Friday, October 9, 2015

Are You Wearing Your Waste?

I used to work for a jeweler and one of my favorite things was to watch through the glass as the jeweler pounded and twisted the metal into shape. If it wasn’t pliable enough, he would heat it until it shined a burning hot, glowing mass of gold or silver. When he was finally done with his masterpiece – after twisting, turning, pounding, shaping, more heating - he would place a jewel among carefully crafted prongs.

In order for his masterpiece to be successful, the jeweler must work with metals that have been rid of all the dross – what is left after burning all the impurities out of it.

Isn’t it ironic how when sin is in its unrefined state, safely tucked in our humanity, it looks like fun? Sometimes our dross resembles sexual sin, adultery, rage, alcoholism, or addiction. Maybe yours is anger, lying, or expressing feelings without guarding our tongue. Mine looks like fear of failure, fear of abandonment, and a host of random insecurities.

The only way to get rid of it is to have it refined out of us. Our Great Refiner takes us though seasons of purifying – heating up areas in our life that are useless to Him. I always pictured Him scooping the murky scum with a big ladle and discarding it in a heaven-sized trash bin deeming it useless, ugly, and unclean.

That is how my dross looks to me.

Proverbs 25:4 says, “Take away the dross from silver, and it will go to the silversmith for jewelry.”

What a great promise! Our Refiner doesn’t just use what is Ieft after a season of refining. He takes the waste from our souls, and gives it to the Silversmith (I picture this as the Holy Spirit with a big rubber apron) and He makes jewelry from it!

How is THAT for recycling!

He takes the ugliest parts of us – parts that we are ashamed of, parts that scare us, parts that make us cringe – and He makes jewelry from them! Only our Refiner can create this kind of miracle! Only our Master Silversmith can make something beautiful out of rubbish!  

Be encouraged! Seasons of painful refining create something beautiful from that waste. He will mold, twist, and shape your dross and place a jewel in it to create a new treasure.

“They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels.”  Malachi 3:17

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


The Lord has been talking to me a lot about being shaken in the last week. It reminded me of my post from April 29, 2013. (Click here to read the original post).

This Thursday, a devotional I wrote will be published with The Upper Room, a devotional magazine. Can you guess the title? Shaken

Coincidence? No. Divine appointment? Definitely.

This time the shaking had nothing to do with offense, irritation, or other catastrophes; but it was an emotional shaking just the same. There are times in our lives that the Lord authors divine shaking appointments. Not to scare us or challenge our faith, but to sift through that which He cannot use and rebuild from the scattered remains left after the dust settles.

To quote myself from two years ago, “God’s version of shaking brings down works of the flesh so that only the Spirit remains. Still not convinced? Here are just some of the benefits of shaking:

·        It reveals what our foundation is made of and brings us closer to it.
·        It awakens us.
·        It removes what is dead or useless.
·        It reveals weakness and breaking points.

So yes, shaking is necessary, and yes, shaking is Holy. I’ve learned the hard way what your heart clings will be the substance of all your building materials.

Bitterness - this material is brittle and compromises the foundation; so toss that one aside for the Trash Collector. Anxiousness - this one is just as unstable, but masks itself as fear, worry, fretting, and loss of sleep. Again, it is unstable material so leave that one by the curb, too. Hopelessness - this one turns to sand in the foundation so it is useless, put it in the recycle bin to be rolled into the Faith compost pile.

Dear one, we serve a mighty God who authored the heavens and the earth. Unfortunately, this includes earthquakes. Choose to look for - and cling to - His presence and salvation amidst the shaking. If you do, you will have strong materials for restoration.

I’m awake now, and He is pruning what is dead or useless. My weaknesses are again revealed within His loving embrace. Sometimes we have to be shaken and break in areas, just to be rebuilt. Luke 3:5-6

Be encouraged... for if you are in a season of shaking, a season of rebuilding follows. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Changing Your Palate

I know…it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, but it’s a new year and a new season in my life and I hope to practice my writing discipline on a regular basis.

One thing the Lord has been working through me is regarding my palate. Did you know, what we eat in our childhood determines our default palate and this default palate determines our cravings? I was raised on sugar. Lots and lots of sugar. There was sugar in our cereal, the donuts we ate every weekend and the processed food we set at our table. My father also owned a vending machine business, so you know what that meant? A refrigerated truck filled with chocolate and candy. I was the envy of all my friends and neighbors.

