Category Archives: A Resolution

A Resolution to Live Today with Tomorrow in Mind

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

A good [woman] leaves an inheritance. Proverbs 13:22

In the final section of The Resolution for Women, Shirer shares a story about her aunt, a woman in her mid-fifties has lived life to its fullest in spite of the fact that she’s never married and has never had children of her own. As I read her testimony, I could not help but be inspired. My life, up until this moment at least, has wandered down that same path. I too, do not have a husband, nor do I have children…yet. I’m still young. I still have time. Granted, I’m not guaranteed tomorrow and the work God has called me to complete could be accomplished today, but still…I have time. So do you.

We are all called to leave a legacy behind. We are called to set this in stone; to journal it; to keep it however you keep it.

Personally, I journal. It’s great, being able to look back over the years and see God’s hand weaving through the pattern of my life. I’ve even been able to come to an understanding of certain circumstances and trials I had to face to get to where I am today. It’s amazing how He works.

Shirer points to the spiritual legacy her amazing aunt is leaving behind and she points to the spiritual offspring that us singles (and non-singles) tend to forget about. Each of our lives impact other lives. God created us to be relational creatures and it naturally happens. We are surrounded by people waiting to be filled with our wisdom; to learn from our own lives. “As women in whom God’s Spirit lives and has borne fruit, we have each been called to leave a godly legacy, to pass the baton of His grace and truth to others who will then take it to lengths and destinations we will never go ourselves…This is a heavenly mandate…Your lifespan is simply not long or large enough to contain the heights and depths of [God’s] activity, then to swallow it whole without offering anyone else a bite.” (p. 257)

Think about that for a moment.

In looking over my own life, so many women have left their legacy’s imprint in my own life (not just my mother). I’m speaking of Connie, Bethany, Brandie, and many other young women from Brookings, SD. I’m speaking of my very first piano teacher, Bertha, and so many other wonderful people who have touched my life. This thanks goes to the men too…that you Dad!

Are you making today’s decisions with their impact on tomorrow in mind? When you’re arranging your priorities and forming your habits, do you think about your children, your grandchildren, people you inspire, about the kind of character they’ll remember about you and inherit from you? When you spend your money, or sport your fashion sense, or speak you piece, or spare you time, does it ever occur to you that you’re not just making a choice for yourself, in the moment?  That you’re making a choice which impacts people who are following behind you? That you’re perhaps playing a role in the attitudes and observations of a young woman you hardly know, maybe even a total stranger who one day hears someone telling what you were like?

People tend to spend more time planning on their physical inheritance rather than their spiritual one. I’m asking you to choose to live today as though someone’s tomorrow depended on it. Putting it in that light changes things, doesn’t it?

Let me put it this way. Are you going to choose life? Or choose death?

We all have a legacy to leave (whether we have children or not). Find your way to leave it. The questions I posed at the start of this entry…they are the kind of questions you need t o keep in mind when thinking about what you will do today; how you will respond in this moment; what type of resolutions you will make and live by. These decisions matter right now, and they keep on mattering.

They are your legacy.

A Resolution to Make My Home a Welcoming Place to Be

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.


I resolve to live with grace, to use the word “OK,” to not lead my life as if I were directing a Broadway production, and to set aside time to rest in an effort to make my home a welcoming place to be. I don’t want to live my life, turning people away at every opportunity; the hospitable woman within me will not let that happen.

Priscilla Shirer briefly touches each of these statements in her next section about living with grace.

I resolve to live with grace…

We must live with grace. We must see our homes as holy ground (or everything we touch, as it all is, first and foremost, God’s) and ourselves as the holy attendants, bestowed with the responsibility and privilege of creating an atmosphere in which the essence of God’s grace, freely extended to you, can be felt and sensed through the grace you freely extend to others. Our homes are the place where we cultivate peace to be enjoyed by those who live there and by all who enter through the doors.

Women hold the primary controls to the mood, spirit, and equality of life within each of their homes. It’s about recognizing our power to change the spiritual climate of our home based on the Holy Spirit-enabled resolve to be a woman who exudes the simple yet wonderfully poignant attribute…grace.

We must remember (and strive towards) what happened when we realized the detriment of our sinful disgrace and what God did for us. When we chose to follow Him, His grace becomes ours. When we fully realized how many of our own blunders He lovingly forgives and forgets every day, we suddenly find the motivation for extending that same undeserved favor to those around us. His patience, His acceptance, His understanding, His kindness. By His grace, these become ours – not just to receive but to release.

See every downfall as an opportunity to extend forgiveness and grace; to bestow compassion on another human being.

I resolve to use give a gentle answer…

I also rediscovered during my journey through this section that it’s okay to just say OK. I don’t always have to be right and burn myself into the ground to prove myself right (even when I’m wrong).  Proverbs 15:1 reads A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath. Try it. It may save a relationship.

I resolve to not be the director of my own personal Broadway production…

Doing so would leave way too many big shoes unfilled. When we do this, the “actors” in our productions do not know what’s expected of them and when they fail, we give them boot. That shouldn’t be the way we lead our lives…tossing relationships to the side because so-and-so didn’t say what I wanted them to at that precise moment.

