Years ago, I heard a teaching by the late Jack Frost entitled, “Would You Rather Be Right or in Relationship?” That title, as well as its message, became branded to my soul, for I’ll never be able to escape that sobering, truth-filled question.

Upon receiving a smart retort by a familiar sales clerk, someone I deal with on a regular basis, I was halted by that question. My flesh wanted to call to her attention that she had been extremely rude to me–and wanted to question her as to how could we converse regularly, if she was going to act that way? I had the speech prepared…you know, scriptures included.

Bob Sorge writes: “David bested Goliath with a stick and five stones.” [I Samuel 17:43 reads: “So the Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog that you come to me with sticks?'”] Sorge continues: “Jesus bested Satan with a stick and five wounds. Neither used the weapons of his opponent.” 

‘Bested’ defined means surpassing all others in excellence, with grace.

Relationships can take many twists and turns; and, out from them can come some  challenges in conversation. Our flesh immediately crawls and insists upon its way in reacting to opposing, even aggravating words. Yet, the choice must be made, to return to the burning question above: right? or in relationship?

If that original question doesn’t set a boundary line around my crawling flesh, the statement quoted by Sorge does: “Neither used the weapons of his opponent.” The Word of God, forever true, settles it once and for all:

1A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. 2The tongue of the wise uses knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness. 3The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. 4A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit. [Proverbs 15:1]




Water flows to its lowest point, and so can the human soul. One of the indicators of our soul’s low elevation point is when worry kicks in–you know, when we give way to anxiety. Thoughts are like wild, run-away stallions when we allow our minds to focus on difficulties and troubles. Those stallions desire to run free of restraint. They like the open field of thought and they resist being corralled and then harnessed to truth.

Worry is a state of dis-ease…a place of great discomfort. It leads deeper into agony if we remain there long enough. Worry invites you to brood over the conditions around you and to overthink an issue. Worry acts like a defiant bully who insists that it can figure out how to resolve the issue at hand. It is a liar and a thief!

Just as my elevation was descending into worry, I heard the Spirit say, “That’s Fatherless thinking.” Halted in my thought process, I was reminded that I am NOT Fatherless! I am not an orphan ~ yet I can sure take on the role as one when I worry. Worry screams a loud statement that I am lost without any hope. It proclaims that the situation will never change and that I’m stuck in the grind of despair.

Philippians 4:8 in the Passion translation reads: “So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising Him always.”

Some key words stand out: “Keep:” which implies the responsibility is ours to steward. Then the scripture describes to us the scenery at the right elevation of thinking by listing what to focus on. Then we are urged to “fasten,” or hook on tight, our thoughts on every glorious work of God. That is, our focus at the right elevation of sight will enable us to see what He is doing and to receive His revelation. It is then that we release praises to Him. How often? His Word says, ‘Always.’


Reduce & Reuse

While studying the scriptures regarding the healing of broken relationships, I heard the Spirit of God prompt the question: “Are you hoarding or recycling?” I had to ponder this question because it didn’t seem to fit the subject matter of my studies. Yet it did.

The barriers between relationships can be built by hoarding memories of what has gone wrong, or has been perceived to have gone wrong, in a relationship. To hoard means to store something that is precious to our souls, keeping it secretive or guarded. Perhaps we have nursed and held dear to ourselves some unhappy memories, some ungodly feelings, rather privately, and have allowed them to be stored in our soul’s depository.

Recycling requires us to take that which we have stored away and allow it to be reusable to become another material. Good material for healing of relationships is recycled relationship issues that have been relinquished to the Lord for kingdom use.

The process of recycling is reduce and reuse. Unforgiveness must be reduced, that is…decomposed, and only in obedience to the Word of God. Since we have received such amazing grace from our Lord, it is fitting that we submit our soul’s relationship material to Him to be recycled into healing. Only He can take such refuse and make it into something as beautiful as reconciliation.

The question remains: Are we hoarding ungodly feelings towards another, or are we naming them and letting them go into the recycling process carefully prepared by our Lord’s atoning work at Calvary?

