• Engage

    Blessed: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

    Ever since I studied the life of Mary of Nazareth, Jesus’s mother, and wrote a 31-day devotional study, I choose my words with care around the concept of blessing. I think twice now before using the phrase “I am blessed” or the hashtag “blessed.” In the western world, blessings typically refer to our good fortune or whatever makes our lives comfortable. We feel blessed when a new countertop graces our cabinetry, the trip goes without delay, our children make us look good, or the Wi-Fi is strong. However, problems arise when we equate material blessing with God’s favor. If we are blessed because we possess physical comforts and live in…

  • Engage

    Thankfulness As Our Purpose

    As the calendar winds down on another unprecedented year, we gladly enter this joyful season of giving and thanksgiving. Many of us feel a gentle nudge toward understanding God’s call to purposeful daily life. Have you ever asked God about His will for your life?

  • Engage

    Pursuing Peace

    My mother recently wanted to recount a tale of terror to me about something tragic that happened to a child.  I know her intention was teach me a lesson through a cautionary tale, but in reality I just didn’t have the ability to hear a scary story involving young people.  Often, my Mom misinterprets my attitude and believes I am too cavalier.  In reality, I can be crippled by fear. I heard myself saying, “Mom, if you think my lack of interest is a result of some apathy I have towards my children, or an inability to worry, it’s quite the opposite. There are days when I worry about my…

  • Engage

    What Anchored the Puritans in Hard Times

    As we finish out 2020, what should our response be to the circumstances we find ourselves in? Some of the circumstances are hard while others are pleasant. Whether we are in hard circumstances due to our choices, someone else’s choices, or results of a fallen people or creation, we can rest assured that God is sovereign over them all. No amount of whining, complaining, arguing, finger pointing, demanding, or sulking will bring us the joy or peace (well-being of soul) that we long for. The Puritans that helped found our country can give us some insights on how to respond to hard times.[1] The Puritans had a strong moral consciousness,…

  • Engage

    Practicing Gratitude—A Challenge

    A recent leadership conference I attended focused on gratitude. The Chief Executive Officer of the company thought correction in how some members were running their businesses was needed, and therefore spent at least twenty to thirty minutes discussing: How to get gratitude, How to practice it, and How to extend it.  When a CEO of a multi-million dollar company spends that amount of time on any subject, it’s evident that it’s important and is an issue in today’s world, or in that company at least. As it turns out, expressing gratitude (i.e. giving thanks) was an issue in the ancient world, too. The Psalmist and the Apostle Paul spent considerable…

  • Engage

    Thankfulness and God’s Sovereignty

    Whoa! Started my day with a little conviction today–ouch. God laid it on me that I have not had a thankful, grateful heart lately! So I spent some time in the Word today looking at thankfulness. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 summed up a lot of what God desires in me: “Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NET) The last part of that brief verse is at least as important as the first part. When I give thanks, I embrace what God wants for my life. I recognize He places in my life both the people I naturally love and the ones…

  • Sue in a hospital bed
    Engage

    Lessons From a Hospital Bed

    In the last several months, both of my severely arthritic hips were replaced. In addition to the wonderful blessing that I am out of pain, the surgeries and recoveries were full of lessons pointing me to spiritual truths I am so very thankful for: For a long time, I needed help getting in and out of my car. To be blunt, it was always noisy with involuntary gasps and screams of pain. And while my family and friends were so very glad to be of assistance, it was hard on them to witness me hurting so badly. Now that the pain is behind me, I keep hearing comments like, “Wow!…

  • Engage

    My First Romanian Orthodox Christmas

    I grew up attending a traditional black Baptist church so Sunday school, tambourines and good ol' hymns were a norm for me. I also grew up surrounded by my friends' bar and bat mitzvahs. I went to a Catholic high school, and college landed me in a more charismatic self-proclaimed "Jesus Freak" church. (No, really–they sold bumper stickers that said that :-). When it came time to answer the call to the ministry God led me to a more conservative Evangelical home here in Dallas.   All of this to say, I've had a mixed bag of ministry experiences which have helped me learn to look for beauty among denominations…

  • Keeping a Gratitude Journal
    Engage

    Keeping A Gratitude Journal

    Some years ago Dr. Billy Graham was a guest on Oprah. I will never forget his answer to her question, “What are you most thankful for?” He said, “Salvation given to us in Jesus Christ . . . and the way you have made people all over this country aware of the power of being grateful.” I loved that he took advantage of the platform to share the core of the gospel message, but also that he honored Oprah for making a difference in the culture by stressing gratitude the way she has. Millions of people have discovered the power of keeping a gratitude journal because of Oprah’s testimony of…

  • Engage

    Spiritual Plagiarism: How We Steal God’s Glory

    I never cheated in school. I was always too afraid. Afraid of a big scarlet "F" on top my paper. Afraid of an ominous visit to the principal’s office. Afraid of the terrible consequences listed in the class syllabus. But lately I'm learning that plagiarism isn't confined to the English classroom or the inventor’s office—it threatens our spiritual life too. In his book Prayer, Tim Keller summarizes the essence of sin as failing to glorify and thank God (Romans 1:18-21). He explains: Think about plagiarism for a moment. Why is plagiarism taken so seriously? It is claiming that you came up with an idea yourself when you did not. It…