Special Delivery: God’s Great Grace in the Birth of My Fourth Son- Part 3

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“This, then, is of faith, that everything, the very least, or what seems to us great, every change of the seasons, everything that touches us in mind, body, or estate, whether brought about through this outward senseless nature, or by the will of man, good or bad, is overruled to each of us by the all-holy and all-loving will of God. Whatever befalls us, however it befalls us, we must receive as the will of God. If it befalls us through man’s negligence, or ill-will, or anger, still it is, in even the least circumstance, to us the will of God. For if the least thing could happen to us without God’s permission, it would be something out of God’s control. God’s providence or His love would not be what they are. Almighty God Himself would not be the same God; not the God whom we believe, adore, and love.”

E. B. Pusey

I am so thankful that I have a solid foundational understanding of the sovereignty of God. Nothing slips through His hands. He providentially orchestrates all things that touch our life.

Knowing this, helped me handle a difficult phone call the afternoon of January 9th, 2024, the day before I turned 39 weeks. The fetal and maternal health specialist called me to talk to me about my fasting glucose numbers that hadn’t budged. I asked her what the concern was since my blood pressure was fine and his growth was fine. With no sugar coating whatsoever, she very bluntly responded, “Risk of stillbirth.”

Although I was a bit taken aback by her answer, I believed that most likely was not the case for me since my other numbers were not in question, yet, I chose to rest in God’s sovereignty regarding this phone call and this information presented to me. I asked her about the foley balloon method and she said that was definitely an option for me.

“How would you feel about scheduling your induction for tomorrow?”

Truth be told, friends, I wanted off this rollercoaster and knew that none of this was coincidence. This was all coming to me from God’s hand, even through a doctor’s lack of tact. Even if she was possibly pressuring me with that scary outcome, God was allowing it and giving us an opportunity to trust Him as He gave us wisdom to make the right decisions.

I agreed to proceed with the induction and received a request through the health portal for an appointment at the hospital for 5:30 AM the next day. I called the sweet sister in Christ who was on call to watch the boys and asked if she would be able to come over to hang with the boys while Paul and I were at the hospital. She said she would be at our house by 5 AM and was so excited for us to be so close to meeting baby boy #4! Her joy for us was quite calming for me as I embraced this new unknown experience that was ahead of me.

Considering childcare for the other boys was another thing weighing on Paul and I’s mind, we were so thankful that our boys would be cared for and loved on while we were briefly away. This sweet sister played with them and baked homemade banana bread with them. Even 1,000 miles away from family, God has provided a family for us in so many ways through our amazing church. I let a lot of my friends know about the situation and Paul informed our elders- we had a lot of people praying for us.

Grace.

I had trouble sleeping that night from nerves (and some contractions too) and was woken up by our three year old who wanted to sleep next to me as he had always done pretty much his whole life. He had no idea that his little world was about to change. He was about to become a big brother!

I didn’t even need my alarm to go off at 4:30 AM because my eyes were already wide open as I rolled out of bed to get ready to head to the hospital. After checking into the hospital, we got settled into my birthing suite that overlooked Tampa Bay. As the sun rose, the view got even sweeter. I doubt many people get to labor while looking at water and palm trees out the window. 😊

Grace.

I relayed the birth plan to my nurse who was a sweet homeschooling mama. The midwife on call was also just as sweet…and spunky. She was my hype girl for sure! Our game plan was for me to labor with the foley balloon for about five hours, check my dilation to see how my body was responding to that method and then break my water, knowing that he would most likely come quickly after that since that happened with the other boys. By God’s grace, within 30 minutes of the balloon being inserted, my contractions picked up and labor began to progress wonderfully. I was even able to walk around and labor over a birthing ball for the first time. I implemented breathing exercises this time around and a rocking motion that truly helped me stay focused as I calmly took each contraction as they came. My focal point being Tampa Bay, of course.

One thing that was truly different with this labor was my great need to cry. The oxytocin was truly making me weep; It was beautifully overwhelming in the best way. Within 2.5 hours, the balloon helped me dilate to 4 cm, and he was low enough for the midwife to break my water. That of course was when labor got intense FAST. I continued the swaying motion standing up, but this time, I needed to hold onto Paul’s hand and lean into his shoulder as I had done with my previous labors. He is such an amazing birthing partner; we truly make a great team.

Grace.

