Love Enough

“Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” – Jesus


February. It is the time of year we hear the most talk about love. Flowers, roses and candy can be seen in every store. The main focus during this time tends to be set aside for showing those special individuals in our lives how much we love and appreciate them. But the root of love is so much greater than the words expressed during this one month.


Love is a verb. It is action. At times it even can appear cruel when we choose to love enough. Christ gave us the perfect example of love. He loved enough.


Enough to leave His Father. Enough to embrace an image ‘below’ His heavenly status. Enough to speak truth even when it hurt those who needed to hear it. Enough to not arrive BEFORE the needed healing but AFTER the death. Enough to challenge the misguided leaders. Enough to die. For me. He loved enough! He chose to allow His actions to give glory to His Father instead of being the popular prophet of the day.


Although I am to walk as He did, too often I fall short of this ‘enough love.’ As a parent, I watched what I my kids ate. I did my best to choose more healthy foods over sugary snacks. We limited the access of shows or movies in order to protect their young minds and guard their spirits. Meal times were priority. Family devotions and prayer were at breakfast and before bed. Why? We loved them enough to be the gardeners of their hearts as Christ taught us to be.


Our decisions were not always appreciated by our kids during those years. And at times our decisions could have been made with more wisdom. Yet each was made from a heart of love. We loved enough to be those parents that didn’t follow the norm.


Lately, God has been asking me if I have that same type of love for the world around me. Do I love those I come into contact with on a daily basis? Or do I tend to judge them because they don’t follow the same dress code I feel is appropriate? As a parent, I sought to understand the ‘why’ behind my child’s actions before choosing my own response. Because I loved them. Do I love this world enough to do the same for them? Do I love my Father enough to ask Him to show me the ‘why’ in someone’s life so I can be Jesus with skin on for that person?


Why is my neighbor always angry? Maybe from a past hurt and Jesus wants to bind the wound.


Why does the cashier frown and rudely snap each time I am checking out? Maybe because the night before she was abused and is full of anger. Jesus wants me to love enough to let her know she is special.


Love enough. I can’t say I am measuring up as I need to in this area. Lay down my life? My dreams? My hopes? My opinion of what life should look like? All for others. Love enough. As John 15:13 says, greater love lays it all down for others. That’s my goal for this year. Love enough.


May we choose enough love. Daily. May we stop our responses to others long enough to breathe, “Lord, show me your love for them.”


Love enough.

Oil for the Season

Who doesn’t love the beauty of the mountains covered with majestic conifers?! When the mist is settling above the trees, it brings a sense of peace in its beauty. We see the Master’s handiwork in full display. But how do these green trees survive the harsh months of winter with almost no effect? It’s in the oil!

Conifer trees send oil throughout their branches in the winter to protect them from freezing. The colder the temperature, the better the oil works. The actual essential oil of the tree acts much the same as antifreeze does in our cars. For the trees, the oil is stored in the roots during warmer temps.

How like our spiritual lives! When the cold harsh trials of life are hitting us and we feel the stark deadness of a winter season, it is then that we can start to rise above the circumstances as we allow the oil of His Spirit to protect us from the death often found in the cold. Scripture is filled with references to the oil of the Spirit and its power. Kings were anointed to lead. Priests were anointed to serve. Christ was anointed to walk in the role as our Messiah. And the bridesmaids were instructed to store up the oil for that day when the Bridegroom would appear.

“For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of the Lord— for wheat and new wine and oilTheir souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more at all… For I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow. I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:11-12, 14

In the Vine Parable, Jesus stressed to His disciples the importance of abiding in Him. He said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser… Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:1, 4-5).

About six months prior to my husband and I being called to minister in Missouri, the Lord spoke to my him saying, “You and Rhonda need to spend more quality time with Me because you will need My strength for what you are about to walk into.”

This could very well be compared to the oil that is stored in the roots of the tree, which later would act as a preservative during the harsh winter season. That is what Jesus was conveying to His disciples before His departure. He told them to abide in Him and in His Word. By doing so, He would abide in them and supply all they needed to endure the trials they were about to experience.

It’s as simple as this: Spending time with Jesus produces the needed supply of oil – His Spirit – for each and every encounter we will face at home, in the church and in the world. What a blessing that He has promised an endless supply of fresh oil of His Spirit to help us in our time of need!

Charting a Path

2020. A new year has begun. With it comes the tradition of looking back at the previous year and setting resolutions for the upcoming year. Too often when we look back, we find ourselves discouraged or disappointed because of targets we set and missed. But what if we chose to see the ones where we hit the mark? Or even those where we found ourselves closer to the mark than ever before.

In the movie Moana, the character Maui is teaching Moana how to sail. His first instructions came as an explanation of the sea sailing art, “It’s called wayfinding, princess. It’s not just sails and knots, it’s seeing where you’re going in your mind. Knowing where you are by knowing where you’ve been.”

