What’s Your “The”?

I’ve been studying the book of Ruth lately. Painstakingly slow. I began the beginning of February and I’m still only on chapter 2. I hadn’t planned on studying it, but our pastor began preaching through the short book and I began reading it in preparation for his sermons.

Also I needed to make a graphic for the bulletin cover which necessitated my reading also. But I digress.

The story of Ruth is a wonderful picture of the life of an indwelt Christian. We all know it is the love story of Boaz and Ruth. But it’s also a love story of God and His people. In the first chapter we see ourselves as we really are before Jesus. We’ve fled the freedom of the promised land because of famine and are living exactly where God told us not to live…the Land of Moab.  But God begins wooing us out of our sinful state by noticeably blessing those around us. We decide to return and that is where the love story really begins. We come to the realization that He is our Kinsman Redeemer, and He has gone to great lengths to buy us back from captivity and sin.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Chapter 2 dawns with Ruth asking Naomi’s permission to go glean in a field, behind someone in whose sight she would find favor. Naomi obviously gives her permission and off Ruth goes. In gleaning that day she happened (actual Hebrew word means, “her chance chanced upon”) to come to the field owned by Boaz. I’m not going to get into the whole story here because that isn’t the topic or issue for this post.

In this chapter Ruth is continually referred to as “Ruth the Moabitess”, I believe the same holds true in the rest of Scripture. Everywhere she is named the two words, “the Moabitess” follows her name. It struck me as odd this morning. She is constantly referred to by who she was.

I am firmly convinced that she had a complete heart and life change when she left Moab with Naomi. I am sure it wasn’t after she left, but the change started before, while they were all still living in Moab. Before her father-in-law died, before her brother-in-law died, and before her husband died.

But nowhere is that change noted or mentioned. It’s striking to me, Rahab isn’t always known as Rahab the Harlot. But every time we see Ruth, we are reminded that she was an outsider, a non-Israelite. She didn’t fit it, didn’t belong, she wasn’t one of them.

In chapter 2 we also see that she is known for her kindness to Naomi, or what she did. When Boaz asked the servant over the reapers who she was, he was told “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi…”. He didn’t even say her name, but he did say what she had done. Apparently words got around in those days too. Everyone knew who she was because they knew what she had done.

Why the difference? Is it even important? Why call her by who she was every time? It’s an Identity thing! Her identity was in being from Moab.

Our identity isn’t in WHAT we do, but it’s in WHO we are.

We all struggle with seeing our identity in what we do. We ask people, “What do you do?” instead of asking, “Who are you?” Oh, yeah, we’ll ask someone’s name and then say, “Hilda, what do you do?” We identify with our actions.

I am a writer. I’m an attorney. I’m a CPA. I’m a banker. I’m a bank robber. I’m a teacher. I’m a student. I’m a Momma. I’m a secretary. I’m a bum. I’m a broker. I’m a cop. I’m a store clerk. I’m a librarian. I’m a barbarian.

It’s all what we do. But our actions don’t define us or identify us.  We are not what we do.

We pray all the time for Jesus to show us what He wants us to do. We need to stop that. Don’t ask Jesus what He wants you to do. He created you a human BEing not a human DOing.

But also don’t pray to be WHAT Jesus wants you to be. Pray to be WHO Jesus wants you to be. You’re a WHO not a WHAT.

Remember, you are not what you do.  Your job, your title, your activities do not define or identify you. Allow Jesus to be your identity, find your identity in Him and allow Him and His life to identify and define you.


The Apologetics Study Bible {A Review}

I LOVE God’s Word. I love opening a new Bible, bringing it to my face, thrusting my nose into the center and breathing in deeply. It always emits a sigh from my deepest heart.

Not simply because I’m enamored with a new book, and a new book smell. I get giddy with the heady scent of an old favorite book too. Currently the Bible that I use daily smells of all things coffee. There are coffee rings on some of the pages.

The sigh comes from a place of knowing how loved I am. The God who created a billion galaxies thought of and noticed little me. He wrote His life story through the pen of many men many, many years ago. He wrote this so I could, so you could know Him.

It’s what we were created for. We were created to know and love God. What better way to communicate that than through a love letter telling His story? I can’t think of one.


I recently had the honor of reviewing The Apologetics Study Bible. It is published by LifeWay/BH Publishing and uses the Holman Christian Standard translation.  I received a hardback copy, on the grey and white cover there is a watermark of The Thinker with the words “Faithful and True” along the edge of the spine. If you take off the dust cover you lose none of the design. I love that.

