Better Than Life

God Prevails

Lately I’ve wandered.
Lately I’ve wept;
Laid a stone for my pillow
on the ground where I slept.
Angels descended.
My lost soul they kept
so far from the home I was fleeing.

Sojourned for years in
A far distant land,
neglected by “loved ones”,
Still blessed by Your hand,
Yet in my heart’s hardness
Did not understand,
It was only Your love I was fleeing.

Now I am wrestling
Between here and there,
Afraid of Your mercy,
Yet seeking Your care.
You reach down and touch me—
My thigh and my heart:
A limp that will keep me from fleeing.

A limp to remind:
I prevail through grace.
A name to inspire me
To seek out Your face.
And when You had shown me
How helpless I was
I found no more reason for fleeing.

In a Mirror Dimly

Image of an Outcast

He had worn it ever since the day the priest had given it to him. Worn it under his ragged, smelly clothes, next to his heart—a heart that continued to pump the warm, red blood through a body that had already died. He wasn’t sure why he wore it. Maybe because it represented himself: an outcast from humanity, suffering alone and slowly dying. He wondered what he would do when the thin yellowed string rotted. Would he give it up then, or try to find another string to tie the image around his neck?
He slowly released the small, wooden carving and allowed it to fall against his wasted chest. He couldn’t even feel when it hit—well, perhaps he could barely feel the roughness as it brushed across his flesh. His raw flesh.
He spread his hands out before him so that he could see them. His eyes worked but he wasn’t always sure he was glad of that. It meant that he could torture himself with looking at his rotting body, slowly decaying while he still remained alive. At one time he had thought it was ghastly. But now, he had gotten used to it.
He had become accustomed to his hands, oozing and white, his fingers masses of peeling flesh without fingernails. He knew, from looking at the others in the camp, that his hair must now be snowy white and his eyebrows flaky. They had itched terribly, a long time ago, but even that feeling was gone now.
He never saw anyone but the others. And the occasional priest who came into the camp to preach and bring holy objects.
He had heard that Jesus had healed lepers. He had waited and watched the large crucifix in the middle of the camp. When the blood ran fresh, they had told him, he could touch it and be healed. But the blood never ran fresh. He couldn’t blame Jesus. He had bled once. Why would He want to bleed again?
Still he felt a special bond with the man on the cross. That is why he treasured his small wooden crucifix next to his heart. Not because he hoped it would heal him—he had worn it a long time now, and yet he had only grown worse. But he liked to look at it. He could imagine the man, when he was being scourged and the flesh was peeling off His back. He was so mutilated that He almost looked leprous.
He had heard a priest say that Jesus had touched a leprous man. Touched him and healed him! No one had touched him. Not even the priest who had given him the image. The priest had dropped it from a few inched into the rotting palm. Then he had turned away.
He knew that Jesus’ people had hated the lepers. They were considered “unclean”, driven outside the city and not allowed to touch anyone. They were outcasts. They always had been. They always would be.
But Jesus had been an outcast too. He had been cast out of the inn when He was born. He had been cast out of Israel when He was young. He had been driven outside of the city and killed. An outcast. And so He was very much like a leper.
Even God had forsaken Him. Jesus had said so on the cross. The very words, he himself had uttered “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
It wasn’t fair. But it was fact. He had been forsaken, and Jesus had been forsaken. Both of them were outcasts.
That was why he liked the small, wooden crucifix that he wore around his neck. It symbolized the fact that he was forsaken.
“He who would not save His own Son...” he quoted the words to himself.

