Thursday, August 29, 2019

Take Your Seat!

Two days ago I found myself seated on an airplane above the clouds flying over the Rockies.

This was my view.

I was supposed to have been seated on the same flight the previous day.

Mother Nature disagreed.

I sat delayed two hours in Albany, NY (thunderstorms in Chicago).

Not all was bad - Albany hosts a Chic-Fil-A (where I sat for lunch); and, I walked my 10,000 daily steps.

I finally boarded, and sat for two hours next to a 6-year old girl and her 4-year old brother.

I kept looking for parents, but couldn't identify them.

They probably planned to remain anonymous.

The kiddos were blond-haired, blue-eyed cherubs, until the batteries on their tablets died 40 minutes into our (supposedly) two-hour flight.

The remaining time rivaled a WWE tournament, complete with slapping, pulling hair, kicking, and screaming.

I've earned the title in our family as "Entertainment Nana," but not this day.

To these babes, I was invisible; and, so, I sat helpless in 8D on Flight 395.

I sighed, relieved when the pilot announced we were beginning our descent into Chicago.

Only a few more minutes to endure where I was seated.


Twenty minutes later, as we were still circling the airport (same altitude), we were informed that this holding pattern would continue until a break in the weather conditions would allow us to safely put the plane on the ground.

The melee next to me continued.

An hour later, and running low on fuel, our pilots zoomed us into Rockford.

Now, I was seated in an itty bitty airport, only 90 miles from the end to the first leg of my journey....and, WAITING.



Where have you found yourself seated this week?

I've had some enjoyable seats, and a few dishonorable ones.

I've been seated on diverse planes (in coach and, woohoo, in first class), on a pontoon barge, a ski boat, a canoe, a rock, a pew, a chapel, a dining room table, on a bench, a quiet corner on a small island beach, and at a bonfire.

Where I've sat has said something about me - about who I am and what I do.

I'm a frequent-flyer-traveler, a worshiper, a speaker, an eater, a rester, a follower-of-Jesus, a ponderer, a reader, and sometimes a worrier....

This morning, I'm seated at a computer, and pretending to be a blogger.

Leading up to this pretense, I've been a researcher, student, and puzzle-solver.

I'm putting bits and pieces together to share what I'm learning regarding being #seated (with Christ).

I thought it somewhat of an annoyance and a difficulty to be seated on a flight with two unhappy children. I struggled some with the inability to not make it home on my original flight, and being forced to wait in Chicago to travel the following day (when I finally got out of Rockford, we did go back to Chicago, arriving close to 11:00 PM.................................and, I traded seats with the daddy.)


My first stop on the adventure to discover what it means to be #seated was a prison cell.

A visit to a prisoner by the name of Paul.

His crime?  He loved and followed Jesus.

I mentally tried to put myself in his seat.

While Paul only suffered house arrest, his guard never let him out of sight. Some think he may have even been chained within his home. Whatever the conditions, my comfort level rose quite beyond Paul's experiences.

Even still, Paul was able to teach and receive visitors.

Fortunate for him, as he was responsible to figure out how to be fed and clothed.

For two years, this was Paul's life.

Here, Paul wrote what we know as his prison epistles: Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians and Philippians.

Here, we learn the depths of Paul's theology, and how it is lived out practically.

From Paul's letters, we hear the passion with which he taught, and capture snapshots of his heart's desire to leave the church the Lord allowed him to build an inheritance of words.

These words would keep the church steadfast through the ages. She would be wiser and stronger.


It's when I got to this verse in Ephesians chapter 2, I stopped (you saw this verse last week, and were asked to think on it)...

From his seat in prison, Paul assures me, where I sit on this earth is only an illusion.

His body may be in that place of imprisonment.

My body may be seated somewhere on this some random place....doing some random job.

BUT, that's not where Paul's soul is seated, nor is this place mine.

He's there, but not there.

I'm here, but not here.

Paul's already in the heavenly places, where he is seated with Christ, in Christ.

Because I've been saved by grace (Ephesians 2:5b), I am there, as well.

So are you.

I just fail to live at all times as if that's where I am seated.

