Monday, February 28, 2011

Get Lost!

My husband likes to say that when it comes to my personality, I am more like a man than most men he knows. I think he gets that from the way I drive. I’m the kind of person that hates to ask for directions when lost. It’s not a pride thing. I just enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out the right way. Eventually, I always do…otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this right now, I’d still be driving around in circles somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

This reminds me of an analogy I once heard at a Weight Watchers meeting. The leader was talking about getting back on track when you’ve fallen off the diet and exercise bandwagon. She told us to imagine that we were on a cross country road trip when, about half way to California, we realize we’ve taken a wrong turn and have ended up about 200 miles away from the road we were supposed to be on. She asked us to think about what we’d do in that situation. Would we just keep driving in the wrong direction…further and further away from our destination? Or, would we decide that we didn’t feel like driving the 200 miles back to the main road and choose just to stay put where we had ended up. Of course not! The only logical option in this situation would be to turn around and get back on the path that leads to our destination. Yes, it would be frustrating to have to drive an additional 400 miles on an already long trip, but that would be the only way to get where you wanted to go.

This analogy also works when we think about our developing faith. Occasionally, we will take a wrong turn, ending up on a path that leads us away from God. This is called sin. But, as soon as we realize we are heading the wrong way we have to turn around and get back on track. The good news is that God is ready to give us the directions we need. Even stubborn folks like me need to stop and ask for his help when we get lost, remembering these words from Psalm 23, “He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” So, If you are feeling lost today, pray that God will give you the strength to turn around. Ask Him to lead you back to that path of righteousness, back to a road that leads to an eternity spent in his loving arms.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Seek Ye First the Milk and Bread

I was in Wal-mart the other day and walked passed a woman pushing a cart full of miscellaneous items. She was apparently on her way to check out. I overheard her say to her friend, “I only came in here to buy one thing! One…stinking…thing! This happens every time I come here!”

I can totally relate! Can you? Walmart is like a black hole for my wallet I chalk it up to loss of focus. The clearance clothes, cute flip-flops and the newest offerings in mascara are just a few of the enticements waiting to distract me from my original goal.

It’s easy to lose focus, isn’t it? And not just at the store but in life in general. We can have fantastic goals, but never achieve them because one distraction after another keeps throwing us off track. This can be especially true when it comes to our spiritual growth. We know that regularly reading the Bible, having quiet time with God, keeping a prayer journal and being part of a small group of believers are all things that will help to mature us as Christians and bring us closer to Jesus. However, life happens and these very important things get left out. It’s like the times I’ve gone to Wal-mart and gotten a bunch of non-essentials but forgotten to pick up the milk and bread! My family can live with out the new shoes and the lovely new shade of nail polish, but we need to eat!

Making a list and remembering to check it is one way to remember everything I need at the store, and it’s also a good way to remember my priorities in life as well. If you think that loss of focus is derailing your attempts at spiritual growth, one solution may be to make a list of the things that draw you closer to God. Schedule your time to allow for these things on a regular basis.

When you are busy it’s easy to push God-time aside. But this is such a huge mistake, because it is your time with God that will help to balance the rest of your life. Finally, remember Jesus words from Matthew 6, “So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Better than I Found it

A kind friend blessed our family this summer by allowing us to use her family’s home at the beach. The condo was beautiful and in immaculate condition. This made me quite nervous, especially since we had three kids with us. I watched everyone like a hawk, making sure food and drinks were only consumed in designated areas, that dirty hands and faces were washed before sitting on the furniture, and that shoes were removed before walking on the plush, light colored carpet. Before we left for home, we made sure the condo was spic and span with nothing out of place. I took way better care of her home than I do of my own. My friend was very gracious to allow us to stay there in the first place, so I figured the least I could do was take excellent care of the lovely home she had entrusted me with. It was my desire to leave it even better than I found it.

I wondered, as I was putting things back in order at the condo, what my life would be like if I truly acknowledged God as the source of every one of my blessings. Would I keep my house nicer if I saw it not as my home, but the home God has allowed me to use? Would I take on a healthier lifestyle if I accepted the truth that my body really belongs to God as a temple for His holy spirit? How would I spend money differently if I viewed every dollar as a gift from God?

