As School Starts, An Ode To Mamas

As I drove past kids walking to their first day of school this week, God brought moms to mind.

While kids spend their days learning, moms will spend their days leisurely watching daytime television, going out to lunch with friends and taking long naps until their bundles of joy arrive home from school.

Yes, I jest.

Motherhood is so much more than anticipating unencumbered days while youngsters expand their brains with higher education. You’ll organize a million small things to nurture the welcoming, safe space that accomplishes the big things.

Sometimes I wonder: What special considerations did God ponder as He created mamas? Perhaps, just perhaps, it went something like this:

“I need a nurturer. Someone willing to rise before dawn, cook breakfast, pack a child’s lunch, flag down the school bus, work all day making the house a home, cook again, eat supper, then go upstairs and stay up past bedtime reading stories to eager ears.”

So God made a mama.

“I need someone willing to sit up all night with a sick child, and nurse them back to health with boundless love. Somebody who can cheer loudest, sew a new dress from scraps, demonstrate how to twirl, make play dough from scratch, and teach a round-eyed pre-schooler how to build a castle.”

So God made a mama.

It needed to be someone who could tie a ponytail holder from pipe cleaners, bread ties and curly ribbon and will finish her 40 hour work week by Tuesday supper, then clear the dishes and sit back down with her children to log another 50 hours checking arithmetic, sounding out vowels, and calling out spelling words.

So God made a mama.

“I need somebody strong enough to discipline when necessary, yet gentle enough to push a swing, decorate cupcakes, trim a Christmas tree, and kiss a scraped knee. Somebody who forgives transgressions with a smile, defends her child against a harsh world, yet stops her car in traffic to patiently wait for stray ducks to cross.”

So God made a mama.

It had to be somebody who would love deeper than the oceans and see the glass half full. Somebody to bake, make, wake, support and encourage and chauffeur and teach and plant seeds and keep singing through the hard times. Somebody who would teach them about Jesus, how to serve others and be kind and brave, and wrap a family together tight with the soft, strong bonds of prayer.

So God made a mama.

And one day long hence, dear mamas, when they visit you during college breaks, you will chuckle, and then sigh, and be speechless with tear-filled eyes, when your child says with a thankful heart that some day they want to be a parent — the best mama they can be — just like you.

As another school year begins, it is my delight to heartily applaud and fervently pray for all of you incredible mamas as you do the hard work, the important work, the necessary work that few people see of being the best mama God made you to be.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed.” Proverbs 31:25-28

_______________

Donna’s brand new individual and small group Bible study: “Perseverance: Praying Through Life’s Challenges” (based on the book of Nehemiah) is now available through Concordia Publishing House and Amazon.

Two Questions Women Shouldn’t Ask

During a leisurely lunch with three dear friends some time ago, horror stories and scars surfaced around two familiar topics.

Among the four of us, two are married with children, one has never been married or had children, and one is divorced with no children. We range in age from 35-51 and are committed Christ followers.

First, I need you to know something. This post took significant time to write and pray through because it’s rather blunt about sensitive topics.

This post isn’t a vent — it’s a plea borne out of loving others. That being said… 

Throughout our adult lives, my three friends and I have been asked two questions so many times that we’ve lost count. To this day, we remain flabbergasted that some women haven’t caught on. There are two questions that plainly shouldn’t be posed to another woman — unless she’s your BFF or a close second.

Question #1: Why aren’t you married?

Stated like that, this question isn’t really a question. It’s a judgment. 

Since I didn’t get married until I was 29, I fielded that question a LOT of times. We met when I was 23, dated for two years and were engaged for four years while he finished post-graduate college. During those six years, if we would have collected $1 from each woman who asked me why I wasn’t married yet, we could’ve easily paid for the wedding and honeymoon four times over.

As our conversation continued, my three friends and I realized that more often than not this question was posed by married women. That’s tantamount to a millionaire asking an unemployed person why they aren’t buying a mansion.

Even if asked in a caring or flattering way (perhaps she thinks highly of you), it still stings. Believe it or not, some women ask it to intentionally inflict emotional or social harm. And trust me, those on the receiving end can tell the difference.