I was raised in the 60’s and 70’s when we didn’t know the damage sugar could do to our bodies. I wasn’t really aware how this palate has slowly destroyed my colon and led to years battling with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Decades of not being able to digest food properly has led to doctor hopping, supplement experiments, and just general ill-health. I didn’t notice it right away. It was a slow, gradual decline; kind of like putting a frog in a pot of water and turning on the heat. The frog doesn’t notice the heat gradually increasing until death is eminent.

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with food allergies (one of them being sugar) and put on a specialized diet did I remember what it felt like to be whole again. My body came back in alignment with God’s original plan for my health. I also noticed I didn’t crave sugar any longer and my palate changed the longer I maintained healthy choices.

Then came Christmas. Adult children, Christmas cookies (did I mention I was allergic to sugar?), baking, holiday pot lucks at work, more Christmas cookies…you get the picture. My health went on a steady decline and I didn’t notice until two months later that I was back at square one (remember our frog?).

In God’s infinite wisdom, or sense of humor, He created us a triune being. So if our physical palate is determined by what we eat, our spiritual palate is determined by what we feed our spirit. What affects us physically is also an indication of what affects us spiritually. Are we in the Word? In His presence? Are we staying away from sinful or unhealthy lifestyles and decisions that taint our spiritual palate?

Our palate guides decisions, physical and spiritual, propelling us away from spiritual or physical health, or toward it. When my physical palate craves sugar and carbs, and I submit to those cravings, my body reacts with poor digestion, inflammation, pain, and malaise.

When my spiritual palate feels lazy, and I submit to what it craves, adopting old sinful or unhealthy habits, it also, will respond with malaise, indifference, and a slow, steady decline until spiritual death is eminent.

In Proverbs 3:7-8, it says “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones.”

We can change our palate and what we crave - body, soul and spirit.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Day Darkness Came – Oso, 2014

The County I live in has been in a dark place for the last week; dark emotionally, physically, and spiritually. On March 22, 2014, the beautiful town of Oso, just 15 miles from my home, was pummeled by a catastrophic mudslide. As I write this, there are still about 90 people unaccounted for.

Blissfully unaware a few hours after the slide hit, my daughter and I were just 5 minutes away from this sweet town. We didn’t even know there was a mudslide until we were evacuated. We didn’t see the mudslide. We didn’t hear the mudslide. But the darkness of pain and death was there nonetheless.

For the last seven days, a whole country has joined us in solidarity - crying out to God asking Him “Why?” “Where were you?” “Where are you now, God?” It doesn’t seem to matter how long a person has been grounded in Faith, we still ask Why when our world caves in. As hours turned into days, the rescue parties turned into recovery teams. In their own way, each one asked Why as they dug in the debris hoping and praying for a miracle.

We aren’t alone in our lament and pain. Even our Biblical forefathers went through their own darkness crying out Why. Moses wanted to run from the darkness of his journey through the desert. David wanted to run from the darkness of his son dying upon birth. Job wanted to run from his darkness when he literally lost everything.

As each Patriarch mapped their journey, they learned the same thing –that God is in the darkness just as He is in the light.

David actually had a name for his darkness: The Valley of the Shadow of Death. He wrote; Yea, thought I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 1

Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was, 2 for inspiration and guidance.

All of them wanted to run from their valley, but couldn’t. They had to walk through it. And that is where they found Him - waiting to comfort, love, inspire, and rebuild.

Please continue to pray for our precious town of Oso.

1 Psalm 23:4
2 Exodus 20:21

Friday, March 14, 2014

Your Image of God – Is it an Illusion?

The God of my imagination is so small and finite.

I’ve spent too many years with the “God give me…Grant me…Bless me” relationship with my Beloved. How have I imagined HIM?

·         A task master unhappy with me if I don’t measure up.
·         The areas of darkness in me displease Him.
·         The same grace a new believer gets for their immature sanctification is not available to me.
·         The phrase “I should know better”, drums in my head following a fleshly or selfish thought for misdeed.

I imagine God drumming His fingers on throne’s armrest waiting for me to grow up.