I was a drama queen once…during my teens…but those years have long since gone. Being a writer doesn’t help much either. I can direct the drama  that fills the pages of my latest novel, but I can’t direct that which fills my day-to-day life. A woman of grace recognizes and admits that, yes, she has a predetermined plot line for her life and surrounds, a compilation of past experiences and make-believe notions. We’ve all done it. There are days when I’m still guilty of it.

But the woman of grace looks at her reality first and then shapes her expectations accordingly. She seeks to discern the true needs of her loved ones and then adapts her own view of things so that she can do what is best for them, nurturing an atmosphere in which they can genuinely flourish.

Grace releases, frees, relaxes, and unbridles. It allows room, loosens nerves, gives permission, and expresses acceptance.

After all, God’s the director. Not me.

I resolve to set aside some “Sabbath” time…

I resolve to rest. God did. He even commands us to do the same. Why? Because we need it. We need the rest. We need the opportunity to regain our prospective on life. If we kept going, our minds become clouded by the hum of a busy life and our decisions are made rashly. We end creating more chaos for ourselves.

We need to purposefully carve out time to stop.

Even if that day doesn’t land on a Sunday.

Or a Saturday.

We need time to simply enjoy God. To celebrate a time of rest, rejuvenation and spiritual focus that would perpetuate their experience of freedom, not just in theory, but practically.

Priscilla argues that it’s not good to just set aside one day of the week, but rather a segment of time each day that we give to God. I would tend to agree. This, for me, occurs during the earliest hours of my morning, on my walk to work, a reprieve from work in the afternoon, yoga in the evenings and then again, right before I turn in for the day. Doing so actually frees me from the bondage of my day-to-day life.

How about you? Will you resolve to be a person of grace today?

I will.

Again, I say…I resolve to live with grace, to use the word “OK,” to not lead my life as if I were directing a Broadway production, and to set aside time to rest in an effort to make my home a welcoming place to be.

A Resolution to Love and Train Children in the Ways of God


Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

[You will] love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 NASB

Even if God may choose in His wise, good, and sovereign plan to bestow upon me other blessings besides the experience of motherhood.

There are still many valuable things that I can learn as a friend, a counselor, and a key influencer in the lives of other children.

I’m part of a group that’s about to start a new church in Minneapolis, MN, and we already have three children (the possibility of more) in our children’s ministry. While I adore all three, one in particular has a rather firm grip on the strings of my heart: one special little girl who enjoys scooting along thefloor, watching movements on the TV screens, and gnawing on my army-issued dog tag chain all while giggling with delight and humming “mama.” She’s beautiful.

Just last night, we had gathered as a group to discuss what our children’s ministry would look like, at least for the first six months or so as we have no idea what to expect. While God has given me a very active role on the worship team and I may not be able to do as much with the kids, it’s good to be in the know just in case something where to come up down the road. (Especially since one item on my bucket list is to serve in other areas of the church…not just worship.) Being included in that part of our ministry will allow me to be an influence to kids during the rest of the week, not just before around the church service on Sundays.

This resolution couldn’t fall at a more perfect time. I just finished reading the section on kids and Priscilla Shirer is one wise woman, who is still learning…just like the rest of us.

On page 206 of The Resolution for Women, Shirer points to a higher calling for mothers…a mission statement that should be the center of their motherhood: To lead [my] children with intentionality, guiding them toward becoming men and women of distinction, filled with integrity, girded with responsibility, and firmly rooted in a love for and honor of God.

She goes on to argue the difference between being in love with your children and loving them as God intended. She argues that love is not passive. It’s demonstrative and active. Being in love with a child can lead to a lack of discipline…doing whatever they want, when they want. One cannot be the best friend to a child when they are young and still learning…and that doesn’t mean that you can’t be at the opposite end of that spectrum. It just can’t be the primary pursuit now. Love is not child’s play. It’s serious business.


You and I are the mechanisms God has put in place to keep today’s corrupting systems of thought from taking root and then taking effect in the hearts of our children. You are in position to intervene. You…have been placed specifically in your children’s (or the children in your life) lives to make them rebel against a culture that’s telling them to rebel against you…we must remember that our principal charge and mission as parents is to send our boys and girls into the world as young people who bear God’s Spirit, who are purposeful about His mission for their lives, and who are intent on being His agent for change on the planet.


In looking back over my own childhood, my mother was like that. She was not my best friend when I was young. I disagreed with many of things (boundaries, rules, disciplines, chores) that she and my father put in place when I was a kid…I can still recall rebelling against them when I was a teenager. I used to think that I had the right to many things…including making my own decisions…going out when and where I wanted…staying out as late as I wanted…the list goes on. And I’m sure that loving me that way did not feel like to my parents most of the time. Look where it took me.

If they hadn’t put those restrictions in place, I would have made some stupid decisions. I wouldn’t be responsibility in most areas of my life. I might not have even finished college…who knows. I can say, now, though that my mom and I are not just best friends, but we’re sisters in Christ. There is so much grace in that.

