Message Meme: Content or Covet


Contentment…satisfaction. These are the opposites of what leads us to coveting—being consumed with desiring what others have, not being happy or satisfied with ours.

We live in a world that celebrates striving over thriving. Work hard. Play harder. Have the best and the newest. We are no longer fulfilled by merely keeping up with the Jones, we have to exceed them at every turn, and who cares if the get trampled?

God does.

Back in the garden, the serpent spoke to Eve’s innate desire for more: eat from the forbidden tree and you’ll be as wise as God. To get ahead you can’t trust that God has your best at heart. She coveted what God had.

Dissatisfaction played a role in the murder of Able, and the birth rite theft of Esau. And who can forget how coveting his neighbor’s wife was nearly the demise of David.

The Apostle Paul’s comment to young Timothy must have been a jolt, even back then: “A godly life brings huge profits to people who are content with what they have (1 Timothy 6:6, God’s World Translation).”

I wonder what those profits might be?



Hopefully Devoted: Hard Pressed


Every Sunday morning during worship, we do a kids’ focus time called, Sermon in the Sack. Well, that’s what I call it. I’ve heard rumors others refer to it as “Stump the Pastor.”

Each week someone provides me with an item carefully hidden in a paper bag that I am given a few minutes to ponder before I present a spiritual/biblical lesson about to the children.

Yesterday I opened the bag as I was calling the children to the front.

Now let me preface what comes next by saying I’m not a cook. I love cooking shows. Dream of being able to make meals that amaze my family and friends. But they all know better: I’m a kitchen dunce and disaster.

So I opened the bag and found a garlic press. I’m not going to lie: I was impressed I even knew what it was. I knew immediately what direction I was going to go.

The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4, seeks to encourage the people who are going through persecution. He uses his own series of trials and times in prison as an example for them. He tells them:

8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body (NIV).

And it occurred to me that I’m a little like garlic. I’m not useful if I remain in the bulb. I only make a difference when my outer shell is peeled away and I’m pulverized. The lessons I learn through life’s crushing experiences become the moments when grace and mercy shine through.

It’s not difficult to follow God and trust in his provision when things are sunny and going well—what about the times of shadow and storm? What about the times when pain is great and confusing, and the future is terrifying with its uncertainty?

Hold on weary one. No matter what happens, no matter how dark the night, no matter how crushing the thing is you’re going through: you are not abandoned, nor will you be destroyed.


Sermon Seeds: Build Them Up

My goal 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, NIV).

Way back when I first began my journey in ministry I felt led to this verse in Colossians. Without consciously deciding, I made it the purpose statement for my life: encouraged in heart and united in love, so that the folks I am connected to will be moved to deeper (complete) understanding of the mystery of God, Jesus the Christ.

My life has been spent encouraging others, and working toward unity.

Truth be told: it can be pretty exhausting. Some days I feel like a cheerleader who never gets to rest. And who isn’t always appreciated. I’m sure if you’ve ever been to a sporting event you’ve been trying to carry on a conversation while those responsible for morale and keeping you focused on the game keep yelling louder and louder to try and engage you. They can be enormously annoying.

And don’t get me started on the up-hill battle for unity these days. Everyone has an opinion, and it’s the only one that matters. People would rather be right than in relationship.

Being right. Even if it means putting someone down. Even if that process involves untruth. Even if it means trashing their character.  Even if.

Jesus knew this. The Pharisees and leaders of the day had to be right. And Jesus stood between them and control. So they trumped up false charges. Had people lie about what Jesus did and said. They forced people to break the ninth commandment by paying them to perjur themselves.

And he died, a horrible, cruel death.

They didn’t realize then…and we forget today:


Prayer thoughts: God help to be more concerned about building each other up. Help us build bridges that result in better relationships and deeper understanding of who you are and how you want us to be. Amen.

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.

Wednesday’s Word: Meditative


One of my favorite lines in the Christmas story is attributed to Mary—not to what she said, but what she did: Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them (Luke 2:19).

Listening, watching, reflecting.

These things require that we are truly engaged with live as we move through it.

It seems, however, we default to “auto-pilot” with scary ease. It may get us from points A to B—but at what price?

Our ability to reflect impacts not only our ability to remember, but also to apply what we’ve learned.


These memories become treasures as they inform and form us.

Meditate on that!

Message Meme: Let’s Be Honest!


Our commandment this week: Don’t tell lies about others.

This commandment has more to do with perjuring oneself as witness in court than telling someone everything is fine when it’s not, or that their new hairstyle looks fabulous when it really looks like a horrible hack job.

Remember back to the third commandment:


Not taking the name of Lord in vain spoke directly to the ways we carried his name WELL in all we do and say.

There seems to me to be a direct correlation between these two commands. If we are carrying well the name and character of our neighbor (because the commands are about how we live and build community), then we will do everything positive in our power to build them up—not tear them down with lies and gossip.

Let’s be honest.

When Will I See You Again?

This morning as I was getting ready to write I found this post from last year. I need these words again. Maybe their truth will rub an ache in your faith, too. Selah.

Pot of Manna

For we walk by faith, not by sight, (2 Corinthians 5:7)


I’m at Florida Christian Writers Conference. It’s a great place to be on so many levels. For one thing, the weather here is delightful. I’m also improving my craft, networking, and making new friends.

So, it might make more sense to you when I tell you I walked out on my balcony and prayed: Lord, where will I, when will I see you again? (And then I started singing, “When will I see you again?” by the Three Degrees…it’s on youtube if you need an earworm)


I love my regular times with the Lord. Morning routines of prayer and attention to the Word can put such a positive energy into the beginnings of my day. If there’s a sunrise or a sunset filling the sky, it feels like God is tapping me on my shoulder reminding me he’s…

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