Mind The Gap

See, there’s often this space between the inner life of the soul– what we as Christ-followers believe and accept as true– and the everyday experience of interacting with the life around us. The beliefs we confess with our mouths and hang around our necks as labels often are not the things we stand on when life gets difficult…and sometimes we hardly even seem to notice the gap between. But that is precisely what the spotlight of unexpected difficulties is for, to rivet our attention on the fact that we are not real good at putting into practice what we believe.

I hear Jesus say “…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8) And I believe that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, will give me what I need. But when the unexpected collides with what I am pretty sure I need, my emotions and reactions point out just how far my life is from what my head believes. When you are looking right at concrete facts saying one thing, it is hard to fix your eyes on the unseen Truth that sounds so contradictory. But it’s there in the gap that you get the chance to grow, have the opportunity to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), because it is either change what you believe, or change what you will do about it.

Again, I know this is the Word of God: “Do not fear or be in dread… for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) This I believe, and I can even feel it on most days. But when giants loom large and all I have are a few small stones, reason speaks louder than faith and there is that gap again. It is surprisingly difficult to believe Someone you cannot see or touch over the ogre right in front of you– hard for us to set aside the sensory evidence we have accepted as reality since we were born here. But this is what faith is all about. Paul explains it this way: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) In the gap between what we believe and what we experience, this is where faith lives and grows.

And I can read Paul’s declaration and hang on tight to its usefulness: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) But watching someone you love struggle with an illness seems like it must be in a different category of Things than Paul is talking about; what I am feeling and dealing with seems much bigger and miles away from that one simple sentence.  And in the gap I find myself wondering how much strength is actually available, and could it be that it means exactly what it says? I can do even this through Christ’s limitless power?

It appears that the gap is more a shortfall in my faith, in my perspectives…and while my spirit can make that leap into eternal matters, my senses still stick in the mud of this earth. And I hear Jesus saying, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) The question lingers…Do I believe this?…And how will I then live?

So we are back again to God’s plan: to grow us into the likeness of His Son and prepare us to live in His Kingdom forever, and in the gap is one very real way that we are called to be partners in the process. We can expect to be brought up short time and again, by that gap between the way this world works and the ways of His kingdom. ” For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

When life reveals to us the gap between what is true and the way we live, it is a call to go deeper, step out of the familiar and sensible and come “higher up and further in” (as CS Lewis used to say), till there is no gap at all but only the presence of God. This is growing in maturity as a Christ-follower, and this is the faith-journey that is leading us Home.


When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

1 Corinthians 13:11-12


The way may at times seem dark, but light will arise, if thou trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. That light may sometimes show hard things to be required, but do not be distressed if thy heart should rebel; bring thy unwillingness and disobedience to Him, in the faith that He will give thee power to overcome, for He cannot fail. ‘Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world,’ so keep close to Him, and the victory will be won. But do not, I beseech thee, neglect anything that is required, for disobedience brings darkness; and do not reason or delay, but simply follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit, and He will guide thee into all peace.

Elizabeth T. King


Of Walls and Fears and Learning to Trust

We have been talking about surrender again, in small groups and conversations….this same topic coming up again and again in different ways until even the most unobservant could see the theme weaving into our growth. And we wonder why it is so difficult to just give up the reins and let God lead us, as we shake our heads over the murky depths of our hearts.

It is maybe too simplistic to say that hearts are just hard and stubborn, or that we want to do things ourselves. No, it’s not that black and white at all. It’s more a complex shade of survival instinct laced through with gray disappointments, and feeling instinctively our smallness in a universe we cannot control. We can’t seem to help ourselves in building hedges of self-protection….If I am the only one I can trust to pursue my own good, then goodness knows I would build a whole kingdom to protect me and mine..

Like this random unimportant soldier in the battle of Jericho, who clearly heard God’s instructions to give all the precious metals to Him and destroy the rest. The God who had been leading them in one miraculous way after another was now giving them a whole new land to live in, and everything they needed, in abundance. It was an exciting, jaw-dropping time to be alive and walking by faith. And all God asked for was their obedience. But no, this one man– who walked through the Jordan River on dry ground while the water piled up on either side, mind you, and then walked miles around the city of Jericho until the walls just fell in on themselves– this man looked at the beautiful treasures within the city and couldn’t bring himself to give them up.