Shirer goes on to point out three roles that parents play (mothers, in this instance) in their children’s lives: the soul shaper, the intentional encourager, and the disciple dealer.

  1. Soul Shaping.
    The human soul. A magnificent composite of mind, will and emotion, as well as the seat of the conscience. Every human being is created by God with this part of their makeup in place. The only problem…is that without the indwelling of God’s Spirit, the soul is completely degenerate, ruled by fleshly lusts and totally separated from God…all thanks to the Fall. Only a personal relationship with Jesus can mend that. He is the only hope for a lost soul…and that includes a child’s.
    Hard to comprehend that when we see their innocence. As sweet and beautiful as they are, they are each born as sinners in need of being rescued from themselves.
    Their parents must pray that God would stir their hearts. And they are the ones who continue praying even after that child has grown.
    I’ve seen (and heard) my own mother comment on this. She’s been praying for each one of us kids (I have three younger siblings) since the day we were born. That’s humbling.
    As children grow, the soul shaper continues to work along with God’s Spirit to see to it that shaping takes place. Decisions are not made in reaction to temper tantrums or tears but are expressions of love, determined ahead of time what will be complement God’s work in the shaping of that child’s mind, will, emotions, and conscience. This continues even after the child is grown as God’s work is never really done (at least not until He comes again).
    As soul shapers, we must consider ourselves warriors, fighting for our families…or the case of us singles, the family of God. We must not willingly sit idly by while other people and cultural paradigms tamper with their mind-sets…they need to hear and see more of God evident in our lives. It’s not enough to just say it, but we must live it. Breathe it in. Be willing to die for it.
    Soul shapers believe that their work is Kingdom business. And she knows that she doesn’t have the strength to do it alone. She seeks God first and foremost, partnering with Him to complete the work He started in each child.
    A transformed child begins with a transformed mom (or dad).
  2. Intentional Encouragement
    Shirer points to the King Solomon to hit this point home. When the young man was twenty years old, God asked him what he wants for his life…and, mind you, anything he wants. What does Solomon ask for? Wisdom.
    What twenty year old would ask for something that goes above and beyond the typical things young adults would ask for? Money…fame…I don’t know many. Do you?
    It must have had something to do with the way Solomon was raised.
    His father, David, was one of the most respected men of his time. He wasn’t perfect…He didn’t get it right all of the time. He was just like you and me. And not all of his children turned out the same way…think of the situation with his daughter Tamar and his son Amnon. Tragic and sad…just thinking of it makes my compassionate, merciful heart ache.
    Perhaps 1 Chronicles 29:1 could shed some light on how David spoke to and about his son: “My son Solomon-God has chosen him alone-is young and inexperienced.”
    Doesn’t that sound like a modern day version of “Hey, listen buddy, you don’t know everything!”? David was open and honest about his son’s deficiencies almost in a way that sounds like a public rebuke. But it didn’t deflate Solomon’s spirit.
    Look at the middle phrase.

    God has chosen him alone.

    That might have something to do with it. David affirmed what he saw God doing in Solomon’s life as a boy. Talk about encouragement with discipline!
    In the same way, we need to be intentional in encouraging children even when their talents have yet to be honed, even when their leadership skills were not yet intact. We need to encourage them to see the potential in themselves and encourage others to see it too.
    The intentional encourager is honest with her kids; telling them what they need to hear when it’s not what they want to hear. She chooses to temper her honesty with the grace of edification and encouragement. She doesn’t try to force them to be more like someone else, but, rather, embraces who they are. She seeks rather to focus on the unique gifts, talents, and skills God is patiently perfecting that particular child, doing everything possible to foster it, even when it’s different from what she expected or is developing more slowly that she had hoped.
    We need to inspire excellence not by demanding that children meet the arbitrary standards of others but that they rise to the achievable challenge of their God-given purpose and potential in every arena of life. We need to speak highly of the children in our lives to others and not be bashful about soliciting positive, prayerful help in calling out the best in those kids. Intentional encouragers know that they are to be their most honest confidant and also be their biggest cheerleaders (that’s goes for you moms!).
    Intentional encouragers believe in their children. My mom did…pushing me in the area of the arts and teaching me how to make a home when the school system was failing in both areas…and when the church didn’t support our family…and through many other circumstances and situations.

  3. Discipline Dealers
    Shirer tells of a man whose sons, now teenagers, continue to amaze guests and outsiders with their willingness to set the table, help mom with the laundry, the respect with which they speak to others (and each other) and the trust they’ve earned from their parents. Loving parents.
    As loving discipline dealers, we are called to not “provoke children to anger” by inappropriate forms of correction, but we need to be seriously hands-on about bringing them up in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
    Self-discipline is only produced as the result of being lovingly disciplined.

    If we want them to be responsible, we must train them to be responsible with their chores, homework, and personal duties. If we want them to be considerate, we must enforce the manners we expect them to use with siblings and friends. If we want them to respect and submit to authority, we must make it start with how they treat us as their parents, while also letting them see us demonstrate this same principle ourselves in our home, our work, our church life, and other areas.