I’ve also been asked innumerable times since my divorce nearly ten years ago why I have not remarried, along with who, when and whether or not I am dating. Frankly, the answer is entirely too personal to discuss nonchalantly with casual acquaintances. So I never bother. 

Last month, a Christian friend whom I hadn’t communicated with in a while asked about my dating status. When I responded that I was not seeking to be in a relationship, she typed a stunning one-word response: “Disobedient” — immediately followed by, “You’re not a nun.”

Wow. Currently, I am more content in Christ, peaceful and purpose-filled than at any other time in my adult life. But she didn’t ask about those things. She simply judged one aspect as the whole story and moved on.

If you are single, divorced or widowed, perhaps you need to hear this today: God gave marriage as a blessing, not an entitlement or commandment. He did not create us as half a person seeking another half to “complete” us. We are whole and complete in Christ alone. The rest is all grace.

I loved serving God as a married woman. I love serving God as a single woman. Simply put, God calls some women to serve through their marriage and others through undistracted singleness. The key is a passion to love and serve God no matter your marital status.   

And the second question… 

Question #2: Don’t you want children? 

Again, stated like that, this isn’t a question. It’s a judgment.

This question has caused more scars in my life (and my three friends) than any other. It presupposes so many things that it’s hard to know where to begin addressing it.

Asking a single woman that question is cruel — whether intentional or not. Perhaps having children has been a lifelong, unfulfilled dream that has cost her many sleepless nights and a river of tears. What if she believes marriage should come first? Should she rush out to the nearest bar and hook up with the first man she sees? Should she rush to the sperm donor bank and sign up? 

Asking a married woman that question presupposes that she is physically able to bear children. Perhaps she and her husband have tried to conceive children for years only to face financial hardships due to unsuccessful fertility treatments. No woman should ever be expected to share her private struggles or physical condition to justify why her home isn’t overflowing with children.   

My ex-husband and I were married for thirteen years, but didn’t have children. We trusted God’s plan that if He wanted us to have children, He would provide. I believe we would have been wonderful parents. But now looking back on divorce, I believe God knew best. 

Some people have pulled out the Christianity card. “God designed women to have children, so you’re disobeying if you don’t have them.” Yes, people have actually had the audacity to say such an unkind thing to me and my three friends in the past. And when such a statement comes from someone we hold dear, the wound plunges deep. 

Some people have played the adoption card. “So many children need good homes, why aren’t you willing to adopt?” Stated like this, that question is also a judgment. Perhaps she is, in fact, willing to adopt, but is still thinking and praying through the many considerations of such a monumental commitment.  

Simply put, no woman owes another an explanation to these two extremely personal questions. Over time, I’ve learned to smile and deflect the tension. However, the pain inflicted still takes significant prayer, extending relentless forgiveness, and time for God to heal.

The bottom line? Those two questions negate God’s sovereignty. They infer that we need to follow cultural norms or our own plans instead of submitting to His. If no one has ever asked you either question, you are among the blessed minority. 

If you are unmarried or do not have children, please hear this truth loud and clear:

Despite your marital or parenting status,
   God loves you right now
   Just as you are. 
   Precisely where you are.
You can joyfully, successfully serve him today.

Following God isn’t about conforming to some cultural mold of how others believe our lives should look. Remember the Apostle Paul? The Apostle Peter? One was married, one was not; one had children, one did not — but they made a powerful difference for God’s kingdom from their individual, God-designed circumstances.

God can use any person at any time in any place for His holy purposes.

No tangible thing on this earth makes us more or less of a Christian. Following Christ never hinges on whether or not we’re married or have children. It’s about being in relationship with Him. It’s about our desire to know Him and be fully known by Him. To rely on Him for our every need. To receive His immeasurable love and amazing grace into the deepest recesses of our soul with overwhelming gratitude.

So to my fellow women who have been on the receiving end of these two questions: I love you. I know what it feels like and I’m so sorry for your pain.   

And to those women who believe it’s okay to keep asking another woman either of those questions, STOP.

