Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Varnished Poop 💩 and….(what else?) HUMILITY!

Greetings from the land of the Bible!

It’s a hazy day, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, but I was able to snap a few pictures from the upstairs balcony of the guesthouse where I am staying with about 10 other women. We arrived this afternoon from Romania, and are preparing for the other ladies who will be joining us for our upcoming retreat. 

I anticipated that I’d be a bit more tired than I actually am having just finished one retreat and already starting another, BUT GOD…He seems to be re-fueling me and I am excitedly looking forward to our new group of gals. 

As is typical, when we close out one retreat, we do a debrief to discuss how things went, what we learned, what might need changing, and evaluating not just what the Lord did in our attendees, but what He was speaking to us, individually.

This debrief in Romania ended rather differently than any I’ve attended before. As the Holy Spirit began to move during our sharing time, there were a lot of hard things that came up, things that we wouldn’t have been able to address had we not formed a unique bond and community. Some vulnerable tidbits that only reveal themselves in safe settings. Seriously, I applauded the honesty and transparency of our volunteers. 

As we spoke together, one of the ladies shared an illustration she often uses. She referred to how much better it is to get stuff out in the open, off of our chests, and not just present what she calls “varnished poop.” 💩 

That got me thinking. 

I have some varnished poop…just happens to be elephant poop from Kenya. 

(Photo courtesy of my husband back home…the cup is to give you perspective of size)

It was a gag birthday gift for my husband from a dear friend of ours, who recently passed away.  Karen would love that there was a “spiritual application” for her gift…

And, of course, the application has to do with humility. 

A few weeks back (here’s the link), I mentioned that the word “humble” comes from a Latin word “humus.” It means “of the earth.” 

In order to be humble, we need to be brought “low” - to the ground - and, humus is the actual decomposition of dead materials, including animal waste. As it rots, rich soil is formed…out of the decay come lush vegetation and good growth. 

Here’s the lesson:

humble folks are honest folks

They are willing to be vulnerable and transparent!

They are willing to go low, in order to be lifted up.

If we want to walk in humility, we can’t let the “junk” inside of us just sit, nor can we varnish it and try to make it look pretty on the outside, simply hoping we’ll fool somebody else that we are something we really aren’t.

Humble people find their safe community and let the waste within come out…and, after it does, the decomposition process can begin…

As it decomposes, it becomes something of great benefit and value to others.

So, like me, do you have any varnished waste sitting around? 

Maybe there’s something far better you can do with it!

It seems one can never quit learning humility lessons.

And…a few more pictures from Romania - this is the village of Sinaia and Peles Castle (built in 1873 by King Carol I, and the setting of “A Christmas Prince - Netflix)

Peles Castle


Open air market, Sinaia

the village of Sinaia


Peles Castle

Thursday, October 20, 2022

His Work, His Will, His Way…With Joy

As I’m typing this edition of “Just a Thought,” you are sleeping (I hope) and it is almost lunch time in Bucharest, Romania, which happens to be where the Lord has me at this moment for His purposes.

I don’t tell you that as a source of pride, but to say that were someone to have told my 10 year old self that one day I would be in this place, gathering with a group of like-minded, Jesus-followers sharing Scripture that the Lord had placed on my heart, a couple of things would be true: 1) I would have hidden under my bed and never come out, for to stand in front of a single person to speak, let alone a group would grip my heart in fear; 2) I would have questioned - “me? Jesus? The Bible?”; and, 3) I, no doubt, would have called you a liar, for I couldn’t imagine myself outside of the comfort zone of my own little world.

I am a “but, God” story, if ever there were one.

I pondered all this as I opened my eyes this morning…

First, I questioned what in the world went through my mind when I said “yes.”

Second, I questioned whether I heard the Lord correctly about the topic which I would be sharing (you’ve read parts of this topic if you followed my humility-series). 

That’s when I realized it was time to open up the Word of the Lord to get on the same page with His thinking.

As I picked up my go-to in Daily Light for this morning, I read a couple of verses, which pointed me to God’s thoughts…

In Psalm 40:8, David spoke these words: “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and your word is within my heart.”

Jesus weighed in on God’s will, saying, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work (John 4:34).”

The spoken word from the Word resonated: 

Indeed, it is my delight, nothing brings me greater joy, than to do the will of God.

As Jesus recorded: it is like food to me… It is my source of nourishment (Isaiah mentions eating God’s Word and it was a sweet taste in his mouth), my energy-producer and spender, my satisfaction, my source of comfort (yes, food is a huge comfort to me - smile).

