Category Archives: Refined by the Word

Seeking peace, not compromise <3

One of the hallmarks of the events of 2020 for me is a sense of unrest and lack of peace in my soul. As I was thinking how to start our time together I tried to put some kind of concise word to what I find very unsettling in my daily life and I finally landed on “conflict.” 

Whether it is in our home or out in public or on the forms of media that we have so much access to, conflict/debating/arguing/attacking…these things rip my soul apart and cause me to be anxious and distracted. While some seem to enjoy a good rousing conversation of ideas shared and no answers or solutions of consensus actually arrived upon, I stir and churn in my spirit and desire nothing more than to have everyone agree or pull the covers over my head as I drift off into some safe place away from the noise. 

Neither of these are good options of course as the conflict of our day and age is only escalating and there is life that needs to be lived. The roller coaster of 2020 has been a rough ride for all – some more than others and if you have an ounce of compassion, you are not only feeling your own angst and pain, but absorbing a fair amount of so many others who are dealing with hard things right now. Add to this the ugly commercials and political shenanigans of two parties that seem more interested in being superior to the other than in explaining exactly how they think they can get us out of this mess…and well…I am spending a lot of time meditating on the truth of Scripture and praying and asking God to help us turn this shipwreck around. 

Which is probably the best thing that has happened to me in a long while. 

Because I realized of late that I have grown a bit ho-hum and lax in studying, really studying God’s Word. 

With my stepping down from teaching, I also stepped down from study as I didn’t have that weekly lesson to prepare. I forgot that teaching is the outpouring of study, the end of the means…the means being chasing rabbit trails led by the Holy Spirit. I was relying on some devotionals to feed my soul. Devotionals are wonderful, but they are like cheese and crackers. They help stave off your hunger, but they will never be fully nourishing. They are just the extra before the real meal. 

So I have been returning to the discipline of really studying Scripture and in the midst of all the chaos and confusion, God is working in me His peace. He doesn’t call us to study to punish us, He calls us to study because it is good for us. 

I had a little incident yesterday where what I have been working into my soul, worked out into my day. 

Around 4:00 I pulled into a gas station and realized this must be prime time for people heading home from work. Most of the pumps were occupied, but I saw there was one lane on the far side completely open. 

As I circled around the full bays, an SUV that had come from the same street entrance behind me picked up the pace of approach. I don’t know if it was intentional, but this larger vehicle did a wild u-turn maneuver rather rapidly assuring its ability to back into the pumps I was headed for. I was alarmed to see it was coming at a pretty good rate of speed backwards into me as I was attempting to pull in to my spot. 

Granted it then attempted to pull forward a bit to make room, but by this point what is fondly referred to here in our home as the “Lochner temper” had ignited. I felt hot rage rising in me at the injustice of this car not following me around and using the pump behind me when I pulled in, but instead whipping in for the win. I would not have done that, hence this driver’s choice was an affront to my sense of fair and righteous behavior. 

As my heart rate increased, this SUV began to represent all the personalities of the smug and the oh-so-smart “winners” of this world system that exalts self and laughs at things that are wholesome and godly and pure. 

And that’s when it clicked in me. Wholesome and godly and pure. 

My rage…my anger…my rights..are not wholesome and godly and pure. 

Quick as you please, I gently went around the obstacle. The peace of Christ overruled the temptation to be insulted by someone who may have not even intended insult. And even if he or she did do it intentionally and thoughtlessly, so be it. That’s on that one, not me. 

I determined to just pull in behind another car and wait my turn, and low and behold…there was now an open bay for me to pull into. 

The peace of surrender. 

The peace of not having to win or be right or be first. 

We will be assailed today by all manner of things that will seek to steal our peace. But if we will bow in surrender to the Prince of Peace…if we will live under the authority of His guidance and leading in OUR lives, we will have that peace that passes understanding and we will live with purpose and effectiveness for His Kingdom here on earth. We worship what we bow to. I am learning to bow to God, not the forces at work in this world. 

My prayer for us today:

May the Master of Peace himself give you the gift of getting along with each other at all times, in all ways. May the Master be truly among  you!

2 Thessalonians 3:16 The MSG

God bless you as you grow in surrender to Him alone <3

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History repeats itself because we are slow to learn…<3

Hey all! 

One of my projects this month is going through the collection of journals and Bible studies that I have been keeping in tubs in my new “office.” 

Every time Russ tells me I should write a book, I remind him I have written several…they are just all tucked inside these little spiral notebooks and assorted scraps of paper that have accumulated over the years. 


I am jotting notes as I go back through so many words gathered and I found this gem written by John Piper back in 2010. 

Apparently we had a recession going that must have been causing people no small amount of concern and worry and anxiety.

I found his words to be quite applicable to our current setting.

Just substitute any of the new anxiety producing buzzwords…pandemic, shut down, national debt, political drama, remote learning…you can choose your topic or mix several together. 

Here is the wisdom I took down in note/paraphrase form from his “What is the Recession for?” back in what was May 2010.

