Tag Archives: Growth

Book Review: Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss


On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your gratitude? If you had asked me this spring, I probably would have rated mine about a 8.2.

But then I read Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Through this book the Lord worked in my heart to show me how ingratitude had worked its way into my life in ways I had not recognized. Subtle expectations I hadn’t identified and buried pride surfaced.

As the subtitle suggests, this book connects the dots between gratitude and Christian joy. I already knew the two are related, but I was challenged through the book to recognize specifically on what points they connect—namely humility and an outward focus.

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in ourselves—even in our service to others—that we become burdened and inward focused. Choosing Gratitude highlights how effective gratitude is to usher us into the presence of God. It enables us to break away from ourselves and renew our joy.

Even today, as I flip back through the book to reread my highlights, I was challenged anew. Here are a few: Continue reading

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


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


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


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

A Good Kind of Greedy

Note: This blog is part of a Thanksgiving series of blogs highlighting attributes of God for which I am thankful.

I’m learning the beauty of a word that I used to limit: grace.

Of course, we know that God is gracious, and we are thankful for that; but I am discovering that His graciousness impacts far more of my life than I used to think.

We know that it is through His grace that we are saved.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.—Ephesians 2:8–9

And if you’re in church at all, it’s not difficult to know that people who are hurting or grieving need grace. Just listen to public prayers, and you’ll understand that grace is for people who have lost a loved one.

But in recent years, I’ve begun to see grace in a fuller light. I’m learning that grace is not limited to salvation and loss. Ephesians 2:7 uses the phrase “the exceeding riches of his grace.” Continue reading

The Scales I Couldn’t Pass

I started taking piano lessons when I was about seven. And I started practicing my scales the very same day. Not just one scale, all of the major scales. My teacher (who ate ice cream during the lesson) wrote the letter of every scale out for me in a notebook. He sent me home with the notebook and told me to practice.

I knew right away that I didn’t like practicing scales. But I also knew that the more diligently I practiced the pieces I was assigned, the sooner I “passed” them and moved on to other pieces.

And so I labored over the scales. Over and over, day after day, I read/sang the note names in a tone-deaf fashion while I worked to program my fingers to coordinate: “C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C [weary breath]; D, E, F sharp, G…”

Every lesson, I dreaded the beginning—playing through my scales. And every week, when I finished my lesson, I left with instructions to work on those horrid scales. Continue reading

Does All Always Mean All?

In every place it is used?

We’re quick to claim the full meaning of all when it comes to God supplying all of our needs.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:19

Or when it comes to God helping us do all things through Christ and His strength.

 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.—Philippians 4:13

Or when it comes to God providing all comfort. Continue reading

When Decisions Won’t Bend the Trail

Seven years ago, I stood under a star-studded sky in central Texas and made a decision.  With a tinge of dramatic anticipation, I looked to Heaven and prayed my own paraphrase of Jeremiah 26:14: “Lord, do with me as seems good in Your sight.” And then I offered a particularly painful area to Him.

But the outcome of that decision wasn’t quite what I had hoped.

Turning Points

I learned early on that spiritual decisions make spiritual turning points. And turning points are usually exciting. There is a surge of joy in Holy Spirit-prompted surrender, and there can be a rush of anticipation in the biblically-rooted change sure to follow.

So seven years ago, when I knew that I needed this surge of joy and longed for a fresh sense of grace, I made a decision to surrender.

What happened next was…disappointing. Continue reading

A Good Day for Me

Several years before I was born, an eighteen-year-old girl was visited in the hospital by an old friend from high school friend named Dody. In the time that had passed since they had seen each other, Dody had changed, and Joanne couldn’t help but notice.

“Dody, your face looks so…so pretty.”

“That’s because Jesus has changed my life. I trusted Him, and He has changed me.”

Dody’s countenance of joy was so compelling that as soon as Joanne was released from the hospital, she made a call to the Baptist pastor of the church where her grandmother had attended and asked for an appointment. Continue reading