Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"I'm glad you didn't quit."

Does life ever get you down? The election leave you stressed? Grief leave you overwhelmed? Work make you feel defeated? I know life can be hard, seasons challenging and days difficult, but this post from 3 years ago struck me tonight. I'm currently not feeling tempted to "quit", but have definitely been there and know the feeling can return. Life is hard, the future is uncertain and sometimes we just want the struggle, whatever it may be, to end. So what are we to do? May this post from the past offer some insight...

The title of this post comes from words my husband spoke to me. I had just finished a task I really didn't want to do and one that took effort to complete. It was one I could have just left undone...honestly, something I considered. Anyway when it was all over, my husband looked at me and simply said, "I'm glad you didn't quit."

His words struck me because they came shortly after I had posted an entry titled, "Just Quit". My focus then was to quit listening to lies, worrying, striving to please people and a list of other things. There are so many things I need to quit doing, and maybe you do too, but as I listened to my husband I was reminded there are just as many that I don't need to quit. Oh but how often I confuse the two!

So this simple statement and big truth got me thinking...what are the things I shouldn't quit? I can't quit doing the daily tasks that can get mundane like doing laundry, washing dishes, sweeping the floor, making meals and on and on. I can't quit disciplining my children, loving them, reading to them, spending time with them. I can't quit on my marriage and I can't quit on God. 

Friends, will you think about this with me? Have you been tempted to quit on God? Have you quit on Him? Even when life is hard, with situations that make no sense and when relationships fall apart we can't quit seeking Him, trusting Him or obeying Him. 

I know this is hard - God often leads us out of our comfort zone and His plan rarely matches ours, but we must remember His ways are perfect and His plan is for good. Friend, you don't need my words to encourage you, but I pray God's will -

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you." Philippians 3:12-15

"We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but we do not give up the hope of living. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, 
but we are not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

"So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised." Hebrews 10:35-36

So today when you are tempted to quit or God shows you that you already have, go to Him, remember what His Word says and press on. Keep the faith and fight the good fight! (1 Timothy 6:12) I have to admit I appreciated my husband's words, but as I've thought about this I've been reminded someday God could share similar ones with me! Friend let's live in a way that we will hear Him!!

Today will you join me in trying to quit doing the things we shouldn't do and press on in the areas God calls us to! I believe if we do this we will one day hear Jesus' words from Matthew 25:21 - "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Friend, I don't know what you are facing or if you are tempted to quit, but God does. He doesn't just know, He sees and understands. He is working and longs for you to work through whatever it is He is doing. He will never quit on us...may we follow His example and persevere too. 

May we remember all God has done and then do what He asks. In Deuteronomy 10:12-13, we get some valuable insight! No matter what happens or how we feel this is what we must continue to do -

 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

Let's pray...
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord as I think about quitting different roles, situations and thoughts enter my mind, but the one I must focus on is Jesus going to the cross. He was fully God and fully human meaning quitting must have crossed His mind...I'm so thankful He didn't give into that temptation. I'm also grateful for the reminder that I have the same Spirit in me. Fill me with your Holy Spirit Lord and give me the grace to do, say and be all you made me to be. Don't let me throw away my confidence, may I remember the God who saved me and sustained me, equipped and encouraged me in the past will do the same today and tomorrow and every day to come. Help me set my mind on You. May I fear, follow, love and serve you with all of my heart and my soul. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen

Monday, October 10, 2016

It's Just a Season

Day two of combining was underway when I found myself driving out to the field with lunch for my husband. I also had one little boy who was going to switch places with his little brother so they both could get a turn in one of their favorite pieces of farm equipment. His excitement was overflowing, but mine was not. My thoughts were focused on the jobs I’d left behind and the countless trips I’d yet to make. I wondered how long harvest would take this year, if the weather would cooperate and the breakdowns would be few. As my mind raced, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, “It’s only a season.”

Those four simple words were a real perspective changing statement. Harvest had only begun and I was already consumed with the crazy schedule, the work, the time, the stress, the unknowns and potential frustration. Rather than thinking about the crop we were harvesting and the way God was providing, my mind lingered on the selfish thoughts and the changes this season on the farm demanded.