“And forgive us our [hoarding] debts, as we forgive [recycle] our debtors [offenses].” Matthew 6:12




“Even the Elect”

Many years ago, I heard the question: “Can a deceived man know that he’s deceived?”  The obvious answer is: “No! Why? because he’s deceived!” Not only is this a very true statement, it’s one that should humble us. We can be deceived! Matthew wrote that even the elect will be deceived. [24:24] Will, not might.

Few things can put me on my knees quicker than to realize that I can be deceived. I’ve come to understand that this can be used as a protection. If I CAN be deceived, I had better make certain that I am not!. I’m prone to falter by kidding myself that I am right in my opinion just as quick as the next person.

The enemy’s stealth is to conceal his acts and his works. Most of them are slyly hidden from natural sight–yet must be spiritually discerned in order that we not fall prey to his schemes. He’s the great deceiver; that is, he can be…when we aren’t walking in the light of truth. The ultimate goal of the enemy is exactly what he did in the Garden: to deceive. Eve’s weakness lies deep within our fallen nature, as well as does the tendency for us to blame God.

Romans 6:16 The Message reads: “So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in HIS freedom!”



In this postmodern generation, American culture has changed dramatically from how community was experienced 50 years ago. Decades ago, neighbors were friends; block parties were common. Families, for the most part, lived near one another, and they chose occupations that would insure nearness. Babysitters were scarcely heard of because family members vied for the post of caring for their little ones. Tangible love was shared.

In contrast, the results of these cultural changes are the feelings of alienation. There’s a great lack of ability to belong among God’s children. If we understand the concept of belonging, we know that it means we are an essential part of something, which assures us of God-intended emotional needs being met.  He wisely designed us to need one another — not just across the room, across town, nor reduced to a simple “like” on Facebook. And if we aren’t careful, we’ll find ourselves testing our popularity by how many social media responses we get.

While starving to belong, our current society balks at the price of commitment we must pay to insure the sense of belonging. Most will fiercely demand the right to move about, thus denying themselves of the true sense of belonging. People forget how to involve themselves in intimacy in relationships. Bonding fails to take place. Thus, one roams about, as Jesus said, “like sheep without a shepherd.” To make it worse, those roaming about feel guilty for needing to belong!

Loneliness is an epidemic. Suicides are grand-scaled. Anxiety medications are making pharmaceutical companies rich. Yet communication through technology increases at such a rapid pace that one can hardly keep up with it. These increased means of communication do not satisfy a sense of belonging. Sound bytes and text messages do not convey the warmth of touch, they don’t display gestures, nor do they effectively convey words from the heart. Many are grossly misunderstood. We are forgetting how to deeply love one another…and are forgetting how to express that love.

Changing scenery does not meet the need of belonging. Vacation spots offer the beautiful surroundings, but they lack the intimate content from relationships. Interacting with people, though realizing their “warts and all,” and working out our differences affords the assurance of connecting. Jesus called us together while knowing that we were made as one body. Anything other than oneness as His body becomes freakish.

We’ve sadly become members of an independent society at the high price of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety. If we offer ourselves the ‘fillers’ of television, social media, and distance-relating, our mental and emotional deficiencies will remain,  thus creating a sick soul.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And love your neighbor as yourself.” [relaxed quote of our Lord’s words] He provided no substitutions. Our Lord knew our innermost, never-changing needs, and He hears our desperate cries today. His solution to the lack of belonging: Put Him first, and our neighbor next. Cease to apologize for needing one another. Stop reducing relationships to lazy forms of expressions. Put down roots that cannot easily nor habitually be uprooted. Take time to love one another through warm expressions. Listen to the cry of  each others’ hearts that say: “I need you.”

In the Garden

The new year came in while I was asleep, but not without a tender, spiritual visitation. During my dream, I was singing “In the Garden.” The Lord had asked me to sing it, and so I did. The lyrics flowed and they left deep impressions upon my heart. The dream was so filled with the song that it was if it lasted the entire dream. Though I was instructed to sing the song myself, I felt Him serenading me ~ through me. The lyrics of the song that rang through my soul created the same scene as the songwriter was describing.

As I awakened, the first thought on my mind was “In the Garden.” While I rehearsed the lyrics, they had the same anointing upon them as they did in my dream. Since I am not one to take a dream like this lightly, all day I have been pondering the lyrics while seeking His Spirit to interpret.

