Hopefully Devoted: Who is my neighbor?


One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25, NLT)

When the expert in the Law asked Jesus what he MUST do to inherit eternal life, Jesus asked his own question: What does the Law tell you? (Answering a question with a question makes my husband crazy!)

The man quickly demonstrated his knowledge: Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. And, love your neighbor as yourself.

Ding, ding, ding.

He probably should have stopped there, but…endeavoring to find out the least he had to do with the least amount of people…he asked the question of clarification: and just who is that?

So Jesus told him the story of the Good Samaritan.

Readers Digest version: A guy heads out on a business trip. Robbers attack him, beat him, and leave him to die. A couple of religious types avoided getting involved by passing on the other side of the street—can’t get too close!

Jesus then introduced the most unlikely of heroes, a despisssssssssssssed (hiss like a snake when you say that) Samaritan. And he does everything to care for the man—he hows him mercy.

Who is your neighbor?

A.N.Y.O.N.E. And everyone you can extend the hand of mercy to.

And how do we love that neighbor?

This afternoon while I took (yet again) the grandson’s dog out to do his business, a thought popped up through my grumbling. He says he love the adorable mutt, but only puts words to that love when it’s convenient or fun. He’s nowhere to be found when there’s puke or poop to clean up, or when it crimps his plans.

Love isn’t conditional or convenient. Love costs. Love changes the lover and the beloved.

There is no how or who, why or when—Our neighbor is everybody else and we love them by seeing them, not avoiding them, and offering them the amazing love of the Father.

Prayer thoughts: God, I confess I don’t always leap to love. Sometimes I wish someone else would do the tough stuff. But you never fail to love me—no matter what mess I’m in. Thanks. Sink your love deep into my awareness until I don’t worry about the least I have to do, but live into your fullness until that’s what people see in me. Amen.


Year In Focus: Thinking

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV)

Yesterday during worship we had a time of anointing and prayer. During our congregational time of sharing, a family member shared, from a broken heart, a desperate need of a family member. I felt nudged in my spirit to focus on the need, the individual, and the family.

As I began to pray, I sensed a childlike spirit—more like a self-centered, spoiled child wanting to demand my way. I didn’t understand what God was thinking, why he was allowing this horrible suffering and grief. My first thought was to tell God what he needed to do in this situation.

Now here’s one of the difficult things for me as I pray publically: even when I am aware of leading others to the throne of grace, I get there first and at times God starts working on me—and that’s what I felt happening.

Trust me.

But God…don’t you understand?

More than you’ll ever know.

So I don’t have to tell you what’s happening.

No. But I care about what you’re feeling. Go ahead and pour out your heart.

SELAH (Pause, reflect, and connect)

The truth is: we don’t naturally think like God or see things from his perspective. Can we? Will we ever?

I really don’t know to what degree we will, but here’s what I do know: God is in the business of transforming our thinking, maturing our understanding. And I know this because he tells me in his word:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2, NIV).

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5, Berean Study Bible).

Jesus extended this invitation to those weary from trying to “do” religion, trying to understand God—those who were ready to give up:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

Is your situation confusing? Overwhelming? Having trouble finding the mind of God? Stop trying to make sense of things with your limited knowledge…trust the heart and mind of God. He is gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls.




Hopefully Devoted: Praying Specifics


Do you ever wonder if God gets bored with our prayers?

I know I do.

A confession like that from a pastor might sound odd. But it’s true.

If my prayers are all fluff and stuff, lacking substance or direction: what’s the point?

They begin to sound as meaningful as Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Wah, wah, wah wah wah wah.”

Jesus had an encounter with a blind man. He looked at the blind man and asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51ff)

The man didn’t hem and haw. He didn’t talk around the issue. He didn’t try to butter Jesus up to get him to do “whatever.”

To Jesus’ direct question, the man replied directly, “I want to see.” And that’s just what he got.

God doesn’t want us to hem and haw, dance around the issue, or butter him up.

God speaks us to directly because he loves us.

Why would we do any less?


Wednesday’s Word: Jesus


Do you remember being a kid in Sunday school—back in the day when the right answer always seemed to be “Jesus”?

It still is.

When you have no words for the hurt in your heart.


When you find yourself at the end of yourself.


When the hours are long and the night is dark.


Or, even when the joy bubbles over in a completely uncontainable manner.


Whisper it…Jesus.

Shout it…Jesus.

Beg, plead, weep it…Jesus.

There’s power in the name of Jesus.



Be still!

(On Mondays I plan to write posts that come from my reflections on my word/topic of focus for this year—which is stillness, rest, sabbath.)

Be still and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10a



I have often described myself as an ESFP with ADD. My friends may tell you I’m somewhat outgoing, seemingly scattered, and  often unfocused. Perception is pretty close to reality.

I don’t like the description of the Proverbs 31 woman or Peter’s instruction: You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God (1 Peter 3:4, NLT).

Gentle and quiet are two words few people associate with me.

In fact, if for some reason I am quiet, people ask me what’s wrong. When I’m in public, I don’t do quiet well.

As I have aged, however, I have found I enjoy being alone…and quiet. I can turn off the TV, sometimes even goe sans music—and just be still.

But my stillness, my quiet reveree, lacked something. Until recently when I began asking God to reveal my direction for 2018.