Friend, you don’t have to live on a farm to experience the harvest season. Or the planting season (when new growth begins) or calving season (when new life happens) for that matter. There are seasons in all walks of life and areas of work. We experience seasons in our faith journey as well.

Some are long, others short. They can be enjoyable or they may require extra effort. Seasons of grief can be dark and lonely, while seasons of growth are full of life and joy. Certain seasons are painful and full of suffering, yet others are marked by progress and comfort. They all have unique challenges and they often overlap.

Though seasons vary greatly, they have some similarities. They happen for a purpose. On the farm, it’s obvious why we need harvest season; the reasons are not always so clear in life. I’m pretty sure we could all pick a season we could live without…maybe you are in one now.  Seasons don’t last forever…though sometimes it feels like it. A new season will come, and it will have challenges of its own. These periods of time bring results and are opportunities for God to work.

I think it’s easy to understand seasons have their place and their purpose, Ecclesiastes 3:1 expands on this truth - “There is a time for everything, and a season for everything under the heaven…” It’s a given there are seasons in farming, parenting and life, but what are we to do in them?

That day in the field, it was good to be reminded harvest was a season, but that didn’t change the fact that the days could be hard, stress might come and frustration might build. So my mind went to work and God led me to His Word. The seasons may change, but God’s expectations stay the same. So as I searched the Scriptures for wisdom to help me walk thru harvest, I found insight for all seasons of life.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 was the first passage to jump out at me. Here we read, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good."

Friend, do you see some key action verbs in these verses? Fear, walk, love, serve and obey. Whether you are harvesting beans, changing diapers, parenting a teen or experiencing the empty nest this is what we need to do. No matter what season we are in, these are actions God commands. So today in your life what does it look like to fear the Lord? To follow and obey? To love and worship Him? How can you do this in your present season of life?

Another verse that rose to the surface was Micah 6:8 - "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Again, powerful words of wisdom regardless of what season we find ourselves in. Today, what will this look like in your life?

Finally, a little more biblical insight directly related to the harvest season, which if you think about it from a spiritual standpoint - it's a season we are always in! In Proverbs 10:5, Solomon says this, "He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son." As I tried to instruct my 13 year old son with this truth during morning devotionals, God did the same with me, His daughter. Friend, regardless of what season we're in, when there's work to do it needs to be done. Not just because we reap what we sow and make a living with the work we do, but we please the One who calls us daughter. 

To close, the verses that have really been speaking to my heart as harvest continues; Galatians 6:9-10 where Paul writes, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Friend, if you're in a season that leaves you a bit stressed or one that can create tension, I encourage you to write these words down and carry them with you or memorize them and etch them on your heart. God will bring them to mind when you need encouragement to do what is right (often what doesn't come naturally) and strength to keep pressing on. His Word is living and active and it's what we need in every season of life! 

Regardless of what season you are in, I pray you remember the One who controls the seasons that come. And seek Him as you walk the path He has you on.

Dear Heavenly Father, 
Lord, we know life is full of seasons and they are full of ups and downs, but help us remember that You are in control of them all. As we walk thru our unique, individual seasons may we fear you, follow you, love you, serve you and obey you. Help us to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly. May we work hard even when times are hard. May we plant seeds and reap a harvest. Encourage us with your Word Lord, comfort and convict us with it too. Father when the season we are in leaves us empty or discouraged, angry or anxious, I pray you would set our eyes on you. Remind us it is just a season and then help us remember what you expect us to do. Fill us with Your Spirit so that we can walk in your ways, do good and glorify you. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Someone's following me...

I snapped this picture the other night after J.D.'s football game. He's our oldest son and he's hanging on to our youngest son's hand. J.D. told Jesse he could walk with him to the locker room and our little man was thrilled. Big bro (13) was making time for little bro (5) and I was grateful.

I loaded my pictures that night and this one quickly become my favorite. It brought me joy as a mom and perspective as a person. I looked at it and instantly a quote from the great, late John Wooden came to mind. He encouraged his former UCLA players with many words of wisdom including these - "A careful man I want to be, a little fellow follows me. I dare not go astray for fear he'll go the same wrong way."

