Posts in Knowing the Word
Painful Pruning: An Unavoidable Season

When I consider the last decade of my life, I see a series of deaths: Death of my pride through living in the shadow of my husband's giftedness. Death of my fear of conflict through divorces in my family and among friends. Death of my fear of confrontation through difficult friendships. Death of my desires through multiple miscarriages. Death of my fear of failure through situations where I could not win. Death of my hope in myself through seeing my exposed sin in high-definition focus.

Each season of dying has felt just like that—dying. The choking out of something I have loved, desired, and clung to for hope, peace, and safety. The choking out of things in me, writhing, gasping for breath and praying, "Does it have to be this way? Can't I follow You and also keep this with me? Does it really need to die?"

In God's kingdom, pruning is caring. Jesus is the true vine, His Father the vinedresser. Every branch in Jesus that bears fruit, the Father prunes that it may bear more fruit (John 15:1–2).

God's answer to my question is yes. Yes, it does need to die. It must be pruned. Without pruning, my life will become something even I don't want—an overgrown, thorny bush with no fruit to offer.

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How to Handle the Grief of Miscarriage

Miscarriage is the membership card to a club you never asked to be in; a union of women sporting badges of infertility, stillbirth, miscarriage, and even abortion. Women who share your emotions, questions, crisis of faith, and isolation, women whose desire to be a parent has been abruptly interrupted by suffering. This post is an effort to encourage those who are grieving and to help friends and family members trying to help.

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The Threat of Joy In Ministry

Jesus is a kill-joy. That's right, the "happy God" (1 Tim. 1:11 ) of our salvation, who gives life to the full, intends for you not to be happy. Not to be happy, that is, in anything less than the best things. Jesus is shocking in the way He exposes counterfeit happiness. In fact, His whole ministry turns our understanding of joy, satisfaction, and success upside down. The inaugural words of His first sermon are startling: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3, emphasis added).

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How Caring for Children Changes the World

The beginning of the book of Exodus is hard not to enjoy. With the burning bush, the Nile turning to blood, the dramatic exit through the Red Sea, what's not to love? With so many big events, it's easy to miss the details. Details like the fact that most of the main characters in the first two chapters are women. Each one of them acts in the interest of children, even when their own safety is threatened. Without these five women, Israel's story of redemption doesn't happen. Without these five women, Moses doesn't survive the infanticide occurring in Egypt, and there is no leader to be God's instrument of deliverance.

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The Sabbath: The Antidote for Achievement-Addicts

At the first snow of manna in Exodus 16, God introduces His people to a Sabbath day. Two-and-a-half months after leaving their former slave drivers, God's people hear an odd command from their new Master—rest. Though we might not be slaves, our present culture prizes productivity so highly that taking a day off also sounds absurd. "Maybe God meant take a rest from my normal work and do a different kind of work. I can't just waste time."

To be honest, this is exactly how I think. If making to-do lists was a viable hobby, it would be mine. I treat productivity like a sport, seeing if I can beat my previous record of tasks completed in one day. Sad but true.

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So you want to do something great for God...

I see my generation on the other side of their childhood dreams, entering their 30s somewhat disillusioned. For some working 9-to-5 jobs, the greatest success is keeping the bills paid and the boss happy. For many moms, the biggest accomplishment of the week is a clean kitchen and 15 minutes of Bible reading. Others did some "great" things for God right after college... 2 year mission trips, interning in a ministry, striving to hit it big as a [fill-in-the-blank-with-ministry-job], but seeing that work dwindle they are wondering what's next. So much for changing the world for Jesus. Spiritual gifts and noble desires sit on the shelf unused, itching to find an outlet to prove their effectiveness while whispers of what could have been hang in the air.

I want to pose a very important question. A question my soul needs answered every day. Does God want us to do something great for Him?

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Do You Know His Word?

The amount of information available to us each day is overwhelming. While often helpful, the sheer amount of books, blogs, articles, and Pinterest ideas often clutter the only information that is truly life-giving: God’s Word. It's a hard choice, to pick up your Bible, old and unchanging as it is, when a world of new and fresh info is being put out as fast as you can hit refresh. The continual presentation of new articles and information (just one click away) can suck you in for hours before you know what hit you.

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There is only One.