Knowing where you’ve been. It’s a concept not born by the creators of a kids animated movie. Instead it is one that started with the Creator Himself. He had Moses repeat over and over to Israel what God had delivered them out of. Throughout the Old Testament, people and leaders continue to remind the nation of their previous state of slavery and God’s deliverance. Why? To help them focus on where they should be going. To remind them that they were in slavery because of their actions and they were delivered out of slavery in order to fulfill their purpose. Paul also made a similar statement in the New Testament.

“Remember your desperate situation before God saved you so that you will rejoice in what Christ did for you on the cross.” Eph 2:12 (paraphrased)

Often we hear the term, “three steps forward; two steps back.” When said, the statement seems to bring defeat. But what if we chose to focus on the truth that one step was still gained? That means we are one step closer to the mark than before we took the three. We can rejoice in that!

As we take time to reflect on 2019 and set goals for 2020, let’s choose to see the progress we DID make and start fresh being encouraged that He who started that journey with us will continue to assist us in charting our path forward!

Look to the Manger

“…You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger…” Luke 2:12

This time of year brings to mind so many memories! Events such as family gatherings, class parties, school and church plays and cantatas, each brings a rush of fond memories. In fact, many stanzas that resonate often in my mind are songs that were part of a church choir cantata or one of the many Christmas productions I have directed throughout the years. But there is one that stands out most in my mind.

Let’s revisit the scene — The play was a broadway style musical. Time frame was just after World War II when so many people still had little money in the bank. Among the ’40’s musical pieces, we see a cast doing their final shopping rush on Christmas Eve. And one of the main characters, the local shop owner, has lost hope in the true meaning of Christmas. But he ends up at the live nativity outside his store and comes face-to-face with his own life. The song sung during his heart change is one that to this day reverberates in my own heart. “Start at the Manger”. This song paints a beautiful picture of the scarlet thread of redemption from the manger to the cross.

“Start at the manger on a cold winter night look for the star in the sky then follow its light

It leads to a Savior for a world that is lost. Start at the manger and go to the cross.

Start at the manger at a Child in the hay, the gift of our Father in heav’n, the price He would pay to save all His children no matter the cost.

Start at the manger and go to the cross.

Imagine that you own the wealth of the world, all of its silver and gold. What good will it do when tomorrow arrives and your heart is empty and cold?

Start at the manger, where redemption began where Jesus stepped down from His throne to die as a man.

All of our riches, we will count them as loss if we start at the manger then go to the cross.

To this day, The Christmas Post is still one of my favorite productions to have been a part of. Not only was it fun with its newsies, ’40’s choreography and costumes, beach balls flying throughout the sanctuary during the shopping rush, and all kinds of fun, but it had an ending that pointed back to the ‘why’ we celebrate Christmas. It was about the Child that would lead us to the cross of salvation.

This Christmas, let’s remember that it is not about trees or lights, presents or food. It’s all about a manger, a Child, a Father and a cross. That night was just the beginning of a love shone to a needy world. A loved wrapped in swaddling clothes and later hung on a tree.

The manger. It’s just the beginning of His story!

“……and a little child will lead them.” Isaiah 11:6

It Starts Here

November is here! It’s a month that has become synonymous with the attitude of giving thanks. In a world where too often we hear complaints more than we hear admonition, having weeks of listening to people talk about being thankful is like a breath of fresh air! Yet, as Christians, a lifestyle of thankfulness should be a goal we are actively pursuing.


In Thessalonians 5:18, Paul admonishes us to live a life of giving thanks. As we read the passages connected to the well known verse, we see that he also is painting a picture of a life that walks in both joy and thanksgiving.


“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (v16-18)


This passage was written by a man who was beaten often and faced jail time repeatedly. But he still says, “Rejoice, pray and give thanks!” How can that be? He had found the key in his relationship with Jesus.
Imagine a person that is always rejoicing. Or that person who spends so much time in prayer that as they just walk in a room peace follows. It often is easier for those who are happy to show a heart of thanksgiving. And when you find a person who make prayer a part of their daily focus, you also find a person that walks in more peace and joy. It all ties together to complete an attitude of being grateful.


Last night I sat at a table with a family who had just walked through a devastating trial this weekend. Fighting back tears, the husband opened up with thankfulness of how God has carried them and has taught them so much about the body of Christ through this hurt. What is their key? They leaned on Him. They live a lifestyle of prayer. They chose to not push Him away but allow Him to hold them. Are they walking through some of the “why?” questions right now? Yes. Daily. It is literally one foot in front of the other, slowly, to get through each day. But they still are thankful for His amazing love. As we sat there surrounded by cousins, laughter was abundant in the midst of pain. It reminded me of Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart does good like a medicine.” That’s the beginning of thankfulness.


Like both this family and Paul, we are not promised a rosy path in this life. But as we choose time with Him over all other life events, we find a thankful heart for His promise to carry us through. That’s where it all starts….time with our Father.


Let’s start this thankful month with Him and watch joy and peace follow. He is worth it!