So Achan grabbed all the riches he could carry, and scurried home to hide them… buried it all in the ground beneath his tent, a shiny secret that separated him from his friends and neighbors with its weight. I can be scornful of his careless disobedience until I remember that he was, after all, a child of the desert wanderings. Child of slaves who died homeless, with nothing beyond what they could carry, and depending on the mercy of God for their daily bread new every morning, and no way to store up for future needs. Achan had grown up a nomad in the wilderness, waiting for the promise of home and prosperity to come true.

And can I fault him for grabbing onto what he could do for himself, when the allure of abundance was finally within reach? I can almost feel that clutching insecurity in his chest, and the fierce determination that he and his would never be needy again. How am I any different when I grasp onto whatever is beautiful right in front of me, the sure provision for the fears that I feel? It’s really not a matter of hard-headed rebellion, so much as a scarcity of trust.

Strange how it’s sometimes easier to depend on God in a crisis, when you know you haven’t got what it takes to conquer a city or cross a raging river. Maybe that’s when you know for sure that you need some supernatural help to make it through? Yet at the next unexpected situation you find that trust comes hard, and it can be so easy to reach out and take what you want for yourself against the insecurity of an uncertain future. Trust was damaged irrevocably in the Fall, our hearts wounded by the lie that it’s all up to us, and since then we’ve discovered that fear is a relentless slavedriver. Surrendering our sense of control in life is the last thing we want to do in the everyday, with the Enemy’s whispers still targeting our deepest fears: Did God really say that? What if He is holding you back from something good?

But the same God that makes a way through the high waters is the One who Hagar named “El Roi– the God who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13) God knew Achan…had been there at every birth in his household, knew how many mouths there were to feed. God had watched over Achan and his brothers and cousins and sons as they went to battle their enemies, and had brought them safe home each time. And the Lord God who made the fortified walls of Jericho fall in on a shout, says “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8) The Creator who made the sun stand still at Joshua’s request, keeps His eye on the daisies and the sparrows and gives them what they need. Achan could trust God’s promise to bless them in that land and make them prosper. And I need to remember what God has done and trust Him for the needs in my life, too. Surrender only becomes difficult when we listen to the wrong voices and forget who God is.

It’s beginning to crystallize that the more we know Him, the more we can trust Him, and the easier it is to surrender to His rule. And knowing Him grows from the time we spend with Him. The more often I encounter God in the pages of His Story, and see Him working out His plans, the more I understand His heart. The more I hear His words and read His promises and plans for me, the more I experience his hope and encouragement. And when I honestly pour out my own heart to Him, and feel His presence, see Him at work in my life, trust grows naturally. It is easy to surrender to Someone that you love more than life.

The security that answers fear is found in relationship: knowing the One who takes care of me, and being so sure of His goodness, faithfulness, and ability to provide that nothing can shake me.

**You can read the story of Achan’s disobedience in Joshua 7:10-25.


What if every circumstance—every part of your journey with Christ—was meant to do more than set you up for future “success”?…God really is after our hearts. He cares more about us knowing who He is than how easy or comfortable our journey is.

Ruth Chou-Simons


The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

PSALM 121:5-8


Of Grace and Second Chances

Sometimes the circumstances of the past invade the Now before we even realize, padding in on the heels of a story, a song, a dream in the night, and suddenly the pain of yesterday is large as life right here, as if the clock had turned back when we weren’t looking. And what is there to do with something that can’t be changed and still cuts as deep as the day it was carved into our hearts?

One precious young sister said it quiet this week on the phone; “I try not to think about it, and maybe it will go away”– except I could hear in her voice that it doesn’t, and all the sweeping-under-the-rug just makes very large lumps in the Everyday. It made me ache with wanting to take that away for her, wash her slate clean for good….and I know how my own slate is marked up with things I keep erasing, until they surface again when least expected. It’s Grace that washes the past away, I told her, because Jesus came to carry that weight of shame, all our not-good-enough, that guilt over bad choices, the regrets that make us long for a do-over, only there isn’t one. And we don’t have to be stuck in our failures, with Jesus there, because He can make our hearts new.

Another friend wondered if she had made a mistake with her children, burdening them too hard with the stuff of life, and how do you even know until you’ve already seen the marks and it’s too late? My heart felt the weight of my own mistakes in mothering, all the things I wish I had understood sooner, and the trying so many wrong paths before I found better ways to do it. It’s Grace that works in our children where we can’t see it, I told her; Grace that makes up for our lack and fills in all the gaps in our understanding, and even if we never get it right, He is making all things good and right for our children in His own way.

