The Path

Imagine this scene with me for a moment: For many years you passed by the entrance to a serene pathway lined with cobblestone. It was appealing to the eye, but there was a sign posted by God that read, “WARNING: DO NOT ENTER- HOT COALS!” so you went on by, although curious where it went.

One day, as you were walking by, a man was standing at the opening. He seemed like a wise man, in fact he had credentials and boasted of being a scholar and teacher. But today he tells you the sign is wrong. The path is all cobblestone- it is okay to enter. So, after many years of passing by without entering, you decide to go in, because the man says God is wrong.

At first it is everything you thought it would be. The forest floor is beaming with colorful flowers, and you have never seen trees or grass this vividly green or bright. But after a little while the cobblestone disappears, and the only way out is over hot coals, the light is dimmed by a shroud of darkness.

Does this story remind you of anything? It highly resembles the story of how the world became broken in the first place. When Adam and Eve were in the garden and were naked and not ashamed (Genesis 2:25, ESV).  God blessed them with a peaceful paradise and only one rule- not to eat the fruit of one tree. They probably passed by it many times without stopping to eat it, but one day there was a serpent near the base of the tree, and he told Eve God was wrong– the fruit is so sweet- you can eat it. (My words) You know how that turned out. That is why the world is broken today- because of sin and rebellion against God; we are all born into sin. But God’s Word is still truth, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8, ESV). His authority still stands. We cannot ignore the warning signs just because culture and society tell us it is okay.

When we turn away from God’s truth and authority we might get a little way down the road, but eventually we are going to get burnt. We cannot ignore God’s warning signs because of what the world tells us. The world is broken. People are not the problem. Sin is. Once we identify the problem, we realize there is only one solution- Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through Me.” Jesus is still the only way to the Father; when we genuinely repent, believe, and accept Christ with our heart, we secure our eternal salvation.

Even in the OT God’s authority speaks and there is only one way for anyone to present sacrifices and approach the temple. When two of Aaron’s sons come in drunk and burn incense on the alter, they are immediately killed by the fire. Aaron could not say anything because he knew they were in the wrong (Leviticus 10:2, ESV). They went against God’s authority and made a mockery of the temple.

In essence that is what we are doing when we go against the Bible and God’s authoritative Word. When we defile the temple of God (which is our bodies) and make a mockery of His Word, there are consequences. We cannot pick and choose the portions that we keep or obey. Tearing out the pages is not an option, and neither is redaction.

Are we going to take man’s word over God’s just because it sounds better to the world, which is broken?

The Race

I used to run in several 5K races and then I took a break; now I run in my neighborhood, on my own, at my own pace. I have become accustomed to the terrain and my routine. I still run 3 miles most days, but I don’t worry about my pace and therefore I just enjoy my time in nature, with God, thanking Him for all His good graces, while I process and contemplate upon whatever Scripture or people God put on my heart that morning.

Recently, a notice for a race I participated in several times throughout the years, came into my inbox. It captured my attention more than usual and I begin to think about it the next morning as I was running. That is when it struck me, life can be compared to running. We can get too comfortable in our own routine, running alone in our neighborhood, not encountering others. When we enter a race, we may have bigger hills to climb and rougher terrain, and there will be people and distractions along the way. These are the times we rely on the Holy Spirit even more, knowing He will help us.

It’s not about how fast we go or even if we win, its about how many lives we impact along the way and how much we glorify God in the process by sharing the Good News with them, even when it puts us out of our comfort zone. If we surround ourselves with like minded people, going the same direction, with the same end goal, keeping Jesus at the center of everything we do, the journey will seem easier and the tasks more rewarding. We can encounter others with truth and grace, for the joy it brings.

I realize when God gives us opportunities to share the gospel with others, it is not just an opportunity for us; but it is also an opportunity for the other person, to hear and accept Jesus so they too can be saved and share the good news. If we do not listen to the prompting and miss the opportunity, we are also robbing another person of the opportunity to hear how they can be saved. It is like carrying a torch for the team. We pass it on to the next person and it keeps going. We cannot let the flame go out or the race end, until God Himself brings it to an end.

I recently attended a meeting at church where a former drug addict and convict gave his testimony. It was very enlightening. He looked out at the room full of people and said he had never heard about Jesus or had anyone even invited him to church; that is until one man listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to go and tell others. He visited the prison where the man was, and after hearing the gospel for the first time, he accepted Jesus, and God began using him inside the prison walls to carry the torch to others. We are not meant to go it alone or to stay in the comfort of our own terrain, we are meant to go and tell and live, in community, on a mission for Jesus; so that others will have the opportunity to choose His saving grace too.