Do you feel distant from God? Do you feel at odds with Him? Do you desire to draw closer to Him? There is one mediator between you and God. It’s not your favorite author. It’s not a book or Bible study. It’s not your pastor, your counselor, your friend, or your parents. For there is only one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all. Your pastor or friend or favorite blogger have not given themselves as a ransom for you. Only One person has done that… the man Jesus Christ. Do you have loved ones who are far from God and hope to see them reconciled to Him? Does it seem like it’s all up to you? Like you’re the only one in their life speaking truth and pushing them to God? Remember, there is one mediator between God and men, and it’s not you. You have no power to reconcile others to God. The best you can do is point to the man Jesus Christ who gave Himself as a ransom for all.

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How to Handle the Stage: 5 Lessons from John the Baptist

Most stages today aren't like the ones in your old high school auditorium. A stage can be anything that creates an audience for you. Twitter and Instagram, blogs and YouTube channels, websites and books are all forms of stages. Through these online avenues, you can now create your own audience with little to no risk at all. You don't have to stare people in the eyes from your stage. It can be a stage on your own terms. In addition to the easy access to a stage, our culture celebrates audience building. Wowed by those who've made it to the top, many long to join the ranks of those vloggers and bloggers with millions of followers. But for those who follow the Jesus who taught us that true greatness is servanthood (Mark 10:43–45), is it ever okay to pursue a stage? To promote a blog? To write a book? To seek out new followers? If the stage is so dangerous for our hearts, how do we view platforms we might already have?

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Left Out: The Benefits of Exclusion

Being left out will always be a litmus test for pride. As soon as you realize you didn’t get the invite, you aren’t in the inner circle, or you are on the outside, one of two responses happen. The first is the most common: hurt, disappointment, and/or anger. Under those surface feelings are deep roots of entitlement (a.k.a. pride). A feeling that you deserve to be included or that you have merited inclusion. Or that you are owed the opportunity to be included, assuming that it's the fair thing to do. But our God isn't fair, mercifully so (read more about that here). We live under grace and that changes the game.

To boil it down, being included is about being honored. Like the kids picked first for the kickball team, being chosen for any group is position of honor. No one wants to be last on the team, or worst of all, not picked at all. We want the places of honor.

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Do You Despise Him?

In Genesis 25 we have a snapshot of the lives of Jacob and Esau, Isaac's twin sons. Esau, the elder, sells his birthright to Jacob at the cost of a bowl of soup and a piece of bread. The final assessment of the situation: Esau despised his birthright. So what does despise mean in this context? I used to assume the word was very emotive, in the same camp as disgust, hate, or loathe. But the Bible doesn't use it that way. Here there is no argument breaking out, no punches thrown, no harsh words. After Esau sells his birthright, he goes on his way. He doesn't seem to care either way about whether he has it or not. And that is the essence of this Biblical word, despise: to treat as insignificant, expendable, and of little value.

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What To Do With Self-Pity

Self-pity is simply the grief that I have nothing to brag about in myself. Ever have those days when you feel like a failure at everything? The closer I walk with God, the more my sin, my deep-rooted self-love, comes into high-definition focus. And honestly, I'd really love to be the most put together person in the room, the most spiritual, the most holy, the most fill-in-the-blank woman I know. Why? [Honest confession time] Because I love boasting in myself!

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The Forceful Compassion of God

God's compassion has often been forceful. At times, his force has been the confrontation of a friend, putting before my eyes the way my sin is harmful to those around me. His force has been the perfect storm of circumstances that upon first glance seem to prove that He hates me but soon reveal that He was delivering me from self-destruction. His force has been suffering, the stripping away of everything I trusted in, leaving me with Him alone. The compassion of God seizes me by the hand and drags me out of my sin when I hesitate to flee.

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A Jesus-Heart for Children, Part 3

I have often found that there are 2 specific topics that come up a lot as I meet with young wives and felt were worth tackling: birth control and child care.

These are sensitive topics for sure, controversial even, and there are many factors that play into every individual’s decision. But too often, these decisions are made from attitudes and motives that have been shaped by our culture, instead of the Word of God.

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A Wife After God's Own Heart, Part 2

As wives, we have influence over our husbands but too often we use that power in self-centered ways, manipulating to get what we want when we want it. But to be a woman after God's own heart is to think first and foremost about God and His Kingdom, then about others, and lastly about ourselves. So how can we grow to have that heart within our marriages? 

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