Jesus…his name evokes a variety of images. A newborn infant wrapped in rags. A man of righteous anger defending his Father’s temple. A man of generous spirit giving all of himself—even to the point of death.

Imagine the scene. Shaking uncontrollably, the woman begged for mercy as people pressed around her. The shouts and cruel slurs of the Good Ones, the Religious Ones, pierced her heart the most. Adulterer! Harlot! Worthless!

Feeling the heat of shame on her face, the woman bowed her head ready to accept the punishment. She knew death was imminent. Uttering a prayer, the woman steeled herself for the first crushing blow of rock against flesh and bone.

Suddenly, the roar of the crowd quieted as Jesus—the one some called Messiah– stepped between the Religious and the Sinful Woman. His body a shield, Jesus knelt low and carefully, deliberately wrote something in the sand. Could he have written the word mercy? Or, perhaps, love? Maybe Jesus simply sketched SIN—large enough for everyone in the throng of people to see.

Dusting the sand from his hands, Jesus rose slowly—glancing at each person in turn.

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

A few shifted uncomfortably while others refused to meet the Teacher’s eyes. Many of the Religious Ones scoffed. The crowd’s fevered excitement had diminished and people began to move away from the woman. Several minutes later, the woman stood in front of her Savior—rescued from her sin, delivered from the accusers, and promised a new life because of Christ’s eternal mercy.

Christ’s spirit of generosity was lived day by day with intentionality. Dear ones, let us live intentional lives with Christ’s glory and the good of others in mind!

Scripture for Reflection

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:1-8)


“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”                                   —Mother Theresa

The woman behind the register noticed my quick glance at her company shirt.  Smiling broadly, she indicated the colorful badges and stickers decorating the gray polyester around her plastic-enclosed name tag.  “I earned each one of these,” Mary announced proudly.  “No one else in the store has earned as many!  I might have to work over the holidays, but I know I’ll have more than anybody.  Here…fill out the survey at the bottom of the receipt and I can get another one.”

Nodding, I wished Mary a pleasant evening, clutched the brown plastic bag in my hands, and passed through the automatic doors–wondering at the woman’s obvious need for validation.


If she had only known of the One who provides Holy validation.  And, oh, if only we as Christians lived free, wide-open lives just as if we understood God’s acceptance of His beloved ones.

But instead–even from a young age–we fall into the trap of seeking validation from parents, teachers, coaches.  The opposite sex, co-workers, and church members.  Words of praise…trophies, medals, and blue ribbons…longing looks from young men noticing a teenage girl’s plunging shirt…VIP parking places.  Temporary rewards at best, these types of man-designed approval are narrowly accepting and limited to the few who deserve them–society’s choice of winners, achievers, and beauties.

But, in God’s kingdom, there exists an eternal approval offered to all.  Unlike human acceptance which increases or dwindles with a change of circumstance or emotion–this is a full and complete validation that has nothing to do with how much we have or have not achieved,  how much money we do or do not earn, or whether or not we have been “good enough”.  Even more incredible?  Our approval from Him rests not us, but on “the finished work of Jesus Christ” (John17:4).  God’s limitless, eternal approval for you and me died on the cross and rose again with the resurrection of the Lamb.

If the woman at Walgreen’s had understood…if we understand…then the approval of others no longer matters.

Scripture for Reflection

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. (1 Thes. 2:4)

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. (Proverbs 29:25)

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.  (Col. 3:23)



The path to the land of abundance lay ahead–easily navigated and under the protection of the King.  Yet, the people chose to wander aimlessly–the brown of the desert soiling their feet just as their complaints marred that day’s praises to the God of Israel.  And like a low-hanging curtain of smog restricting the full scope of a city’s skyline, the limitless sand, rock, and mountain seemed to repress the beauty and hope of God’s promise to his people.  You remember the one, don’t one? God had seen the oppression and enslavement.  God heard the groaning and crying.  And God promised to deliver the Suffering Ones to a new land…a new home…a new hope.

But, the blistering heat of the sun penetrated flesh and bone.  Parched lips yearned for the feel of sleek relief rolling across mouth and tongue while complaints poured from them as easily as a flash flood racing through the wasteland.

