The List

I don’t care if you’re single, in a relationship, or already married…if you’re breathing you’ve made “the list” of what you want in your partner.

Taken from my book “Not Another Dating Book” that releases Valentine’s…

“When I was a kid I made a list of all the qualities I was looking for in a mate. I didn’t get much farther than tall, dark hair, blue eyes. When I got older, I added other words to the list. Leader. Communicator. Compassionate. Encouraging. I kept building it out, describing my perfect man. Wants children. Virgin. Well-read. Likes to cook. Doesn’t smoke. Doesn’t swear. Comes from a Christian family. Good hygiene. Pays his bills on time. Has a heart for ministry. None of those qualities are bad, of course, but over time I started to understand that by holding every man to my impossibly high standard, I was putting God into a box…”

Yesterday, I got to officially name my Fan Page for “Not Another Dating Book” on Facebook and it hit me. When I was writing the portion in my book about “The Boyfriend” I remember the feeling that God was showing me if I don’t obey and make a new list, He’ll withdraw His Holy Spirit from me and I won’t have anymore words on how to write my book. So I sat down on my floor with a bunch of post it notes and began writing furiously!

I’m so glad I listened because I met my boyfriend a few weeks later.

I’ve heard miracle stories before, but never me. I’ve been single pretty much my whole life.

That’s why I wrote the book.

I’ve been single for so stinking long I wanted to write an accurate depiction of what real Christian 20-somethings go through. No more of this “kissing dating goodbye.”

Heck, all of my friends–including myself kissed dating goodbye years ago and now what?

I wanted to share my list and be completely transparent. I only make one requirement: PLEASE DO NOT LAUGH! It’s quite long, it has categories and some may sound utterly ridiculous to you. But this is me!

If you want to share yours or write one and email it to me please do!

Renee’s List

Relationships/Friendships

1. My best friend
2. Tenderness
3. Independent
4. Non-emotional
5. Not a drain/co-dependent
6. Calming
7. Non-smoker/Social Drinker
8. Good with large groups of people
9. Christian parents
10. Likes to cuddle
11. Communication
12. Not easily pushed around, but can be playful with me
13. Needs or appreciates alone time
14. Wants a family someday
15. Understands I process by isolating or hiding myself, and doesn’t let me stay angry

Looks/Physical

16. Photogenic
17. Calf muscles
18. Whether tall or shorter than me-> He. Must. Be. Strong.
19. Clean shaven/short hair
20. Dark brown hair/light eyes
21. Healthy
22. Physical touch is his love language
23. Hugger
24. Big arms
25. Strong jaw bone (don’t laugh)
26. Nice hair
27. Virgin

Church/Ministry

28. Shepherding
29. Ministry Partner
30. Called
31. Spiritual leader
32. Holy Spirit led
33. Daily Quiet time
34. Community is important
35. Loves God/others
36. Suffered
37. Conflict doesn’t bother him
38. Not intimidated by me (very important)
39. Teacher
40. Speaker
41. Prays with me
42. Anointed

Hobbies/Free Time

43. Well read
44. Enjoys social media/media/tv/internet/movies (doesn’t have to like them all)
45. Likes going fast in cars (hehe this is very important to me)
46. Needs guy time
47. Acts of service is a love language
48. Takes time out to spend intimate time with me
49. Doesn’t have to do everything with or for me!
50. Prayer warrior

Finances/Money

51. Provider
52. Pays bills on time
53. Responsible with debt/money
54. Saves for the future
55. Values money

Work/Career

56. Leadership
57. Stable
58. Has goals
59. Hard worker
60. Doesn’t whine or complain
61. Drive
62. Does not need to be #1
63. Values work hard/play hard

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Daddy Issues

“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me” (John 15:15, NLT).

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father'” (Romans 8:15, NLT).

Last week I posted 34 Pre Engagement Questions that Marc and I have been going through. I wanted to highlight truth I learned while using another tool “Family Matters.” It has questions like “List what you feel are the positive qualities of your father/mother” or “Describe how you feel about your father/mother.”

i.e.

Do you have daddy issues?

I wrote, “Once I had to tell [my dad] that I had a hard time to seeing God as loving because of how unemotional [he] was. That was the toughest and worst conversation I’ve ever had with my dad, but ever since then things have gotten way better because I addressed it with him.”

