Friday, January 29, 2016

Letting Jesus Remove the Clutter

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace...  (1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV)

Many people struggle with clutter in their lives:  inner and outer.  I face struggles in this area, yet there is a degree of order to the “mess” (in other words, I can almost always find what I am looking for).  There may be a method to my madness…or not!  At the same time, I realize that God has a different perspective about my clutter.


Holding on to objects—whatever they may be—of our past, a past the Lord has led us away from is likely far more counterproductive than we realize.  Whether or not we realize it, we are weighed down, hampered, kept from the future that awaits us; the future that is created especially for us by Jesus our Savior and Lord.  This is the future where we will find a happiness, a contentment that comes from being where we are needed and doing the things the world most needs us to do.  This reminds me of a quote from Frederick Buechner:  “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”[1] 


Letting go of the “stuff” gives us freedom for the future—openness, space, margin for the Lord to work and for us to work too.  When we are free of this “stuff”, perhaps “stuff” that haunts us, we can become the person we were meant to be all along!  All this “stuff” that we think we need only distracts and hinders us (this is at least partially true for me). 

To be sure, the “stuff” is not always bad; it may have served a good purpose in the past.  If the “stuff” is truly a thing of the past; a past that is no longer the path God wants you walking down, why cling to it, as if it has the power to save?  This is what I have talked to myself about in the past and even just this week.  At the point God made it clear to me that the path I was on was not the correct one, I was so overwhelmed that it did not occur to me to start parting ways with the objects that had occupied hours of my life for many years, and stuff that I had spent a sizable amount of money to acquire.


Over the past several years, the Lord has been freeing me more and more of the files of paper, projects that were a significant part of my past.  Since the beginning of the year I have gotten back to work—it is work but it goes amazingly fast.  It is also completely overwhelming at times; mostly it feels great! 


Our God is a God of order (as can be seen the Scripture above).  He created order.  Therefore, order pleases Him—order in our lives, order in our churches—makes a difference, a difference that might just makes others take note.  God brings order to our disorder, if we allow Him.  As we depend on Him to remove the inner and outer “clutter” we find freedom.  This freedom gives us the necessary space to think, to create, and to simply live. 

Jesus also addressed this in His Sermon on the Mount:  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 KJV). 

Where are you storing up treasures? 

I am working towards an increasing desire to store up treasures—the most important treasures—in heaven; a work that is in progress.  These are the treasures we should all desire.
In some way, releasing all this stuff, the baggage of the past—tangible objects and people may well be a type of “pruning” (see John 15).  Stay tuned for a possible future post on pruning. 
We can depend on God to help us in our weakness.  He is kind and gentle with us, yet He does not allow us to stay—growth, change happens and is expected.  I am thinking my releasing of this “stuff” will take me places I have never dreamed possible.


What do you need to do with the “clutter” in your life?
How is Jesus helping you with the “clutter” in your life?
Please join with me in prayer:
Dear Lord of Order, We confess that our lives are out of order; we need your help in regaining order.  Enable us to see our living and working spaces with Your eyes, so that we can address the piles of “stuff” that weigh us down.  Likewise, we need Your love, grace, and power to clear away our inner “clutter”, providing the necessary space for You to do Your creative work within us.  Remind us to be loving, caring, and gentle with others who struggle, as well as with ourselves.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Friday, January 22, 2016

Scriptures on Abiding in Christ


This week, I have decided to share a few Scriptures on abiding, rather than composting a complete blog post.  We can gain so much spiritually when we meditate (seriously think about) on Scriptures.  By hiding God’s Word in our heart, we can face the hard things in this fallen world in a way that will make others wonder what we have that they are missing.  History has many examples of Christians who were so committed to Jesus—they were solidly on the vine—they were willing to lose everything, including their lives to stay true to Jesus.  My longing, hope, and prayer is that I will be prepared to join them one day.   

The verses that follow are not by any means all the verses in the Bible on abiding in Christ, just a select few to mull over in the days ahead.


Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 
(John 15:4 KJV)

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 
(John 15:5 KJV)

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 
(John 15:6 KJV)

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  
(John 15:7 KJV)

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 
(John 15:10 KJV)

 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.  (Acts 14:13 KJV)

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 
(1 John 2:15 KJV)

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 
(1 John 2:16 KJV)

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. 
(1 John 2:17 KJV)

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.  (1 John 3:6)


My prayer is that these verses will speak to your heart and provide strength and encouragement on difficult days.  Currently, part of my time with the Lord each day is focusing on what it means to abide, to wait, to dwell—along with the resulting benefits.  It is a slow process; after all fruit takes time to mature.  At some point, I may share what I am learning in a blog post.

What verses is the Lord leading you to or speaking to you this week?

Please join with me in prayer:

Precious Lord, thank You for Your Word that contains solid truth, as we mediate on it, open our spiritual eyes to understand what You are saying to us.  Direct our attention to the Scriptures You want us to meditate upon and apply to our daily lives.  Help us to abide in Your presence every day.  Thank You for the benefits that come from being Your child; may we share the Good News with those around us who desperately need to hear it.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Friday, January 15, 2016

My One Word for 2016: Abide

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  (John 15:4 KJV)


In the last few years, I have seen many posts on choosing a word to focus on for the year—for those of us in Christ that should be a word the Lord give us as we seek Him for His desire for us.  This year, I decided to reveal the word I believe the Lord desires me to study, to focus on, and to understand more fully from a Christian perspective.  The word I was directed to could really change things for me and my life as a Christian.  (As an aside, last year’s word was trust, as in God saying, “Trust Me.”) 

My word for the year is abide.  Abide.  Abide in Jesus and not leave—stay in Him.

Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 defines abide like this: “1. To rest, or dwell. ....  2. To tarry or stay for a short time.  ...  3. To continue permanently or in the same state; to be firm and immovable.  …  4.  To remain, to continue…  To wait for; to be prepared for; to await.  ..To endure or sustain.  …”[1]

Other words for abide, for my context, are:  dwell, submit to (humility), remain, continue, and stay.  Knowing the synonyms is helpful in gaining understanding of exactly what it means to abide. 

When we abide in Jesus we have the strength to do what we have been called to do; strength to face incredibly hard days.  It when we abide that we can do all things—something we cannot do if we only have an intellectual faith or depend solely on our mind, our own strength to live as a Christian.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  (John 15:5 KJV)


It is when we abide in Jesus that we bear fruit.  When we wander away from Jesus, from the vine, we suffer; we dry up and produce nothing noteworthy.  What we produce in the flesh will not last.  Ultimately, without abiding in Jesus we will wander away from the faith when things get difficult.

 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.  (1John 3:6 KJV)


Abiding in Jesus, being firmly attached to the vine, empowers our Christian walk.  It is a matter of heart.  No amount of intellect will assist us here, in fact, it may be detrimental.  Abiding with Jesus, truly abiding will change our lives in ways we cannot begin to imagine! 

Last year, I read three books by Corrie ten Boom (The Hiding Place impacted me deeply).  I was amazed at the depth of faith in the ten Boom family.  They along with many other Dutch Reformed Christians determined to stand up to the Nazis and did all they could to protect the Jewish people in Holland.  Due to their faith, they paid a very steep price:  imprisonment, getting sent to concentration camps in Germany (almost certain death), and in some cases they paid with their life.  That is the type of faith I desire! 

I do not know about you; I know that I want to be ready, willing to give my life for Jesus!  My hunch is that my word for the year, if I truly focus on it, may be crucial in my preparations for when I face persecution due to following Jesus.


He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  (Psalm 91:1 KJV)


Ahh…dwelling in the secret place…  I cannot not think of a better place to dwell, to abide. 

What word has the Lord directed you to for the year? 