Do you remember when you first realized your need for a Savior or the first time you heard the Good News, that Jesus came to cover all our sins because we are not capable of saving ourselves? May we be found carrying the torch to light the way for others when our Savior returns.

“let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV).

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7, ESV).

God Idea

One time, several  years ago, I had an idea and pitched it to my work, and they used it for a promo give away to our donors at the time (I work for a non-profit). The outside read, ‘CHANGE STARTS HERE” and then when you flipped it open, it was a mirror. In other words, change starts with you. I thought it was clever; and I guess it was. But as I reflect (no pun intended) on it now, I see a flaw in the message. Real change always begins with God. Only He can bring about the transformative change within a person’s heart. The change that really matters.

There are ideas, there are good ideas, and then there are God ideas. God ideas require action on our part, but they start with God. If we do not act upon it, He can move on to someone else who will. As believers, we are vessels for the Lord, chosen for a purpose. Let us be still and listen for our next God idea and then carry it out with courage, giving God all the honor and glory.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV).

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”

(Romans 12:2, ESV).

What We Believe Matters

Have you ever been so hungry that you would eat almost anything that was placed in front of you? Throw all diets and checking for nutrients out the window, you needed to appease the hunger pains and accept the consequences that come with it later. When we are desperate enough to accept anything – the first thing that is offered to us that sounds appetizing is almost immediately consumed.

When we are hungry for truth and begin to search for something to fill our needs, we must limit our diet to God’s word first, then as other dishes are presented, we have a filter to check the nutrients before we consume just anything that looks or sounds good to our famished flesh.

All false teachings sprinkle enough seasonings to make it appealing to our appetites and tantalizing to our taste buds. It is not until we begin to digest it that we realize how detrimental it is for our mind, body, and soul. Sadly, we may not see how bad it really is for us until much later. We can invite the Holy Spirit into our reading and decision making when looking for truth and allow Him to guide our choices and make sure we are testing the spirits to discern and filter out the toxins before we digest them.

What we believe matters because it drives our actions and dictates how we see and treat the world around us. Our whole value system is aligned with our beliefs and therefore are vital to our well-being. If we are grounded in the foundation of God’s word our mind, bodies, and soul will benefit. James 1:22-24 points out that it is not enough just to hear and believe, but we must be doers also. If we are called to be doers of what we believe then what we believe matters and should align with God’s Word.

“But I say to you, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16 ESV

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” I John 4:1

It’s Not About Me

I don’t run because it is easy. Some days it’s the farthest thing from it. I do it because it is worth it. The benefits far outweigh the difficulty, every time. Our obedience to God is the same way. The benefits are eternal; no matter how difficult it is for us, it’s worth it.

Believers in Christ are not immune to heartache, sickness, or loss. This is a broken world because of sin, and everyone is subject to it. But we do have a guarantee that our salvation is secure through Jesus for eternity and that gives us the hope to remain steadfast while we await his rescue from this world.

We do however have a job to do while we wait, and it is sometimes difficult to find the courage and the words. That is to share the gospel so others will hear the good news and, also accept Jesus Christ as their Savior so they can be with us in the Kingdom of God. Whether it be fear of rejection or the risk of being different, we can let it get the best of us and do not do what we are called to do; be bold and share the Great Commission (Mark 16:15). Jesus told his disciples not to worry about what to say, because the Holy Spirit would give them the words (Matthew 10:19-20). The same is true for us today. It is not our job to fix or change anyone. It is our job to love them where they are, just like Jesus does for us, and let our lives and actions point them to Christ, looking to God’s word for truth. If we are faithful to share what God puts on our hearts, and intentional about how we love and serve others, the Holy Spirit will give us the words when we need them. 

I am beginning to see that the ramifications of not sharing the gospel with others is far more detrimental to us and them than if we risked it and went for it, no matter what others think. It is God whom we need to fear, not man. In Matthew 10:33, Jesus goes on to say, “whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Clearly, that is not something anybody wants when that day comes.

When things are out of my comfort zone, it is my nature to want to avoid them. But when God calls me smack into the middle of it, I know I need to say yes. When I realize it is not about me and go where God sends me, it changes me. There is great spiritual growth, and I gain a new perspective. Not only that but it puts me squarely where God wants me- in total dependence on Him and others will not see me, but they will see the image of God reflected in me, which is my goal in this life.

