Certain Bible verses make the most quoted and popular list in church and Christian circles. But sometimes we miss important truths or gloss over the context of the passage. Or, we memorize a verse without considering the Bible verses before and after.
So I highlight 4 Bible verses in this post and discuss their neighboring Scriptures.
Popular Bible Verses
1) “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11.
You see, to know God has plans for our welfare, future, and hope, taps into our longing to be affirmed and loved and cared for.
But Jeremiah pens God’s words in a letter to God’s people in exile. “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill my promise and bring you back to this place” (verse 10).
Yet, the Lord planned to restore the exiles and bring them back to Jerusalem. And God has restoration plans for us.
November 2, 2017 at 10:01 am | Uncategorized
“Karen, we want our people to hear the gospel.”
Tears pooled and released like water freed from a dam. My mouth hung open as I re-read the message.
Speak at Walmart Women’s Leadership Conference? And boldly talk about Jesus?
Lord, you answered my prayer. Why my surprise? You gave me this heart for the lost.
A personal mission of my speaking and writing ministry is to know Jesus more and make Him known.
What a privilege to not only introduce others to Christ, but to also help believers know Him more.
And I never want to assume that every attendee at church events knows Christ. Because my heart is drawn to the lost…to those who need Jesus.
So I pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead me in sharing the gospel message of Calvary’s cross and an empty tomb every time I step on stage.
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13 ESV, emphasis mine)
Making Jesus Known
October 26, 2017 at 10:33 am | Uncategorized
We hear it spoken. We see it on clothing and as a framed quote. It’s posted across social media.
Life is good.
The phrase rolls off our tongues and scatters across our devices. It takes the spotlight when our online friend or family member has a new boyfriend, a new pet, a new car or a new “something.”
Perhaps the words are in order when we land the ideal job, get a promotion, win a contest or an award, receive good news on medical tests, or anything that makes us feel on top of the world.
But what about when life’s not good? What then?
Good and Pleasant Things
Because if we put our hope in the ever-changing nature of real life, at the first hint of things going south, we won’t be on top of the world. No, we find ourselves at the bottom of the world—life’s pit of despair.
You see, I’ve never been a fan of the phrase. And here’s why, look at Merriam-Webster’s definition of good. “The pleasant things that happen to people.”
Oh, I want pleasant things to happen to me. I’m betting that so do you.
October 19, 2017 at 10:39 am | Uncategorized
“You smell good. You’re tall. That’s a pretty name.”
Is it just me or do you sometimes feel compliments ring of empty flattery? Maybe we receive or even give insincere comments meant to gain favor or win someone’s approval.
But this time the words came from a sincere place. You see, a special young man, Jason, spoke the words to me during a ministry event—authentic and from his heart.
And by the end of the night, the Lord not only nudged my soul about the deeper spiritual meaning, but He also asked me to write about it…how to smell good and stand tall and be known by name.
Flattery and Smooth Talkers
The Bible warns of flattery and smooth talkers who dazzle with flowery verbiage. (Psalm 5:9, Psalm 12:2) Yet as believers, Scripture encourages words spoken in truth and speech full of grace. (Ephesians 4:15, Colossians 4:6)
A few years ago, I spoke at a women’s event where I met Jason. Jason’s mom brought him along to help tear down and clean up at the conclusion.
When the program ended, I mingled and chatted with the ladies.
But then I noticed a young man in his mid-twenties blowing out the autumn candles decorating each table. Smiling, he approached me and the pastor’s wife. He possessed an endearing charm and a fun persona.
And Jason has a unique view of the world. He overcame tremendous disadvantages and obstacles in life. A childhood full of abuse and heartbreaking circumstances.
Still, Jason loves to tell his story and the good life he has now. God used this man to teach me a few lessons.
That is so like God. To use those dear to His heart to show us the way. So…
October 12, 2017 at 10:24 am | Uncategorized
I had another article planned for this week’s blog post. But then my local Christian radio station, WCQR, reminded me of a special day near and dear to my heart…appreciating my pastor.
And not only do I appreciate my pastor on this particular day but on every day.
A Cheerleading Story
“We’ve got spirit, yes we do. We’ve got spirit, how bout you?”
To be a spirit girl would be so cool. Therefore, I tried out for cheerleader in high school.
After the first round, it came down to three of us vying for two available spots. They nixed Yours truly. While disappointed, honestly, the other two girls proved far better at rah-rah stuff—flips, jumps, and everything. (Marnita and Belinda, you girls rocked!)
And my sister, Wendi, ten years younger, grew up blossoming in dance and gymnastics classes. So she was a shoo-in for cheerleader.
But, guess what? I am cheering these days, just in a different way and for a new cause.
I’m my husband Mike’s biggest cheerleader. His cool-spirit-girl. It’s a place I’m blossoming and it rocks!