The leper slung a pot of water down from his shoulder, splashing water over his hands, He was glad to have a well in camp, even if it only held stagnant rainwater. If he had gone near the village to get water, he would have been driven away with stones.
Now several ragged cats came eagerly forward and he tipped the bucket down so that they could drink. Even if they did consume his food and water, they were good company. And a good protection.
He never felt it during the long, dark nights, when he slept fitfully hoping for dawn, the hungry rats would creep out of their holed and tunnels and come to gnaw on his hands and feet and legs. He had one toe that had been eaten completely to the bone.
But the cats had become his friends. When he would waken in the night to the sound of scuffling feet, he would see the green, glowing eyes of the cats and know with satisfaction that any rat that came within arm's length of him was prey to their sharp teeth. And so he could sleep without fear. In return he shared his water and whatever small scraps of food as the cats might fancy.
Sometimes he was so hungry that he wished he, too could catch and devour the vermin.
He wondered if rats had come to gnaw on Jesus as He hung on the cross. He had asked a priest once—the first one who had come to tell the story. The priest had seemed horrified at the thought of such a sacrilege.
The priest had explained how Jesus did not stay on the cross. Jesus had been raised from the dead and had never “undergone decay”. So they said, but he didn’t believe it.
If that was true, why was Jesus still on the cross? No. He decided he would not believe that part of the story. The priests had made that part up because they didn’t want Jesus to remain an outcast. But he did. He wanted Jesus to decay. Just like he was. That’s how he’s come to feel a close bond with Jesus.
He reached a rotting hand under his tunic, as he seated himself, and brought his crucifix out into the light. The string stuck into the skin around his neck, but he pulled it loose.
It was a small image—it fit neatly into his palm. But it was his Jesus. The flesh peeling off of Him, the body torn and mutilated. The beard was ripped out by the roots, and the eyes looked sad and distant. Forsaken.
He liked the way Jesus looked hanging on the cross. He was glad Jesus was still hanging on the cross. He was glad that Jesus was like him. He liked the image of Jesus as an outcast.
He didn’t want God to raise Jesus. He didn’t believe it could happen. If God would raise Jesus, why wouldn’t God raise him from the dead—heal him?
If God would raise him, then maybe he’d believe that Jesus had raised.
But he could see Jesus still on the cross. And he could see his hands and arms and legs still rotting.

It was midday and there was a hum. Just a steady humming sound coming from down in the camp, near the well. He had been hearing it for some time now, but his own thoughts had occupied his mind, drowning out the hum.
He had thought of the lepers of God’s people. Thought of how God had rejected them. God had said that lepers were unclean. God had ordered them out of the camp of His people. They were the outcasts.
He was sitting with his back against a rock. He knew his clothes were sticking to his back, but he didn’t care. He tugged at the string around his neck and pulled the crucifix from its hiding place. Jesus was an outcast, too. Cast out from God’s presence. Scorned by men. He made good company.
The humming changed to a drone, becoming more insistent. It began to sound like a human voice. Had a visitor come to the camp? Perhaps a travelling priest had come to bring them food, and read them the Holy Scriptures. But not touch them. Never touch them. They were unclean.
Slowly he stood up and ambled down the hill. It was many shuffling steps to the well, and he took his pot with him, so as not to make the trip twice.
A young man was seated on the edge of the well, reading to the ragged lepers grouped around him. What was it the priest was reading? He paused to listen. Only something about John--a man named John who lived in the wilderness and ate insects. He was not interested in john.
Cautiously he picked his way around the others, making his way to the well. He had come the long, dusty way down to the well; he might as well fill his pot before making his way home again.
He noticed that the priest was reading about John baptizing, as he dipped his pot into the well. But he didn’t care about John. John had never touched a leper—he had never baptized an outcast.
“The next day John saw Jesus coming to him...”
He paused as he heard the name of Jesus. What would John do to Jesus? Would he baptize an outcast?
“...And John said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.’”
There was a clatter and a slosh as the bucket full of water slipped from his hands and fell onto the edge of the rock well, shattering. He was aware of all the eyes looking at him. Uncomfortably aware.
The priest looked up. “Are you all right, old man?”
He didn’t notice the words. He didn’t notice that the young priest had called him an old man—the young priest who had probably lived longer than he had, but who could only see his oozing face and snowy hair.
“Read it again,” he croaked, his hands still frozen as if he held a jar.
The priest opened the book again and found his place. “The next day John saw Jesus coming to him,” he nodded as the priest glanced up to make sure that was the requested passage. “And John said ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’”
“Now read about the lepers!” His hands were shaking with eagerness, and he didn’t notice the sticky trickle making its way down his cheek.
The priest looked at him quizzically. “The—lepers?”
“The law for cleansing lepers!” He had heard it before. He had always asked to hear about the lepers—the outcasts.
The priest gave him a curious look and turned toward the front of the book. Slowly he began reading the law for the cleansing of a healed leper.
He waited impatiently for the priest to move on. Wouldn’t the words he wanted to hear come next?
“’And if he is poor, and his means are insufficient, then he is to take one male lamb as a guilt offering...he shall slaughter the lamb for the guilt offering...this is the law for him in whom there is an infection of leprosy, whose means are limited, for his cleansing.’”
“Now read that other again,” His voice was still hoarse as he moved closer to the young priest.
The priest thumbed through the pages and quietly read, “‘behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”
Without thinking, he laid his hand eagerly on the young priest’s arm. The priest recoiled.
“Jesus touched me,” he croaked, removing his hand and bowing his head in shame.
“You are right, friend,” the gentle voice returned. “Forgive me. Where now?” And the priest’s hand squeezed his shoulder.
“Read when Jesus healed the leper.”
And he listened.
“’And behold, a leper came to Him, and bowed down to Him, saying, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.” And He stretched out His hand and touched Him saying, “I am willing, be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy was cleansed.’”
He got up slowly. “Thank you,” he mumbled and hobbled away. Away to his own space of ground were he could think, and where he could look at his crucifix.