I am here to do my joy-job, and dog-gone, I am going to finish the work He has asked of me…without questioning, simply trusting.

Isn’t it easy to lose sight of God’s will for us?

Isn’t it a slippery slope when we begin to think we are just fulfilling an occupation, a daily-grind-of-a-chore, a duty set before us? 

The Lord’s asking different things of each of us.

Yesterday, I discovered great joy in scrubbing toilets, sweeping and mopping the floors in the women’s bathroom at a Ukrainian refugee shelter. Then, they bestowed an honor upon me to sort and organize a pantry of supplies, ending with cleaning and organizing the toy room for the children. 

Today God’s work looks very different, as I begin speaking…

What about you? 

What’s God’s will for you today in Christ Jesus? 

Is it cleaning toilets?

Wiping runny noses?

Sitting behind a computer screen?

Being an uncelebrated Uber driver with no pay?

No matter what your job, may you see it as God’s work for you this day…yep, even when it’s in obscurity…and, may it bring you GREAT JOY. 

You, my friend, are His vessel, sanctified (set apart), and useful to the Master…He has prepared you for EVERY GOOD WORK. (2 Timothy 2:21)

You may be a clay vessel (as I was reminded by another, clay vessels are fragile, commonplace, but uniquely hand-formed) and you house an INCREDIBLE TREASURE (2 Corinthians 4:7) - the Holy Spirit of the Lord, waiting to be poured out on those you will touch today! 

May your excitement effervesce with the truth God has a WORK for YOU; it’s HIS WILL, when we do it HIS WAY!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Dear Church: What Do You Know!


We desperately need to know how to use the spiritual weapons the Lord has given to us (the Word of God and Prayer).

There are voices, so many voices, assuming they have truth, based on what they want to believe truth to be, rather than wrestling with Scripture until it informs their convictions.

There are so many voices, loud ones, at that, who give partial truths, that are cancelled out by lies that follow.

There are a host of folks forming a new denomination that sounds loving, kind, compassionate and yet fail to lay a solid foundation based on Truth (truth with a capital T).

There would be a host of influencers assuring us that truth is what we want it to be, based on feeling and our own reality. 

What is worse, in my opinion, is there are "preachers" creating for us a new Jesus based on bits and pieces of the Son of God that they pick and. choose on a whim, attempting to speak for Him, without using His very Words written down for us.

Here's an example. This week, I ran across a post from a gentleman who has nearly 30,000 followers on Facebook alone. 

This fellow has walked away from what he has termed "toxic Christianity," and formed his own organization, apparently a center for non-religious spirituality, where he helps others step into the freedom and power of authentic self-expression. His fundamental mission seems to be to assist those who have fallen into what he calls "post traumatic church disorder." 

From what I can tell, his most often quoted source is Budha (one who is awake)...Rarely (and I'm trying to think if I saw ANY, in actuality) does he quote Scripture. 

Of his posts, this one struck me at the quick of my soul:

"10 things about Christianity that Jesus would not be happy about if he returned:
1. That his vision for a transformed society, got twisted into an afterlife fantasy about heaven.
2. That a religion was formed to worship his name, instead of a movement to advance his message.
3. That the gospel says his death solved the problem of humankind's separation from God, instead of accepting that his life revealed the truth that there is no separation from God.
4. That the religion bearing his name was conceived by the theories and doctrines of Paul, instead of the truth Jesus lived and demonstrated.
5. That he was said to exclusively be God in the flesh, putting his example out of reach, rather than teaching that we all share in the same spirit that empowered his character and life.
6. That the religion that claims his name, teaches that his wisdom and teachings are the only legitimate way to know truth and God.
7. The idea that humankind stands condemned before God and deserving of Divine wrath and eternal conscious judgement, requiring the death of Jesus to fix it.
8. That people are waiting on Jesus to return to save the world and end suffering, rather than taking responsibility for saving the world and solving suffering ourselves.
9. That people think there is magical potency in uttering the name of Jesus, rather than accessing our own natural powers and capabilities to effect change.
10. That people have come to associate Jesus with church, theology, politics and power, rather than courage, justice, humanity, beauty and love." *



Here's today's challenge, precious Church of God...

How would you answer those who buy into this kind of teaching?

In each of those given points, what is truth? What is a lie from the pit of hell?

How does Scripture inform you about each of these 10 statements?

How well do you know your Bible?

What do you believe based on Truth?

How will you do warfare against the God of this Age, who is blinding men and women all over the globe in order to distract them from true relationship with Jesus?

I'm recognizing I still have much to learn, even after all these years of study. 

The Word of God is forever rich with layer upon layer upon layer of lessons for us to learn.

