My everyday peace is easily stolen. It takes only a simple glance at the latest world news or my mounting to-do list for uncertainty and restlessness to rise up and overwhelm my heart with anxiety. Yet another look at the success and joys of those around me can lure my soul into a never-ending longing for the possessions, personality traits, and positions in life I do not have. Just one encounter with a difficult person or a sticky exchange can quickly rob my days of peace.

Everyday peace is something I have to fight for.

I expect you might be knee-deep in this fight as well. In fact, you might feel as if you are battered and bruised, defeated by the thieves of peace. Anxiety fills your moments. Dissension defines your relationships. Discontentment rules your days.

If you find yourself lacking peace, be encouraged. You are not alone. In fact, the minute I began to write this Bible study, my anxiety levels seemed to triple, my lack of contentment incredibly evident, and (after years of peace-filled friendships) multiple relational wildfires popped up out of nowhere. Opportunities to engage in the fight for everyday peace were abundant.

As we’ll see in our study together, everyday peace is ushered in or shut out of our lives through the choices we make. Anxiety, dissension, and discontentment stare us in the face daily (if not hourly!) and these peace-robbers will continue to trail us and attempt to invade our hearts as long as we live on this sin-stained earth. Though we cannot always avoid these enemies of peace, we do have a choice when we encounter them. And the actions needed to fight for peace may not be what you think.

Everyday peace can be cultivated. Not by managing your emotions or self-helping your way to a status of serenity. Everyday peace is within reach because it has been granted to us by our faithful, generous God. He has fought and won the battle for peace. Our job is to stand firm in the provision He’s already given us.

Through the presence of God, the strength of the Spirit, and the example of Christ, our every moment can be saturated with the peace that surpasses understanding. He is working in and around you to establish this promised peace for you. God’s plan for you is everyday peace. 

God, bring your peace into my moments. I long to experience the peace that passes all understanding in my everyday life. I confess my need for you to reveal to me the role I play in everyday peace. Holy Spirit, I open every nook and cranny of my heart and mind for you to carefully inspect, gently correct, and powerfully transform.

Excerpt from Everyday Peace.

JOIN THE GROUP STUDY

Want to study with a group? The 4-week online study of Everyday Peace starts Monday, September 10th.

How to Join:

  1. Grab a copy of Everyday Peace. (See full list of retailers here.)
  2. Join the Bible Study Hub group! The discussion will kick-start a few days before the study.
  3. (optional) GO-DEEPER: Grab the supplemental teaching videos.
  4. (optional) FUN FREEBIE: Get THREE Everyday Peace prayer bookmarks through the BASIC BLUE library access! (Click here to apply the coupon code PEACE to subscribe for free!)

This study was ground breaking… I left from this study knowing how to find true lasting peace in my everyday and how to study my Bible more effectively! This is a must do study!

Kristin

Used this as book for women’s Bible study for women of all ages. It was well received by all. Would highly recommend this for personal or group study.

E. Teacher

I wish there were 10 stars for Everyday Peace!!! A book that says ‘me too’ AND points you to the Bible is a must read/study for Christians!

Melissa

So, I’m going back to school.

This turning 40 thing has been fun. It’s as if the road to my purpose and calling has been finally paved and I’m ready to run. I’ve said for years that I would love to take seminary classes. This summer at the Southern Baptist Convention—specifically at the Women and Work panel—I was spurred on by hearing from those women chasing after their dreams—even amidst the crazy seasons of life. It was freeing to hear of one who’d been taking classes over a decade and is about to reach the finish line of her degree. For some reason I’d had it in my head that I needed to wait until life’s waters were completely calm before I could dive head first into school. So, yes, it may also take me a decade, but I’m going to start now.

I received my acceptance letter last week (yay!) to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to pursue a Masters of Arts in Discipleship at the Orlando extension center—just 45 minutes away from my house! This is actually the same extension center my husband Chris started his MDiv 10 years ago. So fun, right?

Part of the application process was submitting my conversion and calling story. I thought I’d share them with you! It was fun to process this and look back on God’s faithful, patient calling on my life. I’m so grateful.

Explain your conversion experience. Include age and details.

With vague memories of a decision made at VBS, I spent most of my childhood believing I was a Christian. Through both Catholic and Protestant private schools, I learned much about the Bible and the characteristics of what a good religious person looks like. However, I primarily saw God as a distant, cosmic parent who primarily just wanted me to be good. So, I was good. I could readily articulate the reality of Christ’s sacrifice for the sake of mankind, but I thought it was enough to simply know about it and believe that it had happened.