I’ve shared these words with our first born before and have appreciated them in the past, but I trust God timed the reminder for me and am grateful He’s taken the lesson deeper. I’ve been mindful of the example I set since I was a high schooler and became even more conscientious of this when I became a teacher and a coach.  I’ve always appreciated the role models I’ve looked to and those who’ve shown me the way be it on the basketball court, in the classroom or my role as wife. Others have influenced me as a mom, friend and women in ministry. I’m grateful for their insight, wisdom and prayers.

As I glance at the picture a verse comes to mind as well. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:1 say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” That’s a verse we must all make our own.  I long for my oldest to be mindful of this, but realize I must be as well.

Friend, others are not just watching us, they are following us too. If you are a Mom this begins in your home…with 5 kids of my own, I know they see much. My husband and I try to teach them a lot, but like the old saying says, “More is caught than taught.” Our kids, and others as well, see the way we act, and react, they hear the way we talk and observe the life we live. If our actions don’t match our words…they know. They see and know all the practical things, but they understand and observe the spiritual stuff too. Even young kids know there is a difference between going to church and living a life for Christ, they get that talking about prayer and praying are two different things. God sees our hearts and He knows our motives; the people following us get a glimpse of this as well.

So let’s ponder on these questions…"Who’s eyes are on you?” “What example are you setting?” “Is someone eager to take your hand like little Jesse took J.D.’s?” “Are you willing to let them?

And some more to get us thinking about the flipside…"Who are you watching?” “Are the examples you follow ones that lead you to Christ?” “Are you appreciative of the ones who help you walk in a manner worthy of the calling you’ve received?”

Let me close with a few more thoughts…our little Jesse is a people person and makes friends real fast - in minutes J.D.'s teammates become his "best friend". Our oldest never says much about this, but the night this picture was taken J.D. had a grin…he was doing what big brothers do. Jesse chose him and he responded. 

Friend, are you a big sister in the faith? Let me assure you the answer to that question is yes - you have walked with Christ longer than someone. When she wants to take your hand and be part of your life, what will you do? 

Don't let thoughts of perfection or the lie that you're not good enough scare or discourage you...instead do what my oldest did - invite them into your life and be mindful that they are watching. Share, encourage, pray, be transparent and point them to the perfect One!! May we remember this will only happen if we first are following Christ...are you doing that today??

Dear Heavenly Father, 
Lord thank you for the example Jesus has set for us. He is the ONE we need to follow, help us set our eyes on Him today. May we follow Him down the middle of the middle of the road. And as we do, may we be mindful of the example we set and the ones who are watching. When others need prayer, encouragement or love help us stop and provide. Thank you for the examples you've placed in my life...they show me how to live, love and be like You. I'm grateful for the friendship, listening ear, caring touch, comforting words and convicting Truths they share. Help me do the same. Abba Father, I long to make a difference for you and in your family, fill me with your Spirit so that I can do and say what you lead me to. Finally, Lord help me be discernful as I watch others. Give me wisdom to look to ones who are following you. In Jesus' Name...Amen

May this song encourage you to follow the ONE who knows the way!!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Insight from the Farmer's Wife

Hello friend, if you are a wife I have a question for you - "What advice would you share with a newly married gal?" I was posed with this opportunity this past weekend as I spoke at a bridal shower for my young friend, Lauren. She is married to our nephew, Sam - a farmer. The prayer was my words would encourage her and also speak to the other wives in the audience. Now I'm praying the same for you, whether you are a farmer's wife or not. Actually, I hope these words speak to you married or not!

My daughter's also had a role at the shower and performed a skit, "A Farmer Applies for a Marriage Licence". I've included their picture to give my city friends a visual of a farmer!

So I volunteered for this job before I knew exactly what I was going to say. A couple of days later, I was thinking about it and asked God, “What am I going to say?” You see even though I’ve lived on a farm nearly all my life and been a farmer’s wife for 15 years I don’t have this figured out.

