Untangled in Love

I never thought I’d be one for mushy stuff. Anyone who’s heard my commentary during chick flicks knows I’m not a romantic.

But there’s this guy.

The one I moved seats to be near the first day of class. The one whose shenanigans had my head and finger wagging from the start. The one who asked me to date him after I spent hours telling him every reason not to love me. The one who led me to my Savior.

His eyes were fixed on Christ even as he took my hand in his. I thank the Lord he has little regard for any other sight.

During more than 6 years of knowing each other now, I’ve witnessed a faith-skill of his I pray the Lord helps me hone as my own.

He’s an expert disentangler.

Ironically, this only applies spiritually. When it comes to being entangled physically, he’s got a knack for being wound up in cords, having limbs stuck in furniture, nearly strangling himself with ties, and being unable to remove himself from places he climbs into (AKA…dryers.) Some evidence:

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Spiritually, though, my husband is quick and nimble to:

“throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” –Hebrews 12:1

What I’ve noticed most in his way of staying free and ready to obey the Lord is an attention to who He is serving. 2 Timothy 2:26 warns of being enticed into entanglement in the enemy’s snare. The verse says our enemy captures us for the purpose of having us do his will.

We are never entangled in sin for the purpose of serving God.

So, when we are entangled, we’re serving the will of the enemy.  It might be through self-serving or through people-pleasing. We may be money-driven or fear-abiding. Whatever the case, when we’re entangled, we’re not fixed on the purposes of Christ.

This is one of the ways my husband’s “black and white” thinking helps.

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He isn’t easily entangled because His eyes are fixed on Christ intently. He notices when he is looking at someone else. He notices when what he’s doing isn’t serving the Lord.

And when he notices, he turns from the dark to the light. He shifts his eyes to Christ. He throws off whatever is bidding him to pay attention to or serve anything else. Whatever it is, it’s not worth missing out on beholding the Lord.

I’m blessed when he helps with my writing because I know he won’t fail to point out words that hinder instead of help the gospel. As I analyze, assess, and plan in life I am grateful to have by my side someone with foresight and discretion regarding the Lord’s will.

Among the most precious aspects of our marriage is my husband’s habit of getting my attention to direct me to Our Lord -who has his attention.

He hates to be entangled, and he hates to see me tied in knots too.

Praying this Valentine’s Day you and your loved ones can help each other disentangle to fix your eyes on the One who matters most.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

No Way, No How

Standing on the edge of my own big, wild, crazy nightmares or dreams, I remember the wise words I’ve seen shared around the internet “When there isn’t a way out, go through.”

It’s true. But, sometimes, looking around, there isn’t a way through.

Sometimes the door is slammed shut in your face and all the others are locked tight too. Sometimes the news isn’t hopeful, but terminal. Sometimes you hear “health management” when you were hoping for “treatment.” Sometimes all the encouragement in the world can’t convince the people in authority to say yes.

Sometimes…you know the Lord has called you, led you, brought you…but you have no idea how to continue.

The path has run out. Still, He says press on.

No way-no how, is God’s specialty.

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The Israelites on the edge of the sea knew it. They didn’t devise a plot using floaties or rafts to make the voyage across. Three friends didn’t perfect the first Nascar firesuit before being thrown into the blazing furnace. Daniel didn’t come out of the pit buck-naked, having used his clothes to muzzle the lions.

The people told getting into heaven was like pushing a camel through the eye of a needle didn’t find their answer on Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Paul didn’t regain his eye sight and a whole new perspective on everything using a special form of Lasik.

Each of these no way-no how impossibilities was met with a God possibility.

In each of these scenarios, there was no way through. No plot to devise. No option left. Not for people with their natural limits.

But God.

He makes the way and is the how when we face our no ways, no hows.

A friend of mine recently shared about the Lord answering her family with miracles they didn’t even know how to pray for. That is so often the case in our lives.

Sometimes our best prayer when we’re teetering on a precipice and the path has run out is “Lord, you know. I don’t. You do.” Aaaand wait. Aaaaand believe.

The Lord doesn’t just come through, He makes the “through.”

Take a look at your no way, no how. Stare it down while you balance on your tip-toes.

Your God, Our Lord, is the maker of possible. And He’s still making possibility anew.

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Overcome Failure Book Review

I’m one of those people who has regularly lived in fear of failure. Are you?

I’ve made too many decisions based on what I know I can do, not what I believe I should do. All too often, I shrink back from the ideas that excite me, even when I know the Lord is offering them. I refuse because I doubt I can succeed in fulfilling them.

My list of “almosts” but “might fail, better nots” is long.

What a blessing it has been in a recent season of growing in boldness to discover Ifeoma Samuel’s new book Overcome Failure.

