Pruned for Growth


My Texas home contains several gardens that require constant care. The ten-year old angel trumpet plant grows taller than my roof each year and produces beautiful ten-inch, pale pink trumpet-shaped flowers several times each year.

However, such faithful production would decline if I neglected to prune it back to only two feet tall each spring.

Gardeners and farmers understand the importance of pruning.

Since believers are planted in God’s vineyard, it means that we must submit to the Vinedresser’s pruning. Grapevines in vineyards naturally grow wild, so they are pruned and trained to the trellis structure in order to produce optimal fruit. When we abide in the true Vine through the power of the Holy Spirit, our Savior shapes us through His Word.

Such careful, loving pruning is designed to produce abundant fruit.

Although pruning does not feel good at the time, we trust that God has our best interest at heart. Such knowledge soothes the wounds brought about by pruning, so that we can fulfill God’s divine design.

In God’s vineyard, there are two kinds of branches: (1) fruit-bearing branches that are pruned to bear more fruit, and (2) non-fruit-bearing branches that are cut off, dried, and burned.

Although pruning means purging useless or superfluous shoots from a vine or tree, it also means to cleanse from filth and impurity.

As you take a quick survey of your current circumstances, activities, and interests, what might God need to prune in your life to bring about better fruit?

For example, when God repeatedly affirmed my calling to write Bible studies and teach from His Word, I dove in with unparalleled gusto. I spent considerable time studying His Word, filling countless journals with notes, and taking online classes to study the Bible’s original languages. I read mountains of commentaries, listened to sermon podcasts, and much more.

But I mistakenly thought that I could fit all of those activities into my life without purging anything else. Even though those new endeavors for the Lord produced many devotions, blog posts, Bible studies, and eventually books, my fruit-bearing branches were becoming exhausted. However, I kept on plowing ahead (pun intended) because I truly love the calling that God has placed in my life.

Then one day, the Vinedresser—without consulting this lowly branch—began pruning activities and commitments from my schedule that He knew were “sucker branches” to His plan for my spiritual growth and fruitfulness.

At first, I objected and tried to convince God that I was superwoman. I wanted to prove that I could not only do it all, but could slam dunk it while wearing high heels and singing Kumbaya.

My objections only proved my spiritual immaturity.

As soon as I began trying to prove that I knew better than God, a four-month season of what I call my “discipline blessings” began. Sinus and upper respiratory infections hit me hard and non-stop, which resulted in “forced” rest. Since I could hardly breathe, function, or concentrate for four months, hours in bed replaced exhaustion with repentance over my hardheadedness. In other words: I experienced discipline from above.

I look back upon that season of “discipline blessings” and thank God for His wisdom. The lessons that He taught me during those four months made me realize just how much God loves this stubborn branch and His vineyard.

Although my four-month disciplining season was uncomfortable at best and heartbreaking at worst, God drew me closer to Him during that time through prayer to discern the plan that He continues to unfold for my future.

Pruning sometimes hurts. But it is a necessary process for God to nurture and produce the best fruit for an abundant harvest.

If you have been a branch in God’s vineyard for any length of time, you understand that pruning often translates into pain and hardship. That’s not because God enjoys seeing His children suffer, but because He knows it needs to take place for future growth.

God never promised that being connected to the Vine would mean that life would be fine as wine.

By God’s grace we put one foot in front of the other while He prunes.
We grow.
He prunes.
We grow.
He prunes.

It’s a lifelong, life-giving cycle in His vineyard. Our Lord and Savior is fully aware of your circumstances. ABIDE IN HIM. Stay connected.

His plan for you is perfect and incredible.

Trust Him.


Brand new 8-week DVD Bible study series releasing July 5, 2018:

Grafted, Nourished, and Set Apart

“I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Planting a vineyard requires significant thought, care and dedication. Grafting and cultivating abundant fruit is not an accidental process. Grapevines need much hands-on care to produce the best fruit possible. It is a careful, patient process that takes years.