I fail to claim my place of position.

HOWEVER, from this seat, EVERYTHING about life changes.


The over-arching view of what is below.



A spiritual mind to grasp God's what for me (I have the mind of Christ - I Corinthians 2:16)....

I see life through the lens of Jesus' love.

More importantly, I am "hidden in Christ in God (Colossians 3:3)."

In a small airport, middle of No-where, Illinois, Paul gently spoke these words, "Take your seat."

'The view is great from here!'

Then he whispered, "You might even write a blog on it one day." (Wink) (Smile!)

(PS. Thank you Tapawingo Girls Camp for the beautiful photos!)

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Road to a New Study...And an Invitation to Come Along

Last week, I wound down the study I'd been doing on fear, worry, and anxiety with this:

Ultimately, when I am afraid, it's because my mind is divided.

The answer to this dilemma is where I "set" my thoughts.

Practically, I listed six things to put into practice for refocusing a divided mind.


I found myself unable to conquer a simple moment where anxiety crept in and caught me off guard.

No amount of reasonableness (the Apostle Paul's words in Philippians 4:6) worked....and it certainly was not "known to all." Just the opposite was true.

In fact, I found myself in a total tailspin....

Have you ever watched one of those flight shows, either in person, or via the internet.

I do admire pilots who can pull a plane out of a tailspin at the last minute.

I desperately tried to refocus my thoughts.


From deep breaths to preaching TRUTH to myself; from reminding myself God is ever-near to recalling my Kingdom-calling; from confession to worship....nothing seemed to ease the "jitters" that settled into my soul.

So, I stared the lion in the face and simply did the next right thing - fear and all, I ran toward the roar.

I couldn't back down, so I stood up.

All the while feeling like a fool for being so anxious.

When I could finally "sit down," and "set my mind on things above;" when all was said and done (and, I could breathe deeply once again), Scripture pierced the deep places of my heart.

How I needed this Encouragement:

I call.
God answers.
He comes to my Rescue...and increases the strength of my soul.

He does.

He did.

Even amidst the tailspin, at the last second, I gave up control of the control-panel (this is key!).

Somehow, He pulled me out; and salvaged what I had given Him to work with in the end.

The truth is...the circumstances surrounding the irrational fear were all so ridiculous.

It was a simple little request that required my participation, not a life threatening event.

Plain truth? My reputation felt at stake. I wanted to impress, because in this situation, I felt extremely unimpressionable, undervalued, and unaccepted (and, this is why I held the controls so tightly).

Oh, how image gets in the way. Right?

And, this right here is the transition into a new study where the Lord has led me to trek.

It's not up a mountain....

However, it is deep into a new word.

A word He has sent me to explore.

You'll find the word hidden in the Colossians 3:1-2 passage.

It seems rather obscure.

Yet, I'm discovering it's impact to be incredibly powerful.

After the debacle mentioned above, The-Spirit-of-My-God sent me scampering to reboot on Truth.

These things consoled my heart:

God forgives our attempts to control when we confess.

To battle nervousness is, yep, human (The Lord knows it's going to happen, and He's waiting in the wings to do the RESUCE...He's particularly tender toward our nervous-system).

When we call,  He will stoop low to strengthen our soul.

However, there is a word we can employ that MAKES a huge difference in alleviating the anxiety that our image-distortions raise.

This word is "seated."

Come, join me on this little journey up the mountain of Truth.  We'll begin here:

Ponder it.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Meat Cleaver Meets Sword...and the road to #bebrave

Time. I tend to value time.  In fact, I'm downright greedy about time.

So, when my time is threatened, I get anxious.

This anxiety almost always leads to fear of failure.

That's when I realized the clock and the calendar had become idols.

As a result, I took some intentional anxiety-breaking steps to course correct.

What do you know! My anxiety levels calmed substantially by simply putting into practice a few small "helps" (for those, you have to go back to previous blogs - shameless plug).

In the meantime, my "to do" list hasn't gotten shorter, but longer.

The calendar for August hasn't emptied, but filled a bit fuller (and September isn't looking much better).