Unique in style and informal, Overcome Failure has been to me like a series of pep-talks or letters from this lovely woman of God. Nearly every time I dive into the book I’m met with a God-timed phrase or passage from Scripture speaking directly to the fear of failure I’ve needed to face.

For example, on page 35, Ifeoma outlines one of the first reasons fear of failure triumphs over us: we hate to wait without a guarantee of the risk (or of anything!) being worthwhile.

“Only patient people can fully surrender. Are you one?” she says.

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My immediate answer is no. But isn’t she right?

We often surrender something to God only to find ourselves snatching it back when He takes longer than expected. If we don’t take it back, we often head right away from the foot of the cross to another thing we can pick up and cling to instead of simply being patient in waiting for what He desires to fill us with.

Picking up our lesser, safer options, we bypass God’s best for us because waiting to see if we might succeed is scary. But that’s where faith can swoop in and spare us.

As Ifeoma explains on page 7 and throughout the book:

Failure is not a monster to be afraid of. It only becomes a giant when we see it as such; however, when we embrace the hope God offers us, it becomes just another challenge that is brought down.

When God says He can work all things together for good, He even means our failures or potential failures. As He explains in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “His power is made perfect in weakness.”

God doesn’t need us to succeed for Him to succeed in His purposes for us and through us.

I hope that simple, essential lesson from Overcome Failure helps you grow in boldness, trust, and obedience in Christ the way it has me.

Thank you, Ifeoma, for the wise, personal, God-grounded talk on this touchy topic!

To learn more about Overcome Failure, click here.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: Strengthen

“Be strong and of good courage… do not cower.

Do not heed your fears. Take the land I have given you to possess.”

Joshua 1:6, 7

Joshua is one of my favorite books of the Bible. The third chapter in particular grips me every time. So thankful Christine shared about the Lord using Joshua to encourage her to worship Him during battles of all kinds.

Genuinely praising God amidst the crazy and chaotic takes strength.

That’s the word this week, pulled from Joshua 1: Be Strong.

4 Facts:

  1. “Be Strong” is a Verb

I’m referring to the word strengthen because in this verse, in context, “be strong” means “grow strong” or, simply “strengthen.” It’s an action word.

Strength is not something we just possess. To be strong is to exert power.  It’s to use what you have been given with might.

  1. Strengthening is Multi-Faceted

Sometimes being strong means grasping something tightly. That might involve seizing hold of it…or it may mean clinging with force to what is already in your grip.

When you exert strength, it takes effort and sustenance. You must firm up your muscles- even your Spiritual muscles.

  1. Strength Derives from Something Given

“Adopt” and “apply” are some of the first words listed in the definition of strengthen. The potential of the power and might have been given. The Lord’s promises have been made and His call has been issued.

To be strong is to apply what has been given. Flex the faith-muscle God has been growing.

  1. Being Strong Means Relying on the Lord

Another aspect of “be strong” is “be encouraged,” or, “fasten.” What is it that the Israelites were called to be strong in? What is it we’re to fasten ourselves to, take hold of, and grip with all our strength?

God’s promises. Be strong in taking hold of God’s promises.

Securely and resolutely take hold of the one who is growing you.

That’s what it is to be strong: to flex our God-given muscles in the battles we face.

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We take hold and flex in praise, in faithful following, and, as the verses that follow state, in obedience.

Will you stretch and flex from the soul with me today?

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

The Faithful “If”

Photo from: www.spectrumhealth.ie

In Philippians 2, Paul explains what the “ifs” of faith can amount to. We read the words “if any” over and over again. Paul explains how the “ifs” we desire can add up to joy. Sometimes it helps to read Scripture backwards.

Those “ifs,” for instance, are based on the presuppositions that follow:

  • Have the same mindset as Christ
  • Look to the interest of others
  • Value others above yourself
  • Do nothing out of selfish conceit
  • Be united in one Spirit and Mind

Before listing these presuppositions, Paul says that these “make my joy complete” (Philippians 2:2.) Paul was not speaking merely of people doing things in faith to make him proud and happy.  He was explaining not just his joy, but the joy of those who read the Word and listen, resulting in a life that glorifies God.

These presuppositions set us up for the “anys” we long for in life. They fulfill the “if” of faith needed to move us from speculative belief into faith assured by the reality of Christ at work in you and me.

What are these “anys?”

  • If any comfort
  • If any encouragement
  • If any common sharing in the Spirit
  • If any compassion and tenderness
  • If any working out of our own salvation
  • If any of God working in us to fulfill His good purposes
  • If any shining like stars

IF we desire any of these in our lives then we need refer back to those presuppositions. And don’t we desire these?

