Is THAT in the Bible?

Sometimes I hear ideas and start wondering, “Where is that found it the Bible?” For example, self-care, cultural relevance, numerical success, and goals are sometimes mentioned by those I esteem as wise. Are our teachings based on God’s word or is the Christian community parroting the world? Since I hear the need to set goals most frequently, I will begin searching to learn about this topic first.

Recently, I heard in a sermon, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I felt unspiritual and immature because for the most part, I am opposed to setting goals. Also, it seemed I was receiving mixed messages to trust Jesus but also try harder.

I have a good Biblical basis for not setting goals or planning too much. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Philippians 1:6 tells us that He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. In 1 Thessalonians 5:24, Paul writes, “He who called you is faithful, He also will bring it to pass.”

I did find one use of the word goal in Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” I also found the word aim in in 2 Corinthians 5:9, “We make it our aim to please Him.” I can fully accede to those goals, but having 6 month or 5-year goals honestly seems a bit presumptuous. Isaiah 55:9 reminds us that as the heavens are higher than the earth, His ways and plans are higher than ours. The heavens are not just 10 stories high but more than trillions of miles. Why set a measly goal with my finite mind when God in his immeasurable wisdom has promised to fulfill His infinitely good goals for me?

Gated Communities

My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? James 2:1

In Texas, one of my friends lived right across the street; however, to enter her neighborhood, you had to put in a code so the gate would open. The gate blocked outsiders from entry.

I wonder if Naomi and Ruth felt this way when they returned to Israel. Did they experience the invisible, yet very real, barriers to community? According to the commands given to Moses recorded in Leviticus, God did not intend for the widow or the foreigner to be treated marginally. Thankfully, Boaz, who displayed the character of our Father God, ensured that Naomi and Ruth were protected, cared for and welcomed into his family.

Unfortunately, the church can be a lonely place, even for someone who is a child of God. Invisible gates bar access to closer community. Some people seem to gain entry into the inner circles and are more easily included. For others, they just can’t seem to get in without the code and secret handshake. Unfortunately, I have felt this way after following the steps, doing what was requested, yet still not welcomed. If this happens more than a couple of times, someone may get frustrated with the whole church experience.  

The church should absolutely NOT be a gated community. There should not be formidable obstructions to keep someone out. There should not be (invisible) fences making someone feel they do not belong. In Matthew 5:47, Jesus challenges us by declaring if we only greet our brothers, how are we acting any differently from the world? Jesus chose to die a publicly humiliating and excruciatingly painful death so we would be welcomed into His household. How petty of us to pick and choose who fits in better or is more desirable for our church communities.  Maybe it is actually a compliment if the world notices, “Look who they welcome through their church doors.”

In Matthew 25, Jesus describes what will happen when the Son of Man comes in His Glory. Some standing in judgement before the King will ask, “When did we take care of you? “And the King will answer, “Truly I say to you, to the extent you did it to the least one of these you did it to Me.” As God’s ambassadors, let us offer open doors not locked gates.


In our non-agrarian society, perhaps the notion of cultivating has been lost to us. We far prefer the easy and instantaneous over the diligence of discipline over time. Whether we realize it or not, we are cultivating something. What are we sowing in our hearts, minds and relationships? Are we cultivating love and righteousness or sin and unbelief?

Hosea tells the nation of Israel, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts for now is the time to seek the Lord, that He may come and shower righteousness upon you. But you have cultivated wickedness and a thriving crop of sins. You have eaten the fruit of lies. (10:12-13)

Cultivation begins with breaking up fallow ground. If rain falls on hard soil, it runs off instead of seeping in. In our lives, plowing up the hard ground may be a change in habits or removing something that is not producing life in us. Once the soil is made ready, seeds are planted, watered and God causes growth over time. Before any sprouts appear, a period of waiting ensues. The ground appears barren like nothing is happening. Unseen to us, the seed is sprouting. In a moment, it rises above the soil to become visible. Some seeds grow deep roots long before anything above ground flourishes.

At times, God prompts us to make changes, yet weeks, months or years pass before we see the spout of new life emerge. We cannot allow slow growth to dishearten us. Plato stated, “Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress no matter how small.”

We aren’t to live for ourselves but God. Our existence is not merely picking ripe fruit to enjoy but doing the hard work of planting the seeds and cultivating so others may partake in a thriving crop.

Walking By the Spirit

Disclaimer: Any parallels I draw between my life and our spiritual walks with the Lord are faulty and incomplete. That said, here is my analogy.

For a long time, I have had a desire to learn Hebrew. My daughter, who lived in China told me that she was learning Chinese on Duolingo, so I downloaded the app to learn Hebrew. For whatever reason, Hebrew is a lot harder than when I learned Spanish in high school.

I wondered if walking in the Spirit can be compared to learning a new language. At first, with Hebrew, I could not even recognize the letters nor understand the sounds they made. Nothing made any sense. I have not reached this point with Hebrew, but with Spanish gradually it became more natural, less conscious. Finally, at some point I actually formed thoughts in this new language without concentrating on translating each word or phrase.

In order to learn a language, we must realize it is a slow, purposeful process. We make mistakes and must continually practice. If you don’t use what you have learned, you become rusty.

Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil which is opposite of that the Spirit wants. (Galatian 5:16-17) Letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace…. but you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.”   (Romans 8:6,9)

God has enabled us to walk by the Spirit by equipping us with His indwelling presence. Do we appropriate this power? I was considering this as I was sitting in a plane on the runway at the airport. The plane was cumbersome and bumpy as we left the gate and the proceeded to take off speed. Once we took off, gravity no longer held us back. We were soaring. It is my hope to walk fluently by the Spirit, not lumbering around like a plane on the runway but flying to the heights God desires.


Hawaii potluckSome of my favorite memories of Hawaii were the potluck dinners on the North Shore. A few times a year we gathered to celebrate baptisms, and each family brought a dish to share. My oldest daughter, Ashleigh. was baptized as part of one of these joyful occasions. In addition to the glorious fellowship we shared, there were opportunities to try many foods both sweet and savory.

When I think about it, the body of Christ exhibits some similarities to potluck meals. When we gather as a body, we each bring a dish (a spiritual gift or talent), yet our contributions vary. Even the same type food is prepared differently as the cook/creator prefers. The best potlucks feature a little bit of everything, each enhancing to the celebration. We leave filled with the goodness of God.

Another example of a “potluck” within the body of Christ is Mercy Mall. Mercy Mall is a place where someone in need can come and receive without cost. Whether it is a material need or spiritual hunger, each person who is seen is loved and cared for. To enable this ministry to operate, many people donate money or clothing or food. Other volunteers sort and organize the donations. Some workers help the client find what they need, and others pack up and pray with each person. Every role is significant and the whole could not operate without each part.

It is like a gigantic mural where each of us paint only a small portion but stepping away we gain the perspective and beauty of the picture. We don’t have to prepare the entire gourmet meal or run a ministry alone. God puts us together so His heart will reach the world. Don’t suppose that your contribution is not needed. Bring it and watch what our God can do! In case you doubt this, remember the boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish.

Taste and see that the Lord is good! Psalm 34:8