Though I cannot remember the exact date (I was in junior high), I vividly remember the moment I recognized my personal need for Jesus. It was a simple afternoon at home in my bedroom when reality hit me of my distance from God and the fact that—although I knew about Jesus—I didn’t know Him personally or trust Him for salvation. Immediately, I confessed my need for Christ and my desire to follow Him with my entire being. I had been trusting in my goodness instead of His grace and I have no doubt that it was in that moment my new spiritual life in Christ began. It would be a long time before I found myself in any sort of a groove when it came to walking with Christ. God still seemed distant and there was much about grace I needed to grasp, but in His goodness I did begin to grow from that point on.

Discuss your call to ministry. How do you define a divine call? In what ways has your call to ministry been affirmed?

Though I didn’t recognize it at the time, I can see God’s hand and calling toward leading other women in the Word as far back as my freshman year at Auburn University (1996). I was still a toddler in Christ—just beginning to see that there is more to Christianity than the do’s and don’ts. I had been attending Campus Crusade for Christ, joined a freshman Bible study, and found myself surrounded by young women who talked about Jesus like they just had coffee with them. They didn’t just know about Jesus—they knew Jesus. They loved His Word and studied it eagerly and faithfully. Through their example and the discipleship of the upperclassmen and Cru staff, I began to learn about the how’s and the why’s of Christianity: How to study my Bible. How to pray. How to share my faith. How to live the Spirit-filled life; as well as why all these actions are so vitally important to our everyday experience of God’s power and presence.

The commands I’d heard all my life suddenly became more than a checklist. They became fuel and nourishment for my growth in Christ because someone finally took the time to train and teach me how to do these spiritual disciplines. I flourished under the Cru ministry, and it was just a few months in to my new-found growth in Christ, that God began to call me into ministry. The head RA of my 6-floor-dormitory knocked on my door one evening. She told me she had noticed I had verses pinned on my door, and was wondering if I would be willing to lead a Bible study in the dorm. She wanted to see one start up, but was not allowed to lead one herself. Out of all the hundreds of girls in that dorm, she challenged me to lead. I had no idea where to start or what to do, and I had only just begun to walk with Christ, but I can clearly see the beginning of God’s continual and specific invitation to step out and lead women in the Word.

The next year, at a Campus Crusade for Christ Christmas Conference, I committed my life to God’s purposes for my life. I didn’t yet know the specifics, but I knew that God had called me to serve Him in full-time Christian work. After graduating, I joined Cru staff, where I served in Campus Ministry for 6 years. I met my husband through the Cru ministry at the University of North Florida, and he joined staff after we married. I continued to serve on campus through evangelism and discipleship, even as our family grew. I absolutely loved campus ministry and the ability to pour into students (just as others had done for me) during such a key time of their lives.

In 2008, we left staff with Cru for my husband, Chris, to begin seminary and church ministry. We both loved our time with Cru, but it was becoming more and more evident that Chris was called to and built for pastoral ministry within the local church. My call to disciple and teach has been a natural fit alongside Chris, and I have continued to use my gifts and fulfill my calling through the local churches that God has called our family.

Additionally, for the past 8 years, I have led thousands of women through various online opportunities. What started out as a simple Bible study blog has bloomed into a very unlikely publishing career and speaking/teaching ministry, both of which I never originally set out to achieve. God continues to draw me out and into spheres of influence I never dreamed of. This call to pour my life into the lives of women—both locally and globally—is continually affirmed through both the fulfillment and joy I receive through the use of my gifts, as well as the fruit and opportunities God continues to bring my way. My husband and I are in continual evaluation of how I spend my time and to how my calling to minister outside of the home coincides with my call as a wife, mother, and the pastor’s wife. 

We all have divine callings, spelled out clearly in Scripture. I like to call them our “Big C” callings. The call to work toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission, the call to be a vital part of the local church, the call to worship and honor God with our time, talents, and resources, etc. But we each also have individual “little c” callings. These are the specific and unique purposes God has for each individual. These are also divine callings and can be for seasons or a lifetime. They often morph over time as our capacities change and they lead to both internal and external fruit. I often walk into a mid-week Bible study exhausted, yet leave rejuvenated by the life-giving obedience to God’s call on my life to teach and disciple women. 


