The Power of “With”



It’s good
to be back after a long week of vacation. We took the kids to Branson for the
week and had a wonderful time. Experienced God’s beauty 174 feet below the
ground in an amazing cave. Marveled at the beauty of his mountains and lakes as
we drove and traveled by boat. And we were moved at His love for each one of us
as we enjoyed the Sight and Sound Theater’s performance of Jonah. Incredible.
The early mornings on the screened-in porch where I sipped coffee and spent
time in the Word breathed fresh life back into me. It was a vacation full of
precious memories.



morning during my study, I happened to glance down at two passages and they
spoke volumes to me.
Paul is
speaking in a letter to his young protégé Timothy. He says in 2 Timothy
4:17-18, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the
message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might
hear. Also, I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will
deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for the His heavenly
But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.
If you
know me well, you know that a simple phrase or word will strike up a song
inside me. A good friend calls me walking iTunes. It’s the running joke. So
naturally, I started humming, Stand by Me by Ben E. King.
When the
night has come
And the
land is dark
And the
moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t
be afraid
Oh, I
won’t be afraid
Just as
long as you stand, stand by me
Then it
hit me, the scripture didn’t say that Jesus
stood by Paul. It said, with.
phrase, “with me” in the Greek is moi. It’s a possessive pronoun of
mine in the first person. It states that which I have; what I possess
By isn’t
so bad. In Acts 23:11 Paul says, “…the Lord stood by me and said, ‘Be of
good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must
also bear witness in Rome.'” The Greek word for “by” is
ephistemi and it means to be present, to be at hand. Jesus was there to
encourage Paul when he needed it.
And yet…
With me says, “Because I am
with you, all that I possess. All that I
have is yours.” That includes His strength.
the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…” Because what is His, is
yours when He is with you.
Look at
the verses above in 2 Timothy. Paul says in verses 9-15 that several left him
including Demas, Crescens, Titus. Only Luke was left. Alexander the coppersmith
did him much harm.
my first defense, no one stood with me, but all forsook me.” (v. 16)
But the
you may be going through. No matter how abandoned you may feel. The Lord is not
only by you to encourage you, He is with you. All that belongs to Him is yours.
Including His strength.
there is comfort in that!
Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” (v.18)
Knowing that all Jesus has is yours, how will that change what you do
today or how you think?


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Keep It Humble Part 6: Newmans in our life!

Did you watch that video for even
a second? Go back and do it now! How many Seinfeld fans are out there, besides
me? The show about nothing that captivated audiences for years. And still does.

Jerry and his mailman nemesis,
Newman, were always at odds. This video makes me laugh. 
Every time Newman
persecuted Jerry somehow, he’d make that fist, grit his teeth and hiss, “Newman!”
Every felt like that? I have.
Today, we’re moving along in our
study on Romans 12:9-21 in the context of humility. How do we keep it humble? I
hope you’re applying what we’ve studied so far to your life and seeing results!
If you need to catch up, here are the links for the previous studies. Part 1,Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Let’s look at Romans 12:14. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do
not curse.” NKJV.
Here it is in the MSG.  “Bless your enemies; no cursing
under your breath.”
How can we bless those who persecute us? Slander,
gossip, maliciousness, hurt, disappointment, abandonment, liars, cheaters,
stealers. The whole lot.
Bless them? Like, for real? Maybe you say, “I’ll bless them when
they apologize first. I didn’t do anything wrong!” Perhaps you didn’t. Perhaps
you did.
Let’s take a look at the words in the original Greek to
discover some richer meaning.
First off, we live in a time where we don’t actually bless
people, except when they sneeze. The concept is tad foreign to us, but in ancient
times, blessing was a serious deal. It had meaning.
The word “bless” in the Greek is eulogeō Kind of looks like eulogy doesn’t it? Some
of you are thinking, I only wish my enemy was dead! It means, to praise,
celebrate with praises; to invoke blessings; to consecrate a thing with solemn
Persecute might mean something
different to each of us. Let’s see it in the Greek. The word is diōkō and it means, to make to run or flee, put
to flight, drive away; to pursue (in a hostile manner); in any way whatever to
harass, trouble; to be mistreated, suffer persecution on account of something
comes from two root words that mean timid/fear and a word that gives the
picture of running or fleeing.
Have you
ever been so troubled and harassed you feel like running away? Maybe
physically, but what about emotionally? Spiritually? Has someone or something
gotten you so down that you’ve been driven away—from a relationship, a
ministry, a dream, the church, God Himself?

Most people’s first
reaction to conflict is to avoid it! To run.
But God
doesn’t say to run.
says, to pray solemnly—earnestly—in a way that sets that person/s apart as
holy. “God, use them for your glory. A vessel of honor.”
6:12 tells us, “Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers
and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual
powers of evil in the heavenly world.”
are the vessels he carries out his hostile take-overs with. And if you’re not
paying attention, he might even prompt you to do something hateful, thereby
using you! Ouch!
Should we
go to God with our feelings over mistreatment, harassment? Absolutely. Can we
vent to God and be honest about what we’d like to say or do with those who hurt
us? Please do! But at the end of the day, if you let God administer healing, it
needs to end with earnest prayers that God will bless that person and use them
for his glory. That God will save them if they’re unbelievers.
Do not
curse or wish bad things on them. Though we certainly can imagine most vividly
them getting hit by a train, can’t we? Or we can dialogue in our head all the
hurtful things we could say to lash the flesh right off of them.
understands our hurts and anger—whether legitimate or misguided. But he doesn’t
want us to sin in our anger. Trust him to handle your enemies. To fight for
you. And know that sometimes persecution is allowed to sift us. To grow us. To
mature us. To prepare us for a position we might not yet be able to handle

We need humbled. And
so many times, God uses people to do it. Enemies and loved ones.
been there. Some of the people I should trust most, who should care about me
most, be my biggest supporters have slandered, rejected, and treated me hatefully.
But I learned a lot about myself through that time. And I learned how to grow
thick skin. As writer, God knows 
I’m going to need it when my books are published.
He gave me a taste of rejection from those who should support me most. It was a
humbling experience and a little humiliating. And zero rejection I may have
received since then has compared.

