Monday, January 3, 2022

Guest Blog on Hello Morning

Let the Morning Tip the Scale

Jan 03, 2022
It happened slowly, ever so slowly. If I had not been looking for it, I might not have seen it. I did not notice any difference at first, but then one day there it was, there was room to move in my once skintight jeans. Faithfulness had paid off. This blog is not so much about weight loss as it is about doing daily what we know to do and seeing that faithfulness pays off.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Perfect Gift

Christmas has come and gone, the Christmas gifts have been opened and the wrapping is thrown away. Remember the shopping that went into getting all those gifts? Perhaps you received or gave, gifts that were nice but not really perfect. Perhaps settling for a gift or something generic but not knowing what would really please the receiver. Does the same thing happen when we give gifts to God? Do we give to Him not knowing exactly what would please Him. Sometimes we give Him what we think would please Him, like perfect church attendance, giving to others, more faithfulness, or money. When we bring gifts to the King, we need to be sure it is what He wants. Before we take on that extra duty, activity, or commitment, let's ask Him what He wants of us. When He tells us what He wants and we give it, it will be the perfect gift. The perfect gift might not look like what you would expect. The kings brought Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Appropriate gifts for a baby born in a manager? Hardly. Appropriate gifts for kings to give another king? Entirely! Ask Him what would please Him and then give it freely.

What about the gifts you received, did you open them? Have you enjoyed them? Used them? I heard yesterday of one store that makes $8,000,000 each year in unredeemed gift cards! Let's make sure we open the gifts He has given us and receive all that He has for us. It is already given but we have to unwrap what He has for us. God in His grace and "divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him." (2 Peter 1:3) "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (2 Cor 9:15) Let's receive and open everything our Father has given us!

Friday, December 25, 2020

Empty Manger

On this Christmas morning I see the empty manger and my mind begins to wonder. What was heaven like without Jesus?  Was it like a child away at college? You know they'll be home for the holidays, or this year perhaps they won't. Or was it like a death in the family?  A gapping hole in everyday where He had been. 

He was God unlimited! He was everything,  had everything,  could do everything,  and He emptied Himself of all that was superhuman and became confined to a small body in the hands of simple humans who didn't really know what they were holding, wrapped in swaddling cloths. His birth opened the heavens and made the angels sing,  the star's align and kings angry, but that what His presence does,  it disrupts, it changes everything.

An empty manger, an empty cross, an empty tomb. He emptied Himself of all that was his so He could fill the earth with love, peace, joy!  He made a way for every fallen human be saved through Him. He made a way where there had been no way for me. He made a way by giving up His own place in Heaven and coming to live and die here on earth.  Then He rose and one day He will come get us so that we can be together. What a Christmas that will be!

Monday, December 7, 2020

Finding Success in Total Dependence

 This post is adapted from Kathy Howard’s new devotional “Deep-Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark.” Get your copy here “Deep Rooted!” Join me on Facebook Live with Kathy at 11AM CT, Wednesday, December 9th!

I’ve experienced plenty of failure in my lifetime. You probably have too. We are imperfect people living in a broken world. Much of my failure has resulted from refusing to admit when I needed help, pridefully overestimating my own ability. And have you noticed? Simple defeat isn’t bad enough; failure always seems to draw a crowd. Why is that? Seriously, where are all those looky-loos when we succeed?

The ninth chapter of Mark’s Gospel records a big fail for some of Jesus’ disciples. When Jesus and His three closest disciples descended from the mount of transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13) the fallout of failure welcomed them. An eager crowd and a desperate father with a sick, demon-possessed son, looked on as the other nine frustrated disciples argued with some opportunistic scribes. The scene quickly dampened the spiritual high of the mountain-top experience.

Maybe this scene feels familiar. You returned home after a peaceful time of rest or some special time with the Lord and walked into a storm at home. Chaos chewed up calm. Discord displaced peace. This is what Jesus encountered.

The nine disciples had tried to heal the boy and failed. But, why? With the authority of Jesus, they had exorcised demons during their recent mission trip (Mark 6:13). So why did they fail now? The passage indicates not only insufficient faith, but also misplaced faith. When they were alone, Jesus blamed a lack of prayer (Mark 9:29). Prayer fosters dependence on God and His power. Lack of prayer reveals an attitude of self-sufficiency. Perhaps their past “success” had fostered pride, which caused them to battle the demon under their own power. And they lost the fight.

In contrast, the father was helpless and he knew it. Although he confessed weak faith, he humbly asked Jesus to strengthen it, to ease his doubts. The father brought everything to Jesus. He brought his sick son. He brought his hopelessness. He bought his fledgling faith. He even brought his doubts.

