Proceed Without Fear

I have heard recently about so many people struggling with fear and anxiety especially adolescents. Pridefully I thought wow I am doing so well in those areas……..

Right after that I woke up one morning and heard the Lord say “What are you willing to give up for me?” I was in shock. Seriously Lord? I thought I had completely surrendered to you – my heart, my mind, my life. What else is there?

I kept praying about it and went to exercise and then went to the post office and ran into a friend. I shared with her the Lord’s question that morning and as I said it I realized that it was fear. What? I was not aware of my fear and so did not even realize I needed to give it up to the Lord. Too funny after I had just thought about how I had it together in that area. I prayed and handed it over and had such peace. I continue to hand it over. It is definitely not a one and done, but a constant surrender.

I had a break at work a few days later and decided to go walk and grab a muffin which is a rarity. I was coming out of a building I have been in often and saw the attached plaque. “Proceed without Fear“. Wow!


I was listening to the radio and heard Zach William’s new song Fear is a Liar.

I also remembered a friend had written out for me Isaiah 41:10 (do not fear). The Lord had led the person to give me that verse. I had written it on an index card and put it on the visor of my car as a constant reminder.

Next I am watching the Olympics and the commercial is “Live Fearless”.

The Lord is so gentle and clear, actually in my face. Lord help us to trust and rest in You. Help us to release our fear to You. Help us to listen to your gentle (or blatant) leadings.

Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and HIs paths beyond tracing out! Romans 11:33

So do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. Exodus 14:13

Unadulterated Worship


I have always wondered why the only story that Jesus said would be retold wherever the gospel was preached was the woman who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume and washed his feet with her tears and hair.  I was recently reading that story one morning and then I picked up a card a friend had given me from a local church that had a blessing service and it was the same story on the same day.

 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Luke 7:37-38


As I thought about that passage, it hit me that        she was participating in unadulterated worship of Jesus.  She did not allow others’ perception or criticism stop her from worshipping him with abandon.  She basically made a fool of herself over Jesus.  He loved it! She poured out blessing on Him with great personal sacrifice and received great blessing from Him.  We were made to worship Him. We can not out give Him. When we throw our whole selves into acknowledging Him, He is pumped and pours out blessing on us. Here is the blessing that was on the card.

“Like the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet, it’s a new day for you!

You are free. You are forgiven. You are moving on.

So, in Christ, go ahead, “let down your hair!”

It means, in Christ, it’s time to receive:

-the bliss of unfettered gratitude and love for God

-freedom from the tyranny of “keeping up appearances”

-a light heart  – you can relax, legalistic living is over

-peace – you can move into your destiny without anxiety”

Reynolda Presbyterian Blessing Service 1/22/17

I would encourage you to not reserve your worship for within the confines of the church but try today to intentionally boldly worship the Lord.  Fill your home, your car, your heart with praise and boldly sing with joy in your heart to the Lord.  It could just be life changing. It reminds me of the old SNL skit that we used to do in Young Life club…. praise will “Pump You Up!”

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Psalm 103:1

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.  Psalm 150:6

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.  Psalm 100:4

Get Off the Bench

I was listening to Roy Williams on the radio after UNC won the semis and he said “I have not won any games from the bench, I have lost some but never won any.”  It made me think about how if we don’t get in the game we don’t have a chance of winning.  On my trip to the Holy Land recently I was at Qumran walking with another person through the remains of where the Essenes lived near where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls in the middle of the desert.  Having heard that I had prayed regularly since November through the names of those on our trip, he shared he had been going through a desert season of his life unaware that there was someone out thereIMG_2584 praying for him and what an encouragement that was.  He had some health issues which along with an intense job had kept him from investing in community.  I shared with him Leslie Vernick’s line that “little tweaks make big changes”. I pray on Wednesday’s for Young Life.  I am there about a half hour total.  It does not take a big time investment on my part but it is amazing the community that develops from that time where we are part of something bigger than ourselves and also the power of seeing answered prayers.  I encouraged him to find something in his community where he can give a minimal time investment that has a huge life benefit.  Like Roy said, you can lose from the bench, but you can’t win unless you get in the game.

