Category Archives: Refined by the Word

All good teaching needs a response…here is mine <3

I left you on Monday and Tuesday with some of the thoughts that I took down in notes from the Intentional Church Conference held at FCC last Saturday. 

As I mentioned, we only attended the morning sessions as we had places to be and people to see, but it was a packed house and great event for the half day we were able to participate.

Looking back over my notes and even the highlighted points from Monday and Tuesday posted here on the Journey, I step back and have to ask…but what does that look like for me?

I have a degree of influence through the roles I am allowed to fill as a Sunday School teacher and co-leader of some of the prayer ministries at my local church. 

I work two days a week in the public setting of a sweet little shop and have been honored and blessed to be given the opportunity to have my own consignment business of clothing in there for the past nine months. 

This has opened the door for me to meet people in that industry in person and through customer service calls.

At least once a week on average, I am the resident adult for the band of brothers and little miss thing…and I still am the voice in the heads of three Reimer kiddos who, like it or not…live under the sphere of my prayers and moods and love and angst.

There are friends and acquaintances and mentors and mentees who swirl around my days like beautiful butterflies landing and taking off and I miss some opportunities with them, and I catch a few and relish in the fellowship. 

I have my husband who is my best friend and partner and chief supporter and needs me to be the same. 

And on the other side of this screen, on any given day of the week, unknown faces stop by to read the things I have tapped out on these keys. 

So as I look at what living on mission is for me, I realize I am not called to change church policy or hold up signs for or against decisions being made in the political arena. 

For the most part, I know how to love my people well – I just don’t always have the time or energy to do it. 

I know what is right and I know what is wrong and I know that if we all could just figure that out and do it, the world would be better. 

I also am keenly aware I have no power or authority to make people choose to do what is right. 

I am not good at overlooking blatant sin and defiance of God and His Word and so I struggle with how it looks to welcome everyone and make them feel like they belong even when they seem to be thumbing their nose at everything I believe to be true and right. 

So I need help.

And I think that is what the biggest takeaway from the conference was for me. 

Each of us must examine ourselves and our devotion to Jesus. 

We need to crack open those Bibles we keep holding up, and read and let it sink in. 

Meditating on what His ministry looked like.

Not coloring it in with modern political correctness nor American moralism, but truly asking the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and hearts until the Word of God burns in us a fresh passion for Jesus.  

And then, humbling ourselves and asking Him to change and transform us through the power of His Word so that we can walk out into the sphere of real influence He has placed us in…

for me personally…

to look back over that list I made up there at the top and ask God for His eyes and His heart for each group.

And I mean – each group….the ones I already think I love well and the ones that are….


hard to love.

I cannot do this without Him.

We, as the Church, cannot love the people God is sending us to minister to WITHOUT Him.

So my biggest takeaway…

What am I doing today to spend more time seeking God so that I can be on mission with Him to seek and save the lost? 

And then make it intentional in my life to do more of that and less of the stuff that distracts me from the only thing I can do each day to share the Good News of Jesus Christ that this world so desperately needs.

Last night I attended St Paul’s Lenten service and this prayer of confession was in the bulletin.

I hope they don’t mind me sharing – there is no author credited.

Confession and Absolution

You asked for my hands, that You might use them for Your purpose.

I gave them to You, then withdrew them, for the work was hard.

You asked for my mouth to speak out against injustice. I gave You a whisper that I might not be accused.

You asked for my eyes to see the pain of poverty. I closed them, for I did not want to see.

You asked for my life, that You might work through me. I gave a small part, that I might not get too involved.

Lord, forgive my calculated efforts to serve You – only when it is convenient for me to do so, only in those places where it is safe to do so and only with those who make it easy to do so.

Father, forgive me, renew me, send me out as a usable instrument, that I might take seriously the meaning of Your cross. Amen

If you prayed that prayer with a sincere heart, I must remind you as we were reminded in the service.

You are forgiven.

Don’t waste the following moments regretting how you have fallen short.