    Discipline dealers follow the mission statement: To lead [my] children with intentionality, guiding them toward becoming men and women of distinction, filled with integrity, girded with responsibility, and firmly rooted in a love for and honor of God.
    And it requires time and effort.

We should do all of this willingly because our highest priority (in the lives of children) is to raise them to be responsible, respectful, compassionate, considerate, humble, selfless, generous, and gracious. People who are a joy to be around.

I would also like to add that these roles apply to some extent to those of us who do not have children but do have an influence in the lives of children around us. For me, currently, that would be:

Emsley Hult.

Royce Long.

Gavin Alle.

I could go on.

And while it’s not my place to discipline (that’s the parents’), I can encourage them and live a life worth looking up to…worth asking questions of…and be prepared to give an answer or point them in the right direction.

God may have called me to be single and childless in this season, but I can still learn to be and simply be an influence to the children around me. After all, I’m sure I will be an aunt one day and it would be an honor to be a godly figure the lives of my future nieces and nephews.

Praise God for kids!

A Resolution to Truly Bless My Man

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

Even if I remain my single all  the days God has for me in this lifetime.

Certainly, you may be thinking that I have no business talking about marraige or may even have an idea what it takes to be married. But, even in my single state, I’ve learned that I need to seek answers and learn from my peers before I take that step…hopefully, sometime in the future.

Someone needs to ask the hard questions and we single women need to heed to the advice of those who have traveled down that road.

Questions like – Am I ready (or will I be ready) to fully and completely invest myself into that union (marriage)? How will I serve him? How will I esteem him? Build him up? Honor him? Am I or will I be ready to give the time and energy, the emotional effort and attention that would be required to keep myself contented and my husband satisfied even when I didn’t or don’t feel like it? How about when he doesn’t deserve it? Am I or will I be sure?

Have I even considered the selflessness that would be required of me to fulfill my husband and assist him in accomplishing the work God has put him on earth to do? Will I be ready to do this that honors God in a biblical way?

In reading the next section of The Resolution, I’ve rediscovered things that I know (and we all tend to forget). Men possess two great fears:

  • The fear of being found inadequate
  • The fear of being controlled by a woman

My brothers both deal with this…as they’ve ever so lovingly remind me. (I’ve seriously considered the thought that they’ve been given to me for practice…blessings as they are.)

They long to be the hero. They want to feel like they are worthwhile to us women and needed by us. Any husband longs to see a look of love and admiration in your eyes. He wants to know that you celebrate him, depend on him, feel privileged to be married to him, and expect great things from him.

Priscilla Shirer points out that in spite of man’s fear for inadequacy, we must remember that our husband is capable, honorable, and worthy of our attention and admiration. He is fulfilled when he senses that we believe in him. Take the steps to pray for him, root for him, assure him that he still has what it takes rather than cut him down.

We must remember that people are not defined by their imperfections. Men, in particular, were divinely wired to be leaders, fathers and providers. Granted, in this fallen world, the characteristics that make a man great are hard to come by.

Let me ask you this: What would a man do differently if he knew he couldn’t lose his wife’s love and respect, no matter what he did?

Shirer also reminds us that at Creation, we were all created equal; not one above the other value-wise. This addresses the man’s fear of being controlled by a woman. We both hold equal value, but we are not the same. His way of doing things is not wrong. It’s just different.

We women tend to complicate them. Men, as complex as they are, are simple and uncomplicated. They aren’t turned on by a demanding, screaming wife who doesn’t recognize their value and significance.

Men will never get over these fears without us woman. But with us…God created you to be a suitable helper (Genesis 2:18).

There is nothing happier (or more attractive) than a man who actually feels like one.

In the next section, Shirer points to Peter’s words in 1 Peter 3:1-5:

Wives…be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands. NIV



Gentle in this sense means to be humble, considerate, meek. It means being kind to our husbands the way we want them to be kind to us. (I can’t help but think of the phrase “Kill them with kindness”…it brings a small smile to my face).

Can I resolve to do that? Can you? Can you stop and think before you blurt our another criticism, whether you’re communicating kindness to him? If not, could you keep your opinion to yourself?

What are some ways that I could proactively express kindness toward my future spouse? Is there something that I could do, even as a single woman, that would show my desire to think of my husband’s need above my own?
This is something we all need to seek out.

Quiet. Meaning well-ordered (not silent), to lead a peaceable and discreet life, thus lightening the task of the one in authority…lightening the load of your husband.

This is how I, as a single woman, should approach marriage. I need to be asking myself how I can be a load-lifter and a burden lightener instead of a needy woman looking to be served, coddled, and made content by her man. That is what God calls me to do and it would be wise that I seek and heed this advice now, before I walk down the aisle.

Will I resolve to do this, not just for my sake, but for my husband’s? For God’s call on my life?

My heart resounds: YES!