Childhood Reboot

“If I could only go back…..” How often have we heard this phrase spoken by someone who want a reboot?Yet none of us can actually move back the hands on the clock of time to an earlier moment of life. So why does God continue to encourage us to do just that?

In Genesis 35, God tells Jacob to go back to Bethel. Throughout Exodus and even into the New Testament, the Israelites are reminded of where they came from. What is so important about the past? It’s the experience. The past represents encounters we have with our Maker. God wanted Jacob to get back to when he had heard God’s voice. A time to remember the covenant he had made with God. To get back to what had been seeded into him years before.

Recently, God gave me a vivid dream. It was as if He culminated my church experience into one event. The buildings were a combination of the ones I had attended during childhood and people were from every season of my life. All around me, leaders and people were pushing their desires and way of ‘doing church’. It finally built up to where I had enough and passionately stopped it all. I took one person with me and, with tears and much passion, led him to the old church building. Passionately, through streaming tears, I voiced, “You want to draw people in, get back here. To the altar! I never needed any of the other things being talked about because the power that was here made me excited to attend church!” I awoke from the dream and was still feeling the heart of God crying out to His people, “Return to your passion for Me!”

My favorite memories of church was what happened at the altar. From our senior women dancing in the spirit up front to the people whose lives where changed as they prayed through. I can still see the night as an 8 year old when I received the baptism of the Spirit. I see the altar in the small white country church, us kids and youth kneeling in prayer with the adults around us. My life was forever changed. Communion as a family around the altar. Everything of value happened around that altar. And I know from my dream that God is crying out, “Get back to My altar!”

The words I heard from a local pastor a few weeks ago still is reverberating in my spirit. “God never visits an empty altar. You want the fire of God? Live at the altar.” (Lee Shipp) Think about it! Throughout scripture we see God visiting the altar. We see His purifying fire on the altar.

God Himself is the one who ordained the altar in the tabernacle. Moses understood the significance. David yearned for time at the altar and was called “a man after God’s own heart.” Yet today we heard people in and out of our buildings by groups. We offer people to pray where they are and then send a text to receive follow up. But what about leading a people to that altar of incense. Yes. It can happen at home. But for a people who have never experienced that amazing, heart changing encounter of altar time, who will lead them?

I am so thankful for my dad, and pastor, who taught me the importance of time spent at the altar. It’s time for a reboot in our spirit! It is time to go back to that ‘Bethel’ moment in our lives. Clear away the schisms and seek His face! To cry out saying, “Your face, Lord, I will seek!”

Where did He first change your heart? Have you drifted from that intimate time with Him and been distracted by life’s events? Let’s reboot today!

Embrace the Moment

May has arrived! And with that comes thoughts of spring flowers, kids finishing their school year, and Mother’s day. For some, Mother’s day brings families together to share love and memories. For others, they feel the emptiness in their life due to losing their mom to eternity. Still others choose to hide on that day because their memories bring pain of an abusive or abandoned childhood. But in each situation, God chooses to hold us and teach us to make Him our first love – even above our earthly family.

One of the greatest joys I have had in life so far is that of being a mom. My outlook for raising my kids was to catch each possible moment I could with my children individually. I loved having them next to me while working in the garden. During those times I would teach about the death and burial of a seed in order for us to later enjoy the beauty of the flowers.

Now that they are adults starting their own families, it still amazes me how quickly it seems that time has passed by. But the memories we made as a family are treasures to hold.

When thinking back on the younger years of my kids, one of the sweetest moments that comes to mind was the evening my oldest son could no longer contain his true feelings. At the time we were on staff as youth/young adult pastors. One of the college age young men had come over to assist my husband in painting the house. After staying over for supper, my husband needed to drive him home as he had no car. Thinking of giving me a quiet moment and time to clean the kitchen, he decided to load our three kids in the car and take them along.

Once the door was shut, I turned to the dishes in the sink and began the task of seeing each one cleaned. Within minutes, our door flew open. In walked my 6-year-old son with alligator tears rolling down his cheeks. The door shut solidly behind him as he plopped down on the couch and continued crying.

My mind was whirling. What could possibly have happened to change him from laughter and smiles to tears so quickly? When he finally paused long enough to talk, all he could say was, “I like dad. But I love you!”

My heart melted. This young boy had found a way to let me know his heart for me was more than for dad or a ride in the car. He put aside time with his dad, who he enjoyed having fun with, because of his love for me. Dishes were forgotten. It was time to put aside the duty of cleaning and sit with my son enjoying a movie.

It is the same with God. He longs to hear us say, “But I love You more!” And as we make that statement and choose time with Him over other things, He, too, will shower us with His love and presence.

“Therefore, let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…….. Hebrews 12:1

Today, let’s embrace each possible moment with our Heavenly Father. That might mean putting other things aside – even good things – to show Him we love Him more. But every moment with Him will be a treasure held for eternity.

Our crazy family! Love each of them!