I’d love to hear about your conversion and calling! Even if you don’t leave a comment below, I encourage you to take some time to look back and reflect on God’s call on your life—both into the rest of His salvation and the work of His specific purposes for your life.

I’m a goal-setter. Idea slinger. Persistent achiever.

Those last two don’t always mix well. My brain and heart are filled with concepts and plans to keep me busy for eternity. Thankfully, God has also given me a capacity to juggle several projects and responsibilities at once. (He’s also gifted me with a husband who cooks, kids who do their own laundry, and a family with a high tolerance for a messy house. Score!)

However, I’m also a perfectionist.

And Perfect Katie is always lingering around the corner, ready to show me all the places that are not quite right. The hyper-critical gaze of Perfect Katie can paralyze me from moving forward. Perfect Katie’s constant pressure makes me want to throw up my hands and give up. Perfect Katie often keeps me from setting out to begin with.

Perfectionism stymies me from making progress toward my goals

Take these blog posts, for instance. My goal was to write 40 posts in 40 days. If you’re counting at home, you’ll recognize that it’s been two weeks since I last wrote a post—and Perfect Katie’s been berating me about it. Life hit, I chose people over tasks, and the goal to write everyday was missed. And she wants me to quit, take down all the posts, and any evidence that a goal was unsuccessfully attempted. (Although, I did compromise with her, and change the challenge to 40 posts for 40 years, instead of in 40 days.)

But what Perfect Katie forgets is that perfection was not the end goal. The purpose of this self-imposed challenge was to get back to placing meaningful words on this screen, to begin using the writing muscles that have been given an intentional rest, and to have a reason for writing whatever was on my heart for that day. And I’ve loved it!

The temptation to just stop trying is strong, but when I take a step back and look at what has already been accomplished, I can see that the goal, in many ways, has already been met. And 11 posts that otherwise would not have been have made it into the archives.

Perfectionism keeps me from pursuing my dreams

I love to learn, and I love God’s Word. I’ve said for years and years that I’d love to go to seminary one day. But I’ve realized that Perfect Katie has allowed me to define “one day” as the unattainable season where my kids don’t need me, our church is on autopilot, I’ve finally figured out how to keep our household running without hiccups, and …

It hit me this summer that the perfect time to go back to school is never going to arrive. Life is always going to be busy, and I don’t have to take the suggested load to complete it quickly. I can take classes in my own timing and plan. So, I began the application process about a month ago, and yesterday I received my acceptance! It may take me 10 years to complete, but slowly and surely, I will pursue this dream.

Perfectionism stunts my growth

When I teach the Too Busy for Bible Study? FOCUSed15 training course, I share about this struggle of perfectionism with my “quiet times.” I’ve traveled all over the nation and spoken to thousands of women, most of who I see nodding their heads at and fervently jotting down in their journals this reality: We must let go of the lie, “If I can’t do it right, than I shouldn’t do it at all.”

Because 5 minutes of reading one Bible verse is better than none read at all. A half-read reading plan is progress made that wouldn’t have been made if the plan had not been attempted. Instead of hyper-focusing on what we haven’t done or aren’t doing, we need to deliberately look for and celebrate what we have accomplished and how we have grown.

There are a bazillion other examples and areas of our lives that we allow perfectionism to take over and rule us. And where we do, we stop growing. Perfectionism actually keeps our imperfections from being brought to light and changed. Perfectionism whispers the lies that we don’t need God’s help. We can do this on our own. We can keep things under control.

So, today in the pursuit of growth and goals and intimacy with God, I’m telling Perfect Katie to take a hike.

Politically speaking, the last several years have been tumultuous ones. The United States of America has not been living up to its name in the “united” area. It seems that we become more and more divided with each passing day. I have friends and family on both sides of the political fence, and it’s heartbreaking to see the chasm that separates us.

Everyone deals with this dissension in different ways. Some choose to ignore it. A few brave souls jump into the heat of the battle with full gusto. Many try to deny reality. I heard of some disillusioned voters who moved “off the grid” in an act of defiance toward the newly elected President.

An old philosophical saying goes, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” (Or as my husband use to joke when our kids were smaller … if a child is crying in their room but we can’t hear it … is it really crying?) This is the approach some have attempted. Plug your ears. Disregard the news. It never happened. Of course, we know that though they may try to cut off any news of the Presidency to their ears, it doesn’t make the facts any less real.

