An Honest Evaluation

Photo by K. Turcios – Unsplash

It is a curious thing, how our life circumstances teach us about the hidden aspects of ourselves. Those inconsistent behaviors we can easily see in others but remain a mystery as we review our own lives.

Last week, I had such a revelation.

It was early in the week when our lawyer called to let us know our documents were ready to sign. We made an appointment and headed to his office. The signing process took less than 20-minutes and we were back in the car headed home.

A few days later, my husband received a very formal email from the law firm. It informed us that during our brief stay in the office, we had “potentially been exposed to COVID.” One of the office staff lived with roommates that had both tested positive.

Everyone wore a mask, my husband and I are vaccinated, we stayed a good distance apart, and our exposure was short. Nonetheless, bomb dropped, message delivered, and all our meticulous efforts to protect those around us and ourselves, gone in one 20-minute encounter.

We communicated our potential exposure to those we had spent time with and waited the prescribed 5 days before testing. God is so good, we both tested negative, and here is where the reveal unfolds.

I started thinking about the past few months. The times I knew, I should wear a mask but didn’t want to appear rigid or offend others. The times I attended gatherings, took walks, or chatted over tea, mask-less. I succumbed to the perceived pressure of not wanting to appear inflexible or fear-filled. Perhaps I just wanted to fit in. Perhaps, just wanting to “fit in” is a masquerade for pride.

And there it is. The truth – I knowingly compromised to protect my pride.

As I reflected on my willingness to step around the truth in this situation, I thought about other times in my life when I willing gave away my integrity and placed my soul, my very essence, at risk.

Drumroll please, because this is where the revelation bounced hard off my forehead, hit my chest, and bruised my heart. If I am willing to take off a mask (or in some cases put on a façade) to maintain my image or keep my pride in tack, what else am I willing to concede?

Am I willing to compromise my,

Principles?

My faith?

My witness?

God’s truth?

After all, it is easier, safer, less stressful to blend in. I don’t like being perceived as unloving or self-righteous.

This unveiling has caused me to stop and wrestle with a single question. Are my convictions, my core belief system, in jeopardy when it becomes inconvenient, uncomfortable, or unpopular?

And this is what I am uncovering,

Pride is a powerful emotion. It can shift logical rational thought and objective decision-making to a desperate irrational reaction. A reaction that compels me to ignore the truth of who I am in Christ and be laser-focused on the desired outcome - protect image, maintain status, and feed other’s perceptions.

A poor reflection of the Christ that lives in me.

But there is a path that leads to freedom from our need to shelter and negotiate with ourselves. Paul offers this encouragement in the book of Romans,  

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

Romans 12:2-3 NLT

In place of our frantic rationalizations, God offers transformation – a new way of thinking, the ability to honestly assess our motives and make lasting change. We do not have to be held hostage to our emotions, fear of rejection, or desire to be more. We can gain freedom and train our minds to be more concerned about whether our behaviors and actions align with God’s design than protecting our vision of who we would like to be.

BeLoved, please “be honest in your evaluation of yourself.” If you find inconsistencies, a willingness to compromise God’s truth, take a minute to reflect, pray, and refocus.

God can change the way you think.

He loves you.

Be Blessed,

Allison


REFLECT:

Please read Ephesians 4:22-32 and reflect on the questions that follow.

22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

New Living Translation

(Ephesians 4:22-32)

Consider the following.

  1. Have you ever compromised God’s truth, your beliefs, or given away your integrity to protect your image, pride, or status?
  2. If yes, how did you deal with the resulting war that waged within – the conflict between God’s truth that lives in you and your pride? Did you come to a new reckoning through the experience?
  3. Do you sense God is moving you to respond differently when faced with compromise in the future?

ENJOY:

Pat Barrett – Sails (feat. Steffany Gretzinger & Amanda Lindsey Cook) (Live) – YouTube

Made in His Image

Unsplash

I recently listened to a podcast [*] where the speaker asked a question that made me stop, replay, and consider. She asked, “Who were you before anyone told you who you were supposed to be?”

Who.

Were.

You?

I have wrestled for decades with this question. Who was I beforeinnocence was interrupted and the concept of brokenness entered my mind? Who was I before a failed marriage at the age of 17, a lost baby, a second marriage, infertility, a career that climbed and then tumbled? Who am I, as I settle into retirement?

Who was I before my experiences jaded my perspectives, before the world influenced my heart?

I can confidentially say that I am not what the world tries to tell me. I am not defined by success; my value does not come from my possessions. I am certain I am more than the collection of social media posts, comments stored in my mind, or the carefully airbrushed images I try to emulate. Today’s cultural norms don’t fit – I’ve been uniquely knit together.

So,

Who

Am

I?

Jo Saxton, author, speaker, podcaster, and leadership coach, offers

“The good news is that God already knew who we were before life happened to us. God already knew who we were before anybody told us who we were supposed to be.”

God has an answer.

Before my self-image was formed, God’s desire was for me to reflect His image.

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us…”

27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

28 Then God blessed them…

Genesis 1:26-28

We were designed in our creator’s image. We are image-bearers, reflections of our Father’s character to the rest of the world. His intentions were not for us to lose ourselves in the distractions of this world or try to navigate life distant from Him. Rather, we were built for close intimate relationship. God offers purpose. He defines our value. He directs our path, as we faithfully trust Him with today and the future.