Within 30 minutes, I began to vocalize through the contractions so I knew I was approaching transition. I made my way to the bed, got on my knees, and faced the wall with my arms around Paul’s shoulders. As contractions were getting stronger and stronger, and I got the urge to push, I grabbed the bars of the bed and used it to brace myself as I pushed. Within 3 or 4 pushes, he was born!

Grace.

The midwife slipped Jonathan through my legs so I could see him…oh, my goodness…so much hair!!

Our Florida boy was born at 1:20 PM- something I had silently asked the Lord…that he would be born during the day, which is why the view out of the window was so beautiful with that Florida sun shining off the water.

“I did it, I did it!”

Little man’s blood sugar was a little low right after he was born but after sucking on some sugar mixture and eating (he latched perfectly immediately!), his numbers were thankfully normal. He would have to have his glucose checked 4 more times while we were at the hospital, but the numbers were within range each time. Thank You, Lord! We only had to stay at the hospital for 24 hours…another silent prayer answered!

Grace.

So here we are, now seven weeks postpartum, with baby boy laying on my lap, as I wrap up what will most likely be my last birth story. Although it is not exactly how I wanted his birth to go, I trust that God’s hand was upon the whole journey and that His grace carried me the whole way as I know it will continue to do until I take my last breath. I will forever live to tell Jonathan (and my other boys) of this great grace that is ever-sufficient.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV

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Yielding to God’s Sanctification

I have always been a list maker and fueled by accomplishment for as long as I can remember. At some point, being successful and driven became the meaning behind every breath I took; I found purpose in my performance and productivity. I loved the high from “the hustle” and having my schedule full to the brim. I spent years upon year upon years crowding the margins of my existence seeking after this feeling of accomplishment.

This vicious cycle of constant hustle was all I knew for well over 20 years of my life. I still wrestle with the temptation to find my worth in my productivity and seeking my happiness when everything is “perfect.” I am what you may call a recovering “Type A” person. That is an exhausting way to live and if you are not careful, this mentality will creep into your spiritual life and soon you will be trying to work to earn God’s favor and love. Have you ever experienced these thoughts when it comes to your walk with God?

I didn’t pray enough today. I haven’t read my Bible in over a week! Man, why can’t I get over this sin?! I am such a failure! Am I even saved?

But as Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, we know that we cannot earn our salvation because it is a gift from God:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

And just as God is sovereign in salvation, He is also sovereign in our sanctification as we learn to partner with Him in our growth in Christ. He is the one who is in charge of seeing us mature on our walk with Him. The same grace that saved us is the very same grace that keeps us and molds us into the image of Christ, each new day. From the moment of your conversion, you became God’s work-in-progress, and the greatest news of all is that He doesn’t grow weary, stressed or exhausted with you. He will complete the work He began in us!

That is why I love this encouragement from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1: 

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

(Philippians 1:6, ESV)

Our salvation has been gifted to you for the sake of Christ, for His glory, not ours. The gift to have faith in Jesus? God began that work! And if God starts it, God finishes it. We simply need to lean on His strength and grace and ask for wisdom to walk in obedience. The Holy Spirit is our Helper and He will help you walk in God’s will. You don’t have to muster up your faith muscles to see that happen. You simply need to trust that God’s plan with your life will be accomplished, not because there is anything good in you, but because of His goodness and faithfulness! If you struggle with trying to earn God’s love and forgiveness, then let us run to the throne of grace and ask the Lord to remind your heart of His steadfastness and faithfulness in your life. You are safe in His hand and promises to not only never lose any of His own, but to sanctify His children until our final day.

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to earth to live the perfect life for me; to fulfill the law completely for me. I trust that His death on the cross paid for my punishment of the curse of the law that I will never be able to uphold. I come boldly to the throne of grace today and receive new mercies that Christ died for me to have. Help me lean upon Your strength and grace today and see the work that You started in me continue until Your glorious return or when I meet You face to face. I trust that You are working in my heart and life and conforming me into the image of Christ day by day. Help me yield to it to Your sanctification. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Resting in God’s Grace

I have always been a list maker and fueled by accomplishment. At some point, being successful and driven became the meaning behind every breath I took; I found purpose in my performance and productivity. I loved the high from “the hustle” and having my schedule full to the brim. I spent years upon year upon years crowding the margins of my existence with: Dance class, gymnastics, cheerleading, running track, Student Council, Marching Band, Pep Band, Concert Band, Art Club, Peers Group, musicals & plays, auditions, performances, church choir practice, tutoring, youth ministry, college and career ministry, worship team rehearsals, Bible studies, prayer meetings, church leadership meetings, drama practices, event planning committees, speaking engagements…

… just to name a few.