Not everyone has gone to such extreme actions (most probably can’t afford to). I’d say the “everyday” disillusioned have resorted to a more economical way to make their feelings know through the use of the hashtag #notmypresident. This stamp of disapproval is a way some are attempting to cope with their dashed political dreams.

Politics aside, this type of declaration of defiance is more common than you might think, especially in the spiritual area of our lives. Instead of #notmypresident, we signal #notmygod—and I’m not talking about just those who refuse to trust Christ for salvation. We who claim the name of Christ declare #notmygod every time we choose our ways instead of His.

Psalm 2 begins with nations raging, peoples plotting, and a counsel of rulers declaring their rebellion to the law of the Lord. Submission is not an option. So they tune their hearts to the #notmygod channel and reject the “bonds” and “cords” of the way of the righteous.

But just because they declare #notmygod, doesn’t make God any less God. The King of Kings has ruled, is ruling, and will rule forever in perfect righteousness. The Lord of all Lords is not threatened by their uprising nor is His power hindered by their silly plans. The Holy of Holies will in His perfect timing, serve His perfect justice to all who fail to bend the knee.


This is a small excerpt from my new project, Secrets of the Happy Soul. 

With summer in full swing, you may find yourself on the road. If so, I encourage you to use this opportunity to visit another church!

About twice a year we get to visit other churches while we are on vacation. We make it a priority to attend church, even when on the road, and it is always a refreshment for this ministry family to sneak in the back and worship without feeling the pressure of so many eyes on our every move.

The benefits of attending a new church are not reserved for the ministry family, however. I think it is a great practice for all church members to use their Sundays away to visit another church. Here are three reasons why:

It reminds us of what it’s like to be the newbie

We’ve all walked into someone’s home to be hit in the face with some strong smells. Often, the owner of the house can no longer notice it. Whether it be mold, trash, or pet problems, the smell is most obvious to the nose that is new to the offense. Similarly, the visitor notices things we don’t. Or maybe we noticed it way-back-when but have forgotten all about it.

Not only do visitors notice some of the oddities we ignore, they also don’t know how things work. Too many churches assume that everyone understands where the nursery, bathrooms, and/or fellowship hall is located. Bulletins are filled with event names with no description, groups with no specifics, and loads of information with out any invitations.

Additionally, when we visit a new-to-us church, it reminds us of how uncomfortable and vulnerable it can feel to walk into a crowd where no one knows you. It gives us a new urgency to be a friendly face to the visitor when we return home.

Being the newb—even for just one Sunday—can be a powerful agent for change in our church back home.

It gives us ideas for how (or how not) to do something

We’ve been a part of several churches where many of the attendees have only attended that church. For others, they have maybe only attended 2 or 3 churches, all in the same area. This is a situation ripe for an in-grown and shallow view of what Sunday morning church should look like. Just because it’s all you’ve ever known doesn’t mean it is the authoritative way to do things.

The Southerner can learn from the West Coaster. The Northeast from the Texan. There is even more to observe between nations. In Haiti, years ago, we attended several church services and there was much to learn from their passion, reverence, and devotion to the urgent and sincere hearing of the Word of God.

Using our travels as an opportunity to get out of our “this is the best way to do things” bubble, can be a powerful agent for refining change in our hearts, which can overflow into our church experience back home.

It reminds you of what you love about your own church

Hopefully! Even when visiting a stellar church who seems to get so many things right, being away from your home church ought to give us a sense of missing out and an urgency to get back home.

Not only do we each need to make the mental shift that This is not my church and Church is not about me, but we also need to take a look at how we view the pastor.

Your pastor is not out to get you.

I know that there are some bad apples out there, but the vast majority of pastors I know have given up much to become a pastor. They’ve given up higher salaries, being closer to family, having a normal work schedule with reliable, predictable boundaries, and other sacrifices you will never know about until he is rewarded in heaven. There can be loads of blessings and “perks” for the pastor, and it is a high and worthy calling. But the job is extreme and there are constantly targets on his back. If he was all about just pushing people around and getting a power fix, I think he would have chosen a different profession.

Yet, there are some of you who have a tendency to see every move made by the pastor as an attempt to take away your power. Again, I know that there are some men out there who are in the ministry for all the wrong reasons, but most are there to serve, to build up, and to glorify God with their moments as a pastor. But if you are viewing everything from the lens of power, influence, and/or attention there is bound to be trouble.

If there is one action step I could encourage you to take, if you struggle with feeling attacked, ignored, or marginalized by your pastor’s decisions, it would be this: Believe the best about your pastor until he gives you ample evidence to believe otherwise.