It seemed he had been sleeping forever when he saw a figure coming toward him, and he heard a voice day “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
“He who believes in Me, even though he dies, He shall live forever, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
He remembered how he had hoped to be raised to life—hoped to be healed.
“Lord,” he said, “If You are willing, You can make me clean!”
“I am willing,” Jesus reached out, he wrapped his arm around him, then slowly let go. “Be clean.” A trickle of blood flowed from His pierced hands, and down the leper’s fingers.
He awoke. A trickle of blood was running down his fingers. His hand had clutched his knife in his sleep, and he had not felt when it cut through his flesh.
It was daylight now. The other lepers were stirring.
He tore a strip from his clothing and bound it around his finger. Then he plodded down the hill to the well to bathe it.
As he dipped his sticky finger into the water of the well, he looked up at the large crucifix that had not bled to heal him, like the priest had said it might.
He could see the marks of the wounds carved in the flesh of Jesus. The blood had flown once to cleanse him. Jesus had become an outcast to make him clean—to take him in. He didn’t need to stay on the cross, suffering shame and slow death anymore.
Lovingly he fingered the crucifix around his neck. He withdrew it from under his shirt and took out his knife. Thoughtfully he set to work.

“What are you doing?” It was the young priest who had seen him sitting on the edge of the well, his shaggy white head bent over his work.
Carefully he brushed the wooden shavings from his lap and held the image up so he could survey it.
“What have you done?” The priest gasped in horror, reaching for the small, now-empty cross.
But he clutched it to his heart, away from the priest’s grasping hand. Calmly he shook his head as he retied the string around his neck.
The priest seemed bewildered. “What have you done to the holy image?” He demanded, taking a step backward.
The leper turned to face him with large, mournful eyes, wiped his knife on a fold of his clothing and put it away. Then he pointed to the large crucifix hanging nearby and shook his head.
“Jesus raised.”

For Your Glory, Lord

~From Ezekiel 36~

For Your sake, O Holy One
And to vindicate Your name
Gather my life together
And cleanse me
For Your glory, Lord

Prove Yourself, O Holy One
Among the heathens who profane
Bring me home to You
And fill me
For Your glory, Lord

For the glory You desire
For the honor You deserve
Soften my heart of stone
Renew me
For Your glory, Lord

Make the nations worship You
And make them sing Your praises
Put Your Spirit in me
And use me
For Your glory, Lord

Not for my own sake, Redeemer
But for the sake of Your name
Multiply fruit bearing
To me
For Your glory, Lord

For Your sake, O Holy One
That those who see may comment
“He makes the barren soul
“Like Eden”.
For Your glory, Lord

Piercing the Fog

(For all the women who have said, "He's not the man I married")

We've grown old
And nothing stays the same, it seems
Like hot and cold
What once was steam
Has now become the fog that's risen in between us.