Almost immediately after I whispered this prayer I heard Job (my husband) getting ready for the day. He was doing what he does every morning, but that morning I thought about it in a whole different way. His daily routine started a new one for me and I pray it helps you start each day.

One of the first things Job does daily is put on his work clothes…as he did this I thought about how we must do the same in a spiritual sense. Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Our husband’s work clothes are necessary, but our spiritual clothing is essential. When you dress this was as a wife…your husband will be blessed, your marriage will be strengthened and God will be glorified.

The next thing Job always gets is his knife and pliers…two tools that he uses often on the farm. They help him and make jobs easier. We don’t need to attach an extra piece of equipment to our belt, but there’s a tool we all need as wives – the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  God’s Holy Word equips us, encourages us, convicts us and comforts us. I challenge you to use it more than the farmer uses his pliers or knife!

The other piece of equipment the modern farmer is never without is the cell phone. This helps him stay in touch and makes it easy to call for help. 1 Thes. 5:17 puts it quite clearly – “pray continually”. We’d all be much better off if we went to prayer as often as we go to our phones. David’s words in Psalm 17:6 remind us of an important truth. Here we read David say, “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me.” When we call God we never get the busy signal...He hears and answers. The phone doesn’t just remind me to be in communication with my heavenly Father, but as wives we need to also think about and be mindful of how we talk to our husbands. Ephesians 4:29 makes it real clear, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

The next thing Job does is lace up his work boots. These shoes will take him where he needs to go and as he put them on I was reminded of the walk we are on. As Christians we are encouraged to “live a life worthy of the calling we have received.” (Eph. 4:1) Part of that calling is being a wife. This role entails much but begins with Genesis 2:18 – “the Lord God said, ‘It’s not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” 1 Peter 3 offers more insight into the road we walk with talk of submission and a quiet and gentle spirit. You don’t need to wear work boots as a farmer’s wife, but be prepared to exert some effort!

The last thing most farmers do before heading out the door is put on their hat. As I watched Job do this it was a great reminder for what we read in Ephesians 6:10-13a “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God.” This is a verse you probably know, but it must become a reality in what we do. Satan is on the attack, he doesn’t want your marriage…or any marriage for that matter, to succeed. We must be equipped and aware. 

Friend, I don't know if you ever struggle with the "I don't know what to wear" dilemma, but if it ever happens I pray this insight from the farm will remind you of the most important wardrobe we need! 

Let's pray...

Dear Heavenly Father, 
Lord, I lift my reading friend to you with each of us and help us dress like the farmer does - may we put on our work clothes - compassion,  kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Above all these help us put on and pour out love. May we remember to read your Word and call on you. Help us walk the road you want us to walk and live out the roles you've created for each of us. Finally, Lord help us stand in your mighty power and put on your full armor. Father God, I lift each marriage to you - protect them, provide for them and give them peace. May we as married women remember that our marriage can and should be a picture of your love for the church. In the moments when marriage is hard and we're tempted to be impatient, selfish or too talkative guard our hearts and mouths. Fill us with your Spirit so that we can shine your light and share your love. Use us to bless our husbands today Lord. And together may each husband and wife glorify you. In Jesus Name, Amen

Sunday, September 25, 2016

When we want to escape...

“Mommy, cows are out!” yelled my little man as he flew through the door. Our youngest had been playing in the sandbox while our oldest fed the cattle hay. Big brother was sure he could get them back in, but little bro wasn’t convinced so he ran to do what all 5 year olds do – tell Mom! I calmed Jesse down, slipped on my shoes and headed outside. J.D. had everything under control, but God continued the lesson He’d start teaching me weeks ago.

Life on the farm is rarely boring and two days are never the same…there are countless opportunities for life lessons to be learned and Biblical truths to be lived out. Awhile back I was watching the gate as my husband did chores and one friendly, red heifer tried to get out. I was able to keep her in, but as I did I thought about how sometimes I’m just like her.

This four legged critter is where she needs to be…she’s safe, taken care of and has all she needs, but still she was trying to go somewhere else. At the very moment she was trying to escape, my husband was providing her with the nourishment she needed. It’s convicting to think about how I respond to God in a similar way.

