Thursday, June 24, 2010


Recently a young lady cried out to me, “Some days are just too much!” Most of us can identify with her proclamation! Have you ever wondered, “What’s the purpose behind all of this? Why doesn’t God intervene and turn down the heat?”

I pray that my response to her may help to shine some light on your circumstances and bring you peace.

I know sometimes it feels like it is too much; that you can’t take any more. Yet, you know what? God is using the pressure of what you consider to be "too much" in order to pursue you! He loves you! He desires more of you and He is relentless! He often turns up the heat until we say, "Take all of me, God! There is no other real purpose in life. Do whatever you want in order to break me and make me fully yours!"

I’ve frequently heard, “All you have to do is fully surrender your heart to Jesus!” So… off I’d go into my little corner determined to “surrender”! Yet, no matter how hard I tried, it seemed as though I could never surrender enough! The guilt was so overwhelming that I often questioned my faith.

What does ‘full surrender’ look like, anyway?

I’ve come to realize that surrendering is not a one time deal, as it is often described. Instead, it is a regular response to an on-going pursuit of God for His child. Each time Father turns up the heat, His child responds by surrendering a bit more.

It’s important, though, to understand that genuine surrendering is not something that we can determine to “muster-up.” Instead, it is something that the Spirit of Jesus works in us, according to His perfect plan and timing.

I know that sometimes it feels like God is just playing games with us. I've accused Him of that myself! However:
• He knows exactly what type of heat and temperature level is needed to accomplish His will within each of us. For you, it may be “minor” health issues. For someone else it might be a life-threatening incident. For me, it may be multiple broken relationships. For someone else it might be a “simple” argument.
• He knows exactly when the next level of surrendering needs to happen. This is not only for your sake, but for those whom your life impacts. God has a panoramic view and He knows precisely when the temperatures need to rise!

Usually the heat gets turned-up again and again
He has our attention
we realize that it is Him pursuing us!

When we begin to realize this, it's easier to tolerate the heat. Instead of trying to escape through some type of sinful response, there is peace in knowing that He is continuing His work in our lives. In time, we learn to respond as Jesus did when He was faced with the cross, "Lord, this heat feels unbearable. Please remove it from me. However, if there is no other way to accomplish Your will in and through me, give me strength to bear it!”


Thursday, June 17, 2010


It’s Wedding Month! In the U.S. alone, 2.3 million couples “tie the knot” every year. Only one out of five adults never marries. From the time of Adam and Eve, the marital relationship between a man and a woman has been ordained by God. However, some things have changed!

Consider that 84 % of Christians marry or that 80% of weddings are performed in churches or synagogues, yet 33 % of these “unions” end in divorce. Something is drastically wrong! Although there are many facets of marriage that need to be addressed, I would like to ponder the concept of marriage licenses.

A little research reveals that marriage has not always required validation by the state or the church. In fact, a marriage license from the county office of the land of Eden wasn’t necessary for Adam and Eve! During the Roman Empire, if a couple regarded each other as husband and wife, the marriage was valid. In fact, for most of Western history, marriage was a private contract between two families.

Even Christianity,
for 1,600 years
defined the validity of a marriage
a couple's personal intentions!

Up to the mid-19th century, states ruled that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage. In fact, it is widely recognized that even George and Martha Washington were married without a license! Today, these couples would be labeled as “living in sin”! Yet, during all these centuries, couples remained together much more consistently than today.

In 1923, the Federal Government established the Uniform Marriage and Marriage License Act. By 1929, every state in the Union had adopted marriage license laws attempting to make marriage an institution. Obviously, all these laws have not helped to stabilize marriages.

Is marriage:
a spiritual union
a man-made institution,

a right granted by God to His children
a “privilege” controlled by the state?

Black's Law Dictionary defines "license" as, "The permission by competent authority to do an act which without such permission [...] would be illegal. If such permission is required for God’s children, were their marriages prior to the 1900s illicit?

As Citizens of His kingdom, it was God who brought Eve to Adam [Genesis 2:22]. In Hebrew culture, only God’s presence is the necessary legal power to the union. It is God who joins together a husband and wife [Malachi 2:14, 15; Matthew 19:6]. It was and is His authority alone that rules marital covenants. The intervention of another party has never been required.

Yet, listen to the introductory words of a traditional wedding ceremony, “We are gathered together here in the sight of God – and in the face of this company – to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony…” At the end of the ceremony, the “minister” announces, “And now – through me – He [God] joins you together in one of the holiest bonds.”

Many people who make no claim to be Christian obtain a “license”, arrive at a basilica and pay a man to proclaim “you are now joined together.” Are they “one” in God’s sight? I always wondered why Adam blamed God for his marital problems! Maybe it was because God didn’t invite a clergyman to “do” their wedding!