Lost Art

I find myself at a loss of understanding for why ‘they’ stopped teaching cursive writing in school. Not only do we have a generation that cannot write in cursive, but guess what? They cannot read it either. I realized this recently when my 12-year-old mentee received a lovely note from a lady at church, and when he opened it, he told me that he could not read cursive. I gasped out loud and after I picked my chin off the floor, asked why, thinking silently ‘oh my goodness he is that far behind and is going in the sixth grade this year’! His answer is what floored me and made me think about this issue. He said, when he was in second grade, they stopped teaching it. Wow. I wonder if ‘they’ thought of the consequences before making such a rash decision? Who decided for the world that this would stop anyway? How else are we going to recognize who has doctor  potential?! (Insert cheesy grin)

I remember not particularly liking my signature or the way I wrote certain letters for most of my youth, so I decided to work on the skill to improve it. I spent a lot of time practicing achieving a standard I considered acceptable. I still write a lot of handwritten notes personally and professionally and I know some others who do too. But this is another thing that is fading away as technology overshadows it. I still enjoy sending (and receiving) them. Am I the only person who sees this as a problem or at the very least a sad reality that our up-and-coming kids will not be able to write a nice, cursive letter to anyone much less read one they receive from our generation? I will be very careful as I step down from my soap box as to not stumble. But I thought this was worth sharing with you.

This reminded me of the letters in the Bible. 21 out of the 27 books in the New Testament are in the form of letters. Thirteen of them were written by Apostle Paul, (called the Pauline letters), for a specific purpose and were read aloud to the congregations he sent them to. Although he used an assistant whom he dictated some of his letters, he did however, write a portion of them in his own hand. The NT letters were generally divided into three parts: the address (which consisted of the identification of the person writing the letter and who it was to, an opening greeting, and prayer), the body (held different elements depending on the purpose), and the conclusion (final blessings and greetings to specific acquaintances).[1] Consider the time, effort, and thoughtfulness that went into each heartfelt, Spirit-lead, letter. Once it was finished it had to be hand delivered to its recipients. What an intriguing artistry to appreciate as we re-read each one and consider what was involved in its development. With mailboxes at our front doors, pen, and paper at our disposal, we surely take for granted and do not appreciate the magnificent design and gift we have at our fingertips.

[1]  Brand, Chad,, eds., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, B & H Publishing. Nashville, TN, 2015.

Sea Glass

Have you ever thought about how long it takes to form sea glass? I bet it is a long time. Maybe several decades. The salt water adds to the beauty giving it a frosted appearance. A lot of people hunt it and use it for making jewelry and other unique pieces of art. But it did not start out this way. It was not instantly a finished work of art or even very pretty. It more than likely started out as a jagged piece of broken glass from a beverage bottle. You could say it was just a piece of garbage. It was rough around the edges and painful if you cut yourself on it.

Isn’t that how we start out? Our hearts are rough around the edges, and we cause others pain if they get too close. We could say we are sometimes discarded by others as trash and end up in a sea of troubled waters. Then God lifts us out of the murky waters, just as we are. He begins to shape us and smooth out our rough edges. But just like sea glass, it takes time. It is a work in progress; we are God’s masterpiece. He created us in His own image and although we are not perfect because of sin – He wants us to strive to be more like Jesus, not in our performance but in the way we love, treat, and serve others. Our lives are like shards of brokenness awaiting transformation that is only accessible through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:16 ESV)

Angelic Presence

A while back I asked God what He wanted me to write about. His answer was the title of this message. I did not take to pen and paper or computer/keyboard right away. Frankly, I was not completely sure what to write about in that arena. I know a little about them from what I have read in the Bible, but to write about them felt a little intimidating at first. I know I cannot do it on my own by any means.

I began reading a book my friend gave me for my birthday entitled, “Angels” by Billy Graham. I received this gift a few months earlier and had not pick it up to read until then. I believe it was no coincidence that she gave it to me.

It also was not a coincidence that two days later I dreamed about mom and dad. Mostly dad as he stood over me watching me sleep. When I woke up (in the dream) to see him standing over my bed I knew he was there to protect me. I got up and he gave me the best hug! This was a special gift, even in a dream, as when I woke up it made me very happy and stayed with me all day like a warm smile from an old friend.

