Kingdom Living

No Fear

I have struggled with fear or worry on some level for a long time. Unfortunately it has been an influencing force in me far too often. In fact, I have for much of my life thought that around this time of year, fear seems to take the mountain and rule unchecked (any fellow “fraidy-cats” like me?) The other day my daughter asked out of the blue if more kidnappings take place on Halloween. I had to think for a minute about why she could possibly be asking that question and then I realized: this is fear creeping into her mind. So we talked about it – two people prone to fear over faith.

I asked both of my kids to think about what amazing, seemingly impossible things had God done for them. We listed out several things from successes with school, to health and the provision of free things that we didn’t expect to get (a lesson on grace for another time).

We also thought about numerous examples in the Bible of amazing things that God did in impossible or terrifying circumstances: Sarah got pregnant at an impossible age, the Red Sea was parted so Israel could escape Egypt, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo survived the fiery furnace, Daniel came face-to-face with hungry lions and didn’t have a scratch, Noah’s family survived a world-wide flood, David faced a real giant and won…so many examples of the strength and protection of God!


I wonder if Jesus was thinking about these demonstrations of God’s might throughout Israel’s history when he was defying fear and napping in the middle of a hair-raising storm? Mark 4:37-40 recounts the story of Jesus sleeping in a boat about to be capsized. The disciples were terrified. Their imaginations were most likely running wild with tales of sea monsters that could swallow them whole! They thought they had every reason to be afraid. Yet, here was Jesus completely unafraid, in fact, he wasn’t even awake! Jesus surely knew all the same stories – how is it he could sleep so soundly? What the disciples apparently forgot was the fuel of their faith. Jesus knew who held them: the Almighty Creator, the Father, The Great ‘I Am’. Jesus knew the One who had defied physics (because He created physics) and parted the Red Sea. He knew the One who prevented three men from being burned alive. He knew the One who told the giant fish to spit Jonah out on shore. With a God this mighty who loved them, what horrifying thing could possibly happen to them that would render Him unable to take care of them?  Jesus knew that even in death He still could trust God and place his hope firmly in His Father’s love and sovereignty.


As I think back to this conversation with my kids about this “scary” time of year in light of what Jesus has taught me, it doesn’t seem so scary any more. What is there really to fear? There are certainly some ugly images that can fill our minds with frightful thoughts perhaps much like those the disciples had in that storm. But all of those frightful thoughts are just a noisy storm stirred up in the absence of love. Love does not create or perpetuate fear. In fact, perfect love drives fear away. That is why Jesus could rest and defy fear – He was secure in the knowledge of God’s perfect love for them. This is real faith. That same love is ours as well.

We don’t need to hide in fear or run away from a world that seems to emphasize fear at this time of year. We know the same Almighty God that gave Jesus the power to make the terrifying storm instantly still to silence! The love the Father has for us is the same love. The confidence He gave Jesus to sleep in the midst of disaster and the power to instantly still the storm is ours as well. We can confidently walk through crowds of “scary” faces and neighborhoods of haunted houses defying fear just like Jesus and instead carrying peace, the light of Christ, and the love of God to everyone we meet. We have no reason to fear because the Father, who’s hand we hold, loves us perfectly and completely. Out of His perfect love comes all that we need in order to stand firm, unafraid, as lights in the darkness.


I’m Tired

You [my enemy] pushed me violently so that I was falling,
But the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.
Psalm 118:13-14 (AMP)

I’m tired of healthy living.

I’m tired of doing chores.

I’m tired of struggle and pain and disappointment.

I’m struggling with the motivation to do things I know I should. Diet and exercise. Speaking with love and kindness. Being patient. I’m struggling with the simple motivation to just put things away. Really, I’ve wanted to just sit on the couch or porch until whenever…

God I just want some help. I need some answers. When…how…what…who… Where are you, Lord? Why can’t I seem to make progress? Why do I have to deal with this and that and all these things? Why can’t I hear you right now?