King David understood this concept of stewardship. In the Bible after the people of Israel brought forward generous offerings to build the Lord’s temple, David praises God, saying, “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (1 Chronicles 29:14) And in Psalm 24:1, David writes, “The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;”

Let’s pray for an attitude like David’s. Let’s ask God for hearts that recognize the truth that all we are and have comes from Him. Finally let’s pray for a deep desire to be better stewards of our gifts, and to leave this world better than we found it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Paula's Big Give

Paula is a loyal WBFJ listener and a quadriplegic. She cannot move from the neck down and breathes with a tube. But her physical limitations are far surpassed by her inner strength, a beautiful heart and her motivation to serve others.

Paula sponsors at least 2 kids through Compassion International. She writes, with the help of her nurse, Debbie, to several others. She participates in the Salvation Army Stocking Stuff and Operation Christmas Child.  Every year at Easter, she visits WBFJ and brings chocolate eggs for the staff, at Christmas it's Red Velvet Cake. One time while she was here, I commented on how long her hair had gotten, it was twisted into a long braid starting at the top of her head. She told me that she was growing it out for “Locks of Love” an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients from donated hair.

And that’s when it hit me. There have been so many occasions where I’ve had the opportunity to serve and have let excuses like “I’m too busy” or “I’m too tired” or, even “I’m not qualified” get in the way. Yet, here is a lady who, instead of being trapped by what she cannot do, has turned her attention to one of the things she can do…grow hair.

We all have our limitations and excuses. On the other hand, God has given each of us unique gifts that he expects us to share with others. If we focus on where we fall short we risk never discovering the wonderful things we do have to offer and becoming the person God intended us to be.

God created you complete with special gifts. What you have to offer is no less valuable than what anyone else has to give … 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 tells us: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”

Let’s take some time today to pray that God will show us clearly how we can best use our unique gifts to serve Him.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

I recently came across a guide for men to help them understand the difference between what women say and what women mean.

For example, when a woman says, “I’ll be ready in FIVE MINUTES”, she really means, “I’ll be ready in about a half an hour.” It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so it's an even trade.

When a woman says FINE: She is using the universal word all women say to end an argument when they feel they are right and you need to shut up. Never use "fine" to describe how a woman looks. This will cause you to have one of "those" arguments. If she says NOTHING: This really means "something" and you should be on your toes. "Nothing" is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. "Nothing" usually signifies an argument that will last "Five Minutes" and will end with the word "Fine". And, finally if all you hear is a LOUD SIGH: you should recognize this as a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A "Loud Sigh" means she thinks you are an idiot at that moment, and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here arguing with you over "Nothing".

I think most people, myself included, at least occasionally avoid saying what they are really thinking or feeling. That can be a good thing. For example, if a friend asks me if I like her new outfit, and I really don’t, I would probably keep my feelings to myself to avoid hurting her feelings. Sometimes I’ll keep my feelings to myself to avoid an unnecessary conflict or confrontation.

While there may be some occasions where it’s best to keep our true feelings to ourselves, this can also be a dangerous habit to get in to. When we do not openly communicate we build a wall between ourselves and others, each unexpressed feeling becomes another brick in this barrier.

In Matthew, Jesus spoke about the need for honest, direct communication when he instructed about the importance of keeping oaths. He said, Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Once again, we are reminded that our words have power and that they should match what is in our heart. Take time today to pray that God will give you the wisdom to use words carefully and the integrity to say what you mean and mean what you say.


I am a scary sight to see before, during and after a workout.  At these times, all I’m focused on getting to the gym, getting through the 45-60 minutes of exercise, and, quite frankly, getting it over with.  My clothes are cool and comfortable, not at all cute.  I pull my hair tightly back so it’s not in my face, which is not a flattering hairstyle for someone with an enormous head like mine.  And, I certainly don’t wear makeup.  If I did, it would slide right off of my face within the first few minutes of class, my mascara winding up on my chin. 

Now, normally, I would not want anyone outside of my immediate family to see me looking so badly.  I’m not a particularly vain person, but even I have my standards.  However, most days of the week, anywhere from 20-50 of my gym-mates are subjected to my sweaty, stinky, disheveled self.  And, surprisingly, it really doesn’t bother me at all that so many people see me looking so bad.  I don‘t even think about it.  It’s probably because no one looks their best in the middle of a work out.  We’re all there with the common purpose of getting sweaty.  Looking rough is expected.  Rings of sweat are a badge of honor for a job well done.  The gym is a safe place to be un-lovely.

I wish the church was a little more like the gym.  Here’s what I mean.  At many churches, we’re expected to have ourselves all pulled together, smiling and happy and holy like everyone else. There’s this unspoken rule that we’re never supposed to let the ugliness of sin, shame, hurt, pain or guilt see the light of day.  But, shouldn’t church be the one place where we are safe to be un-lovely?  Shouldn’t we, as Christians, having a deep understanding of the price paid for our own grace and forgiveness, be first ones to extend grace and forgiveness to others?

