God Orders Our Steps and Our Stops

Steps stopsI met a woman who lives not too far from me. As we began to become better acquainted, she spoke to me about being a part of a conference of which she was in charge. It seemed good to me, but I asked for a little time to pray about it.  Several days later,  I got back in contact with her, and the offer was off. She had found other speakers and no longer needed me. I could tell she was a bit miffed and felt I had waited too long, but nonetheless the “deal” was off.

I was a bit disappointed because I often travel far from home. Here was an opportunity to travel less than an hour away!

Shortly after that a group in North Carolina asked me if I would come be a part of their conference, and I accepted the invitation. It happened to be the same weekend as the one that did not work in Alabama.  It was only thirty miles from my son’s home, so my husband decided to go with me, and a wonderful thing happened. We, along with the other grandparents, all gathered in the sonogram room, to discover that a grandson was on the way. The smile on my son’s face, and the excitement in all of us was over the top!  We enjoyed a lunch together with lots of joy and laughter.

While I spoke at the conference, Gaylon spent the weekend with Bryan and Sarah. They shopped till they dropped and even bought a few baby gifts. It was a great weekend!

Two weeks later we received a call that Bryan had suddenly passed away, and was now a resident of heaven. One of the thoughts that came to me was gratitude that two weeks earlier we had a weekend with Bryan and Sarah. If I had spoken in Alabama, that weekend in North Carolina would have never happened. God knew we needed that final, happy memory of our son as he grinned about having his own son on the way.

Often our schedules get messed up, or our plans don’t work out the way we desire. I have learned that God is working in my behalf, and He controls my STEPS and my STOPS. I am so glad He does! I am so glad that my last memory of Bryan is with a big smile on his face.  I am so glad that I can tell Tucker how incredibly happy his dad was to see that ultrasound and find out he would have a son.

Trust God with the steps and stops. He won’t do you wrong!

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

Are Some Sins Greater Than Others?

sinsThere are many heated arguments these days as to whether all sins are equal. Too often the argument centers in on one area, or one person wants to dismiss the severity of the sin about which they are arguing.

God said, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  In other words, if living like God desires is the target, then all of us miss the bull’s eye. There is no getting around that fact. Lying, stealing, cheating, sexual immorality, gossip and many others all miss the target. They are sin in God’s eyes.

One writer said, “Every sin is an act of rebellion against God. Any sin, no matter whether it is an angry thought or outright murder, is a declaration of independence from God, a means of saying, “I am going to do this my way instead of your way. I choose my will rather than your will.”

That is a great description of sin. Sin is sin. That is the truth!

It is also true that not all sin has the same consequences. For instance, stealing a candy bar from a store has consequences, but killing five people has greater consequences. There are consequences on the killer, the ones killed, all the families involved, etc. Lying to your boss about why you didn’t come to work misses the mark, and is sin in God’s eyes. There are consequences such as the company losing the hours of work, or the boss finding out and the employee losing his/her job. An adulterous affair can have more far-reaching consequences.  Sexual sin is missing the mark in God’s eyes, but sexual sins are also called a sin against one’s own body. They destroy marriages and families, leaving seeds of distrust and harm that can take years to overcome.

Even Jesus used a comparative in speaking of sin, “Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” – John 19:11

Is all sin equal in God’s eyes? Yes and no. All sin is equal in causing us to be separated from God, but some sins are more significant because they bring about more serious consequences. There must be a word of caution here! The fact that some sins are judged to be more serious than others must not give us license to evaluate our actions on the basis of whether a certain act is a little sin or a big sin. We are commanded to live holy lives, lives that honor God. The Holy Spirit within us gives us the power to live overcoming lives.

“However, remember that whether our sins are relatively small or great, they will place us in hell apart from God’s grace. The Good News is that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and the sins of the whole world at the cross. If we will repent and turn to Jesus in faith, our sins will be forgiven, and we will receive the gift of eternal life.” – Billy Graham

I’ve Fallen and I Can Get Up!