Receive the forgiveness of our Grace-filled God and leave your guilt and shame at the Cross of Christ.

Pick up YOUR cross…and follow hard after Him.

He is worthy <3

Let us love one another <3
pc/Rachel Maxwell

It’s Thursday and a special shoutout birthday greeting to our Zach. 

Graham told me on Monday they were planning to wake up extra early and make a special birthday breakfast for him to dine on in bed. 

Any other adults out there have had to wait patiently in their bed like a child in time out while the noises from the kitchen heralded the arrival of your “surprise” tray? 

Oh my…I got a couple of texts this morning that only G answered the bell and so she played sous chef to him and we got a pic that would melt your heart of father and son celebrating dad’s birth. 

Nothing better <3

My devotional reading this morning took me to a passage in 1 Thessalonians that talks about encouraging fellow believers. 

Paul, Silvanus and Timothy were writing to the church in Thessalonica and every word is offering love, comfort, encouragement and exhortation to the believers there. 

I heard an interesting comment from a twenty-something believer who I love dearly about finding a church. 

He mentioned how a lot of churches are all over him until they find out he is already a believer and then they kind of move on. 

It breaks my heart. 

While it is so very true that Jesus commissioned the disciples and every follower until He returns to carry the gospel to the nearest and farthest reaches of the earth…the inspired Word of God has much to say about tending the community of believers around us. 

“As you know, like a father with his own children, we encouraged, comforted, and implored each one of you to live worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” 

1 Thessalonians 2:11 NASB

I think of a father patiently waiting in bed, thinking of things perhaps he would like to do to get started on his day.

But instead he waits for a tray of food to be brought up the stairs…wondering if it will make it to the top intact…thinking about the food that will likely be cold on arrival and yet the excited face of his son making it a feast. 

I think of the way a good parent graciously accepts the daunting task of raising the children entrusted to him or her. 

Encouraging here…exhorting there…correcting and discipling and bringing up that person to be what God intended him or her to be. 

This is how we are to treat believers. 

We are to love them enough to say the hard things, to strengthen them when they are discouraged. 

To set aside our agenda to make their life a matter of our concern. 

It is inconvenient to invest in others when we are so busy trying to save the lost and take care of our to do list…inconvenient and yet rather important to the One we claim to follow.

In John 13:35 Jesus gives the disciples a new commandment.

He tells them to love one another and by this everyone will know that they belong to Him. 

He is speaking of an in-house kind of loving. 

Loving other disciples. 


Go out into the world. 


Share the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

But do not neglect the loving care and concern for those who are in the Body already. 

Remember, the Great Commission was to go and make “disciples”…people who will become a part of the family of God and thus need…encouragement, exhortation, compassion, care and acceptance…your time….your heart…your love.

Perhaps today you can just think of a few fellow believers you are thankful for and send them a text or make a call or send a card…

or deliver a tray of slightly burnt toast and underdone eggs…

whatever God leads you to do…

do it knowing you are fulfilling the New Command of your Lord <3

Pouring out contempt on the right thing <3

Last Wednesday we had the opportunity to attend another Lenten service offered at the Lutheran Church near us. 

They are doing a series based on lyrics of old hymns and the text of the sermon that evening was from When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts. 

Someone new to the faith or church life might recognize some of the lyrics from the newer rendition by Chris Tomlin that is entitled The Wonderful Cross

Both versions of this beautiful hymn of the Church contain the same first verse and it was these words that were the focus of the pastors teaching. 

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss…

and pour contempt on all my pride.

Isaac Watts

For it is with our contemplation of the what the Cross meant for Jesus and for God and for us that we realize how contemptible our pride really is. 

As we explored the life of Israel as they longed to be like everyone else and wanted an earthly king, it hit close to home in our day and age. 

The leadership after Samuel was faulty and flawed, filled with corruption. 

The culture around the Israelites was attractive and offered comforts and pleasures that were appealing to their appetites. 

They had become distant from God and enamored with what others had and they wanted to be like everyone else. 