Someone in small group shared the emotions she didn’t want to feel, said she had been carrying them long and was looking for something better. I fingered my own scars and it whispered through my heart again, that refrain of Grace taking up our past and all our ugly, Someone big enough to carry it Himself so we could be healed. It’s what He does, I told her– heals us on the inside where only He can see, and He knows what you are going through…it’s why He came for us. “Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down….He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5) 

All this Easter week we hold up our weak and hurting places to You, God… our past and our secret places…all our fears and what-ifs, and the things we can’t quite forget or fix…we offer these to You and lay them down at the cross where Grace and Love pour out to make us clean and make us whole. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” (Jeremiah 29:11)  This is Grace healing everything broken and bent, because Jesus was willing to be broken for us. And there’s always a future and a hope where He is.


By nature, God is always either creating or recreating.
He’s making something out of nothing, or He’s restoring what was broken. 

That is who He is. That is what He does. Forever and ever.

Sarah Bourns Crosby


Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.

John 11:25-26

Endings and Beginnings

As always, this change of seasons from Winter to Spring reminds me of the realities of life and death. Of the fact that Life has conquered Death and there is no more fear– just a change. It reads like a song: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)…. just a change from one season to the next, like the way the bulb’s green shoots struggle up through hardened dark earth into the sunshine of Spring. So death turns into life before our eyes in this one season, and we realize what a miracle Easter Sunday is, all over again. We need that reminder as we face the future, and hard seasons yet to come…that it is only one more change and then another, until at last it all turns into Glory.

I talk to the children upstairs in church about the holiday that is coming, and they tell me that what makes it special is candy and hunting for eggs. I loved that about Easter too, when I was four and seven. And the new hat and dress, and carrying the little matching purse. Big family dinner at Grandma’s house, and hunting for the baskets she had hidden for us that were full of candy. Mama’s hyacinths and daffodils lining up along the yard. All that is still Easter in my best memories. But now I am searching for words to explain why we celebrate Easter, and they don’t even know how much it means to have death swallowed up in Life, and grief turned to joy. For now they will have to accept “Easter is the most important day” as yet another mysterious grown-up declaration.

But those of us with older eyes watch the bulbs push their way skyward, and breathe in the scents of a world awaking into life, and we know it is a promise unfolding before us: death is not the end but only a change. Like the Church-planter wrote in one of his letters, “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44) It is a declaration of victory that all this dust can change, become something new and better. Spring is our yearly reminder of the most important Easter Day, when Jesus showed us that Winter’s death was no match for God’s resurrection power, and He can bring life to all our dead places.


When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’

1 Corinthians 15:54


All around,
Hope is springing up from this old ground;
Out of chaos life is being found in You.
You make beautiful things;
You make beautiful things out of the dust…


A Beautiful and Dangerous Good

This week I heard a worship leader tell his story, how Jesus came and found him when he was wandering lost, and picked him up and carried him safe Home, because He is good like that. And some stranger walked up to us out of the blue the other day and shared how he thought he was doing okay in life until God knocked it all down around his ears, and in the rubble he found faith that could carry him. He told us his thanks to a good God for the ruin that brought about his restoration.

And I see how the same Goodness that gathers up the broken and the desperate also roars in the storm, and still we are loved and we are held. The prophet Isaiah wrote down God’s promise to us: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God…” (Isaiah 43:2-3a) And there is this wild, fierce Love that pursues, that goes to any lengths to obtain our hearts; an inexorable Goodness that will not be satisfied with our comfort or our sincerity, but is willing to see everything on earth shaken for the sake of what will last.

It underscores to me that we don’t always know whether something is good or bad for us until we’ve lived through it and gained the wisdom that comes from time and perspective. It makes me pause on that reaction to call things good or bad because of how I feel about them. I want the Good Shepherd to come find me when I am lost– I am quick to justify the effort spent, the blood spilled– because the result is my rescue. But shouldn’t I also be willing to celebrate when the Good Gardener cuts back the branches– smashes all these pretty idols– so that I can become who He wants me to be? I find my faith is still so small and selfish; it wants what is good for me and only if it is not too difficult.