But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:22b-24, ESV

Jesus encouraged the father to embrace faith. “All things are possible for one who believes” (vs 23). “Possible” does not mean that we can dictate God’s work through our “faith.” Just because God can do something doesn’t mean He will. It does means that God is able. Our desire for an outcome, no matter how much we believe, will not override God’s plans and purposes. But, we can rest in the truth that God’s work does not depend on the size of our faith, but on His power and grace.

Faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). We can either weaken it by independence and self-reliance or we can strengthen it through use. Let’s ask God for opportunities to build our faith. And when they come, may we exercise dependence on the One who is always able. 

Have you been trying to undertake some ministry or work for God under your own strength? If so, confess your independence to God and submit to total dependence on Him.

Lord God, I confess feelings of independence and self-sufficiency. All things are possible only because You hold all power and authority. Help me depend fully on You at all times. Strengthen my faith where it is weak. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Kathy’s bio:  A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught the Bible in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. Kathy, who has a Masters of Religious Education from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, is a devotional and Bible study author. She also writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her husband live near family in the Dallas/Ft Worth. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Kathy provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at Kathy’s new 40-day devotional book, Deep Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark, is available now!

In Deep Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark, Kathy Howard’s seminary education, passion for God’s Word, and vast Bible teaching experience come together in a unique devotional experience. Finally, a daily devotional with some meat on its bones! Get your copy of “Deep Rooted!”

Monday, November 9, 2020

Time to Rip Off the Bandage


This is a guest post from my friend, Kathy Howard. We have led several retreats together and she has encouraged me in my writing. You will want to check out her new devotional, “Deep-Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark.” 

My grandkids love bandages. It seems that every time they come to our house somebody needs one. So, I keep “kid” ones on hand. Bright colors. Their favorite characters. Most of the time, their little scrapes and bumps really don’t need a bandage. But it makes them feel better for a little while. Bandages don’t heal. They merely cover the wound until healing can take place. 

The Old Covenant was a bandage. Sin was the gaping wound. The law, the tabernacle, the sacrificial system, none of it could bring real healing. It was all simply a place holder, waiting for God’s perfect timing to bring true and complete healing for sin. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross was the once-for-all, eternal cure. 

When Jesus took His last breath on the cross, something significant happened. The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. This ornate, linen curtain blocked the way into the Holy of Holies. That innermost sanctum of the temple that housed the Ark of the Covenant, the very symbol of God’s presence with His people. No one could enter the Holy of Holies into the presence of God except the high priest; and he could only enter once a year on the Day of Atonement. 

On this day, the high priest first sacrificed a bull on the altar and sprinkled its blood in the Holy of Holies to atone for his own sins. Then, he sacrificed a goat and took its blood into the Holy of Holies, into the presence of God, to atone for the sins of the people. These ceremonies had to be repeated again and again. Year after year. Because the blood of bulls and goats could not cleanse sin or purify the conscience of the people (Hebrews 9:13-14). 

These sacrifices were just a bandage. They simply covered our wound of sin. Jesus was God’s plan of salvation all along. Before creation (1 Peter 1:19-20) God saw our need for a Savior and determined that His Son would pay the price. The blood of bulls and goats is not sufficient. Only the blood of the unblemished Lamb of God can provide eternal forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:14). 

When our sinless high priest died, He carried His perfect cleansing blood into the presence of God to atone for our sins. When His body was broken on the cross, the barrier between sinful man and our holy God was torn in two. To dramatically mark this victory, God ripped the veil that blocked the way into His presence. "And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom." (Mark 15:37-38, ESV).

In his book “The Pursuit of God,” A.W. Tozer reflected on the temple veil. “Ransomed men need no longer pause in fear to enter the Holy of Holies. God wills that we should push on into His presence and live our whole life there. This is to be known to us in conscious experience. It is more than a doctrine to be held; it is a life to be enjoyed every moment of every day.” 

God invites those who trust in Christ’s sacrifice for salvation to enter the Holy of Holies. To step through the curtain of Christ’s precious body and draw close to our holy God (Hebrews 10:19- 22). Won’t you come? 

Have you taken the privilege of entering God’s presence too lightly? If so, repent and consider the broken body of Christ. Father, thank you for the incredible privilege of coming into Your presence. Jesus’ suffering and death was the price of admission. In His name, amen. 

Kathy Howard 

A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters of Christian Education from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. Kathy is the author of 10 books, including the new “meaty” devotional Deep-Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark. She writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, five grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Kathy provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at She also connects with women at Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Captured Thoughts

Since the garden of Eden snakes and women have been at each other because God said so. Yet, there is this odd story in the Old Testament about God's favorite people and snakes. They are on their way from slavery to the promised land and God takes care of all their needs as they travel. He makes a path through the seas and rivers; He keeps their clothes fresh, their shoes from wearing out, and He delivers food for them every morning but they are not happy. They complain. Sometimes we forget how bad things really were before we meet Jesus. We thought things were good, but the truth is we were slaves; slaves to habits, to our past, to the rule of the one who kept us captive. The truth is we were in prison. We were not free, we just got used to it.