In Romans 15 we’re given valuable instructions about how Christians should treat each other. Here are a couple of examples:

-We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up (1-2)

-Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God (7)

It’s been said, very wisely, that the church is supposed to be a hospital for sinners, not a museum of Saints.  Does your church feel that way?  If not, the change has to start with individuals, it has to start with you.  Commit today to develop a spirit or acceptance, unity, honesty and a willingness to share the burdens of others.  And, pray that God will bring other like-minded believers alongside you to help transform not just your church, but the entire body of Christ.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

He's Not Finished With Me Yet

Perhaps the most famous Dome in the world is the one that sits atop the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy. Filipo Brunelleschi's double walled, brick Duomo was and is an architectural marvel, many go so far as to call it a miracle of design.

The amazing thing to me, is that when the cathedral that sports the dome was designed and constructed during the Middle Ages, this type of dome had never been built. In fact, the technology required to build such a structure hadn't even been invented yet. When the church was finally completed in 1418, the roof where the dome would eventually be placed was simply left open. Finally, an architectural competition was held to find someone who would be able to design and build a suitable dome. Brunelleschi won and 18 years later, his masterpiece was complete.

Here’s my question…who designs an element for a building that no one knows how to build? And, who follows through with actually constructing that building, just leaving the project unfinished, open to rain, snow and bird droppings until someone comes along who can figure it out? Can you picture the elders of your church approving something like that?
Oh, that you and I would have that kind of faith! Think about all of the things that God may have planned for our lives that are beyond our imagination or ability. What if, instead of deciding that we are limited by what we know is possible, we left our minds and lives open to God’s plans and designs? What if we really did “Trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding?”

Let’s remember that we are a work in progress, that we are God’s masterpiece. And, even though it may be painful and uncomfortable at times…let’s always leave places that are open for renovations and additions. Remember these words from Philippians 1:6, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I was talking with a friend over dinner last night about how my children behave so differently when they are with other people than they are when it's just us at home. This is especially true for our youngest daughter. Laura is an absolute angel at school…the kind of kid most teachers would love to have a class full of. She's obedient, respectful, and even a little shy. But, the minute she gets off that school bus…look out! I'm not going into graphic detail, but does the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ring any bells? I joked with my friend that she must use up all of her "good" at school…when she gets home there's none left.

My friend said, "You know, that's really true for all of us to a degree, isn't it? I mean", she continued, " a lot of times we give our best selves to the outside world and our family gets whatever is left. And, all too often, that's not much."

That is SO true. I think one reason this happens is that we let our guard down with our immediate family. With a friend we might bite our tongue when we've been offended in order to keep the friendship. At work, we have to do what we are told because we don't want to lose our job. Bur our family's love is, or should be, unconditional, so we feel safe to be our real self…for better or worse. By the end of the day, when we feel we've used up all of "our good" conflict at home is nearly inevitable.

So, how do we turn this pattern around?? Definitely, taking better care of our bodies is a good place to start…a healthy diet, daily exercise and good sleep habits are all ways to boost energy levels. In addition, the Bible tells us that when we seek God first, everything else falls right into place. Remember what it says in Matthew 6:33? "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;and all these things shall be added unto you."

When we allow Him take the reigns from us, He promises us a renewed source of strength and energy unlike anything we've ever experienced before. So, let’s commit each day to give ourselves fully to Him so that our families can have more than just our leftovers.

Monday, February 14, 2011

We Need Each Other

The English poet and author, John Milton, once said, “Loneliness is the first thing which God's eye named not good.” God recognized that Adam needed a helpmate, so he created Eve.

Yet so often, we fail to recognize our need for help. I was raised as an only child, so doing things on my own comes pretty naturally to me. When someone offers to help me with something my response is almost always, “No thanks, I’ve got it.” It’s the adult version of every toddlers favorite phrase, “I Can Do It Myself!”

I know I’m not the only one like this. Why is it so difficult for us to accept help from others? The truth is. however, that when we don’t allow others to lend a hand, not only are we robbing ourselves of receiving a blessing, we are also stealing a blessing from the giver.

A verse most people are familiar with is Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength”. Many people are less familiar with the next verse which reads, “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.” You see, in this section of his letter, the Apostle Paul was thanking the church at Philippi for their gifts and assistance during his missionary journeys. Paul acknowledged that God gave him the strength to endure the many trials he faced, however he repeatedly thanked the Philippians for being the only church that sent him assistance. He also assured them that their gifts were not overlooked by God who found them to be an acceptable, fragrant offering. The “bless-ers” became the blessed.