The pages are thin, but not super thin. The font though. Oh my word the font! I can almost read it without my glasses on. I love that. I can set it on my desk and not have to lean over very close to it just to read. That is huge.


Okay. Let me explain that. The font isn’t huge. But it is a big enough size I can see it clearly. This makes me happy.

Sprinkled throughout the Bible are little boxes labeled “Twisted Scripture”. It’s not what you think! In these boxes, Alan Street offers explanation for commonly misconstrued passages of Scripture.


In that picture you can see the great size of the font!! I love it!

Also you’ll find sprinkled throughout various articles on a wide range of topics. These are great to direct your thoughts deeper and would be excellent to use as a devotional.

Each book also has, as is typical for study Bibles, an introduction to each book, and study notes at the bottom of the page.

The one thing I do not like, and to me this is not a minor dislike, but is big. In the introduction to the books, it lists the man the Spirit of God breathed through as the author. The Author of the Bible is God. Men were merely the penmen, if you will.

You can order through Lifeway or your favorite Christian bookstore.

I give it 4 out of 5 turning pages.

Of Lost Things

20140422_120109I recently had the opportunity to reconnect with an old friend. This friend is one I hadn’t seen in nearly 30 years. I had high hopes for our reunion. I planned my outfits carefully, and around our common interests. I wanted to look good. I wanted to act good. I wanted to be good. I wanted to be seen as different than I was 28 years ago.

During one of our conversations my friend looked me in the eye and said, “You and I, we’ve lost so much.” And it is a very true statement. Abuse, neglect, rejection litters our pasts and tempts to take over our present at times.

When my mind is allowed to look back over the things I’ve lost, my focus changes. It moves from “Man! I’m blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3)!” to “How much more do I have to lose? I’ve nearly lost everything as it is!”

And the voice of Jesus softly whispers, “You haven’t lost your life yet.”  I would listen and think, “You’re right. I haven’t lost what You lost for me.”

In reading Psalm 103 this morning, Jesus spoke again, “Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit…” I prayed those words and He spoke again, “You haven’t lost your life yet.”  He moved the focus from His death, which is important, to teach me a reality that I had been denying.

I was hanging on to my life, clutching it with both hands in a death grip all in a vain effort to not lose it, to hold on to one thing that no one could take away.

“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who lost his life for My sake shall find it.” Matthew 10:38-39

This was His message. “You haven’t lost your life yet because you’re hanging on so tightly to it.” 

In the Old Testament book of Ruth, chapter 1 we see the beginning of the story of Ruth and Naomi. Naomi lost a lot. She lost her country, family, what was familiar, husband, and children. Naomi chose the pit. She chose bitterness.

Ruth also lost. Ruth lost her country, what was familiar, her family, and her husband. But she chose the path.  She chose grace.

The question for us today is, which will we chose? When we’re faced with yet another lose, another loss, another thing we feel being ripped from us and leaving us empty, will we chose the pit of bitterness or the path of grace?

I’ve chosen the pit of bitterness and it isn’t fun, it is where ministry dreams go to die. But in the pit of bitterness we can chose differently. We can in that pit, when we’re buried in the scum on the bottom of the pit, we can chose the path of grace. When we make that choice, even in the pit, He lifts us out of the pit and places us on the Rock, that is Himself.

Let’s chose the path.

The Lost Sermons of Spurgeon Vol. 2 {A Review}

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a man who is often equated with great wisdom and a great love for Jesus. He has been referred to as The Prince of Preachers. He came to Jesus in 1850 after reading Isaiah 45:22 and he preached his first sermon later that year. He was 15.

C.H. Spurgeon, though, wasn’t only a preacher. He was a prolific author. Each week on average he wrote 500 letters. By the time of his death when he was 57, he had authored approximately 150 books. This does not include his sermons, which he edited weekly and were published in over 40 languages in his lifetime.

Spurgeon was always one of those authors I tried to read but just wasn’t able to grasp what he was trying to say. I always gave up in defeat. He was an author I thought “every ‘good Christian’ should be able to read his books without issue” and I believed that quoting him would show a great mind and love for Jesus.

Imagine my immense surprise when I saw The Lost Sermons of Spurgeon ( compiled by Christian T. George) was available for review and I picked it. This was Spurgeon, the very man I didn’t understand and couldn’t follow.

