Category Archives: Growth

If The Shoe Doesn’t Fit…

wedges

I hate it when my shoes wear out. Come to think of it, they probably wear out because I hate shopping for shoes so much that I wear the ones I have to death. At any rate, I don’t enjoy shopping for shoes, and I have my reasons.

First, there’s the whole issue of style. Some people are born with a good sense of style when it comes to footwear, and others aren’t. I place myself in the second category. So does my sister. So do my friends. When I’m shopping with them and point out a shoe that catches my eye, invariably the observation elicits a stifled smile or an outright laugh.

Then there’s the issue of size. I have a good three-sizes (if you include half sizes) range on shoe size, and I wrestle with which one fits just right. I’ve been tricked by shoes more than once. In the store, they feel great, but the next day, not so much. Needless to say, I’m wary. Continue reading

Your Journey to Victory in 2015

winter-sunrise

I woke up this morning with the keen realization that 2014 is almost over. It’s a lazy sort of morning with few plans, so I took several minutes to reflect on the incredible blessings of God’s goodness and grace this past year before peeling myself out from the covers.

It’s been the sort of year that makes me deeply thankful to belong to the Good Shepherd. As I think back over the months, they’ve had their challenges, but each month has been overflowing with God’s grace and kindness.

As I opened my Bible for my morning reading, vital dots began to connect between the blessings of 2014 and the book in my hands. Continue reading

8 Confessions of a Type A Perfectionist

dart-board

For a perfectionist, particularly a type A perfectionist, the word excellence has a nice ring to it—a seductive ring.

You say I should pursue excellence? Sure! I’d be glad to. In fact, I’ll do more. I’ll insist on excellence—at every level, in every realm.

Yes, for me, excellence easily becomes a trap. What should be a quest to bring glory to the Lord by striving for excellence turns into a quest for personal glory by insisting on perfection.

And that’s just the beginning! For the past several weeks, I’ve been jotting down observations of what exactly it means for me to turn excellence into idolatry.

Confession is good for the soul…and perhaps helpful to others with a similar bent. So here it goes: Continue reading

The Book that Transformed My Walk with God

journal

Next to the Bible, the book that has helped me the most in my walk with the Lord is a book I wrote. Actually, it’s an eight-volume set.

Before you think I’m boastful, let me give two clarifications:

First, these volumes are unpublished, and I trust they always will be.

Second, I’m confident that they would not be a help to you. That is, mine wouldn’t help you. But yours of the same type would help you.

You’ve probably guessed the volumes I’m referring to—my journals.

I began journaling in a purposed way when I was thirteen. And it was all due to my older sister’s influence. I looked up to everything Michele did, so when she began keeping a devotional journal, I did too. Eight volumes later, I’m so glad I did.

Keeping a journal transformed my walk with the Lord. The immediate results were life-changing, and the long-term benefits have been rewarding. Continue reading

Words for the Week: It Is God

gears

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.—Philippians 2:13

One of my favorite words is hustle. I like it because it is an action word, and I like action. If there is a desired outcome, I want to know how to get there from where I’m at, and then I want to get busy on the first step of action.

For some years, this was my approach, not only to projects or assignments, but to the Christian life. I figured if I could discern what changes I needed to make, I could lay out steps of action toward those changes—and then hustle on the steps to become a good Christian.

I think you can see where I’m going with this. There are some areas in which we don’t hustle, we look to God. And Christian growth is one of those areas. Continue reading

Renew & Revitalize: 10 Tips to Renew Your Heart for God and Revitalize Your Time with Him

sunflower

All of us come upon times when our time with the Lord is not as fresh as it could or should be. Below are tips I shared with my Sunday school class last week. They were a blessing to me to compile, and I hope they’re helpful to you. Perhaps you could pull just one or two of these to incorporate into your time with the Lord.

1.         Rise early to avoid distractions.

There is no better opportunity in my day to give my undivided attention to God’s Word than early in the morning before my day gets underway.

Early will I seek thee.—Psalm 63:1

If you want to add freshness to your time with the Lord, try spending time in His Word before the distractions of the day pile on.

2. Reflect on the greatness of God’s invitation to know Him.

I love the heart-level response of David to God’s invitation to know Him:

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.—Psalm 27:8

What an invitation is ours—that we can seek God’s face! Personally. Intimately. Daily. If you’re struggling to spend time with God, reflect for a few minutes on the gracious invitation you’ve been given.

3. Praise God—sing.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.—Psalm 11:4

I hope you have a hymnal. If not, make a list of songs about the Lord or to the Lord, and sing them to Him.

4. Ask God to make Himself real to you.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.—Jeremiah 29:13

If you feel you’re in a rut where you are reading God’s Word out of duty, ask God to make His Word come alive to you. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a personal way.