I didn’t think much about my answer until my Summer Book Study group this week. We were discussing El Roi. “He Is My God Who Sees.” When one of the girls shared a major family issue and it hit me.

I feel it’s crucial as a single person to accept and take responsibility for your own family before becoming “one flesh.”

I cannot tell you how grateful I am now for having had that VERY difficult conversation with my father when I was in my early 20’s. At the time, I was going through The Father Heart of God at DTS (Discipleship Training School).

I realized I couldn’t press forward with my relationship with God until I told my dad how I felt, and it was super disappointing to me to have to tell my dad I couldn’t feel God’s love for me because of his lack of emotion and how we related to each other.

My dad came back to me a few weeks later and apologized.

He didn’t have to.

But he took the blame for his part.

And I did the same.

Since then, my relationship with Jesus has flourished. Instead of blaming my dad for my relationship with God–I work through the emotion until I feel God’s love for me. It honestly took me a few years to not wince at the fact that Jesus loves me, and the last thing I want to do is repeat the same cycle in my future family.

Of all the characters in the Bible, Ruth had reason to complain. Her husband died and as a result she lost her income. In Biblical days the man took care of the family. He was the head of the household (literally, physically, whatever!). She decided she would go with her mother in law to a foreign land…

“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!’” (Ruth 1:16-17, NLT).

Did you catch all the “I” statements? Ruth owned her family issues. I love this woman!!! Because of her faith, God used her to as  redeem her family…

“May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers” (Ruth 2:20, NLT).

Ruth married this man and they had a son named Obed. Obed was David’s grandfather. God used a pagan, foreign, homeless woman named Ruth to redeem his people..

“This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham…Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David” (Matthew 1:1, 6-7a, NLT).

That is my heart for you.

Jesus calls you His friend and as our Heavenly Father He tells us to come to Him without fear.

i.e.

We are no longer slaves.

YOU have a voice. YOU have a choice to speak up about the issues you have. I challenge you–as I did–to take responsibility for your life.

Is this the life you’ve always wanted?

Then change it. Work on it. Go to counseling. Seek therapy for your family issues.

No matter what kind of family you come from, wish you could forget, are running from, or love dearly–take a moment and reflect.

Do you have daddy issues?

And if so what are you going to do about them?

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When God Says No

I wanted to dig up this blog post from 2004, but I’ve been so busy with life that it took me longer to find it. I did a clean sweet of my blog a few years ago and removed all blog posts from my beginning years of blogging, but I felt God impressing this one on my heart to share again–a key principle that most (if not all) will learn at some point.

Do not be afraid.

You are not alone.

[What happens when God says no? -Previously Posted, November 23, 2004]

This Thanksgiving will be a one-year anniversary for me. Last Thanksgiving is when the bumps on my right pinky finger got infected and started rapidly spreading. I let it spread for 2 months before coming home from my mission’s trip. At the time I just thought, “well, God is God and He must heal me.”

I was SO offended when God didn’t heal me.

Well, if I would have taken proper care of myself I would have come home immediately and gotten off my high horse and humbled myself, swallowed my pride that I F-A-I-L-E-D at being the missionary I wanted to be, and thought God wanted me to be. I would have spared myself lots of needless suffering.

I feel like screaming!

I am realizing that life is not always about this big spiritual high.

Yes, God is sovereign and He is in CONTROL OF EVERYTHING, but I cannot analyze everything and say things like “God said” or “God told” or whatever.

I want to be Holy Spirit led, yes.

I want to be God’s child and obey Him, yes.

I want God’s will for my life, yes.

Sometimes I get so caught up in my pride and my life and where I want to go that I can’t help but making a big fool out of myself.

Who the heck knows where my life is going now! I have to re-build. It’s only been about 4 months that my life has been in an okay, and somewhat stable position. I am working now, barely, and surviving okay.

My soul yearns for more, yes, but I am not letting myself get to the point where I was before.

I’ll never forget being on the phone with my dermatologist (whose only reference to God was the cross warn around her neck) over the weekend. I had called her home in an emergency because my rash was now all the way up my arms. I felt so helpless that I wanted to commit suicide, and she told me “well, sometimes God says NO!”

Tears.

Tears.

Tears.

Tears.

Tears.

Seek God FIRST, and then all these things will be added to you.