Before planting new grapevines in the vineyard, the ground is prepared by a process known as “ripping” the soil. Using a thick steel tool, tractors rip five feet deep trenches in one direction, crisscrossed by three-feet deep trenches in the other direction.

The tractor then uses various tools to smooth the rough surface. After carefully considering where the vine rows will be planted, irrigation lines are dug and installed, followed by the posts that hold the wire on which the grapevine grows. Adding compost to the prepared soil is the final step before planting the new grapevines.

These necessary steps are crucial to provide the right environment for the tender new grapevines to grow, mature, and flourish.

As God prepares us for His holy purposes in His vineyard, sometimes it feels like our life has been ripped open.

We are busy, juggle a full schedule, and have plenty on our plate, right? We like the routine of life and the comforts that make our days a little smoother, thank you very much. Because ripping doesn’t feel good.

But God never called us to a routine of comfortable surroundings. He calls us to bear good fruit that lasts.

A grapevine’s life begins as two separate vines in a nursery. The first vine is called the rootstock, which does not produce good fruit. The other vine is called the varietal, which determines the variety or type of grape that will be grown (Concord, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.).

The nursery’s expert grafters slice a deep V-cut into the rootstock, then meticulously cut a matching slice in the varietal’s bud. The bud is then inserted into the rootstock’s cut and a special tape is placed over the cut (like a Band-Aid over a wound) to bind them together.

The root and varietal bleed into one another at the wound, thus bonding to form a single grapevine.

Isaiah 53:5 tells us: “…by His wounds we are healed.” Jesus, the Vine, is our rootstock into which we (the varietal) were grafted into His life—His vineyard.

God, our Expert Grafter, cut away our old life and bonded us to a new life in Christ. Through Christ’s life and sacrifice, we become a branch in the Vine from the point of grafting into His wounds, receiving life from Him.

Although we face attacks and disease, we will not be defeated as long as we remain connected to the Vine through faith.

His roots never falter. 

You are not an accidental afterthought in God’s vineyard. God is intentional about you! He is careful and patient with you to produce the highest quality fruit ─ however long it takes. Before the creation of the world or time began, God carefully planned every day of your life:

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:16

Preparing for a bountiful grape harvest begins long before vines are planted. Some vineyards may wait decades for their highest quality fruit.

As God matures our faith, the wisdom and discernment that He works in us (pruning and training His grapevines) strengthens us for the struggles that we inevitably face in this life. And the process will take our entire life.

The connection Jesus makes in John 15:5  is clear: true life only comes when we are connected to the true Vine. During this season of life, how are you remaining connected to the Vine in meaningful ways?

Ask God to open opportunities in neglected areas in which you can participate more fully. Even if it only means five minutes in His Word each day, those are vital, nourishing minutes.

God faithfully promises that when we seek Him, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

God has grafted, nourished, and set us apart in His vineyard to produce fruit. Apart from Him we can do nothing.

The question is ─ do we bear wild grapes, unfit for consumption, or do we bear good fruit that will be used by God to bring Him glory?


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

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:


Advent: Sometimes It Takes Speechless Moments

Over the past week, I’ve been pondering the story of Zechariah in Luke 1. One of my pastors preached an excellent Advent sermon this past Sunday on Zechariah. And it got me to thinking.

Sometimes we experience moments that leave us speechless.

You know, those almost incomprehensible life stunners that silence us:

… a blessing too immeasurable to grasp

… a heartbreak too deep to comprehend

… a long-awaited dream coming to fruition

… a tragedy too senseless to understand.

When was the last time you experienced such a moment?

For me, it was that horrible day when Dad called long distance to tell me he had cancer. Then again two and a half years later as I tried to give the eulogy at his funeral.

The blood thundering in our ears drowns out all else. Pulse racing. Knees weak. Head spinning as we attempt to grasp the enormity of those moments.

We tend to remember exactly where we stood and who stood with us when we couldn’t stand anymore.

Ordinary days take on high definition clarity at such moments. Vivid details that stun our mind and silence our mouth.

It happened to Zechariah.

