Brave Together

I’ve got a new idea. I wrote about this in my newsletter this week, but the idea continues to expand in my mind. What if we were brave together instead of trying to be brave alone? What if we said aloud what scares us? What if another person’s story of bravery helps us be brave? What if our story encourages someone else to step out in faith?

This came to me as I was thinking about my family’s recent trip to a theme park. One of my kids was really nervous about riding the roller coasters. In fact, on the first day, he would only ride the small ones. But then, his little brother (four years younger!) rode several! This inspired my older son. His little brother’s bravery was contagious, and our second day there, he rode every single roller coaster in the park. He was scared, squeezing my hand or his dad’s, but he was brave.

Our world has so drastically changed in the last few years that I think a lot of us are gun shy. We are scared to try something new. We’ve had our fill of change and transition, but there is a longing inside of us to be courageous and step out into the unknown.

It occurred to me this morning that uncertainty can be pretty scary. I’m in an uncertain place right now regarding my kids’ schooling for next year. Our plan fell apart, and we’re right back where we started. Everything feels uncertain.

I remember “uncertainty” was a buzz word in 2020 as far as Covid and its implications were concerned. We were all uncertain, and that made us feel extremely uncomfortable not knowing what was next. The other thing I realized about uncertainty is that it can actually be exciting, exhilarating, and adventurous. When we don’t know what lies around the next bend in the road, we might be tempted to assume it’s big, ugly, and scary. What if, instead, it was glorious, beautiful, and thrilling? What if we reframed our uncertainty as a chance to be surprised by joy?

What if it’s really true that we can walk in courage to face the new thing and not be defeated by it? What if it’s really true that we won’t walk the road alone but with others? What if it’s true that He, Himself, will go before us, behind us, and surround us in His love?

It is true, friend. I want to invite you on this journey with me. Would you share your story of fear or bravery or both? Let me elevate your story to encourage others to be brave in theirs. We can be brave, together.

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Trusting God Behind the Veil

The drive wasn’t bad for a road trip. It was longer than we normally drive in the car with six kids, but all in all, it was an easy day trip. After numerous trips to Colorado in my younger days, my favorite part of the entire drive was the anticipation of seeing the mountain skyline in the distance. The climax, however, was driving into Denver through the Eisenhower Tunnel and being greeted by the looming “purple mountains’ majesty” on the other side.

But we weren’t going to Denver or through Denver. We exited Interstate 70 onto Highway 24 to drive into Colorado Springs. I’d see faint outlines of what I assumed were Rocky Mountains, but then I’d lose sight of them. Highway 24 is full of rolling plateaus. That first day of August, the sky was heavy with clouds while the sun played hide-and-seek behind them. The sky was dramatic, and the landscape of these rising plateaus held a beauty all its own. I drank it in.

I kept expecting the mountains to surprise us, and we’d really talked it up with the kids. We’d set an expectation that any minute, they’d be confronted with a glory their mid-western eyes hadn’t experienced. But I began to have a sinking feeling in my stomach. Had I planned the wrong vacation? Was Colorado Springs the right destination? Would our kids be disappointed? Would this failure of my planning be added to the ever-growing list I’d made in my mind over the years? Every rise and fall brought a real sense of disappointment and worry.

The friends we were visiting live just a smidge north of downtown Colorado Springs. We were coming into town, and we were a mere ten minutes from their house. The sun was now fully out, and it was close to 5:00 when a barely perceptible line drawn across the horizon caught my eye. I lifted my sunglasses to verify I was really seeing something, lowered them again and cried, “There! There they are!” All sixteen eyes fixed on the horizon, and I felt in that moment that Jesus had surprised me. He wasn’t holding out on me, rather, He was waiting until the perfect moment to reveal His masterpiece.

Though darkness seems to hide His face, I rest in His unchanging grace.

“The Solid rocK,” Edward mote–1834

The outline of the Rockies grew more solid against the bright afternoon sky, though it was tainted with a thick haze, a result of forest fires to the west. which disguised the details of the mountains themselves. The kids finally saw them, and my heart lifted because my God does not fail. He established these very mountains with the command of His voice. They remain as a testament that we, too, are like a strong mountain when we trust in Him. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:19-20, ESV).

In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

“the solid rock,” Edward mote–1834

Sometimes, when life is hard, grief hangs heavy, and the valley of the shadow of death feels like a suffocating blanket, we have to choose to see His grace and rest in it. If He was willing to take care of our debt of sin behind the veil of the temple, entering as the sacrificial lamb, how much more will He do for us in our struggles?