Two weeks later, I gather enough courage and physical strength to go to church, ask the pastor to pray over me.

I believe that I need God first and if I die, I die.

If I can’t use my arms, I can’t use them.

If another man finds me attractive again…

If I never work again…

If I never write again, I will be okay.

Not my will but yours.

From that Sunday on, God removed the rash from my arms, and has been helping me deal with any flare ups on my right hand where it started.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good (and faithful). His love endures forever.

Pictures from 2004: Finger & Hand before it spread all the way up my arms.

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34 Pre Engagement Questions

(c) Desiree Shuey Photography

Before Marc and I (Renee Fisher) started pre engagement counseling, he came up with a list of 34 pre engagement questions because we had a lot of questions, and some of you have asked me what exactly is that?

Basically we want to go through counseling before wedding planning gets in the way!

I wanted to share 34 questions that Marc came up with after studying the writings of Count Zinzendorf (1700-1760). What I love most about them is how they continually point back to Scripture.

Feel free to use the 34 pre engagement questions to strengthen your relationship whether you are single, engaged, or married.

1. What does this marriage cost you? What do you have to give up? How do you feel about giving that up?

2. What are the boundaries on time? How should time be spent? What if we disagree?

3. Do your mate’s needs always come first?

4. What will sustain you when your mate screws up? Does your theology matter in dealing with conflict?

5. Do you feel your mate is committed to you? How? Do you know your mate is committed to you? How important is it to know they are committed to you? How does this line up with feeling God is committed to you?

6. What things hinder your relationship right now or have?

7. What do you want out of marriage?

8. Do you believe your communion directly affects the health of your marriage? What is your communion with Christ like? What are you doing daily to deepen it?

9. Does having suffering in marriage matter? Does it matter if your marriage has little trial and affliction?

10. Does it matter what others think of your marriage?

11. Do you see your spouse as a separate entity? Why? Is that Biblical? How does it affect your marriage?

12. What does it mean to be yielded to one another?

13. Why has God provided you with a spouse? Does that change anything for you? How so?

14. Does it matter to you how marriage relates to Christ and His Bride?

15. What does it mean to become one flesh? How is this influencing you? Are you still independent? Have you had to give up anything? Does a husband and wife with parallel yet independent ministries matter? What does submission mean?

16. Do you truly believe Christianity is possible?

17. What things will most taint your sex life?

18. What is the importance of openness with your mate? Are there anything’s you cannot discuss? If there were, would you accept that? How does nakedness in sex relate to any of this?

19. Looking the face of two people in love, what tells you they are in love?

20. What does being married to Christ entail for you? In what ways are you falling short of this? How do you expect your spouse to help you in this? What if they don’t or can’t?

21. Can you progress in your union with Christ while your mate does not?

22. Does a successful marriage or satisfying marriage top your list of desires in your marriage? What do you want your marriage to ultimately be?

23. Does your spouses salvation at all depend on you? Define the Christian lifestyle you want your spouse to see in you?

24. What things do you believe sex are intended to teach us in marriage?

25. What does it mean for the husband to be the head of the house?

26) How does being able to reconcile in a marriage affect ministry?

27. What distracts you from cleaving to your mate?

28. How are you investing in the life of your mate?

29. How does Christian community affect marriage? What if it is wishy-washy, bland and fake? What if it is real? Can you distinguish between the two? Are you willing to change to accommodate in this area?

30. Can you say your mate sees the God of eternity in you? How so?

31. Is “kinky” (inappropriate or impure) sex in marriage permissible? Why or why not?

32. What if you feel called to something but your mate does not?

33. What will bring the greatest joy to your marriage?

34. Does compatibility matter? What does it mean to be compatible? Is your response in line with Scripture?

We purposefully wanted to ask all our questions BEFORE we got engaged.

Plus, after you get engaged–all you think about is planning a wedding.

We heard how potentially stressful wedding planning could be. Instead of discussing important matters over designing invite cards at my parents house–we decided to intentionally talk about them in private before things got crazy.

My advice to you is don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. After all, it’s a pretty important decision–the rest of your life!

To learn more about pre engagement questions, dating, and heartbreak please check out my two latest books:

 

Fisher COVER - Loves Me NotLoves Me Not (eBook, 2013) is written specifically for relationship breakups & heartbreak.