I saw this with Young Life in the Holy Land as well.  I had been praying regularly through the names of the staff.   Hunter, the area director, would send me new names as they got new staff.  Over the years I was able on paper to see the list of names grow.  I knew that they were not just names on a sheet of paper, but they were people each with their own narrative to the Lord.  When I got to actually go meet them and hear their stories in person, I was blown away with the power of being spiritually tethered to them, invested in them, and even humbly a part of their lives and work through prayer.  My investment felt so minimal to me, but was so huge to them.  There are so many out there doing ministry feeling like lone rangers.  I have a friend that on Tuesdays sends an encouraging email to all the missionaries for whom she intercedes regularly.  I do not know the exact time investment, but I know that the  impact of those emails to the  lives of those missionaries and the kingdom is exponential. She has gotten off the bench and into the game without leaving her home.

What about you?

Prayer Dump

A friend was going to Cuba for the holidays and was very anxious about the trip. I encouraged her to do what I call a prayer dump. I asked her to write down every area that concerned her. She made a list of all her specific requests and needs and even included bucket list items. I asked her to send me the list and we would pray through them together.

The next time she started to feel anxious about her trip, she had a plan. She could pull out her list and pray through the items basically dumping her anxiety because she had named them, shared them, prayed over them and surrendered them. She was able to move forward trusting the Lord. We both had the blessing of rejoicing in his specific answers and especially the areas where he did immeasurably more. I got to be a part of her trip through prayer.
Any time I have that inner anxious feeling, I stop and try to pay attention to the tension. What is the root of the anxiety?

I break down Philippians 4:6-7 “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything, giving thanks, and God’s peace which is far beyond human understanding will keep our hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.”
I make a list of specific requests about the situation.
I go through and give thanks over the specifics.
I regularly pray through the list surrendering the details and outcome to the Lord.

I did this with my daughter’s wedding. When she got engaged I wrote down all the areas of a wedding I could think of and then daily prayed through them. My daughter was a rock star in planning, organizing and implementing all the logistics for her wedding, so she gets full credit for a perfect day. I had great peace though knowing that every detail had been covered in prayer and was able to fully enjoy the day trusting that if any thing did not go as planned that the Lord was in the details.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18img_2184

The Chair

Brennan Manning told the story of an elderly man visited by a priest.  He shared with the priest that he was having trouble praying.  The priest told him to put a chair beside his bed and imagine Jesus in the chair.  When the man eventually passed his daughter called the priest to let him know.  She said her dad went so peacefully, but the strangest thing was that he passed with his head in the chair beside his bed.

When I am feeling distant from the Lord.  I remember that story.  It reminds me of the intimacy of my savior.  He is not a God far off.  He is Immanuel – God with us – with me! He will never leave me nor forsake me. Deuteronomy 31:8

I went to a time of prayer Friday evening in the home of an amazing missionary, wife and mom of 5 young children that has a reoccurrence of triple negative breast cancer. It is a weekly special time of praising, worshipping and praying for healing for all who show up.

A precious mom of three littles was there, who was so broken by a divorce. She wanted to trust the Lord completely. She had glimpses of his scandalous love for her, but was afraid to believe and surrender completely to His goodness. Can He really be the real deal? Her heart is so wounded.   Loneliness is the companion, she is all too familiar with these days. There are so many losses to grieve.img_2039

I was reminded of the man and the chair and in my mind I imagined a chair at her table with a place setting. The chair will appear empty to those with earthly eyes, but Immanuel, God with her will fill that chair with His presence enough to fill her home and her life. He will fill the void in her broken heart and push away her loneliness.

God is “with”. He is not far away. He is present. I prayed for the Lord to be with this precious broken hearted young mom as her bridegroom, her kinsman redeemer and the lover of her soul.

Where do you need to place a chair for your Savior who is with you today?

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23

For your Maker is your husband –

the Lord Almighty is his name –

the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;

He is called the God of all the earth. Isaiah 54:5

Good Anger

“Love is always angry at evil.” Max Lucado

Recently a few times I have had the privilege of being angry on behalf of someone. The first was my daughter’s housemate who is writing a blog about getting counseling for childhood sexual abuse. When I read her post about when the abuse was exposed I was livid. I felt the Lord leading me to write her and tell her. The Lord provided the words. She wrote me back and told me how much it helped her that I was angry on her behalf.

