Paul did. I would move on and not give it much more thought, simply because I do not personally feel called to serve on the foreign mission field.  But when I heard him speaking of getting people to understand that the church is not just this small thing rather a huge conglomeration of people all striving for the same goal, I was compelled.  We are all here for a purpose and that is to glorify God in ALL the Earth! 
I started meditating on what the Word says about going out into the world, about ministering.  I started considering the local church.  The local church is just an extension of the Global Church and the Global Church is a beautiful representation of all of creation.  We are created in His image yet we tend to get so caught up in our own image.  We get focused on the image other people see in us.  I believe if we were to start seeing our calling beyond our own forehead we might stop having some of the issues that we face.  I even found myself wondering what it is that makes Hillsong Australia pump out so many hit worship tunes, how do they have church services with thousands upon thousands of people, why are they so influential in the Christian community? Then, putting it into the perspective of what Houston spoke of being the Global Church, I realized it is their grasp of that concept which allows them to be so successful – they have discovered what it means to be THE Church.  I’m sure they have their issues and their situations, but I’m also certain that their foundations consist of a group of people who are able to see beyond themselves and into the real purpose of their calling – to be used by our Savior to save a lost and dying World – to share the radical message of grace, just like the Apostle Paul.  If we were to realize our God-given purpose we’d stop concerning ourselves with worldly issues – repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community (if that doesn’t sound familiar pull out your Bible and look up Galatians 5, I took this from The Message Bible).  Unfortunately, even the local church is riddled with lives that look like this.  Why do we continue to be okay with this in our own lives?  Why are we not aspiring to go global by taking on a more Godly lifestyle – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity…develop[ing] a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people… find[ing] ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
I have no doubt if we were to focus more on the World around us and get outside of our own motives and “all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants,” we would see such a change in our personal lives that it would bleed over into our service for Him.

Grace in the Grades

It’s that time of year: Graduation; college admissions; transcript requests; all things end-of-school-year! As I prepare to move forward with my own personal education, I found myself looking at my college transcripts tonight for the first time in probably 20 years. Wow, it evoked some serious emotion that I was not anticipating . The idea that I even have a college degree is absolutely a testimony of God’s grace in this life! (Any of my former high school teachers who may remember me will testify!) While skimming the dates attached to the different semesters I spent in college, the year 1993 was not my finest to say the least. But seeing the grades attached to one particular semester, Spring of 1993, hit me hard. Knowing the stories that were associated to that blip on my timeline, and to each letter F that scars my transcript, were humbling and somewhat embarrassing. Each letter represented a choice I remember making. They were choices made by a girl who had no idea of her true value. A girl I don’t remember as clearly as I remember the outcome of those choices.

But, praise Jesus that despite the embarrassment of those awful transcripts, and a brief moment of shame memories, I was reminded that those days were turned around for God’s best in my life (recalling Romans 8:28) and that they were even redeemed over time; the literal grades themselves were redeemed through grade forgiveness and a little hard work on my part. The stories attached to all of those ugly Fs would prepare me to have grace toward people, even when they have no clue that I can relate to their brokenness. It’s been many years since I have recalled some of those moments of failure. I’ve spent 25 years keeping those moments in a special room of my heart, only recalling them out of necessity to show compassion and grace toward others. I seldom allow the enemy the opportunity to play the shame game with me anymore in regards to those stories. Tonight when I pulled up my transcript, I will admit, a little shame tried to rear it’s ugly head. But, as in so many of those moments over the last 25+ years, I couldn’t help but marvel at how good my God is to me. That young girl from 1993 eventually graduated, not just from college but from a life of shame to a life of grace and confidence in Christ Jesus. And for that, all I can say is, “Amen!”

Grace to Keep Going

Galatians 6:9-10 “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. “

There are days where I feel like I am swimming upstream in a fast moving creek and all I can do is tell myself, “you can do this, you can do this!” Our grandmothers would use the old biblical phrase, “this too shall pass.” It is all the same. Trying to keep perspective during the days of hectic chaos – please note it is not just hectic or chaotic; it is hectic chaos, totally different – and it sometimes feels almost impossible. But again, our dear friend Paul reminds us in Galatians 6:9 not to grow weary in doing the things of the Lord because there is a harvest to reap at the end. I don’t know about you but I’m interested in reaping that good harvest. For too many years I reaped a harvest that was no good and I’m excited to see the fruit of good, Godly labor! Even in those moments of weariness there is rest for our souls according to the Gospel of Matthew – “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest…” You see, God does not hang us out to dry without a solution for our weary sowing. He promises us that He will give us rest. And after we are able to rest in Him we will, in the proper time, experience the satisfaction of a job well done.

So, today when you are at your wits end with the task you are so diligently laboring, remember that He showers abundantly, refreshes His weary loves, and gives strength to the weak. Our God provides all our needs according to His riches in glory….He will give you all that you need so you are able to keep going!