Loves Me Not is a book that not only I wish I had when I was single, but it’s a book that I wish every single person would read.” – Brenda Rogers, author of Fall For Him: 25 Challenges From a Recovering Single

“This ebook is one of the many ways that Renee has encouraged young adults in their walk with Christ as they deal with the dating world. I love her authenticity and transparency and totally relate to her personal stories shared in this ebook.” – Sarah Francis Martin, author of Stress Point

“Renee Fisher addresses how to heal from breakups and broken relationships God’s way. I admire Renee for how open and honest she is about the heartbreak she’s experienced. Renee is an overcomer, and shares the lessons that God has taught her in a gracious, concise, and applicable manner. I highly recommend Loves Me Not.” – Tracy Steel, Author of Images of His Beauty


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Not Another Dating Book (Harvest House, 2012) is a devotional guide on relationships for young adults.

“Solid advice for anyone trying to navigate the complicated (but wonderful) world of relationships” – Brett McCracken, Author of Hipster Christianity

“If you’re single and not interested in another dating book, you need to read this book. It’s real, it’s relevant, it’s fresh, and it speaks the truth to a deceived generation.” – Pete Wilson, author of Plan B

“If you are confused by what to think about dating, about singleness, about waiting…then Renee will provide you with straight-talking, grace-giving wisdom. Rather than pointing you just towards a future spouse, Renee points you to the only place of true life–a daily, growing relationship with God.” – Nicole Unice, author of She’s Got Issues

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Love Speaks

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 14:1, NLT).

Love speaks. It doesn’t clang. Or give off false hope. It doesn’t come up empty or count how many times you’ve come up short. Been embarrassed. Failed.

Recently I started a book study called “Lazarus Awakening” by Joanna Weaver with my friend and author, Lisa Velthouse. It’s been a while since I’ve done a one-on-one study with someone and I’m really excited to dive in.

We discussed Chapter One: Tale of the Third Follower last week. One of the things that stood out to me was a study on Ephesians 3:17-19.

She wants us to pray, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that SURPASSES KNOWLEDGE—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (NIV).

Did you catch that?

You can’t understand fully (NLT) the love of Christ. No matter how wide, long, high, or deep you can imagine–God’s love is deeper still.

So what does love have to do with the story of Lazarus you ask? [I challenge you to read the entire story in John 11:1-12:11].

In her study in the back of the book, we’re supposed to write out to what stands out the most in this passage and why.

I said, “amidst His [Jesus] ministry, He made time for love.”

Jesus was about ready to go to the cross. It’s not like He wasn’t busy. It’s not like dying for the sins of all mankind left him with plenty of free time.

Of all people Jesus knew what it was like to have “places to go, people to see, and things to do.”

…And yet He made time for Lazarus.

I love that Joanna makes us think in this book. She pointed out that Lazarus had no speaking lines. Martha (Lazarus’ sister) is the one who gets all the crap for making Jesus (or trying anyway) to get her sister, Mary to help her with the dishes. And Mary is the one who famously broke her perfume jar over Jesus feet and WORSHIPED Him. Or Prepped Him for burial really.

So what did Lazarus do?

Nothing.

At least we’re not told exactly what it is.

We have to guess it was something.

“So the sisters (Martha & Mary) sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick'” (John 11:3, NIV). Verses later it says after He went and saw the place where Lazarus was buried, “Jesus wept.” Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” – John 11:35-36, NIV

When was the last time you felt God’s love?

Experienced it perhaps?

Was it because you did something? Because you were famous? Maybe you even wrote a book like me. According to the Bible, you don’t need to do anything. God already loves us and died for us.

Thank God today for His glorious resurrection, and that even when He was faced with the single most horrifying event in His life–He still took time to let love speak.

“When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go'” (John 11:43-44, NIV).

Heaven awaits for those who’s names are found in the Book of Life. In the end it’s not about if love wins or not.

Will Jesus speak your name?

“And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15, NLT).

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Are you a people pleaser?

“When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!'” – Exodus 14:5, NIV

Sometimes the reason why we please others is because we owe someone a service. Maybe it’s a boss at your job, a spouse, or your kids. You’ve made promises and even though it’s become a difficult situation–you’re comfortable and that’s just the way it is.