After decades of serving as a priest in the temple, the lot fell on Zechariah for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to burn the incense in the Holy of Holies. His moment was momentous enough, but God wasn’t finished.

Zechariah disappeared behind the temple curtain. For a long time. Perhaps the people worried. After all, he was pretty old.

But he wasn’t in there alone. A surprise visitor dropped in.

To his astonishment, Zechariah stood face to face with the angel Gabriel. They talked about Zechariah’s tired prayer regarding a forgotten dream: a child of his very own. Gabriel told Zechariah,

Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” Luke 1:13

His brain couldn’t grasp what his ears heard, so Zechariah doubted the message and the messenger.

And lost his voice for over 9 months.

God silenced Zechariah until the truth of His promise was revealed in His perfect timing: that Zechariah wouldn’t just be any ordinary father, but father of the forerunner to the Messiah.

Zechariah didn’t choose to go silent. We normally don’t either.

Sometimes it takes speechless moments to still our rambling mouths so we can hear God’s rich, boundless promises.

During a Christmas season that clamors for our attention, how do we hear and follow God’s guidance?

We listen to His Word in the silence.

Whether our momentous moments are full of joy or sorrow, God isn’t finished with us. Regardless of anything else, God still walks with us.




If you’re experiencing a season of stunned silence, instead of adding noise, pause. Pull out His Word. Read about the hope of the world born for you in a manger. Trust that God loves you. Know that He hears you.

Even in the silence.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard.” Luke 1:13


Essential Elements for Reading the Bible

When I became a Christian twenty-five years ago, someone gifted me with a basic Bible so that I could start reading God’s Word for myself.

However, I looked at that thick book and thought, “I’ve got to read this whole thing?” My leisure time was scarce. Reading through something that resembled a text book was unappealing to say the least.

Fast forward several years.

By God’s grace and persistence alone, He has changed my indifference toward Scripture to a lifeline. It began as a slow burn which God ignited into a consuming fire.

Every now and then people ask how I study the Bible. Through much trial, error, and many years, I believe there are three key elements for reading/studying the Bible that have become staples along my spiritual journey.

1. Reliable.

Each day set aside (1) a reliable time, (2) in a place free from distractions, and (3) follow a plan.

Years ago, I jumped on the popular bandwagon to read through the Bible in a year. After the first year, my devotional time became nothing more than a speed-reading contest. I retained little because I did not allow God the necessary space to let His Words sink deep.

Today, I still follow a plan but have removed the pressure to complete it in a year. To that end, I have created several Bible reading plans that provide structure to constantly move through the Bible.

Sometimes, I write out whole books of the Bible by hand. I challenged readers with that practice in my first book and people still comment today how it continually helps them to slow down and actually think about each verse. It’s a powerful tool. Try it!

I cannot stress enough the importance of a distraction-free place to read and study God’s Word. Computer screens can be a huge distraction for me, so I sit at my kitchen table each morning with steaming coffee, my Bible, and a journal. My smartphone remains in the bedroom until it’s time to get ready for work.

I’ve never met a strong Christian who not does mediate daily on the words of God. Conversely, I have never met a weak Christian who does. Spending time in His Word consistently is vital.

2. Resourceful.

Assess your daily routine and find resourceful ways to harness time to meditate on the words of God. In my life, resourceful translates into music. Whether beautiful old hymns or powerful contemporary worship songs, Christian music focuses my thoughts on God.

Martin Luther said, “Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.” Music stirs our affection for the Lord in ways that other sources cannot.

We carry the world on our smartphones, so I regularly access Bible reading apps and sermon podcasts. Some friends use their creative outlet for Bible journaling to mediate on God’s Word as they draw. There are many resources available to us to focus our hearts and minds on Him.

3. Relational.

We need people around us on a regular basis who can speak the words of God into our lives. Acts 2:42-47 paints a clear relational picture:

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

We are told in Hebrews 3:13 that believers are to extol and encourage each other as long as it is called today so that we are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin and the dark forces in this world.

