Heeding the Warning Signs

Feelings of shame are never welcomed or wanted. Living with the guilt of unrepented sin is a heavy load to bear. However as a believer - and one righteous in God’s sight - I still experience shame and guilt. Why? Because I sin.

When considering the spiritual warning signs that God uses to help guide us, it is important to know the difference between guilt and shame. And, that there is a vast difference between misplaced (false) shame and well-placed (true) shame.

One Bible dictionary differentiates between shame and guilt in this way - "Shame is a consequence of sin. Feelings of guilt and shame are subjective acknowledgments of an objective spiritual reality. Guilt is judicial in character; shame is relational. Though related to guilt, shame emphasizes sin's effect on self-identity." (Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

John Piper has a great description regarding the types of shame we might experience. He says –

The biblical criterion for well-placed sh…

Searching For Truth

A beautiful, framed picture hangs in our living room above an antique upright piano. It was a gift from some dear friends. The artist’s drawing is focused on two key elements: the weathered hands of an older man and the pages of the Bible that he is turning. The background is shadowed with only one other detail that calls to your eye. A red ribbon laying loose on the table waiting to serve a purpose again.
For many years, I loved catching a glimpse of these strong hands digging into the Scriptures. I even embraced the picture's simple but profound title, 'Search For Truth.' But, in recent years, this picture only served as a reminder of friends lost and life's disappointments. I was no longer able to focus on the truth, the hands or the pages of the Bible. I only saw the faces of the couple that had gifted us with this picture. The man had since gone on to be with Jesus, but his wife had decided to no longer attend our church. Her absence tore at my heart, and I struggl…

God Uses Us To Bless Others...even in the simple things!

Have you ever had one of those Sundays where you’re just ready to skip out of a service or activity - for at least part of it? (I’m assuming we all have those days!) I faced one of those days recently, and God surprised me with a sweet blessing instead. 
On this particular morning, I needed to get dinner in the oven about an hour before we planned to eat. So, I snuck out of the church right after the second worship hour started and headed home. As I drove those few seconds around the corner I thought, “You know, I could just stay home for a few minutes and then get back up to the church before the end of worship so I can greet people. After all, I’ve already attended the early worship hour.”
Pondering my options, I parked my car, unlocked the door and went to turn the oven on. Just then, I heard a text come through as my phone laid on the kitchen counter. Since I almost always leave my cell at home on Sundays, I was curious to check out who had texted me at this time in the morning. (“T…

I Had No Clue How Others Celebrated Easter

“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 4:33a
This past Sunday, as we paid for a quick supper at the drive-through window, the clerk wished us on our way with these words – “Enjoy your baseball!” Huh? My husband looked at me with a questioning look as in “What did he say?” I nodded and said, “Yes, you heard right. He just wished you a good evening of baseball watching.” As we pulled away with our food in hand we were a bit puzzled. So, I did some digging.
Sure enough! Easter lands around or on the opening day of baseball season each year. This year, opening day was on the Thursday prior, and if you’re a baseball fan this is not news to you. But, I do wonder how many people have a strong association with Easter and baseball? Like Thanksgiving and football? Hmmm.
Later that same evening, I watched a few minutes of TV while waiting for a friend to arrive. Ice Age – The Great Egg-Scapade was on, so I stopped channel surfing and landed …

When Being There Matters

This past week, a church member passed away after a long struggle with cancer. And so, the juggling of emotions and schedules began. Visitation nights are usually my husband’s thing, and I typically only attend the funeral. It’s just the way we have chosen to work together in times of bereavement. My involvement this week, however, was a bit different. Not only did I plan to attend the funeral service at our church, but I also planned to attend the visitation the night before. 

Plus, there would be a meal following the funeral – one that had turned into an opportunity for the children of the church to help serve and clean up afterward. I was not involved with preparations for the meal, thankfully! However, coordinating our young volunteers was up to me.
The visitation night passed and the day of the funeral came. After the service and burial, family and friends returned to the church for the meal. As I gathered the boys and girls to give them instructions, I surprised myself as a statem…

Learning to Listen

When our girls were in high school and they needed to unload the overwhelming realities and frustrations of life, I had to re-learn how to listen. But first, I’d stop them right in the middle of the 'rant' and ask them this question, "Whoa… Just checking. Do you just need to vent right now (and I’ll just listen) or do you want me to brainstorm possible solutions or insights to the problem with you?"
Guess what the answer was 99% of the time?
Yep, you likely guessed right. The answer typically was – “I just need to talk it out.”
There were many blessings that came out of that mini time-out. We both were now on the same page. My daughter could talk freely and passionately about all that was weighing heavy on her mind and heart. The responsibility to “mother” her was now lifted off of my shoulders and put back into the Lord's hands. With our roles and perspectives put in place, I was then able to fully turn my attention to her – and be a listening ear, a comforting mam…

Sometimes Life Can Stink

My husband and I went to visit a couple in the church recently. They live less than a mile from us, but their view and perspective is quite different from ours. Their lovely old farm house sits atop a beautiful hill. There is a quaint white fence around the home place, and the surrounding grasses are all a vibrant green. The fields seem to shout that the earth is coming alive again! As we pulled into the curvy gravel lane, we crossed over a low-water bridge and started up the hill. In the fields, there were dozens of cows grazing. It was a picture-perfect day.

As we got closer to the house, a couple of young cows came closer to our car. But, what caught my attention wasn’t so idyllic. On the sides, the legs and the back side of these black beauties was a matted glob of goo. Well, ‘poo’ to be exact! And, they were just as nonchalant as they could be about it. Amazed at the reality of this all-to-common sight, I giggled and told my husband, “Boy, am I glad we don’t have to live life with…