A Resolution to Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with my God

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 NASB

I’ve been searching throughout my near-27-year existence. I chose to follow Christ at the age of four while sitting on my mother’s lap reading a bed time story and since then I’ve been searching. What did it mean to be a Christian? I know I have a purpose and a place; what is it? Even as a young adult, I still have questions. What should I study that would make an impact in my world? What opportunities should I accept? Which direction should I pursue? Should I go back to school? And for what?

I want to be in His will, but I’m not sure what that looks like in my life. I want to be a part of something that will make an impact for His kingdom…not one I construct out of the temporary materials of this life. That doesn’t mean anything. That doesn’t leave a footprint.

Then I read the following questions:


What if the discolusure of His continued purposes for your life is at least partly dependent on your obedience to what He’s already set before you? What if He wants to see your level of faithfulness in responding to what you do know before He fills you in on what you don’t?


Micah 6:8 states that God has shown us.

This much I do know:

  1. Do justice.
  2. Love mercy.
  3. Walk humbly with my God.

Justice. A woman resolved to do justice doesn’t take advantage of people even if she has the means and opportunity to do so. She determines instead to act rightly – to pursue a just solution – to deliberately consider the best way people or circumstances could be served in a particular situation, even if at her own expense. Her primary interest is seeing justice done, seeking solutions that are fair, reasonable, objective and, most importantly, expressive of the love of Christ.

I want to be that type of woman.

Mercy. To “love mercy” means to have a hearty interest in doing things that bless and impact others’ lives. It means considering their needs above your own, not because they necessarily deserve it but simply because you “love” doing it for them.

That what God’s mercy looks like toward you and me. He has chosen to give what we don’t deserve. Like Christ, we should be willing to do gracious things for toherseven when their actions and past choices don’t necessarily warrant it.

Just because.

Humility. Combine justice and mercy. What do you get? Someone who walks humbly with their God. She continuously puts the needs of others first. Correctly assesses her own value. She doesn’t see herself too hihgy, of course, but not too lowly either. She just pursues the will of God daily, faithfully trusting that what He’s said and commanded of her is worth her doing her very best. And when He’s ready to share more, she’s ready to receive it and respond.

Wrap all three together and you get a full life.

So why am I still searching?

Is it because it messes with the American dream that our culture attempts to brainwash us in?

Am I concerned about being uncomfortable?

This is at the very heart of the gospel I claim to believe. It is what God requires of me. How can I say that I want to be a part of God’s will and ignore this very vital part?

Gary A. Haugen writes, “Christians…seem to have the amazing ability to say the most wonderful things without actually believing them…(i.e. blessed are the poor and humble; it’s better to give than to receive; just not, lest you be judged; love your neighbor as yourself, etc.)…and examining, one by one, how differently I would live my life if I actually believed such things. The sayings of Christ coexist passively in their minds, producing hardly any effect beyond what is cause by mere listening to words so amiable and bland.”

Challenging and true.

If we really believed the gospel that we’ve been called to live, don’t you that we would then live like it, even it meant dealing with the discomforts His commands may cause?

My heart burns.

Compassion is rising.

Who is God calling you to seek justice for? To show kindness toward?

The woman who lives under the overpass you see every day on your way to work.

The neighbor who’s soldier-husband recently came home wounded from war. She’s now a caregiver not only for her three young children but also for her disabled partner.

The teenager, pregnant for the second time, whos’ been ostracized by her family and really needs a shoulder to lean on.

All of these require time, energy and resources; gifts and extras that we may feel like we can’t give.

But know this…

If God births in you the compassion to help, He will also multiple in you the means to handle it.

Obeying Him is the key that unlocks that door.

Take each opportunity to know His will and do it without reservation.

Walk justly, mercifully and humbly with your God.

A Resolution to Care

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

Look…! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days – you would not believe if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5 NASB

Have you ever wanted to turn away from a story pictured on the news? Or an episode of 48 hours? Or leave a classroom because the topic of the class did not jive with you? Made you uncomfortable? Or even turn off your Wednesday night run of Criminal Minds because of the horror displayed?

I have. Many times.

Let me ask you this: are you concerned with the hearts of those dear to you? How about the girl in the cubicle next to yours? Or the man who just lost his home to a fire? Or even a family member; a father; a mother? A sibling?

We live in a fallen world. We need to see pain to know that it’s real and to believe that God can do anything with a single touch or even you.

Shirer states that if God didn’t show us, our hearts would not be moved. If He simply told you what His plans were or how He was going to use you to solve them, you wouldn’t be able to grasp the full depth and height of the problem or what the touch of His supernatural care, kindness, and wisdom could accomplish through you. If He allowed you to turn your face away and remain unaware of the situation, you’d never know the outworking of compassion the Spirit of God is inviting and empowering you to experience.

God has decided to show us instead. He is preparing us to envision how stunning His work can be, even through ordinary people like you and me.

If we were truly concerned with helping others get to heaven, we’d better be equally concerned about the quality of their existence in the here and now.

I love the bridge to Hosanna by Hillsong; the part that goes like this: Break my heart for what breaks Yours :: Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause :: As I walk from earth into eternity.