BeLOVED, you are so much more than the image you’ve created. You are more than the lies you’ve learned to believe and more than the definition placed on you by the world.

You are God’s image-bearer!

You are greatly loved.

You are His beloved.

Be Blessed,

Allison

13For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14

 [*] To access the full podcast, please click this link (The Labels that Define You).


REFLECT:

Please read these passages from Psalms 139 and reflect on the questions that follow.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. 17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! 18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

New Living Translation (NLT)

(Psalm 139:13-18 NLT – Bible Gateway)

CONSIDER:

Take a few minutes to consider the following.

  1. As you read the verses above, how does it make you feel to know that the God of the universe has made you “wonderfully complex?” You are marvelously made.
  2. Verses 16 and 17 tell us that God knows the details of each of our days. He knew them before we were even born. It also reminds us that God thinks about us. In fact, His thoughts are too numerous to count. How do these verses encourage you?

ENJOY:

Pat Barrett – Canvas and Clay (Live) ft. Ben Smith – YouTube

When Our Ordinary Turns Into The Unthinkable

Titus – Photo by A. McCormick

The day started like any other. An early morning walk followed by breakfast, a mid-morning nap, and then things swerved off course.

Titus became anxious, slower than normal, and by the evening, he refused to eat. The following morning, he could barely walk.

We knew something was terribly wrong.

A trip to the veterinary revealed a liver abscess, a small mass in his abdomen, and a gallbladder filled with fluid. He needed emergency surgery.

We transferred him to a specialty clinic. My husband and I hugged him, hesitantly handed his leash to the technician, and watched him walk through the kennel door. His big brown eyes caught mine. I tried to reassure him, I think he was trying to do the same. A few hours later, the surgical team surrounded him.

To say we were concerned would be an understatement.

Titus is our fur-baby, an important member of our family. As a puppy, he wiggled his way into our hearts and before we knew it, we were hostage to his mischievous spirit.

For several days our house was quiet. The click of Titus’ nails on the hardwood floors was temporarily silent. There was no barking at the television. No begging for cookie crumbs at the end of the day. No cute doggy greeting when we entered the door.

But now he’s home, curled up at my feet, resting peacefully in a drug-aided sleep. It will take several weeks for him to regain his strength and return to the dog that controls our lives. Yet, we know we are blessed.

He is home.

During the many hours we sat in the veterinary office, we met a man whose best friend had been run over by a road grader. She was a small dog that couldn’t put up much of a defense against heavy equipment. He sat frozen as tears ran down his cheeks. He was losing his companion.

She had helped him through a heart attack and warned him of a pending seizure but today she was fighting her own battle.

Their day started normally until it wasn’t. And then, this man’s world crashed. His best friend was gone.

Life has a way of knocking us off our feet. Our days start ordinary only to have them disrupted by the phone call you never want to receive, the knock on the door you didn’t anticipate, or the encounter that changes the trajectory of your life. A faithful companion, lifelong friend, spouse, or child, gone…

Far.

Too.

Soon.

What do you do when life gets hard? How do you survive when the unthinkable occurs? When the ordinary every day turns into the nightmare you repeatedly battle, how do you recover?

There is a story in the Old Testament that might help us answer these questions. It can be found in the book of Job.

The account tells us about a man named Job. He was the richest man in the region. He had seven sons and three daughters and within the span of a day, he lost everything – riches, livestock, sons, daughters, all was gone.

I’m certain when Job woke that morning, he didn’t expect his world to come to a sudden halt. So, what was Job’s response to the devastation that engulfed his life?

Job 7:6-21 gives us a glimpse into his reaction.

Job cried out to God. He voiced his frustrations and pain. He verbalized the anguish of losing all he had acquired, his family, and his dreams for the future. He wrestled with the “whys.” Why is the unimaginable happening? Why am I being tormented, punished, unfairly targeted? Why? In the midst of the searching, he also examined his life, looking for any unconfessed sin. His searching came up empty and he concluded by asking God “why won’t you leave me alone?”

In God’s great love and mercy, He responded to Job’s questioning. He put the devastation into perspective and as the conversation ended, Job’s attitude took a subtle shift.

Job 42:5 – 6, reveals Job’s changed perspective,

5I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

Through Job’s trials, he realized that God had a bigger plan for his circumstances, a plan beyond Job’s comprehension. He learned that with the suffering came a greater need to lean into God and his eyes were slowly opened. Opened to the truth of who God was and he chose to trust and believe.

Perhaps this can be true in our lives. When the phone rings, or that knock wakes us in the early morning, or our dreams are radically shifted maybe we can acknowledge that God is working. He is working in ways that today we can’t understand and even with incomplete understanding, we decide to trust Him.

I encourage you if you are facing the unexpected and your world feels like it is coming undone, remember Job and cry out to God. Tell Him about the pain and fears you are facing, and then trust Him to take care of you as you navigate the difficulties. It’s not easy, in fact, God never promised easy. But He did promise to be with you and to never forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Be Blessed His BeLOVED,

Allison

27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

REFLECT:

Please take a few minutes to read these passages from Romans 8 and reflect on the questions that follow.