I find the one I thought I knew
Was never really you,
You know?

Turned to frost
The fire that made us glow inside
Forever lost
We try to hide
If we seek each other now, we're sure to just collide

The one I swore I loved and knew
Was never really you,
You know?

Should it end?
Should I send
These words my worried heart has penned?
Or pretend
We can't mend
A love-live I can't comprehend?

Seems unfair
Love my misconception, live with you
Here's my prayer
May it come true
Somehow through the fog of distance truth comes shining through.

Bury the one I thought I knew
And lovingly seek you
To know.

Prayer from John 17

Jesus said, "Ask anything in My name..." Then He immediately went into an instructive prayer.

Do we want to know for what we should pray? What God desires to grant?

Check out Jesus' prayer in John 17 and start by praying to:

1. Glorify the Father (vs. 1-5)

2. Continue in God's name (vs. 6-12)

3. Have full joy in Jesus (vs. 13)

4. Be kept from the evil one (vs. 14-16)

5. Be sanctified in God's word (vs. 17-19)

6. Be unified (vs. 20-23)

7. Be with Jesus (vs. 24)

8. Love as Jesus loves (vs. 25-26)

The Happy Song

By Josiah and Joshua

Fa la la...Jesus is Lord
La da dee da...King evermore!

Praise the maker of the sea!
Praise His work in you and me!
Praise His wonder in the storm!
We who are made according to His form.
Praise Him everything that breathes!
Praise Him on your knees!
......and stuff....

Thank you! Thank you! Amen! (4 x)

Praise Him for the songs we sing!
Praise Him, let His praises ring!
Praise Him on the mountain top!
Praise Him 'till your eardrums pop!
Praise Him in the valleys low!
Praise Him everywhere we go!
......and stuff.....


Thank you! Thank you! Amen.

I Will Call You My Own

I will call you My own
Who I said were not My own.
And I shall be your God,
Though I said "I'm not your God."
And with a love surpassing death
I will woo you as My bride.
With tender mercies from My breath,
In perfect shelter you'll abide.

If My people will repent,
Turn away from all their sin,
Freely, then, will I relent,
And I will make them whole again.
Then I will bind their gaping wounds,
Put an end to all their strife,
I'll call them by My holy name
And in their souls I'll grant them life.

The Practices of Love

Love is:

PATIENT: puts up with other's quirks
KIND: goes out of its way to serve
NOT ENVIOUS: rejoices in other's triumphs
NOT PROUD: associates with the lowly
NOT INDECENT: pure in all circumstances
NOT SELF-SEEKING: thinks of other's needs and desires
NOT PROVOKED: brushes off insults or annoyances
FORGIVING: forgets wrongs done to self
OPENLY SUPPORTIVE OF TRUTH: holds tenaciously to convictions
BEARING: gladly shares other's burdens
BELIEVING: looks forward to eternity
ENDURING: holds out through discomfort
UNFAILING: persists--through everything

(from First Corinthians 13:4-8)

Sunrise and Sunset

The Master's Plan

Presented in the Kansas State Capitol, January 2006


My father owns a fossil watch. In spite of its deceptive name, he purchased it several years ago at Dillard’s for a substantial sum of money. If someone were to find this watch, lying neglected in an out of the way place, they would likely make the assumption that someone had designed that watch. As they observed the hands, moving in perfect timing they might be tempted to open the back and see the intricately formed gears that keep the watch ticking. The thought would never enter their head that the watch came by chance—unless they wanted to believe that the watch was owned by no one.