“Come and rest, little one. Come sit down and stay for a little while and just rest. Trust me.”

I do. But…

“Be still for a moment. Trust me.”

I struggle with it. I want to be better at trusting you, Papa God. I see all the things wrong or not done and I start getting worn down, worried, and overwhelmed. I think that is what makes me start to loose track of trust. Its not that I don’t trust you, its that I don’t remember to trust you.

“And that is why I want you to rest. So that you can take the time to remember. Close your eyes for just a moment and listen. What do you hear?” 

I hear birds. I hear quiet. I hear children. I hear the wind. I hear rain. … Wow. I can hear.

Thank you, Papa God for the gift of hearing. Thank you for the beautiful sounds you’ve created.

“Now open your eyes and just look around you. What do you see?”

I see sunlight. I see green trees and grass and animals. I see my home, my children, my stuff. I see your Word, open, prepared for me to read it. … Wow. I can see.

Thank you, Papa God for the gift of sight. Thank you for the beauty of creation that proves so potently that you are and that displays your might. Thank you for the opportunity to sit and soak this time of quiet in. Thank you for these reminders. Thank you for the ability to read your Word and learn from it. My thankfulness could go on for decades! There are not enough words nor is there time enough to convey all the things I could thank you for!

“Now you’re starting to get the idea, little one. You have a hard time remembering to trust me when you get tired. You get tired when you forget to be thankful. But when thankfulness flows, like a stream of cool water, you find yourself refreshed and able again to hear my voice and to trust. I know your heart. I know what it needs. I know that when your heart forgets my goodness, it feels sick and that is when you struggle with trusting me. That is when you become weary and worn out.”   

Thank you, Papa God for your Living Water that restores my soul. Thank you for drawing me in to your rest. Thank you for your Life-giving Word that is filled with truth and reminders of your goodness. Thank you for your mercies, new and fresh each day. Thank you, Papa God, for your overwhelming goodness toward me. Thank you for the hope that you give and the rest that is mine in being able to trust you. Thank you for the blessings you have already given me, those that I recognize, those that I don’t, and those that are yet to come.

Close your eyes and listen. Open them and see. Rest and remember.

What can you, Precious Reader, thank The Father for?


Real Promises

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.
That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us,
and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
2 Corinthians 1:20-22


As a child, I learned that promises are serious. You can’t break a promise.

Especially not a pinky-promise!

But as I got older and more acquainted with “real life” I learned more and more just how un-true that is. As an adult, I’ve learned that not even promises in writing are always honored and even signed contracts can, and have been broken. I think sometimes maybe I am even worse about keeping my promises to God than I am with someone else.

“Oh Lord! I promise I’m going to be better at [fill in the blank]!” How many times have I fallen short of my promises to Him! Or even convinced myself that I didn’t think that all the way through, or made justifications about how God didn’t really want me to make that promise because of reason, reason, reason……

“Lord, I was planning on giving some of this money to the church, but surely you don’t want me to do it now that I have more debt than I did when I made that promise.”

“Lord, I know I said I’d start talking to more people about you but they really look like they want to be alone and I’m sure I’d say the wrong thing or just make them uncomfortable. Besides, someone else is far more qualified than I am to talk to them.”

None of this is new to the Father though. He has always known this is how I tend to think. My Good Father doesn’t just stop at knowing that I tend to think this way though. And He doesn’t write off my failed promise keeping as “Well, there she goes again, breaking yet another promise. I guess we’re going to go for the thousandth time with this lesson before I can bless her since she broke another promise.”

No. that would be far too much like me and not at all like the Father. God knew that there was no way I could be good on my own, I’ve proven to keep my promises less than fifty percent of the time! But that doesn’t keep Him from keeping all of His promises to me anyway.