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

New Living Translation (NLT)

(Romans 8:31-39 NLT – Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s – Bible Gateway)

CONSIDER:

Take a few minutes to consider the following.

  1. What does it mean to you that God is for you and that no one can condemn you?
  2. In verses 35 through 39 we are assured that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Not our circumstances, our fears, the current culture, or political climate – nothing separates us from our Father. How does this knowledge help you navigate life?

ENJOY:

Another In The Fire (Live) – Hillsong UNITED – YouTube

For more information on how Job navigated his suffering, access the link below.

Job: Reverent in Suffering | Desiring God

Unity in Christ

Photo by W. Suhendra (Unsplash)

As a child, I didn’t think much about race. I knew I looked different from most of the kids in my elementary school but I made friends across the spectrum of faces and colors. I lived with an innocence that allowed me to be unburdened by the hue of my skin.

I entered Junior High with the same naive perspective. But three short years later, my innocence was replaced by a startling awareness that who I was, how I was received by my peers, was influenced by my skin color and the texture of my hair. Race had become an entry requirement for social groups and defined my allegiances.

My High School was predominately African-American with a sprinkling of Hispanic, Asian, and White. Just enough of a mixture to make us multicultural yet not enough to balance the population. I was the black girl with white skin, curly hair, and wire-rimmed glasses. I felt like a foreigner walking the halls.

I was frequently asked, “What are you?” A question that always seemed to cause an uncomfortable feeling to wash over me. I responded, “black,” the answer I had been conditioned to give. Yet every time I looked in the mirror, my reflection caused confusion.

Mom was an English-born white woman. My father, an African-American with Chinese ancestors. So, what do you tell a racially focused group of peers? It usually went something like this, “My mom is White, and dad is Black and Chinese.” And often the follow-up question was, “Right, what are you?”

Somehow, that lingering question left me thinking just a little less of myself. From where I stood, I didn’t fit anywhere.

Then I met Diana.

Diana’s mom was white, her father African-American. She shared my white skin and watched the world through beautiful green eyes. Her blond kinky hair enveloped her face, highlighting the freckles that graced her nose and cheeks.

There was a sense of connection when I saw her walking the corridors. A comradery when I heard kids ask her, “What are you?” I was no longer the isolated oddity.

We were sisters, finding comfort and strength in our common bond.

Yet it was funny, even having a comrade didn’t lessen the impact our peer’s comments made on my heart.

Diana’s friendship provided solace but it didn’t negate that little voice that echoed in my brain, “You’re different.” And somehow me being “different” equated to me be weird. Not the creative kind of weirdness that leads to artistic masterpieces but the awkward, uncomfortable kind that causes you to trip over your own feet.

We were not black enough to be embraced by the blacks in our school and too black to be accepted by many whites. So, we clung to each other and forged our way through our teenage years.

Fast forward, college opened doors I never knew existed. I was surrounded by people that looked like me. The racial blindness I experienced as a young child returned as racial acceptance. I began to celebrate the rich diversity that makes me the woman I am today.

I want to believe that as a society we have become more open and sensitive to racial differences. But what I’m learning is that we haven’t moved too far away from my teenage experience. We continue to deal with the wreckage resulting from cultural insensitivity, feelings of racial superiority, and a hatred of all that is different. Yet as believers, we are called to a higher theology. A belief that can only be fulfilled by God’s unconditional love.

Billy Graham, one of the most influential Christian leaders of the 20th century, offers,

“The closer the people of all races get to Christ and His cross, the closer they will get to one another.”

Paul, in his writings to the churches in Galatia, reminds us,

“26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

There is a unity of race, socioeconomic class, and gender in Christ.

Regardless of what the world tries to tell us, we can confidently stand together, embracing our uniqueness and loving others as we’ve been loved – unconditionally, unencumbered by fear, and in deep reverence for God’s sacrifice for our unity.

Be Blessed,

Allison

REFLECT:

Luke 10:25 – 37 (New International Version)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’”; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

For additional reading – Luke 10:25-37 NIV – The Parable of the Good Samaritan – On – Bible Gateway

CONSIDER:

Take a few minutes to consider the following.

  1. Take a few minutes to consider who are your neighbors? How can you increase your neighborhood?
  2. How can you reach out beyond your comfort level and show mercy for those different than yourself?

ENJOY:

Mandisa ft. TobyMac, Kirk Franklin – Bleed The Same (Official Lyric Video) – YouTube

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: If you are interested in learning more about what the Bible says about racism, please access this link 50 Epic Bible Verses About Racism Discrimination & Prejudice (biblereasons.com)

One Choice Encounter at a Time

Photo by C. Costello (Unsplash)

A girlfriend and I were scheduled to walk. An early morning rendezvous that would allow us to catch up on life and spend a little time planning our next adventure.

But she woke up not feeling 100% and wisely stayed in bed to get some needed rest.

So as I often do, I found the dog’s leash and headed out the door.  With no walking route in mind, I let him lead the way. This decision meant we were headed for one of two locations – the local dog park or the golf course. He headed towards the golf course.  