How are you abiding in Christ?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father:  As we embark on this year, show us how we are to abide in Jesus.  Draw us more and more to You, as we seek Your face and desire to do Your will.  In many ways we know that we need to abide in Jesus if we expect to do much of anything, yet it is so easy to wander off at times.  Thank You for all the times You wooed us back to You after we wandered away from Your side.  Cause us to seek to dwell with You in the secret place, where will find such protection and provision, we will do things we never dreamed were possible.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Friday, January 8, 2016

Goals 2016

The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord. 
(Proverbs 16:1 KJV)
A week ago today we commenced a new year.  We received a fresh start from God.  The freshness of a new year beckons us to try new things, make changes in our lives, and accomplish a list of goals.  When we have our eyes on God, our goals should lead us to Him, rather than away from Him.  Furthermore, our goals should be healthy ones too—physically, spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically.  It is good to keep in mind that when we set goals they should be ones that do not require the cooperation of others—those goals have a high failure rate, for obvious reasons!

Many people make resolutions at the beginning of the year; abandoning them a few hours or weeks later.  Why?  Perhaps the goals are far too ambitious, too vague, or require the cooperation of others.  New goals tend to require new habits to form—something that takes time and dedication to achieve.   

The greatest commitment we can make as Christians is to grow and develop in a positive direction in our faith.  Taking time for silent meditation of our hearts and coming into the presence of God.

A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.  (Proverbs 16:9 KJV)


What goals did you set for yourself last year?  What were your results?

Last year, my goal list was ambitious—even overly ambitious.  Ultimately, I achieved few of my goals.  However, I refused to beat myself up or get overly discouraged.  The goals were all good (according to my mentor), positive goals that do not require the cooperation of others—meaning that I am responsible for either doing them or not doing them.

The goals encompassed reading, writing, creativity (singing/piano playing), ministry (including this blog) and more.  They were worded in such a way to allow me to maintain my focus on the Lord, this is important for me and where I desire to go (where I feel the Lord is leading me).  Many of my goals focused on reading spiritually nurturing books and also writing about what I am learning. Good goals, yes, just too much for one year.


What are your goals for this year?  How do you plan to work towards achieving them?  Who do you have in your life to hold you accountable and to encourage you?

This year my goal list is once again quite substantial—still overly ambitious—many of the same ones that I had last year.  Realistically, there are so many hours in the day and a certain amount of energy to do the things that need doing.  I have been encouraged by my mentor to whittle down the list, so that I will have some “margin”, my time is filled to the edges.  Wise words…  Now to do it!

Margin, the whitespace, in art and in books that make it easier to see the work of art, whether the work of art is a painting or a book—without the whitespace things are cluttered and overwhelming.  Our lives, much like in art or writing need “whitespace”, the space to simply be—be at rest, at peace—allowing God to speak and work in and through us.

Some thoughts to keep in mind this year (that I wrote last year):

It is when we take our eyes off of our goal that we have an inclination to go off the path that will take us to where we want to be.  This is rather like driving a car; we need to keep our eyes on the road ahead of us, not on what is to the sides or behind us. Taking our eyes off the road when driving could send us off into a ditch; much the same could be for our spiritual life.  It is easy to recall times where I have gotten off into a “ditch” spiritually because I have focused on the wrong place/thing.  Getting off course is not always easy to correct, in fact, it is easy (or so it seems) to overcorrect in the opposite direction.  Thankfully, we have a wonderfully patient Teacher and Guide. Jesus stands by; ever ready to guide us back on the path He has for us.

With all of this in mind, what changes, if any, do you need to make to your goals for the year?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Lord of All, while we may have set goals for this year, ultimately, we desire Your guidance regarding the goals we should pursue.  The greatest goal is to pursue You and stay on the path that leads to our home with You in heaven.  Sometimes we get distracted and get far, far off course. Thank You for all those times you have come after us, to rescue us from ourselves and from the attacks that threaten to destroy us.  Lord, grant us the strength and stamina we need to keep on keeping on, so that we will be able to reach our goal of being welcomed home by You when we die. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year Challenge

With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.  (Psalm 119:10-11 KJV)

Some of my Bibles

It is the beginning of a new year—a fresh start from God.  The new year gives us the opportunity to adopt new behaviors, set new goals.  Hopefully, the new behaviors will be beneficial to us personally and to others!  New calendars we just opened are a tangible sign of this fresh start.  What will this year hold?  Only God knows for sure; whatever it holds, we can still learn, grow, and develop in our walk with the Lord. 