The enemy of our souls is truly deceitful, subtle, manipulative, and a liar. He seduces, twists, and taunts. He blinds, distracts, and attempts to destroy faith by chipping away at it's very foundation.

We are at war.

I think I've forgotten that fact, or at least, been like a small child, who thinks if I ignore something it will go away and leave me alone.

That's what the enemy hopes we'll do: ignore him.

BUT...he is not going away...........not yet. 

Rest assured, his demise is already sealed...

...but, in the meantime, we must get busy sharpening our swords and developing calloused knees.

The sake of someone's eternity is what is at stake.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Just a Girl…With a Sword

For some reason, as I haphazardly turned to look at a recent quote someone had sent me from Priscilla Shirer’s Instagram account, I took note of her “about me” information.

My account simply states my name and is followed by a link to this blog.

Hers gives a sentence that speaks volumes.

It’s only 6 words.

I loved it.

I found myself jealously wishing I’d been so creative.

Simply stated is all you need to know about this woman.

“Just a girl…with a sword.”

And…oh, how sharp that sword!

How wisely she wields it.

How well she uses it to rightly divide the Word of Truth.

She’s learned to inhale the God-breathed, inspired Scriptures and exhale them in such a way as to fill up lungs starved for oxygen.

As followers of Jesus, each of us should close out our descriptive sentences as she did…This is me…with a sword.

Here I am…ready in season and out…to declare the gospel of hope, the words of life, the useful truth that teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains in righteousness.

Here I am…just a girl…with a sword…always at my side.

Someone quoted CH Spurgeon recently:

“If you will tell me when God permits a Christian to lay aside his armor, I will tell you when Satan has left off temptation. Like the knights of old In war time, we must sleep with our [armor] buckled on, for the arch deceiver will seize our first unguarded hour to make us his prey. The Lord keep us watchful in all seasons, and give us a final escape from the jaw of the lion and the paw of the bear.”

When it comes to fighting off the “schemes of the devil (the liar, manipulator, the deceiver, the false accuser), we have only two weapons: the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and prayer…

This is our power…and one isn’t truly effective unless we combine it with the other.

The Word + Prayer (by this I mean, praying the actual Words of God over our situations) = victorious power (Greek Word, “dunamis,” where we get our word for “dynamite”). The same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead. 

As I’m typing this, I’m sitting in an airport in Montana. 

We’ve been away from home about ten days.

What a great trip, as we’ve enjoyed the beauty of South Dakota, Wyoming and Big Sky Country…

But, as we’ve travelled, I’m reminded again how rich in Biblical literature Americans are, but how impoverished in our knowledge of God’s truth. 

His followers really aren’t “just children of the Lord…with swords.”

We’re content in our ignorance.

It’s perfectly OK with us if someone else does the “rightly dividing” of it on our behalf, without checking to make sure they are accurate.

So, once more, my heart throbs with the prayer that Jesus-followers rise up to do better…we can not live on bread alone…we need to ingest and digest every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

We need to sleep with our armor on and our swords at our side with a prayer ever on our lips. 

For the enemy would love to take us down.

(from Petra, This Means War album)

He will come to us, as he did Jesus, most often during our wilderness struggles, trying to distract us from all God has for us...attempting to get us to doubt our question His goodness...

Longing to strip us of the victorious, abundant life Jesus promises.

But, to be overcomers, we’ve got to know how to brandish our swords with skill…never hesitating, but quickly responding lest he trap us.

And, so, as I close, I echo other words from other WORD-WISE folks from out of the past and the present. We should hear their haunting voices begging us, urging us, to learn to use our swords to the best of our abilities.

“When the Church loses the Word of God it loses the very means by which God does his work. In its absence…a script is being written, however unwittingly, for the Church’s undoing…in a slow, inexorable slide made up of piece by tiny piece of daily dereliction.”David F. Wells

“There are 4 things we ought to do with the Word of God... Admit it as the Word of God, commit it to our hearts and minds, submit to it, and transmit it to the world."  William Wilberforce 

“I have never met a mature, fruitful, strong, spiritually discerning Christian who is not full of Scripture, devoted to regular meditation on Scripture, and given to storing it in the heart through Bible memorization — and that’s not a coincidence.” John Piper

‘The Holy Ghost rides in the chariot of Scripture,and not in the wagons of modern thought…” CH Spurgeon

“Never water down the Word of God, but speak it in its undiluted sternness and love…There must be unflinching faithfulness to the Word of God…but remember when you speak it to others that you are not some special being created in heaven, but a sinner saved by grace…” Oswald Chambers