We crossed the street at the bottom of our hill, walked through the neighborhood until we arrived at the pathway that leads up a steep embankment that would ultimately lead us home. The path followed the fairway, bordered by tall pines and juniper trees. The morning was quiet except for the occasional sound of a ball being hit or the laughter that followed a missed shot.

I was watching our dog search amongst the rocks for prairie dogs, chipmunks, and the random ground squirrel when I heard yelling behind me. I turned to see where the noise was coming from, thinking it was a golfer angry at his performance, only to be faced with the screams of a groundskeeper. His maintenance cart screeched to a stop in front of me as he continued to yell and curse, “What are you ******* doing on the golf course. You people never clean up after your ******* dogs. Can’t you….” The rant when on and on and then I noticed his jaw. It was quivering. The junction of his jawbones trembling in anger.

He took a breath and before he could start again, I said in the softest voice I could find, “I can see that you’re angry.” I went on to explain that I did clean up after my dog, showing him the used bag in my hand and the stash of unused bags tucked in my pack. I watched his eyes as they shifted just so slightly, softening. His jaw loosened its grip. He remained silent allowing me to continue, “I can only imagine how frustrating it is for you, people can be irresponsible.”

He acknowledged the truth of my statement and for the next 10 minutes, a transformation took place. The young man continued to relax. He shared his story of dedication to his job, his feelings that his actions are being taken for granted, and he spoke of the awful endless frustration of not being able to fix the disrespect and lack of gratitude he encounters.

And just as quickly as the conversation started it was over. He apologized for boiling over and directed me on how to safely maneuver wayward golf balls and reckless golf cart drivers. I tightened my grip on the leash and headed up the hill to home, navigating the obstacles just as the young man suggested.

A God encounter, that special interaction that touches all the lives involved.

God knew the young man needed someone to listen to his boiling frustrations, a calming amid his internal storm. So, He kept my friend nicely snuggled in her bed, and sent my dog on an adventure, down the hill, across the street, and through a golf course, we had walked 100s of times before. Yet, this time I faced one of my greatest fears – an angry, screaming man.

As a young child, my father was this man. As a young adult, my first husband was this man. Both taught me that screaming angry men are not safe and I learned quickly to retreat – disengage emotionally and physically disappear. Somehow, as I matured, my mind began to associate any voice elevation, any appearance of anger or disapproval with retreat and take cover. The boss that would scream when dissatisfied – run. The girlfriend whose excited animated gestures and a voice that could set off decibel detectors – avoid. The husband that had 6 brothers and 3 sisters and raised his voice just to be heard– withdraw.

So this God orchestrated meeting, this chance but not really intersection, forced me to stand and face the demon that haunts my mind. I needed to stay calm in the ranting. Find my feet, my courage, and stand strong as the turmoil erupted around me. Face the screaming of an angry man, look him in the eyes, no retreating, no hiding. Face–to–face seeing the hurt and fear that drives people to lash out, to cry out.

God allowed me to learn courage this morning in a random chance meeting. There was a peace that slipped into the exchange, a calm reassurance that I was not facing the hostility alone. I would have never thought that a walk on a golf course would help me understand what I had been running from all those years. The shouting, the anger, the trembling all signs of their brokenness. I don’t need to allow that memory to impact my relationships today.

The young groundskeeper found a little calm. I experienced a single step towards freedom. A freedom that can only be found when we choose to allow God to lead us, teach us, transform us. One choice encounter at a time.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 
English Standard Version 

Be Blessed,


REFLECT:

The Apostle Paul had a life-changing encounter with Jesus. Please take a few minutes to read these verses from Acts 9 and reflect on the questions that follow.

Saul was still talking much about how he would like to kill the followers of the Lord. He went to the head religious leader. He asked for letters to be written to the Jewish places of worship in the city of Damascus. The letters were to say that if he found any men or women following the Way of Christ he might bring them to Jerusalem in chains.

He went on his way until he came near Damascus. All at once he saw a light from heaven shining around him. He fell to the ground. Then he heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why are you working so hard against Me?” Saul answered, “Who are You, Lord?” He said, “I am Jesus, the One Whom you are working against. You hurt yourself by trying to hurt Me.” Saul was shaken and surprised. Then he said, “What do You want me to do, Lord?” The Lord said to him, “Get up! Go into the city and you will be told what to do.”

Those with Saul were not able to say anything. They heard a voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground. When he opened his eyes, he saw nothing. They took him by the hand and led him to Damascus. He could not see for three days. During that time he did not eat or drink.

10 In Damascus there was a follower by the name of Ananias. The Lord showed him in a dream what He wanted him to see. He said, “Ananias!” And Ananias answered, “Yes, Lord, I am here.” 11 The Lord said, “Get up! Go over to Straight Street to Judas’ house and ask for a man from the city of Tarsus. His name is Saul. You will find him praying there. 12 Saul has seen a man called Ananias in a dream. He is to come and put his hands on Saul so he might see again.”

13 Ananias said, “But Lord, many people have told me about this man. He is the reason many of Your followers in Jerusalem have had to suffer much. 14 He came here with the right and the power from the head religious leaders to put everyone in chains who call on Your name.” 15 The Lord said to him, “Go! This man is the one I have chosen to carry My name among the people who are not Jews and to their kings and to Jews. 16 I will show him how much he will have to suffer because of Me.”