  1. To expose hidden sin and to bring us to repentance and cleansing.
  1. To wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world, where there is always and only recession of the worst kind. 
  1. To relocate the roots of our JOY in His grace rather than our goods – in His mercy rather than our money – in His worth rather than our wealth. 
  1. To advance His saving mission in the world – the spread of the Gospel and the growth of His church – precisely at a time when human resources are the least able to support it.
  1. To bring His church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love. 
  1. To really know that nothing is impossible for Him (Luke 1:37)
  1. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10)
  1. The Great Commission still stands and God has not abandoned us (Matthew 28:20)


It would appear we didn’t learn a whole lot in 2010. Let’s not miss the opportunity to really learn this lesson well in 2020 so we don’t have to move on to the next level of discipline. 

You and I are only responsible for how we respond. We are His Church if we have received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. 

Come on Church, let’s learn and grow and act like the people we are called to be for His Kingdom <3

Read back through that list and let’s pray for God to convict our hearts and be changed and transformed in this season.

When someone asks us, “Why 2020?”… Let’s have a good answer.

We know that whatever has happened has been under the permissive will of God to move us closer to Him. 

What a blessing it is to receive conviction and be motivated to become more Christ like <3

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Wrapping up what James has to teach us about wisdom <3

This week on the blog I have been looking at a passage from James and I am concluding it today. Hopefully it is a lesson in itself and you don’t need the other portions, but if you are curious you can check out Tuesday through today’s posts.

I found the passage while I was setting aside some prayer time this week. As I was using a small prayer book I keep by my side of the bed I found a prayer for emotional pain and we certainly are surrounded right now by many who are struggling with just such a dis-ease. As I prayed through the Scriptures-based prayers, I came upon one that deeply touched our current setting.

 It was based on James 3: 13-18. I would like to share the entire passage with you before we begin. Please read “he” as in he or she. We get so touchy about the use of “he” for general application so if you are a she, please change it in your mind as you read. He is talking to ALL of us <3

Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where there is envy and selfish ambitions, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.  

James 3: 13-18 CSB

This whole passage just sums up the current state of life in 2020. As I looked up the word “gentleness” or “meekness” in verse 13, I found that this word is not a weak response or a resigned response based on a believer’s knowledge and faith in God’s sovereignty no matter how much is going on that is out of our control or understanding. It is a steadfastness IN the midst of circumstances over which we have no influence or authority. It is not passive acceptance but it does dictate how we respond and I hope we all would agree that from the top down and the down up we could all use some discretion in how we respond these days. 

In the posts this week, I addressed both social media and every day conversations regarding the chaos and upheaval and pain we see around us. I want to be wise in the way I show compassion and in what I support and in what I oppose. This passage tells me if I get my “wisdom” from a worldly source, it will lead to disorder and evil. I want to make sure that what I say and how I take action on issues is not because of pressure from anyone to conform or because I want to be well thought of by any group of humans. 

The wisdom I need cannot come from people, platforms, current moods or any other source that is trying to press opinions on me. They might be spot on and righteous, but I have a standard that I can measure it up against that is solid.

This passage in James reminds me that I need to check my own heart first off. I need to prayerfully and scrupulously identify and root out any kind of bitterness, envy (which includes comparison of all kinds) and self-promotion.Most of us want to be liked and considered nice people. We want to look smart and funny and fit in with whoever our peer group happens to be. But if that is the motivation for speaking, posting, commenting; the result will be more disorder, more unrest, more conflict. 

However; if we follow James teaching and measure our responses and positions to godly wisdom, we can go right down the checklist. Your version of doing this will look different at different times and will be different from mine, but here is an example:

Is it pure?

Or is it something I heard someone say that someone else said? Is it pure wisdom or mixed in with other things that I picked up from the news, a popular book or an article someone shared?

Is it peace-loving?

Or am I getting my two cents shot off with a rush of adrenaline pumping through my veins?

Is it gentle?

Did I take the time to prayerfully love the ones I am unloading my opinions onto?

Is it compliant?

Same meaning as meek. Am I weighing how much to invest emotionally based on the steadfast understanding that God is still on HIs throne?

Is it full of mercy?

Am I leaving room to validate the feelings and experiences of those I don’t necessarily agree with?

Is it bearing good fruit?

Is the “wisdom” I am tuning into making me anxious, mean-spirited, fearful, bitter or more kind, loving and gracious and trusting in God rather than man?

Is it unwavering?

Steadfast? Not hot and cold/wishy washy depending on who I am talking to?

Is it without pretense?

Am I following wisdom that makes me look good or wisdom that makes me a better person to represent my Lord and Savior to others? Am I highlighting my own attributes or those of another person or cause instead of the character of my God?

So there you go.

I see a lot of disorder and evil out there that I have no control or influence over. But I don’t have to be a contributor to it. I can seek godly wisdom and I can use the standards set in this passage to evaluate how I am doing with staying the course. I can support others and I can speak up when things are wrong, but I need to do so with a godly heart. 

God is trying to show us a better way to live. It is a daily walk. May you each be blessed as you seek wisdom in HIs Word and then apply it to your life <3

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