How do you tell someone who has a slave mentality they need to fear God, not man?

In other words…

Are you a people pleaser?

It says in Exodus 14:8 that, “The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly (NIV).”

Did you catch that?

The Lord’s hand was on the opposition. The Israelites (or us) didn’t realize (yet), the Lord was setting them up for an even bigger miracle.

No pressure, right?

It’s not like the Israelites (or us) were already feeling hemmed in. Trapped.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’” – Exodus 14:1-3, NIV

Don’t you hate it when you don’t understand what the Lord is trying to tell you? Sure, Lord. I’ll go (fill in the blank) to do (fill in the blank) with (fill in the blank).

That’s a lot of blanks!

Regardless of where you are now: between jobs, unable to afford rent, roommate-less, friend-less, or broken up, God is still there! He no longer wants you to be of “service” to the enemy. AND HE’S TIRED OF YOU SERVING TWO MASTERS.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell. It’s just that it took me many years to get this far.

God knows your heart. He knows that you can’t (shouldn’t, sorry) serve two masters. “Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24, NIV).

Do you currently hate where you’re at?

The good news is, even though the Lord is allowing fierce opposition in your life–it says in Exodus 14:18 that even your enemies will see the glory of God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah. Whoa.

“The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen” (Exodus 14:18, NIV).

Sometimes God takes us through the hard way just to show us His glory. It’s not just about you in particular, but those around you too.

So, check yourself.

Today is the day to choose self respect. Throw off your prison garb and refuse to put on slave clothes any longer. You are free. You are not trapped, and God is planning your way of escape as we speak.

“Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. – (Exodus 14:12-15, NIV)

And if those verses weren’t enough here are a few more to jump start your day!

“I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” – Psalm 139:11-12, NLT

“Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.” – Psalm 112:4, NLT

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” – Psalm 30:5, NLT

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” – Psalm 34:8, NLT

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29 Things

Everyone who knows me, knows how excited I get about my birthday, and that I celebrate my birthday month! So on the last day, I wanted to share with you 29 things I’ve learned in my short lifetime in the hopes that you’d be inspired and most of all encouraged!

1. Your spiritual birthday matters more than your earthly ones. ~ I proudly accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of my life and became born again on my 5th birthday, June 24, 1987.

2. It’s never too early to get a Bible concordance. ~ When I was 7, I balled my eyes out when I saw how horrible the conditions were for orphans in Romania. I yearned to help the orphans, and my parents bought me my first Bible concordance so I could give them same hope and faith I had. Why? Because God is the only one who can guarantee 100% spiritual adoption!

3. It’s okay to grow up under a rock. ~ I was home schooled, sheltered, and grew up in a Christian home with two loving parents in full time ministry…need I continue?

4. Living without cable TV is not the end of the world. ~ I didn’t have a TV until I was 9 years old, nor did I have cable  until I was 15. During those years I learned how to read, write, play piano, and many-many-many more things! I do not regret the years without it, although I know I’d find it more difficult to go without now…

5. Be creative. Pick up a hobby and practice until it becomes perfect. Even if it takes years to master the piano, or water coloring, or writing–someday it will be worth it and you might even be able to make a career out of it. It’s okay to do what you love!

6. Pray. One of the most beloved gifts I received from God as a child was my cat, Lemon. My dad was never going to buy me a cat, so I had to wait on God’s timing. The day my life fell a part Lemon showed up on my door step. NEVER STOP PRAYING!

7. Hug others; Pets are allowed too. Life is too short; It can be challenging, difficult, and begin in brokenness. God has placed others around you for a reason. Value someone today through the power of touch and show someone you care!

8. It’s okay to cry. I was the shy kid growing up. When our family moved to CA from NE, I didn’t have any friends. I spent my afternoons crying and feeling alone. Adolescence was painful, but nothing compared to the suffering that was to come during the ages of 14-24. God’s used every season of isolation to bring me closer to Him and give me new life. Not once, not twice, but many times!

9. Find freedom in Christ and you’ll find everything else. ~ My parents did a good job of helping me find freedom in Christ at a young age. They had me go through Neil T. Anderson’s “Seven Steps to Freedom in Christ” which helped me overcome anxiety many times. My favorite verse to pray over my anxious thoughts is, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT).