20171021_083759When the book arrived, I quickly opened the box and the ohs and ahs began in earnest. The book was stunning.  The colorful cover is eye-catching and has been designed to replicate the original notebook.

Inside the book are full-color pictures of the actual sermons as they were written in Spurgeon’s own handwriting.  These include any finger smudges or prints as well as his crossed through mistakes.

20171021_083814.jpgOn the opposite page from the photos of his notebook, are the sermons typed out. Each of the sermons is noted and brief explanations are given at the end of the sermon. These make Spurgeon seem a little more real.

This book is one that could be read through as any other book, but doesn’t necessarily need to be. One could very easily pick and choose which sermons to read.

This would be a great gift for the theologian in your life. It would also make a great a great addition to any library.

I give this book 5 out of 5 turning pages. Yes, I know it’s Spurgeon. Yes, I know I can’t follow him, or read him. It’s good!

I received a free copy of this book from LifeWay publishers through their review program for the purpose of review. All opinions and photos (except for the video below) are my own. 

My Life as a Buckeye

One of the special joys I’ve come to revel in lately is hearing Jesus speak to me. I love to hear His voice. At times He speaks and I hear His giggle.

Like the times I’ve been walking and I’ll hear Him say, “Look down!” And there on the sidewalk at my feet is a nut. You know the kind that goes with a bolt. And I hear His sweet laughter as we share a joke about finding myself on the walk.

Or there is the time I was praying for Him to give me my own special shape. The day last March I walked home from the coffee shop, stopped to tie my shoes and found a nickel there on the sidewalk. I heard His voice as clear as a bell on that cold, frosty morning, “This is your shape!” (You can read more of that story here.)

DSC_0156 (1)DSC_0158 (1)DSC_0160 (1)DSC_0163 (2)

There have been times He has spoken things that weren’t funny but were necessary to my soul. He has talked of truth and lies, He has shown me lies I’ve believed. And He has blessedly spoken His wonderful Truth into those lies and I’ve felt them release their death grip on me.

He has, at times, spoken words of correction. At times I’ve heard Him shout to get my attention because I dead set on doing things my way.  He has spoken sternly to me, but always with an undercurrent of love.


So yesterday when I heard Him speak to me as I left the office it wasn’t a surprise. As I walked towards my car, one foot lifted, ready to take the next step when He spoke:
“Look down!”
I set my foot back down and cast a glance at my feet, there I saw a nearly perfectly formed buckeye.


One day I had asked a friend of mine what a buckeye was exactly. He told me “A worthless nut.” You can’t do anything with a buckeye, you can’t eat them or make nut butter. The only thing a buckeye is good for is planting to grow a nice shade tree.

I stooped down, picked up the buckeye, and rubbed my fingers over it’s smooth surface. And I felt the presence of my Jesus well-up in me as I heard Him say, “You are a worthless nut who has found her worth in Me.”

And I couldn’t breathe for the wonder and the glory of it.

I am just a worthless nut apart from Jesus. I’m totally and completely worthless. I am a complete waste of cells, breath, life. I’m a worthless human. I’m no good to anyone for anything.  Completely worthless.

And so are you.

But in Jesus! Because of Jesus we have great worth! We aren’t worthless we have value because He has value! My value doesn’t rest in my address, my job, my family, my man, my children, or my friends. My value, my worth is only found in Jesus. I can look for it in other things and people but I won’t find it. I will push and shove and try to force others to make me feel valuable and for a time they will. Maybe. But it’s always only for a short time. And then they get frustrated or I get frustrated and I’m back to searching for my next value fix as I’m left feeling more like this:


Broken. Forced open. And cracked.

When I think I need to tell someone what they mean to me, I’m really looking for them to meet some need in my life, probably to make me feel valuable. I’m demanding them to meet my need for affirmation, affection, admiration, and acceptance. Because when I feel these I feel valued, but when I don’t feel it my value dips.

I need–we all need–to look first to Jesus to meet those needs. And then from an overflowing heart that is fully convinced of it’s value in Him and His life, we are free to express to others our great affection for them without strings.  Because expressing affection to get our own needs meet is selfishly using others. No one likes to be used.

When we see ourselves as we are in Jesus, just a worthless nut who finds her value in Him we will rock our world. He will take us,

“and we will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers”. (Psalm 1:3 nasb)

How do we find our value in Him? First we must realize that apart from Him we can do nothing. We are powerless. We have no control over anything, not even our next breath.