17 So Ananias went to that house. He put his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus has sent me to you. You saw the Lord along the road as you came here. The Lord has sent me so you might be able to see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 At once something like a covering fell from the eyes of Saul and he could see. He got up and was baptized. 19 After that he ate some food and received strength. For some days he stayed with the followers in Damascus.

20 At once Saul began to preach in the Jewish places of worship that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All who heard him were surprised and wondered. They said, “This is the man who beat and killed the followers in Jerusalem. He came here to tie the followers in chains and take them to the head religious leaders.” 22 But Saul kept on growing in power. The Jews living in Damascus wondered about Saul’s preaching. He was proving that Jesus was the Christ.

23 After some days the Jews talked together and made plans how they might kill Saul. 24 He heard of their plans. Day and night they watched for him at the city gates to kill him. 25 So the followers helped him get away at night. They let him down over the wall in a basket.

New Life Version

 (Acts 9 NLV – Saul Becomes a Christian on the Way to – Bible Gateway)

CONSIDER:

Take a few minutes to consider the following.

  1. Paul had an intimate encounter with Jesus that changed his life, his focus, his purpose. How has encountering Jesus changed your life?
  2. Can you think of a time when your daily schedule was interrupted by a God-inspired meeting?
  3. How did that interaction affect you? How did it influence the other person?

ENJOY:

Way Maker and Cornerstone (Acoustic) – The McClures | Moment – YouTube

Desolate Lands

Photographer Unknown

I watched as she made her way from the campsite to the street. The passageway that connected the field to the rest of humanity.

Kimberly lived in a makeshift shelter sandwiched between the roar of cars and trucks racing down the highway and a frontage road running parallel to the freeway. Alone in the vastness of an empty field, her home was partially camouflaged by the trees that lined the path to the road.

The roof and walls were made from a brown plastic tarp supported by four metal poles. The floor was dirt, swept smooth by Kimberly’s bare feet. A small camp stove graced the ground outside the door.

The campsite was nearly swallowed by the debris that surrounded it – a metal bed frame, bicycle parts, old tires, buckets, bottles, paper, and mounds of trash from months of surviving.

It was Kimberly’s sanctuary. A safe place from the chaos that is homelessness.

She was young, late 20s, with long blond hair that she pulled to the side making a single braid. Her clothes fit snug, perhaps a size too small. Yet, her age and stature were not what caught my attention. What made me stop and take notice was that she was dragging a tattered beige stroller.

The wheels wobbled as they rolled across the uneven terrain. The frame was bent causing it to jerk to the left regardless of how she pulled. Yet, Kimberly was persistent. She tugged it up the steep embankment that acted as a defensive barricade until she reached the sidewalk.

I found myself watching her and wondering what she was carrying. Why was she spending so much energy tugging and pushing the stroller to the road? Was she carrying trash, something to bargain or trade, or perhaps …

Then the pink floral blanket covering the carriage moved. Small fingers protruded from the rubble, then an arm, and finally a small round face framed by blond curls emerged. Kimberly paused for a minute to reposition the little one, gently brushing her cheek.

It was difficult to believe, Kimberly was carrying precious cargo, her baby girl.

I swallowed several times then breathed deeply just to retain my composer.

She was a mother, living in the void of an empty field, in a dwelling made from trash, with a baby.

With.

A.

Baby.

Girl.

I watched as she continued to push the stroller, crossing the two-way street, and disappearing into the alley between the Dollar General and a fast-food drive-through. The stroller’s wheels shaking violently as Kimberly increased her pace. Her baby’s small head rocking with each bump and jolt.

And then, they were gone.

I often find myself thinking about Kimberly and her little one. How did they land in that dry barren field? What were the circumstances that caused her to select a tarp over permanent walls, a women’s shelter, or her family? And her infant daughter, how would she survive under the unforgiving heat of the California sun with only plastic to protect her from the elements and from those that could cause harm.

So many unanswered whys.

Yet, Kimberly is not alone in her attempts to survive desolate lands. Those lonely places where our hearts and heads are disconnected from the reality of what is really happening in our souls.

I think if we are honest, we all have experienced the wilderness, pushing and pulling our brokenness across rough terrain. Sometimes the wheels shake uncontrollably causing us to lose our footing, our confidence, our purpose. Those times when we are pushed to the edge of our faith and we wonder if we will ever be able to recover, reach steady ground. We want so badly to trust but God seems silent, distant, even absent.

 So like Kimberly, we keep moving. We accelerate our pace to keep up with our expectations and to outrun the disappointments that come with living in the wasteland.  

Psalm 62:5-8 reassures us that even in desolate times, God is present. We may not feel Him or perceive His presence but we can be assured He is near.

But I stand silently before the Lord, waiting for him to rescue me. For salvation comes from him alone. Yes, he alone is my Rock, my rescuer, defense, and fortress—why then should I be tense with fear when troubles come?

My protection and success come from God alone. He is my refuge, a Rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust him all the time. Pour out your longings before him, for he can help! 

The Living Bible (TLB)

As difficult as it is, I have to trust that God is caring for and protecting Kimberly and her baby. We can do the same with our lives. Regardless of the situation, the desolation, God is our sanctuary, our unwavering security, our stronghold.