In His grace He gives us every good and perfect gift. By His mercy we are saved without doubt after trusting Christ. But He doesn’t promise to break through our every barrier and buffer. The Lord doesn’t say that we will feel His presence and have His complete joy when we don’t walk with Him.

He certainly doesn’t promise to make us feel supported and cared for when we act for selfish reasons. In fact, Scripture says that “even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong–you want only what will give you pleasure” (James 4:3.)

So often when we wonder why He doesn’t seem near and or isn’t clearly working in our lives, we are also choosing not to live near to Him or open to His working in our lives. We live “fists closed,” as Ann Voskamp says.

On the days of exasperation and desperation that we cry out “Lord, give me anything” or “Lord, I’ll take anything!” these are the things we desire. These “if anys” are what our hearts long for as we seek to live lives that glorify Him and are filled up and overflowing with His presence.

But it’s also on those days that we tend to be willing to open our hands only to collect and hold possessively close. Our hands aren’t open to giving or to clasping palms with others in the body of Christ. Our minds aren’t open to the mind of Christ or the interests of others.

We live like one way, dead-end streets to “me-ville.” At the same time, we wonder why the love of Christ doesn’t roll on in. (tweet this!)

Longing for these “if anys” but missing the point, we change our hearts to say “if only.” If only Christ were here. If only I could feel His love. If only others showed me compassion. Then…then we could get to the pre-suppositions. But that’s not the order God created.

Start with “if any” and obey. Start with Christ first and others above myself.  Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8.) You won’t have to say “if only.”

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” –Philippians 2:1-5
This post is being shared on: #LifeGivingLinkup #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory.

The Blessing of Endurance

Photo from: (www.redletterchristians.org)

Isn’t it interesting that we tend to count our blessings most when “bad” things happen?

It is after a major accident that we are glad to be alive, or post loss that we are grateful for those who truly love us. It seems that we need disruptions to remind us that life isn’t actually in our control and that there is something more important “out there”.

Yet the faster we get over things, the sooner we forget these pseudo-lessons. Reminders seem fleeting and unable to impact us in a way that changes something in our hearts.

This, the Bible suggests, is the blessing of endurance. Troubles and suffering that endure teach us, rather than remind us, to rely on our Lord and to look on our lives in light of Him. We are to glory in our sufferings, God says in Romans 5:

” And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”


If God chooses to, He can heal the sick, prevent accidents, and delay the time of death. There are certainly times that He has. We often find that this is what we pray for. Or, if not such extreme miracles, we pray that recovery is speedy or that joy come quickly. Why do we fear suffering, tribulation, and uncomfortable emotions? Surely no one needs to desire or wish for trouble, but when it comes, as it did for Jesus, we are to trust in God’s will. And He produces much in our hearts in our times of need.

Consider what Psalm 105:19 says about God’s work in the suffering of Joseph (who was sold into slavery and thrown into jail for no sin of his own!):

“Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph’s character.”


In Psalm 73, we are given an example of one who begins to slip from righteousness because He focuses on how wicked people seem to have no trouble at all. The writer begins to look around and grow envious of how happy others earthly lives. Meanwhile, his own Godly life is one of affliction. He comes to this conclusion in verses 20-28:

“They are like a dream when one awakes;

when you arise, Lord,

you will despise them as fantasies.

When my heart was grieved

and my spirit embittered,

I was senseless and ignorant;

I was a brute beast before you.

Yet I am always with you;

you hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,

and afterward you will take me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart

and my portion forever.

Those who are far from you will perish;

you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.

But as for me, it is good to be near God.

I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;

I will tell of all your deeds.”

Sometimes life is a lot to endure when we look around and see how other’s lives seem to go. Particularly when we suffer. Yet our endurance, when rooted in the Lord, can be a blessing.

The “end goal” of our lives as Christians is that we are near to our God. Joy is not the goal. Prosperity is not the goal. These might be a means to our end goal, but we must realize that suffering can also be a means.

It is good for us to be near our God. He is our desire and our glory. If it is in suffering that we spend our days seeking Him, learning from Him, and relying on Him, than we can count our having to endure as a blessing.

In light of our Savior, our hope is secure. He is faithful. His love is unfailing. Time and time again, He has proved Himself merciful. Our suffering does not change the Lord, but the Lord can certainly draw our hearts, shaping them as His, through our suffering.

Suffering is suffering. Having to persevere is what it is. We don’t have to feign joy and peace, or pronounce platitudes to get by effectively. Our hope is in the Lord. His Spirit is poured into us…isn’t that enough? Isn’t His provision sufficient so that we are not “put to shame,” but are all the more able to glory in Him (Romans 5:5)?