This vicious cycle of constant hustle was all I knew for well over 20 years of my life. I still wrestle with the temptation to find my worth in my productivity and seeking my happiness when everything is “perfect.” That is an exhausting way to live and if you are not careful, this mentality will creep into your spiritual life and soon you will be trying to work to earn God’s favor and love. 

But as Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, we know that we cannot earn our salvation because it is a gift from God:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV).

And just as God is sovereign in salvation, He is also sovereign in our sanctification. He is the one who oversees us mature on our walk with Him. The same grace that saved us is the very same grace that keeps us and molds us into the image of Christ, day by day. From the moment of your conversion, you became God’s work-in-progress, and the greatest news of all is that He doesn’t grow weary, stressed, or exhausted with you. He will complete the work He began in us (Philippians 1:6).

Intersecting Faith and Life:

Your inconsistencies and failures are not going to change. Your disobedience, your lack in trust… none of that is going to change the work nor thwart God’s plan in your life. God starts it, God finishes it. We simply need to lean on His strength and grace and ask for wisdom to walk in obedience. The Holy Spirit is our Helper, and He will help you walk in God’s will. You don’t have to muster up your “faith muscles” to see that happen. You simply need to trust that God’s plan with your life will be accomplished, not because there is anything good in you, but because of His goodness and faithfulness! 

Do you struggle with trying to earn God’s love? When you fail and sin, do you hide from God or try to fix it yourself by “trying to do better?” Beloved, you do not have to run away from God. He sees it all and knows that you are going to undoubtedly mess up. That is why He sent His Son Jesus to earth to live the perfect life for you; to fulfill the law completely for you. His death on the cross paid for your punishment of the curse of the law that you will never be able to uphold. Come boldly to the throne of grace today and receive new mercies that Christ died for you to have. Lean on His strength and grace today and see the work that He started in you continue until His glorious return or when you meet Him face to face. Trust that He is working and yield to it. 

Further Reading:

Romans 5:20-21

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

2 Thessalonians 2:13

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Hungering After the Lord

Recently, in the national news and on social media you may have heard about “revivals” breaking out on college campuses all around the United States. Although some are hesitant to put that official label on what has been going on, it can be said that countless young people and thousands of other Christians who traveled far and wide to these campuses have been seeking the Lord and lifting high His Holy name in worship and prayer in one voice non-stop for days on end. Many people have been talking about experiencing the manifested presence of God, which has been described as a peace and joy that is indescribable. One student’s testimony at one of these revivals was being shared on social media said: “This isn’t hype. This is ordinary people crying out who are hungry for a move of God!”

Yet, it is important to remember that the fruit of a move of God isn’t always about experiences with tangible peace or joy in a worship service or how many people have gathered. Being hungry for God goes beyond attending revival meetings. Ultimately, true evidence of hunger in a Christian’s life can be seen when a believer has an insatiable appetite for seeking Christ and His righteousness.  

In the sermon on the Mount, Christ tells us:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”

(Matthew 5:6, ESV)

Truly, there is much excitement centered around large gatherings in the name of Jesus Christ that catches the attention of the world. But I think it is important to realize that one does not have to travel miles and miles to a specific event or conference, nor gather with thousands of other believers to experience this kind of hunger for the Lord. God can revive your heart to pursue Him and His ways wherever you are in the world. All you have to do is ask for Him to stir your heart for that kind of hunger and thirst. The more you begin to say no to the world and your flesh and yes to Christ and His righteous ways, the more the Holy Spirit will draw you into a life of devotion to the Lord. Most often, God begins to do His work in our heart and life when we keep our mind upon His Word. His Word is what renews our mind and transforms our life to reflect His ways above our own. We cannot stir up hunger in our own strength, we need God’s help. We must petition God and ask Him to strengthen our desires for living more Christlike. He promises to bless us and satisfy us. 