Someone Made the World

Our entire universe runs on the same system as that watch: sunrise, sunsets, days, weeks, seasons and years, all in perfect order and continual repetition.
In good science, a hypothesis is an educated guess at an explanation and can be tested for truth. A theory is a tested and proven hypothesis, and once a theory has been sufficiently proven, it becomes a scientific law. The Law of Gravity can be proven time and again—if I toss a watch into the air, it will fall to the ground again. Anything that cannot be scientifically replicated moves into the realm of faith. And any faith that contradicts scientific law is on shaky ground.
As I studied chemistry in high school, I came across two scientific laws—known as the laws of thermodynamics, that knock a hole in the belief that the world happened by chance. The first law states that “matter cannot be created or destroyed”—that means what is here in the world is all we’ve ever had and all we are ever going to get. The second law states that “without the addition of energy, the entropy (or disorder) of the universe must always either increase or remain the same—it can never decrease.” The world doesn’t get more orderly, unless energy is added from outside the system. These two scientific laws make two facts clear—you don’t get something from nothing, and world conditions do not improve with time.
We see these laws at work all the time. If you want to make a watch, you have to start with the rough materials for a watch—you can’t just wish it into being. And as soon as you finish making that watch, it will slowly begin to fall apart. It doesn’t get more reliable and durable with use—it runs down, just like the universe.
It doesn’t take a stretch of faith or an assault to intelligence to believe that someone made my watch. Nor is it a blind leap of faith to believe in a Creator of the world—all good science points to an intelligent designer for any useful design.

Someone Owns the World

The issue is simple: if someone made the world, then someone owns it—just like the watch. Most creations are made to fulfill the purpose of the designer. The only reason to believe that anything is unintentionally created, is if you do not wish to acknowledge the creator. After all, if someone made the watch, you owe him praise for his workmanship as well as acknowledging that only he knows how it should properly be used. And if you find a watch lying neglected on the road, it was created by someone, belongs to someone and must be returned.
Complex manufactured items usually come with an owner’s manual, written by the creator of the item, detailing proper use and care. Humans also come with an owner’s manual, filled with useful history about our origins, and directions on how to live a life that will be pleasing to the One who made us. The Bible also contains prophecies about the future, some of which have already come true. And just like He made scientific laws to govern the universe, so the Creator made moral laws to govern our lives—“You shall have no other Gods before Me,”, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

We Don’t Want to be Accountable

God has a plan. He’s had a plan from before the first day of creation, and nothing that has ever happened through history has had Him over a barrel. The issue is that we are so desperately rebellious, so driven by the desire to live apart from Him, that we are willing to delude ourselves with the belief that He does not exist. We try to tell ourselves that we are self-made men and women, subject to no one’s rules but our own. Unfortunately, it is not only possible, but also easy to whole-heartedly and sincerely believe a lie.
The state of Kansas built Highway 400 and endowed it with certain laws to govern the traffic. I may not want to obey these laws—it’s not always convenient to drive 65 miles per hour—and I may even convince myself that no one made the highway, and that no one owns it, so that I can drive as fast as I want, but that belief will not save me from punishment. When I stand before a judge in a court of law, faced with a speeding fine, I will find out very quickly who owns that Highway. My belief didn’t change the facts, and by the time I am faced with the undeniable truth, it will be too late, and I will have to pay the penalty.
Beliefs don’t shape facts—but the facts should certainly shape our beliefs. Even if everyone driving Highway 400 decided that the highway had come by chance, and drove as they chose, it wouldn’t change the history of that highway.
And the Highway is clearly marked with signs that say “US 400”. There should be no doubt to anyone with eyes wired directly to their brain who owns that highway.
The same is true of the world. God built His universe, and posted signs pointing toward Himself—all of creation points to Him—He also placed scientific rules that can’t be broken, and moral rules that can be, to show His ownership of the world. And when His laws are broken, and His truth is denied, there are penalties.
In the book of Romans, He details the laws that we witness today. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, His divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen!” (Romans 1:18-25)
God says He made it obvious within us—only those who don’t want to live by His laws engage in futile speculations about the origin of the earth. Only those with foolish hearts exchange the knowledge that they are made in God’s image for the lie that they came from animals.
Satan hates our bodies, made in God’s image, and hates to see us worship and adore God, because he is the ultimate rebel. The goal of evolution is the goal this devil has had from the beginning—to do away with God and therefore accountability to a creator. Even Satan has deluded himself, hoping that he will not be punished for his sin of rebellion to God.
But just like disbelief in the law does not make you exempt from it, so denial of God does not set you free from accountability to your Maker.