When I feel discouraged or under spiritual attack, there are four special women in my life who I can call at a moment’s notice. They will pray for me, over me, and speak light into darkness.

We need mature believers around us — and they need us.

Sometimes being alone with the Bible is not the best thing. A relaxed walk in the park on a beautiful Fall day with a fellow believer does a world of good to my soul.

Fresh air and a fresh word often bring a fresh perspective.

The bottom line is that we need to constantly search for reliable, resourceful and relational ways to open our heart and mind to God’s life-giving, transformational Word.

It makes all the difference along our spiritual journey.







The Deposit We Take For Granted

Today, 86,400 of a limited precious commodity has been deposited into our stewardship account.

Actually, we are given that gift every single day.

86,400 seconds is ours every time the sun rises, orbits, then sleeps.

And as the clock’s hands go round and round, we will have either invested today to grow exponentially for eternity, or let them tick by into the abyss of meaningless.

We will have spoken words to encourage and build, or spewed words that hurt and deflated.

The Apostle Mark understood such an investment. He penned the word “immediately” no less than ten times in his Gospel’s first chapter alone.

Carpe diem.

Seize the day.

How will you seize this day? How will you invest or waste today’s 86,400 seconds?

This morning I seized a moment to utter this prayer in my quiet time, “God, give me the wisdom to spend Your deposit wisely today.”

And as I get ready for the day, looking beyond the mirror, I’ll look into the eyes of my heart with a whispered reminder, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made by your Maker.”

What awaits me today? What awaits you?

86,400 moments to be grateful, scared, happy, sad, joyful, or wasteful — but once gone, those moments are forever out of our grasp.

To write words that will change a life.

To sing a song that will touch a heart.

To tell someone you love them.

To tell them about a Savior who loves them more than you ever could.

God has given us the gift of time that ultimately all belongs to Him.

How will you spend your 86,400 stewardship deposit today?




Your Messy Bravery Makes This Mess Brave

You have gathered close and invited me across state lines and beyond our country’s borders for one simple, profound privilege: to huddle our hearts together around God’s Word. 

And I’ve seen you come from all over — bags packed, faith intact, and prayers offered with the desire to go deeper with God. You did it again just a few weeks ago as we gathered at my home church to tape a new DVD Bible study series in partnership with the LWML.

And I have to tell you:

You are brave. 


You have come regardless of insecurities and difficulties, not knowing if you would belong. Hoping to fit in somewhere. And it’s as if I’m looking in a mirror. 

We come with our stories searching to see how they fit into His bigger story — because that is what we have. Stories. God’s Word shining light on our lives to write stories that bleed, heal, and bless.

The lines of our stories become life-lines we share with each other when life’s storms blow hard.

Jesus often taught through stories called parables. Because people can relate to stories.

In the midst of our brave story-sharing, we discover there are a whole lot of other women out there who are a bit of a mess just like us. Messy because of those days we have to fight for joy when the enemy pulls out his arsenal. Messy because we long for eternity while living in a fallen world.

We are a mess — you and I — saved by grace. A brave mess. Brave because each day you get out of bed despite wanting to pull the covers over your head until the aches and disappointments subside.

We brave the harsh world to share our messy stories because other women need to know perfection this side of heaven is an illusion.

And as we gather around His Word, sharing our messy stories, the Spirit of God can bind our wounds. He can take away the sting of loneliness and restore joy despite the laundry heap, crying kids, bruised marriages, and frayed dreams.

Please keep getting out of bed.

We need your messy, real, authentic, unmasked stories trusting that in the hands of the Spirit, the stories become salve to the battered souls. Because as we gather in community around God’s story, the Word is made flesh in our own lives.

I need your messy story… and you need your messy story. We need people who will tell us their story, not their sermons — their thrashing, not their theology. Because we need to know that we aren’t the only messy ones. 

You are BRAVE.

Your bravery makes me brave.

And together we bravely face this world armed with the Sword of the Spirit that reveals the life-altering story of a Resurrection Easter love written for all. So we suit up.

Not because we, the messy, are perfect.