Heavenly Father,
I long for my life to reflect You so that others see how excellent and perfect Your ways are compared to the ways of this world that is fallen, corrupt, and void of Your perfect love and truth. I often fail and give into fleshly temptation, and I thank You that I have been justified and made righteous in Your sight because of Your Son, Christ Jesus! You still desire for me to mature and grow in my walk, despite my shortcomings. You are a God who transforms and purifies, so I ask that You’d help me renew my mind with Your Word so that I can know the good, acceptable, and perfect will of Yours and see my life conformed to the image of Your Son. I am asking You to give me a hunger and a thirst for righteous living. I know that I cannot conjure this up in my own heart; I need Your help. I know that I do not need to be surrounded by thousands of people or have a tangible encounter in Your presence to be stirred to seek You more. You meet me wherever I am. You are faithful to do this work of sanctification in my life, so thank You for strengthening me in my spiritual disciplines. May I have a testimony of a great transformation to give You all the glory! In Jesus’ name, amen.

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What does it mean to “die daily?”

As a mom and wife, I am given countless opportunities to set aside my wants and sacrifice my love, time, and attention to the needs of my husband and children. Pouring yourself out like that on a daily basis can sometimes be physically exhausting; I find myself praying for supernatural strength often! Yet, at the end of the day, even though I am tempted to wonder where my “me time” is, my heart is always full. 

This is when I begin to see more clearly what the Apostle Paul meant when he said: “I die daily”.

The Biblical principle of dying to yourself has always been true, but I didn’t always live it or even understand it. Becoming a stay-at-home mom has challenged me in more ways than I can count in the area of putting others before myself, and I am always learning and finding that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive. 

As Jesus’ disciples, we are called to follow Him. That was Paul’s mission in life – to imitate Christ. And it is what he and the rest of the apostles literally gave their lives to preach to the world through their words and actions. We may not ever get the honor to literally die for Jesus Christ because of our faith in Him, but by God’s grace, we can imitate His selflessness every day.

The apostle Paul emphasizes his great desire to join Christ in His suffering and become like Christ in his daily dying of self:

“…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10, ESV).

To be able to imitate Christ and enjoy this kind of fellowship with Him, we must look to Jesus as our example. Even though Jesus was God in the flesh, He still leaned upon God the Father for everything He said and did while He walked this earth. Jesus would rise early to pray and seek God for His will for the day.

In addition to seeking God in prayer, Jesus obediently submitted Himself to the will of the Father, even unto death. Each day, we are faced with the temptation to satisfy our flesh and go outside the boundaries of God’s perfect will. We discover what that will is when we read the Bible and study it for ourselves to learn God’s ways. We are not perfect, but thankfully Jesus was, and because of His sacrifice on the cross, we have been given the precious gift of the Holy Spirit as born-again believers. 

The characteristics of Jesus’ death should be the characteristics of our lives: humility, sacrifice, and glory to God through disciple-making. Ultimately, Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve others (Mark 10:45). Jesus ministered to thousands upon thousands of people during His time here on earth. John 22 tells us that if all the things Jesus did were all written down, the entire world could not contain the books that would be written! Dying daily definitely isn’t easy, but it is worth it because Jesus promises us that whoever loses his life will find it and find it abundant (Matthew 10:39/ John 10:10)!

But remember, we cannot die daily in our own strength, friends. The Holy Spirit is who empowers us to choose God’s way through the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). With each passing day, by God’s grace, we mature and cultivate a life worth dying for, a life found in Christ alone! Living like Christ’s dying is a continual process of humility and sacrifice. May God empower us to die daily and choose others above ourselves.

Heavenly Father,

My flesh wants nothing to do with denying it of anything. I don’t want to experience suffering. But it is in those moments of dying to self that I become more like Christ. Help me to embrace those trials and sufferings so that I may grow closer to You. I want my life to look like Christ’s dying by learning how to be humble and sacrificial. Instead of resisting those difficult times, help me to find great opportunities of sanctification to be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. Thank You for Your Spirit that empowers me to die daily. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Driven to Pursue Christ

What excites you and drives your passion? Being made in the image of God means that we all have passion. The important question we must ask ourselves is: is my passion directed inward or does it fuel me to pursue Christ and His purposes? Our drive and passion for the Lord and His Kingdom is related to our devotion to Him and reveals our purpose of knowing Christ and serving Christ. Most of all, reading and studying the scriptures should fuel our passion because it sets our eyes upon the Lord and helps us take our eyes off of ourselves.

What motivates your drive towards Christ? For the Apostle Paul, it was the prize of the upward call of God:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14, ESV).

