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Small Ripples, Big Impact

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers — the moon and the stars you set in place — what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?  ~ Psalm 8:3-4

Life lesson: though I may be a pebble or a tiny insignificant grain of sand, the ripple effect of my life can be great.

Over the last few months, I’ve been trying harder than usual to make sense of life (in general) and the people who have crossed my path (more specifically). Attempting to understand the vagaries of life and relationships has proved to be a futile effort which soon ended with me throwing up my hands and accepting that nothing matters at all. A devastating thought. Crushing, actually, and depressing because if nothing in life matters, it stood to reason that I didn’t matter either.

I concluded that I’m not significant to anything or anyone. It didn’t matter how I loved or showed love, what I said or what I did, if I showed up or if I didn’t, it didn’t matter what I thought or believed, what I learned or what I dismissed. Nothing about the process of my journey mattered, or my experiences or my lessons. It all amounted to naught. From inception I was a waste and my time here could be likened to a waiting room, a transition space I paused in before being released into a place where my existence would matter. A paradise where my love would be accepted and my open heart would not be derided or neglected.

My underlining thought was: How much longer must I suffer here, in a world full of people who have no care for me, no concern, no openness, no honesty, no true sense of sharing?

I hadn’t dared approach my heart condition during this season of brokenness. Primarily, because I had believed myself to be in a season of wholeness. A season of recovery. I had believed myself to be in the midst of reaping a bountiful harvest of blessings – so joyful of heart and spirit, so clear of mind and purpose. I wanted to enjoy every moment of that sense of wholeness without giving one iota of concentration to the encroaching darkness, the crippling loneliness, the horrendous sadness. This month, I’ve reached a point where I not only have to concentrate on my dark, lonely sadness, but I also have to give voice to it in order to let it go. I have to acknowledge it so I can shine a light on it and defeat it.

About face on Facebook

One issue in the midst of all this is technology. I have increasingly become discouraged with technology, primarily social media. The internet makes you feel only a few clicks away from people living hundreds or thousands of miles away. That accessibility creates a false sense of intimacy and that false sense of intimacy makes online interactions feel like real relationships. That’s the web I got entangled in, during a time I was confronted with the fact that my person-to-person relationships didn’t amount to a hill of beans either. So, in effect, I crashed due to a software malfunction or overload because I was trying to compute people in my actual and virtual worlds with malware.

A few months ago, I deactivated my Facebook account because I felt I wasn’t benefiting anyone, therefore it wasn’t benefiting me.

A line from Reese Witherspoon’s 2006 Oscar acceptance speech for Walk the Line, has never left my mind. Her whole speech is beautiful and encouraging for any woman doing any work in this world, but her closing line, which she attributed to June Carter, sums up this whole internal conflict of mine:

I want to say that my — my grandmother was one of the biggest inspirations in my life. She taught me how to be a real woman, to have strength and self-respect, and to never give those things away. And those were a lot of qualities I saw in June Carter. And people used to ask June how — how she was doin’. And she used to say, “I’m just tryin’ to matter.” And, I know what she means, you know. I’m just trying to matter and live a good life and make work that means something to somebody.  ~ Reese Witherspoon

I, too, want to matter. I want to count for something. I want to feel as if my presence isn’t a waste of space in this continuum of life.

This weekend God showed me how I mattered to His network. Oh, being shown my place in His web of connections has had an equally awe-inspiring and humbling impact on me! I’m still processing… but from a clean reboot this time.

Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority…  ~ Psalm 8:5-6

I matter to the Most High. And His words of love have been penetrating me this weekend!

I opened an email from Cyndy Lavoie yesterday after posting This Time. Her email had been sitting in my spam folder for exactly seven days. I hadn’t even been trying to look at email let alone spam, but a series of erratic movements with my mouse pulled her email up before I even realized what I was looking at. As a matter of fact, I sat looking at her name for at least a full minute, blinking, trying to guess at why I would have an email from her.

See, Cyndy Lavoie is a contact from Facebook that I corresponded with no more than 5-7 times via FB page posts or blog comments over the pass summer. We have never met, nor have we spoken voice-to-voice. She lives across the continent in another country. I had linked to her blog through the page of a mutual “friend” on Facebook. Her blog posts touched my heart and I sensed we were on a similar journey.

