Simple Sack

Too small. Certainly not very fancy. Prepared only for one. Home-made. Common. So what use could it be, especially to a crowd?

Perhaps these are thoughts that ran through the little boy’s mind as he carried his lunch to the hillside for the teachings of Jesus. His plans were simple. Listen and eat my loaves and fish–the same lunch more than likely had been eaten on other days like this. [John 6:1-14]

Never could he imagine that anyone would be interested in what was inside that sack. He might have wished for it to be more enticing, such as leftovers from a royal table. Instead it was only an everyday common meal. In spite of his quandary, he determined he would be thankful; it would fill his tummy.

Then the disciple had the nerve to ask for it. His simple lunch…this plain, unattractive meal that his mom had prepared for him that morning. What could this man want to do with his lunch? Why would he even be interested in it? The hungry crowd watched carefully. Jesus’ disciples were concerned about the gathering numbers and wanted them all to leave because of the pressure.

Five barley loaves and two small fish = a simple meal. Jesus told the disciples it was not necessary to go away due to the crowds. He challenged them to give the collected people something to eat. So the disciples instructed them to gather in groups of 50; there were 100 such groups. Thus, the crowd was 5,000 men, beside women and children. The Lord gave thanks, broke the loaves, and then His disciples distributed them to the people.

Just in case the disciples concluded the meager meal was far too small, they were instructed to pass out the food themselves. What had been blessed by the Lord and was passed to the crowd by their own hands would never be forgotten. A little boy’s lunch was more than enough.

What’s in our simple little sack? What could we offer that we otherwise might deem insufficient? The Multiplier receives and blesses what we place in His hands. He causes it then to meet the needs of many–far more than would have been satisfied had we kept it to ourselves. He values even the little we have to offer.



Slow Down

Speed limits seem to be ‘suggestions’ to most drivers. Admittedly, I am not the most perfect at keeping the limit; I grace myself with a few extra MPHs over what the sign reads–maybe 3-4 extras. Then there are others who nearly take the paint off the side of my car, whizzing by as if there are no speed limits at all.

So my first complaint in my dialogue with the Lord was: “How come they seem to get by with this excessive speed over the limit, when I cannot get by with doing it?” The answer was not what I wanted to hear.

“I hold you more accountable.”

Early in my more serious walk with the Lord, I was taught that we are responsible to the Lord for what light He has made known to us. I am accountable for the truth that He has made known to me. Therefore, His light has shown upon speed limit signs, and He has made it clear to me that I am to honor those limits. [sigh]

“All of you must obey those who rule over you. There are no authorities except the ones God has chosen {including speed laws to be enforced}. Those who now rule have been chosen by God. So whoever opposes the authorities opposes leaders whom God has appointed {ummm, guilty}. Those who do that will be judged. If you do what is right, you won’t need to be afraid of your rulers. But watch out if you do what is wrong! You don’t want to be afraid of those in authority, do you? Then do what is right and you will be praised. The one in authority serves God for your good…” Romans 13: 1-4 NIRV [inserts by me]

In our human nature, we tend to push the boundaries. We want safety, but we want it within our own rules of freedom. As I push those 3-4 extra MPH’s, I am insisting that the speed law can be adjusted to my own rules–until I read the above scripture, which declares: “Those who do that will be judged.”

Slowing down, for my own good.


The Blueprint

Retreat speaker, Dr. Pete Sulack, said more than one time: “We are not called to be Jesus Christ Incorporated.” In other words, it’s all Him, not Him joined in with our best laid out plans on our blueprint. He did not call us to form a corporation led by our whims and wishes. He endured the cross in order to give us a burning, fiery, intimate love relationship with Him.

When our so-called incorporating efforts are displayed, they exemplify a watered-down version of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even worse, they may even be a wash-out. When He rules and reigns, he breaks off the purposes and plans of our hearts so that He can bring us into His.

“For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” [Deuteronomy 4:24]. We must remember that human jealousy is when we are desirous of something that does not belong to us. In the case of God being jealous over us, it is because His children do belong to Him.

Healthy believers have a ravenous appetite for the Word of God, crave His lordship, and are desperate to be in His presence. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” by the very One who understands our deprivation and drought. He has planned for our purpose and destiny, and He is the One in charge who calls and equips us to fulfill it.

Nothing is worth losing nearness to God. “Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked by human precept.” [Hosea 5:11] To put it in modern lingo, ‘the company folds.’

I get all of Him and He gets all of me. We must never assume that our meager attempts to put Him on our board of directors gains His approval. Anything that drifts away from His centrality is dangerously imbalanced.




While thinking about my daddy…I must say, with great honor this Father’s Day weekend…and in thinking about what a terrific father my husband has been to our four children–I find that honor is given out to a selective, though noble, few.  I find that I am concentrating on those whom I believe deserve it, according to biblical standards. So, while I am musing my list of those I deem worthy of honor, I pass by the mirror. Sheepishly, I might add.