FalldownverseOften when I need to make phone calls, I will go for a long walk. This enables me to get a little exercise, and make the necessary phone calls. Now, come on, you know that’s smart!

Yesterday, I needed to make a couple of calls, and I knew they would be a little lengthy, so I set out on a walk that lasted forty-five minutes. As the call was coming to an end, I arrived at my house. I began to walk up and down the driveway until the call was finished.

At one point I was close to the shrubs around the front of my house, and I noticed a dead vine was wrapped around one of the bushes. I decided to stick my foot in the middle of the bushy vine and remove it.  As I jerked the vine with my foot, I found it to be stronger than anticipated. In a matter of seconds, I became entangled in the vine and fell hard to my concrete driveway. OUCH!

As I lay there for a moment, the pain was real and it was sharp. I have cuts and bruises to prove this!

Even though it was painful, I knew my only option was to rise up and walk again. There was nothing beneficial about staying down.

This is life, even for the believer. We walk with God. We move with God. We serve God. It’s a great walk, but inevitably there will be falls along the way. Those falls can bring so much pain.

Proverbs 24:16 is very clear: “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again…” This verse tells us that believers are not untouched by the falls of life. Even God’s people will have times when they have problems, failures, disasters, and adversities. We know the pain of sickness, financial woes, broken relationships, loss and more.

If you are in the middle of a fall right now, don’t despair. There is hope! It’s easy to think, “I am done; it’s all over now.” That’s not true. You can’t see so clearly when you’re down on the ground wallowing in the dirt. But, child of God, you will rise up again. The second part of that verse is just as true as the first part! The whole verse is true … there will be times of trouble, but there is triumph in the midst of trouble!

Child of God, rise up! Don’t give up, and don’t give in. God is on your side, and He will give you the strength to walk again, live again and be fulfilled again.  Today, I rose up out of my bed and started walking again.   There’s a little pain in my walk, but this too shall pass.

Circumstances can’t keep God’s people down. As you go through the ups and downs of life, look for the power of God to meet you there. He will be close-by when you are down. He will give you strength to get back up. Yes, you will rise again!

God Has The Biggest “BUT”

but-god1Have you ever been lied about or done wrong, and it seems the perpetrator got away with it?

From a human standpoint, it’s hard to reconcile the fact that one can do the right(eous) thing, and not get the expected result.

Joseph, in scripture, said a resounding NO to the advances of Potiphar’s wife. He said NO over and over, and stated that he would not sin against God by sleeping with another man’s wife. Where did it get Joseph? After Mrs. Potiphar lied about him, Joseph was thrown right into a dark prison cell.

How is that possible? Doesn’t the Bible say, “You reap what you sow?” Indeed it does, but the Bible never gives a time frame on reaping and sowing.

Joseph sat in that jail cell for two long years. It was unfair and incomprehensible. As Joseph sat there, an innocent man, he had a choice to make. He could be mad at life, mad at God, and say, “I’ll never serve God again. What good did that do me?”

Joseph did not look at what was happening at that moment in life, and let the moment define God. He continued serving God, continued being faithful to God and continued trusting God. He even started a jail ministry!

After Joseph was in prison for two years, he got up one morning not knowing his deliverance was about to come. He woke up, brushed his teeth, tidied up his cot, ate a not-so-great prison breakfast and did his regular slave work. BUT GOD! God said, “Today, it is finished!”   Before the sun went down that day, Joseph was living in a palace and was the second most powerful person in the land.

It only took Joseph THIRTEEN years to arrive at the palace. Thirteen years of faithfulness in less than stellar circumstances. Thirteen years of right(eous) decisions in less than stellar circumstances. Thirteen years of serving God with no expensive suits, no pricey chariots, no beautiful wife, no book publisher, no cool worship band and no television program. Just a man who chose to be faithful to the One He loved, and the One who loved him.

Don’t give up doing the right(eous) things in this life! We serve a God who is a “BUT GOD” kind of God. He is not limited by what is happening in your life at this moment. This “BUT GOD” that we serve has the biggest “BUT” in the room! He is at work in your life. He has the final word.