Several years abo, I started writing a Bible study and one of the chapters was on the command to keep sabbath. I found myself being drawn back again and again to  the books I had gathered on the topic and stuck on a corner of a bookshelf in my office.

Holding one of the books, I felt a strong resonning in my spirit. A loud “YES!” Resonated within me from head to toe.

Okay, God. I got it, but I don’t get it.

And the whisper came back, “You will.”

Then one of the devotions in the first week of the year reflected on how Elijah didn’t hear God in the storm or earthquake—but in the quiet whisper. And the whisper was a question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Sitting in my quiet family room, holding the small book, I sensed my eyes filling with tears…and I heard God whisper, “Tina, what are you doing here?”

I didn’t have an answer. Still don’t. But you better believe I’ve been thinking about it. Even created the meme at the top of this blog.

The question is one of those kinds that when you say it you can put emphasis on a different word and change the meaning: What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here?

After determining the direction, I felt compelled to be accountable. In the past I’ve lost interest and attention to my word/focus before I reached February. I might remember it later in the year—and have a few moments of guilt. I decided to not let that happen this year.

So every Monday I’m going to reflect on this with you, or at least with myself. I don’t know where it will go. Thankfully, I don’t have to…I’m just going to be obedient, and still, and listen for the whisper.

What are you doing here?


Lenten Thoughts: Self-denial


Lent mode, self-denial, has been an on-going theme in my life. I’ve been living without some indulgences due to money crunching. Living on a budget forces us to really think about what is necessary, what can wait, and what can’t even be considered.

Doing without crowded my mind on my way to work. I passed the gas station where I occasionally stopped for a tasty cappuccino. Before I knew it, I was driving by McDonald’s and I’m almost positive I heard a hazelnut iced coffee screaming out my name. But I just kept driving; and thinking as I drove.


As a child, I heard of people speak of “giving up” chocolate or pizza for Lent. This year, Church Leaders were recommending to the faithful that they give up technology (computers, internet, and texting). I had trouble then and now making the spiritual connection between the items given up and God.

Did you give up something for Lent? Why? The purpose of giving something up is to make room for something else. Just as when we fast, we forego food to focus on God. Pondering these concepts, I was reminded of the time when the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out the demon by the power of Beelzebub. Through the story we’re warned of the danger of simply casting out something, in that case evil, without filling it up with something of God.


When I was in college one of my dearest friends challenged me to consider self-denial. She made reference to Jesus’ instruction to the disciples to deny themselves and take up their cross (Mark 8:34). While many point to the cross as burden or pain, it has also been suggested that it is about mission and purpose. Understanding this began to help me put the pieces together.

I guess it could be about chocolate or the internet if the pursuit of those things keeps me from fulfilling my purpose. To know that, though, I believe I’m going to have to know what my mission is. Many years ago, as I began my ministry I felt directed to verse in Colossians as a guide for me as a pastor and as a person. Paul wrote: 2My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ (Colossians 2:2).


These days, I have more time to live into what I think this verse is calling me to do and be. Each day as I reflect, I’m shone the things I have planned that can keep me from fulfilling my purpose. If I am going to live as true follower of Christ, I’m going to have to give those things up, deny my selfish interests, and live on purpose for Christ. Personally, I find this is something I have to do daily, just as Jesus invited me to do.

Do you know what your purpose, your mission is? Have you thought about what is holding you back from fulfilling your calling in Christ?

Set it down and let Him fill you up!




Lenten Thoughts: Remembering


In the movie “The Sound of Music”, when Julie Andrews’ character is comforting the children in the middle of a horrific thunderstorm, she sings a song. Don’t they always when it’s a musical? The song she uses to bring them comfort is a recounting of all her “favorite things.” Maybe you remember a few: raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens; bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. She simply remembers her favorite things, and then she won’t feel so bad.


Remembering. It’s a biblical principle. In the Old Testament God’s people are told to make a pile of rocks, and the children are to ask why are they there. The adults are then to tell the story of God’s protection and provision. This way the story would not be lost from generation to generation.

I read an article this week that made a very bold claim—or at least I thought it was bold. The author stated we forget because we anticipate we are going to forget. And if I could remember what magazine it was in, I would put down the whole quote. In essence: we forget because we don’t remember.

Perhaps that’s why there are so many references to remembering in the Bible, two hundred thirty three according to biblegateway.com.


Memory is a fickle thing. In my work with my little lady who had Alzheimer’s, I marveled at how she wasn’t able to remember our immediate conversation but she could recount wonderful stories from her youth. She could tell you her recipe for homemade bread, but as she made it she couldn’t recall if she put in the yeast.

One day she had been in her room for an unusually long time, so I quietly peeked in the door to check on her. She was sitting on her bed by the bedside stand with her Bible open on her lap, her fingers running over the page as she read and reread Psalms. It reminded me of a time when I visited a woman in the hospital who was very close to death. Her lips were moving, but no sound was coming out. I leaned in close and heard her softly repeating the Lord’s Prayer. She was no longer conscious in this world, but her spirit was totally in touch.

Have you watched the news lately? It’s not for the faint of heart. There isn’t much “good” news being report. So we need to remember. What has God done for you, now or in the past? Where have and do you see his hand? Life is going to get harder. So unless we become more intentional in our remembering, it will be very easy to forget.