The people had forgotten–or, at least failed to remember–they were free!  No longer slaves…cowering in fear of the coming day, uncertain of survival, constrained by unbidden circumstances.

Free!  Free to worship…to dance…to dream.

Wouldn’t it seem that with a promise like the one God pronounced, the people would have continued to rejoice?  Celebrate?  Hope?  Didn’t the God of heaven pronounce that he would “bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey”?

Still, God’s own children grumbled in their newfound freedom.  Unhappy in their current circumstances, men and women turned away from the hope of a soon-to-be-tomorrow to a here-and-now reality.  They gave up their leader for a party, the true God for a Guernsey,  and a quick trip to the “land of milk and honey” for forty years of meaningless meandering.

If I’m honest, I recognize myself in the story.  Maybe you, too, see yourself there–feet burning as you tread across the barren land.  If only we had stayed behind!  Egypt wasn’t wonderful, but we would enjoy a draught of water from the well and a bed of reeds to lie upon.

My story is a bit different, of course.  This walk…this journey as a Christian is harder than I’d hoped.  Sometimes, living like the world–like Egypt of old–appeals.  Surrounded by the pollution of worldly living, it’s easy to bend low for a sip–just once.

Enjoying one last drink.  Flirting with the boss.  Watching barely concealed porn in the form of a newly released movie as reflection of social norms.  Intentionally allowing harmful words to wound another.  And the list continues for each of us…our Egypt.

We’ve all succumbed to Egypt…to ourselves.  But God’s promise is still as true for us as it was for His chosen people.  Stay the course, dear Friend,  whether you are on the desert road or in an abundant land.  We have been freed to look forward to an internal inheritance!  We have received Jesus Christ himself for both here-and-now and our soon-to-be Forever.

Scripture for Reflection

…we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.  (Ephesians 1:11-14)

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us[a] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col. 1:11-13)

“The great battle of our spiritual lives is ‘Will you believe?’  It is not, ‘Will you try harder?’ or ‘Can you make yourself Worthy?’  It is squarely a matter of believing that God will do what only he can do.”

-Jim Cymbala

I’ve read about Chrissy.  Raised as a pastor’s daughter in a loving home, she deserted her faith and family.  For two years, Chrissy’s parents lived a nightmare–unsure their beloved child was safe or warm–and wondering  if she would ever return home.

One evening, Pastor Cymbala asked his congregation to intercede on Chrissy’s behalf.  And those gathered at church that night lifted their voices to heaven beseeching the heavenly Father to rescue one who had been stolen.  Two days later, the lost daughter knocked on her father’s door.  She was finally home.

This story is an incredible encouragement to me.  It gives me hope for my own prodigal.

While he wasn’t born into a pastor’s family, our prodigal’s story began in a Christian home.  We prayed over our child, dedicated him to the Lord, and read scripture together.  His gentle spirit responded to God’s and this precious blonde haired, blue eyed child invited Jesus to be his savior when he was almost five years old.

Our shy little boy told other children about Jesus…raced to the car in his red AWANA vest eager to go to church…and began growing in his own faith.  Several years later, one life altering moment shattered everything in Benjamin’s life.  Unaware of the his pain, my husband and I were confused by the sudden change in Ben’s personality and choices.

This was the moment that opened the door and allowed the enemy access.  He stole one who rightfully belongs to God.

Since then, I have battled on myknees.  I have begged God to loose the chains…to “replace the heart of stone”…to return our prodigal to us.  Still, the enemy holds fast–reluctant to give up the child we claimed for Christ before he was ever born.  But I am convinced there is more to this story…that God has a better plan for Ben…that one day God will replace the deadness in my boy’s eyes with the light of joy and that words of praise will flow from the lips of the son who now utters words that deny His power.

As my brothers and sisters in Christ, can I be vulnerable with you?  After not having seen Benjamin for several weeks, yesterday we stopped by the apartment where he is staying.  We stood awkwardly in the doorway…invited him to dinner…asked about his plans.

Giving each of us a hug he quietly asked, “Can you please leave?”

Reluctantly walking down the rickety iron steps, I imagined our unspoken conversation.