She started her email to me with: “Not sure if you remember me, we met on Facebook (somehow!! LOL) and you have been coming to mind lately, and it occurred to me that I’ve not seen you on Facebook for quite some time.”

God’s Social Network

In addition to to the onslaught of my technical difficulties, I started attending a new church. For pretty much the full time I was on Facebook, I read The Daily Bible Verse every day. I posted scripture and commentary from it regularly on my pages. Some time before closing down my Facebook page,  I noticed the pastor writing the commentary headed a church in New York City. One day I googled the church.  In September, I contacted the pastor and inquired about the small group Bible studies listed on the church’s website. He invited me to the one that evening and I’ve been participating ever since.

Today, after service, many of us went to lunch. On the walk to the restaurant, a young, very lively couple introduced themselves to me. I learned that they had just relocated back to New York after a year living in Texas. Through the course of the afternoon, I learned she’s an actress and he’s a software developer. I was seated quite a few people down the table from them, but their energy was so contagious I moved closer so I could hear their conversation. As I pulled up a recently vacated seat, Carl, the husband, said, “LaShawnda, I was hoping to be able to speak to you! I heard that you found the church through The Daily Bible Verse.”

“I did! It’s been an amazing experience!”

“I’m the developer that developed The Daily Bible Verse. It’s been taking off like you wouldn’t believe.”

“Getoutahere! You’re a person! {Yes, I said that!} I thought it might be some corporation with layers and layers of ridiculousness!”

“Nope – maybe one day! For now, it’s just me and Dave. I’m the technical guy and he’s the commentator.”

I don’t think I can adequately explain how powerful this is to me. Carl and Dave impacted my life before I ever met them, saw them or knew their names. They were part of my day. Part of my study and learning. I have shared the product of their work with people I don’t know, haven’t met or seen. They are both modest men, living modest lives who share a passion for the Word of God and a desire to distribute the Word to the masses. Upon meeting them both, I told them how their work impacted my life. Though the meetings were months apart, their responses were the same, “Thank you, that encourages me!”

My amazement is for the way God has moved us all to the point of contact. We’ve come from all corners of this country and connected in New York City. We’ve gone back and forth with churches and arrived at Grace. More amazing, the majority of the Grace community are transplants. Looking at this maze of connectivity gives the lie to the thought that nothing matters. The “coincidences” of impact and connection points to the fact that EVERYTHING matters. Even when comprehension is out of reach. Even when darkness blocks the source of light. Even when life beats you down within a blink of giving up – that blink makes a world of difference.

The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired.  ~ Stephen W. Hawking

Encourage Yourself by Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers

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Interview: Matt & Sarah Hammitt on Their Marriage & Song (Lead Me)

Goodness, there’s nothing to add to Matt and Sarah’s words. They discuss elements of their marriage that lead to Matt writing Lead Me for his band, Sanctus Real. Click below to listen.

The Story Behind “Lead Me” – Sanctus Real from BrightBulb Entertainment on Vimeo.

Read more about the song in “A Tale of Two Couples: Lead Me at a Glance”


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The Importance of Communication

“Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”   ~  Genesis 11:6-7

Tell me what you want! I can’t read your mind!

Have those words ever been hurled at you? I can honestly say in nearly all of my relationships – friend, family, work, community – whenever I have had regular interactions with someone, I’ve told the other person to let me know what they needed or wanted and I would be sure to do what I was able to do. Without fail, that’s how I communicate my interest in, availability, and willingness to work with them for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Without fail, I can tell you the best responders have always been the people I work with. Why? Because there is no expectation of mind-reading.

The people who usually assume I know what they need or want are family and long-term friends. True too, those are the same people I most often act on behalf of before hearing them express their needs. Why? Because there’s knowledge of behaviors, habits, and personality.

When you know certain things about people, you can usually anticipate their needs and desires. However, that is not the same as knowing what they’re thinking. There’s no way of getting around verbally communicating with the people you interact with.