5. Use a Bible reading schedule.

When the Israelites gathered manna in the wilderness, there was a structure to how they gathered.

And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.—Exodus 16:18

God’s Word is spiritual nourishment, and I believe we are wise to have a structure to how we consume it. Reading by a schedule allows me to systematically read all the Word of God—not just several favorite passages. It also adds a layer of accountability to my Bible reading that helps to keep me faithful through the “dry times.”

6. Journal your growth.

My devotional journals—going back to when I began as a young teenager—are a treasure to me because they record years of God’s faithfulness to reveal Himself to me through His Word.

We easily forget what God has done in our lives. We grow used to His workings. A journal helps us keep it fresh. And it gives us a tremendous reference point to reflect on when we grow stale.

7. Ask questions.

Ask questions about what you read in God’s Word. It will incite your curiosity and therefore heighten your discovery.

8. Apply truth.

Seeing what happens when we apply God’s truth gives us a hunger for more!

It’s all too easy to fool ourselves into a false sense of contentment in our Christian life because we hear God’s Word, but we never apply it.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.—James 1:22–25

9. Fast

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.—Matthew 5:6

I know of no sharper spiritual discipline than fasting to increase my hunger for God. When I sense my heart for God growing cold, setting aside a meal (or a few) to purposefully seek God’s face and ask Him to renew my hunger for Him often rekindles my heart. Fasting is like the poker’s sharp jab to a diminishing fire.

10. Stay right with God.

Sin hinders the work of God in our lives—even when we are going through all the right motions.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.—James 4:8-10  

Regularly ask God to search your heart, and be responsive to Him.

11. (Bonus) Share what you learn with someone else.

There’s nothing more encouraging than sharing something God taught you with someone else. Keep it fresh by sharing it!

7 Reasons I’m Thankful to Be a West Coast Baptist College Alumnus

graduation-cap

It doesn’t seem right to post alumni pride in an alma mater that emphasizes humility. Nevertheless, the events of graduation week have me reflecting on benefits of being a West Coast Baptist College alumnus. I’ll call it “alumni gratitude.”

Here are 7 reasons—in no particular order—for which I am thankful to be a graduate of West Coast Baptist College.

  1. Because I love the local church more now than I did when I enrolled. I came to WCBC already heavily involved in ministry in my church. I loved my church and came to college a bit on guard against that loyalty being quelled. I had no reason to fear. I love the local church more now than I did when I came—and I didn’t think that was possible then. Through the training at WCBC and the opportunities for hands on ministry in Lancaster Baptist Church, I’m more convinced than ever that the local church is God’s vehicle to carry out the Great Commission and that biblical local churches are the hope for our nation.
  2. Because I not only heard teaching on—but saw models of—servant leadership. I came to WCBC sight unseen. But within an hour of my arrival on campus, I was overwhelmed by the true heart of servant leadership evidenced in the staff and faculty. And it never let up. I believe servant leadership is a trademark of both New Testament ministry and West Coast Baptist College. Continue reading

Tidy Isn’t Clean

clean-laundry

If you knew my friend Rachel, you would have been just as eager to help her fold her laundry as I was. A delightful combination of fun-loving, intelligent, thoughtful, and a bit risky, Rachel is the sort of person you always expect to see planning a new adventure. In fact, it’s almost unbearable to see her discouraged.

At the time of my story, Rachel lived in a duplex on the campus of Baptist Bible Translators Institute where my sister, Michele, was on staff. I was visiting Michele for a week. Rachel and I are good enough friends that I was in and out of Rachel’s house almost as much as Michele’s.

One morning, before leaving for a full day of hands-on language study, Rachel shared with me some personal burdens and frustrations. She was flat discouraged, and nothing I said could cheer her up. Continue reading

My Greatest Highlight of 2012

[I wrote the article below for the website Ministry127. It’s a great website with free resources and ideas to encourage and equip leaders in church ministry.]

March 7, 2012—it was the beginning highlight for what would become the delight of my year.

That evening, I had the joy to begin leading a young Christian through our church’s formal discipleship program.

What is discipleship?

  • It is a front row seat in seeing God’s Spirit bring growth.
  • It is a fresh reminder of the depth and grace of God’s love.
  • It is spiritual energy as you observe a tender heart for God and growth in His grace.
  • It is the incredible opportunity to work with God’s Spirit in pressing the button to watch a miracle of His grace unfold in a life.
  • It is the perfect vantage point from which to watch God’s Word change a life…at the deepest levels of the heart.
  • It is an indescribable joy to participate with God in His work.
  • It is…my favorite event of the week!

Continue reading