Somehow, I'm squeezing in more, but plugging away and checking things off as I go.

All-the-while, I'm attempting to keep my thoughts managed, to lean into the Presence of my Ever-Present Lord, and simply take the next right step.

I have a feeling that I could continue to mine treasures of wisdom for conquering fear and anxiety until Kingdom-come, but I'm sensing with today's thoughts, this will be a for-now-wrap-up.


In the midst of dinner dishes the other night, I contemplated the topic of worry.

One incredibly mundane task took me on a journey back to Africa (I did a lot of dishes by hand back in the day, and that became some of my best thinking, praying, planning, prepping time...).

For several years, I led an early morning Bible study in one of the dorms for senior girls.

I don't know how much they learned the times we gathered, but the teacher took away A LOT of practical life lessons.

One semester, we did a series on giant killing.

Giants interrupt our lives consistently.

With different names and tactics, they have one goal: to disrupt our growing relationship with Jesus through intimidation.

Of course, the giant of worry showed up on the scene almost immediately...

While rinsing green chili stew off plate after plate, I reflected back to that study.

I recalled how ExCiTeD (!!!!)  I got over one little Greek word (yes, I AM a word-nerd).

Because it slides off the tongue so nicely, it's the moniker I attached to the Worry-Giant we all need to slay:  Merimnao.

My dear friend, the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, by Spiros Zodhiates, informed me that this particular Greek word had two parts (one part noun, one part verb) which combined together to create a vivid word picture.

N:  the mind
V:  to divide

When we worry, then, we live with a divided mind.

When we worry, it's the result of allowing the enemy of our souls to chop up our intellect into tiny little unmanageable pieces.

What a revelation!

Of course, this is a favorite tactic the enemy of our souls takes advantage of; and, when we willingly put our minds on his chopping block, look out!

He will divide our attentions in a thousand different ways, and dance with delight, as he slashes our minds into bits.

Is it any wonder, then, that the Lord speaks so often about our minds?

Of course not!

It's why the Lord God reminds us that we fight in a war that needs especially peculiar armor.  We don't fight flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of evil. One important piece of armor is the helmet - to protect our minds from the devil's crafty schemes (see Ephesians 6:10-18).

It's why we are admonished to continually renew our minds, transforming our thoughts, so that we can discern what is good, acceptable, and wise (Romans 12:1-2).

It's why we are commanded to cast away old ways of thinking, and be renewed in the spirit of our minds (Ephesians 4:22-23).

It's why we are told to "think/meditate on those things that are true, noble, pure, right, honorable, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy" (Philippians 4:8).


If then, you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 1:1-3, ESV

When the enemy comes at us with his meat cleaver in hand, we come back with our sword of truth.

Truth: I am hidden in Christ-the-Son.

Truth: He is hidden in God-the Father.

Truth: In me is the empowering Holy Spirit.

Truth: My mind is untouchable without relinquishing permission.

Truth: As long as my thoughts are "established/set/positioned/disposed/intentional" upon the things that are above, and not on worldly matters, I have a lot more "brain space." 

It seems counter-intuitive, right? BUT IT WORKS!!!

Practically, what does this mean to "set our minds on things above"?


God-thoughts. What perspective would God have on my life right now? 

Kingdom-thoughts. What would He be doing right now, in flesh, on planet earth, until He ushers us into His Heavenly Kingdom? We are His ambassadors.

God-desires. What are God's desires that need fulfilling, and how can I be His hands and feet? Ask God to give you eyes to see the things that break His heart, and what you can do to be a part of the "fix" (even if it is simply bowing your knees in prayer).

Premeditated-truth. What words of truth from God's Word, the Bible, would He speak over me, if He were sitting knee to knee with me? Heavenly thoughts are always Biblical thoughts; get into the Word!

Eternal-hopes. What's awaiting me in heaven? By thinking about eternity, things on earth often diminish in size. So, what about heaven am I longing for today? 

God's character. Think about who Your God is...Rehearse His character, His attributes, His names...Remember the chorus to Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus? "And, the things of earth will grow strangely the light of His glory and grace."

Fill your mind with these things, and there's no room for fear.