I suppose the message here is that God will provide the strength to get us through anything, but we do not need to go it alone. We need each other! Pray today that God will show you some areas in your life where you could use a helping hand. Then ask him to send the right people along to offer the love and support that you need. And, pray that when they do, you’ll accept their offer.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mindset over Matter

Every year as a new group of Freshmen emerge on campus, Beloit College releases what’s known as the “Mindset List”. According to Beloit’s website, the list “provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college”. For example, the latest list reveals that the students in the class of 2014 think email is too slow and prefer texting, never wear watches, don’t write in cursive and have always used toothpaste that can stand up on it’s own cap. The list was originally created as a way to remind the faculty to be aware of making dated references because their young new students are likely to come with a different perspective on life based, in part, on being raised during a different time frame.

As Christians, I think there is something to learn here about how we share our faith. In the same way that I could not expect my kids to understand what I’m talking about when I tell them about the first record album I ever owned, I cannot expect a non-Christian to understand what I mean when I talk about “What an anointed time of worship I had at church yesterday” or how “I’ve been sanctified by the blood of the Lamb”. These expressions might make sense to those of us who come from a church background, but would sound pretty weird to anyone else who has not yet experienced faith.

However, I could help my kids understand what a record is by pulling out a record player and a few old albums…giving them the experience of actually listening to a record. And, I can help others understand more about Jesus by living a life that reflects Him, giving them the actual experience of Christ.

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV) "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Today, let’s focus on letting our light shine, giving others an experience of love that will lead them straight to Christ.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Your Roots Are Showing!

 The other day, my youngest daughter, Laura, looked at my hair and said, “Mommy…are you trying out a new color? Your hair is lighter on the bottom than it is on the top.” That was all the confirmation I needed to know that it was past time to pick up a box of blonde and recolor my hair. Coloring my hair is usually pretty low on my list of priorities and I just get to it when I can…by which time there is usually some root re-growth. Truth is, I know that people probably realize that my hair is dyed. I’m not trying to fool anyone. In fact, I often joke about my Ms. Clairol blonde in a box hair. I think I’d look pretty foolish if I tried to pretend that it was the real-deal.

It makes me think of the tendency that so many of us have to put on a perfect looking front when we are around other Christians. Instead of coming to church ready to admit that we are broken people in need of a savior, we instead put on our phony, perfect looking masks and our semi-permanent smiles, refusing to admit that there is anything wrong with us, our family or our lives. The problem is, no one has it all together. Eventually, the truth of our brokenness, “our roots” so to speak, will start to show. Unfortunately, if we have tried to convince everyone that we are perfect, and then they see that we are, in fact, not, we are then percieved as hypocrites.

In the New Testament of the Bible, the literal translation of the word “hypocrite” refers to someone who is acting or pretending to be someone else. So, when we pretend that we are perfect, flawless and sinless, we are being hypocrites. God honors and is honored by sincerity, not hypocrisy.

Finally, if you are still struggling with allowing your true, flawed self be seen, listen to these verses from 1 John 1:8-10, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

Monday, February 7, 2011

Instant Gratification

I want it and I want it now! Instant gratification has become the American Way. Technology is partly to blame, engineers keep coming up with new and better ways to lessen the time it takes to get ‘er done. Inventions like the microwave oven, the clothes washer and dryer and the automatic dishwasher got the speed ball rolling. Today, we can drive thru the fast food restaurant on the way to Jiffy Lube for our 15 minute oil change all the while text messaging our DH or BFF about this weekends plans.

The ability do get things done quickly has definitely made life more convenient. But, at what cost? One of the problems with instant gratification is that it often leads us to things or situations before we are ready for them. Case-in-point: the sub-prime mortgage crisis currently happening in this country. Hundreds of thousands of homes have been foreclosed on because the people who bought them were not financially ready for homeownership. Losing your home is a painful way to learn about patience.

There are many instances where the quick, easy way is not the best way. It’s a path that often leads to disaster. Consider fast food…there’s nothing at all wrong with hitting the drive through every once in a while as a treat or when it is the only option. But, when compared to a nutritionally balanced home-cooked meal, just how valuable is that supersized value meal? Or, think about the way we use credit cards to buy today what we hope we’ll be able to afford tomorrow. Once you tack on the 9-25% interest you’ll pay for that new flat screen monitor was it really worth having it ASAP?