You can trust Him.

He loves you.

You are His BeLOVED!

Blessings,


I encountered Kimberly on a recent trip to Northern California. I noticed her home, sitting alone in the field, while visiting a local garden shop. I probably would not have paid much attention if she wasn’t struggling with her stroller.

Like Kimberly, thousands of women and women with children have no permanent roof over their heads, bed to sleep in, or consistent source of food. A 2020 analysis by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, found that 31.8% of the homeless population were women and women with children.

As you navigate your day, please take the time to notice these women, pray for them, and when possible talk with them. Their stories will change your perspectives on homelessness and your lives.

To learn more about homelessness, access the link below.

State of Homelessness: 2020 Edition – National Alliance to End Homelessness


REFLECT:

Please take a few minutes to read Psalm 40 and reflect on the questions that follow.

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols. O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.

You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings. Then I said, “Look, I have come. As is written about me in the Scriptures: I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.”

I have told all your people about your justice. I have not been afraid to speak out, as you, O Lord, well know. 10 I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness.

11 Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me. 12 For troubles surround me too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage.

13 Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me. 14 May those who try to destroy me
be humiliated and put to shame. May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace.
15 Let them be horrified by their shame, for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!”

16 But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!” 17 As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in his thoughts. You are my helper and my savior. O my God, do not delay.

New Living Translation (NLT)

(Psalm 40 NLT – Psalm 40 – For the choir director: A – Bible Gateway)

CONSIDER:

Take a few minutes to consider the following.

  1. Are you currently living in the wilderness – a broken place where it feels like there is no escape?
  2. As you reflect on your circumstances, do you see God working? If yes, what are you learning about yourself? What are you learning about God?
  3. What is God prompting you to do as you journey through this dry barren land?

ENJOY:

Heaven’s Secrets – WILDER | TRIBL Music – YouTube

After The Storm

Photo by R. Sanner (Unsplash)

I watched as the clouds collected at the far end of town. They hung menacingly in the sky – collecting strength, waiting to explode in an exhibition of light and liquid.

I could hear the faint rumble of thunder and smelled the rain-soaked ground as the storm inched its way closer to town.

Then in the distance, the sky exploded in clear brilliant light. The strike, briefly suspended in midair, connected the ground with the heavens.

Rumble…

Flash…

Buckets of water spilled onto the defenseless ground, spreading across the asphalt, and drenching all those gathered to watch. The wind howled as it encircled the small crowd, our umbrellas reaching towards the sky. Their handles acting as potential lightning rods flirting with the electricity that pulsated around us.

We marveled at the storm’s intensity, its majesty, but we were overcome by its power.

The wind pushed the storm east and as suddenly as it had started, calmness fell around us. The muffled sounds of bird songs filled the air and above our heads, the sun broke through the clouds.

The storm had passed.

Photo by A. McCormick

Storms come into our lives in so many ways. Some pass as quickly as a spring shower – reviving our attitudes and offering fresh starts. While others, collect intensity and linger for what seems like hours, days, a year, and then another. They hang on, flooding us in sorrow and brokenness.

Bryant McGill, in his book Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life writes,

“The storm is out there and every one of us must eventually face the storm. When the storm comes, pray that it will shake you to your roots and break you wide-open. Being broken open by the storm is your only hope. When you are broken open, you get to discover for the first time what is inside you. Some people never get to see what is inside them; what beauty, what strength, what truth, and love. They were never broken open by the storm. So, don’t run from your pain — run into your pain. Let life’s storm shatter you.”

Being broken open, staying put, not running from the storms in our lives is hard. Sometimes it feels impossible. But what if we plant our feet, face the center of the storm, and lean in. Lean into all it can do to transform us, change our hearts, and mold and shape us.

The comfort is that we never do this alone, God waits just within our reach to support us on the journey.

In Matthew chapter 8, Jesus tells a story about a storm. He was on a boat with his disciples when wind threatened to overcome them. His followers began to panic as the storm began to toss their small craft. In their fear, they reached out to the only person that could help. Jesus says,

…“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

New International Version (NIV)

Have you ever noticed that after a storm there is stillness? A peacefulness that fills the space. It is such a strong presence you can feel it in your spirit. Storms have a way of shaking us, disrupting our perspectives, self-righteousness, and pride. They soften our words, and judgments, washing us a little cleaner from the inside out.

So, the next time you see the storm clouds forming, you hear the faint crack of thunder or smell the rain, stand and face them. Open your arms wide and embrace it. Be confident that you will never face any storm alone and when you become weak and tired from the fight, confidently know that God calms storms.

You are His BeLOVED.

You can lean on Him and trust Him for every storm in your life.

He loves you.

Be Blessed,


REFLECT:

Please take a few minutes to read these passages from Matthew 8 and reflect on the questions that follow.

18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 

Jesus Calms the Storm

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

NIV

(Matthew 8:23-27 NIV – Jesus Calms the Storm – Then he got – Bible Gateway)

CONSIDER:

Take a few minutes to consider the following.

  1. Are you currently facing a storm? If yes, are you leaning into it or contemplating running away?
  2. What is one thing you can do today to help you withstand the impact of your storm?
  3. Do you see God working in the midst of your storm?