PLEASE STOP. 

They damage — and even kill — friendships.

*These wonderful friends are not members of my home church. They read this post when I originally wrote it and gave permission to share the generalities of our discussion in the hope of shedding much needed light on this sensitive topic.*

_________________________________

Donna’s brand new individual and small group Bible study: “Perseverance: Praying Through Life’s Challenges” (based on the book of Nehemiah) is now available through Concordia Publishing House and Amazon.

Dear Pastor: Will You Forgive Us?

Pastors have answered a high and difficult calling. There are few things that boil my blood faster or put my feet on a soap box quicker than when I hear God’s people hurling mean-spirited or spiteful comments at God-loving, servant-hearted pastors.

It gets ugly when sheep turn on their shepherds. And Satan, along with the world, watches. Smiling.

I love to intentionally encourage my pastors. When I see them at some mid-week church function, I am fully aware that they may have faced strenuous spiritual warfare. The enemy has likely lobbed a stream of fiery darts at them, whether it’s tough counseling sessions, disheartening church politics, or the death of a member.

It’s critical to convey to our pastors and pastor friends just how vital they are to God’s work and His church — to let these grace-filled men of faith know how much they, their families, and their ministries mean to so many.

So…to my pastors, all my pastor friends, and your beautiful families:

You embrace the calling to be crucified with Christ, yet sometimes we are the ones pounding in the nails.

Please forgive us.

You take up the cross of Christ without hesitation because it is not merely your day job–it’s your very calling, passion and purpose. Yet sometimes we watch from comfortable pews without lifting a finger as you stumble under that staggering weight alone.

Please forgive us.

You love us enough to sacrifice family time, shorten vacations and make yourself available 24-7-365. Yet when you need to unplug and allow God to recharge you, we haughtily demand your instantaneous appearance.

Please forgive us.

When life blindsides us with loss, relationship difficulties, health scares or financial burdens, you are the first to offer prayer and call in the posse to help. Yet when you need us, we wear busyness as a badge to dodge.

Please forgive us.

You willingly live in a glass house with our noses pressed against it, gracefully shouldering our smart aleck remarks and quick judgments. Yet when you lovingly ask us accountability questions, our self-righteous indignation could choke God Almighty.

Please forgive us.

But I want you to hear loud and clear: You are not expendable.

You are VITAL.
You are VALUABLE.
You are LOVED.

As you stand at the vanguard of deadly spiritual warfare, it’s an amazing privilege to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you on God’s battlefield. To heartily encourage you when you are weary. To follow where God calls you to lead.

THANK YOU for your integrity and tireless commitment.

Church, when was the last time you prayed for your pastor?

One Night Lit the World (Advent, Week 3)

Have you ever been in a situation where you were too terrified to speak? Shocked into frozen immobility?

Imagine for a moment the night of Jesus’ birth from the shepherd’s point of view. Suddenly their peaceful, starry night sky lit up with the glory of the Lord! And if that wasn’t enough, then an angel of the Lord dropped in with a heavenly message.

Can you even imagine? No wonder the angel’s first words were, “Do not be afraid.”

That shekinah glory of the Lord that Luke records here refers to the splendor and brilliance that radiates from God’s very presence. Scripture tell us that the shekinah glory manifested in the pillars of cloud and fire that led the Israelites out of Egypt. It shone from the burning bush for Moses. It appeared in the brightness of the cloud at Jesus’s Transfiguration.

The glory of the Lord was quite an attention-grabbing, heart-stopping manifestation, indeed. It was a sign of both God’s nearness and His remoteness.

And the Levitical shepherds of Bethlehem were completely surrounded by it. After 400 years of God’s silence where His glory never visibly shone over His people, God made His mighty presence unmistakably known.

Though the shepherds were likely terrified, the angel’s announcement did not foreshadow gloom and destruction. He trumped the Good News that the Savior promised by God had finally arrived!

And the angel’s Good News was not limited to the shepherds, but intended for all people. Not just those who are good for goodness sake. It was the Good News of the Gospel that Jesus Christ had arrived into this world to save all who believe from eternal separation from Him.

