The walk of faith isn’t a walk of faith if we know exactly what is going to happen.   Life is like a baseball game, and we are up to bat:  it could come like a straight and true fastball, flying over home plate — and then dive at the last minute into a sickening curve.  There is unpredictability, confusion, and uncertainty.  Yet it’s all part of the game.

Just think if a baseball player knew exactly what the pitcher would throw every time he went to the plate.  He would have the highest batting average in history!  What makes a player impressive is how well he faces the uncertainty that comes with every pitch.  His reflexes and intuition are a product of years of practice and training.  He can stand the challenge of unpredictability because he has prepared.

Just like anyone else, I wish that I could map out my life — or at least the next five years — and follow that little plan until the next ten years loomed before me.  Unfortunately, God doesn’t work that way!  While he gives us dreams and goals, he does not tell us exactly when or how those goals will be accomplished.  It’s up to us to prepare for the opportunities — and the trials — that may come our way.

Many of us hear the phrase, “God has a great plan for your life.”  In one way, this is true.  God does have a purpose for us that will bring Him the most glory, and make us most effective for Him.  However, that plan isn’t a heavenly blueprint just waiting to be found in the pages of the Bible or in a daily prayer.  There won’t be that day when you know exactly WHAT you are going to do, WHEN you are going to do it, and WHERE it will take you.  God shows us His ‘plan’ little by little, requiring our faith in Him in order to reach the next step.

Many people spend their lives searching for this plan.  They take personality and ‘spiritual gift’ tests to determine the plan on their own.  I have nothing against these tests, as I have taken several of my own; however, we can’t go through life using an Extroverted personality and Encouraging spiritual gift as excuses not to serve God in other areas.  These may be strengths, but God wants well rounded people.  He doesn’t want us selling out and falling short. 

We may not know what the future holds for us, but that can’t be a limitation on our effectiveness for Christ.  If anything it needs to be our buffer, pushing us to a greater trust in Him.  From experience I know that we can respond two ways to unpredictability:  depend on ourselves, which results in confusion and unhappiness, or depend on Christ, which brings great peace. 

So when you step up to the plate, don’t shy away from the ball… swing!  Opportunity sometimes only crosses the plate three times.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”  (Psalm 28:7)

To Think About

  • How do you deal with uncertainty in life?
  • Do you view unpredictability as an opportunity to trust God?  Who are you trusting in?
  • What are your goals?  Are you trying to get a ‘grand plan’ or trusting God as you move forward with what you know now?

What People Think

Continuing in my study of Philippians I didn’t move far from where I was in my last post; in fact, I only made it to the next paragraph!  Paul’s writing is so full of wonderful treasures for us as believers that you can’t escape each passage’s weight and meaning.  In Philippians 1:15-18, I discovered another result of Paul’s enviable contentment in difficult circumstances:  the ability to be unfazed by the opinions of others.

“Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill.  The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.  The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry,  not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.  What then?  Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”  (Phil. 1:15-18)

As I read this, I was awed by Paul’s unaffected attitude to what other evangelists were doing to spite him.  I was also awed by the gall of those ‘preachers’, whose goal was to afflict Paul by spreading the gospel message without him!  In Paul’s day, and certainly in the present one, there will be people who want to spite us.  They may be other Christians or they may be unbelievers:  The facts are, if one is living biblically, many will turn against her.  It can be hurtful, unsettling, and burdensome to know that others are out to spite us.  How can we gain Paul’s security for our lives, so that ‘what others think’ does not become a factor in our decisions?

Paul recognizes in verse 15 that some preach Christ from rivalry — wanting to show up other Christians with good works or the number of converts — while others speak Christ out of goodwill.  Those who share out of the good of their hearts do it out of love (verse 16) while those who do it out of rivalry wish to inflict pain on their ‘competitors’.   We all have dealt with people who seem to constantly measure themselves against us.  They have an invisible yardstick held to our accomplishments, successes and goals; one which determines their own self-worth.  We can’t let their insecurity determine our own stability, and virtue which Paul evidences in the above passage.

Rather than worrying over the motives of the other evangelists, or fearing that his witness was hindered by the fact that he was in chains, Paul reveals a deep trust in God in verse 18:  “What then?  Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”  Just as the secret to Paul’s joy was in his focus on the gospel, so this same focus allows him to transcend the opinions and actions of others.  Rather than worrying over them himself, he entrusts them to God — giving thanks, in joy, that the gospel is being spread.  By whom, and in what methods, is irrelevant.

How can we achieve this same disregard for the spiteful opinions of others?  While we should remain conscious of how we represent Christ, and be willing to accept the rebuke of other Christians, concerning ourselves with what others think is a distraction to our ultimate purpose.  Satan would like nothing better than to keep the focus off spreading the gospel and on the destruction of our ‘reputations’.  The truth is, what others think and say can either be proven or disproven by our actions.  Arguing about it just increases their motivation to spite and slander.