James 1:2-3 reads: “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” (James 1:23-24 ESV)

I am exchanging my evaluation of honor to the personal question of whether or not I am honorable. Thus I inventory my belief system, which is truly the hub of my life. What I believe [not just say], deep down in the recesses of my soul, determines how I live. I look honestly at my actions which sometimes erupt uncontrollably out of my self-serving feelings–those undependable, little foxes that spoil my vine. I take a hard look at the strength of my convictions and take an even closer look at what they might be established upon. The mirror of God’s Word reflects my emotions and my attitudes–those things which I thought I could tuck away in tight crevices, hidden from view and hidden from conviction. Not so.

So today, my question to myself is: Am I honorable? The definition alone is a search-light. Am I honest, moral, ethical, and principled? I trust so; yet the determiner is the Word of God: the true mirror. There’s only one vote on the matter, and it comes from the Lord.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sightLord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” [Psalm 19:14]




There’s hardly a reader here who hasn’t had the “uninvited” experience. We all can relate to the rejection, inadvertent or direct, that comes from being excluded. Common to man is the need to have someone to know us and like us, regardless of status, rank, or man’s snobbish reasons for their inclusion.

Most all of us have once been invited and then were impolitely uninvited. Maybe it was a party invitation–cancelled. Maybe it was a date–stood up. Maybe it was a scheduled date for fellowship–passed up for something that seemed more inviting than being with you. Perhaps someone just walked out of your life–no explanation.

Today’s news headline involves the withdrawal of a team’s invitation to the White House. Avoiding political or patriotic opinions on the matter, I do relate to what it feels like to be excluded in some instances. I’ve been a participant in childhood games when the two competing sides were to choose their teammates–only to find I was not chosen and was left on the sidelines. I’ve watched others reach goals that I had dreamed of myself, long before I could see the cloud the size of a man’s hand. [I Kings 18:44] I’ve experienced the loneliness of being an only child, while watching larger families enjoy full adventure. Exclusion hurts anyone who has any tenderness of heart–even if we don’t speak about it.

What does one do then, when life serves us the down side? We prioritize. We look through the lens of eternity. What is more important? Being chosen to be on a team in man’s trivial games in life, or being invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb? [Revelation 19:9] That’s an invitation sent out to all; yet, sadly, not all will accept.

There is only one opinion that matters regarding our value, and that is our Father’s. Longing for all to be invited, He extended His invitation to the marriage supper centuries before the event–just in case someone along life’s journey would need to be included, and would want to respond.

I accept, with humility and gratitude. Thank You, Lord, for including me. I’m grateful that You have a measureless love that calls all of us who believe in You to be a part of Your family.  Your invitation fills my heart to overflowing and restful satisfaction.


Look Behind You

I have had people ask me: “how long must I be in this church before becoming a leader?” or “what are the basic requirements for becoming a leader here?” or “I served in such-n-such capacity at my former church; does that qualify me for leadership here?”

What the Lord requires for leadership is far more important than what I or we as pastors consider qualifies that person. His Word makes it clear what the biblical expectations are. There are some things, however, that we have learned over the years as pastors with regards to qualifications.

First of all, a godly leader-in-training is one who has Christ-loving followers. We simply ask the person to look behind them, so to speak, and see if there are others following in their godly footsteps. Simply said: If they don’t have followers, they are not leaders. If they are leaders, then are they raising up others to fulfill their own destinies? A good leader not only reproduces themselves, they encourage their disciple to do even more than they have done…and are not jealous of their accomplishments.

Secondly, we watch for a primary character trait: humility. Is the person humbled before God? Is the person submitted under God-ordained authority? Is the person free from bondage to man’s opinion? Is he or she anchored in obedience to the Lord’s Word? Can they serve, even in the humblest posts? The word ‘servant’ is divinely attached to the word ‘leader.’

Bob Sorge writes: “For years I labored to become a better leader; now I labor to become a better follower. Fervent followers of Jesus make the best leaders.”

Thirdly, does the person love God’s children–that is, the loveable and the more difficult, the unloveable? Are they relational and open-hearted towards those whom God sends their way? Do they have strong emotional stability? Are they quick to forgive and release any offense?

Just as important is this: Is their home in order? I’ve heard many people ‘toot their spiritual horn,’ when I happened to know that their wives or husbands are suffering from neglect. Tell-tale is the countenance of their spouse. Read it! Their faces will tell whether or not the “first church” [their home] is being pastored before they qualify to step into leading a flock.

“Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.'” [Matthew 4:19] This is easy to understand: He is the Leader. More difficult is in the following. Yet, once we’ve stepped into line in following the Leader, others will then begin to follow our steps.

Jesus didn’t say: “Go make converts.” No, He said, “Go and make disciples.” We cannot do so until we’ve first become disciples ourselves.

That Settles It

We must decide: Do we believe Father God is good, or not? His reputation–that is, His reputation according to us personally–is what determines what we will actually entrust to Him. He needs no defense, for He is the I AM, the One to whom we all bow [or will bow] our knee. Yet, when it comes to personally receiving this boundless, measureless love from the One who is Love Perfected, we must decide whether or not we trust Him to be who He says that He is.