10. Being broken doesn’t mean you’re actually–broken. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt less than, believed I didn’t measure up, and didn’t feel a part of the cool crowd because of my health limitations. Years later I realized this was a bunch of crap. I am my own worst enemy!

11. Take Sunday naps. Whether you’re a kid at heart or you hate taking naps–naps are important. One thing I’ve learned in all my life is if you don’t take care of your own health, no one else will. It’s important to rest–after all–that was the first thing Jesus did with His creation.

12. Memorize Scripture. I grew up in a Baptist Church and loved going to Awanas. I learned Scripture like nobody’s business, and was always the first to win at Bible sword drill. (Give me a verse and I’ll prove it to you!) Seriously though, the verses I learned as a little girl have carried with me throughout my adulthood. I don’t know where I’d be without my foundation and knowledge of the Word.

13. Have a daily quiet time. No adult has made a bigger impact on me than my mom. Every day she starts her mornings with God in prayer and reading the Word. Growing up, she would ask me, “have you spent time with God today?” If the answer was no, I’d have to go back in my room until I had spent time with God. At first I resented her, but the more I saw her in action and admired her character–I realized I wanted what she had. Now, I model my life after her mission to impact my generation and connect them to Jesus daily.

14. It’s okay to be afraid of boys. I was always taught that a guy should be the one to make the first move. If I could boil down all the words of encouragement from my upcoming book on dating and relationships–it would be this: purity matters. I always hated the fact that popular girls got boyfriends and I didn’t. I have seen over the years that it was God’s hand to keep me pure.

15. Invest in relationships. I cannot say how grateful I am for friends and mentors who have stood by me and encouraged me through bad times and good. Without them I wouldn’t have priceless memories, uncontrollable laughter, and lots and lots of pictures!

16. You are what you eat. I have struggled with food my entire life. I gained 100 pounds from taking prednisone for my eczema (rash). It took me a few years and a couple thousand miles later to bike off the weight. I still struggle with controlling my anxiety and how much food I eat. Food is a daily reminder that keeps me humble!

17. Family matters. Every night I eat dinner with my family as long as I’m living at home or don’t have other plans. My mom cooks and my dad cleans. I cannot tell you how many problems have been worked out over the dinner table, and how blessed I am to be a part of such an amazing family.

18. Be ministry minded. My parents have been in ministry as long as I can remember. Their legacy has left more than just an impression on me, but a rich spiritual inheritance that drives me to my knees to leave the same for my kids!

19. Be kind to strangers. Love is action and Jesus told us to give to those in need who can’t give back to us. By giving to others we’re actually giving to God, Himself and this pleases Him (Matthew 25:31-46, NLT).

20. Your money belongs to God. My family wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for people who gave to missions fund or personally supported us over the years. Now that I’m raising personal support I value the gift of money more than ever. We are called to be stewards of the resources He has already given to us whether that’s tithing to your local church, a missionary, or ministry.

21. Set and obtain goals. Whether small or large, setting goals is important. It took me five years to achieve the things I set out to do and never thought I’d accomplish. Without those goals starring me in the face (hanging on my wall, actually) I never would have made it. My life map verse is Proverbs 4:25-27 that says, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.”

22. Find your promise. When I was in the hospital, my mom read a verse over me from Hosea 6:1-3. It made me want to read the Bible for myself and find my own promise in Scripture. I didn’t want my parents faith anymore, I wanted my own. Eleven months and twenty six days later, I found it in 1 Peter 5:10, NLT. “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.”

23. Nothing good happens after 9 PM. I never want to think that I’m strong enough to stand up underneath temptation. We’re supposed to run away from temptation and stand up to trials and NOT the other way around!

24. Unbelief is a killer. God healed me when I thought I was a dead woman. Other times He made me lie down in green pastures and walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I had to learn how to trust in Him and not lean on my own understanding. Every time I doubt God I hinder Him from working in my life. (Note to self: don’t doubt!)

25. Do what you love and keep doing it. You have to start somewhere. (Long before anyone will ever see, notice, or appreciate YOU!) I started my first website on geocities in 1995 and blogging in 2004 on blogspot years before personal websites or blogs were cool.

26. Live passionately. I love what God has done in my life and I’m never going to stop shouting it. Even on my worst days when my health is killing me, I know God is still faithful.