Finally, the main problem with instant gratification, is that it really goes against the way that God operates. God does not hurry up for us, he expects us to wait on him (Psalm 37:7-9). He will not give us what we are not ready for. Instead, He allows us to wait so that our patience will build perseverance, which in turn develops maturity (See James 1:3-4).

Friday, February 4, 2011

Lobster Forks

While sorting through years of accumulated stuff in my kitchen, I came across something that made me laugh…lobster forks. A set of 10 lobster forks, to be exact. What made me laugh is that, at one point in my pre-married life, I actually believed that my husband and I would spend evenings dining on lobster with 8 of our closest friends.

The reality is that within the first 5 years of our marriage, my husband and I had 3 children and had already accumulated a mass of debt. The only time those forks have been used is when I needed something small and pointy to poke a hole with. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have registered for a set of indestructible Corelle dishware and a lifetime supply of Resolve carpet cleaner when I got married.

Even though our life together didn’t turn out quite like I had planned or imagined, my love for my husband and my commitment to our marriage has never waivered. Would I enjoy having more money, less debt, a bigger house and a nicer car? Probably. But, I treasure my husband and the life we do have together far more than anything money could buy.

I sometimes wonder if my love for Jesus runs that deep. Sure, I’m all about praising and thanking Him when life is going well. But, when the going gets tough, I’m way too quick to start griping. After all, why should someone who has a relationship with the King of the universe ever have to suffer?

But, the truth is that becoming a Christian does not give us a “Get out of problems free” pass. In fact, many people face daily persecution and suffering because they are Christians. Jesus even said in the Book of John that “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." This is how we can praise him in both good and bad times, by remembering that He is still in control and working for our ultimate good, even on days when life doesn’t meet our expectations.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I think most kids probably have a hard time with the concepts of appreciation and gratitude. Children become accustomed to having their needs met and often take for granted the many things we, as parents, do for them.

My own children are no exception. On my daughter’s most recent birthday, we were strapped for cash. One of the ways I helped to trim expenses was by making cupcakes for her class instead of buying them….Gasp! Betty Crocker I am not. And as a busy mom, just finding time on a hectic Monday night to make the cupcakes was a challenge.

As I was preparing the cupcakes, my daughter asked, “Did you get sprinkles?” I answered, “No…you didn’t tell me you wanted sprinkles”. “Awww…I really like sprinkles”, she responded with great disappointment. It was too late for me to go to the store, and honestly, I was a little irritated that, instead of being thankful for the cupcakes, she was griping about the lack of sprinkles. Then, the next day when I brought a Happy Meal and the now-sprinkled cupcakes to her at school (her new-best-friend Darren supplied me with sprinkles before I made my delivery) she griped at me for being 10 minutes late.

Needless to say, I left her school feeling pretty unappreciated. Before long though, I realized that I treat my own Father the same way. When I gripe about my house being too small, my kids being too difficult, my job being too hard or my wallet being too empty, I’m really saying to God that I don’t appreciate his blessings. I’m choosing to focus on what God hasn’t given me and not the many things that He has. Fortunately, God offers far more grace to His children than I am often willing to offer mine.

If you recognize a lack of gratitude in your own life, then let’s commit today to turn our attention to what we have and not what we lack. And, let’s remember to regularly express our appreciation for the wealth of blessings that God has showered on each of us.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


From time to time I have the opportunity to represent WBFJ at seminars, conferences and other professional events. On such occasions, I understand that I am a reflection of the radio station, and my words and actions have the potential to affect the way others view WBFJ. I take this seriously...I would never want to act in a way that would cause someone to see the station in a negative light.

Just as I try hard to be a good representative for WBFJ, I must also try to be a good representative for Christ. Everyone who is a Christian has this responsibility. People are watching us and basing what they think about Jesus on how we act. Unfortunately, we're not doing a very good job of consistently representing Him in a positive way. The Barna Group reports that a large majority of people aged 16-29 years old who are outside of the church view Christians as judgmental, hypocritical, insensitive, too-political and bigoted, among several other less than flattering adjectives¹.

While I know many Christians who are not any of these things, I also know quite a few who fit this description quite well. Unfortunately, it is these folks who give us all and the Christ we represent a bad reputation.

So what adjectives should accurately describe followers of Christ? Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a pretty good working list, “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

No, we're not perfect and we won't get it right all of the time. But, we can start by asking God each day to help us remember that we are a reflection of Him, a representation of who He is to the rest of the world.

1. Kinnaman, David, and Lyons, Gabe. unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters. Baker Books, 2007.