The next time was a friend who was betrayed by someone whom she had a contract with to promote a precious gospel story she had written. Months had gone by with promise after promise when she found out they had all been lies. Even worse the person reacted harshly and abusively when confronted concerning the deceit. My friend texted to let me know and I called her. We had prayed fervently for this person for months and were excited about the potential of what God had in store for her amazing work the Lord had birthed. When she got off the phone with me, her husband asked about my response. She told him that I was really angry. She said it was exactly what she needed to hear.

Anger is such a difficult emotion. It gets such a bad wrap because it so quickly can lead to sin, and can be so destructive when used to control others, but there is a time and place for it. Like all of our emotions the Lord created them and meant them for good. Satan is the one who twists them for evil.image-1-4

I was contemplating good anger when I got in the car and heard Mandesa singing “There’s a time to be angry and a time to let it go.” That is the hard part, when and how to let it go. Sharing our pain in community, having others feel our pain, and having Jesus meet us there is very empowering and freeing. Instead of the anger festering and leading to bitterness we are able to give it to Jesus knowing He sees all things and holds all accountable. He will also guide us when and how to confront when necessary.
May the Lord guide you in sharing with safe people the deep wounds of your heart and bring healing and hope only He can give. Who needs you to be angry on their behalf today?





img_1908My next door neighbor’s dad was moved to a memory care unit in town to be near her. She was very gracious, but it was a heavy burden on her. Even though he was well cared for, much of the responsibility for him fell on her. Her sisters were great and came as often as they could, but she was the one that was close by to visit, do his laundry, receive the calls if there was a problem and make day-to-day decisions about his care. The Lord led me to visit him, so I started on Friday afternoons stopping by for a visit. We would look at family photos and read a devotion or sing songs and pray. He often told me I was a wise woman. I was honored to be included in a birthday party for him where the family told stories. My favorite was when he had to drive with his daughters while they had their driver’s permit, he would sit in the front seat and read his bible. He was a wise man. I had the privilege right before he passed of being there and singing hymns and songs to him. He really responded with the Christmas songs. I had thought when he passed I would be done with my visits there, but when his health started declining a mom of some friends moved into one of the apartments at the same retirement community. The Lord led me to begin visiting her during my Friday visits as well. The Lord told me that He takes care of His faithful ones and that she had been faithful. He told me not to hesitate or question, but just obey His leading.

Betsy and I  would visit and pray together. She always really appreciated my visits and prayers as did her family. How many people have a prayer partner who has so much time on their hands to pray for them? She did not understand why the Lord still had her here. She missed her husband of 60 plus years.

I was always more blessed than I blessed. You just can’t out give God.

Her health deteriorated and she was moved to the nursing care. Some times I could not wake her for our visit, but had sweet times of sitting with her and praying over her. Last Friday during my visit, she was alert and clear eyed. I sang songs and she even sang the last line of “It is Well” with me. I read Jesus Calling to her and prayed over her. It was such a sweet time.

She passed away Wednesday afternoon with her daughter by her side. I have lost a dear sweet friend and will treasure every moment I had with her.

Several months ago I again was thinking that my Friday visits were coming to an end when I ran into a former Young Life kid now adult. Her mom had just been moved to the memory care unit and was struggling. I went with her to visit her mom and have been seeing her on Fridays since. She is always so excited to see me and loves hearing about my family and seeing my pictures. The Lord is so sweet and in every detail. We set out to bless others and we are the ones greatly blessed. We can not help everyone, but we can help one. Who does the Lord want you to reach out to today?

Zeal for your House

I recently read the story of Jesus with the money changers. The next morning while I was getting ready the verse “zeal for your house will consume me” came to me. I was chewing on it and realized that it does not say zeal for my house. It says zeal for your house. Jesus was talking about “my house” which is me!

The only time in his whole ministry when he got righteously angry, really angry, was when the temple was denigrated.

He is righteously angry when we (the temple today if he is in our heart) are violated. Wow! That is so dear. I googled it and Psalm 69:9 is a parallel verse which says “for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” That was consistent with what I was thinking and takes it even further. It doesn’t just say that he was angry when we are insulted, the insults to us fall on HIm. He takes them on.

Jesus does that for us every day. It is a whole new perspective. It is kind of like the shield of faith that extinguishes the flaming arrows of the evil one. He calls us into such an intimate relationship. He stands in the gap for us. When we feel lonely or isolated we can think about how he steps in and intercedes on our behalf. He has our back. By his stripes we are healed.

Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander by Barbara Coloroso is a book about bullying in school, but the same idea applies at any stage of life. The principle is that what is really going to stop bullying from happening is when bystanders unite and step in. God has such a heart for the oppressed and downtrodden. He will help us, help others.  It is much easier to not get involved, but the blessing of advocating and empowering others is huge. October is domestic abuse awareness month. Below is the Duluth model used internationally to illustrate abuse.


Leslie Vernick in her book The Emotionally Destructive Relationship names 5 categories of abuse:

  1. One or both parties commit physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse upon the other.
  2. One person is regularly overprotective, overbearing, or both toward the other.
  3. One person is overdependent upon the other to affirm his or her personal value and worth, to meet all of his or her needs, and to make the most of his or her decisions.
  4. One person demonstrates a pattern of deceiving the other through lying, hiding, pretending, misleading, or twisting information to make something appear other than what it is.
  5. One person exhibits chronic indifference, neglect, or both toward the thoughts, feelings, or well-being of the other.                                                                                 Pray for the Lord to show you truth in situations in your sphere of influence. Pray for Him to gently lead you if He would have you take action in some way in the situation.


Discerning the will of God

img_1830Right out of college I felt the Lord leading me to Winston Salem. I came only knowing a few people with no job. I tutored and substituted and house sat to make ends meet.

I got called for an interview in Charlotte. I went for the interview and was offered the teaching job on the spot. I accepted and all the way home realized I did not have peace. I got home and called the principal and told him I felt the Lord was leading me not to take it. It did not make worldly sense to turn it down. Soon after that I got a job in Winston and have continued to feel called to this city ever since. This past spring I had the privilege of working on a prayer walk for the city.

God is a god of peace not confusion. He doesn’t play games like we do.I think many times it is not about the decision, but about the process. I feel many of my decisions I do not really remember the choices I made but I remember the sweet time of intentionally leaning into Jesus to hear His voice.

When I have to make a decision, I pray and seek his wisdom and direction and then I go for it. After I go for it there is usually peace so I know I am on the right track or there is a lack of peace. If I feel unsettled I switch gears to the path I did not choose.

Life is hard and in most of our choices there is going to be hard up ahead. It helps to be able to look back and know that there was a point where we sought the Lord and He led us on this journey.

Jesus sent the disciples out in a boat knowing they were going to encounter a storm. He knew later when their ministry was tough and their lives at risk that they could look back and remember that Jesus was who He said He was and that He calmed the storm. In their future storms, they would remember Him as a safe place, a refuge in times of trouble. We can find Him in our storms to be the same.

Each decision has the opportunity to draw us closer in to hear His voice. Each decision is an opportunity to grow deeper in our relationship with Him and grow more in the wisdom and knowledge of his grace.

Culture Change

img_1715-2Many times in our lives our whole culture changes in an instant. Some times we see it coming and have time to prepare and other times we are caught unaware.

I have a friend whose precious daughter was alive one minute and gone the next with no explanation. I have another friend who was married one minute and the next years of deceit were revealed and her world as she had known it for over 30 years changed instantly.

Some times it is an exciting change like from being single to being married or becoming a mother or a collegiate. Regardless of whether it is instantaneous or with a long runway of anticipation, change is change and can be very difficult.

Most changes do not come with manuals, but they should. The best manual for any change though is spending time in the word of God. It has navigated countless people through an infinite number of changes throughout history. Psalms especially is a great source of comfort. Proverbs is a great resource for wisdom.

Many changes cause us to isolate which in almost every situation is the exact opposite of what we need to do. Community is always a positive pathway to transition from one stage of life to another. Basic life giving habits are also always beneficial like exercising, eating correctly, and connecting with others. Reaching out to others who have not just survived similar changes, but have thrived through them is especially beneficial. Many churches offer classes like Grief Share and Divorce Care, which help people navigate these changes with pertinent information and a community of others going through the same journey. A friend showed me the book Returning Well which is for missionaries leaving the mission field. I flipped through it and realized that much of the advice given in there would be helpful for people going through any life culture change even if it is in the same city. One important thing is to give yourself grace that any transition takes an adjustment period. Also, whatever the change, it is not a surprise to the Lord and He will never leave you nor forsake you and will walk you through each step of the valleys and mountains of life.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10