Never give up on God, for He never gives up on you!  One day, you will look back, and this will be your song:

“He’s been faithful, faithful to me,
Looking back Your love and mercy I see,
In my heart I question if You’re there, and I fail to believe
But You’ve been faithful, faithful to me.”

“You intended to harm me, BUT GOD intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” – Genesis 50:20

I Wasn’t Called To Fit In

Fitting inI’ve had a few sets of eyes rolled at me in my day. I’ve had venom spewed at me on Facebook a few times. I’ve been called out-of-touch, unrealistic, behind-the-times, judgmental and other great things. Why am I called these things? Because I refuse to compromise what I believe the Word of God says.

The pressure is on all of us as believers to be quiet, be accepting of everything, don’t offend anyone and just fit in. After all Christians are to love. What a ridiculous definition of Christian love! In order to show that I love, I must keep quiet and embrace what society is embracing. God never called me to fit in, but He did call me to stand tall and be a woman of the Word.

In the book of Daniel is recorded a story of three Hebrew men who would not bow to the king, which would mean compromising their devotion to God. God was the only one to whom they bowed and gave worship. As we read their story, we celebrate the deliverance of God. We shout, “Hallelujah!” That is certainly warranted.

Let us remember that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were living it in real time. Going into the fiery furnace, they confessed ahead of time that they did not know what the outcome would be. The outcome had nothing to do with their decision to stand for God. They were not concerned about fitting in, getting a position in the King’s palace or being popular. Their greatest concern was living a life that honored God.

While I am certainly not a hell-fire and brimstone preacher, I refuse to bow to a cry from a culture that says you have to fit in, that says you aren’t loving if you call anything sin. I want to live a life that honors God and His Word.

You see, I understand that I was called to preach the Good News that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He is the way to the Father and eternal life in heaven. Oh, that’s not a popular message either. It’s okay! I’ll preach it anyway because I was not called to fit in!

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – Daniel 3:16-18


CoverI was to be the speaker at a conference in a city where I had been before. Much hard work was put into the conference, and anticipation was building. As I spent time with God and in study, I was excited about what He was showing me in His Word.

There was a woman who heard about the conference and was gung-ho to attend. She started talking it up with others, saying she had heard me teach before and “people would love it.” Her anticipation fed my excitement.

Later, after seeing my picture, the woman realized that I was not the woman she had remembered, so she was no longer interested in coming. That took the wind out of my sails a bit!

She made it known who she thought would be speaking, and it was a speaker with whom I was somewhat familiar. As I thought about the other speaker, I began to talk to myself. “She’s a better speaker than I am. She’s slimmer than I am. What do I have to say that anyone would want to hear? Why would anyone want to pay money to attend a conference just to listen to me? My gift is not good enough for me to travel across the nation?”  Negative thoughts assaulted my mind.

I had a flare-up of a disease called “comparisonitis.”

Comparisonitis can be a chronic, debilitating disease. It goes into remission when we’re happy, when we’re stroked by others or all is going well, but all too often, the moment something doesn’t go the way we want it too, it flares up.

I remember going to God  and telling Him why I couldn’t continue. Surely He had missed it when He called me, or maybe I even missed what I heard. As I wiped my tears and quieted myself before Him, it was almost as if He spoke audibly. “You are fearfully and wonderfully made. YOU – Barbara – YOU.” God did not try to convince me. He did not argue it with me. He just stated His truth and His opinion.

The Bible has quite a bit to say about being happy with who God made us to be. One of the most freeing verses that I have found is, “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” – Galatians 6:4.  That verse just shouts, “FREEDOM.” This tells me that all God wants and asks is that I give my personal best to whatever He has called me to do. I can be secure and satisfied knowing that God is pleased with me, and I don’t need to compare myself with anyone else. That is THE truth.

