Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:1-3

Monday, September 20, 2010


Mom and I packed my little black Vibe (with a sunroof!) last Tuesday night and backed out of the driveway about 7:30 Wednesday morning, heading north for Indianapolis and the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference.

We arrived at the Hyatt Regency Thursday evening and settled into a comfortable room overlooking a small courtyard with fountains of water shooting into the air.

The conference, a huge event, was fun, informative, but also overwhelming. I'm still trying to process everything I experienced. A few highlights:
  • Jeanie and Clella, two of my Kindred Hearts, drove a couple hours each (one way) to have lunch with Mom and me. We had a great time chatting and laughing.
  • I met my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, for the first time in person, and ate breakfast with her and some of her other authors.
  • I pitched my novel to two publishers and one wants to see the proposal.
  • Free books!
Mom and I are in Dayton now, visiting with one of my brothers and his family. Tomorrow we head down to the southern Ohio hills for a few days of internet-isolation and relaxation. This Saturday is a family reunion potluck.

We're making memories with every mile that clicks over on that little Vibe's odometer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

God's Strange Requests

Growing in Prayer
Lesson Three: The Bible's Oddest Prayers

The Lord visited Gideon and called him, "mighty warrior." But Gideon protested that he was the least of his family and his tribe was the least of the tribes of Israel. It didn't matter . . . God had a plan for Gideon to defeat the invading Midianites. An odd plan, but one that worked.

Similarly, we can call upon God's strength when we face overwhelming odds.

A few hundred years later, the Babylonians threatened Judah and the nation was about to fall. But God told the prophet Jeremiah to buy a field from his cousin. Considering Jerusalem and the surrounding lands were soon to be destroyed, the command to purchase land seems rather odd. But Jeremiah's legal contract foreshadowed the future prosperity of Judah. The land would be restored.

Gideon and Jeremiah trusted God and obeyed His Word.

Like Gideon, we can depend on God's strength to see us through overwhelming times.

Like Jeremiah, we can put our hope in God's promise of a divine future.

Some people think God does not like to be troubled with out constant asking.
The way to trouble God is not to come at all.
Dwight L. Moody

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Puff Prayers

Growing in Prayer: Lesson Two
The Bible's Stubbiest Prayers

Nehemiah quivered in fright when the mighty king of Persia asked him why he looked so sad when he wasn't ill. Nehemiah "prayed to the God of heaven" before asking the king's permission to return to Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-5).

Nehemiah's prayer was little more than a pause, a moment to garner his courage before making his request. But the brief prayer rested on a foundation of several days of mourning, fasting, and praying (Nehemiah 1:6-11).

Jabez, a man "more honorable than his brothers," cried out his brief prayer: "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory. Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." Scripture tells us that God granted Jabez's concise request (1 Chronicles 4:9-10). The lesson-writer suggests that Jabez "felt the need to be protected from painful pressure--and maybe physical harm. He believed having more land would give him the uffer he sorely needed, and therefore, that's what he asked God for (p. 70).

Peter cried out, "Lord save me!" when he began to sink. "Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him" (Matthew 14:30-31). His panicky prayer was quickly answered with a saving hand. "So we, too, can get in 'over our heads' and can be assured that Jesus will be there to pull us to safety" (p. 71).

Three short prayers uttered in times of distress, pain, and panic. Each prayer answered because the heart of the person uttering the prayer belonged to God.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Established Footsteps: Memorizing Romans 12

I received a message from my young friend Windy Cobourne inviting me to a new facebook group for Established Footsteps,  a project for women to memorize Romans 12. This is the first week, so if you'd like to participate, please join Windy's group.

Romans 12:1 (NIV): Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reluctant Pray-ers

Growing in Prayer
Lesson One:
"The Most Reluctant Pray-ers in the Bible"

You know what happened to Jonah, right? He tried to run away from God and ended up in the belly of a specially-made fish!

One of the most beautiful prayers in the Bible is memorialized in Jonah 2. The runaway prophet cries out in despair, but he also proclaims, "I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord" (verse 9).

Verse 8 resonates with me each time I read it:

Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

What worthless idols am I clinging to?
What grace am I forfeiting?

Action: "Begin each day this week by praying, 'Lord, help me to be quick to pray today and slow to resist you'" (p. 22).

Significant Quotes

Help us, Lord, to turn toward you, and in our turning,
find you have been turned toward us all along.
Timothy Jones

I have been driven many times to my knees by the
overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.
Abraham Lincoln.

(Note: Growing in Prayer is a six-week study from the Women of Faith Bible Study Series.)
(Photo credit)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Knowing God's Word #12

Chapter 12: Why Bother?

Why study Scripture?
  • "We study something that is living and powerful."
  • "We grapple with eternal truths."
  • "We delve into the divine Word of God."
  • "We study God's unchanging Word so that it can change us."
And yet . . . 1 Corinthians 13:2 reminds us:

Though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries
and all knowledge, and though I have all faith
so that I could remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.

A paraphrase:

If I could speak for God and could unravel any enigma
and knew all there was to know and have perfect trust,
enough to do the miraculous, but cared nothing for others,
I will have missed the whole point!

God's purpose for His Word and what it does in our lives:

  • Psalm 19:8, 11
  • Psalm 119:9, 111
  • Isaiah 55:11
  • John 17:17
  • Acts 20:32
  • Romans 15:4
Digging Deeper

  • Follow a Scripture reading program
  • Choose another section, topic, book, or theme for actual study
  • Keep a notebook or journal of your discoveries

Monday, July 12, 2010

Knowing God's Word #11

Chapter 11: Soaking

Soak in God's Word through study and meditation.

David invites the Lord to listen to him in Psalm 5:1: Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing.

David sought God's favor in Psalm 19:14: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be pleassing in your sight.

Paul encourages us to focus on whatever is excellent and praiseworthy in Philippians 4:8.

This week, we're encouraged to memorize and meditate on a Scripture passage "until it penetrates your heart and soul."

I chose Jonah 2:8: Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

Everytime I read this simple verse, my heart lurches at its sadness so I want to dig deeper into it.

What passage are your hiding in your heart?