For the last four decades, I’ve been led to believe that “feelings are not to be trusted”, or “You don’t really feel that way, do you?” as if my feelings are tainted, jaded, or just plain wrong.

After three years of therapy it is liberating to conclude that this is untrue! How glorious and liberating to be able to name and FEEL emotions!

When we deny our feelings year after year we become less and less human. I became a slave. A slave to other’s opinions, feelings, approval or disapproval because I was under the impression feelings should be placed under my feet and trampled; or better yet, just ignore them.

It is hard for me to imagine the Lord angry, happy, joyful, sorrowful, etc. I’ve always had “stern” as the emotional descriptive.

Brennan Manning summarizes the Love of God so beautifully:

“It is always true to some extent that we make our images of God. It is even truer that our image of God makes us. Eventually we become like the God we imagine. One of the most beautiful fruits of knowing the God of Jesus is a compassionate attitude towards ourselves…This is why Scripture attaches such importance to knowing God. Healing our image of God heals our image of ourselves.” Lion and Lamb: The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus.

Oh Jesus, show us who you really are…not who we made you to be.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Do You Know Your Value?

Most of us who call Christ Lord would quickly answer, “It is in what Christ did for me on the cross.” Or “I am a jewel in the Lord’s heart.”

That is what I thought of myself until a few simple words were uttered to me recently that shook my self-worth. They weren't meant to do so by the word-giver, but these simple words hit their mark in my soul and my value – in my mind – took a step down. Why?

Did I not know what Christ feels about me? My friends? Family? Of course I did. However, I still gave these innocent words power to tear down years of labor in my “worth” garden. By allowing those simple, innocent words power over me, I took my value out of Christ’s hands and put it in another’s.

But they were just words!

The Bible tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Words have power to build or power to tear down. Words – once absorbed – had power to send me into an emotional vacuum for about 72 yours.

Words don’t determine our worth. Jesus does. Words don’t give us value. Jesus does.

Once I shook my emotional self by the scruff and smoothed my fir, I was able to put my value back where it belonged; right under Christ’s watchful gaze.

I have a saying posted at my desk; “He has no ambition to make you normal. The more your identity is rooted in God’s value for you, the less you are controlled and limited by what others think of you.” The Barbarian Way, Erwin McManus.

There’s the key. The Cross is not only our foundation – it is the guidepost to our value. I momentarily rooted my significance and identity in humanity’s words – not His.

Do you know what you are worth? Do you know your value to the Lover of your soul? If not, press into his heart beat and His Word because His Words bring life and value. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A New Year Dawning

Over the holidays, I reflected on 2013 as it drew to a close like a curtained finale. It was a year of discovery, pain, awakening, heart ache, joy, chastening, growth, and learning how to rise from the ashes called “past.”

As difficult and heart-wrenching as some of the events have been, I wouldn’t trade the life-lessons for all the mundane peace on this earth. Don’t get me wrong – Peace is great! It’s an oasis. However, it does little to transform us into the image of Christ.

Pain, self-reflection, and time soaking in His presence brings pruning that leads to growth. Growth leads to wisdom. Wisdom leads to transformation. All of these lead to the Peace that passes understanding – the peace that guards our hearts and minds in Christ. It’s a roundabout way to get to His Peace; but once there, you notice spiritual muscles that weren’t present when the journey began.

What did last year change in you? Are you closer to His presence? Are your spiritual muscles stronger? Or have you stepped away from your journey willing yourself into the life you think you want?

I am grateful and thankful for all the pain of my past. ALL of it!

The molestation? Yes!

The betrayals? Yup!

The crushing end to a marriage and the fallout? Sure thing!

Heartache, loss, and walking away from the alter of sacrifice? Absolutely!

These things brought me face to face with the Creator of the universe. Tragedies showed me His love, comfort, and care and heart-wrenching situations showed me the way out from desert wandering. These opportunities provided the ashes needed for a magnificent sweet-smelling garden and the peaceable fruit of Righteousness that I would never have found without them.

When we get to know our Beloved in a deeper way, these occasions are not wasted. They are gifts. We just don’t like the wrapping.

As a curtain opens on this new year, I rise from ashes and walk out of the desert into new opportunities for growth and deeper digging at His well.

Will you walk beside me?