Jesus said you can recognize Goodness when you see it, because it spends itself for the sake of others: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) This is the axis of our faith, that Love and Goodness has been poured out for us in such unthinkable abundance that there is truly nothing that we need to fear or grasp for, beyond Himself….nothing that can stand against us in all heaven and earth. Or as Paul told the early believers, “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) All our faith revolves around the Cross and the earth-shattering event of what Jesus accomplished for us there. So maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that the good and the hard of life look so different now.

If it is true that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him,” (Romans 8:28) then why should I lose my wits when the things of earth are shaken? Let me rather hold onto Truth and open eyes of faith to see His hand at work everywhere, and no end to His Goodness. If “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,”  then let me stand here in this Love that defies reason, and wait to see what He will do for me in whatever comes. If “Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34), then I can trust that I have all I need to live well on this earth.

I feel like a child holding a kaleidoscope up to the Light, and I could spend my whole life gazing at the way He moves. The Musician-King said it best: “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)


As the battle rages on,
Looking back at what You’ve done,
I can see Your hand in this–
Peace in every circumstance.
Tie Your truth around my waist;
Safe behind the shield of faith,
I will put Your armour on.
Lead me back to battle strong.

Citipointe Worship


 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.

1 Corinthians 13:12

The Weary World Rejoices

I’m carrying boxes of glitter and trim up from the basement, strewing the house with tissue paper and bits of styrofoam, and these familiar mixed feelings for the coming holiday season, when the thought slides in like a hush and everything slows: Advent is best celebrated by the weary…the stressed, the grieving, the lonely…all the ones that struggle the most with the bright holiday rush. Those who are the most in need, can best rejoice in the One who has come for them, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.

It is the worn-out and the weary– the ones ready to give up on this headlong race to do more and better– that can welcome the message “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) They do not need to throw themselves into the gala and glitz to find something to satisfy, because their hearts are already kneeling before the manger of the King of Heaven.

Advent rings out with every carol that we are not alone, because God Himself has come down to us. It is the lonely ones longing for family and a Forever-love that will most thrill to hear “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) We belong in the realest of ways, when we find our Home in the presence of the One who made us.

It could well be that those who hunger for God and His kingdom will find more joy in the Babe who is born than in any number of presents and parties. It is the broken in need of mending who are looking for the answers, and Advent is the best news of all: “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” (Malachi 4:2)

And on the days we feel most deeply the injustice and pain of this broken struggling world, we can rejoice most, because Emmanuel is come, God with us. To all those who grieve for their losses, Advent reminds us there will be an end to the hard things of this earth, for the One who comes is the Prince of Peace Himself. The Prophet says it clear and strong: “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5) Advent anticipates a Savior who carries our pain, delivers us from sin and its curse. This is a Light that shines in the darkness and makes everything new.

Advent is the place we wait for the unveiling of God’s redemptive plan…where our deepest longings meet their fulfillment, and God’s promises come true right before our eyes. Rejoice, oh weary world, for your Savior comes to you! And Jesus’ words echo with the utmost certainty : “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) He comes in answer to every needy, joyful heart.


Our displays of distress, far from dishonoring our God, honor him as Creator and Redeemer, who ‘comes to make his blessing flow far as the curse is found’….Our longing is for happily ever after, but not the ones we find in wishful, fictitious fairy tales. Our longing is for the Happily Ever After that is also true because it is rooted in time-space history and sealed by our Lord’s resurrection from the dead and promised return. The fact that Jesus will come again is our reason to rejoice.

Beautiful People Don’t Just Happen, Scott Sauls


The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy….Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert….and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

from Isaiah 35

A Thrill of Hope

Advent always seems to come as a lifeline here at the end of Autumn, as the days darken and the trees lift their bare arms to the sky: the wordless groaning of creation under the yoke of Death. And we put away our memories of warm Summer days, clean up the remnants of garden and growing things, repair and reinforce home to protect us through the Winter, settle into our resigned hibernation along with the rest of creation until Spring breaks through once more. We know this cycle of life and death and life again, have turned with it all our lives, and still feel the loss at Autumn’s end. Somehow the weight of our mortality weighs heaviest here at the close of the year.

But then Advent dawns on us, quietly, like a secret waiting to be shared, and we light the first candle and hear the faint refrain: For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…(Isaiah 9:6) And we remember that a Rescuer has come for us, and this endless cycle of life into death has been broken by a Resurrection. The weary world rejoices for the Life that is to come– a grateful chorus raising, here at the end of Autumn. Advent is about waiting, about reminding our hearts of the truths we already know, and need to know again.