He protects me. (2 Thes. 3:3, Deut. 31:6) He cares for me. (Zeph. 3:17, Psalm 121:8) He provides for me. (Phil. 4:19) God not only does all these things just like a farmer, but He created me (Gen. 1:27, Psalm 139) and knows the plan He has for me. (Jer. 29:11)

These facts are all true for each and every one of us, but God is also in the details. Acts 17:26 says, "From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands." This verse reminds me He’s put me where I need to be. Friend, the same is true for you. He watches over us and has boundaries for a reason.

Over the years, God has used these words to bring peace and understanding to my physical world. You see, I grew up on a farm and I was the sister who was NEVER going to marry a farmer and the Iowa girl who's always cold and hates snow. Well, I'm now a farmer's wife who lives in NE Iowa. There have been times I thought this is not where I want to be, but with His Word God has transformed my thinking and I'm grateful for our little corner of the world.

Paul's words in Acts are clearly talking about a physical location and moment in time, but I want to continue this thinking a bit. Do you believe God has you in certain situations or even difficult relationships for a reason? Do you think He's placed you in work environments or ministry opportunities for a purpose?

I’m not in a pen like our cattle…there are no physical fences for me to jump or gates to exit, but the temptation to flee is there. Friend, have you ever experienced this yourself? Have you ever wished you were somewhere else? Tried to flee a situation or run in a different direction?

This can happen in countless ways – perhaps you’re not content with where you are at and struggle with “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence” thinking. Whether it’s your marriage, job or a role you play…those thoughts are a lie from Satan. Maybe it’s something entirely different and God is calling you to step out and move from where you are at and you’re tempted to stay. Or you’re scared to walk in obedience. Finally, maybe it has nothing to do with physical location at all and it’s a heart issue. Has God been showing you something He wants to change? Are you willing to stay there and let Him do the work or are you trying to bust down the gate and just get it over with?

Friend, I don’t know if any of these thoughts or scenarios are ones you relate to, but I’d love to encourage you to think about where God has you….

Are you content with that? If not, are you willing to change your attitude about it?
Are you trying to run away from what He is trying to do? If so, why?
How do you view the boundaries God has put in your life?

The night when my little man ran into the house with fear to inform me the cattle were out, God added to this lesson. I realized whether I like where He has me or not, it’s for my own good. And in the bigger picture for God's glory. I know my heavenly Father, my Shepherd, places me where He knows I need to be, but His work is always bigger than we realize and His ways carry more purpose than we tend to understand.

Friend, He doesn’t just have us where we are for ourselves…our place – be it physically, in relationships, in conflicts or in sanctification is for others as well. When we try to escape, run away or stay when God says go others are impacted. Our actions and words impact others…sometimes directly in the form of help or encouragement. Others simply as a witness to the work of God. Let’s touch them in ways for good, and for God’s glory, by staying, or going, where God tells us.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Lately I’ve found myself thinking about transformers…you know the toy that changes from a man to a car or something like that. My oldest son had one of them and it caused some frustration and created a few headaches. I haven’t helped him with that for a few years, but recently I found myself thinking about them again. Only this time it wasn’t a piece of plastic I was thinking about…it was myself.

At times I’m a secure, confident Christian who depends on and trusts in our faithful, heavenly Father. I believe what He whispers to my heart thru His Word and Spirit, I have the courage to step out in faith and do what He calls me to. Then something happens and I find myself feeling defeated and experiencing doubt. I wonder if I’ve heard God correctly and question what it is He seems to be asking me to do. Friend, this leads to way more frustration than my son’s old toy.

Awhile back this frustration brought me to my knees and led me into God’s Word. I know He is the One who transforms and have been part of a women’s event who’s mission is "to see women’s lives transformed by the Truth." I know this, but my experience as a “Transformer” led me to dig deeper. 