The first time I heard those words, my heart fell to its knees. What kind of supernatural power are we choosing to avoid experiencing by not having a heart broken for the plights of those around us?

I needed to have a heart that was broken. We all do. We need to not only allow it to break, but ask God to break it. We need to be offended and heartsick over the same things that shatter His heart. We need to pray that He’ll break our hearts.

What example do we have? Jesus.

Scripture is full of the portrait of the Man who didn’t walk blindly down the dusty, ancient roads of His day, bypassing human devastation and need without a second glance. He paid close attention. He was moved with compassion. He stopped to care for those who were disenfranchised and distressed.

His heart was broken when He saw the hungry (Matthew 15:32).
…when He saw the sick (Matthew 14:14).
…when He saw the emotionally devastated (Luke 7:13, John 6:35).
…when He saw the lonely and spiritually lost (Matthew 9:36).

When He wasn’t extending compassion, He was talking about it. Showing mercy toward others was an important part of the gospel He came to offer. He didn’t turn a blind eye to people’s physical needs in order to get to the more important spiritual one.

He took His broken heart as a sign to do something; to act in accordance with the Father’s will.

He went.

He served.

He listened.

He healed.

Jesus didn’t just preach a gospel; He lived one.

He saved you for many reasons, but one of them is so that others can sense His compassion manifested toward them through you. Not just in words, but in action. You are His hands and feet – hands that are for more than writing personal checks, feet that are for more than walking to church aor to the mailbox so that someone else can be resourced to go.

Light is brightest against the backdrop of darkness. Be the light.

Diamonds are most brilliant against a backcloth of black velvet. Be the diamond.

Look. Again. Allow yourself to feel. Allow your heart to be broken.

Until what takes your breath away or breaks your heart is not the gravity of the problem but the power of God to heal it – one touch, one person at a time.

A Resolution to Live with Integrity

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

Blessed are those whose way is blameless. Psalm 119:1

It isn’t every day that I find myself reading material that makes me want to rip the book apart or shove it back on the shelf to collect dust until I either a) opt to donate it or toss it out or b) choose to read it again. I was both convicted and yet not when I got the section on integrity.

What comes to mind when you think of this 

I will not tolerate evil influences even in the most justifiable form, in myself or my home…

This point of the resolution requires an intimate, personal, introspective look at what’s going on in our hearts and homes. We then realize that these things we’ve been sanctioning with our time and attention are a glaring contradiction of who we are and what we say we believe.

This points to the types of books we read, the TV shows we choose to watch, the movies stored in our collect…the music we listen to…the way we live.

Instead of being repulsed by certain behaviors or grieved by the lies that our culture spins on our generation, we are more accepting of them; willing to watch TV shows like Glee or movies filled with intimate scenes, to laugh at Jeff Dunham on Comedy Central or read a trashy novel (because of the illusion of escape) and considering it all suitable with a side of popcorn or a comfy blanket.

Okaying these things within the confines of our own homes makes nothing more than the hypocrites we never wanted to be. We discourage one thing in public while finding it addictively exciting in private.

Integrity means to be the same underneath as we are on the outside.

Those who are careful about structural integrity build with the long-term goal of being blameless before God and others, not just on lightly traveled Sundays but at peak hours, all week long.

Living this way leads to weakness inside that won’t hold up when the time comes to hold your beliefs against you life.

This. Is. Serious.

Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures you sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things – in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind -0 that things is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself. – Mother of John Wesley

You must decide…
Which do you want more?
God’s best, or our personal favorites?

We can look to King David as a man driven to resolve so seriously about living a life of integrity:

I will be careful to live a blames life – when will you come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar…I will have nothing to with them. Psalm 101:2-3

1: Have no tolerance for evil. Evil is like rat poison.

Did you know that three percent of the product is actually poison? The rest is food. Our culture is like that. Constantly distracting us with media that looks good and we dig in; unaware of the three percent that’s eating way at our insides. Before we know it, we’re dying a slow death.

But trust that we’re not alone in this. We can stop it before it’s too late. We may not be able to undo the damage done, but we can and should pray that God in His mercy and favor would thwart the Enemy from turuing those moments of weakness into strongholds on our lives. That’s where the next step comes in to play.

2: Closely monitor the type of people I allow to influence me.

One word: accountability. We need a group of close people in our lives (in my case, girls) who I can run to when life doesn’t make sense. Who I can run something by when a decision needs to be made. Who I can confide in when my life isn’t making any sense. Who I can trust to stop me if I’m heading down the wrong path. We all need accountability and having it will make you stronger in your defense against the Enemy of our souls.

3: Recognize my need for divine help.

Never expect that you can recalibrate the frequency setting on your life without God’s help, grace, and shepherding. He will be sure to alert you to changes that need to be made and then will eagerly empower you to carry them out.

Granted, these are extreme resolutions to live out. But let me ask you this. Have you ever met someone who follows this? Have you ever noticed their godly, admirable character? Those who enjoy the extra measure of God’s blessing and favor, who truly navigate their lives well, are those who discipline themselves in ways that many of us would consider borderline ridiculous. But like David, they’ve found it necessary to be as extreme in one direction as the culture has chosen to be in the other.