Have you ever considered that God, who knows everything about everything, especially us – He sees us, hears us, reads our heart, knows our desires, knew us before we knew ourselves – even the all knowing God requires us to speak and act? Think about that. We have to ask Him to move in our lives. We have to respond to Him when he speaks to us. We have to do what He tells us to do.

He provides so many instructions in his Word that we know we can’t just sit and think about obeying Him. We know it’s not enough to simply hope for a particular outcome. It does no good to only regret our actions or think loving thoughts. We have to verbalize our sorrow when we’ve wronged someone. We have to speak and show love to the people we care for.

In Genesis 11 we are told the story of the Tower of Babel. This is an amazing story that illustrates the importance of communication. Indeed in verses six and seven, God Himself sums the magnitude of what clear communication can accompish, “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”

Do you know that when you and another person understand each other, and you are in agreement with God’s word, anything you choose to do together will be successful? The Word of God says nothing will be impossible for you. You need to know that.   

It’s truly frustrating when people don’t speak – when people don’t share their ideas or positions or contribute to a decision-making conversation. When people withhold their voice, they are withholding the possibility of reaching agreement with you. And whatever you’re working on together will be a struggle at the least or a failure at the most.

Imagine, a very long time ago, everyone spoke the same language, used the same words, understood each other and accomplished great things. Unfortunately, because their unity was in defiance of God’s direct instruction to spread out and fill the earth with their children, God created a situation in which the people preferred to get away from people that made no sense to them. The population separated to form families and tribes based on the languages spoken when God confounded them through language.

How’s that for a word? When there is no understanding, there’s separation.

Communication provides opportunity for unity and deeper fellowship within a relationship.

Read the passage for yourself.

At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babyloniaand settled there.

They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”

But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”

In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.  ~  Genesis 11:1-9

There are some very important lessons in this passage.

(1) God will have His way. You can fall in line and make things easy for yourself or be disobedient and reap consequences that will affect the earth for generations to come. To this day, we have just as much difficulty communicating with the person next door as we do with people on the other side of the world. Obey God and save yourself some energy!

(2)God has given us so much power that anything we imagine, we can do. If you have doubts about your abilities, reread Genesis 11:6. In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus tells us, If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers,I am there among them.” Imagine how difficult communicating and understanding must be if we are only required to find one or two others to be in agreement with us and God! That difficulty highlights why it’s so extremely important! 

(3)According to the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, sun-dried bricks look hard and permanent but they fall apart quickly in the rain or changing weather. “Bricks often appear in [Biblical] contexts where people are constructing their own proud, temporal plans rather than obeying the eternal God.” (Leland Ryken, 1998) In the Babel story, the people were united in disobeying God, building for their own honor rather than God’s glory, and creating from their own “materials” instead of from God’s materials. When we directly oppose God, our best will be as nothing. We need to build on His word, using His stone and mortar and let go of our own bricks and tar (ego and pride).     

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It is finished.

Earlier this year, “it is finished” looped on replay in my mind in the context of the dead relationships in my life. For the last several years, I had been trying to maintain, revitalize, pump up and get things started in various relationships. It took me a while to realize that God was separating me from, not only the unbelievers in my life, but also from the relationships that weren’t bearing good fruit. Once that realization came, it was easy to let go of people who didn’t want to be held.

So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. (Matthew 7:19-20)

Late last spring, I had a dream that should have been disturbing (taken at face value) but was more of a relief.

I don’t recall the sequence but there was a scene where all types of bugs were seen crawling around a sleeping body when a light was flipped on. There was a scene of a big, dark, empty room penetrated by several beams of light coming through a torn and drooping curtain. Then the most potentially disturbing scene was that of a decomposing body lying in the corner with the head stuck to a mop. Sounds gritty and nasty, I know. You’re probably wondering where the relief came in. After each scene the room was flooded by a bucket of hot, soapy water. The bugs were washed away, the curtain was fixed and pushed back to let more light in and the decomposing body was removed and the area it infected was cleansed. The scenes went on in a rotation with each one slightly different than before. The little bugs were washed away, but later one huge, animal size flying bug unfolded on a counter top. The decomposing body was removed with the mop, but then the mop was needed to clean the floor, so the body had to be approached and disconnected from the mop in order to better clean the floor. Again, each scene ended with a full cleaning of the room and exposure to additional light.