Our pride tells us to defend ourselves, to react in anger or indignation.  God commands us to love our enemies, and do good to those who persecute us.  Paul says nothing of the other preachers other than that he is glad the gospel is being spread, even if the motive for spreading it may be misplaced.  This is the attitude we should strive to attain.  This gives us that same blessed freedom that enabled Paul to find joy not only in trial, but in spite of the opinions and thoughts of others.

“Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out… Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.”  (Prov. 24:19-20, 29)

To Think About

  • Do the opinions/thoughts of others cause you worry? Why or why not?
  • What are ways you can find stability in Christ rather than in others’ opinions?
  • How could pride be influencing your decisions, through a focus on your own reputation?

Gospel of Joy

In my study of Philippians I have been carefully looking at each paragraph of Paul’s letter, written during his imprisonment in Rome.  This morning as I read Philippians 1:12-14, I wondered at what he had to say to the blossoming church in Philippi:

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.  And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

Here is Paul, a shipwrecked prisoner carted around with the Roman army for two years, before being placed under house arrest in Rome.  Here is a man who has every reason to complain, lament, and wonder at his circumstances, and yet he says “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”  How can he be so accepting, so content, while in chains? 

What stood out to me most in this paragraph is Paul’s lack of regard for, or mention of, himself.  He does not speak of his back pain from sitting on the hard floor of a cell, nor does he worry over the progress of the ministry without his influence.  To the contrary, the previous paragraph (verses 3-11) details the depth of Paul’s love and pride in the Philippian church in his praise of their faithfulness.   Paul’s mind is not fixed on his circumstances but on the mission of spreading the gospel.

Paul’s acceptance and contentment, and his consequential joy, came from the source of his dependance.  If Paul drew his happiness, resilience, or depth from wealth, position, status or any worldly thing, he would never have remained effective and joyful throughout his life in the ministry.  He rarely had extra money, he was never in one place long, the Jews had rejected him and Rome imprisoned him.  Paul’s joy had another source.

The focus of Paul’s life was to spread the gospel.  This purpose was his passion and the motivation for everything he did.  How do you think the entire imperial guard learned of Christ?  Certainly not by Paul pouting in his cell.  As John MacArthur wrote in a sermon on this passage, every six hours Paul had a different guard chained to him in his room.  Thus, every six hours he had another ‘captive’ to witness to!

As young women we can construct an idea that since we aren’t pastors, evangelists, or ministers that spreading the gospel is not our calling.  This is untrue.  It is the calling of every living Christian to spread the ‘good news’!  And if you really believe it, really love it, and really live it, telling others will come naturally — just as it did with Paul.  When the word of God, and His goodness, is our joy, nothing can take it away:  even the worst of circumstances.

“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  (Matt. 24:13-14)

To Think About

  • What is the source of your joy? How does it influence your actions in difficult circumstances?
  • Do you view spreading the gospel as an essential part of being a Christian?  Why or why not?
  • How is Paul’s example of joy in trial applicable to you today?

When the Sun is Shining

Learning to praise God in the storms of life is one of the harder disciplines to learn as a Christian, but for many of us, there is one harder still:  it is learning to acknowledge Him when all is well.  Trials teach us dependancy on God.  It is during those times that we run to Him, needy of his support and comfort.  Yet how soon we can forget this need when all things are going our way! 

Pain has an effect on our character that forces us to turn to a strength outside ourselves.  However, when pain passes by, we can become immune to what once gave us an urgency for Christ.  We can grow cold and self-sufficient.  It is necessary for our dependancy on God to be not determined by our circumstances, but by our faith in His good will for our lives.

Winter last a long time here in Michigan, and when it is over there is a rejoicing equalled only by the saints on the day of Christ’s return!  In the warmth of summer the long, dreary days of winter are forgotten.  Summer doesn’t last long, though.  Michiganders never forget that winter is coming back around.  So during the summertime, we prepare for the winter to come.  How foolish would it be if we sold our snowblowers because it was July, and we didn’t need them?  We would not be ready for the trial ahead.

Likewise, we must never forget the storms of life when it seems we are floating down the Lazy River in an inner tube of happy circumstances.  This is the time to prepare and remember:  to get ready for what may be ahead, and to remember God’s faithfulness in the past.  He isn’t there to be used and forgotten.  He is there to be our center no matter what life brings to us.

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.  Make them known to your children and your children’s children… [that the Lord said] ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on earth, and that they may teach their children so.'”  (Deut. 4:9-10)

To Think About

  • What are your present circumstances?  Where have you fit God in those circumstances?
  • Have you forgotten God’s faithfulness in a time when the “wind is going your way”?
  • Make a list of things that may be taking priority over God in your life.  What can you change to re-order these things?

Singing in the Rain

It is very gray and wet today in Petoskey.  Out the office window I can see the clouds gathering over the bay, where the rain makes the water ripple in little circles.  Pretty in one way, but rather dismal in another.

On these “gray days” I often wake up with a groan and bury my head back in my pillow.  What a way to start out the day!  No one likes to start the morning out with a sad, dreary outlook.  However, too often we wake up with that ‘rainy-day’ mentality — even when the sun is shining outside!

When our circumstances aren’t what we would prefer, it is natural for us to become sour and morose.  We want to pout or get angry, and our stormy attitude affects everyone that we come in contact with.  Emotion takes the lead and we follow where it wills.

One of the hardest things to conquer as a girl can be emotion.  Naturally emotional, many young women  allow their feelings to rule their behavior.  When it’s raining outside or if it’s in our hearts, it is our instinct to let those feelings run free and wild — no matter who we run over in the process.

Reining in our emotions is one of the greatest keys to success in life.  When a girl has emotional stability, she is strong in the face of stress, pressure, surprise and difficulty.  She is able to keep her head and heart in place.  Emotional control (also called self-control) is necessary in order to be effective in anything.

Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum: a life lived with free vent to emotion and feeling.  Women who live this way will be tossed by every passing whim, confused by circumstance, distressed by pressure, and unable to deal with the turbulent storms of life. 

The girl who learns to “sing in the rain” can overcome circumstances with a cheerful attitude.  This young woman will be sought out by friends, family, employers and opportunity because she is able to conquer feeling with faith. 

“…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature [womanhood], to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”  (Eph. 4:13-16)

To Think About

  • Do you allow your emotions to rule you, or do you rule your emotions?
  • How can you strengthen your emotions under stress and pressure?
  • How does your goal to become strong emotionally bring glory to God through your life?


Finding trust in our walk with God is one of the hardest aspects of the Christian walk, but it is also the most necessary.  In fact, trusting God is the core of Christianity.  Think for a moment:  if you didn’t trust God at least a little, you wouldn’t be a Christian!  You have to trust that He lives, that He loves you, and that you will be with Him in eternity.  Somehow it’s easier to trust Him on these things than it can be to depend on Him for the day to day.

I am home from the INCH conference in Lansing, delighted after speaking to a group of wonderful girls and parents who attended my workshop there.  But getting there wasn’t quite so easy!  The day before INCH (Thursday) much of the printing we had to do was not finished, so after work on Thursday I drove straight to the shop to work on the books.  We ended up working all night.  The next morning was Friday, the first day of INCH, and we needed to be in Lansing by noon.  Driving with no sleep was impossible, even though I drank a gallon of coffee to try, and the result was that we had to stay home and rest before leaving that night. 

I was upset.  I was tired, stressed, and unhappy that I had missed the entire first day of the conference.  I was sure that my workshop would not garner as much interest because I wasn’t there for the first day.  I wasn’t trusting God.

When we are doing what God wants, we have to trust Him to take care of the consequences.  Just as I was worrying over the conference, so often we worry about little things that we think will destroy our goals and dreams, when God is allowing them just so we depend on Him.  I had no choice:  I had to trust Him for my speech and hope the girls would enjoy it.  And from what I saw, I think perhaps they did!

Walking as a Christian young woman is the perfect juxtaposition of pressing on and giving up.  We press on in the faith, fighting the good fight, but we also give up our own desires, worries and fears by trusting in an Almighty and loving God.  Trust is that giving up.  He is our ultimate refuge, no matter what our circumstances.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.  On God rest my salvation and my glory, my mighty rock, my refuge is God.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”  (Psalm 62:5-8)

To Think About

  • Do you struggle trusting God for any areas or decisions in your life?
  • How can you practically surrender these areas to God?
  • How can you live in trust, giving up worries and fears that hold you down?


The importance of our walk with God isn’t always recognizable until we have drifted away from it. Imagine that you are taking a walk, and you ate dinner right before you left.  You may not feel the need for food at the time because you are still full from the last meal, but the further you walk without food, the more you feel the need for it.  If you ignore the need, the pangs will go away for a while.  Eventually, if you ignore them completely, you will starve to death.

People generally don’t starve themselves to death because the discomfort of starvation keeps them in search of food.  The survival mechanism takes over, and no matter what it takes, most people will make sure they are fed and clothed at the very least.  We feel a need to be fed because our  bodies cannot operate properly without sustenance.

The sustenance of God’s word keeps us living in His light.  When we starve ourselves from the commands of God we are operating in a weakened state.  We can’t walk as far or as long.  Yet often our temporal priorities overwhelm our eternal ones.  How many times do we consider our physical hunger over our spiritual need?  Probably more than we should!

This doesn’t make eating wrong or unspiritual.  This puts priorities in perspective.  The food we eat is a symbol of the food of God’s Word that keeps us energized throughout the day.  Some people choose to fast food to place their minds on things of eternal consequence.  Not everyone needs to do this.  However, it reminds us of our purpose here: not to satisfy the impulsive desires of nature but to fulfill our duties to an eternal God.

As young women, we all need to attain and maintain a hunger after God.  Following Him should be as necessary as breakfast!  Unless His word is taken to heart it will not be taken through life.  Make Him your strength throughout the day, just like the food you eat.  This is what draws and keeps us close to Him!

To Think About

  • Where is God on your priority list?  How about His word?
  • Do you have a need/hunger for God?  Why or why not?
  •   What are ways you can “feed” on the word of God?

Oh, God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water… My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”  (Ps.63:1-7)