ENJOY:

Tell Your Heart To Beat Again – YouTube

The Potter’s HANDs

Photo by A. McCormick

It was an odd place to find a piece of broken pottery, perched on a large rock on the edge of an open field. Yet, there it sat.

It caught my eye as I entered the path and I had to stop to investigate.

The edges were sharp, rough to the touch. But the sides were smooth, polished, reflecting the morning light.

Photo by A. McCormick

Years ago, I learned, during a ceramics class, that broken pottery has value. It can be ground into a fine powder and then mixed into the clay. The mixture adds strength and provides character to future creations.

Brokenness turned into beauty on the potter’s wheel.

I held the piece, tracing the jagged edges with my fingers, feeling its weight as it rested in the palm of my hand. And I began to wonder about my brokenness. Those rough weighty parts of my personality that inflict pain and cause me to hold more tightly to my plans, my way. Perhaps I need my shattered parts pulverized and yielded to the Creator’s hands.

There is a verse in the Bible that speaks of the Potter’s powerful effect on the clay,

I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar that he was forming didn’t turn out as he wished, so he kneaded it into a lump and started again.

Jeremiah 18: 1-5 (Living Bible – TLB)

Did you catch it, “He kneaded it into a lump and started over again?”

We are all a work of God. Kneaded and shaped into the perfect vessels for His work. Sometimes He starts over, shaping us through our pain and disappointments. Other times, He takes our brokenness and mixes it with His reshaping and through the process makes us stronger.

I will admit this process is not fun. Being reshaped remade is hard work. But through it all we can be confident that the Potter’s only desire is to refine us, helping us to reflect His heart.


This intimate process of molding and shaping, transforms us from lumps of clay to beautiful vessels fashioned by our Father’s love.


Blessings His BeLOVED,


REFLECT:

Take a few minutes to read more of the Jeremiah passage and consider the questions below.

Jeremiah 18: 1-5 (Living Bible – TLB)

1Here is another message to Jeremiah from the Lord:

Go down to the shop where clay pots and jars are made, and I will talk to you there. I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar that he was forming didn’t turn out as he wished, so he kneaded it into a lump and started again.

Then the Lord said: O Israel, can’t I do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. 

For additional reading – Jeremiah 18 TLB – Here is another message to Jeremiah – Bible Gateway

CONSIDER:

Take a few minutes to consider the following.

  1. Do you ever feel like a broken vessel? Does the truth that God is our Potter, constantly working in our lives, help you in your brokenness?
  2.  Do you believe that just as the clay is shaped and molded by the potter, God is transforming you? How is He changing you today?

ENJOY:

You’re Welcome In This Place (feat. Naomi Raine and Chandler Moore) – Maverick City Music | TRIBL – YouTube

The Ravenousness Hunger of Self

Photo by M. Spiske (Unsplash)

Grace and I were excited to get together! It was our annual trip to the local nursery to buy vegetable starts, meander through flats of annuals and perennials, and be amazed by the love and effort put into propagating seedlings.

The greenhouse sits at the East end of town. Nestled between the owners’ home, grazing land for their cows, a pond for ducks and geese, and an open range frequented by coyotes and wolves – a dream amid the Central Oregon desert.  

The drive takes about 30 minutes, in one direction. Just enough time to catch up on family and mutual friends and unearth all the brokenness in the world.

We talked about lost loved ones. The devastation of a friend’s recent struggle. And just as we turned off the main road, our conversation shifted.

Our churches have been meeting in person for several months. They started small, just a few people, pre-registered, socially distant, and masked.

But now…

Attendance is increasing, pre-registration is on the decrease, distance is disappearing, and masks – they slide further from face to jacket pocket to non-existent.

Please don’t worry, I’m not going to launch into a political debate or lecture you on the benefits or evils of the vaccine. But I am going to challenge you to consider this phenomenon.

Grace offered,

“Have you noticed that some people have become more self-focused? There doesn’t seem to be any room for considering the needs of others. My pastor keeps encouraging our congregation to pre-register, maintain distance, and wear a mask. If not to protect themselves then surely to protect others. Yet, it seems that people are much more interested in their wants and needs.

It’s all about I, ME, and MINE.

I’m starting to wonder if the pandemic hasn’t made us…”

We turned onto the dirt and gravel road leading to the greenhouse and parked. The next hour was spent walking, imagining, and running through our mental wish lists. Finally, the green wagon was filled – baskets of gold, black-eyed Susan, and a beautiful rock-climbing vine, guaranteed to be the splash of color that adds that special punch.

We paid the owner, loaded our car, and drove back down the dusty road turning left towards home.

Our conversation picked up right where we left it.

“I’m starting to wonder if the pandemic hasn’t made us selfish. Everything has become so politically charged, racially motivated, COVID complicated. The longer we are isolated the more we focus on ourselves.

I get it but I don’t think that is what Jesus wants us to do. What happened to all those Bible verses about loving your neighbor, putting them before self, loving as Jesus loves?”

We spent the remainder of our drive wrestling with ideas on how to shift our selfish tendencies towards God’s love.

1 John 3: 16-18 reminds us,

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.