What does this look like? Here are a few examples. Choose to believe that:

  • He is there to faithfully preach the Word in the specific way God has gifted him. He works diligently for hours, prayerfully crafting each week’s message, and depending on the Spirit of God to help him deliver it.
  • He is there to steward the people, resources, and time God has given him with this assignment and he does not take this call lightly. He does not make decisions lightly. He is prayerful, careful, and when he choses to do or not do something, it is because he believes it is what is best for the church. (Also, he can’t do everything at once! Change takes time.)
  • He is there to love on and reach out to the lost in the community surrounding your church. He is continually thinking of how to connect with and serve the needs of the community.
  • He is there to teach, train, and employ the saved in his church to reach those lost in the community. The job of evangelism is not primarily on his shoulders. It is a commission given to each and every believer. The pastor is there to assist, encourage, and equip YOU for the work of evangelism.

There are many more I could list … but these are several that I think many churchgoers need to be consistently reminding themselves of.

Bottom line, I think more churchgoers need to stop taking things so personally. There is NO WAY IN THE WORLD that the pastor can keep everyone happy—nor is that his job. Yes, he ought to lead with compassion, sensitivity, and love, but that doesn’t mean he will always agree with you or make the same choice as you would. (In most cases, he may not even know what your opinion is! A pastor is many things, but a mind-reader he is not.) So if he makes a decision or doesn’t do something that you think he should be doing, pay attention to why you are so upset about this decision. Is it really because you care so much about whatever the decision was about … or are you miffed because you feel disrespected or overlooked somehow.

Lord, give us grace!

So where some of us, like me, need to grow in seeing things through the lens of the faithful men and women who have served and served and served and served God’s local church for decades, there is yet another group who needs to be willing to let go. Because this is not your church either.

Today I want to address those who have been in church for a while. This is not about generations, or age. This is about mindset. There are many faithful men and women who I know that have served the church for 50+ years that I would not put in this group. Moreover, there are some who have attended church for only a few years but they do fit in to this category. In fact, I think the majority of churchgoers have their chubby little hand in this cookie jar, and they need to seriously contemplate how they view the church (not only as “mine” or as God’s) but also why church even exists.

Church is not about you.

This is the other side of the this-is-not-your-church coin. You are not the captain of the ship nor are you a passenger to be pampered. The church does not exist primarily for you, or me. The church exists to reflect the glory of God. All aspects of church life ought to be primarily about God’s glory. Period.

There has never been a day in my church ministry where everything has gone the way I would have liked. I would have chosen different songs, on a different key with different instruments. I would design systems differently, make changes to the sanctuary, and nix a ton of (what seems to me) ineffective events. But I’ve had to learn that church is not about me. I am not all-knowing. My point-of-view is limited. And what I think is the best route to take is often, simply a deep-seated preference I am unwilling to let go of. I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes those antiquated systems were actually the very thing that gave God most glory. The broken systems that shouldn’t have worked showed off the power and provision of God.

I am not God’s gift to the church. Neither are you.

So, let me spell this out plainly:

  • Worship style is not about you.
  • The sermon format and length is not about you.
  • Church curriculum is not about you.
  • The sanctuary colors are not about you.
  • Budgeting details are not about you.
  • The landscaping is not about you.

Now, I’m not trying to say that we shouldn’t care about these things nor am I saying that we should never speak up about them. We should. But only so far as we are called to.

Because, church is not about you.

If you are a church attender seeking a church home, you are in gathering mode, and should be. This is a time for observation and contemplation, but be careful to keep first things first. Pay more attention to the CONTENT than the DELIVERY. Because worship teams can practice and get better. Church leadership can grow and get more organized. Preachers can become more polished in their delivery. Children’s programs can grow. But if the Word of God is not being faithfully preached, and the kids’ program is primarily glorified babysitting, that is most likely not going to change until there is a new pastor, and maybe not even then. If this is a church that is used to their ears being filled with feel-good fluff, their next choice will probably be full of the same. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen people choose a church primarily for their worship style and/or children’s ministry, while the pulpit lacked any sort of solid truth being delivered and the kids (though snacked-up and entertained as they are) are given a watered-down moralistic version of the Gospel.