We also must realize as much as we can His great love for us. I struggle to think of anyone I would willingly lay aside my life for and die in their place. Especially not a stranger and an enemy. But that is exactly what Jesus did. Not because I’m worth it, or you’re worth it. Because we aren’t! But because of His love, He chose it.

We also must choose Him. And we must choose to believe Him. Take Him as His Word. Believe it. Even when the truth of it sounds like a lie, we choose to believe the Truth that sounds like a lie over the lie that sounds like the truth.

To do that we must spend time with Him. We must submit fully to Him, His Lordship and His authority.  Oh how it’s hard. And oh how it hurts. But it’s the only way. It’s the way of the cross.  Yes, it’s in Ann Voskamp‘s vernacular “the broken way.” The only way to live broken is to be broken and offer up our brokenness, our broken pieces to Him. Sometimes we get to choose our breaking and other times life just seems to smash and break us. But we always get to choose our response to our brokenness. We can fight it, blaming God. Or we can run to Him with it and in it and allow Him to work through it for His Life, Light and Glory.

So I will choose to revel in my position as a worthless nut because I know my worth and value are found in Him alone.

Counseling Under the Cross by Bob Kellemen {A Review}

My first experience with counseling was as a young teenager. That counselor was a lifeline of Jesus to my soul. I saw Jesus in him and his relationship with Jesus drew me like a moth to a flame.  So much of who I am now and the path I’m following is a very direct result of his influence on my life. He showed me a different way to live, a different life and I am so thankful for his careful care and concern. He is one of the very precious Jesus grace-gifts of my life.

As a direct result of his influence in my life, I wanted to be just like him when I grew up. I wanted to be a Christian counselor, I have wanted to help others the way he helped me. I want to point others to Jesus, to be a beacon of light in someone else’s darkness. I have wanted to be used to draw others to the flame of Jesus until they can, like I do, dance in His Holy Fire.

Because of all this, I am still drawn to books about counseling or by counselors. When I find a book by a counselor on the topic of being a better counselor I am giddy. You can imagine my immense giddiness when I received an email from Litfuse about Dr. Bob Kellemen‘s book, Counseling Under the Cross: How Martin Luther applied the Gospel to daily Living.  I didn’t hesitate, I didn’t think twice, I immediately clicked “Review This book”.

20170918_152631In Counseling Under the Cross, Kellemen teaches counselors to counsel the way Martin Luther counseled..under the cross and with the full gospel. Kellemen has divided the book into two sections. The first section is to get us acquainted with Martin Luther before Jesus gripped his heart. He lived in constant fear of the anger and wrath of God. He would spend hours confessing every known sin in his life. Martin Luther saw God, not as a good Father, but as a righteous and vindictive Judge.

And that is where chapter one ends. And where chapter two begins. Martin Luther went through a metamorphosis of ginormous proportions. He moved from seeing God only as wrathful to seeing God as his loving and kind Father.

This transformation not only changed Luther’s relationship with Jesus, it changed how he related to Jesus and to those people under his care.  His new freedom in Jesus drove him to share it with others.

Chapters 3-11 talk about how Martin used his freedom in Jesus to minister to others.  He used a cross-shaped method of counseling:

  • Sustaining,
  • Healing,
  • Reconciling, and
  • Guiding

Kellemen shares Luther’s theology and methodology of each one. He shares through letters Martin wrote to those he was helping, his table talks, and other writings.  Kellemen writes in such a way the reader really sees the heart of Martin Luther for all believer, but especially those who were hurting.

This book should be on the Must-Read list of every Christian counselor and/or pastor, as well anyone who has a heart to bring health and healing to the hurting in Jesus. 

What did I like about the book? In short, everything. Bob Kellemen wrote in a manner that drew me in deeper with every page. I had to read it with a highlighter in my hand because there is just so much good!

Bob Kellemen also wrote in a way that opened my eyes to circumstances I’ve experienced personally. I had many personal a-ha moments. So while this book is written for those in the role of counselor, anyone could read it and benefit greatly.

What didn’t I like about the book? From the introduction when Kellemen would quote someone, he only used their last name. I know this is nit-picky of me, but I would rather have the author’s full name at least the first time he is cited.

I also wish he had capitalized pronouns referring to Jesus.

A few of my favorite quotes:

When life stinks, our perspective shrinks.

