Category Archives: Refined by the Word

Christmas Countdown 2020 Day 18

I am on Day 18 with the Christmas Countdown over on the blog and true to my nature, I think I will run out of days before I run out of thoughts on 1 and 2 Thessalonians! 

Each morning I read back through the verses and notes I copied into a journal and I see another little gem to help me live better for the Lord in 2020…and beyond. 

Today our verses are from Chapter 4 of the first letter from Paul to the church in Thessalonica. 

Do all you can to live a peaceful life. Take care of your own business, and do your own work as we have already told you. If you do, then people who are not believers will respect you, and you will not have to depend on others for what you need.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12


What do you and I need to do to live a peaceful life in the middle of the chaos that has characterized much of 2020? 

I am reminded of those Vortex gadgets that are often located in the lobbies of places where you take your children. They are usually geared toward raising funds for some worthy cause.  Two slots are located at the top of a large yellow funnel and the idea is to place a coin in and then watch it spiral around the inside until it drops into a receptacle at the bottom. The two slots on either side create an opportunity for children (and any one who is a child at heart) to put their coins in simultaneously and then watch them race. 

There are several things about this activity that I would like to point out. 

1. They are usually quite unsteady and for small children they seem like something you can climb on. You can’t 

2. These same small children have an uncanny knack for grabbing the coin mid-spiral and attempting another go. This usually just disrupts the whole thing and as the coin drops straight down into the hole and the other participant expresses his/her anguish…both look to the accompanying adult for yet another coin. 

3. The options for entertainment around the Vortex are limitless…we could finish going through the zoo and play on the playground We have three full floors of a Children’s Museum to play in. But no. Our focus is on throwing Lola’s money down into this yellow tube. Endlessly. 

Our lives are filled with a plethora of valuable, wonderful, worthwhile things to focus our hearts and minds on. 

When we allow some kind of Vortex … and often it does involve competition: with ourselves or some other entity or just a competing of the world for our attention…we become frustrated and anxious and we have let the turmoil of others steal our peace. 


Take care of YOUR business. 

Do YOUR work. 

Keep YOUR focus on doing all for the glory of God. 

And quit staring down into the abyss of the Vortex. 

The bonus? 

Not only will YOU live a more peaceful life, but your peaceful life will gain the attention and respect of non-believers. 

Imagine that. 

Someone who doesn’t know the Peace that comes with knowing Christ will lift his or her weary head up from wasting time throwing resources into the downward spiral and will see you…over there…minding your own business and living a peaceful, productive life…and will want to know more. 


Have a blessed day minding your own business and seeking to live a peaceful life. 

You are the fingerprints of God to someone in this world and you didn’t even know it.


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Christmas Countdown 2020 Day 16
PC/Betty Lochner

As we are moving through 1 Thessalonians, I am hitting a bit of an awkward spot in what Paul is addressing with this church body he loved and care about so deeply. 

You can read his words in the remainder of Chapter 4 and I will let Paul handle the moral issue in the details he has given, but I will add a thought on this subject as a kind of warning to us so we don’t think we are immune to the problem if we are in a faithful marriage. 

In verses 3 – 8 he talks to the church in Thessalonica about sexual purity and how this is pleasing to God. 

I was raised in a home where we didn’t really talk about anything to do with intimate topics and I continue to find the way our culture puts it all out there as humor and in casual conversation uncomfortable and I am okay with that. 

So instead of going into specifics on that, I want to use an illustration that we can apply to Paul’s teachings for those of us who think we are free and clear of sexual sin. 

Yesterday I was a bit late (shocking, I know) to my appointed arrival time for Zach to get to work. I felt bad that he might be rushed and so I was quite happy to discover on my drive north that several cars were in a bigger hurry than me. 

As I was keeping my speed just enough over the limit to not warrant a ticket, three cars passed me going much faster. There was enough distance gained between us that I knew if a policeman was shooting radar up ahead, one of these would be caught first. 

So I did what any law-abiding, red-blooded American would do…I felt comfortable bumping my own speed up a few more notches. 

Was I breaking the law? Yep

But not as bad as they were so….

You get my point right?

As our culture pushes the envelope farther and farther away from God’s commandments regarding sexual purity, let us be careful that we don’t start measuring our “little transgressions” of the mind against the more flagrant and glaring sins that we see exhibited. 

Lecture over.

Now go live a life that is pure and blameless before the Lord who made you and loves you so dearly.

Take care of YOUR sin and YOUR relationship with the Father and pray for those who do not know better. The end goal for all of us is to be free from the bondage of sin so that we can live fully in the freedom that is ours in Christ.    <3 

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Christmas Countdown 2020 Day 15

At some point in my adult journey, someone was listening to me complain about my failed attempts at some project and interjected with counsel about my need to overcome my perfectionism. 

I responded with exasperation that she was obviously not listening to a thing I just said because clearly I was the farthest thing from perfect that you could get. Did she not just hear how short I had fallen on my expectations for myself?????

While I can’t remember which long-suffering friend it was who confronted me with this, I do remember her eyes just blinking at me for several long seconds until I said….oh. 

I want to do all things well.

And by well, I mean the standard I have deemed to be excellent for a given task.

So I meticulously fold the laundry the way I think it should be folded and load the dishwasher the way I think it should be loaded and you name it. I have my criteria of what is acceptable and if I am in a hurry and decide that 80% perfect is what I am going to have that day, than I can mark off another task done as done correctly. But for the rest of the day I can beat myself up over how I could have done it better.

When I taught classes at church, I didn’t want to see the evaluations at the end of the session. Any mark less than the highest was devastating. If 6 was excellent than a 5 on any point meant I failed the whole thing. To me there is no “constructive criticism.” It’s all destructive. 

Now before you go giving me your lectures, please hear me. Many of you do not struggle with perfectionism and that is cool. You have a quick answer for people like me but you need to walk a mile in my shoes, that took me quite a while to select this morning because I wasn’t sure what would look right with this particular pair of jeans.

This is a natural-man tendency in me that, thanks be to God, He is working out of me year after year…but it is something I struggle with overcoming, just like others of you struggle with your natural wiring.

 So today’s passage is one that I have to stop and mediate on and apply.

As I read this passage this morning, I think of how it would come off to me if Paul were saying it to my face. Or had commented at the bottom of my evaluation sheet….

Brothers and sisters, we taught you how to live in a way that will please God, and you are living that way. Now we ask and encourage  you in the Lord Jesus to live that way even more. 

1 Thessalonians 4:1

I would read it as something like this:

Laura, you have learned the things we taught you that are pleasing to God and we are so blessed to see how you are doing them. You are living the very things we taught you. Good job. Now do it better. 


I am meeting the expectation but I need to improve?

Already my tummy is in a knot. 

I missed the mark. 

I want details. 

What didn’t I do well enough? I have a good excuse. Let me explain…Give me another chance. 

Ha! The litany of the Perfectionist! I know it well! 

But God is showing me here that pleasing Him is not a check list to be performed on a grading scale.

I am not being evaluated. 

I am being commended and encouraged. Exhorted, if you will.

I have learned some things about how to walk with Jesus and I have made the commitment to do it every day.

So today, I will do it some more. And as I follow His teachings, I will be stretched to apply them to new levels…day after day…one step at a time. 

It’s a journey, not a destination. 

Journey onward, my friends, in the ways you have been taught that are pleasing to God and then do it more <3

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