I awoke feeling as if some work had been completed.

Whatever I had been doing that was not bearing fruit, I felt free to withdraw from. Whatever was weighing me down and blocking my light was being removed from my life. My Father was cleansing me. He was washing away all the darkness and ushering me further into His Light.

God requires obedience, faithfulness, respect, loyalty and a continued hope in Him. In return we receive His love, mercy, grace and salvation – actually that’s all on offer before we are placed in the womb. But we have to accept it all in order to benefit from it all. Our obedience is proof of our love of Him – keeping his law, adhering to his commands. Though His nature is love and he gives love unconditionally, we have the option to reject His love. Astounding, really – rejecting love; turning your back and walking away from it. But we have the choice to do that; the “freedom” to do as we please. However, the consequence of our choosing against God, love and life is that He then chooses not to fellowship with us. Our choices either unite us to God or separate us from Him.  He tells us to make ourselves holy for Him because He is holy. He wants fellowship, but there are requirements we have to meet.  

For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44)

Follow me here: If we model our relationships after the prototype God has given us for our relationship with Him, there are basic things that both parties have to contribute to any relationship (be it friend, family, spouse, employment, etc) for it to be successful. There needs to be an obedience/adherence to and respect for the foundation and expectation laid for the relationship (i.e. boundaries), there needs to be loyalty, faithfulness and a hope for continued growth and improvement. There needs to be a consciousness of and an effort to meet the requirements of the other party in the relationship. When both parties are giving and doing all that (and more according to each individual needs), each will bask in the others’ grace, mercy and covering.

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)    

However, when love, loyalty, faithfulness, and respect are lacking from either party (to the other), the relationship becomes stagnant, it becomes a dead weight – a decomposing corpse. Relationships aren’t intended to be one-sided. Yes, God loves you unconditionally, but even He has requirements of you in order for you to reap the benefits of His love.

For those of you not doing your portion of the work in your relationships, wake up before you’re washed away. And for those of you toiling alone, think about breaking ground elsewhere. When the other party in the relationship you’re toiling in doesn’t accept or receive you, and you’ve done everything you know to do, let go and move on. That has been a hard lesson to learn, but I finally got it: Not every situation I contribute to will grow the expected or hoped for fruit. And sometimes the fruit grown from a seed I plant may not be for me to harvest. It may not even be for me to water it. It may just be for me to sow the seed and move on. We will reap what we sow, but there’s no promise to reap where we sow.


Meditation verse: Hebrews 10:19-22

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

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It doesn’t even matter

I’m not a popular person in my family. Not well liked at all. I used to think I was ostracized because I spoke up for myself, which opened the family to scrutiny.

Now I know it is because I spoke up for myself. I acted on faith and actively freed myself from bondage.

When I was fifteen, an aunt told me that she resented me. Up to recently, I’d always thought she resented my youth, innocence and opportunities.

However, I now realize she resented my voice, my strength, my truth, my faith. Even when I didn’t understand the power of any of those characteristics, I exhibited and used them effectively. She resented my ability to stop others from hurting me. She resented the fact that I lived as if I had a right to live. I was true to my conscience, my beliefs and to myself.

A short while ago, I received a phone call from another aunt. She checks up on me occassionally, mostly to keep me appraised of family drama. I had just gotten into bed and answered with a drowsy, “Hello”. She apologized for waking me. I told her I hadn’t yet fallen asleep. She then launched into the latest furor: a relative was lying on me. They were besmirching my name and my testimony. She wanted me to go shut them up.

My lids began to descend. “I know the truth,” I told her. “They know the truth. God knows the truth. It doesn’t matter what they say.” On that last word, I fell asleep. I don’t know how long she was talking, before I heard, “Shawnda! Are you sleep…? Good night, baby, I love you.”

I repeated the sentiment, hung up, rolled over and went into a deeper sleep.

Had her call only consisted of words of love, the effect on my equilibrium would have been the same. I wasn’t moved. I didn’t get excited, anxious or offended.

As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  ~ Mark 4:35-40

I rest in a truth that gives me peace.   