God’s promises are never broken. The passage here in 2 Corinthians is saying just that: “all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in Him.” God keeps His promises, and He keeps them perfectly, and He keeps them always. In fact, the biggest promise God made has been proven and played out in Jesus – in His birth, death, and resurrection. God’s biggest promise has been to love me with a love that is so big, so undying that nothing would ever be able to separate me from it, not even my own unfaithfulness or evil. (Ro. 8:38-39)

What an amazing thought! God has kept every single one of His promises and the proof of that fact is His very own Son, Jesus. And as if it weren’t enough for Him to prove how He keeps His promises to me, He takes it up a notch and gives me even more. He gives me a guarantee (the Holy Spirit) for all of the promises yet to be kept and then He even gives me the ability to do great things because of Jesus and the kingdom I am part of.

“So let me get this straight, God. You know I’m a screw up and I definitely haven’t proven that I can keep any promise worth keeping – but you make a promise to me anyway? And not just any old promise like ‘I promise to buy you ice cream if you’re good today.’ but like a real promise – a huge promise. You promise to love me so much that you died for me just so you and I could be in the same place together. Just so I could actually be in your presence. Just so I could have a meaningful, personal, loving relationship with you. Even though that is the last thing I deserve…And then, you did it. You kept your promise to me…

And what’s that you’re telling me? You have even more planned for me? You mean this huge promise to love me doesn’t stop with what was done already in Jesus? You’re telling me that I haven’t even seen the other promises you are going to keep….”

Mind. Blown. Seriously.

Who does that?!?

God does that.

The Good Father. My Good Daddy. Your Good Daddy.

He’s here to stay. He’s my Daddy, and yours too. And not because of some court order or feeling of obligation. Nope. The Father is your Father because of His promise to love you. And He doesn’t turn that promise into a “No” because of anything you did or didn’t do, or because of some loop hole clause in a contract. In fact, He already kept His promise. He paid a price no one could afford to pay in order to adopt you and show you exactly how much He loves you. That is how much you mean to Him and how much He honors and keeps His promises.

His “Yes” to His promises has always been worth trusting and it is no less a “Yes” today than yesterday. This is a real promise that will never be broken. Stronger than any promise ever made by a human.

Even stronger than a pinky-promise.

Would you trust Him today? It doesn’t cost you anything – it only cost Him everything. What do you have to loose? A life of discouragement perhaps? A life without love, joy, and peace?

He promises that will never be true when He’s your Father. And He proves it. He’s done it before. He’s doing it now. He’ll always do it. He keeps His promises. They are always “Yes”, proven and backed by Jesus.

And when we see Him keep His promises, how can we not praise Him, watching this amazing glory fulfilled in our undeserving lives?


I Forgive You

“…Mercy triumphs over judgment.” – James 2:13b

Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.’ ” – Matthew 18:21-22

“For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6

Three tiny words. They are easy to speak with our tongue – often hard to live with our heart, but its at the heart-level that it is vital. Forgiving those who’ve sinned against us is vital for our very lives. Each and every one of us are not without some sin, but God who is fully, completely, and perfectly without sin has forgiven us. James 2 reminds us that if we break only one law (it doesn’t matter which one!) we become “lawbreakers”. And so since we have all broken at least one of God’s laws, we’re all lawbreakers. And if we’re honest, we’ve all broken more than just one and each of the laws we’ve broken, we’ve broken more than once. I certainly have.

But even though we have continually sinned against God, His mercy has been shown to us and it is His mercy that has won us and won the victory for us. God has not won our hearts nor the battle against sin by condemning us to what we deserve for sinning. Our Savior won our hearts because of His great love for us. He won our hearts because of His mercy. And also, in reverse, it is not a sacrifice that we made, nor anything we’ve done to triumph over our own sin or justify ourselves (remember – the first law we broke, we were done for) – it is the mercy and forgiveness of God that has saved, rescued, triumphed, redeemed, and is restoring us.


So, if God has shown mercy and given us forgiveness that we didn’t earn and certainly don’t deserve (we have given more grief to God than we ever get from one another), then we have no business withholding mercy and forgiveness from someone who has mistreated, hurt, or in any way sinned against us. Jesus makes this very clear in Matthew 18 when He explains that if we fail to forgive and show mercy to one another, we will no longer be recipients of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Yikes. Does that motivate your heart? It does mine.

