Sometimes I’m pretty sure my kids have this whole Christ-following thing figured out better than I do. In the middle of our morning rush, my 5-year-old appeared by my side and asked, “Mommy, is that the shirt you die in?”
“What?!” I looked down, suddenly to remember I was sporting one of our church’s cerulean blue baptism shirts.
“Uhhh…yeah, kind of, buddy,” I chuckled to myself. Not only does the kid have more spiritual insight than me, but his timing is impeccable.
You see, I’ve been thinking a lot about my life, and what it means to be a Christian. I’ve been thinking about the fact that, despite being one for 25 years, my life still so often looks very much unlike Christ’s. Finally, I’ve been thinking a lot about baptism-- the outward sign of what has taken place in our hearts as believers.
Romans 6:4 says, “For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” In baptism, becoming completely submerged under the water represents death to ourselves— our “flesh,” our desires, our plans, our sin; and coming up out of it represents being raised to new life in Christ. So my son was correct; being submerged in water, in the act of baptism, was the death of my old life.
But here’s the thing about baptism: notice I said, “completely submerged.”
Just as we don’t just dip a toe, or a hand, or even just our head in the water-- but all of us, likewise life in Christ requires that we be “all in.”
It’s so difficult because it’s not logical. When Jesus came He brought a new kind of normal, and in His book, less is more:
The more you give the more you gain (Proverbs 11:24).
The more life you give the more you find (Matthew 10:39).
I say I’m a Christ-follower, and yet I’ve really only surrendered parts of my life to Him, while holding back others.
God, I’ll follow you to here, but no further.
God, I’ll give this much, but no more.
God, I’ll spend this much time, but no more.
God, I’ll sacrifice this, but not that.
God, you can change these parts of me, but not those.
I say I’ve given my life to Him and yet how often am I stingy with my time, my talents and my treasures? Far more often than I’d like to admit. Can you relate?
The thing we need to remember is that, as Christians, we cannot compartmentalize our lives. We cannot keep some areas to ourselves and surrender others. God calls us to be all in. Surrender all.
Dear friend, what are you holding out of the water today-- In what area of your life should you surrender complete control? Are you holding back time that He’s called you to volunteer or money that He’s asked you to give? Are you “stuck” in life because you’re not willing to take the step He’s asked you to take?
It’s not easy to be “all in”— it’s counterintuitive to our human nature.
But know this: Our Father is trustworthy and faithful.
The truth I’ve found (and I’m trusting you will too) is that God is able to do infinitely more with the surrendered areas of our lives than we could ever ask or imagine— or do ourselves. Today let’s go before God, hands open in complete trust and surrender to His will and His way and say, “God, I’m all in."
Word of the Day:
Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. Mark 8:34 (NLT)
Father, I know you’ve called me to surrender my life to your will, your way, but so often I find myself holding back. Thank you that your plans for me are better than I could ever imagine for myself. Help me to push through the fear so that I may learn to trust you and be “all in.” In Jesus’ name, Amen
Author: Katie Gibson
It’s easy to praise God when life is going well.
When you sign final papers on the dream home
When the bank account is full
When your children are healthy and succeeding
But what about when it’s not going so well?
This morning in church I sat behind a man who, less than seven days ago, said his final goodbyes to his wife of over 20 years.
As the service began, I watched as he comforted his teary-eyed daughter; the same daughter with whom I stood beside a week ago, praying to God for a miracle, for just one breath to prove the doctors wrong. She had stood, stroking her mother’s silver hair and praying faith-filled words… but now she’s left with a gaping hole in her life that Mama used to fill.
As the worship music carried through the auditorium I watched this man clap. Sing. Raise his hands.
Tears rolled out of the corners of my eyes.
You see, I’ve had a relatively good week. My house passed an important test, I welcomed my husband home safely from a work trip, and we celebrated our baby girl’s third birthday.
Yes, my heart broke for that family, and I mourned the loss of this woman who greatly impacted me and my children’s lives. But If I’m honest, it was still pretty easy for me to walk into church with a smile on my face and lift my hands in worship to God for all that He has done…
But certainly there have been other times that have not been so easy.
When my dreams were dashed
When the bank account was “insufficient”
When my prayers were left unanswered
Those seasons of despair—where I could hardly lift my head, let alone my hands—those were the times of testing.
Do I really trust God?
Do I really trust that He is good, even through this storm?
Do I really trust that He loves me, even though I can’t feel it right now?
Do I really trust that He has a plan, even though I can’t see it?
Because if I do, then He is still worthy of my praise.
Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise…”
A sacrifice costs you something.
Praise in the midst of pain costs us our feelings, our opinions, and our desires. It elevates the truth of who God is above what we can see.
It elevates the name of Jesus above our circumstances. And it is through His name that we can do this because of the victory He won when He came barreling out of the tomb after three days.
This is where the rubber hits the road: When our faith is tested in the fires of trial, and we see what comes out on the other end.
When life isn’t going “our way” or tragedy inevitably strikes, will we turn from God in anger, or will we run to Him lifting up our hands as a sacrifice of praise to say, God, I don’t really understand, but I know that you are good?