Conclusion: Surrender or Surrealism

Everything we see today was made by Someone—including man, one of the most complex creations in the universe. We marvel at a watch, and admire the designer, why do we look at ourselves and deny a Maker?
Because God created and owns the universe, He is the only one who can break the laws—that’s how He proves His deity. If we choose to obey the moral laws He has laid out for us, He will reverse the downward cycle, and make our lives increasingly more orderly and eventually give us eternal life.
Some day, the Bible says that God will roll up this universe like the worn-out garment that it is, and He will create a new heaven and a new earth with new laws—no more death and decay, the lion will lie down with the lamb, and He Himself shall be our Sun.
Today, you have two choices: you can choose to surrender to the Master’s plan, or you can continue on in surrealism—blindly living in your own little world, making your own rules—headed straight for destruction. God warns you that your little world is still a part of God’s creation and therefore subject to His laws.
Which will you choose? Delusional surrealism, trying to deny a God who made you in His image, or surrender to an Intelligent Designer who has everything under control.

You’re a Temple

I don’t know what to do to change your mind
Your body is not a gift for all mankind

You’re a temple of the Living God
Your heart should be His altar stone
Your life should be the sacrifice
Offered to God alone

The beauty God gives is not meant to be shared
By a roving eye or the outfits that you wear

God clothed His whole temple
In linen and hangings of blue
In velvet and scarlet
You should be covered too

The figure you have is not your light to share
You will not turn eyes to God by tempting stares

Your body is a sacred thing
Holy vessels are covered
In reverence and honor
Because they are beloved

Keep the abode of God unstained by sin
So the glory of God it may contain within

You’re a temple of the Living God
Your heart should be His altar stone
Your life should be the sacrifice
Offered to God alone

The Grace of the Lord

The grace of the Lord must be your own.
You're not saved by the faith that another has shown.
But if you should wander so far from home
The grace of the Lord can still find you.

So seek the Lord while He may be found.
Call His name while He might be near.
The humble sinner, who falls to the ground
Will find that the Lord of grace will hear.

Grace is greater than all our sin.
Grace will teach us to enter in
To the way of faith that the humble have trod.
God's grace will lead us to God.

So if you have chosen to humbly implore
God's grace and His mercy to open the door
That you might enter His rest ever more,
May the grace of our Lord be with you.

Romans 7:19

This is a day of bitter repentance;
For I have sinned!
And every day is the same.

“For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.” ~Romans 7:19

Sunset in Kansas

Romans 12:1-2

“In light of God’s mercy
I plead with you, my brethren,
To lay yourselves on the altar of sacrifice
Set apart to live devoted to God
Which is how He desires to be worshiped
Not in the methods of this world
But in a spirit of truth
Rendering your minds
Transforming your lives
To prove that God has decided to accept you
As perfect.

~Sparrow, Tell Me~

Sparrow, tell me how you live
Each day upon your song
For though you do not gather wood
Or build a fire to cook your food
You are not hungry long

Sparrow, tell me why you sing
When winter-time is near
Do you not fear the winds that blow
With no warm house in which to go
At this cold time of year?

Sparrow, tell me why you fly
When you, in flight, might fall
Is it no worry to your mind
That, struck from heaven, danger finds
Yet you fear not at all.

Sparrow, teach me how you trust
Upon the God above
For it is He that feeds your young
And fills your little heart with song
To show me He is love.


I was raised in a Christian family...

I used to think that my Christian testimony was boring and uninspiring. But it's not really about me.

Recently I've been convicted and convinced of God's perfect plans, and I realize that whatever way He chooses to work is for His glory.

My parents both trusted the Lord in college shortly before meeting and marrying. I was born 10 years later, while they were a part of a New Testament fellowship in Hutchinson, KS. My Papa took to heart Deuteronomy 6:7 “You shall teach [God's commandments] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” As soon as I could talk, he was teaching me to memorize scripture, and when I was three, I overheard my Mom talking to my older brother about trusting the Lord, and I decided I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart. I was baptized 4 years later, at a lake in Topeka, KS.