27. Love others. Because God said so and because people are the currency of heaven (I can’t remember who said this).

28. Forgive, and forgiven often. People hurt people–all the time. You won’t end up with many friends if you can’t forgive others. Moreover, if you don’t forgive your Christian brothers and sisters, God won’t forgive you (Matthew 18:35)!

29. Live one day at a time. “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV). It wasn’t until struggling with health issues that I realized I couldn’t live in my own strength. I needed His grace daily. Yes, I make goals and I DREAM BIG, but I no longer take life for granted. I give God the day and live for Him as best as I can–TODAY!

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The Anatomy of a Lie

I’d like to explain to you the anatomy of a lie through the eyes of Elijah.

“I am the only prophet of the Lord who is left, but Baal has 450 prophets” (1 Kings 18:22, NLT).

It’s interesting in Scripture how God opens our blind eyes and allows us to see His Spirit of Truth. Here in 1 Kings 18 we find that Elijah has just begun to confront wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel (yuck). Most of us recognize Elijah as the hero of the story because he called fire down from heaven…

“At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, ‘O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.’ Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, ‘The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!'” (1 Kings 18:36-39, NLT).

Don’t you wish you could do that in your life sometimes?

Take that horrible bosses.

Take that chronic health issues.

Take that infertility, poverty and world-wide wars.

However pure your desires may be–this guy Elijah was in tune with God. His servant.

Elijah, The Hero

1 Kings 18 goes on to say that Elijah’s big feat was far from over. The major drought in the land was about to come to an end. Elijah was praying for rain and he didn’t stop until God brought it.

“So Ahab went to eat and drink. But [there’s a big but again] Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, ‘Go and look out toward the sea.’ The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, ‘I didn’t see anything.’ Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, ‘I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.’ Then Elijah shouted, ‘Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you! And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.” (1 Kings 18:42-45, NLT).

Why am I giving you all this text?

To show you the anatomy of a lie presented so powerfully in Scripture.

Never has there been a man so powerful and so in tune with God. But he fell hard. We are like Elijah. And like Peter who “walked on water” only to look at his fear and drown in the wind and the waves. We too look at our circumstances and…believe a lie.

Elijah’s Threat

“When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: ‘May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.’ Elijah was afraid and fled for his life” (Elijah 19:1-3a, NLT).

Really, Elijah? Really?

Elijah is scared of one woman who was running her mouth and it makes him–scared to death?

He just called fire down from heaven to kill 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. He should have known his God was bigger and more powerful to save and protect his life.

Elijah Believed a Lie

“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” (1 Kings 19:4, NLT).

I posted the other day on Twitter & Facebook that forgiveness is a choice and so is love. What other choices do we base our feelings on sometimes? I got answers from fear all the way to anger. If love isn’t a choice then so is believing a lie.

Every day believe and act on choices.

Some good.

Some bad.

It takes the power of His Spirit to discern the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but. Did you catch the but? There it is again!

[Read last week’s post, “I like Big Buts” my spiritual epiphany through Acts 1]

Elijah’s Lie Exposed

Elijah replied, ‘I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.’ ‘Go out and stand before me on the mountain,’ the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?'” (1 Kings 19:10-13, NLT).

Even when being confronted by the Lord Almighty, I Am Who I Am, Elijah believes the lie–again (see v 14).

Instead of answering Elijah’s fear the Lord says, “Go back the same way you came…Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” (1 Kings 19:15, 18, NLT).

Elijah’s Truth

In a freight or flight moment, Elijah choose to flee. Run away. And God found Him and owned His fears in a powerful display in the wilderness. God told Elijah to go back and return home. God would protect his life and not only his life but the life of SEVEN THOUSAND OTHERS.

What was that lie? Yeah…that’s right. SHUT IT!

What grossly disproportionate lie are you believing?

Our Truth

As we read from Elijah’s life, here are the Biblical steps to moving forward in freedom in Christ.

1. Confess the lie – 1 John 1:9 says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

2. Destroy the lie – 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”

3. Accept the truth – John 4:24 says, “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

4. Walk in freedom – 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

5. Repeat often and as necessary as the lie persists! Even if it takes days, months, or…years to believe!

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I'm Growing Up

I don’t know about you, but I think I’m growing up. I am feeling the stretch of my spiritual muscles as well as my emotional and physically muscles. “There are some shameful episodes in it; instances of meanness, unfinished tasks, weakness, and regrets. I had to ask myself, ‘If I live, who is it that I intend to be.’” (Lance Armstrong)

Do I intend to be a protege of my parents? Or me? Do I intend to please the people around me, or forge an identity all my own, while scared at the same time of learning how to fly?