In my last post, I wrote about my "baby" learning to ride his 2 wheel bike...he's removed the training wheels. As I've walked in faith, in a spiritual sense God has done that for me, but as I transform back to my old self it's like I put them back on. I visited about this with my kids and we laughed thinking about J.D., our teenager, putting training wheels on his big bike. That is silly, but in a way it's what I sometimes do in my mind. I'm ready to be done with that, so I went to the only place that will help...

Romans 12:1-2 is a passage I’m familiar with and one I go to, but I’ve never really studied it, so that’s what I did. There is much packed into these 2 little verses that Paul shares. First of all, they are the beginning of the half of the book that is all about our behavior. The first 11 chapters of Romans tell us much about our beliefs while the last 5 chapters instruct us on how to live out those beliefs. One commentator even talked about how these 2 verses could easily be adapted as the Christian's pledge of allegiance. 

First of all, let's read this verse in a few different versions -

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. (NIV)

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (NLT)

Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete. (The VOICE)

What do these verses say to you? What do they say about God? Have you ever spent much time thinking and praying about being conformed? Do you realize your need for transformation? Do you wonder how your mind can be renewed?

Friend, these are all good questions to think about and better ones to answer, so let's look at a few key words. Strong's dictionary, which looks at the original language of the Bible, defines conform like this - assuming a similar outward form by following the same pattern, mold or model. This happens when we go with the flow, blend in and don't rock the boat. Have you done this? Stop for a minute and think - "Who or what do you conform to?"

Personally, as I've worked thru this study I've been convicted of conforming to who I once my mind I go back to old ways of thinking, battle lies God's helped me recognize and live out habits time has created. This is not a picture of transformation, which leads me to our next word.

The Greek word for transform is metamorpho, which is where we get the word metamorphosis and it means to change after being with. This is a present tense verb, meaning it's not an on again off again process, it's continuous. It's also a passive word meaning God is the catalyst, but it's imperative as well, which tells us we have a response.

Clearly there is a difference between conformed and transformed, would you agree? I found a few - conformed is an outer response while transformed is inner. Conformed tends to more of a pressing into while transformed is an internal change. If we are passive and let life happen conformity will take place. When we are intentional and abide with Christ and in His Word, transformation is a possibility. Friend, God desires to transform us while Satan loves to see us conform to the world he rules.

If you are a disciple of Jesus, I'm guessing you long for transformation. You are aware of areas of life you want to see changed, but may find yourself wondering how this can happen. Paul gives us the answer - we must renew our mind, which gives us another key word. According to Strong's renew means to make fresh or new, it's achieved by God's power and results in a change of heart. Friend, I've said it before and I'll say it again...our minds are powerful. It's where our thoughts happen and these thoughts lead to our actions and words, we must renew our thinking repeatedly.

Just in case you need further proof for that point, take a look at Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 11:3. Here he says, "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." Our minds are vulnerable and Satan is on the attack, renewal is necessary.

Understanding is the first step, but the important question is – “How does this happen?” There are many things to consider, but let’s start with a look at Romans 8:29 – “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters." This verse tells us who does the work and gives a positive picture of confirmation. Are you willing to surrender today so God can transform you as He conforms you into the image of His Son?

Another step we must not overlook is found in 1 John 5:14-15 - "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of Him." With humble hearts and expectant spirits, may we ask God for transformation. He hears our prayers and is faithful to answer them.

Part of this prayer needs to be confession. This is the step that leads to repentance, which means to turn around or change direction. It’s a change that is part of transformation. We must first confess our sins to God (1 John 1:9) and then confess them to others (James 5:16). This is never an easy thing to do, but accountability and prayers from others are a part of the transforming work God can do.

This work we need God to do begins in our minds, which means we must practice taking our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) and setting our minds are thoughts that are good, pure and from the Lord (Phil. 4:8). So friend, when those thoughts come that are wrong or lies from the enemy…STOP. Don’t allow that thinking to continue. Pray and ask for Truth to replace them.

Last, but not least it’s God’s Word that has the power to transform us. The Bible is not merely a book of information it is a book of transformation. It is the inspired Word of God that is useful (2 Timothy 3:16) and it is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). God will speak to us, convict us and comfort us with His Scripture. The Holy Spirit will give us discernment and wisdom as we read the words. Simply said, we will be transformed as we read, study, meditate and pray the Word of God.