So here in the dusk of the year we latch onto Hope that we have not been left alone in the dark, and our hearts swell with the Prophet’s old story we share again and again: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. (Isaiah 9:2) And we know this is our story, and we string up the lights and sing the songs that tell of the Savior’s birth, and remind one another that He has come for us, and the Winter will not last forever.


Here in the mystery
Son of God and Son of Man
Dawn is now breaking
Through thе skies of Bethlehеm
Earth meeting Heaven
As one baby cries
Death started running, running
And salvation arise

Savior, We Are Messengers


When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 8:12

Let Me Count The Ways You Love

I heard a story this week about a man who had a stroke three years ago. And every morning after that he woke up and gave thanks: for another day of life, for the sky and the sun, for his wife and family, for the walker that enabled him to get around. I am humbled by his habit of thanks, when I consider how easy it is to complain about the circumstances you’ve been given. And maybe he was humbled by this habit also. Maybe that was the secret of his joyful heart that refused to take anything for granted; just a humble heart that bowed to the will of his Maker every day, and accepted grace.

We are counting again, this November– in journals, on refrigerator reminders, on desks in the study– listing our blessings on paper to help us focus and remember that all is gift, and God is the giver. We are doing it as a worthwhile Thanksgiving holiday project, healthy for mind and spirit. But what we have discovered is that it is a valuable discipline for year-round orienting of our hearts on the Provider…so that we can live humbly and worshipfully in His presence. For some especially, it is a lifeline of hope this month, a necessary looking for God’s presence and power in our lives, a choice to take feelings captive and submit them to the truth of God’s loving faithfulness. “…I know the plans I have for you,” He whispers. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) 

But thankfulness is never automatic. Just like we teach our children to take the time to honor the gift-giver with a thank you, we need to train our hearts to do the same.  It is at the heart of Self-sufficiency to take for granted all these daily things, chalk them up to our own worth and deserving place in the universe. It usually requires a rather serious overturning of perspectives to see it all as Grace and ourselves as the needy recipients. And those who have been shaken can resonate with the Singer’s words: “For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling….I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 116:8,17) Only the rescued and the forgiven truly know what a treasure Grace is.

Wherever we are today, we will choose to be thankful. Because He is God and we are His people. It is the right response to the God Who Is Enough, and in it we find an unexpected pathway to joy.


“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)


“To celebrate life is simply a choice. Every day, God extends his hand to offer me the gift of another day to live. I have the choice to take that gift and turn it into 24 hours of real life in Christ, or just let it become another 24 hours endured in a broken world. If I choose to accept it—to transform those minutes and hours into life lived for and with my Savior—I have the opportunity to see God at work, enjoy his presence, wonder at his creation, appreciate the expressions of his beauty and love, and touch the minds and hearts of [others] with his reality.” (Sally Clarkson)

Worth Repeating

I see all those voices out there promoting their insight, their experience, their knowledge in living color, chalking up another successful day in pictures. All this confidence and glitter, and the older I get, the more I realize that I have nothing to add to this sea of information and achievement. As the Wise Preacher once said, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) But maybe it is too easy to grow silent under the babel of the big wide world, assume that only the newest and brightest has the right to be heard.

Someone reminded me this week that Truth doesn’t get old, does not lose its value just because it has already been said a million times. The more true it is, the more it bears repeating, and in its consistent Light we are changed into better people: more effective parents, more loyal spouses, better friends, wiser decision-makers, harder workers. Not because we are listening to the right research or the most important influencers, but because the source of that age-old Truth is above all the clamor, stands apart as the Source of life itself. The old prophet is worth quoting: “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:24-25)

Don’t we think the Maker should get the first word on what makes us beautiful or what makes our lives worth something? I can read all the resources out there from everyone who knows what they are doing, and learn much from them, but I find that there is only one place to turn when it comes to life-change. And that is what I need, most of all. I need more patience and more kindness for others. I need to be able to forgive and to heal from the hurts of this life. I need humility, and generosity, and hope, and a thousand other character qualities that have nothing to do with information and everything to do with transformation from the inside-out. Like the Church-Planter says, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2) It’s not about getting the right life according to the experts. It’s about getting the right heart that knows what real life is: an everlasting life following the One Who matters most.