The next day, my sister called and began to tell me how angels had been on her mind that week. I told her my dream, but I still did not write about them just yet. I forgot about it for a couple of weeks and had not read any more of the book about angels either until one evening I picked it back up and this sentence stood out to me like a sore thumb, “we are not to pray to angels.”

The next morning, my scripture reading led me to Hebrews 1:14- “Angels are only servants, spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.”

He showed me that prayer is a form of worship, and we are only to worship God the creator of all things. Angels are not higher than Jesus and should not be worshipped.  

The next morning, my reading led me to Revelation. 19:10, where John is reprimanded for attempting to worship the angel who was delivering the message. “Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, no, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God.” In the notes section of the NLT study bible, it gives this reflection: “God still has angelic messengers, but they are creatures who serve Him, not divine beings to be worshipped. Faithful servants of the past, including Mary, are human beings. They may be honored in our Christian memories, but they have no claim to divinity, and they should never be worshipped.”

I believe and have experienced that God can send messages through many forms, including angels, who are also here to protect all believers everywhere. The presence of angels can be comforting, but most of the time we do not even realize they are with us. They can come in different forms that are unseen or in physical body form, but we may not always know when they are here.  God can send angels to protect and save us from danger as He chooses.

The Holman Bible dictionary defines an angel as, “created beings whose primary function is to serve and worship God. Unlike God they are not eternal or omniscient.” Angels carry out God’s will as He directs them. (Ps. 148:2-5; Col. 1:16) They also preform tasks as mediators. (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19; Rev. 1:1; 10:1)

Some people think cardinals are a visit from a loved one or an angel. I am very fond of cardinals. One evening, during this time, a cardinal flew up to the living room window and tried to perch multiple times. I feel God sends me multiple messages until I finally write about it. Perhaps this was another reminder. Angels continued to show up in my reading as I read the book of Revelation. There are some very beautiful imageries in this book if you get a chance to read it again.

I will leave you with this: “And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is the light.” (Rev. 21:23)

The Light

I was sitting in my car at the traffic light this week waiting for it to turn green when my gaze drifted to the cars passing by in front of me. I attempted to read the sign on each truck that sped by and see each person driving them. It was chaotic and hard to keep up, until I diverted my eyes back to the light realizing I needed to be ready to move when it turned green so I would not get honked at if I hesitated even a second (it happens).

When my focus was on the right place, I did not feel overwhelmed by the distractions around me. The same is true, as we go through our day, when we have our eyes on everything going on around us, it can be confusing, busy, and distracting. But when we remember to look up and keep our gaze on God we can be ready to move when He gives the signal. I need to remind myself of this when the things around me seem chaotic or I get too busy; I need to remember to pause and turn my eyes back to the ultimate ‘light’, which is Jesus.

It makes it easier to drown out the noise around us so we can hear God’s voice and discern the direction he wants us to go when we are in His word daily, praying for discernment, and keeping in step with the Spirit.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:2, ESV).

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

God-Honoring Life

Through the divine nature all around us, we have no excuse for not knowing God (Romans 1:20). There is a difference in knowing of God, his existence, and attributes, and honoring Him above all things. Most people miss the whole purpose of life when not honoring God. Romans 1:21-23 describes this kind of knowing and understanding God through creation, yet not doing what is right based on that knowledge.

I know in my personal experience, for most of my life, I knew God existed, I knew He was good and that He created all things, but I did not know how to put Him first in my life or that I could have a personal relationship with Him. It was not until I completely surrendered my life over to God and began to study His word and genuinely seek His truth that these things were revealed to me. I realized how much I had missed in not pursuing God in this way. Our relationships with God can look a little differently but will include the same principles once the Holy Spirit is activated inside our hearts. My journey has consisted of conversations, praying as well as listening, correction, love, grace, guidance and a lot of mercy and forgiveness. It is the ultimate Father, daughter relationship where I can take everything to Him, knowing He cares and wants the best for me. It is a daily routine of meditation, prayer, reading His word, and humbly seeking direction so I can become who He created me to be for such a time as this. Reading His word and letting it saturate our minds and hearts will help us guard against the lies and false teachings of the world.

Are you tired of fighting battles alone? What if your life never changed from what it is today? If you have not done this, I encourage you to invite the Holy Spirit to dwell in your heart and activate the ultimate Helper to fight the battles you are facing from the enemy, so you can live your best life. The Holy Spirit gives us strength to break the strongholds in our lives that we cannot do on our own. It is only through Jesus that we have access to the Father and the Holy Spirit in this way. Because of Jesus we have forgiveness and freedom.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV