Is God a Gentleman?

man in suit

“God is a Gentleman. He’ll never force Himself on you.”

I hear that a lot and I get it. I understand what’s being communicated … I think. God lets us choose Him. He lets us make mistakes and be rebellious, but He’s always lovingly waiting in the wings for us to return. He waits for us to be ready.

Hmm. He doesn’t always work that way.

I can be stubborn, hard-hearted, and distracted. If God gently tapped on my heart during those times, I’d never hear or feel it. No, He crashes into my awareness, takes my face in His hands, blazes His eyes into mine, and asks, “What. Are. You. Doing?” And I love that He does!

When I think of where I would be had God not come after me at the worst times in my life, I am filled with wonder, driven to my knees, and compelled to serve.

Sure, when I’m flirting with sin or just being dense, He gives me a little nudge. I’m thankful that He cares enough to poke me with His pinky when I need it.

But it’s the times He has shaken His holy mane

lion face regal

stood to His powerful feet

lion standing

and run in my direction

lion running

that convince me that neither death nor life, angels nor demons, the present nor the future, nor powers, not height nor depth, nor anything else will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

God tailors His behavior toward us as needed and sometimes it’s gentle, but don’t picture God as a kindly, old man hoping you’ll glance in His direction. That’s not Him!

If you belong to Him, He fights for you and sometimes that fighting is fierce.

There’s a real danger in thinking that we’ve got all the time in the world and that God is only too happy to wait for us.

The truth is, life is not a game and the stakes are alarmingly high. God will do whatever it takes to accomplish His purposes. If you are His, He is totally invested in you and will do whatever it takes to bring you to your full potential. If you resist even that, you’ve chosen the consequences.

But don’t you want a God Who will come after you, fight for you, and love you enough to do whatever it takes to make you more like Jesus?

I sure do.

lion and baby 2

How Servant-Leaders Think


I’m grateful beyond words for the godly heritage God gave me. Two incredible parents who loved God and served Him tirelessly set an amazing example for me.

They raised me with a strong biblical sense of right and wrong, but somewhere along the way I translated that into seeing people as right or wrong.

In recent years, God has done extensive work on my heart and mind regarding how I view people. I no longer paint them with broad strokes, but instead appreciate that each person has a story that has brought them to where they are. There are valid reasons for why they think the way they do and behave the way they do. We’re all works in progress.

Hipster Goth

Every person is right about some things and wrong about some things. None of us gets it right every time.

Embracing that truth frees us from being judgmental, harsh, and dismissive.

That doesn’t make the wrong things okay, it means we choose to love people where they are, knowing we aren’t perfect either. We have received grace from God and we want to receive grace from others, so we give grace.

holding hands with heart

It also means we pray for people, love them, and do what we can to help, guide, and encourage.

Servant-leaders draw people to Jesus, not by always telling them what’s “right” but by consistently showing them who He is.


Paper Bible or Bible App?

Bible on phone

I do it, too. Rather than lug an enormous study Bible to church, I whip out my smart phone in Sunday School and pull up my Bible app. Easy shmeasy and oh- so-convenient.

I don’t even need a Bible for the church service, where the verses used are put on a screen.

Recently, I attended a leadership conference where we were instructed to bring a Bible, notebook, and pen. So I brought a Bible, notebook, and pen. I quickly noticed that I was one of only a few people carrying an actual Bible into the building, and when I looked around during the conference, I saw maybe ten Bibles being used. Everyone else (around 190 people) was using a phone or a tablet.

Much as I’m in favor of being techie forward and using technology to our advantage, there’s something different about a paper Bible. I believe that the Bible is one thing we shouldn’t access primarily via technology and here’s why:

1) The Bible is sacred, technology isn’t.

I can sense you asking, “But aren’t the words of God sacred, not the actual printed page?”

Yes and no.

Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Regardless of how God’s words are communicated, they are sacred and forever. However, the definition of sacred is:

connected with God or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving great respect or reverence.

Think of how you treat your phone or tablet. With great respect or reverence? When you’re reading your Bible app, do you also click on other apps, answer texts, check Facebook, or read emails? You may also be in the habit of doing those things while reading a paper Bible, but you can choose to put your phone away while you read a Bible. It’s much harder to discipline yourself to not play with your technology if you’re holding it while reading.

The first Old Testament scrolls were stored in the Ark of the Covenant (Deut 31:24-26). When the first temple was completed, the scrolls were moved there (2 Kings 22:8). The ancient Jews referred to the scrolls as sacred writings. After handling the sacred writings, Jewish priests washed their hands before touching anything else. This practice highlighted the holy nature of the writings.

Compare that approach with how you treat your phone or tablet.


2) Pages give context.

Even though you can move the cursor up and down on a screen or roll it with your finger, you can’t see other pages at a glance. If I’m reading a paragraph on a screen, sometimes that’s all I see. If I’m reading it in a Bible, I see the verses before and after. I may see the chapters before and after. My eyes can scan the text around the verses I’m reading and subtly pick up on context. My brain notices the text’s placement in the Bible (closer to front or closer to back, for instance). My eyes can fall on cross references, study notes at the bottom, chapter titles, and personal markings.

Reading a section of Scripture by itself does not do that passage justice. The entire experience of context and availability of more information is more important than we realize.

bible open

3) Personal notes are priceless.

Your personal study Bible becomes your journal or diary in essence. When you make a note in the margin, put a date by a verse, write someone’s name, log a thought, highlight, draw a smiley or frowny face by a passage, or include some sermon notes, you are personalizing your Bible reading experience. Every time you open your Bible, those markings are reminders of where you’ve been and what God has said to you. The longer you study from one Bible, the deeper and more significant those markings become. They layer to form your life story.

Psalm 119 Bible notes(from my study Bible)

4) Your personal study Bible is part of your legacy.

The main thing I wanted from my scholarly, Bible-loving mom was her study Bibles. Because she had used her Bibles as her spiritual journals, they are rich with stories and tidbits from her life. They are also full of her study notes. They are treasures!

What spiritual legacy are you leaving behind? If you do all your Bible reading and studying on a screen, your kids and grand kids will miss one of the greatest things you can leave them. They won’t get to see their names scrawled by verses that you prayed over them. They won’t see dates penciled in when you discovered a new truth or made a new commitment. They won’t know you and your faith nearly as well as if you leave them study Bibles filled with your life story.

Is the convenience of using a screen really worth losing all of that?  

 mom's bible

 (the inside cover of one of my Mom’s main study Bibles)



A Timeless Truth from 9/11

Statue of Liberty

On September 11, 2001, I was getting ready to leave for a Bible Study Fellowship leaders meeting. I stood in the bathroom frozen, curling iron in hand, watching the screen. An obviously stunned Diane Sawyer was trying to commentate the event, but could only gasp as the second plane hit.

I had to leave to get to the meeting on time, but my mind was swirling with images and questions, not sure what I had just witnessed. It was something tragic to be sure, but none of us knew at that point how catastrophic and defining that day would turn out to be.

Although I don’t remember much else about the meeting, I do remember saying to my precious group of leaders who were looking to me for some kind of guidance, “We don’t know what we’ll be walking into when we leave this room. Our country could be at war. What we do know, however, is that God has called us to be faithful. Gathered here to pray, study, and prepare to lead our women tomorrow into deeper relationships with God is more important now than ever.”

I still believe that. No matter what happens in our world, what we as Christ followers must be doing, is praying, pursuing more knowledge of and intimacy with our Father, and leading others to do the same.

Time is one of our most valuable commodities. Relentlessly, it ticks by with no opportunities to re-do. Since we don’t know what today and tomorrow hold, let’s invest in what really matters and be prepared for whatever comes. People are always in need of help, comfort, and guidance.

Let’s be the ones to point them to Jesus Christ – the Answer.

Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world. (Matthew 28:19-20, CEV).

Is Cybersex Cheating?

woman looking at phone

Recently, I saw this question asked online with an “expert” providing the answer:

Is cybersex cheating?

This is a good question with no definitive answer. So instead, ask yourself this: If your partner read your risque online exchanges, would they be angry or resentful? If yes, then it’s probably cheating.

Oh, sex expert  person. You couldn’t be more wrong!

There is a definitive answer and it’s YES. Cybersex IS cheating.

This sex expert is defining cheating only as something that causes the partner to be angry or resentful. So if they don’t mind that you’re sexting, webcaming, or talking sex with someone else,  it’s not cheating.

man on computer

Of course, it’s cheating! We don’t get to decide what is and isn’t cheating. God did that.

The standard He set for faithfulness is high. He says that if we even indulge our thoughts about another person, we’re cheating (Matt 5:28). We are turning our attention toward someone other than the one we made a covenant relationship with before God.

It’s the same concept God set up for us and our relationship with Him. We are to love Him only with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He won’t share our hearts with other things and He forbids the worship of anyone but Him.

Marriage is the same idea because it’s a picture of Christ and the Church. We are to love our spouses exclusively and sacrificially, as Jesus loves us.

If you’re flirting with someone other than the person to whom you are committed, if you’re exchanging suggestive texts, or if you’re private messaging them about intimate things, then you’re cheating.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23




Preborn Lives Matter

In light of the outlandishly gruesome and horrible videos that surfaced of Planned Parenthood executives talking about selling body parts of aborted children,  I put together this simple graphic in honor of every tiny life snuffed out through abortion. Please share it!

preborn lives 2

For an excellent blog post on the subject, please click here to read “From Auschwitz to the Pasadena Planned Parenthood Affiliate: Our Culture of Death Continues” by Brandon Cox.

(photo courtesy of Pixabay)

What We Need to Do Well

retreat lake view

I spent several days away with three other writers and speakers for refreshment and renewal. It was sah-weet to read, pray, talk, walk, and sit out on a boat with nothing on the schedule but fellowship.

We talked shop for a while, but our bond took us deep fast. We began exposing our questions, needs, dreams, desires, praises, fears, and pains freely by the second day. All of us had juicy life stories! Parts of them would shock other Christ followers, but we’ve learned over the years the beauty of transformation. Scars touched by Jesus are powerful. They aren’t embarrassments to hide, but signs of redemption to shout about.

Michael W. Smith wrote these lyrics:

“And I can’t help but scream about the way that You moved in. Chaotic love has messed me up so I could live again.”

I love those words! Those were the truths we shared with each other. There was lots of laughter, but also some tears … tears of gratitude … and tears of pain as some of us are wrestling through things.

Our hearts were full of thankfulness to have a safe group in which to wrestle.

Because the sad truth is that many Christians don’t struggle well together.

We don’t know how.

We long to be known and loved, but we’re scared to death. Whether we’ve been vulnerable before and burned, or we’ve never put words to our heart cries, we walk around “fine” all the time. Dressed right. Saying church words. Serving with a smile. Hiding the real us. Afraid of people who are real and free. It’s misery.

What if someone starts crying in Bible study? Yikes! What if someone admits they lust. Aaaack!! What if the person who looks successful confesses they’re filing for bankruptcy? Ugh!

No one knows what to say except, “We’ll pray for you.” Awkward silence.

Until someone shares an “appropriate” prayer request or tells a nice story about how God blessed them recently. Whew! Dodged that bullet.

The Body of Jesus Christ is not supposed to be afraid of itself!

You and I are to come alongside each other, link arms, and do life together. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

retreat 4

We’re to hold up another’s arms when they’re weary, high five each other when God does something awesome, listen to problems and pray together for solutions, pore over Scripture with brothers and sisters who need encouragement, love easily, forgive generously, and lavish grace on those who are struggling.

We can give money, teach the Bible, and sing on the praise team all day long, but if we can’t struggle well together we’re missing what Jesus intended when He started His Church.

The Church is the Body. And body parts help each other for maximum health and effectiveness.

retreat verse stone

 retreat lake sunset


The Real Problem Behind Racism and Violence

Charleston church

I was listening to two “experts” discuss why the Charleston shooter did what he did; how he was able to sit in on their Bible study for an hour and then open fire, killing nine people.

One of the experts stated that the shooter’s problem was lack of tolerance for others. Lack of tolerance?

That is so wrong!

The world struggles to understand evil. They came up with lack of tolerance as the best explanation for Charleston, but it’s still wrong. Let’s face it, teaching tolerance isn’t working. We still have racism and shootings.

Besides, isn’t there something slightly offensive about “tolerating” people? We don’t have to like them, respect them, or value them. We only have to tolerate them. They can still make our skin crawl, but we’ll tolerate them. Yuck. Who wants merely to be tolerated?

Tolerating people is behavior modification, not a change of heart. Behavior modification without the right motivation doesn’t work for very long.

black white sheep

The only answer to hate and violence is love. Love changes us on the inside. It changes our passions and motives. It changes our direction in life. It fills us with other valuable qualities such as compassion, generosity, and kindness.

Love makes us different than we were. Our behaviors then change naturally, not as a result of instruction, expectation, or social pressure. Love extends and welcomes. It sees people as valuable, made in the image of God, and serves them with joy and humility.

Jesus didn’t just tolerate people. He loved them.

funky cross

That’s what changed the world then, and it’s what changes people now – the love of Jesus Christ.

A lack of tolerance doesn’t lead to hatred and murder. A lack of love does.

What are we going to do about that, Christ followers?




What Is a Father of Godly Character?

dad and daughter on beach

Fathers of godly character aren’t perfect, but they desire and pray to be:

Faithful – They are loyal and steady in allegiance. Their hearts and affections unwaveringly belong to God, their wives, and their kids. They stand by them through thick and thin, protecting them with their actions and their words. Their words are also reliable. They believe and speak the truth, adhering to God’s holy standard.

Available – Their time is not their own; it belongs to God and their families first. Godly dads have open door policies and are always reachable. If not immediately, they respond the moment they can. They listen with faces that express interest and answer questions with kindness. Their emotions are obtainable, not withheld. They bask in the value of the moment, remaining mentally present with those they love.

Thoughtful – These fathers consider the needs of others above their own. They try to anticipate their families’ needs and be ready to meet them with joy. They care about what their wives and kids are thinking and feeling. They try to think beyond the obvious in order to understand the hearts of their loved ones, not just the words they say.

Honest – There is no deceit in godly fathers. They are truthful in all of their dealings, whether at home, at church, at work, or in the community. They pay a fair price for goods and services, return extra change accidentally given, only take what they pay for, and err on the side of generosity rather than cheating someone. Their words are sincere.

Encouraging – The words that come out of godly dads build confidence and hope in their wives and children. They are their families’ biggest fans and loudest cheerleaders. They use words to inspire. Even when they have to say something hard, they say it with love in a way that motivates the hearer to press in and press forward.

Respectful – Fathers of godly integrity show that they value others by speaking politely and acting graciously. They treat their wives as God’s gifts to them, sacrificing themselves for their wives’ well being as Christ sacrificed Himself for the Church. Even when dads need to instruct or discipline their children, they do it with love. They master the blend of firmness and gentleness. They remember that their kids are precious in God’s sight and only speak to them in ways that express their worth.

Props to all dads who are hanging in there day after day, doing the thing. You have a big job, but you have an even bigger God who has given you everything you need for life and godliness.

Thanks for courageously reaching for that high bar and succeeding so many times. We’re in awe.

Sailor dad and boy

The One Thing I Haven’t Heard About Josh Duggar


I really didn’t want to write about the Duggars. It’s gossipy and contentious and just … yuck.  So I’ve been scanning some of the articles, hoping someone would say what’s been on my mind. No one has, that I know of.

So, here goes. I have one concern to bring attention to.

But first, somewhat of a disclaimer. I have no feelings about the Duggars one way or the other. I know about them, but don’t watch the show. This post is not about the abuse, the legality or illegality of how it was handled, or the fall-out since. And for those of you who don’t know, I was sexually violated as a child so I get it. I get the outrage.

My point, however, doesn’t address that directly.

What I can’t understand from the Christian community is the desire to shame Josh Duggar, and his family. From what I can tell, his sin was confessed and repented of. That means he has not continued in that sin. Twelve years ago he did something he shouldn’t have done, but he turned from it. According to 1 John 1:9, he fulfilled the requirements of full forgiveness from God.

Why are we wanting him to bear the shame of that sin? He doesn’t. Christ did that for him just like He did it for you and for me. Jesus allowed Himself to be persecuted and taunted mercilessly. He allowed the humiliation of being hung in public naked. He bore the shame we deserve. He took it for us and from us.

Jesus on cross

If we confess and turn from a particular sin, the shame is gone. Laid on the cross. Jesus even shouted that it was finished. The power of sin and shame – OVER.

We have no right to shame Josh Duggar. Just as Jesus said to the woman brought to Him fresh from her adulterous encounter, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” OVER.

If Jesus doesn’t condemn, we can’t either. And we must not insist that he feel shame.

Let me assure you, Josh has suffered in the years since. I don’t know that because he says so, but because I was involved in sexual sin too, that I confessed and repented of years ago. That doesn’t mean, however, that I never think of it. I don’t intentionally think about it, but things trigger the memories. It has taken years of Scripture memory and disciplining my mind to become spiritually healthy and free. It no longer has power over me, but it still pops to mind on occasion.

I’m guessing that Josh has worked hard to cleanse his mind as well. Even if he hasn’t, he told his now-wife about it before they got married. Can you imagine that conversation? Ugh.

And you can bet he has had huge regrets, if not nightmares. I don’t get the sense that he is glib about it. He knows the seriousness of what he did. He resigned from his job because he knows how horrible it is and how repugnant it is to the public.

Why do we want him to suffer more? Why do we enjoy seeing another Christ follower hurt? Not only enjoy it, but cause it. I feel sick about that.

One of our enemy’s greatest tools is shame. He loves to dredge up the past and make us feel the burden of it again, and again, and again. It’s how he steals our confidence and effectiveness.

I say, “No!” to that. I don’t allow him to shame me and I refuse to shame other people who have admitted confession and repentance.

freedom girl

Josh Duggar should not be ashamed of what he did. Regret, of course. Shame, no.

“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds.” 1 Peter 2:24 (Holman)

“Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:5 (NIV)