Expect opposition to try and put you to flight. To distract you and keep you from fulfilling
your purpose and plans.
David was persecuted by Saul, who set him to flight for many years. And yet he
says in Psalm 23. “You set a table for me in the presence of my enemies…goodness
and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

No matter how fast
the enemy pursues you to overtake you, God’s goodness and mercy runs faster.
Allow the
humbling experience. And pray for those who hurt you. Watch God elevate you to
new levels!
At the
end of the day, what he thinks about you is all that matters. In the words of
Big Daddy Weave, “Your name is all I’ve ever needed.”

Life Application: Start today by asking
God to forgive you for any retaliation you may have done to those who have hurt
you and then make a commitment to God to pray for them. For God to truly bless
and enrich their lives. Do it whether you feel like it or not and see what God
will do to your heart!

Prayer: Father God, we thank you
that your goodness and mercy run faster than the enemy, that he will never and
can never overtake us to destroy us. We may be knocked down, but we are never
defeated in Christ! We honor and praise you for that. We thank you for your
disciplining, even though it hurts. Humble us. Make us strong. Use us for your
glory. Fill us with your presence so that we can walk worthy of our calling and
fulfill every good work you have planned for us before the foundation of the
world. Bless those who hurt us and mistreat us. Show them the error of their
ways and illuminate them with your glory, majesty, power, and love. Whether
they ever apologize or not, rule and reign in their hearts. Heal their hurts,
bring healing to painful places in their lives and for those who do not know
you, draw them Lord with your grace and mercy. Overtake them Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Do you have a Newman in your life? What do you plan to do about it?

Be eager to…

…practice hospitality. To help those in need. How are you at being hospitable?

We’ll go deeper with this verse, in the context of humility, on Wednesday. The video below by Christy Nockels gives a hint to the lesson. Take a minute before you jump to the next blog on your list and worship! This is one of my all time favorite songs! 

What does hospitality mean to you? What does it look like?

In the Here and Now

If you’re pursuing a dream then you know how consuming it is. Not just your actions to get there, but your thoughts, dreams during the day and at night. For me, as an inspirational writer, I want to use the fiction I write for, not only entertainment, but as a ministry to women. (and men–I’ve had men read my books and enjoy them. One was my own DH and that speaks volumes as he does not read. Ever. At all. Nada. Zip.) But mostly my audience is women.

The hunger to be traditionally published isn’t for vanity, fame, fortune or even validation on my life. It’s pretty simple. I want to spread a message of hope. No different than preachers, pastors, evangelists. It’s simply in a different way–a way God has graciously gifted me in. Why did He do it? I have no idea. But I am thankful.

It’s a long journey to a dream fulfilled.

For me it’s been endless hours of writing, sacrificing sleep, events and even physical comfort at times, learning new things, learning social media, spending time on social media more than I might want to. It’s been expensive with conferences, books, laptops, smartphone and the list goes on of items I have to purchase to do all the things I need to in order to move forward in fulfilling my dream. My God-given dream.

I’ve spent more hours in prayer, which is an upside. Some of my most intense and beautiful moments with God have come through praying about stories, characters, the message of hope, the mission of hope, the fruit of spreading hope. 

I’ve enjoyed surprise confirmations from God through people, places, the Word, and even billboards and attendance sheets, reminding me I’m moving forward. It isn’t in vain. Keep going.

I’ve written 13 manuscripts.  I did it in about 4 years. So you know the BIC (butt in chair) time I’ve spent. I’ve learned about myself as God used my own characters to teach me. Some of it hurt, some of it was simply amusing.

And here’s what I’ve been learning of late, because I’ve yet to see that dream of traditional publishing become a reality. I know dreams take time. I can relate and take comfort from Joseph, a young boy with a gigantic dream, that maybe seemed vain at the time–people bowing. I learned a lot as he grew from an immature teen into the wonderful man who was ready to handle having thousands bow at his feet.

My prayer has been, “God when you’re ready. Prepare me to house YOUR fame.” I think it’s  a daily prayer for me. 

I’ve learned that instead of obsessing over when and strengthening myself for the future (which is good and I should but not in an all-consuming way) I need to work on strengthening the Here and Now!

I let my future overpower my present. And I’ve suffered. 

When that realization struck me, after repenting and re-committing, God opened all sorts of opportunities up for me. Or maybe they were there all along and He simply gave me new sight to see them. Probably the latter. God is always up to something, doing something new. Question is: Are we on the same page? 

I’m preparing to teach a new and growing believers’ class and I’m writing the material for it! Two things I love. Teaching. Writing.

I’ve had the opportunity to help as an assistant nursery director while our real one is on maternity leave. (I’ll be glad when she’s back! ;))

I’ve been blessed to take a meal to a new mom and the list goes on. 

And I’m happy. I feel satisfied. Fulfilled–even though I’m still waiting while my agent works hard on my behalf. While God works hard on my behalf. They believe in me. In the message of hope. And I’m grateful. 

I’m not so antsy.

I’m not so worried.

God knows best. 

Maybe you’re pursuing a God-given dream. And yet you feel dissatisfied. Worried. Consumed.

Maybe you need to ask God what you can do in the Here and Now. Things that matter equally. Things that need done now. While God is working on the future.

they may set their hope in
God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments;” Psalm

**photo credits:

What do you do when you’re not consumed with your dream? Are you doing things in the Here and Now? 

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