Do flare-ups of comparisonitis try to find their way into my life? Yes. What’s the best thing to do for it? Be me! If you feel yourself coming down with this disease, what’s the best thing you can do for it? Be you!

Don’t Waste Your Pain

2005-03-2520painDon’t waste your pain. Some of you are immediately thinking, “That’s easy for you to say. You don’t know what I’m going through.”  In most cases I don’t know what readers of this blog are going through, but this I do know: Life is peppered with all kinds of pain, and each of us will be touched by some kind of pain. While it is nice to confess, “Because I am a child of God, I shall live a pain-free life,” that is simply not reality.

I have no plans to preach or pontificate at this point. I simply want to say that pain can help us to become more loving and caring to others in pain.  Who can better comfort a widow, than one who has walked that path?  Who can better encourage a person with cancer, than one who has walked through a cancer battle?  The scripture says it this way,  “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”  – 2 Corinthians 1:3,4


  1. I refuse to waste my pain of child abuse.
  2. I refuse to waste my pain of being betrayed.
  3. I refuse to waste my pain of having a child with cancer.
  4. I refuse to waste my pain of Church hurt and disillusionment.
  5. I refuse to waste my pain of miscarriage.
  6. I refuse to waste my pain of a tear-stained face as I visit my son’s grave.

While I wish life was pain-free, it’s not! Loved ones die, tragedy visits, betrayal comes, but through it all, God is with us. He will bring us through it.  I can’t stop pain, but I can decide to use it to comfort others, to say God will bring you through this.

No, I can’t stop pain, but I refuse to waste it!

I Think I’ll Walk to Boston

IMG_2849 (2)I am the proud owner of a Fitbit pedometer.  One of my sons gave it to me a couple of years ago, and it is my faithful companion.   As I go to bed at night, I literally remove it and place it on the night stand, and then as soon as my feet hit the floor the next morning, back on it goes.  Each day of my life I am intentional about taking steps.  I have a goal of no less than 10,000 steps, and most days I make that.

Because I have the Fitbit synced with my computer, I receive progress reports.   I got my report for the year 2014 and was amazed at how far one can go by taking intentional steps.  Last year I walked more than two and one-half million steps, which translated to over eleven hundred miles.  The numbers would have been even higher except I lost my pedometer, and was without it for almost a month.   So, in 2014 I walked enough steps  to get to Boston, MA, Roswell, NM, Minneapolis, MN, and  a number of other places.

When I set out in 2014, I never knew how far I would go, but I purposed to get up every day and intentionally take steps. Some days I made much progress, and some days I hardly made any progress. Yet, I kept walking, and it amazing how far I went.

How did I do this?

  1. I was intentional about my walk. Some days I did not want to walk – I was tired, lazy, sick, burned out or depressed, but I still intentionally kept walking.
  2. I did it one step at a time. If someone had said your goal is to walk to Boston this year, I would have been overwhelmed. Instead, I just got up and walked a step at a time.

This is exactly what it is like to walk with God. Victory and fulfillment in God, comes through learning to continue whether one feels like it or not, and we do it one step at time. Each step gets us farther down the road. As we keep walking, we will look back and say, “Wow, look how far God has brought me!” And even better, we will get to walk with the living God, and know His presence and power.

I love what is said of Enoch: And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters… Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away”. (Genesis 5:22, 24).

I want to so walk with God that I am literally taken away by Him, that I am no more, and He is reflected in me.

Today why don’t you pick up your spiritual pedometer, strap it on in the Spirit, and head out!


I Quit!

quitting-churchA member of a certain church, who had been attending services regularly for quite some time, stopped going all of a sudden. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to pay the man a visit. It was a very cold evening and when the pastor arrived at the man’s home he found him sitting alone before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed the pastor and led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace. The man then sat down in his own chair and waited for the pastor to speak. Settling himself in the chair, the pastor said nothing. In silence, he contemplated the flames dancing around the burning logs. Several minutes passed. Then, the pastor took a pair of fire tongs and carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it on one side of the hearth — all alone.