Then, we, my friend, are on the road to brave.

The End (but not the end...)!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Ordinary Tasks....and the road to #bebrave

This week IT happened...

I landed in what Max Lucado (author of Anxious for Nothing) calls the "anxietree."

There I was, perched on a branch, letting little birds of thought land (in fact, they began building nests), causing no small measure of concern.

And, of course, here I am, right in the middle of studying fear, anxiety, worry, discouragement...

It was just a little trigger.

But, oh boy, did it grip my heart hard.

It's August.

August is our board-mandated month to not travel in ministry.

I know this.

So, I procrastinated a little bit when it came to putting words on paper for the next three women's retreats where I will be speaking.

I've researched.

I have lots of notes, thoughts, and ideas.

These bits and bobs just need to be sorted through and deposited into orderly sessions.

Three sessions for one retreat.

Four sessions for another.

Three for the next.

Ten messages total.

Then I looked at the August calendar.

It looks like this:

And my mind began to fill up with menus, preparations, grocery shopping, to-do-lists....a bunch of little STUFF....all "stuff" I love to do...


That "stuff" started to crowd out the words I needed to write.

I don't manage "full brain" as well as I once juggled that "stuff."

Enter other-words.

Familiar words.

Words that always stop me in my tracks to speak discouragement.

Who do you think you are anyway?

You aren't really qualified to speak at a retreat?

You certainly aren't enough...

...not capable enough...
...not smart enough....
....not clever enough....
....not wise enough....
....not funny enough...
...not captivating enough....
...and, the list continued.

Suffice it to say there were plenty of words to condemn and to justify the condemnation.

Yes, for several hours, overwhelmed described me to a T!

So, I had to climb down from that "anxietree," grab my notes, and put into practice what I've been learning.

To start, I quieted my heart, got alone with the Lord, a cup of coffee, my Bible, and a journal, rather than being tempted to pick up speed and tackle the to-do's.

Contrary to how I felt, I sat down.

I listened to the fear (make this plural, fears, for there is no question that fears travel in packs).

I acknowledged some significant idolatry, and tore down those high altars, I'd erected (without question, confession is soul-and-mind-clearing).

Intentionally, I began to change my thinking.

The God who calls me is ENOUGH.

I don't have to be capable, clever, funny, or even smart, because He is the One who lives in me, and I in Him...and, if He calls, He equips.

I, also, recognized who was really in control of my calendar, and handed it over.

The Lord-God is boss of each and every day.

I'm not responsible for the days ahead.

I've not been gifted, yet, with the grace I need for tomorrow, only for today - this minute, actually.

Tomorrow morning I will receive the manna I need to collect to care for the day in front of me.

Somewhere out of the archives of my mind, I remembered an Elisabeth Elliot quote I tucked away for such-a-time-as-this:

Trust God and do the next thing.

It's exactly what one does when feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed.

Mrs. Elliot wasn't referring to some big, important, earth-shaking duty; no, it's the next ordinary-step that is right in front of us.

This is our true-calling!

Yes, God will take care of the month of August, one minute, one hour, one day at a time.

My best "yes" (thank you, Lysa Terkeurst, for this phrase) is simply the next perfectly ordained, ordinary step.

This kind of anxious-fear is eliminated slowly, gradually, progressively, one day at a time with the manna of grace God gives for this day only.

The ordinary done in sacrificial obedience to Christ is beautiful, inspired, and often times, heroic.
(George McDonald)

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Fear, World News, and Social Media - on the road to #bebrave

This morning as I opened my journal to write down thoughts I'd deliberated over as I read through my devotions, my heart heaved with an uncommon grief.

"Why?" I thought....

"Why do I ever look first at social media, the news, or even emails, before I bolster my spirit with TRUTH?"

Discouraged over postings...

Disturbed by news reports...

Frustrated over criticism in email reports regarding the bride of Christ...

Flabbergasted over followers of Jesus who are vocally abandoning faith...

Heartbroken over lies wrapped in beautiful paper topped with gorgeous bows, yet knowing in my soul that they are nothing more than the trappings of the enemy....