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.  (Psalm 119:18 KJV)

The new year also affords us the opportunity to reflect on the past year and look forward to all the possibilities that the new year holds.  Now is a wonderful time to either begin or renew or deepen our relationship with Jesus. 

As you prayerfully discern what God is directing you to do this year, I hope that you will commit to reading the Bible from cover-to-cover in 2016.  This is my new year challenge to you!

Some of my Bibles

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.  (Psalm 119:105 KJV)

Any time spent in God’s Word is never wasted.  God’s Word’s goes out and does not return to Him void (see Isaiah 55:11).  The dividends are amazing!  Reading the whole of God’s Word allows us to get to know the heart of our Heavenly Father and to begin to see themes, interconnections, and more with ease.  A perk?  It will help you find passages with ease in a variety of settings.  Another perk?  You will do much better in Bible trivia games!

Keep in mind there are many atheists and agnostics who have read the Bible cover-to-cover multiple times.  We His people should hunger for the Word in such a way that we will want to read all of it!

Some of my Bibles

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.  (Psalm 119:176 KJV)

It is my heart’s sincere desire that you are setting time aside in your daily schedule to commune with God and that you are growing in your relationship with Him.  God loves you so much and desires nothing more than relationship with you.  He loves you so much, in fact, He is crazy about you!  Keeping your eyes on the goal (prize), will help you stay focused and not get off track.  A word of caution: be kind to yourself, realizing that some days or weeks will not be so great; things will go wrong—give yourself the grace you deserve—give yourself the grace you would give to others.  Encourage yourself over how far you have come.


Time?  Yes, this does take time.  However, if we consider the amount of time we spend on social media or mindlessly watching television; the cost is minuscule.  The cost is more than worth it in the end.

If my grandma, who only had a sixth grade education could do it; so can you!  Grandma Emma made that commitment; she lived without many of the modern conveniences we have, therefore, nearly everything took her much longer to accomplish.

My first Christmas: Grandma Emma is holding me.

Since 2005, I have read the Bible from cover-to-cover at least once each year, if not more!  One time, I read the through the Bible in ninety days (and even managed to read the New Testament twice in that period!).
Who will take me up on this little challenge?  I will cheer you on; you can do this!  Moreover, this is where supportive relationships (accountability) with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are so helpful.  Our relationships allow us to lend a helping, supportive hand to a sister or brother who is hurting or struggling; we can also be on the receiving end of the help and support of others.  How about we support and encourage each other? 

My Bible

Why not make 2016 the year that you allow Christ to change you—making you more and more like Him?  Invite the Holy Spirit to fill you and deepen your walk with the Lord.  What is holding you back?  I want to encourage you to commit to opening yourself to what God wants to give you.  You may find that you’ll go places and do things you never thought that you would do!  Keep on reading/studying God’s Word and praying!

A variety of plans exist that you can select from to guide you in this endeavor.  If you happen to fall behind, please do not get discouraged—keep on going and get caught up when you are able.

Here is a link that will take you to a site that gives a variety of plans to read through the Bible in a year.  Bible Reading Plans

My Bible

What are you looking forward to most in reading God’s Word this year?  How can I encourage you?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of life and for the gift of another new year and for all the possibilities that it holds.  Help us to be faithful to You—doing what You would have us to do each day.  Deepen our longing for You, so that we will press in and not quit until we have all that You have to offer us.  Instill deep within us a hunger for Your Word that is not easily satisfied.  Encourage us to commit to and keep that commitment to read the whole of Your Word this year; we can only do it with Your help.  Come Holy Spirit; enlighten the eyes of our understanding, as we read the Word You inspired.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Happy New Year!  
May God bless you richly throughout 2016.  
May 2016 be the year to give more of your life to the Lord.