They wanted to fit in and have the options available to them that they saw other nations had access to possessing.

And in their minds, the answer was a king. 

It was appealing to them to be part of a kingdom they could see with their eyes and touch with their hands and that others would recognize as legitimate. 

It’s hard to follow the leadership of an unseen God who is not acknowledged and to be a people who are not of this world, isn’t it?

The pastor pointed out that we can relate to that in our own nation. 

He questioned us with this thought:

How many candidates would run on a platform of godly principles and being a person who seeks God’s wisdom and discernment and direction for our nation as the entire basis for why we should vote for him or her? 

And if someone did, what are the chances he or she would be elected?

Slim to none, right?

But we who follow Christ will not answer for our culture or our government.

We each one stand before God based on how we lived within both of those parameters. 

One of the quotes I jotted down in my notes from the sermon was this:

“Lots of culture and very little devotion to God is the battle we are fighting in America.”

Pastor Eric Trickey, St Paul’s Lutheran Church

The challenge is not how we adapt to the culture. 

The challenge is not how loud we make our protest against the government or the culture.

The challenge for you and for me is how we will look deeply down inside our own souls and find the places where pride has formed in us…where we are either cherishing our sin or looking with disdain on the sins of others. 

Where we are seething because we don’t deserve the way we are being treated or we are preening because we know we would never do as that one over there does.

Where we have rejected God’s rule over us and have gone our own way. 

And then we must drag our pride in who we are, what we have, what we do or don’t do wide out into the open area at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ and pour out all of our contempt on THAT ugliness. 

We must be responsible for our own path of repentance and returning, our own confession and seeking forgiveness and then turning away from what has been revealed as an area of pride in our own lives.

Our pride is worthless and deserves our scorn and it needs to die the ugly death it merits. 

Heavenly Father, during this season of Lent I pray You would expose the deceptive ways I have allowed pride to take hold of my heart. As I have more opportunities during this time of year than any other to focus my attention of the Cross and to meditate on what the sacrifice of Jesus meant for all of us, I pray You would reveal to me the places where I continue to be more enamored with the world around me than Christ who saved me. Make my heart more like His every day. I ask in His Name and for His glory. Amen

What’s holding you up?

Good morning to you and happy Friday!

Yesterday I spent some of the afternoon out in the gale force winds of Spring chasing the band of brothers as they scootered, biked, shot baskets, hit line drives while their sister busied herself rolling balls down the driveway and into the street. 

Apparently watching Lola try to keep them from blowing all the way to Oz was rather entertaining. 

While I was busy chasing kiddos up north, a tree removal company came and took care of a problem tree that was next to our driveway back home.

It was actually a nice tree.

Growing tall and providing some shade for the basketball hoop in the summer…I have taken pictures of it with icy crystals and snow this winter and loved it…beautiful leaves in the fall…buds in the spring…

but when it was planted, the root system was somehow not freed to do what roots are supposed to do. 

Either it wasn’t planted deep enough or the planter failed to remove the confining bucket it came in and as a result the roots were growing shallow and encircling the base of the tree. 

It looked fine, but it was in a perpetual state of killing itself. 

We can’t always tell the health of a plant or a person by what’s above ground. 

Icebergs…trees…people…we need deep roots. 

What is seen of our lives is substantiated by the foundations that go deep. 

There is only one foundation I have chosen to build my life on. 

What is seen by you, by my family, by the people who encounter me on the other side of a counter – whether I am selling or buying…what my class sees on Sunday morning or you read on Tuesday…it all has to be simply the fruit of a deeper walk…a stronger foundation than I am capable of producing on my own. 

My foundation is Christ alone. 

He is the nourishment and guide and leader and forgiver of my life. 

My roots go down deep for Him because I recognize Him as the source of all my life. 

So yes, I read and study and I pray and I fight against my tendency to let my roots be satisfied with what I can gain in the tiny circle that centers around me…it will always be a battle to push past the familiar comfort of self and put in the effort to let my roots push into new levels of reliance on Him. 