Again, the pastor settled silently in his chair. Without a word, the man watched. Before long, the one lone ember flickered and then with a final momentary glow, the flame went out. Soon the ember lay cold and dead on the hearth. Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.

Glancing at his watch, the pastor realized it was time to leave. Slowly he stood up, and taking hold of the fire tongs, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately, it began to glow with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

At the door, the host clasped the pastor’s hand. With tears coursing down his cheeks, the host said, “Thank you, thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon! I will be back in church next Sunday.”

We live in a world today where, too often, people try to say too much with too little substance or worth — or say too little with too many words. Often, the end result is that no one listens. There are times when the best sermon is the one left unspoken.

They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. – Acts 2:42


Boot Camp? What Was I Thinking?

bootcampToday, my upper body is groaning whether my lower body joins in or not!  I am more than willing to hug my husband, if he is willing to lift my arms and put them around him.  The lower body will be singing its own song tomorrow.   I started a rough, tough, six-week boot camp. This is not for sissies! At age sixty-three, I’ve asked myself several times: what were you thinking?

For years, I have been very stagnant with my exercise routine, doing the same things over and over and over. While that might be better than nothing, it was not getting me stronger for life.

Facts about my boot camp:

  1. I prepaid the whole six weeks so I’d think twice about quitting. This is not one of those fifty dollars for six weeks camps. The price that was paid makes me want to grow stronger!
  2. I am way out of my comfort zone. Treadmills I know! Ellipticals I know! A few exercise machines I know! All of those have helped in my journey. Now, I’m doing things beyond what I did in the past. For example, I’m squatting while “battling” large ropes. I have to quickly flick my wrists and keep the long, thick rope making waves.  The crunch machine – ugh!  The only thing I have been crunching for the last few years is chips.  Did I say this is not for sissies? 
  3. I bought  new clothes to dress the part. I have worn sloppy clothes to the gym for a long time. I took the Christmas money I was gifted and bought new, sharp looking duds! I am dressed to succeed.
  4. I have to listen to the right voice. One says, “You don’t want to do this, and you don’t have to do this.” Another says, “You can do this. It’s time to stretch and grow.” My success depends on my willingness to listen to and act upon the right voice.
  5. My leader (trainer) coaches me to go beyond where I have been. If I am not in a correct position to do what it takes to build my muscles, he tells me to position myself. I don’t have to do what he says. I can smile at him, praise him, thank him and go home and feel I have grown. Not! I have to do what the coach tells me.

Boot camp is much like the spiritual walk:

  1. PAID-IN-FULL. A price was paid in advance for us to have victory in this life, and be a part of God’s great adventures.  The price alone should make us push forward. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. 
  2. Battle the ropes.  Some of us have not moved beyond where we were ten years ago. We are doing the same spiritual treadmill. While that might have gotten us to this point, it’s time to “battle” a few ropes and move out of the comfort zone.  What can you do differently?  Stretch that faith!
  3. Dress the part. Put on the whole armor of God listed in Ephesians 6. I don’t mean the oral ritual that so many do each day, but really study the armor and dress in its principles. We have worn sloppy spiritual clothes long enough!
  4. Listen to the right voice. Hearing God’s voice above all others is essential. The easiest way to do that is to get into His written Word. So much “untruth” is being preached and taught today. Find out what God says, and don’t pick and choose verses that say only what you want to hear. Study whole books of the Bible even if it takes you a year to go through one book.
  5. Do what God says! He might even have to tell us that we are not in a correct position to grow, and there needs to be a position change. We have listened to hundreds of sermons, gone to countless conferences and taken enough notes to fill whole books. Too often we smile, throw up our hands in praise, give thanks and then go home and lay the notebook down. It’s time to do what the coach says!

Ladies and gentlemen, I invite  you to join me in God’s boot camp.  God is gently coaching us out of our comfort zone into a faith zone.  We can stretch our faith or play it safe. I think I’ll get up off this chair and head to the ropes!  How about you?

“Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.” 1 Timothy 4:15