It has been said that the songwriter was writing about Mary who walked in the garden on her way to the tomb where Jesus had been placed. Forlorn, she came to mourn, to grieve over His death, and no doubt was feeling very much alone in her early morning approach. She witnessed, however, that He was no longer in the tomb and had risen, just as He had said He would. He was and is alive!

Just hours before my dream, when I had laid my head upon my pillow, my mind was reflecting upon some sorrows, some losses, as well as some griefs that accompanied them. Faintly hearing a firework or two…I drifted off to sleep. Holy Spirit, in His tender purpose, visited me during this time of dreaming: to heal my soul. What had been heavy upon my heart such as things that no longer appeared to have life to them, losses that left tomb-like spaces in my soul, all were swallowed up in this walk in the garden with my Lord ~ who is very much alive. He brought life to where hope had been deferred. Our walk, though captured in a dream, was all my soul needed for rescue.

The voice I heard…the walk we took…the words He spoke…the joy that was shared as we tarried there….none could compare to any other joys in this life. For He IS life!

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to Me except through the Father.”  [John 14:6]

[“In the Garden” was published in 1912 by C. Austin Miles]

Sneaky Peek

Waiting seems to be one of the most difficult things to do in life. Even those hope-filled prayers we whisper to God require a time of waiting until they are God-designed to be fulfilled. Impatience makes me want to unwrap the answer ~ or at least get a sneaky peek.

As a young girl at home after school, I awaited my parents’ arrival from work. Knowing I had some time before their entry, I would lay on my tummy at the base of our pretty Christmas tree. Curious, I would shake, feel, sniff, and try to guess what was inside the Christmas presents just for me under the tree. Much time had been spent by both parents in wrapping them so neatly. How frustrating it was that what appeared to be an entire roll of tape had been used to secure the edges. Some gifts were easily recognizable; others were a mystery. One I can especially remember had such a funny shape, so I turned it over and over in my hands, trying to guess its contents.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer!!!!!!!!!!!! I grabbed the scissors and snipped the tape at each end of the wrapping. I was careful that the tape was cut straight, so I could neatly replace another piece on top of it when I re-wrapped it. I slid the mystery gift item out of its sleeve. Lotion! Pink lotion! That was my mystery gift. Granted, I was happy to eventually receive this nice gift, but it had lost its luster as I saw it way ahead of gift-giving time.

My prayers that petition Heaven await God’s release. They are wrapped in time ~ time that often seems eternal. They are wrapped in mystery, intentionally because His ways are not mine. And they are carefully planned and purposed by His perfect will–if only I could wait! Oh for a pair of scissors, I’d snip the tape with a heartfelt promise that I’d re-tape my prayer.  Then again, I remember the lost luster of the gift seen days before its time. The joy on Christmas morning was dulled a bit by my impatience to see my gifts ahead of time.

I never knew if my parents guessed my impish search of what was wrapped in mystery. Then again, maybe they did. God knows my curiosity, my impatience, and even the myriad of ways my mind turns the prayer package around to see what I THINK to be the answer to its content.

It’s quite tiring, to be honest. So, I must wait, and trust the Gift-giver that He knows the perfect time of fulfillment.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” [Ecclesiastes 3:11]


A Place for You

For over two months, my parents prepared a special Christmas gift for our then six-year-old daughter Jennifer. Daddy enjoyed working with wood; Mom enjoyed designing the furnishings of this homemade doll house. Hours went by as Daddy hammered and built the two-story house.  Mom hand made tiny curtains for windows and purchased miniature furniture and a cute doll family. Their ultimate joy was imagining Jennifer’s thrill on this particular Christmas morning. Tradition was that they always stayed with us the night before, so they could participate in the joys of our holiday.

Neither of them had thought about how they were going to transport the doll house once it was finished. They were intently focused on the project. So, just a couple of days before Christmas Eve, Daddy realized he had to rent a trailer on which to mount the not-so-little doll house.

Neither had Daddy thought about the rugged travel as the doll house shook and jostled the 78-mile journey from their house to ours. As they arrived that evening, they kept the doll house a secret while the children were tucked in bed for the night. I won’t forget Daddy’s face when he went out to the trailer to find the doll house’s insides shaken and disassembled. The tiny stairs he carefully built with his comparatively large hands had pulled apart. He spent hours into the night rebuilding his little dream house for his granddaughter. May I add…without one word of complaint. That was my daddy; nothing was ever too much for his family.