One thing I’m learning is you’re never too old to be broken. Never too old to think you’re still afraid to fly. We all get comfortable. We all understand how to make the place we’re at home, but what happens when that home is threatened? By new schedules? Old frustrations? Big gaps?

The best biblical example of this is Leah. Leah was not the favorited wife of Jacob, Rachel was. Their story is found in Gen. 29-49. The thing I found most interesting while going through this study is the fact that God saw and heard Leah’s misery.

When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb” (Genesis 29:31).

The Lord noticed Leah’s misery. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Leah’s husband) looked down and saw a woman who was lonely and sad because her husband loved his other wife better than he loved her. So, to ease her sorrow, to provide her comfort, God gave her children–beautiful, upright, strong children, one of whom would found the lineage of the priests of Israel and another who was an ancestor of Jesus himself. (Women of the Bible, pg. 69)

Some of us have experienced deep hurt and pain. Some of us have been wounded beyond words, but instead of pointing out the obvious, let’s band together in faith, hope, and love and really do something about it. Let’s get connected. Let’s encourage one another. Let’s take walks. Let’s talk and share. Let’s pray. Let’s point each other to God, even when He is silent.

God is amazing, really–if we let Him, and if we keep walking ourselves. Faith in action. I believe a sign of maturity is acknowledging all of these pieces, laying them on the table, and processing them. In time, the correct path will emerge.

Next time you’re tempted to think you’re the only one with pain and heartache in this world, take heart and think again.

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10

[Formerly Written, January 14, 2007]

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He Should Have Known Better

“On the way to Egypt, at a place where Moses and his family had stopped for the night the Lord confronted him and was about to kill him” (Exodus 4:24, NLT).

I never really understood that passage.

I mean Moses had just been singled out (again) by God. Called. To lead the people of Israel out of their slavery in Egypt.

He was the only one besides Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to get face time with God, and yet God choose to reveal Himself as Yahweh (Exodus 3:15, NLT). Not even Abe, Izzy, or JJ got that far!!

So why in the world was God trying to kill Moses? Seriously? He should have known better.

And I quote, “Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10, NLT).

So. Yeah.

The next night, God shows up and wants him dead. What the?

I love what my notes say in the NLT Study Bible.

“But Moses could not effectively serve as deliverer of God’s people until he had fulfilled the conditions of God’s covenant, and one of the conditions was circumcision. Before they could go any further, Moses and his family had to follow God’s commands completely under the Old Testament law, failing to circumcise your son was to remove yourself and your family from God’s blessing (4:24-26, notes).

In other words, delayed obedience is disobedience.

Even though the favor and confirmation of God’s promise rested on this man, Moses still had a personal responsibility to follow through!

In other (other) words–he should have known.

God wasn’t going to waste one ounce of their precious face time to point out a spreadsheet of Moses’ sin. If that were the case he (and every one of us), would stay permanently stuck trying to achieve perfection. Unable to move forward on the journey of promise. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NLT).

Question: Is there an area of your life that has not yet surrendered to the Lordship and Savior, Jesus Christ?

Look at David. When confronted with his sinful pride and covering up of the fact, he confessed. God still blessed him with another son, Solomon.

Look at Esther. She stuck her teenage body out there for the kings pleasure, and somehow he choose her as the next Queen. When it came time to intercede for her people, the Israelites, she happened to be the only one able to risk her life for just one more night with the king. Coincidence? I think not.

Look at Jonah. God asked him to preach a message of repentance to a bunch of bad mamma jammas. Wretched. Horrible. People. And instead he choose to flee the scene.

We should know better when God places people, circumstances, and His promises in front of us. Hope.

Will we choose to be found faithful or wait until it’s (almost) too late?

Obey now. Obey today!

Your future and your future children are waiting.

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalm 16:11, NLT).

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10, NLT).

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16, NLT).

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life’” (John 8:12, NLT).

“This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow'” (Isaiah 48:17, NLT).

“Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!” (Psalm 126:3, NLT).

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