We can remind our heart that if we are born again, Christ purchased our life for a purpose and has made us His own. He did this so that we would bear fruit for His glory. Christ reached down and rescued me so I should always be reaching for Christ. We press on to make knowing Christ relationally and serving Him faithfully, and we must press on even more when we feel weak. We can look to Christ and ask for strength to keep going and He will be faithful to give us His abundant grace. We shouldn’t be entangled by our past sin, sorrows, or even successes as those things will distract us and hold us back from pressing on in our race to pursue Christ and His purpose. 

May the Lord give us zeal and an increased pace and an increased engagement in Kingdom pursuits as we press towards the prize. Ultimately, Christlikeness is our prize. Let us seek the Lord and ask Him to increase our passion to become more like Him!

Dear Lord, 

I am reaching to the upward call, longing to become more Christ-like in my pursuits and in the fruit of my life. Help me to see what may be hindering me from being conformed to the image of You. I do not want to resist the call of taking up my cross and following You. My flesh is weak, but I know that I can find strength and grace in You to keep pressing forward, straining for the prize. Will you please ignite a zeal in my soul for You and Your Kingdom? In my striving and running I trust that You choose my pace as I move forward, linking arms with other believers. You empower me with Your Spirit, and I know You are faithful to complete the work You have started in me. In Your name I pray, amen. 

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The Beauty of Sanctification

I am a mama of three precious boys, and each one is special to me. My oldest son recently turned eight years old, and one of my favorite things to do leading up to my sons’ birthdays is to look through old photos of them and the memories we have shared. My heart swells when I see sweet memories pop up on Facebook on the day each one was born. As I was reflecting upon these last eight years, not only have I watched my boys grow up, but I can’t help but see how much the Lord has changed me and grown me in the midst of motherhood too.

According to the Bible this process of change and growth in the Lord is called sanctification. According to the website gotquestions.org:
“The word sanctification is related to the word saint; both words have to do with holiness. To “sanctify” something is to set it apart for special use; to “sanctify” a person is to make him holy.”

Knowing how many times I have failed as a mother (losing my patience and temper with my children countless times), I am thankful that just like our regeneration when the Lord makes us born-again, sanctification is a work of the Spirit in our heart and life. We partner with the Holy Spirit in the process of our sanctification, but God is the faithful One who does the deep work of transformation.

Paul’s final exhortation in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica reveals this beautiful truth to us as he proclaims:
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, NIV).

God will sanctify us because He wants to see us conformed to the image of Christ. When we are saved, we are given Christ’s righteousness and that will never change no matter what. Our position in Christ is forever fixed. Nothing can snatch us from His hand We will never be perfect this side of heaven, which is why we rest in the finished work of the cross of Christ, but we should be walking in holiness little by little each passing day. One way this occurs in our life is through studying the scriptures and other spiritual disciplines such as prayer, serving others, and consistent discipleship and evangelism. The Spirit of God guides us into all truth and convicts our heart of sin. The more study the Bible and exercise spiritual discipline, the more the Holy Spirit renews our mind. This renewal of the mind helps us to think on eternal matters and soon, worldly thinking and fleshly desires become less of a temptation for us the longer we walk with the Lord. Our behavior and attitude begin to change, and God gives us a desire to love, obey, and serve Him with fervor! This is transformation is something I am so grateful to have experienced these last eight years. I cannot wait to see what the next eight years (and beyond, Lord willing) has in store for me. May the God of peace continue to sanctify us through and through!

Father God,
I long for my life to reflect You so that others see how excellent and perfect Your ways are compared to the ways of this world that is fallen, corrupt, and void of Your perfect love and truth. I often fail and give into fleshly temptation, and I thank You that I have been justified and made righteous in Your sight because of Your Son, Christ Jesus! You still desire for me to mature and grow in my walk, despite my shortcomings. You are a God who transforms and purifies, so I ask that You would help me renew my mind with Your Word so that I can know the good, acceptable, and perfect will of Yours and see my life conformed to the image of Your Son. You are faithful to do this work of sanctification in my life, so thank You for strengthening me in my spiritual disciplines. May I have a testimony of a great transformation to give You all the glory! In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Appreciating Your Pastor by Praying for Him

When the news of another pastor’s moral failure makes its way into the public eye, is your first reaction one of sarcasm and jadedness or does it cause you to weep and hit your knees in prayer? It seems easier to get angry or grow cynical when those in the pulpit fall into grave sin and disappoint those who have attributed much of their spiritual growth from their teaching. Instead of wagging our fingers or shaking our head in disappointment, it should truly break our hearts when leaders in the church fall.