The answer lies in who we believe God is: is He a harsh dictator who punishes us when we don’t walk exactly in line with His will, or is He the loving, faithful Father that the Bible says He is?
Friend, I don’t know what season you’re in, but I can tell you from experience that no matter what mess you find yourself in, yes, God still loves you. No matter what valley you are walking through, yes, He is still good. And no matter how deep your disappointment, yes, He still has an incredible plan for your life.
My challenge to you is that whatever season you’re in, whatever pain you’re facing today, throw your hands up and raise your voice as an act of sacrifice of praise, remembering that He is good and faithful and trustworthy through it all.
This sacrifice, from a heart passionately in pursuit of God, is good and pleasing in His sight.
Word of the Day
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise… (Hebrews 13:15)
Father, I am facing so much right now; it’s so overwhelming. I’m weary and in pain. But, Father, I lift my hands to You today to say that I believe with all my heart that You are still good, still loving, and still trustworthy. I lay my feelings and desires at Your altar and give You permission to have Your perfect way in my life. Thank You that You are my Comforter and my Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
In honor of Julie A. Harrison, 1968-2016
Author: Katie Gibson
Have you ever been caught off guard by the words coming out of your mouth?
I long to be a Proverbs 31 woman. I’m guessing you do too. “When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” (Proverbs 31:26)
Sigh. This is so far from reality, in my life, so much of the time.
A more accurate version would read:
“When she speaks her words are half-thought-out, and she gives instructions with a shout.” (Story of My Life, chapter 968, verse 40)
I’m so very much a work in progress. But I’m learning, with time, that I can’t think myself better. I can’t magically produce nicer, more thoughtful, wiser, and affirming words, at will.
Luke 6:45 gives some insight to this problem, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (emphasis mine).”
Yikes. Luke’s words reveal that those unloving, impatient, dirty words are bubbling out of an unloving, impatient, dirty heart. An unattended heart.
As moms, we have so many people, places and things to tend to on a daily basis. We love our families and seek to serve them well, but so often we forget to tend to the one thing that will ultimately serve them best—our hearts.
So what does tending to our hearts even mean? I believe there are three ways we do this.
We must clean our heart.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
If you’ve been living on this earth a day or two, there are probably messy areas of your heart that you’re not even aware of. Though unseen, these hidden hurts, sins, and fears taint the heart-to-mouth flow.
In Psalm 139:23-24 the psalmist David cries out, “Search me, O God, and know my heart… point out anything in me that offends you”.
David was brave enough to let a Holy God interrupt His ways, and bring to light the less-than-desirable attitudes and behaviors in His life.
We must guard our heart.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)
These sources can permeate our hearts with hatred, fear, shame, anxiety and other unhealthy sins, beliefs and emotions.
Satan would love for us to sit back, and unknowingly allow Him to wreak havoc in our lives, by slow corruption of our heart, but God’s Word has already warned us—“Stay alert!” (1 Peter 5:8). We must be aware of the enemy’s veiled attempts and put a guard over our hearts to keep the junk out.
We must fill our heart.
“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11)
Here’s the part that ties in with our key verse for the day (Luke 6:45)—in order for our mouths to speak good things, we must fill our hearts with good things!
I’ve discovered that the quality of the words coming out of my mouth are in direct proportion to the quality of the time I’ve been spending in God’s Word.
Have you been spending time in the Word? I know, for me, this is one area of my life that I am continually working on. The Bible is God’s love letter to us, through which we get to know Him more! Keeping this healthy perspective creates a continual, insatiable desire to get into God’s Word.
So how’s your heart?
What’s on the outside flows from within. Let’s take a moment to pause and pray today…
Father God, thank you for the truth of your Word. Thank you that your Word has the power to change me, and change my situations. My desire is to be a wife, a mom, a woman who honors you—especially by my words. I recognize that there are areas of my heart that are unpleasing to you. Shine a light and reveal hidden places of hurt, sin and fear that cause me to spew ugly, impatient and dirty words. Help me to put a guard over my heart, and create in me a desire to dig into your Word like never before, so that your truth may fill my heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Word of the Day:
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45
Author: Katie Gibson
My daughter turned a year old this past fall, and we’ve officially entered that wonderful season known as “toddlerhood.”
“Don’t lick the toilet!”
“Don’t eat the Legos!"
“Don’t climb the dishwasher!"
“Don’t touch the heater!"
My reasonable instructions seem like ridiculous commands to a toddler.
She squeals and drops to the floor. Why wouldn’t mommy want me doing this very fun thing??
My days are spent keeping her from the edge of death, illness and pain, but she doesn’t know that… yet.
You can’t reason with toddlers in case you haven’t noticed. These tiny, headstrong… precious beings simply do not know and cannot understand that you have their best interest, future and safety in mind.
As Mom, I want to protect all three of my little ones from as much harm and pain as possible because of my indescribable love for them. So, I give them “do’s” and “do-not-do’s” and teach them obedience out of trust and respect.
I get frustrated when they choose to disobey despite my good intentions.
I wonder if God ever gets frustrated with me?