But because of the perfect One who wasn’t afraid of our messes and risked it ALL to write the perfect ending to our stories.

Thank you for being brave.







One Simple Thing

Less is more.

We hear that a lot.  

It’s a trendy phrase. 

Magazines embrace the vision of “Simple Living,” of pairing down, of decluttering.

Fashion shows promote what not to wear and dressing in straight-lined classics.

It feels new, fresh, and focused. Exactly what we need, right?

But Jesus rode the front of the trend — over 2,000 years ago.

Only one thing is necessary,” He reminded Martha, as she forgot and took a hard left into crazy.

Sometimes I forget, too.

In the midst of researching, writing, and commitments, the one thing gets lost in the shuffle.

This weekend I begin filming a brand new Bible study series for LWML based on John 15, “Where Love Abides.” Amidst all the preparation, I feel like I’ve taken a hard left into crazy. Just like Martha.

And I need to be reminded through His Word, “You are worried and anxious about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.”

Only one thing is necessary. 

That I walk in closer communion with Christ.

That I pause life’s chaotic pace to spend time at His feet.

That I tune out the crowd noise to hear His gentle whisper.

It’s simple—to take up my cross daily and follow Him.

Just that one thing.

Less is more.

In the lessening, He becomes greater.


Well, not really. But He’s getting me there.

One day at a time.








Little Old Lutheran Ladies Club

If history and literary geniuses have taught us anything, it’s that we love a good story. Stories that provide a new perspective. Stories that move our soul.

This is one of those stories.

A few weeks ago, several thousand LWML ladies attended our bi-annual convention in Albuquerque, NM. Long-time Twitter friend, Pastor Andrew (Drew) Ratcliffe, an avid supporter of LWML, attended the convention. Drew’s wife (Angie), her mom, sister (Liz), and a couple of Angie’s aunts also attended the convention with him.

Angie’s sister, Liz, was not very familiar with LWML since her Lutheran church in Idaho does not have an existing group. Her only familiarity with LWML is from attending her first LWML convention in Des Moines two years ago and the things that Drew and Angie have shared with her.

After attending her second LWML national convention in Albuquerque a few weeks ago, Liz penned her thoughts about the convention and shared them with Drew. Her thoughts brought him to tears, touching him deeply. After gaining Liz’s permission, Drew shared them with me to share with you.

I hope Liz’s beautiful story (in purple below) about the incredible Lutheran Women in Mission touches your heart and encourages you today.

Little Old Lutheran Ladies:

Some timid and proper, some outspoken and opinionated, many of them grandmothers, many of them widows. This used to be the extent of what came to mind when I thought of this particular demographic. I ought to be familiar with the subject, as the church I attend has many in its congregation.

After attending a bi-annual convention for an organization made up many little old Lutheran women (among others), I’ve been reflecting on the identity of these exceptional women:

  • The many Sunday school teachers I had as a child that gave me a solid foundation for my faith.
  • The 80-year old woman from my church that sends me a card on every holiday and has remembered my birthday every year I’ve been alive.
  • The various ladies that lean over in the pew just a bit when I go up to communion to see which ridiculous pair of shoes I’m wearing that week. “I was hoping you were wearing my favorite pair – those heels with the polka dots!”
  • The 90 year old woman who really isn’t supposed to be driving, but made a trip from Meridian to the farm almost in New Plymouth by herself to visit my Mom after Dad died. “I wasn’t sure I remembered how to get there, but I passed the old Cloverleaf restaurant and figured I was heading in the right direction, so I just kept driving!” Mom said she opened the door and couldn’t have been more surprised to see her standing there.
  • The ladies in their pant suits or jacket/skirt combinations that love and compliment my crazy outfits instead of expressing disapproval.
  • The many widows of our congregation that make a special effort to check in with my Mom every week, and never shied away from the hard conversations and progressive bad news from her the past years.
  • The committee of women that provided and organized countless funeral dinners for families of the church with my Mom, free of charge.
  • The group of Lutheran women that formed a women’s missionary league during World War II, a time when being charitable and spreading the Gospel surely seemed of little importance to many.
  • That same group of Lutheran women who still give millions of dollars every two years to support many mission projects throughout the world. 