Friend, before we close I want to share a few things in case you want to dig a bit deeper. We recently worked thru a study on transformation at our local Titus24U group and I was encouraged. We must remember transformation is a process, it involves surrender, time and work. This won't end until we meet the One who transforms us. We each have areas that God is molding and chipping away. He is able to change us from the inside out. So if you want to join Him in the process, take a look at these verses that give us a glimpse of what the transformed life looks like -

Colossians 1:10
2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Galatians 2:20
Habakkuk (A different type of prophet book...most share what the Lord says, this is a look at a conversation between Habakkuk and the Lord. Note the transformation that takes place...God's Word changes us!) 
2 Peter 1:3-11

Some Things to Think About
Where? How? Why am I conforming?

What area(s) need to be transformed?

Related Truth that will Transform (Study, Memorize, Meditate On and Pray This)

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your grace and because of your mercy I want to offer my body and life as a living sacrifice. May this act of worship be holy and pleasing to You. Lord, I don’t want to conform to the world any longer. Show me when and where I do this then Lord transform me by renewing my mind. Lead me to your Word, use it to penetrate my heart and right my thinking. Fill me with Your Spirit and tender my heart. In humility, may I let you do what you need to do to mold me into the person you created me to be. Thru this process help me do what you gifted me to do and shine my light so others see and glorify you. Father thank you for choosing me and calling me your masterpiece, may your good, pleasing and perfect will unfold today. Have your way. In the precious and powerful name of Jesus I pray, Amen

Friend, as I worked thru this study and continue to long for transformation, God gave me another illustration. This summer my daughter took an old wood pallet and turned it into a table. It was quite the took time and work. She heard encouraging words, but some thought I'd never let her put it in the house. She sanded, she cut, she sanded some more and varnished. Eventually, she proudly brought in her finished table. Every time I walk by it, I'm reminded of the change that took place and am excited to think about God doing a similar work in me.

 In the Biblical context, transformation tends to be a permanent change. Just like Joy's table it may take awhile to get there, but it is possible. God will be faithful to do His part, let's commit to be disciplined and do our's!! And friend, when that area of transformation is complete, let's take another lesson from Joy, my girl who's started another project, and let the next one begin!!


Finally, may this song from Phillips, Craig and Dean encourage you as the transformation process continues!! Blessings to you friend...thankful to join you on this journey!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Just Like Riding a Bike

Riding a bike...chances are you learned how to do that years ago and today can do it with relative ease. Bike riding isn't often on the forefront of my mind, but the other day it was in my thoughts. Our "baby", Mr. Jesse-Man just turned 5 and has mastered his 2 wheel bike. No more training wheels on the Beran farm!

As the whole family gathered around to watch him ride with confidence, he grinned from ear to ear. Before long he was comparing his skid marks to his big brother's. Eventually, we got to recalling each child's first experience with 2 wheels. My daughter, Joy, sticks out...she was only 3 1/2 when her big brother did what she had never done. A week passed and she was determined to do it as well, so our 5 year old mechanic obliged and removed the extra wheels.

After moments of frustration, I suggested putting them back on, but my little princess/tomboy thought otherwise. She'd been able to ride with me getting her started and believed with enough determination she could do it herself. She wasn't turning back...even if it meant a skinned up knee!

Eight years ago, God taught me much through my little that point in my life He was leading me into ministry, I was working on my book and I was just starting my blog. I shared this story in one of my first posts and wrote, "Sometimes it is hard, I think I can't, I worry about failing and getting hurt, I wonder what others will think, but just like my little girl I have to make a choice. No matter what might happen, I have to do what God calls me to do. Sure I might crash, but she reminded me I can get back up, brush it off and try again. She even went so far after one fall to stand up, smile and say, "There's not even any blood!"

Jesse's latest accomplishment brought this lesson to mind, but God provided another reminder through my son as well...he's done with training wheels. Now that he's rode without them, he won't be putting them back on. His next bike will be bigger, eventually he'll have gears and hand brakes. Someday my dare-devil may even add a motor. He's going to keep moving forward.