But keep this in mind. Not everything that bothers one believer is necessarily forbidden for all. Just because some wouldn’t consider it “good” doesn’t mean it’s worthy of being “slandered” (Romans 14:6). Consider your own structural soundness. Would it be able to bear the weight of your Christian profession? Is there anything that you do in private that the Spirit is convicting you of right now? Would your structural soundness hold up if some of your fellow church members arrived at your door unannounced?

Resolve to do this: Commit to being sensitive and responsive to any conviction the Spirit may be impressing on your heart right now in regard to a particular pursuit, decision, or activity. And remember, God’s goal is not to steal your fun but to position you as clean, pure, available recipient of His best, most fulfilling blessings.

Only by His power can you resolve to live and walk blamelessly.

And by His might can you expect to be the child who pursues in the dark what they proclaim in the light.

A Resolution to Forgive

When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” Catherine Ponder

Shirer brings attention to the faults we’ve done to ourselves and how we can’t get past those. Some people easily forgive others, but cannot seem to forgive themselves.

Ever been there? I have.

Six years ago, I found myself in a situation I never imagined I would be in. The yearning I had as a young single woman to be an “us” with someone was stronger than ever before. I didn’t know how to tame it, or rather, lock it up and throw away the key until the time was right. I dove head first into a relationship and lost a good friend in the aftermath. In my obsession of trying to forgive myself for letting things go too far on the one end, I was left unable to forgive anyone else that played a part in the mass of destruction of that situation. I couldn’t forgive myself. Period.

Can I let you in on a secret…one that I have to keep reminding myself of each day? The capacity to forgive yourself is personally impossible. I can’t do it. You can’t do it. Nobody can. But take a moment and breathe.

There isn’t a single place in Scripture that tells us that we are supposed to forgive ourselves.

We have no capability, much less responsibility, to forgive ourselves. Take a moment to read Romans 3:23-26.

The forgiveness of our sins is something that Christ suffered a terrifying death to give us. God chose to never recall our misdeeds again. He does not intent to punish us for them.

So why should you?

Think about it. When you say “I can’t forgive myself” means that you don’t fully believe that what He did was quite enough, that in some strange way His forgiveness of you is inadequate. This is the arrogant, hubristic tendency of fallen humanity, refusing to accept that His gift was and still is enough.

It is enough. More than enough.

And only through a gracious acceptance of the gift extended to you through Jesus will you ever really be free – free from the bondage, free from its hold, free to see that you Savior pressed the delete button for your sins when He…walked the road to Calvary…felt the crown of thorns pressed onto His head…took the beating…allows the sword’s piercing…flinched against the nails puncturing His hands and feet…when He hung on Golgotha’s tree.

In accepting this, you have forgiven yourself and you give God the right to forgive others through you.

Imagine purchasing a circus pony. The days of working the circuit are over. But the pony does nothing but wander in circles all day.

Choosing not to forgive someone is like that. The thing haunts you. Defines you. Restrains you. Controls you. It keeps you living life in the same pattern to which you had relegated yourself to for so long. You forget that there’s another way to live. This is the legacy of unforgiveness.

Choosing not to forgive is like choosing to let an open wound fester with infection and not doing a thing to let it heal. Many of us are guilty of letting unforgiveness eat us alive and are professionals at leaving the world around us none-the-wiser.

But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too – Mark 11:25-26

Choosing forgiveness is a lot like pressing the delete key on our computers, backspacing over the accidents and unacceptable actions that have been written on the pages of our lives. Forgiveness means making the decision to incorporate the spoiled residue of the last ones. Pressing the delete key is a choice – a conclusive, one-time decision followed by an ongoing series of smaller yet equally important daily decisions to continue deleting, releasing the desire to hang on to what was done. – Priscilla Shirer

Not deleting it causes the occurrence to hang around and cause trouble.

I’m sure most of you have seen the film Hitch. In it, Will Smith’s character quotes the following:

Live is ten percent what happens to you; ninety percent is how you respond to that ten percent.

True. But how can you be set free? Three ways.

1: Refuse to hold that grudge. If a person has wronged you and you find it hard to forgive, release that person to God. Release all of it.

2: Leave room for God to act on your behalf. Some people will never admit to the wrongs they have committed. Refuse the urge to retaliate – let God deal with them in His timing.

3: Pray. To release others from the debt they owe requires supernatural resources. Pray for it. Pray for all of it. And God will respond.

How about you? Is there anyone you need to seek forgiveness from? Is there anyone you need to forgive?

Seek God out in this as you choose to live a life of someone who forgives and who has been forgiven.

A Resolution to be a Blessing

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

For out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45

I recently completed the fifth resolution, which speaks of blessing others with our time, concern and full attention. I also read James 3:1-12 this morning and God has dutifully Gibbs’ed me on the back of the head. I’m getting it…slowly, but surely, I’m getting it. Finally.