During the recent call with my aunt, I realized (consciously), for the first time, that what people think and say doesn’t matter at all – to my peace, to my right standing with God, to my faith, to my love walk. What matters is my integrity to my word, faith and belief. Am I being as true as I know to be? How am I acting out what I believe? How am I praising God with my lifestyle? How am I honoring Him with my life? That’s all that truly matters.

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Pop Culture vs. The Bible: Intro

Last year, the idea to write about the contrasts between Biblical teachings and world teachings took root in me.

The deeper I go into my Biblical studies the more intolerant I become of the messages presented in pop culture. By and large, the messages are presented for entertainment purposes, but they are either blatantly or subtly misrepresenting the Word of God. Whether you want to believe and acknowledge it or not, entertainment culture in this country is greatly influenced by the Bible. The entertainers or public figures may pull from Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc practices and teachings, but they aren’t necessarily pulling from the Bible or the spirit of it.

So, our culture is saturated with innumerable man-adjusted illustrations, images, and suppositions about Biblical teachings which contribute to widespread sinful behavior. But because it’s so pervasive, prevalent, and popular it’s taken as the norm, as harmless, as something to aspire to.

My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children. The more priests there are, the more they sin against me. They have exchanged the glory of God for the shame of idols.  ~ Hosea 4:6-7 NLT

The seed of the Pop Culture v. The Bible blog series is: instead of preaching fire and brimstone to God’s errant children, preach Jesus. Inform the people why the worldly things they honor and cherish (i.e. money, sex, celebrity/fame, power, endless consumption, etc.)  are wrong and show them what is right. Show them Jesus. With knowledge, with exposure to God, the Holy Spirit will do the rest.

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.  ~ 2 Corinthians 4:3-5 NLT

I hope you get enough out of the series to share with others.

God bless you,


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Firstfruits of All Your Crops

{This post has been sitting in me for a number of years. It’s heavy with scripture, because I don’t want anyone to think I’m just making things up to suit my purposes. I encourage you to do your own study as well. I’m aware that my argument/words may be against what is commonly taught in churches, but God is my true teacher and I’m delivering the Word as I believe and practice it. (John 7:16-17) Be blessed.}

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. – Proverbs 3:9-10

wealth –noun

  1. a great quantity or store of money, valuable possessions, property, or other riches
  2. an abundance or profusion of anything; plentiful amount
  3. rich or valuable contents or produce
  4. the state of being rich; prosperity; affluence

Tithing Truths

Some of you may not like this, but here we go: I’m not a financial tither. However, I am a financial giver in addition to being a giver in other areas. According to some of the rhetoric taught in churches today, I should be damned with a curse (Malachi 3:10) — for they say the only way to really worship God is with money. That has never made sense to me. And the more I study, the more outrageous of a lie it appears.

The scriptures I rely upon for my viewpoint are listed below.

Ironically, I’ll start with Malachi 3:8-11

“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty.

Malachi 3:10 is usually quoted to support a monetary tithe. However, Malichi 3:10 reads to me as a promise of a blessing God was sending His people in the form of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:1-4, we learn He fulfilled His promise:

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. (NLT)

And Romans 5:5 tells us:

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (NLT)

But more importantly, I enjoy listening to Jesus. He was asked a question regarding government taxes, yet replied with an answer on how to give to God.

“Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”  ~ Mark 12:15-17 (NIV)

What belongs to God? Everything in heaven and on the earth (Psalm 24:1). Specifically, people belong to God. All that being said, John 4:23-24 is the verse I’m hanging my practice on.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

To get this fully, you have to have an understanding of something else: 1) the Old Testament is a shadow of things to come — it provides physical illustrations and examples; 2)The New Testament is the revelation millennia of generations were waiting for; 3) you need to appreciate and be open to the fruit of the spirit.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!  ~ Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

As long as I walk in His Word and obey His commands, there is no law against me. I tell you truthfully, my life has prospered with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The more I practice each portion of the fruit of the spirit, the more I increase in this life and in my spirit life.