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things…Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

Romans 8:31b-32, 34b, ESV

The sunshine doesn’t always break through the clouds immediately. We have to rest, knowing that behind the haze and clouds, there is majesty waiting to reveal itself. He is there even when we don’t feel lighthearted, joyful, or excited. He is there. There may be veil, but it is there, behind the veil that we remain rooted and grounded in His love. The storm will pass, but right here, right in the midst of it, He is our solid rock, our foundation, our God in whom we can trust.

The Conspiracy of Distraction

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on

There’s a plethora of conspiracy theories circulating in the United States presently. I don’t even have to list them, because chances are, if you’ve utilized any type of social media over the last few weeks, you know what I’m talking about. What I’ve primarily noticed is that these conspiracies serve a purpose: distraction. Ironically, the whole concept of conspiracy theory is that the almighty “they” have distracted you with ________________________ in order to hide this other thing “they” were doing. And what ends up happening is people drawn into these conspiracies fall prey to the very thing they want to avoid–being distracted from what’s really going on.

Who is responsible for this distraction? Well, undoubtedly, the people creating the theories themselves are responsible, but I’m inclined to look a bit deeper to the bottom-dwellers who are stirring the pot. I believe this to be the work of the Enemy, the devil, the accuser. This is a spiritual battle. His tactics are simple. Divide and conquer. Distract and disable. A distracted Church is a disabled Church. How can you make space to share the Gospel if you’re sharing conspiracy? Who is going to take your Words of Life seriously and view them as reputable if you’re sharing theories you found on YouTube? How can you fight the real battle when you’re distracted by a conspiratorial one?

I have frequently found myself intrigued by the conspiracies over the years. Why is that? My guess is that mystery is alluring. Humans do have a longing for the truth, to know the facts, to be the one who uncovered the hidden gem that proves we’ve all been duped! No one wants to be an idiot. No one wants to live their life, come to the end of it, and realize that what they believed was a lie. This is normal. This is part of being human. But perhaps, what we’re really looking to uncover is treasure, and instead, we’ve settled for the cheap entertainment of conspiracy theory.

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Matthew 13:44

Jesus came teaching and preaching about a kingdom. This kingdom had come down from heaven and was like a treasure–a pearl of great price, a valuable coin, a net full of fish, a treasure hidden in a field. This kingdom is for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. This kingdom comes in quietly and under the radar. This kingdom has a king, and His name is Jesus. In order to follow this king, to be His disciple, one has to be willing to give up everything one has. But in return, the one will inherit all the king has.

But there’s this settling…we settle for less than what he offers.

  • We say we believe in him, but we keep looking elsewhere for answers.
  • We say we’ve given up our rights to follow him, but we demand them from our governments.
  • We say we trust Him to provide, but we look to our own jobs, skills, and resources as our only source of income.

We’re not alone in this experience of settling for conspiracies and other empty answers. The disciples of Jesus struggled with this as well. Thomas followed Jesus for three years but refused to believe He was alive again until he saw His scarred hands and feet. James and John were looking for places of power in His kingdom, hoping He’d overthrow Rome, but didn’t realize that to sit at His right and left would mean death for them. The disciples collectively looked at the meager loaves and fishes and couldn’t see a way to feed 5,000.

The truth, friends, that I need to hear and you need to hear is this: “Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15, ESV). What we need right now is the Truth. God loves this world. He sent His Son to die for the sins of the world. He came to bring his kingdom and begin it IN US. He came to defeat sin, death, and the grave. We don’t need the distraction of conspiracy theory. It robs us of our calling as children of God. It robs us of the valuable time we’ve been given to share the truth of His love for the world. It robs us of the ability to live our lives with resurrection in mind–this is NOT all there is. His kingdom has come. And it will come fully, and we will rule and reign with Him on this earth. The time is short. The kingdom is at hand. Rise up.

Finding God’s Will for Your Life: The Goodness of God

When it comes to unearthing the treasures of God’s will in my life, they all have a similar thread–His goodness to me. When I say “goodness,” I do not mean a string of good circumstances that worked out in my favor, or that I’ve lived a life free from pain, suffering, or shame. Because I haven’t. In fact, my story is riddled with narratives about emotional pain, loss, grief, of not belonging, and other typical human storylines. I would most definitely be the underdog in one of those sports movies from the 90s. No, God’s goodness to me has been most bright and glorious in those dark moments.