October 5, 2017 at 9:32 am | Uncategorized
Do you enjoy having to pause? Not me.
But I am excited to welcome back my friend, Cathy Baker, with thoughts on pauses good for our soul. Cathy is the author of sensory-based devotionals and wrote a guest blog for this community about her first e-book in the series for the beach. Read her post here, The Vacationing Soul: A Beach Devotional by Cathy Baker. And her second book, a devotional guide for the mountains, released last week.
By Cathy Baker
In the mornings, a small 1940’s ice cream parlor table greets me at the window that faces the mountains. In the foreground, a bluebird house is perched as pretty as you please on the trunk of a pear tree. With my Bible open, I read and then rest⏤both mind and soul.
The bluebird, without fail, catches my eye as I marvel at God’s artistic touch. His peacock-blue body boasts a flush of pink covering its breast. My flesh, it tugs like a 2-year-old clinging to the leg for ice cream, “Come on, let’s get the day started!” but my spirit, it wants to pause.
The struggle comes as no surprise. The pace of life desires to swallow us whole. But thanks be to God, we have the opportunity⏤the privilege⏤to pause, ponder nature’s beauty, and praise the Creator.
September 28, 2017 at 12:00 am | Uncategorized
We’ve heard it said that all is fair in love.
But what does God say?
Is real love about fairness?
We often want our way in relationships and expect everything on equal ground. Yet what if true and unconditional love was never meant to be this way?
Even the term “unconditional” conveys no conditions or rules are attached. Google lists these synonyms: “wholehearted, unqualified, unreserved, unlimited, unrestricted, unmitigated, unquestioning.”
Since unconditional love does not keep score, then we can’t play the fairness card.
The truth? All is not fair in love, not in unconditional love.When we demand fairness in #relationships, we put conditions on #love. Click To Tweet
Extending unconditional love covers every kind of relationship: marriage, dating, children, siblings, extended family, fellow Christians, the unsaved, our neighbors and friends. Jesus also included our enemies.
We can love others even when we don’t like what they do or how they hurt us. But sometimes it needs to be from a distance and through prayers spoken over them. And the world says this kind of love is not fair or right.
Still not convinced?
Perhaps we need to revisit the greatest words ever written about love.
September 21, 2017 at 10:00 am | Uncategorized
A classroom comes in many forms.
I see myself as a life-long student. Training classes, the learning curve for a new job, ministry and leadership seminars, writing conferences, spiritual retreats, and Bible studies include some of my favorite ways to learn…to take in new knowledge.
But, how do you imagine God’s classroom? Is there a white board? What about globes, pictures of the world or His students? Does He give hall passes and wait on tardy students for important lessons?
I’ve written about the mountains before. Yet, if you follow this blog, you know I give student reports from the mountains, the beach, an amusement park, or life events and experiences.
Each a classroom where God taught me valuable lessons.
So this week I traveled with two friends from high school to the Great Smoky Mountains (Gatlinburg, Tennessee) for our annual girls trip. Four nights provided the perfect getaway for fun, shopping, and good food and conversation.
But the trip also supplied time to rest from the daily grind and hear from God on matters of the heart. And, of course, I came back with a student report.
September 14, 2017 at 10:29 am | Uncategorized
I desire to walk the line.
And, of course, you know I’m not the late Johnny Cash.
But I read the back story behind Johnny’s musical hit, I Walk the Line. As a newlywed, Cash wrote the lyrics as a promise of devotion to his wife. (Wikipedia.)
So what does walking the line have to do with you and me?
Walk the Line in Devotion
Mike, my husband, performs marriage ceremonies as an ordained minister. He even officiated our daughter Megan’s wedding.
During the vows, Mike mentioned our son-in-law’s favorite movie, I walk the Line, the life story of Johnny Cash. After a slight pause, my husband said these words to the groom, Tyler. “And that’s what I expect you to do—walk the line.”
You see, we invested years in our daughter’s life, devoted parents who wanted God’s best for her. So, now, we wanted the same devotion and sentiments from Tyler to Megan.
In the same way, God wants my total devotion and allegiance.
September 7, 2017 at 10:14 am | Uncategorized
Sending text messages to God.
It sounds ludicrous but not that far-fetched in the digital habits and minds of today’s young people and adults.
Sure, it seems like a reasonable question in a culture where personal communication is going out of style. No one wants to look us in the eye and tell us how they feel about themselves or about us. Or communicate face-to-face to resolve a conflict.
So it’s not surprising as I sat in a meeting a few weeks ago and learned of high school students who admitted they don’t know how to pray. But the same students know how to text and spend hours each day talking to others this way.
Isn’t prayer simply talking to our heavenly Father? Communicating with God on a deep-soul level.
A Do-not List for Sending Text Messages
August 31, 2017 at 11:01 am | Uncategorized