So maybe you don’t have to be an expert or an influencer to have something worthwhile to say. You just have to know the Truth and be humble enough, brave enough, to keep saying it. In every way you can, to whomever has ears to hear, over and over on repeat. Let God’s wisdom prove its own influence on every situation.


It’s not that we need a new truth or a different truth or different hacks. We need the same truths over and over in whatever the new circumstance is that God has given us.

Laura Jensen


For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.

Proverbs 2:6-8

The Secret to Belonging

We could get quite well-distracted right there in the beginning of Ephesians, about what it means to be chosen and just how does that work anyway, because don’t we all want to be accepted and valued? We still remember that time-standing-still waiting, while the team captains picked for dodgeball. We are a long way from our beginnings, but sometimes on the inside we are still just five-year-old girls on the playground, with the fierce need to belong. So we read gladly what Paul says here, that “…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption…” (Ephesians 1:4-5) Being chosen, seen as special and loved, knowing that we are wanted and admired– these are building blocks of a girl’s identity. 

And it is way too easy to keep following along those lines of human thinking, because we know how this works: when one is chosen, someone else is left out, and feelings are hurt, hopes crushed. So who is part of the in-crowd and who doesn’t belong, in Paul’s scenario? We’ve spent years learning to navigate the precarious social structure of the school-yard, to find a niche where we belong, and why would this group of Christ-following people be any different? Our own fear of being left out and our bent toward control could grab onto these first verses and wrestle with them endlessly.

But the point Paul is making is not about who was chosen, or who was not (so that we would scurry around trying to make sure we were on the inside rather than the left-outside). Nor is Paul’s point about when we were chosen (so we could figure out how much of a say we have in the matter). His point is so much more simple and so very much larger than any of that…the kind of realization that hitches your breath and fills your heart up. He is just pointing out the fact that we are chosen, that God loves us and wants us to be His own, and that means everything.

See the Jews were from the beginning God’s special people. Before any of them were born, He told Abraham that they were coming– that they would be special because He had chosen to bless them, that they would be His own in front of all the other nations on the planet, and that they would know Him personally. Every Jew came into this world knowing he was already one of the in-crowd: accepted and loved and singled out for honor in the eyes of the only One who really mattered. The most anyone else could hope for was to hang around at the edge of the crowd and catching some of the reflected glory, if you didn’t mind being a tag-along. (Everyone knows that scenario…it’s Playground Politics 101.)

And now Paul is telling some long-held heavenly secret to Gentiles, shouting out loud for anyone who has ears to hear, that they also”…were chosen to be God’s people, because from the very beginning God had decided this in keeping with His plan. And He is the One who makes everything agree with what He decides and wants.” (Ephesians 1:11) Everything that was created, all the people on earth who respond in faith, joined together in Christ as if the old labels didn’t even matter. We too were chosen to be blessed before we were born, brought up front to wear His name in front of everyone, able to know Him as a loving Father. We too get to belong in the center of God’s undivided attention. Best of all, it is what God had intended all along!

For us modern girls it’s easy to shrug off maybe, but to the believers along the coast of Asia Minor it was the essence of the Good News and a social/spiritual revolution: in Christ, anyone can belong to God. Because of Him all the social barriers marking who was on the inside and who was on the outside came falling down. All the names that told who was worth something and who was not, did not matter any more. Anyone who believes in Jesus has access to God’s rich blessings of grace. Paul assures us that his big news is true: “This was what God wanted, and he planned to do it through Christ….when the right time came, that all things in heaven and on earth would be joined together in Christ as the head.” (Ephesians 1:9-10)

Today the mystery of glorious grace is no less amazing (if we have ears to hear it and don’t get sidetracked into playground squabbles over who came first and who is in charge). We are loved. We are chosen to be the recipients of God’s blessings, a further evidence of His grace, because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. All we do is come to Him in faith. This is the basis of our identity and value in this world. Paul sings it out: “That is why since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you.” (Ephesians 1:15)


Beneath the cross of Jesus Christ,
No shadow remains for shame to hide;
Redemption shone for all to see,
Perfection bore our penalty,
With a grace so glorious.
Immortal day the veil was torn,
When mercy donned a crown of thorns,
As law gave way to liberty
And freedom for humanity,
With a grace so glorious.
Oh, the glory of the Savior’s love
Surrounding our surrender,
To know forever
We are welcomed home!

Grace So Glorious, Elevation Worship

“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Romans 10:12-13)