In this story the Israelites have been freed and they do not like it. They do not like the food, they complain about the travel plans, and they try to undermine the leadership. God notices. He notices the complaining, and because of the complaining He sends snakes to bite His favorite people; some even die. OUCH! God is not throwing a fit because they were unappreciative, no, He does not want them to die. His plans for them are good, plans to prosper them and not to harm them but they need correction. Complaining is killing them. 

Like a snake, complaining can slide into our lives and we may not notice it. If we noticed, we would get rid of it! No need to be a snake handler to capture a snake. This small spider in the photo has captured a snake with the tiny threads of her web. In the same way, we can take our complaining thoughts captive. By persistently bringing out thoughts in line with God’s Word, we can bring our thoughts into submission. If a spider can capture a snake, then we are able, with God’s power, to capture our complaining thoughts.

2 Corinthians 19:5 says, We even fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ” (J. B. Philips).  You may be more familiar with the NIV.  “We demolish arguments (yes, we argue with ourselves) and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 

From this one-sentence-verse what can we learn to help us capture our thoughts?


  1. It’s not easy. It’s a fight! We demolish! It’s intentional. Put on your armor girl!
  2. Demolishing takes time and persistence. The spider captures the snake one thread at a time. So, our thoughts must be reined in until the complaining stops. Be tenacious! 
  3. The truth sets us free! Notice that the arguments are against God’s way, and they are pretentious. They are not the truth. As long as we believe a lie it lives like truth in our lives until we demolish the lie and replace it with the truth.
  4. Finally, the antidote is obedience. Taking our lying thoughts down and making them obedient to Christ is how we get our prayers answered. “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered(Hebrews 5:7-8 NIV).

Friday, July 24, 2020

What Not To Wear

Do you remember the TV show, "What Not To Wear"? During this time of lockdown and 'Stay at Home', many interesting things have been worn that will never be seen in public. It reminds me of the moment during my husband's long recovery from back surgery. We decide to get out of the house and make a dash to the local theater for a change of scenery. As we waited for the movie to start I looked down and my eyes widened - before laughter burst out of my mouth and eyes. I had different shoes on each foot. Clearly, what not to wear! 

What have you worn during the last few months? I know one woman that wore the same yoga pants every day, except for laundry day. Perhaps you tried on some clothes from that box in the back of the closet. You know, the one marked “Will-fit-again.” Relax, this devotional is not about weight, it's about choice.

This morning when you went to your closet what did you choose? Something to make you feel good, something comfy, something old, or something new? The Bible has some specific instructions for these choices. In Colossians 3:12 we are told we cannot just wear whatever we want, we are called to do better, to choose wisely, to be holy! “Since God chose you to be the holy women he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (NIV).

Since God chose us… we must! He loves us and calls us to be holy! God chose us to wear the best, He chose us to display Him to the world. He did not leave us unprepared, He fills our closets with everything we need for life and godliness. He puts mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience on the hangers but we must put it on. Don’t reach for the will-fit-again box of thoughts. It might be a good time to get rid of it. Just a few verses earlier Paul tells us that we must get rid of all anger, wrath, malice, evil-speaking, filthy talking, and lying. He says get rid of the old and put on the new self. I wish that getting rid of our old way of thinking was as easy as taking a box of outdated clothes to the curb. It's not. Three things keep us going back to our old ways.

First, we believe that we need to defend ourselves with anger, wrath, malice, or speaking evil of others. That’s a lie. There is a better way dear friends, don’t take revenge… leave room for God's wrath. "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord, according to Romans 12:19. Leave room - don’t take over the situation, let God do what He promised to do. Leave room for God…perhaps leave the room as well. 😀

Secondly, we believe that being holy is unattainable. God is holy, we are not. Would God tell us to be something that we could never be? “His divine power has given us everything (Yes, everything!) required for life and godliness (How?) through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). When God calls us to something, He always supplies the means to do it. That’s what He means when He tells us, we can do all things through His strength in us (Philippians 4:13). He thinks we can be holy, so go for it. 

Thirdly, we are afraid to fail so rather than fail we claim we can’t. Imagine a child learning to walk, we open our arms and encourage them, but they fall. We don’t scold them. We stand them up, hold our arms out to them, and cheer them on. That is how our Heavenly Father cheers us on. He says be like Me. We try and fail. He picks us up, dusts us off, and cheers us on until we are like Him. 

Now we know what not to wear and what makes us look most like our Father.