Many of my not so pretty moments were sponsored by my own foolish choices. I wasn’t walking on the foundation of actually knowing God. I knew TONS about him. I grew up in church, I went to VBS, I went to a Christian school, I was in youth group and Bible studies. I had true faith in Him and all He’d done for me, but I didn’t really know His heart. I thought He was mad at me, disappointed in me, that I was never gonna measure up to His long list of requirements. In short, I didn’t really understand the gospel of grace.

Unfortunately, this wrong narrative about God had me either trying to earn His affection by being a good kid, getting good grades, singing at church, learning all I could from sermons, or it had me running the other way in rebellion and living a double-life. This dichotomous life came to a screeching halt my junior year of college. The Holy Spirit met me in my sin and rebellion and revealed the depth of His love for me during a communion service. I’ve never been the same since.

His goodness to me has always been His grace. No matter where I’ve found myself geographically–in the US or East Asia, He’s always been there offering more grace for me when I can’t go on in my own strength. He’s never berating me, beating me up for my sins or failures, rather, He’s always gently there, redirecting me and putting me back on course. No matter where I’ve found myself emotionally–afraid, restless, or anxious, He’s been my constant friend and comfort. No matter where I’ve found myself in the stages of grief, be they anger, withdrawal, denial, or acceptance, He’s been present–SO present in my heartaches.

Moses said, “Please, show me your glory.”

And He said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, The LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Exodus 33:19; 34:6-7, ESV

His goodness is His grace. His goodness is His kindness. His goodness is His glory. His goodness is His mercy. His goodness is His justice. His goodness is His wrath against disobedience. His goodness is His righteousness. His goodness is His very nature.

When I’m faced with any decision, I can rest in the confidence that no matter the outcome, God is good. And He’s not just good to other people, worthy people, He’s good to me. I have sometimes looked back and realized that I’ve made the wrong choice, not sinful, just not the best choice. And I don’t find a disappointed God rolling His eyes because I couldn’t see the future. I don’t find a God wringing His hands wondering if I’ll ever get it right. I find my friend, Jesus, who loves me and leads me on.

Sometimes, I’ve made a sinful choice. I’ve deliberately chosen to walk outside of His will. And what have I found there? An angry God? A taskmaster with his whip ready to send me into next Tuesday?

Not at all.

What I find is what Tim Keller calls “The Prodigal God.” He’s a father with a love that doesn’t make sense, a father who plans a party for me when I return, a father who invites me into the banquet when my sin is whitewashed unlike my conspicuous prodigal brother’s. His goodness never stops. His grace never runs out. He just keeps loving me back into His arms. Yes, I repent, because I can’t run from His goodness and mercy. They always catch me. My loving Father proves His love with discipline, but friends, even in my consequences, I have lived in the goodness of God.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 23:6, NLT

You want to know what to look for when you’re seeking God’s will for your next steps? Look for His goodness. Look for His grace. Is there a decision that will give you an opportunity to show His goodness and grace with others? Chase it. Is there a decision to take a job that will give you more time to spend investing in others–your husband, wife, kids or neighbors? His goodness and His grace are there. Run after it.

But maybe you’ve found yourself in a place where you are choosing between sin and not-sin; if that’s the case, don’t choose the sin. Trust me; there’s nothing but extra heartache there. But if it’s too late, and you’re already there? Run home. Your Father loves you and wants you safe in His will.

Join me here again next week as I write about considering your own design when looking for God’s will for your life . And if you’re new here and wish to get this content conveniently delivered to your inbox as it goes live, just SUBSCRIBE HERE. Go in the goodness of God, friends.

Finding God’s Will for Your Life: Knowing God

As I began contemplating this past week about how to begin this series, what I kept coming back to was the character of God. Understanding who God is as a Person is the starting point when you want to know what His will is for your life. His character and personhood reveals what is important to Him, and concurrently, what is important to those who follow Him.

But getting to know the God of the Universe? Is that even possible? Is He accessible? I just want to know whether or not to move from here to there or whether or not I should take that job; what do those decisions have to do with knowing God?

The good news is that it IS possible to know the God of the Universe. He is absolutely accessible, and believe it or not, knowing Him will help you decide if that move is right for you. How can we get to know the God who created the world? How can we access Him? And even more than that, how can we know Him as a father and as a friend?

The good news is that God has been in the business of revealing Himself to humans from the first day of creation. When he began creating everything, He did so with the end in mind:

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.

Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

Psalm 19;1-4, esv

His creation proclaims His existence, His creativity, His order, His attention to detail, His sovereignty, His greatness, His vastness, and on and on. In fact, His very creation leaves all of us without an excuse for not knowing Him.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

romans 1:19-20, esv

God never intended to play hide and seek with us. He put Himself out there in plain sight. We can see His artistry in the sunset, the millions of light years away stars, the myriad of species of birds and bugs, the individually designed snowflakes and fingerprints, and to ignore His presence is to ignore the very nose on your face.

God didn’t stop with creation in His revelation to humankind. He also began telling men over hundreds of years to write down what He was saying to them. He decided to reveal Himself in the written word. The pages of the Bible are full of stories showing God’s character at every turn. We see Him as the God who provides when he sovereignly provided a ram in the thicket for Abraham to sacrifice instead of his son, Isaac. We learn He is the God who Sees when pregnant Hagar is shunned by Sarah and runs away to the desert where she believes her life is over. We learn He is the God our Healer when He made the bitter water sweet in the wilderness.

As Christians, our very foundation of belief is found in the pages of this Book. Every claim I make in these blog posts about God and faith will be supported by the Scriptures because it is the authority on which I have grown to know God myself (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV). In order to know a person, you have to know what they’re like, and I’ve found Him in these pages.

Thus says the LORD, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:23-24, esv

I read the above verses this morning when I was studying, and though I’d read them before, they hit me as a clear and concise statement of who He is and His desire to be known by us in this way. He wants us to boast in knowing Him and that what we see in our knowledge of Him is that He is a God who delights in steadfast love (also called mercy), in justice (for wrongdoing), and in righteousness (right living). From this verse alone, I know that if I follow this God and know His heart for these three things, that I, too, ought to delight in steadfast love, justice, and righteousness. Which in turn would keep me from making decisions in opposition to those–I won’t pursue a life of sin because He delights in righteousness. I won’t steal or overcharge or cheat someone because He is just. I won’t persist in unforgiveness when someone has sinned against me because he loves mercy. When I see Him in the truth of who He is, in the pages of His Word, I come to understand His heart. And even better than that? He didn’t stop revealing Himself with mere creation or His Book. He took it a step further.

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

matthew 1:20-21, esv

He sent His Son. His plan to rescue us would reach us on every level. He designed our world to speak His name. He designed His word to be written by over 40 authors over a period of 1600 years to reveal His character and dealings with the people of God. But He wanted us to see what He was like in flesh and blood form, so he sent Jesus. He was before all things (Col. 1:17). He was the Word made flesh (Jn. 1:14). He was the ultimate revelation of God to men, and “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men and women by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, ESV).

Jesus came to show us what God was like. And He lived out of that identity–He healed the sick, he saw those who suffered, he provided food for the hungry, He was fully God and fully man in one person living His life in mercy, justice, and righteousness so that we could know the Father and be reconciled to Him. He would be both our Father and our Friend.

Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.

Jesus, John 14:9 (ESV)

There’s no denying we need Him to save us from our sins. There’s no denying we need His life in us so that we can live lives that love God and love others. Knowing His heart for us, that we are loved, sacrificed for, healed, restored, and ultimately, glorified is enough to make the weakest of us boast in knowing Him. He’s so good to us, how can we be silent? Understanding the goodness of God as shown to us in Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection will give birth to hearts who want to share that goodness with the world. And it’s there–His goodness–that I want to land today in terms of knowing His will for your life.

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that He has made.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all His works.

Psalm 145:8-9, 17, ESV

God’s will for your life begins and ends with His goodness. In His goodness, He has made a way for you to know Him, to have His eternal life, and for you to live in His unshakeable kingdom. This is the first step to knowing His will is to realize that His will is for you to know Him. To know Him, look around you, see all He’s made, see His character revealed in the Bible, and look to Jesus, in whom the “fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19). Put your faith in His life, His death, and His resurrection as both the means of your salvation from sin and His victory over death and the grave and all other kingdoms of this world. Know Him. Pursue Him.

This is good news, friends! And if you already know Him, and know all of the truth I’ve already written about, you also know that there is more. This foundational truth of knowing God first in order to know His will is the first step to making decisions that love God and love others. Next week, I’ll be sharing my own story of how the goodness of God has chased me down in my choices. Don’t miss it! Subscribe here, and I’ll see you next week.