Although it is understood that Christians are admonished to keep all the laws of men, what do civil laws really say about the necessity of obtaining the courts permission and a “qualified” person to solemnize a marriage? Is marriage without a license “illegal” as the laws seem to imply? According to my research thus far, many, if not all states have a similar disclaimer as this one in Iowa,

The provisions of this chapter, as they relate to procuring
licenses and to the solemnizing of marriages are not applicable to members of a denomination having an unusual mode of entering the marriage relation.

Considering that one-third of all “marriages” end in divorce, perhaps Christians need to return to being “a denomination having an unusual mode” which trusts God to decide which marital covenants He deems legitimate.


Thursday, June 10, 2010


When the land was made up of many kingdoms, each king had a flag that flew over his castle. Wherever the king went, the flag was flown overhead so that people could identify his presence.

Even today most nations have a flag which identifies them from others and a designated day each year for honoring their flag. In fact, in some countries, flying their national flag from public buildings is required by law.

The week of June 14 is designated as "National Flag Week.” The president will urge U.S. citizens to fly the American flag throughout the week. All Government buildings are also to display the flag. Various organizations hold parades and events celebrating the American flag and all that it represents.

As children of Christ’s Kingdom, is there a flag that we can raise in order for others to recognize our King and our Nation?

In 1897 there was a “Christian” flag designed during an impromptu speech made by Charles C. Overton. This flag is now flown in thousands of “churches,” most often next to an American flag. In fact, the design of it was inspired by the American flag.

But, do others recognize Jesus when they see this flag flown? Does our King reside in a building? Is this flag visible for those outside the basilica to see? Is it taken wherever our King goes so that others can identify Him? Or is there another kind of flag for citizens of the Kingdom of God to raise that will rightly honor their King?

As I ponder all of this, I’m reminded of a catchy little tune entitled:


There is a flag flown from the castle of my heart,
The castle of my heart, the castle of my heart;
There is a flag flown high from the castle of my heart
When the King is in residence there.

So raise it high in the sky, let the whole world know,
Let the whole world know, let the whole world know;
So raise it high in the sky, let the whole world know
That the King is in residence there

Love is the Flag flown from the castle of my heart,
The castle of my heart, the castle of my heart;
Love is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart
When the King is in residence there.

Peace is the Flag flown from the castle of my heart,
The castle of my heart, the castle of my heart;
Peace is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart
When the King is in residence there.

Joy is the Flag flown from the castle of my heart,
The castle of my heart, the castle of my heart;
Joy is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart
When the King is in residence there.

It is my prayer that, during this “National Flag Week,” the holy nation of God will also raise their “flag” as a testimony to all other nations that there is only one King of kings who rules over all and deserves our allegiance.


Thursday, June 3, 2010


My niece, Kelly and her husband, Mark came to visit us this weekend. What a joy it was to have them! Kelly and I developed a close bond when she was a little girl. I was 14 when she was born. This was my first experience of being an aunt and I thought she was the most precious thing that ever lived! Many years have passed since then and whenever we are together, we find ourselves reminiscing of the many fond memories we’ve shared. A lot of times, we laugh more than we talk! I enjoy her so much!

Some times I wonder if we aren’t hiding unresolved pain behind all our laughter. As an adult, I was aware of some of the childhood pain that Kelly was experiencing. I hurt for her. As a young girl, Kelly observed much of my pain as I tried to find my way in the adult world. I’m sure this affected Kelly’s heart, as well.

As Kelly moved into her teen and college years, she often spent the weekend with us. She and my son, Jake have a special relationship as a result of those times together. We loved having her! Yet, I helplessly observed as she began to make some of the same mistakes as my own. Again, I wanted to do something to protect her! But, what?

I distinctly remember the day when she called and said, “Aunt B, I’m getting married and I would like for you to sing at my wedding!” What an honor! Yet, when we hung up the phone from that conversation, I cried. I should have been happy for her and I was, but… I also feared that she would experience even more hurt and disappointment. I didn’t want that for her!

As I look back over those years, I realize now that I was so caught-up in trying to keep my own head above water, that I didn’t have the time or energy that Kelly or my other nieces deserved. I was barely making it through my own life, how in the world could I have ever helped them!

Have you ever made decisions that you know set a bad example for those whom you love?
Does your heart break when you consider that following in your footsteps has brought pain into their lives?
Do you ever wish that you could go back and do things all over again?

When we desire to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, He can transform our poor decisions into blessings which we can pass along to others. Through the guidance of His Spirit we can be strong enough in the Lord to be available for those we love. Having experienced some healing of our own, we can set a godly example for them.

The Lord seems to be providing opportunities for me to connect with several of my nieces in deeper ways than I had ever imagined. I am so thankful! Yet, my heart aches as I learn how much their lives have been affected by this world of sin. I want to be humble enough to share with them how the Lord has used the trials and poor choices in my life to draw me closer to Him. I want to be “Jesus with skin on” and love my nieces right where they are. Maybe… just maybe, I can help them find the healing and wholeness in their lives for which Jesus died.

We may not be able to go back and do things over again. However, we have been blessed with a God who forgives and rebuilds!