In the words of my pastor, I used to believe God was a “cosmic kill-joy,” up there with a list of do-not-do’s, aimed to simply keep me in line. So, after 13 years of “walking the line,” I did what most other Christian young adults do when they leave home--Rebel. In hindsight, so many of my choices caused unnecessary pain and frustration.
If you read through the Old Testament, you will find pages and pages and pages of law and instructions-- many of those brought back up in the New Testament-- taught by Jesus, Paul, and others.
Don't get drunk with wine.
Don’t hold a grudge.
Don’t let your mind or eyes linger lustfully.
Observe a day of rest.
It’s tempting to see these directions as suggestions.
Overall, the law proved that man’s futile efforts wouldn’t be enough to save themselves-- it would take a Savior. But through it all God had our best interest in mind. He can see down the road, through all of the twists and turns, when we can’t.
He knows that...
A few too many drinks can lead to undesirable behavior.
Unforgiveness only hurts you.
A desirous look can turn into an office romance.
Trying to “keep up with the Jones’s” creates straining debt.
Ignoring the body’s need for rest will lead to burn-out.
In our limited human minds, we feel as though God is trying to take away our fun. It’s so much easier to go along with the tidal wave of culture.
But God calls us to trust Him, his wisdom and his Sovereignty.
What commands have you been ignoring or avoiding? In what areas have you been tempted to write off God as a “cosmic kill-joy,” going your own way instead?
I know a major challenge for me is in the area of rest. By admission, I am a hard-working, OCD, stress-prone individual. I’ve always made a habit of excusing my inability to relax and take a few moments, a few hours, or a few days to rest completely.
Maybe yours is staying angry with that one person. You have reason after reason why you can’t forgive him or her, but what you don’t understand is that they’ve probably already moved on, and now you’re the only one living offended and angry for no good reason!
Whatever your situation, know that God has had your best interest at heart all along.
Just as I tell my precious daughter “Don’t lick the toilet!” to protect her from yuck she doesn’t yet understand-- so is God’s intention with us.
What has God asked you to do that you are holding back from today? Trust in His love, go against what your flesh or culture is saying-- heed His voice and experience His best!
Word of the Day:
“Serve only the Lord your God and fear Him alone. Obey His commands, listen to His voice, and cling to Him.” Deuteronomy 13:4
Lord, Thank you that you always have my best interest in mind, and you will always show me the right paths to take through your voice and your Word. Forgive me for not always trusting your ways. Help me to hear and obey in all my ways. In Your Name, Amen.
Author: Katie Gibson
I curled up in my usual spot, our living room recliner, with my favorite journal and worn Bible resting in my lap.
I took a deep breath and sighed. Trials and challenges had been on the radar far too long, and they were starting to take their toll on my trust.
The Lord has a way of getting my attention through social media feeds, at times. Earlier, an Instagram post from my favorite author had awakened me to the reality that I had done far too much talking, and too little listening, in my “quiet” times lately.
I wrote in my journal...
Today, Lord, I listen.
And then I sat.
I let my eyelids fall together, attempting to calm my restless, wandering mind. Would God really speak?
I opened my eyes and they fell upon my favorite throw, draped across my lap.
“Do you see that blanket?” the Holy Spirit nudged.
“Do you remember what was going on in your life when it was given to you?”
“Yes, Lord… “
I could feel awareness washing over me as I thought back to that uncertain season of my life. My husband had felt the Lord calling us to a new church, but I couldn’t understand. Why would God call us to leave the church we’ve been committed to for so many years? Why would He take away everything I hold dearest-- my friends and familiarity?
“You didn’t understand My plan at that time, did you?”
“No, Lord,” I answered.
“But are you thankful for it now?”
In that moment God brought to my mind every good thing that had come out of that difficult season. It was as if I could see everything that had transpired over the past two years, in full-scope.
God was calling me to trust Him, again, in this season.
I sat, baffled again by God’s uncanny ability to aim arrows of encouragement straight into the needy places of my fragile heart.
In that moment He was reminding me of a truth that we all need to hear: His faithfulness and wonder-working power in the past is here in the now, and is there in the future, too.
Who God was yesterday, He is today… and will continue to be tomorrow.
As moms, wives, daughters, employees, entrepreneurs, etc., the path before us is often unclear and even fearful, at times.
Friends, in this new and uncertain territory it is imperative that we take a look in the rearview mirror to be reminded of what God has done in the past, so that we can have the faith to face the road ahead
Maybe you’re a new Christian, and still dipping your toes in the pool of faith. Don’t be disheartened. Read your Bible and surround yourself with other Christ-followers. Take note of their countless stories; see how God weaves the events of our lives together to fulfill His good and perfect purpose.
While we should never dwell on the unchangeable past, we can allow its testimonies to spur us on into a faith-filled future.
Word of the Day:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NLT)
God, The events of my life are so overwhelming right now, and I can’t see your plan. Bring to my memory stories of your faithfulness. I do believe that you are trustworthy… help me in my moments of unbelief. Thank you that you are weaving the details of my life together for your good and perfect purpose. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Author: Katie Gibson