Why are you here?  Don’t you realize I’ve cut you out of my life?                                                                                                     

Yes, son, but we love you just as God does–without condition.

I feel so alone in this life.  teddy-828506_640                                                                                                                                                           

You don’t need to walk this road alone.  We are here–and there is one whose loving presence is ever-constant. Call out to Him, my son.  He will never leave you or forsake you!  

But the words were never spoken and my son sleeps on the floor of a one room apartment.  What does he eat?  Is he safe?  And I wake during the sleeping hours to pray.

And today I follow Jim Cymbala’s example.  Friends–in all humility can I lay my heartache before you?  Would you please pray for Benjamin?  I believe he is at a critical juncture and I am pleading with God that in his mercy He will do a work in Ben’s life..that he will set the prisoner free…that he will rescue that which has been lost.

If we share in the same journey, would you also gift me with the opportunity to pray for your prodigal?  Let’s pray our prodigals home!

Scripture for Reflection

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear to dull to hear.  (Isaiah 59:1)

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  (Isaiah 40:30-31)

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. (Isaiah 42:3)

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.  (Zephaniah 3:17)

Choose Forgiveness

“The community of the saints is not an “ideal” community consisting of perfect and sinless men and women, where there is no need of further repentance. No, it is a community which proves that it is worthy of the gospel of forgiveness by constantly and sincerely proclaiming God’s forgiveness…Sanctification means driving out the world from the Church as well as separating the Church from the world. But the purpose of such discipline is not to establish a community of the perfect, but a community consisting of men who really live under the forgiving mercy of God.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

I never expected to be disliked–especially among a group of fellow believers.  But during the last few months, I’ve discovered truths that have long been avoided– perhaps out of my own naïveté or a false sense of the goodness of humanity.

The lessons have been difficult.  Painful.  Revealing.  Still, they only confirm my belief that a Christian is not someone without sin–merely a person who realizes her need for something more…Someone more.

Thank you, Jesus, for being that someone!

As a child, I rarely felt accepted.  Quiet and unassuming, I was an easy target for playground bullies and lunchroom remarks.  During my teen years, I was the girl everyone liked–but nobody thought was special.  And now, I’m reminded that even adults feel the sting of rejection.  Perhaps you are struggling with that hurt, as well. Be encouraged, Friend!

Consider those the world disregarded because they held unapologetically to God’s standard.  Noah?  Just a crazed old man shouting out useless warnings–until the day the clouds let loose their wrath.  Moses?  A prince turned pauper begging the most powerful king in the world to release thousands of Hebrew slaves–laughable.  Then, the King of all severed a sea in half–the road to freedom revealed by God’s own hand.  Christ himself suffered the ultimate rejection–death– at the hands of  family….friends….and people who chose a murderer to a miracle worker. But three days later? They found the stone rolled away.

You are in good company if you have been slandered, maligned, or disregarded for doing the right thing…if you have spoken the truth in love…or lived your faith out loud as a workman unashamed.  Isn’t it better for us to face the possibility of human rejection than to willingly brush off the obligation to share words of gentle rebuke or correction with a fellow Christian we claim to love?  If we don’t risk an offense then we do not love.

And, if our fears are realized?  If that person now counts herself an enemy?  Or, her anger and discontent infect the Body?  We are responsible to respond as Christ did when he was surrounded by those gaping and sneering at his mangled body hanging on the tree…”Father, forgive them.”

Forgiveness–in spite of anger…the need to self-promote…the temptation to respond in kind.  This is when faith becomes real, dear one.  Let’s choose Christ today–choose to forgive.

Reminders from Scripture

“…and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”  Matthew 28:20

“…he alone is my Rock, my rescuer, defense and fortress.”  Psalm 62

“When you are reviled and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers—wonderful! 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! for a tremendous reward awaits you up in heaven.”  Matthew 5:11

“Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.” 1 Corinthians 13:15

What matters more than material blessings are the things He is teaching us in our spirit.

Charles Stanley

It all began much earlier for him, but most of the nascent signs were quiet and crept into life bit by bit–a silent predator slowly introducing the victim to its presence. Then two years ago, the boy’s everyday life shifted with such suddenness there could be no doubt. Our son knew what it was to struggle with anxiety and depression.