I've been convicted I need to do the same...not necessarily with my bike, but as I walk in faith. The timing of this is all God as just a week ago, my eyes were being opened to a tendency in my life. Here's how it tends to go...I step out in obedience and do what God calls me to do and/or believe a Truth He leads me to, but then time goes by and Satan attacks or God tests.

I doubt and get anxious. I feel like a failure and wrestle with insecurity. My mind can be a mess and sometimes I even battle depression. Those are all things I've struggled with my entire life. Clearly, Satan knows my weak spots. Thankfully, I'm finally recognizing my habits...the habits of my mind.

Out here on the farm, we have cow paths through our's the route the cattle take. You can spot them from a distance...the grass around them can be tall, but the path is often worn to dirt. I've read a few times that our thoughts do a similar thing...scientists call it memory trace. So if you grew up with insecure thoughts, your brain has a tendency to take that same path and think the same thing. Our thoughts can become a habit. And have you noticed how quickly they can run wild? Mine can go downhill hill from 0-60 faster than any car on the road!!

So what can we do about this? Scripture gives us the answer in 2 Corinthians 10:5 where Paul writes, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

I've read this verse countless times and shared it here before, but lately God has been showing me I need to do this constantly. If I want my thoughts to take a different path, I need new ones. Thoughts that are wrong, bad or lies from the enemy need to be removed from my thinking; that will only happen if I take them captive.

I'm beyond grateful for all God's done to renew my thinking and help me understand my identity in Christ, but I'm tired of falling back into old ways. I can see the change that's taken place, but I'm ready for more...not just change, but transformation. I can't do this, but I believe God can do it in me.

The other night I asked Jesse, "Why did you have Dad take your training wheels off?" Side-note - we've been working towards this all summer and I can't count how many times we've taken the wheels off only to put them back on minutes later. My Mr. Strong-Willed says, "Me just was going to do it."

Friend, initially I was going to use that story to lead into the idea that we need to make a choice, but I typed those words and was reminded we have a similar situation with our Heavenly Father. Just like my husband and I were patient with our lil man, God does the same for us...He helps us, prepares us and encourages us. He knows we can do what He created us for, but He won't force us into it. He leads us, but He won't push us.

Rather than being strong-willed, we must be Spirit-filled! We can die to ourselves and let Him live in us. He won't just change us, He will transform us. He longs for us to mature and become more like Christ. He's ready for us to leave the training wheel stage of life behind! Are you ready to do it?

I want to close with 2 things...a song and a prayer. This song has been playing in my head for a speaks to my heart and reminds me of Truth. Friend, we can stay where we are, we can hold on to who we are and we can be safe where He has, but He has called us higher and deeper!

All summer Jesse was hesitant to take the training wheels off, but if you could see him now, you'd see joy, success and even more determination. Friend, if we'd go deeper into our relationship with God we'd experience much of the same. Granted, just like Jesse, we may take some falls and feel some pain, but that's part of the growing process. When this happens we can take another example from my little man...we don't need to go back and start all over again, we don't need to put the training wheels on again. Just get up and start where we are at...keep moving forward - growing closer to Christ, going deeper with Him and higher for Him! So with that, may this song by All Sons and Daughters encourage you today!

Dear Heavenly Father,
Lord, thank you for meeting us where we are at, loving us unconditionally and calling us deeper. I'm grateful for this reminder through training wheels that I too need to move forward. Help me press on, progress and continue being perfected. I want to leave old ways, thoughts and habits behind. I can't do that on my own, so fill me with your Spirit so you can change me from the inside out. Humble my heart Lord, tender it too so I'm sensitive to your Spirit. Help me believe and make me quick to obey. And Father, when I fall remind me who You are...a God who doesn't change, One who never forsakes and is always present. Take away my fear, doubts and worry. Help me cast all my cares on you because you care for me. May I always remember You are good, You are sovereign and You are working for your glory and my good. Today help me take a step forward with You and for Your kingdom. In Jesus' Name I pray...Amen