May I also encourage you to look for a church who needs what you can give. What has God gifted you to do? What are you passionate about? What experiences and expertise do you have that can help the church better shine for God’s glory? Don’t just look for a church home that you can settle into and get comfortable. God has given you specific gifts for the purpose of serving Him through loving on the local church (see 1 Corinthians 13). Don’t waste your time being a pew-dweller. Get to work.

Because, church is not about you.

If you are a church member, you ought to be an informed and involved one. You should feel freedom to directly* state your opinion and/or concerns on any one of these things, in gentleness and respect, at the appropriate time (HINT: this is typically NOT on Sunday morning as the pastor is preparing to preach), in great humility, knowing that you do not have all the information (nor all the training and experience). I encourage you to consider the following when it comes to your complaint:

  • Bring it first to the Lord.
  • Bring it second to the leadership of the church (so, not to all your friends, in a spirit of complaint).
  • Bring a preparedness to be the answer to the problem.

If there is a certain area that continues to bother you, week after week, and month after month, and that area is suffering because there is no one overseeing it, or the person who is serving there is overworked and out of ideas, consider the possibility that God is nudging you to step up and serve in order to fill that very need which is pressing on your heart.

*Directly=not complaining in a Facebook post or over lunch to your buddies where everyone can hear. Directly=to the face of your leadership. Not through an anonymous letter, or passive-aggressive behavior (like stopping your financial giving or attendance to make your point.)

Because, church is not about you.

If you are on a committee/team that serves one of these elements of church, you ought to lead prayerfully and with confidence. Use your expertise and passion in a synergistic way with the rest of your committee members, and any other committees you overlap with to make that area run with excellence. (And, of course, all of the above suggestions for the church member applies to you, too.)

Because, church is not about you.

So what should you do when opinions clash? Remember that church is not about you.

When you want blue carpet and everyone else wants red? Remember that church is not about you.

When you love upbeat songs that are familiar to you but a solemn song you don’t know is played? Remember that church is not about you.

When someone does or says something that wasn’t quite the “right” way (according to you)? Remember that church is not about you.

And please, please, please (as I say often to my kiddos): be kind or be quiet. Because some of the most damaging things to the image of Christ, to the fame of His name, to the reflection of God’s glory to the lost and dying world around us? The words of His people to one another. The mean, selfish, foolish, prideful, angry words we sling at one another.

If we say that we follow Christ, then we ought also to follow in His footsteps to be about His Father’s business. And the Father’s business is all about His glory being known among the nations (which includes the lost souls in your family, neighborhood, workplace, and grocery store). Why on earth would we expect those who are perishing without Christ to tag along with us to this building we call church, to spend time with people we don’t really like anyway, and listen to music we can’t stand, and a preacher we constantly complain about?

We must pay attention to our motivations. There are more preferences and opinions than can ever be satisfied—even in the smallest of congregations. But if we can each learn to be driven primarily for the glory of God—not the glory of an individual or the glory of the church itself—we can finally begin to move forward TOGETHER in UNITY toward that goal. Because, once we have this point settled in our minds, we are able to view our preference and opinions through the lens of what gives God more glory. Blue carpet or wood floors? The organ or electric guitar? Jeans and flip-flops or a 3-pice suit? We will see them for what they are: surface-level stuff. Small potatoes. Instruments that God can use equally for His glory if He so choses.

Lord, help us.

There are always topics that lay heavy on my heart. Some never make it past discussion with my husband Chris. Some make it out of our house into the circles of my trusted friends. Some I’ll chat about with acquaintances. Every once in a while there is a topic I feel led to “discuss” online. For the most part, I find that difficult topics are usually best kept around the table, where we can observe each other’s body language, hear the tone of our voices, and believe the best about each other when we don’t quite understand the other’s point of view and/or conclusion on a matter. And while this topic is not the biggest hot-button out there that I could push, I think it may still ruffle some feathers. In fact, I kinda hope it does. Not because I want anyone to be hurt (SOOO not my heart) but because I think sometimes we need to hear the hard things.

Plus, I might just be preachin’ to the choir. But we’ll see.

I’m in several pastor’s wives’ groups and it breaks my heart that almost monthly there is another woman sharing her story and asking for prayer over how she and her pastor-husband have been mistreated. Some situations are mild, while some are very, very extreme. Many of these women I do not know personally beyond a computer screen, but I do have dear friends who have walked through horrendous seasons (some still are) of hurt and loss. And the primary source of this pain is not from outside of the church, but from within.