There is a stern warning found in the book of James that should cause us pause to reflect upon the great and weighty responsibility that pastors carry as teachers of God’s Word:

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1, ESV).

This verse begins a chapter in the book of James that focuses on the importance of the tongue and its ability to either bring encouragement and growth or hostility and destruction. We will all be held accountable for the words we speak, but for those who teach the Bible, there is a higher standard. With a higher standard comes a stronger judgement from God. This should motivate us to pray for teachers, especially those who pastor our own local church. 

In America (and perhaps even around the world, thanks to television and social media), the gospel of Jesus Christ has become extremely muddied by false teaching full of false gospels, New Age/occult/pagan practices, lying signs and wonders, and distractions from worldly desires that are all leading many to false Christs.


For almost half of our marriage, my husband and I were among those believers who were believing lies from the result of the twisting of scripture and emotional, mental, and spiritual manipulation from leaders in ministry whom we trusted. By God’s grace, we were rescued from this deception and now attend a sound and Biblical church that has been such a blessing to our family. Every week, the elders preach the Word of God with such conviction and clarity and are unashamed about the gospel. Although we finally feel “safe,” we know that these men of God are susceptible to the same temptations as we are, and instead of growing comfortable or letting our guard down, we must fiercely pray for the men in our life who teach God’s Holy Word because Satan has put a giant target on their back. The enemy knows how much damage can be done to the Body of Christ if God’s Word is abused or distorted, but the same is true for the carriers of that message; A teacher’s life is held to a higher standard because the Lord uses teachers to help us understand who He is. The weighty responsibility and calling of bringing truth to the sheep of God is one no one should have to bear alone. Let us shoulder Kingdom responsibility with our elders by making it a priority to daily pray for the teachers and pastors who give much influence to our spiritual well-being. 

Father God,

In the age we live in, we can know personal details of public figures very quickly and easily. It seems there is always a new Christian leader who has given into fleshly temptation and taken advantage of the trust of their sheep. This should cause us heartache and wake us up to the reality that the enemy wants to cause destruction among God’s people. These moral failings cause distrust among sheep, but they also hurt our witness to the world when they see the hypocrisy and corruption within the visible church. Lord, please give us a burden to pray for church leaders, but more importantly, the leaders of our very own church who have given their lives to shepherd souls and teach others about You and Your ways. We are called to make disciples and need to be equipped by Your Word to do that. You have called teachers and pastors to a higher standard to equip the Body for the work of the ministry by teaching us what Your Word says. May we be quick to lift them up every day, knowing the seriousness of their high calling as teachers of Your Holy Word. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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Diligently Asking for God’s Sustaining Grace

When we are taking strides to walk in obedience to God, the resistance to push forward gets stronger, and it feels like we are treading through mud just to take a step. My husband, Paul, and I have been experiencing this since starting to lead a new ministry at our church, in addition to juggling all the rest of our responsibilities caring for our boys and our own individual lives.  

Even though it’s exhausting and sometimes discouraging when things feel so chaotic and stressful, I must remind my heart that our God is stronger and will use whatever seems to be standing against us (especially our own sinful flesh!) to grow and deepen our faith and sanctify us. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t painful or that I am quick to learn how to depend on Him!

For me, personally, I am working on resting in the new mercies of today and being quick to repent and ask for forgiveness. I feel like I have failed a lot in my behavior towards Paul and my boys these last few weeks. I don’t want to blame it on hormones and lack of sleep (although I know this adds fuel to the fire so to speak). Because God’s grace is available to me. But am I asking for it diligently? Probably not as much as I should.

If His grace is truly sufficient (and it is), do I live like I’m dependent upon it daily and praying without ceasing throughout my day? The book of James is a wonderful book of instructions for believers. In chapter 4, we discover that we must protect our hearts from worldly thinking. Often when we are trying to take control of our life and not rest in God’s grace and provision daily, we resort to either neglecting God’s ever-presenting help or asking God with wrong motives:

“…You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:2b-3, ESV). 


James 4 merely tells us that, if there is something we want, we need to ask God for it, instead of resorting to sinful means. It stands to reason that there are some things that we will not get unless we ask for them, but, if we ask, we will receive them. So, if there is something that we want, we need to ask. Christians should be praying and asking God, especially for His supernatural grace.