I AM is the most powerful and challenging name above all names. Not only is it the name who called creation into being, but this name is the same yesterday, the same today, and the same forever. There is nothing about Him that changes. His heart is set upon His Kingdom and upon His children through whom He will establish it on the earth. He cannot love us more than He loves us; neither can He love us less. His love is pure and changeless.

We’ve been placed on this earth for this time. Our assignment is unique to what He has divinely planned. Whether we understand all that He is doing or not, we soon come to learn that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. What He has made is good because He is good. It is what man does out of evil intent with what He made that can distort its beauty. Father God, however, never changes. He’s good. He always will be.

Whatever I choose to believe, or not to believe, I will certainly come to know that He is a good God. His very essence is love; yet it’s not a love that mortal beings can fully grasp. This agape love is beyond human understanding. It’s beyond any kind of emotion which we may try to muster. It’s a kind of love that’s birthed out of divine goodness. Though undeserved, it is amazingly ours to receive.

To sing or to say “He’s a good, good Father” are words that are actually beyond our comprehension. Our song or our proclamation is born out of a pursuit of that which completes our sense of safety and wholeness. Thus, by faith, we choose to believe that He is who He says He is.

Someone once said, “God’s Word says it, I believe it; therefore that settles it.” I have come to understand that the more accurate truth is: “God’s Word says it, that settles it, whether I believe it or not.” Since we live out of what we truly believe [not just say], then it is imperative that the question be settled in our souls: Do we believe He is a good God, or not? Whichever decision we personally come to, it changes Him not. He remains forever good.

My Prayer Partner

Jesus said it was necessary that He leave earth and then send Holy Spirit [John 16:7]. Had I been a disciple of His in that day, I would have revolted. Walking with Him, observing miracles, signs and wonders, I would have thirsted for so much more. Listening to Him teach wondrous truth, as well as some hard sayings, I would have craved for more. At least I think I would have, until I fight this flesh of mine.

I live in a different time, so that close encounter with Jesus is not possible. To natural thinking, this leaving earth for Heaven seems like abandonment. He walked the earth, and left an eternal transformation to mankind, if the decision was made to accept Him. Then He said He must go.

Accepting the fact that Jesus is no longer here on earth, I realize that I am in need of knowing the One who is. Holy Spirit, the one who walks alongside me, and who lives within me, can perhaps become the most neglected, overlooked God of the Trinity. His invisible, yet often so tangible, presence is a mystery. He longs to make Himself known while we ignore knowing Him. He desires to teach us the ways of Jesus, and introduces us to the Father; yet we find ourselves far more interested in other things than Him.

It was several years ago that it dawned on me that I didn’t really know Holy Spirit. So, I simply said, “Holy Spirit, I don’t really know You. I’m going to sit here in this place until my soul realizes You are with me. I’m going to remain silent, but deeply interested, in hearing Your voice. You promise that I will know Your voice, so I’m listening.”

The first time I did that, there was a long pause–it seemed for-ev-er! It occurred to me that He waited to see if I really meant what I said. At the same time, He knew my heart’s desperate plea to know Him. So He made Himself known to me. Words cannot describe it, except to say that when I felt His loving presence, I was home.

Holy Spirit became my prayer partner–the One who never leaves me–the One who is never too busy–the One who does not play the field as if He’s interested in so many other things that He has no time for me. I learned to trust Him. I learned that I could pour out my heart to Him when I was hungry for Him, thirsty for truth, and when I was forlorn in my soul. The Comforter is mine, just as He promised. I could never long for another.

So, I’m purposing to stop every few seconds of the day, and move close to the One who has already positioned Himself near me. We walk and we talk. I’m home.

Proven Character

Paul called him a true son. Timothy was accustomed to hearing his spiritual father’s words of affirmation, instruction, as well as correction. True sons receive such from their trusted spiritual fathers.

“To Timothy, my true child in the faith; grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. [1 Timothy 1:2] What a greeting! I would definitely want to read on, to see what my spiritual father had to say to me.

Time and energy are required in raising up true sons and daughters in the faith. Spiritual children will ultimately find themselves resting securely in this love shown to them because of trust. This trust will withstand time and distance. Spiritual parents become acquainted with the potential of the spiritual son or daughter, and they experience great joy in promoting them into their destiny. Jealousies and competitions are rare when they grow in proven character.

Solomon and Absalom contrast one another. Solomon was patient in waiting to be promoted to position–trusting that his time would come when it was right. Absalom demanded his post prematurely and pursued it at all costs, even to his death. David, as a parent, most likely desired both of his sons to be raised to maturity and destiny. However, time and testing proved the character of each of these sons.

What makes one son satisfied in waiting–and one not? Simply look at their heart responses to the trials and testings. The hearts of sons and daughters are being stirred to respond with tried-and-tested loyalty. Bob Sorge, in his book LOYALTY, defines the word as: “a noble, unswerving allegiance, rooted in faith and love, that binds hearts together in common purpose.” [pg 15]

“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.” [Malachi 4:5-6]