Then, I'm sickened by my own inadequacy to do nothing, unable to voice my heart in such a way it won't be misconstrued as hate, or intolerance...

I recognized FEAR rising.

More than the fear of man, this FEAR is bigger.

It's a fear leaping up inside over the state of our world.

It reminds me of the old Veggie Tale movie about lies.

The one where the baby "lie" grows and grows and grows with the telling, until it becomes a monster, crushing the one who began the story.

This fear grows similarly.

This morning I felt the monster sitting upon my heart.

Truly, the world as we know it is on the cusp of a perfect storm.

The winds gust with gale force.

The clouds heave dark with thunderstorms.

The waves beat furiously against the boat of faith where followers of Jesus have sought safe passage.

The anchor of hope hardly holds in the harbor.

Sadly, in the midst of the storm, within the boat, I look for the unity among believers that Jesus prayed so earnestly for in the garden, and cannot find it.

Divisiveness and chaos-of-opinion run rampant.

Do you find yourself anxious?

Does the bile of fear settle in your throat?

Is the giant of fear taunting you with his threats?

What's the state of your heart?

With this on my mind, I opened the book I was reading with our life group.

The Scripture focused on Paul's journey by sea to Italy.

The storms battered the ship mercilessly.

Sailors threw all the cargo overboard.

They disposed of their tackle.

Fourteen days and nights the ship was violently storm-tossed.

Fear gripped so tightly, those on board felt trapped, paralyzed, unable to eat...

(I've been that afraid before; I totally get it...)

Read Acts 27.

If you don't feel the fear, there is something wrong with your imagination.

As they found themselves nearing land, a new fear pulsed: would anchors hold before the ship hit the rocks?

Dreading the long night ahead, Paul, the preacher, offered a measure of hope.

Good thing(!), for those on board that ship had all but given up...

Here are his words:

Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet, now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night, there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, "Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. Behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you. "So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But, we must run aground on some island."

In these words, Paul offers us a prescription for #bebrave.

Confession.  As soon as Paul opened his mouth, he rebukes the entire crew. "You should have listened" were his strong, stinging words. My first inclination of heart rebelled, "What was he thinking?" The last thing people need in the midst of their fear is rebuke. In today's prevalent mindset of sparing someone's feelings, this is true. Not so in the kingdom of God. If another is in error, love and truth confront. Gentleness and goodness combine to bring about righteousness. There is a peace that comes with confession. What might I need to confess? If nothing else, am I trusting in the boat, or am I trusting in the Lord?

Sovereignty. Paul reminds them, just as he was reminded by his heavenly visitor, that God has a plan that will not be thwarted. God is always on His throne. He is directing life events...individually, corporately, and all over the world. Have I forgotten this aspect of God's character in the midst of my fear? The King Reigns on His Throne!

Promises of Hope. Unlike the crew on the ship of Adramyttium, we have the written promises of God. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM are "yes, in Christ Jesus." God is faithful, and He will do just as He promises. Paul offers a reason for the crew to "take heart," by sharing God's promise to him. Am I digging into God's Word for His promises for the future? They are many.

Not everything turns out hunky-dory in the end. Paul was temporarily spared, just so he could get to Rome, where he would eventually be put to death... We aren't guaranteed that life turns out according to our expectations. We are guaranteed that all things are used by God to further His plans in our life, as well as in the lives of others. God knows what He is about. We can trust Him to use EVERYTHING for our good, and His glory. His delight is in us...and He longs for our allegiance and trust. The loss of ship for the cohort, Julius, was Malta's gain. Paul's arrival on Malta equaled salvation for many, physical healing, and discipleship; and, in return, great kindness extended to the crew for the rest of the journey to Rome...

So how did I end my morning that began steeped in fear?

After confessing some misaligned allegiances, I turned to praise:

Praise in God's goodness and sovereignty.

Worship for His worthy plans for my life.

Awe for His holiness and righteousness....yet, that this holy, just God would choose to stoop low enough to show me, a sinner, great kindness.

Finally, a recommitment of trust in Him, surrender of my expectations, and a longing to be a part of what's ahead...with whatever voice He grants me....