God’s plan of salvation promised in the Garden of Eden had finally been put in motion that night. That one, extraordinary, life-giving night. And God tasked those shepherds to get the word out.

It was an announcement of great joy that we are privileged today to share with others — especially during this beautiful Advent season. It is God’s message of love, reflected in the innocent eyes of a Baby.

The shepherds didn’t realize that they would be hearing the heavenly announcement that night which would change the course of eternity. That it was a night like any other in all of history before or since.

Those stunned shepherds were privileged to be part of one extraordinary night that changed the history of the world and become bearers of a story full of wonder.

So, like the shepherds, the angel reminds us, “Do not be afraid.”
Don’t be afraid to receive the Good News.
Don’t be afraid to believe that it is for you.
Don’t be afraid to celebrate with great joy that your eternal address has changed from lost to found, because of the sheer grace and vast love of God almighty.

Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
Let earth receive her king.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
Let heaven and nature sing! 

 


We would be honored for you to join us on this life-changing tour.

 

Join Me in the Holy Land

It was a warm desert day when I stepped into the Garden of Gethsemane that morning eight years ago. The sun fell in slants over the ancient stone wall, illuminating the centuries-old olive trees.

So this is where He prayed, I thought.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” … Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” Matthew 26:36, 38

This is where Jesus sweat blood as He contemplated the unfathomable suffering of the cross.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39

I found a secluded spot in the Garden that morning and fell to my knees. I poured out the shattered heart of a fresh divorce and the fear of becoming lost in the random shuffle of life. This was the intimate place of further still. The place where God met me alone amidst my greatest sorrow to began the healing process.

Then our group then went to Calvary where we received communion … looking straight at the empty tomb.

Words simply cannot describe that moment. That is why I want to share the experience with you!

Pastor Wayne Graumann and his lovely wife, Kathy, have joyfully partnered with me to offer a 10-day Biblical tour of the Holy Land. Wayne baptized me 27 years ago and holds a very special place in my heart.

He and I will tag-team teach at various sites on our journey, which include: Nazareth, Cana, a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, Caesarea, Megiddo, Mt. Carmel, Mt. of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Jaffa, the Jordan River, Caesarea Philippi, Jerusalem, the Mt. of Olives, Palm Sunday Road, Garden of Gethsemane, Western Wall, Via Dolorosa, Bethlehem, Qumran, a float on the Dead Sea, Jericho, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Pool of Siloam, and the Garden Tomb (Calvary).

Won’t you join us?

Imagine Tours & Travel has led tours to Israel for over 20 years with excellence. Your 10-day tour price includes: round trip airfare, deluxe motor coaches, first class hotels, guided sightseeing, entrance fees to sites visited, breakfast and dinner daily, all taxes and fuel charges, and all gratuities.

Detailed Tour Information
Registration Form

We welcome all adults who desire to walk where Jesus walked: men, women, couples and singles. We know it takes time to plan, stockpile vacation time, and save funds, so we are letting you know 16 months in advance of our departure!

I pray that you will join us on this life-changing adventure!

If you have any questions whatsoever, please reach out to me directly at dpyle@artesianministries.org.

Riding a camel on the Mount of Olives!

Experiencing sunset in the Holy Land

New Wine Out of This Old Wine Skin

In September 2017, I visited a vineyard in upstate New York at the height of harvest season. My eyes feasted on the lush, green canopy under which large, juicy bunches of purple grapes hung from sturdy vines. Every slight breeze that ruffled the green oasis carried a sweet smell of ripe, luscious goodness.

I wanted to settle in and stay a while.

It was night and day compared to the last time I visited Gage Farm Vineyards during winter. The pruned vines appeared as lifeless sticks — old and unusable.

The harvest season offered a vision of lush abundance that caused a deep sense of peace and contentment. The winter season looked harsh and felt like hope had been pruned away with the canopy.

I walked down many rows in that vineyard during both seasons, Bible in my hand, reading John 15. Jesus tells His disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1). Those words made sense amidst the harvest, but seemed out of place in winter.