Instead of trying to control what feels so uncontrollable in our lives and allowing our circumstances to dictate our mood or behavior, let us boldly come to the throne of grace and ask our Father for His unwavering and sustaining grace. He is faithful to provide.

Father God,

I know that Your grace is sufficient and that You are my ever-present help in time of need, but sometimes my actions do not reflect these truths. It’s much easier for me to either complain about my stressful and difficult circumstances or try to take matters into my own hands to try to fix or change what seems to be causing me to feel so overwhelmed. But I know that I need to come to You and ask for grace when I have reached my limit. You are faithful to provide all things that I need because You are a gracious Father who cares deeply for Your children. I come to You as Your child today, boldly and humbling asking for Your sustaining and powerful grace carry me through each challenging moment. You are faithful in every season, and I thank You for reminding me to come to You first and foremost and pray without ceasing. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Taming the Tongue

In college, although I was a professing Christian, out of curiosity to learn more about my own spirituality, I began to study things that I now know were a part of New Age teaching. Some of the books that I was reading did mention God and even quoted the Bible, so I believed this new information on how to live out my faith to see progress and success in my life would strengthen my Christianity. One of the major teachings, called The Law of Attraction, centered around my thought-life; making sure to focus on positive things versus negative things. These positive thoughts would act like a magnet to draw to myself positive outcomes and results regarding my dreams, aspirations, and even material possessions that I desired. 

A step further would be to speak out loud positive declarations and affirmations about myself and what I would like to see happen to shape my future for the better. After I graduated college, when I met my husband at the church he grew up at, there was a lot of emphasis on this very same teaching (although they never called it The Law of Attraction) as well as being very cautious on what words you spoke. We were told that we needed to pay attention to our tongue- our words needed to be “in faith” and “in line with God’s Word.” 

We now know that these teachings are rooted in what is called the ‘Word of Faith’ movement, which was influenced by a metaphysical movement called ‘New Thought.’ Thus, Word of Faith doctrine essentially embraces New Age’s Law of Attraction and is contrary to sound, Christian doctrine. Sadly, scriptures on the tongue were taken out of context to promote the idea that you can attract what you say and declare. God alone, not man, is the One who calls things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17). The Bible does have much to say about the power of our words, but it has a lot more to do with reflecting Christ in our speech, words filled with the fruit of the Spirit, than attracting things or situations to you or “manifesting” the things you are declaring “in Jesus’ name.” Let us be wise to know the difference and understand these verses in their proper context.

James 1:26 offers us a sobering statement about our speech:

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

(James 1:26, ESV)

A religion is simply a particular system of faith and worship. If you are a believer in Christ, your religion is Christianity. James equates your profession of faith in Christ to how you choose to use your tongue. Our words point to what we truly believe and live by.  

Are your words pointing others to God and His truth, always giving Him glory, or do your words always seem to point to yourself and the things and systems of this world? Do you control your tongue, or do you let your mouth rule you or cause you to puff yourself up in pride or get you into trouble with others? Our speech should reflect Christ and be seasoned with grace, humility, and love. If we confess our faith in Christ, there should be evidence of our changed speech as well as our changed life and behavior. When people meet us, they should hear and see something different than the rest of the world who does not follow the Lord.

Even in disagreements, we should continue to speak with a heart of love for others and not use profanity or offensive remarks that would hurt or cause pain. We should also be careful to not grumble or complain, but to use our tongue to proclaim our thankfulness unto the Lord. Taming the tongue is something we must grow in each day as the Lord sanctifies us. The good news is that we are never left on our own to walk in that type of self-control regarding our words. It is not something we can do apart from the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. The temptation to use our tongue for our own benefit and reputation is strong but let us be quick to ask the Lord for His help daily as we continue to grow in the likeness of Him, especially in our speech.

Father, without realizing it, I may have embraced a very self-centered and self-gratifying teaching on the importance of how we speak. I repent for using my tongue to puff myself up above others or hurting others with painful words that cut deep to the heart. I need Your help to control my tongue in times of strife or disagreement with others. I want my words to glorify You and share Your truth and gospel. I pray that my actions would also reflect my speech. I long for my walk with You to match my profession of faith. I do not want be self-deceived; I do not want my Christianity to be called “worthless” in Your eyes. Thank You for continually working in me and through me, so that I may look more and more like Jesus in word and deed. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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