Note: For those of you who don’t watch NCIS and do not have any inkling as to who Gibbs is, watch an episode and once you see the dynamics in his relationship with Tony Denozo, you’ll completely understand. Guaranteed.

Now, back to James. According to him, the tongue is a tattletale that tells on the heart and discloses the real person behind the matter.  And the misuse of it is the easiest way to sin. Chapter 3 goes on to explain that the genuineness of a person’s faith will inevitably be demonstrated by his speech.

True believers will possess a sanctified tongue, yet they must maintain it. We must learn to control it for three reasons: it’s potential to condemn, its power to control and its propensity to corrupt.

Jesus also refers to our speech in Matthew 12:33-37 – read it here. Jesus states that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (same as the scripture above). We must remember that we will one day give account of, not only the things we did with our time, but what we said. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:37)

Nowhere is the relationship between faith and works more evident than in a person’s speech.

He who speaks with an ill tongue about his neighbor has an ill heart; rest assured of that. Let us engage in our Christian career with the full assurances that we will have a great deal to forgive in other people, but there will be a great deal more to be forgiven in ourselves. Let us count on having to exercise gentleness, and needing its exercise from others. Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. – C.H. Spurgeon

Wisdom also comes in knowing what to say and not saying it. How many times a day do we constantly wan to be proven right? How many times do we seemingly put someone else in their place? There is a time and place for that, and it is not always in the moment. How many times in my life have I wished to be the wise woman at the head of the table or near the outskirts of the room, not saying anything until the moment is right? How many times have I wished I had the grace of my grandmother?!!

I know now that this comes with time. It’s called life and God uses its circumstances to mold us into His likeness, so that we can carry out His good and perfect Will in His time.

We shouldn’t be boastful of our own knowledge. We should speak with humility and wisdom, knowing when to speak. The book of Proverbs teaches us to be quick to listen and slow to speak.

Did you know that the greatest gift you can even give anyone is the gift of your own time? If you set aside your agenda, needs and wants to give one person your undivided attention for 15 minutes (or more), that time will mean more to them than anything in the world. It’s greater than any object you can give or any amount of money you can hand over. The time means they matter, whether it be to you or to someone else.

We are in that position every day – the opportunity to envelop ourselves in someone else’s conversation, to suppress the clamor of our own thoughts and schedule, to focus our full attention on other people, giving them an offering of the rarest kind. The gift of ourselves. The gift of our time…the gift of listening. – Shirer, pg 114.

Jesus knew the power of this blessing. He was a pro at it. He made a habit of setting aside time for the most insignificant people in His day. Take the woman at the well for instance. Not only was she a woman, but she was a Samaritan woman. Men didn’t speak to women in public (not even their own wives), must less communicate with a group of people seen as less than Jewish. Jesus chose on many occasions to stop, to wait, to listen, to given attention to before speaking Himself, even when the other person was misinformed or even spouting blasphemy. He listened to the disciples indignantly boast that they would never deny or desert him (Matthew 26:31-35). He heard the call of a blind man over the roar of human need on a crowded street near Jericho (Luke 18:35-43). Scripture is full of examples like these.

Listening is one of the most significant ways God blesses us. Therefore, it is one of the most significant ways we bless others.

We must also watch over our hearts, for from it, flows the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23). This will ensure that we do not allow our hearts to become polluted by anything that will hinder our mission of being conformed into the likeness of Christ. The more we soak in His Word and His truth, the more we can expect to have a deep reservoir filled with all the treasures needed to temper our conversations with wisdom, kindness, and humility.

We must guard our hearts so that do not become hardened (Proverbs 28:14), deceptive (Psalm 12:2), prideful (Proverbs 21:4), or unclean (Psalm 51:10). We must seek to have a heart that is always sensitive to the prodding of God’s Spirit (Romans 8:5), single-mindedly devoted to Him (Psalm 86:11), drenched in humility (Proverbs 22:4) and pure before God (Matthew 5:8).

A person whose heart is full of gratitude and humility, who is certain of God’s love for them, and who genuinely prizes the worth of those around them will release a steady stream of graciousness that will refresh others through their conversation.

Have you ever truly experienced that?

A Resolution to Give My Best

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory. 1 Corinthians 10:31

In the next section of The Resolution for Women, Shirer points to giving God our best and using our best to serve others.

All too often, we tend to spread ourselves (especially us women) too thin, thinking we have to do it all. We’ve got worship team for three services on Sunday mornings, the luncheon in the afternoon, work from 8-5 Monday through Friday, teaching yoga on Monday and Thursday mornings, Bible study on Tuesday nights, Awana and youth group on Wednesday evenings, volunteering at the local food pantry on Thursday nights, the kids’ soccer game on Friday and Saturday and then kids ministry the following Sunday. All of these things crammed into one week is a little much, don’t you think?

In spreading ourselves too thin, we are unable to perform a single task 100%. We simply cannot do a thousand things to the glory of God all at one time. We can only handle one or two things at a time.

Bring your best. Without the martyr syndrome. Even if no one notices (remember, God sees). Do it anyway. For His glory. His opinion of you is the only one that matters.