God brought to mind the parable in Matthew 9:17: “No one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

Winter looked and felt like an old wine skin.

Settling in and staying a while in winter never crossed my mind. I kept thinking, “How can these cold, lifeless sticks produce new wine?” My eyes desperately scanned each row for signs of life.

That’s how spiritual winter seasons feel. Sometimes it seems that God prunes so much out of our life it leaves us wondering, “How in the world is there anything left to prune, God?” We feel like a bloody, useless stump looking around a barren winter stick yard.

Maybe you are there right now. Maybe you feel the blood frozen on the stump of your dreams. You may be tempted to believe that the spring thaw is never coming. After all, what use is an old wine skin?

Let me tell you, fellow branch in God’s vineyard, God never prunes for the sake of pruning. He’s not trying to make an ornamental bonsai tree out of your life. God prunes to make us abundantly fruitful for His glory.

He promises: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) You and I may have some years under our belt and feel like an old wine skin.

But hold on a minute.

The Lord promises that His mercies arrive new every day (in every season) — even in winter. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) He creates in us a clean heart — a heart transplant at our baptism.

We’re going to be spending some time in John 15:1-17 over the summer because there are beautiful truths we need to understand if we are to survive and thrive as a branch in God’s vineyard.

Whatever season you are experiencing, take heart. We may long to settle into the lush canopy full of ripe goodness, but harvest does not appear without winter pruning.

Only the Vinedresser sees the future of the branch. When God prunes us, He holds us safely in His mighty hands as He clears away the extraneous thoughts, words, and deeds from our life.

Sometimes when the winter is severe, you may think that He is absent.

Just remember, beloved, He is holding you TIGHT.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear … for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

 

Coming July 5, 2018, a brand new DVD Bible study series:

 

When Loneliness Feels Like It’s Swallowing You Whole

If you have ever felt the sting of loneliness for any period of time, you understand this truth: loneliness does not mean being alone.

Loneliness may impact us most deeply when we are in a crowd of people.

That’s because loneliness is a heart issue.

God created us to know Him and be fully known by Him on an intimate basis. Crowds are superficial, not intimate. Even those who know us best still do not know or understand the deepest and most desperate desires of our heart.

Although Jesus was God in the flesh, He experienced acute loneliness. In the hour of His greatest need as He hung on the cross of our making, the disciples abandoned Him. Even God the Father turned His back on His only Son so that God’s full wrath could be poured out on Jesus to be judged once and for all.

Jesus even taught His disciples about loneliness by talking about events that had not yet occurred:

Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:32–33

Jesus is the friend who lays down His life for His friends (John 15:13–15), sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), and who has promised never to leave us nor forsake us but to be with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Every believer has the presence of God in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. He lives in us and is our interpreter with God. In Christ, even though we may feel lonely, we are never alone.

Loneliness Is Not Depression

When people asked me how I felt during my time of divorce seven years ago, I found it difficult to discern between loneliness and depression. After looking up definitions and reading a few helpful articles, they were easier to identify.

Loneliness doesn’t feel good, but we are still able to function and carry on the tasks of everyday life. On the other hand, depression inhibits our ability to function.

Loneliness says, “I don’t want to get up and go to work.” Depressions says, “I can’t get up and go to work.”

Loneliness is more of a state of mind, whereas depression translates physically. My lack of appetite for a period of time was due to mild depression, not loneliness.

Loneliness can certainly lead to depression if it continues unchecked over long periods of time. That’s why those friends who stop by and insist on getting you out of the house even when you don’t feel like it are truly life savers.

Two Dangers of Loneliness

Two common phrases come to mind when we feel the effects of loneliness: (1) “I need to keep busy to keep my mind off of it,” and (2) “I need to find someone so I don’t feel so lonely.” The first is common, the second can be dangerous, and neither are the long-term solutions.

1. Busyness

Most of us battle loneliness with busyness. But at some point, the busyness subsides, and then what? Although non-stop activity can ease your stress and temporarily distract you from feeling overwhelmed, eventually you need to slow down and let the Lord heal your heart.