When the devil casts up to us our sin, and declares us worthy of death and hell, we must say, “I confess I am worthy of death and hell. What more have you to say?” “Then you will be lost forever!” “Not in the least: for I know One who suffered for me and made satisfaction for my sins and His Name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. So long as He shall live, I shall live also.”

The Spirit empowers us to live out who we already are in Christ.

Faith activates love.

You who are so pugnacious in everything else, fight against yourself!

I give this book 10 out of 5 turning pages. Yes! It is that good!

I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse for the purpose of review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.


20170715_065750Lately Jesus has been talking to me about trust. In the words of Inigo Montoya, “I do not think it means what you think it means” has been what He has told me the most.

You see I always thought that trust was earned, easily broken, and nearly impossible to replace once broken. Trust was something you gave to only a select few and when your trusted persons quota was filled up you simply stopped trusting. There was no room for any more trust in people. If someone broke the trust you had in them, you were free to not trust anyone ever again.

Because it wasn’t worth the risk.

But then I met a woman who had written off people, mainly adults, as being completely untrustworthy by the age of 5. The age of 5! When she was in kindergarten she knew she couldn’t trust adults to care for her and had written them off, all of them. To say she had a chip on her shoulder in kindergarten would be an understatement.

The more I spent time with her the more I realized that she had much to teach me about trust. Something didn’t ring true about her feelings about trusting people. In her mind no one was to be trusted, not people and definitely not God.

Heaven forbid one should trust God. That was crazy.

Only it wasn’t. The more time I spent with this woman the more I realized the lies she was feeding me. Yes, to be sure there are people that can’t, or maybe even shouldn’t be trusted. But to think that no one can be trusted, and God can’t be trusted? What a sad, sad existence that would be.

I read on this on twitter the other day,

Maybe we can’t trust our whole lives to Him yet, but perhaps we can trust God with today & see what happens. Maybe we will be surprised. (Melissa Moore)

My thought and response then was, “I don’t know. If I don’t think I can trust Him with tomorrow will I really trust Him with today?”

So many of us have grown up thinking there is only so much love, so much trust to go around and when we’re out of it, we’re out of it. So we have to use it, give it a way wisely because you can never get it back.

Simply put, that is a lie. Especially for a believer.




Back in the 1980’s, musician Steve Camp recorded a song that became very popular, “Love’s not a feeling”. We all applauded the new thought that love wasn’t a feeling, but a choice. It was a commitment. Then DC Talk appeared on the scene with their song, “Luv is a verb”. That showed us love is action, it’s what we do not just what we feel. And we applauded some more.

Love is a choice. It is active, but it isn’t what we do, it’s WHO we are. Because Love lives inside of us if we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Love is our nature. Love isn’t a feeling. Love isn’t a choice. Love isn’t a verb. Love is a Person.  Love is Jesus.

Plain and simple. It’s Jesus.

So what does love have to do with trust? Everything. Just as love is a choice so is trust. We choose to trust. We choose to see people as trustworthy. Even after our trust has been broken or violated.

Trust is a choice. And we can make it as many times as we need to. Or want to.

The choice to not trust is also always ours. We don’t have to trust anyone. But why would anyone choose to live in that misery?

Not this woman. And not the woman I mentioned earlier. You see, she’s had a change of heart, a Jesus-sized change of heart.

But how? How could she just change her mind, her heart on the issue of trust? I’ve heard her story and if anyone should get a pass on trusting people, it’s her. But she chooses to trust. Over and over again. It’s hard, I can tell that by looking into her eyes, but you know what else I see mirrored there? A steely determination, the kind that only comes from knowing and loving Jesus. The determination that says the enemy has taken enough years, he’s devoured enough of her and with Jesus to lead her, to guide her, she will trust.

Because people are trustworthy? In her eyes that is almost laughable. No. Because Jesus is.

She can trust others because she trusts Him. She doesn’t need to trust others to learn how to trust Jesus. She knows that if she can trust Him, if she entrusts her whole being to Him, she knows she can trust people.

The only blind trust she has is in Jesus. And even that isn’t all that blind. He has walked with her, talked with her, and taught her so much, she trusts His heart.

She knows people will fail. They will disappoint. But Jesus never will. There may be times it appears He is, but she knows, loves and trusts enough to know perceptions can be wrong and they can and will change.

But this fact remains, Jesus never changes. If He is trustworthy today, He was trustworthy yesterday, and He will be trustworthy tomorrow. And a forever’s worth of tomorrows.