I embrace the season of Lent as a time for digging deeper. 

I hope you do as well. 

They will come today and grind out the stump. 

This won’t really take very long. There is hardly even a presence of the former tree except for a few wood chips that they will vacuum up. 

If you feel like your life is choking out, maybe it’s time to check your root system. 

“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay free, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT

Grow deep, my friend, grow deep. 

Love and blessings are prayed to cover each of you today <3 


Spring Cleaning <3

We are having a touch of long-awaited Spring here and it is most welcome. 

I stubbornly refused to put a winter coat on when I left for work yesterday. I didn’t care what the temperature was or if snow would fly. 

I slipped my feet in some loafers with no socks, donned a lightweight denim duster and headed out. 

To my great delight, my faith became sight and it was 50 degrees by afternoon here. 

The sun was shining, which meant all the dust on all the surfaces was showing off through the sunlight that streamed through winter crusted windows so I did what all good Midwestern girls do on such a day and spent the late afternoon cutting back the roses and pulling all the debris from last summer and fall out of the landscape rock. 

It felt so good. 

With the advantage of an extra hour of daylight, Russ and I were able to take a walk together and eat soup as the sun set. 

I love that Lent and Passover and Easter all fall in this time of year and while I understand if I lived south of the equator it would be a different natural season in which to experience, God put me here and I am thankful to associate this time of year with the rhythm of new life and spring cleaning. 

It makes sense to me as I shake off the debris of dust and prepare our yard for new growth, that I am doing the same thing with my soul.

Opening up my heart and asking God to shine a spot light into the corners opens my mind to a greater awareness of Him and a greater awareness of Him, opens my spirit to seek more of His holiness and purity as He helps me do some internal housecleaning. 

This morning as I presented myself to Him and worked through some of my study materials, I found these words from Valley of Vision:

Teach me to behold my Creator, his ability to save, his arms outstretched, his heart big for me. May I confide in his power and love, commit my soul to him without reserve, bear his image, observe his laws, pursue his service and be through time and eternity a monument to the efficacy of his grace, a trophy of his victory. 

Page 67, The Convicting Spirit; The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett, The Banner of truth trust, 1975

Isn’t that beautiful? 

Picture Him – his ability and willingness to stretch out His arms and save us. 

Picture us – trusting in His power and love and big heart; committing our souls, without reservation, and thus bearing His image…being obedient to His commandments and teachings…actively pursuing ways we are called to serve Him. 

And then…say what???

What is efficacy?

How do I even say it?

So I googled it – you would expect nothing less of me, right?

I am still working on the pronunciation and have decided this may never be a word in my working vocabulary, but it means…

the power to produce and effect, or effectiveness; the ability to produce a desired or intended result.

Let’s plug that back in to the prayer I shared.

Oh wait…before I do…let’s stop and think about monuments. And how we build them to commemorate some big, historical event or to give credit to some great person who made an impact on the history of a culture or country or time.

Let’s think about trophies that we get handed or we long to have handed to us for our efforts or our wins.


Now let’s take a fresh look at the words that moved my heart this morning:

Lord, teach me see You more clearly and assess your Worth more dearly each day so that I might walk uprightly before You and serve You faithfully in obedience to the truth of Your Word.

As a result of this, I pray that the proof of the effect of my life lived out in the days You have given me will stand as a Mount Rushmore of evidence that YOUR GRACE reached out and saved the likes of me.

May my life, Lord, be a visible Super Bowl/World Cup/Green Jacket trophy of proof that You overcame sin and death in me and for me.

May all that I do and all that I say and all that I am and all that I am remembered for point always and only to You. 

God didn’t save me so that I could build monuments or collect trophies.

He saved me to make me a monument attesting to His grace and a trophy of His love.

And so I echo the words of King David…who am I and who is my family that You would do this for us?

Have a blessed day reflecting on His big heart for you…clean some windows…clear some brush and I will see you back here tomorrow <3