I have seen and heard of mistreatments and manipulations from church members and leaders that would make anyone—even a non-believer, who has no framework for the Biblical picture of a healthy church—cry, “This is wrong!” Though we’ve not personally experienced the brunt of evil that is within the church (Yes, I said evil. Satan has some power players in those pews.), both Chris and I have together and individually heard, seen, and experienced enough controlling comments, blatant disrespect, and passive-aggressive actions to make some people never want to enter a church building again.

I have loads of thoughts about how the church treats the pastor and his wife, but right now my heart is aching and burning with these thoughts for the churchgoer who just doesn’t think about how their actions/inactions affect the man they call pastor, and the woman who is trying her best to follow and support her hurting husband. Or maybe for the person who does know what he or she is doing, but simply ignores the Spirit of God within them who is staying, “STOP.”

Here are a few things I think all who follow Christ need to consider.

This is not your church.

Now I’m a HUGE proponent of church membership. I believe that God’s best plan is for every believer to be in a covenantal connection with a local church, and actively attending, serving, loving, and praying for their fellow church members. And in some sense, yes, the church each of us attends and/or are members of is our church, but ultimately, “your” church is not yours. It’s God’s. This is a gigantic shift we each need to make, both mentally and emotionally. If we primarily see the church as God’s church, for God to do with as He sees fit, we can all avoid a whole heap of church troubles. Not only will this dramatically change your relationship with your pastor, but also with your fellow church members.

Over time, and through many, many tear-stained conversations with my much-more-level-headed husband, I have learned to look for and attempt to understand how each church member views the church (and the physical items within the church building). Where I see a worn out pew, others see the financial sacrifices their parents made so they could make significant offerings above their tithe for those seats to be purchased. The outdated wall hangings, floral arrangements, and recognition plaques that make me roll my eyes are like stones of remembrance to some, which point them to God’s past faithfulness. (Not always … sometimes it’s just the type of trinkets people really like … and still have in their own houses.) Events, traditions, and services that I think are sorely antiquated, completely ineffective, and/or pointless are part of their weekly spiritual rhythm—and have been for decades. If taken away abruptly, could negatively impact their spiritual life.

I don’t always understand it. I often think it is some of the stupidest things that people get upset over. But the Lord has cultivated in me … s-l-o-w-l-y … the eyes to see things through another’s viewpoint. Because this is not my church, either. And I praise God that I am not the one in charge. Instead, it’s my patient, wise husband who knows that being a human bulldozer is not the best way to move a church forward. Yes, we may be able to clearly see the boulders that keeps a church from moving forward, but we cannot move them on our own. It has to be a group effort, led and fueled by the Spirit of God. Not by manipulation, or shear force. By God’s powerful and gracious and patient hand alone.

So where some of us, like me, need to grow in seeing things through the lens of the faithful men and women who have served and served and served and served God’s local church for decades, there is yet another group who needs to be willing to let go. Because, this is not your church either.

… continued in tomorrow’s post.

I get all fired up when I hear “preachers” saying God wants me to be happy, healthy, and wealthy. “You deserve more, better,” they say. “Just set your mind to something and go for it. God is for you. He will give you what you desire if you love and obey Him enough. Have faith, and life will go well for you.”

Problem is, these are half-truths—shadows of Scripture. Sound bites that are close enough to sound right and are highly motivational, but in actuality, hold devastating implications. When life doesn’t go our way we wonder what we did wrong or what we didn’t do enough of to get God to act on our behalf. And when life is peachy-keen, our need for God dissipates. We turn Christianity into a formula to be figured out and followed.

Fact is, we are not promised smooth sailing. We are not guaranteed to bypass the difficult storms of life just because we are Christians. And the presence of a squall does not mean God is upset with us. I’ve found the opposite to be true in my life. The trials I’ve faced have proved God to be lovingly present, tenderly purposeful, and powerfully able to use all things for my good. I’ve learned that being a Christian doesn’t give me some force-field bubble that protects me from harm. But having the hope of Christ within me—knowing and holding onto all He has done for me and all that He will do—brings a deep-down peace that no positive-thinking prosperity message can provide.

I’ll say it again: walking with God is not a formula to be found out and followed. Abundant life with Jesus is a journey of continually drawing near to His presence while holding fast to the gospel—our anchor of truth. All who are in Christ possess the treasure of hope. It’s a noun, not a verb. But don’t always experience the hope-filled abundant life because we either don’t truly know the gospel or we forget.