One of the things I astronomically appreciate about God and my relationship with Him is that He has shown me great, completely unmerited mercy! There is no way I want to give that up, especially not because of some human being that was unkind to me and holds nothing on my eternal life with The Father. I don’t want to throw away the mercy and forgiveness of God for me because of someone who is not my Heavenly Father, is not the Creator of the Universe, and has no ability to adopt me as the daughter of an Eternal King.

When I hold the light of God’s mercy for me on the things that have happened and the ways that I’ve been hurt, my heart is softened so much more. I was ready to forgive before, but now, considering my great need for His mercy, I’m so much more ready! In fact, my heart is heavier and more saddened as I think about the difficulty their sin has caused for their own lives and I’m thankful on their behalf that God has the same mercy and forgiveness for them as He has had for me.

To the one who left: I wholeheartedly forgive you for being driven toward your own agenda instead of listening to wise counsel around you. And I am sorry that you are having to learn the hard way that comes from pride and your own self-determination to get things done the way you think they should be done instead of in the greater blessing that comes from humbly waiting on God to develop that leadership and influence in you. I forgive you for driving yourself away from all of us by acting like Jacob when he stole Esau’s birthright due to a prophecy and then had to run away to save his skin. I am sorry that you are having to walk through more waiting and uncertainty as you learn the lessons God is walking you through. I forgive you for making the leadership mistake Solomon’s son made in not accepting the counsel of wiser and older people around you over the opinions of younger and more inexperienced people and I pray that instead of great demise like what happened to Rehoboam, that you will understand the benefit of humility and learning from the ones God has placed with wisdom around you. I pray that you would have a greater leadership impact like Jesus who did not consider equality with God to be His for the taking yet had the biggest, most lasting impact on the world of any man who had come before or has been since.

To the one who has struggled with depression and self-image: I wholeheartedly forgive you for being so consumed with what has happened to you that you have succumbed to your own weaknesses and done wrong to those who’ve held you in high regard. I forgive you for running away in the face of conflict and I pray that you will grow stronger as the people around you who love you help you to stand firm. I forgive you for taking credit for all those years for the things that others did behind the scenes that made you look good in the spotlight. I forgive you for taking your queues from poor, prideful, and controlling leadership that came before you instead of investing your strength and efforts into bettering yourself and your leadership potential to pour back into the people you have led. I pray that you will surround yourself with people who you will allow to be honest with you, even if it feels uncomfortable and confrontational. I pray that you will have great courage to listen to their loving wisdom and do the things that they suggest weighed against the wisdom of God. And I pray that you will give more credit to those that God has blessed with gifts different from those he has blessed you with. That as you stand in the spotlight, you will increasingly, more and more pull out your mirror to reflect that light back on the glory of God and His hand at work in the people around you.

To the one who lied: I wholeheartedly forgive you for the deep wounds you have caused so many who put such great, deep trust in you. I am sorry that you allowed yourself to be separated from true accountability and that the Enemy dragged you off by yourself for so long that you began to believe all the lies were actually truth and that you continued in them as a result. I forgive you for betraying our trust that was almost child-like as one has for their parent. I forgive you for starting so many good things that we now loose because of the consequences of your sin. I am thankful on your behalf that the truth finally came to light because I can’t imagine what more mire and muck you were headed for in that dark blackness of lies all alone. I am sorry that so many have been hurt so deeply, in life altering ways because of your dishonesty and I pray that each one is able to come to forgive you from their heart as well. I pray that as God already had blessing, healing, and freedom planned ever since the garden and all the way through the Old Testament, that God would speak also directly to you His specific mercy, freedom, healing, and blessing waiting for you. I am sorry that you have to live with the weight of all of this but I am thankful that you do and pray that it will bring you truthfully deeper and closer to God and that the next time we hear from you, it will be nothing but truth and all to the glory of God, humbly accepting nothing other than our love and forgiveness for you.