Allow God to work in the silence what you have covered up by noise. Otherwise, you will careen into the nearest wall at 200 mph in full-blown burnout.

2. Replacement Love

It’s normal to find yourself longing for someone to assuage feelings of loneliness. However, it’s dangerous when you look for that someone in all the wrong places — especially if you are married and that someone is not your spouse.

Instead of giving in and letting neediness make us vulnerable, ask God to shift your focus. Pursue interests that perhaps you have put aside.

I rekindled my interest for travel and photography with enthusiasm and have since have traveled to many states and countries.

I also spent significant time investing in my relationship with the Lord through increased personal Bible study, worship, attending conferences, retreats, and listening to sermon/Bible study podcasts. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this investment.

Once you center your life in Christ and gain confidence without relying on horizontal relationships, you will be in a much better place spiritually and emotionally to embrace a new, healthy relationship when the Lord opens that door.

Declare War on Loneliness

You don’t have to live with loneliness. Period. Although it will inevitably happen, you don’t have to resign yourself to feeling like that until the Lord calls you home. We find the antidote in Scripture:

The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14 (NKJV)

The “secret of the Lord” is what God calls His people. They are those Jesus-loving special friends that every Christian needs. The word “secret” doesn’t mean a hush-hush utterance—it references our close, intimate friends who fear the Lord and with whom we share our joys, sadness, weaknesses, and strengths.

They are the friends you let into your messy home while you’re wearing sweats and no makeup. They are the precious few where we can confide real issues in real time.

We need those secrets of the Lord in our life to declare war on loneliness. Their love may look like chatting over a cup of coffee, but in the spiritual realm it’s like an impenetrable shield of love surrounding you in faith against the enemy’s darts of loneliness.

Loneliness can erect significant barriers that prevent God access to heal our heart and living life to the full.

The answer is short and simple: instead of giving into loneliness, lay claim to the nearness of God.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Thank you, Lord.

*This post is a revised excerpt from my book, Without This Ring: Surviving Divorce.

Without This Ring by Donna Pyle

Save

Save

Save

Save

Pastors, Will You Forgive Us?

Pastors have a high and difficult calling.

There are few things that boil my blood faster or put me on a soap box quicker than when I hear God’s people hurling mean-spirited or spiteful comments at God-loving, servant-hearted pastors.

It gets ugly when the sheep turn on their shepherds.

And Satan, along with the world, watches. Smiling.

I love intentionally encouraging my pastors. When I see them at some evening function during the week ― whether it’s Bible class, a ministry event, or worship team rehearsal ― I’m fully aware that they may have faced a particularly tough day. Chances are the enemy has lobbed some fiery darts at them, whether it’s tough counseling sessions, disheartening church politics, or the death of a member.

They also have those joy-filled days when they perform baptisms, weddings, and celebrate confirmands. But those days happen far less than the rest.

It’s a privilege to convey to my pastors and pastor friends just how important they are to God’s work and His church ― to let these grace-filled men of courageous faith know how much they, their families, and their ministries mean to so many. But I end up getting chokey.

So … to my pastors, all my pastor friends, and your beautiful families:

You embrace the calling that crucifies you every day. Yet sometimes we are the ones pounding in the nails.

Please forgive us.

You take up the cross of Christ without hesitation, not because it’s a job, but because it’s your very calling, passion and life purpose. Yet sometimes we watch from comfortable pews without lifting a finger as you stumble under the weight of that responsibility alone.

Please forgive us.

You love us enough to sacrifice family time, cut short vacations, and be on call 24-7-365. Yet when you need to unplug and allow God to recharge you, we haughtily demand that you re-engage and make yourself available.

Please forgive us.

When life blindsides us with loss, relationship difficulties, health scares, or financial burdens, you are the first to offer prayer and call in the posse to help. Yet when you need us, we wear busyness as a badge to dodge.

Please forgive us.

You willingly live in a glass house with our faces pressed against it, gracefully shouldering our smart aleck remarks. Yet when you lovingly ask us accountability questions, our self-righteous indignation could choke God Almighty.