The Message (MSG)

We negotiated our final turn before home and agreed…

Perhaps the answer to this ravenousness hunger of self is to  

  • Shift our focus from what we are sacrificing to what Jesus sacrificed – His life for our eternity
  • Prioritize loving others over having our way
  • Consider the outcome – love disappears when we ignore the needs of others

BeLOVED, let’s not get stuck in our wants. Instead, let’s take a risk and stop talking about love, and practice it – wear it like a favorite sweatshirt all soft and warm.

Let’s commit today to love as Jesus loves.

Be Blessed,


REFLECT:

1 Corinthians 13 is considered the “love chapter.” Giving us a framework of how to live out love in our daily lives. Please take a few minutes to read the verses below and consider the questions that follow.

1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languagesand special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

New Living Translation

CONSIDER:

Take a few minutes to consider the following.

  1. According to verses 4-7, what should our love look like? How should it behave?
  2. Verse 12 tells us that three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love. Why is love the greatest?
  3. How can you better reflect God’s love through your attitudes and behaviors?

ENJOY:

Where You Are | Jeremy Riddle | Bethel Church – YouTube

P a r a d i s e – The Borkennes of Living Between Two Gardens

Photo by Unknown

It stood defiant, framing the long driveway. A single word –

P A R A D I S E.

The letters were carved into a giant log that spanned the width of asphalt and placed atop two support poles. The sign welcomed its visitors, all those that turned off the main road.

The archway could be seen as you round the curve in the road. And this is the interesting thing, I’ve driven this road 100s of times and never noticed it. But today, the sign stood stark against the backdrop of its surroundings.

In 2020, just as the pandemic was engulfing the country, a wildfire raged through Oregon. It consumed acres of forest and took with it homes, wildlife, and small-town economies. The devastation was unimaginable.

One scene will be forever etched in my memory. A single two-story home stood proud, unscathed by the flames. Yet, all the surrounding properties had been consumed, piles of ash on bare foundations, only the chimneys stood as reminders of what had been.

P A R A D I S E graced a driveway that led to scorched trees and a cement slab. The home was gone. The foundation swept clean, charred twisted metal was piled neatly in one corner of the yard.

P A R A D I S E led to utter devastation.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my drive, the randomness of the destruction, the pain and suffering the fire caused. It draws on similarities to another garden experience that changed the course of the world.

Nestled deep in what scholars believe is northern Mesopotamia or the mountains of Armenia, the first garden was created. It was filled with beautiful trees, all types of animals, and man in his perfection. Fed by a good water source, life proliferated.

The Bible tells us, sin entered the world through the selfish actions of Eve and Adam. With them, paradise was lost. The brokenness we now experience is a direct descendant from that first sin, charting the course for God’s redemptive plan.

But we shouldn’t lose hope because the Bible also tells us that we will return to garden perfection. A garden where the streets are paved with gold and precious stones, trees bear ongoing fruit, and living water runs freely.

The question becomes, how do we live between these two gardens? How do we survive in the brokenness of sin looking toward future perfection?

The wildfire selected the targets of its consumption. Leaving some structures and landscape unscarred while ravaging others. There was no pattern to the rampage. No one could predict the fire’s path. No one could anticipate or avoid its impact.

It is the same with our lives. We can’t anticipate what is going to happen, storms come and take with them a life’s worth of work – leaving only memories. All our anxiety, planning, preparation does not ensure an easy, successful life. It does not guarantee paradise.

In the Bible, the book of John shares the story of Jesus preparing his followers for his death. He reassures them that for a short time, he will leave them but they can be confident that he will return. He goes on to say,

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

So perhaps the answer to our longings and loss is not found in our planning, our preparation but in God’s provision.

Driving away from the P A R A D I S E property, you round another curve, and off in the distance, a new home is rising from the blackened countryside. A solid two-story structure framed by the charred remains of 100-year-old pines. The rushing river acting as a backdrop to the emergence of new life.

Hope built from the rubble, our lives offered hope from the broken body of our savior.

This world is broken, scarred in unimaginable ways but God has overcome and he offers new life.

BeLOVED, you can trust him for your brokenness today and perfect hope for the future.

Be Blessed,

Allison


REFLECT:

The first few chapters of the book of Genesis details God’s creation of the garden and man’s fall. Take a few minutes to read these passages from Genesis 3 and reflect on the questions that follow.

1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man[a] and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. 9 Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

11 “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

12 The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”

“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

14 Then the Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live.

15And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike[b] your head, and you will strike his heel.”

16 Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”

17And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.


18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.

19 By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”

New Living Translation

(Please visit Genesis 3 NLT – The Man and Woman Sin – The serpent was – Bible Gateway to read the full account of sin’s introduction into the world.)

CONSIDER:

Take a few minutes to consider the following.

  1. As you read these verses, what was the key to sins entry into the world? What actions could Eve and Adam have taken to resist the temptation of sin?
  2. If you are facing behaviors, decisions, or attitudes that are tempting you to sin. What steps can you take to refocus your heart and mind?
  3. We know that we always have God to help us during difficult times. But it also helps to have a community surrounding you that you can confide in. Do you have someone that you can talk to when you are facing struggles?

ENJOY:

MercyMe – Even If (Official Lyric Video) – YouTube

Finding our true value and purpose in Christ – 2 Corinthians 5:17