How do I practice? I practice by loving God first and honoring him by loving his people. I give of myself, my resources, my gifts and my talents. I do what I can for others when asked and when I simply see a need. The more I increase spiritually, the more I am able to sow spiritual fruit into other peoples’ lives. My pet name for this act is spiritual tithing, but the simple scriptural word is give (to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation). That’s what I believe we are intended to do in order to benefit the kingdom. Money doesn’t benefit the Kingdom of God. Money is man-made, it is not a medium of worship. In Romans 12:1, we are told to give our bodies as a living sacrifice as a act of worship to God.

I am not telling you not to give to your church! Again, giving is scriptural. I give financial gifts to my church, I just don’t consider it a tithe. I am simply saying that monetary tithing is not something that increases you in the Kingdom. Ask yourself, “How is the Kingdom increased by my money?” God’s spiritual kingdom, not your physical church.

However, when you love others, share your joy, spread peace, are patient, kind and good the people on the receiving end usually can’t help but to reciprocate. Such behavior starts a chain of sorts. Sooner or later, someone is going to ask you about your faith, your beliefs, the God you serve and the church you attend. At that point you know you may have won a soul for Christ, however the work was done long before you spoke a word, you simply watered and nurtured what was in them. That’s how we benefit the Kingdom – by giving back to God the fruit He has increased our lives with.

Ultimately, however, rather you agree or not, as long as you act according to your beliefs and understanding and do what you do as to God, you remain in right standing with the LORD (Romans 14:1-8). I’m not here to judge your practices; I’m here to share what I’ve learned.

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.  ~ Galatians 5:1


God’s greatest blessing to us is not money, a house, a car, a job, a spouse or children. God’s greatest gift to his children is the gift of Jesus Christ. You know the verse: He so LOVED us that He GAVE His only Son (John 3:16). God gave of Himself. He continues to give the best of Himself in the form of His Holy Spirit.

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits (the first of a great harvest) of those who have fallen asleep (died).  ~1 Corinthians 15:20 NKJV

We are God’s crop and Jesus is His Firstfruit. How are you furthering the Kingdom? What’s your crop?

crop –noun

1. the cultivated produce of the ground, while growing or when gathered

2. the yield of such produce for a particular season

3. the yield of some other product in a season

1. Crop, harvest, yield refer to the return in food obtained from land at the end of a season of growth. Crop denotes the amount produced at one cutting or for one particular season. Harvest denotes either the time of reaping and gathering, or the gathering, or that which is gathered. Yield emphasizes what is given by the land in return for expenditure of time and labor.

What are you yielding?

I love the New Living Translation version of the Sower Parable in Luke 8:5-8. Jesus Christ is speaking:

“A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

The Disciples asked Jesus what He meant and He told them they were permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. Then He explained His parable:

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.  ~ Luke 8:11-15, NLT

I accept my commission. I am good, fertile soil that is patiently producing a huge harvest for God. In order for God’s harvest in me to increase, I must multiply what is planted in me. Therefore I too, become a farmer, planting seed (God’s Word) into others (for example, you and others I come in contact with). I’m tithing myself. I’m giving the best of my spirit to others.

What’s your crop? After your season of growth, how are you getting your harvest to market? My way is my writing. When I gave my talent over completely to the service of God’s Kingdom, my life increased and prospered in ways I can’t adequately convey to you. Every time I learn something in this process, I share it with you. I don’t keep it to myself, hide it or bury it. I shine a light on it and offer it to you as a seed to plant in your own life. The most significant offering I can make to God’s Kingdom is giving of myself openly, fully, and honestly. In so doing, I am sharing the Christ in me.

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.  ~ Philemon 1:6-7

May God bless and prosper you in His ways.

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Separation from the Unequally Yoked

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

“Therefore, come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord. “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,” says the LORD Almighty. ~2Cor 6:14-18 (NKJV)

He’s been at me. Again. Hitting me hard. Knocking me around. Forcing my eyes open. Each revelation is astounding. Mind boggling. Life changing. As always, He’s working His transformative power through you – through the people who choose to interact with me and share discourse. Through that power and obedience another stumbling block has been removed from my life. Thank you.

I’ve never considered myself to have many friends, but those I’ve considered to be friends have made a huge impact on my life in many ways. Those friends have come to me from around the world. I was proud of my international exposure and connections. Now it’s becoming increasingly obvious that I am not meant to have a friend in the world at all.