The women who traveled to Albuquerque, NM, despite some of them being poor in health, limited in their mobility, or facing tragedy and heartbreak in their home lives, came to give yet more of their time to this group.

I attended this convention, largely due to the suggestion of my sister. I was running through all the reasons I should be at home in Idaho instead of where I was when the event was starting.

As the convention progressed, I received the same lovely compliments and encouragement in my faith, but this time from Little Old Lutheran Ladies from all over the world.

These women are to be admired and respected, not pitied or dismissed.

I’ve realized through family discussion that my grandmother on my Mom’s side (that I never met) fit this bill. I am watching as my Mom and her sisters become them.

What an honor it would be to be one day included in the Little Old Lutheran Ladies Club.

I’m so grateful to Liz for her beautiful words and willingness to share them with you. Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I consider it a high honor to be part of LWML for over 20 years now. We are prayer-warrior women of ALL ages, nationalities, and from ALL walks of life coming together with a passion to serve the Lord through mission work.

I hope you share this to encourage other women — and perhaps take a moment to comment below and encourage Liz.

The LWML has been bearing abundant fruit in God’s vineyard for over 75 years.

Won’t you join us for the next 75?

To God be the glory!


























Dealing With Our Labels

We all wear them.


Some labels we like: Smart. Beautiful. Rich. Skinny. Successful.

Some not so much: Stupid. Ugly. Needy. Fat. Lacking.

But some labels go much deeper. Sometimes the adhesive leaves marks on our heart.


Labels that cause us to lower our head. Avoid eye contact. They strike something so deep in us that we just want to run. From the stigma. From the memories.

From the pain.

Childless. Widowed. Divorced. Abused. Abandoned. Failure.

It doesn’t matter who attached the labels. Sometimes we adhere them on ourselves. Perhaps we switch them out depending on circumstances and mood. Or attitude. Or who we’re blaming. Or who we’re mad at.

People in the Bible wore labels, too:

… King David, Adulterer
… Moses, Murderer
… Solomon, Idolater
… Judas, Betrayer
… Noah, Drunk

It’s easy to label others. It doesn’t cost us anything. We take a glance at the less-than-stellar aspects of someone else’s life and our mental label-makers start cranking. We hear malicious gossip so our label-maker shifts into overdrive.

But you and I wear a label that trumps the rest. Made before the beginning of time by God Himself.


“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3

He labeled us first. A manufacturer’s stamp, so to speak. But we’ve covered it over. Allowed others to deface it with a mustache and beard.

Perhaps you’ve even tried to peel it off just because you don’t feel worthy.

So how do we deal with our labels?

1. Pray. Maybe you’re not aware the detrimental labels you adhere to yourself. Ask God to reveal them to you.

2. Identify them accurately. You may struggle with insecurity, but that’s a secondary emotion. The root is fear. Fear of not fitting in, not excelling, not being “good” enough. Accurately identifying what you’re afraid of opens doors of understanding.

3. Seek help. You may uncover serious issues under those labels that may go beyond your capability to properly work through. Seeking advice or guidance from a pastor, counselor, or support group may be in order.

4. Put on the Teflon of God’s Word. When we view ourselves through God’s love and forgiveness found in His Word — finding our peace and contentment in Him alone — we discover that other labels won’t stick for long. Filling our mind and heart to overflowing with His rich truths from Scripture leaves no room for mislabeling.

As we read through God’s transforming Word, He offers you these life-restoring labels:

Forgiven – Psalm 86:5
Redeemed – Job 19:25
Pardoned – Psalm 103:3
Renewed – Isaiah 40:31

God’s labels don’t change. You are always loved by Him — regardless of what you’ve told yourself or heard from others.

In Christ, you are His priceless treasure and dearly loved child. 

Worth creating.

Worth dying for.

Worth spending eternity with Him.