But a child that young doesn't really count the cost and make a life commitment. Shortly after I turned 13 a kid I knew drowned and I was brought face to face with the shortness of life. I went through a period of floundering, trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life—and eventually made the choice to lose it to the safe keeping of Jesus. I could see His works around me, had seen His dealings in the lives of my parents and others that I loved and respected and knew that only He could redeem a stubborn teenage girl.

That's been almost seven years ago, and the Lord has proven Himself faithful over and over again to me. He has often broken and healed, and He still has much more to break and heal.

Around my 16th birthday I developed an eating disorder—the product of a lack of trust in the Lord and a desire to control my own life. I also became very rebellious and angry. It was like throwing a wet blanket on my relationship with Christ because I knew that if I surrendered myself to Him, I would have to give it up. At the end of the summer, I confessed that I had lost control, and gave it over to the Lord. The eating disorder had broken down my previously excellent health, but the Lord restored that as well as the joy of my salvation. A year or so later, He convicted me to humble myself and confess this to my parents and seek their accountability.

Since this time He has continued to work in my heart—teaching me submission, joy, and humility. I wish I could say I'd learned them all well, but I imagine there will be plenty more lessons in the future. As I've been meditating on the Lord and His deeds, I've been brought face to face with my own unworthiness and weakness. I used to want to be another “hero” of the faith—famous for what I accomplished for the Lord. But I realize that I often try to serve the Lord on my terms—my timetable, my comfort zone, my talents, but He is glorified through weakness, not strength.

He's opposed to the proud because he can't use them—but He pours His grace on the humble. He needs us, not as good little Christians, but as broken, repentant and surrendered vessels, willing to be filled by Him, and to bring glory to Him.

That's why God saves sinners like me—to glorify Himself!

Father, glorify yourself through me!

Proverbs 31--The Virtuous Woman

Faithfulness (vs. 11-12)
--Her husband trusts her--even in his heart because she's proven herself faithful in little things
--She does him good ALL THE DAYS OF HER LIFE--even before she knows him she is seeking his good, preparing herself to be a godly sidekick, keeping herself pure, maintaining a spotless reputation, practicing submission, kindness, service

Cheerfulness (vs. 13)
--She delights in working, in caring for a home

Industry (vs. 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 24, 27)
--Most of this chapter details the diligence, ingenuity and industry of this woman. She puts her creative powers to work caring for her home and also brining wealth into it through "home" business means. Never let anyone tell you that a godly woman should sit around home, or that if you are a homemaker you'll be bored. Of that you're not carrying your weight by helping out with the income. There's plenty to be done from home.

Invests Wisely (vs. 16, 24)
--Not only does she not spend all her husband's money, she works hard to make her own so that she can reinvest it in worthwhile things. No wonder her husband trusts her and has no lack of gain.

Cares for Herself (vs. 17, 22, 25)
--With all her work, and her care of her household, she is never negligent of herself. She keeps herself fit and well-clothed. Clean and healthy is her goal, and it will not be her fault if she is not pleasantly attractive.

Modest (vs. 22)
--She covers herself--and with fine cloth, too. It's not some tacky t-shirt and jeans, but something that proves that she treasures the body God has given her--the temple--she dresses with elegance, style and modesty.

Ladylike (vs. 25)
--For her adornments, to dress up her outfits, she adds strength and dignity. She's a lady. Her manner will earn her respect--and respect and honor for her husband. (This is something I certainly need to work on--I still lean toward the tom-boy side.)

Generosity (vs. 20)
--She works hard so that she can give to the Lord. She can't blame her husband for not giving as much as she'd like (as I've heard some women do) because she works cheerfully with her own hands to have something to share with those who have nothing. This is a wise investment as well, since those who give to the poor are lending to the Lord and He will repay.

Speaks God's Word (vs. 26)
--So much of what is described in this chapter seems like "works", but her real secret is here: wisdom falls from her lips, and we know the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom and knowlege of the Holy One is understanding. When she opens her mouth, what comes out is wisdom and kindess, proof of a mature woman of God.

What stood out to me the most was the familiar verse "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised." The key here is that all of these "works" are fruits of a life fixed on the Lord. She doesn't do these in pursuit of power, riches, "equality" with men, beauty, sex-appeal, security, independence, success--she does them because she pursues the Lord.