In no way does this compare to the “place for you” that my Lord is preparing. My mind cannot comprehend what it will be like to be with Him one day, along with my family members and friends who have gone before me. In no way can I compare Jennifer’s overwhelming joy that Christmas morning with seeing my home in Heaven. But I can still remember the look on her face when she realized that her grandparents had gone to all that loving time and effort to prepare this little doll house for her. It was a glimpse of what childlike thrill it will be to receive something so beyond my imagination.

Father God won’t have to transport my heavenly home on a trailer. Neither will it be jostled and wrecked. He will wait with great anticipation to see the look on my face when I see what He’s prepared for me. Every day in Heaven will be greater than any ‘Christmas morning’ I could imagine. The family He plans for me to see will be real: I will rejoice as I am reunited with those my heart aches for. Meanwhile, until that day of intense joy, I remain captivated by the memory of the doll house…a miniature version of God’s love expressed.

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” [John 14:2-3]


Dust happens.

How easily hubby and I forget to change the house filters ~ until we begin to sneeze more than usual. So, what is the purpose of a sneeze? To clear sinus passages and to rid our breathing passages from unwanted intruders. Tiny cilia work as “bouncers” to clear the way; not only that, they recalibrate to stand at greater attention for future intruders. I’m reminded of that when I release more than one sneeze at a time.

House filters can be overlooked because they are not readily visible. Once we finally get to them, we find that they have collected more than we wish to admit. Garrr-oss! The same goes with filters of the soul. There’s no greater filter for clearing out soul’s dusty passages that collect from our fallen world than the Word of God. It serves as the greatest and purest preventative, the wisest detector, and the ultimate power to expel what is unhealthy for us.

Filters collect and can even clog. So can our thoughts. We collect dust mites: those tiny little organisms, somewhat like “little foxes that spoil the vine.” Unkind words, negative thoughts, runaway feelings, for instance. We collect pressures: like atmospheric influences that drag us down. Sinus headaches and infections can be a good analogy of what we might well have held onto as opposed to using our filter. What collects on the surfaces of our home–as well as those dusty thoughts floating through the air–are evidence of what is ready to take up residence in our souls.

The reality remains: dust happens. Therefore, since sneaky particles are ever present to clog my filter, I must be keenly aware of the need for my soul’s home to be purified by the Word of God. It’s the only true clearing agent.

Have a spiritual SNEEZE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Use the Word of God to filter out and purify what rests upon the soul.

“Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friend, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” [2 Corinthians 7:1]


Inner Core

Three perfectly beautiful apples, the red delicious kind, perched right in the middle of a stack at the grocery store. Hubby looked them over very carefully, making certain that there were no bruises or worm holes among his three prized apples. He came away pleased; delicious apple salad was on his mind.

Since this is one of the salads in which he takes pride [it’s a family tradition], he was the one to cut into the first plump red apple. Centered in its core was great disappointment: brown rot. How surprising! He studied the outside again…confused…then tossed the bad apple away.  Then he washed the second one. As he cut into the second apple, he found the same rotten mush. Puzzled, he persistently cut into one more apple. The lone apple had remained fresh and fragrant, so it was saved to be a delicious addition to our breakfast oatmeal.

The first two apples’ interior did not match their exterior. In fact, the exterior posed as being that which would be representative of God’s design. Jesus became quite displeased over a tree that bore no fruit at all. In fact its root took the greatest blow.  In Genesis, it is written that every seed would bear fruit of its kind; therefore, its design was divinely planned. Jesus also warned against ‘false prophets–‘ [Matthew 7:15-20] those whose “fruit” pretended to be as one thing but acted as another. He had names for them too.

I Samuel 16:7: “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord look on the heart.” From good trees He expects good fruit.

In Psalm 19:12, David prayed that God would cleanse him of hidden sins–the ones hidden from his own view–yet the ones remaining in plain view for others to see.

The appearance of three red apples can be misleading. It’s the view into the inner core that we learn of its true content. Wonder what happened to ruin those two, very pretty apples with the dark rot within. Did one rotting apple affect the other? How did the one good apple survive and produce pleasing fruit?