We often want to measure growth with external charts and checkboxes, but I believe true spiritual growth cannot be evaluated simply by our deeds. Actions can be modified. Attitudes can be mimicked. But holding fast to hope cannot be faked.

If our view of God is big, the reality of our hope will be big, too.

God, I confess the places where I have not trusted in Your promises. Help me to see that You are steadfast and sure. Open my eyes to see You more and more each day.


This is an excerpt from my Everyday Hope study, an easy to use, four-week Bible study. Designed for women who are pressed for time, yet crave depth from their Bible study, Everyday Hope offers a relevant and lasting approach for reading and understanding Scripture. In as few as 15 minutes a day, discover how to hold fast to His promises amidst feelings of hopelessness.

I’m leading an online group through the study and we start SOON. It’s not too late to join us. NookKindle, and ePub versions are also available for immediate download. You can find all the details here.

I’m excited to share about the next online study for the Bible Study Hub—a thriving online community of women encouraging one another to get in the Word! This study is written by my good friend and ministry partner, Lara Williams. I would probably not be writing Bible studies today if it were not for Lara. Back in 2011, I asked her if she would co-author a book I had on my heart but felt unable to write myself (I had a LOT of learning to do about the craft of writing). She said yes and 8 months later, we published Savoring Living Water (affiliate link). About a month after that, we finally met in person. Crazy how the internet connects.

Lara is an incredibly gifted writer, but she also walks with intimately with Jesus and this is evident in all her projects. All that to say, I’m super-excited to dive into Life Giver next week and I would LOVE for you to join me. In this 4-week Bible study, Lara teaches us how we can be life givers in our relationships. Below is an excerpt from this study.


We can probably all agree that forgiveness is best. Forgiveness, even of those who wrong us deeply, proves to be freedom for us. But there’s one little thing that often gets in the way: our feelings.

I’m a girl. And let me tell you. As a girl, I’ve got lots and lots of feelings. And I’ve got feelings about those feelings and feelings about those feelings. Ad infinitum. So, when someone wrongs me, lots of feelings come to the surface and beg my attention. They typically insist that I act vengeful with fingers pointing and a few “how dare you(s)” thrown in for added drama.

But the thing about feelings is that even though they are very real, and often justified, they don’t always lead us to the right action. Remember what Jeremiah said about our hearts? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). In fact, I don’t think my feelings have ever told me to forgive my enemies. Ever.

Yet Jesus commands forgiveness, for our good and His glory. And He means for it to be an act of our will, not necessarily an act of our emotions.

Forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. — Colossians 3:13

We have a choice. Regardless of our feelings, in Christ we have the choice to forgive even when we’re desperately hurting. And that choice will bring soul-blessing.

God gives us boundaries and commands to protect us. He loves us – perfectly and fully. He knows us – perfectly and fully. And because He designed us, He knows what will lead us to our most blessed existence. When it comes to relationships, we will give life to others when we choose to forgive, regardless.

How Do I Forgive?

The question becomes, “How do I forgive, especially when I’m hurting?” The answer? We turn to the One who forgives out of His amazing grace. We pray. We press hard into our Lord — the Forgiver of all sin. We seek refuge in Him and trust His covering. We meditate on what He says about forgiveness. We live authentic lives, allowing others to walk with us down the tearful road of releasing the debt we want another to pay. And then we believe God to do the heart-healing work that only He can do.

Feelings take time to line up with the willful forgiveness. But feelings eventually come. They will come. But until they do we command our soul towards obedience.

Forgiveness sets us free to love. It sets us free to give of ourselves without the need for others to do anything in return, because we’ve found fulness in our Lord. We see that everyone is the same — needy for a Healer and Redeemer. And when we see people through the lens of grace, unforgiveness has no place.

Moving Forward

Spend some time in honest conversation with the Lord. Confess any harbored unforgiveness. Tell God your honest feelings – He already knows. Then speak truth over those feelings. Declare the verses we meditated upon this week regarding forgiveness. You may want to seek out a trusted friend to pray for you and with you as you walk the road of forgiving another. But however you get there, release others from a debt that’s already been paid. Grace is the only road to becoming a life giver.


Join the 4-week Life Giver online study group!

  • WHEN: 9/10/2017 – 10/6/2017
  • WHERE: Bible Study Hub
  • HOW TO JOIN: Purchase your study for as little as $4.99, join the Facebook group, and dive into the conversation beginning next week!
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want the physical workbook, order your copy ASAP so you can get it before the study starts on Monday!

Who’s in? Who’s excited?!