My Father God has been steadily stripping me bare. Removing friend by friend. Resource by resource. Shelter by shelter. Refuge by refuge. Crutch by crutch. I’ve just been divested of my last worldly friendship and I sit here in awe of his patience and fore-planning.

I’ve had a few conversations with a new friend in Christ (he prefers to go unnamed). He put some hard-hitting questions, comments and observations before me. After he read Trains, Planes and Automobiles he emailed the following: “What I want to talk about is your friend, aka spiritual sister. She treated you in a way that I read as very disrespectful. Just as in My God and Me you place (so I thought) a lot of emphasis about relationships and events in the lives of people who don’t appear to acknowledge Christ. We are of Christ and saved by his grave, Christ is foolishness to the world, a stumbling block to the Jew, and foolishness to the Greek. Our friendships with people in the world will always be strained because Christ divides because the world is anti-Christ.”

Since reading that email, I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t thought of his words and the verse they brought to mind: Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. (2 Cor 6:14).

I will tell you truthfully, I never thought of any of my friends as unbelievers. They all have a faith. They all believe in God. None of them smoke or drink. They aren’t partiers. They’re hard-working and usually honest. We’ve shared confidences, pains, struggles, dreams, ideas, and hopes. I’ve stood up at weddings and held babies. I’ve traveled just to share a hug and some time. They’ve come through for me when the jobs were non-existent and family was scarce – offering space in their homes, food at their tables and money to get me through the night. And I clung to them like lifelines.

And that’s where I was wrong: clinging to people as my lifeline. I can appreciate that my God is jealous of any distractions stealing the glory and attention due Him. With that appreciation, I can appreciate His removal of all such distractions from my life.

But how great is our God that He blesses His children even through the unrighteous!

I admit to having several defensive comments and explanations for my new Friend in Christ in regard to the relationships I’ve written about. I explained my thinking, my feelings, my habit of holding on until I’m let go, etc. However, my defense didn’t sound substantive even to me. And I kept coming back to this one phrase within his comment: people who don’t appear to acknowledge Christ.

This one stumped me. His observation from my writing was that even my Christian and Catholic friends didn’t appear to acknowledge Christ. That got me to thinking about my broken friendships and how they were living. Again, nothing wild or outrageous, however the one glaring truth was: they were not living Christ-centered lives.

As Jesus started to leave, a man ran to him and fell on his knees before Jesus. The man asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to have life forever?”

Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good. You know the commands: ‘You must not murder anyone. You must not be guilty of adultery. You must not steal. You must not tell lies about your neighbor. You must not cheat. Honor your father and mother.’ “

The man said, “Teacher, I have obeyed all these things since I was a boy.”

Jesus, looking at the man, loved him and said, “There is one more thing you need to do. Go and sell everything you have, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.” ~ Mark 10:17-21 (NCV)

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Kahlil Gibran on Reason and Passion

The ProphetKahlil Gibran has been on my mind lately, so I’ve been walking around with his book, The Prophet, for the last couple of days. I see and feel more in his writing everytime I read something. Even my favorite pieces speak to me differently with each reading. I would love to post his whole book, but I don’t want to turn you off with too much of a good thing.

Below is the chapter On Reason and Passion.

Here’s a link to the book online,



On Reason and Passion 

And the priestess spoke again and said: Speak to us of Reason and Passion.

And he answered, saying:

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite.

Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.

For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.

Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;

And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.

Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows — then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.”

And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky — then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.”

And since you are a breath in God’s sphere, and a leaf in God’s forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.


It’s an amazing thing to be a lover of all your elements. I am who I am . Can’t be who you want me to be. Nor do I want to be. Many people move through life posing as people-pleasers, then wonder why they are so dissatisfied. Seek God first and the rest will follow. What followed for me was a depth of self-evaluation, a wealth of self-knowledge and complete acceptance of who I am. I still fight with some of my elements (I’m the lady on the park bench talking to herself… you know the one you rush your kids past! [smile]), but I love and embrace them all.

I believe by accepting and loving all my elements, I am able to love you a whole lot better!

Be blessed!