Sleep oscillated between the extremes of non-existent and constant.  Recurring migraines…weight loss…lack of appetite. And my adventurous, full-throttle son retreated to a solitary world that seemed impenetrable.  Once in a great while I would catch a glimpse of the boy , but the cloud of oppression that hung over him was normally the more visible of the two.

There is no heartache quite like that a parent has for her suffering child and in my grief I confronted God.  I wept.  I raged. I begged.  I prayed.

Please, Lord, please!

After more than two years of trial and error…missed school days and fading dreams, we discovered the right combination of interventions and supports–not the least of which included medication.  Finally…some relief for the boy I had soothed with lullabies not so many years ago.

During this time, my boy continued to seek after God.  He wanted more of Jesus–and, unlike me, didn’t seem to struggle with blaming God for allowing this trial in his young life.  Despite the depression…regardless of the anxiety…in spite of the weariness.

One evening he returned from youth group, his face transformed by joy.

We asked God to heal me.  I don’t need my medicine anymore.

christian : Man worshiping god shot at yellow grass Stock Photo

I was skeptical…fearful…doubtful.  I believed in miracles, but this? A young man’s life could be at stake.

Slow and methodical in my response,  I have taken the “yes, but” approach to this precious boy’s healing. “Yes–God can heal, but…”

Yes, but…healing is not probable…practical…likely.

Yes, but…this could be temporary…time-inhibited…explainable.

Yes, but…are you sure you can sleep…function…manage?

And he continues to do well.  Feel well.  Live well.

I have begun to relate to the Bible verse, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” in ways I never expected.  And I wonder if any of you understand?  If you’ve lived it, too?  At some level, those of us who are Christians must grasp the mystery of such things–at least a little bit.

We trust in Jesus, after all.

Yes, but…a virgin birth is impossible…unimaginable…implausible.

Yes, but…a resurrected Messiah is unbelievable…incredible…miraculous.

Yes, but…can we know we are sanctified…rescued…redeemed?

Yes, but…He was born of a virgin, died on a cross, and rose again in three days.

Scripture for Reflection

Mark 9:24

Genesis 15:6

Isaiah 43:10

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
                                                    I well remember them and my soul is downcast within me.                                                          Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.  (Lamentations 3:19-23)

Image result for images broadview montana

Image result for images broadview montana

It sits on the edge of the wind-blown prairie and the Montana sky–an unknown town to most.  A strip of slender asphalt bisects the small rows of homes where Highway 3 snakes through the rock and golden grass.  A stranger passing through probably wouldn’t bother to wonder about the people living there or notice the two quaint churches pointing their steeples toward heaven.  A casual passerby wouldn’t care that the bar–a gathering place for regulars most nights- becomes a family hangout when the basketball team scores a victory.  And few will thank the farmer–the one pulling his hat down low on his tanned brow as he gazes across miles of burnished wheat–for getting dirt beneath his nails so that others can enjoy bread on the table.

But to me?  Well…Broadview is much more.  Broadview–and her people–are a significant part of my story.  It is a place of family…of pain…of remembrance–and of promise.

I left home when I was eighteen–certain I could evade memories…redefine myself…become.  What I didn’t realize was that God allowed me to have memories–both good and bad–in order that I would also have hope.

Through the eyes of hope I can look back and thank God for his mercies to me.

My family was broken, but the Father gifted me with 200 other people who cared–from the youth pastor and his wife to the school janitor.  My English teacher…the basketball coach…my 4-H leader.

Image result for images broadview montana

My grandfather lay in a hospital–his chest stitched from stem to stern while the fields were ripe for the harvest. A line of red and green combines dotted the landscape–each trolling the field and spitting shaft in the air.  The Life Giver sent his workers so that a farmer and his grandchildren would know the feeling of satisfied stomachs in the winter.

My childhood home lay smoldering–a heap of ashes.  Yet the Provider gave more than needed when donations from a lone Pancake Breakfast were stacked in front of us.



Not at all–those 200 people made a difference.


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