Please forgive us.

But I want to you know…

You are not expendable.

You are VITAL.
You are VALUABLE.
You are LOVED.

As you stand at the vanguard of deadly spiritual warfare, it’s an amazing privilege to stand in God’s army with you. To heartily encourage you when you’re weary. And to follow where God calls you to lead.

THANK YOU for your integrity and tireless commitment.

Church, when was the last time you prayed for your pastors?

C’mon, let’s encourage our pastors today.

When the World Rages: Forgiveness on this National Day of Prayer

I arrive home from work Tuesday last week and flip on the TV.

I root around in the fridge for ingredients to start dinner. It’s hamburger night.

There’s this red-faced lady ranting loud from the TV that the groomer cut her dog’s toenails way too short to paint. Now her dog will have to go without her springtime pink toenail color.

Her eyes bulge and neck veins pop. She’s thinking of suing.

My hands go still in that raw hamburger meat. The onion stings the cut on my pinky finger.

When did middle-of-the-road annoyance become the autobahn of anger?

While I’m smashing onions into hamburger patties, there’s people in this world smashing rage like derby cars into tender hearts. Head-on collisions causing scars that only Jesus can mend.

How can we show the love and forgiveness of Jesus when we can’t see through the broken windshields of misplaced rage?

The hamburgers sizzle loud in the skillet and I file that question in the recesses of a tired brain.

I wake up this morning and drive in pre-dawn darkness to this National Day of Prayer breakfast at a neighboring church.

In a world where rage seems normal, do people set the alarm early to gather in prayer aside from Sunday anymore?

Expecting two cars and five people, my headlights find a filling parking lot and people filing into the warmth of welcoming fellowship.

Twenty-somethings to eighty-somethings fill the chairs to bow in prayer as one voice. The rage-filled world fades.

The light of hope rises with the first rays of dawn.

We sing, we pray, and I share about the importance of forgiveness in a world that wants to hang onto revenge. Heads nod.

Seeing is believing, we say. If the raging world sees raging believers, how can they even conceive of a loving God who forgives?

We’d be relegated to permanent darkness if Jesus had raged instead of forgave on that Good Friday.

Only His good can overcome evil — because returning evil with evil just overcomes us.

Wherever the battle rages — desert war zones or some battle in our churches, communities, or marriages — we need to know that we don’t fight alone. Easter was God’s assurance that the One who lives in us is stronger than all the world’s rage.

Where the world rages, don’t condemn the shouters, curse the future, or pick a side — practice the forgiveness that Jesus taught. And in the practicing, we become what we preach — love in spite of the rage.

Loving the ragers like Christ loved the haters.

So on this National Day of Prayer, we thank God for His Son Jesus Christ, who sacrificed his Holy life to teach us how to live — and forgive.

Unforgiveness picks a side.

Forgiveness picks a person — the Person of Jesus Christ.

RELEASES MAY 9th: Pre-order to receive Chapter 1 before it releases, downloadable Scripture cards on forgiveness, a 31-day devotional, and Bible reading plan. Click here.

Save

Save

Welcome!

Artesian Ministries LLC

Welcome, friends! After months of praying, planning, and coordinating, God has blessed me with a wonderful new website and blog. I hope you find it easy to navigate and easy for us to stay connected.

There are some exciting new things coming in the next few months, including a new book, a brand new DVD Bible study series, and an opportunity to be part of the live audience for the upcoming taping of a brand new Bible study series. But we’ll get there.

First, I just want to thank you. For being part of this crazy journey. For letting me into your lives to occupy your valuable time. For your encouragement, challenges, prayers, and so many other things.

I hope you will take time to poke around on my new website. There are free downloads for Bible study reading checklists under “In The Word” and a list of places we can connect in person under “Events.” Please take a moment to drop your email over to the right so we can continue talking about Jesus together.

Walking through life with you is a high privilege, because we follow the One who already carved our path.

So…thank you.

Until next time, I pray that God’s unsurpassing peace guards your heart and mind in Christ.

Save