Short & Sweet: 2 Ways to Grow Your Gifts

2 ways

One of my constant prayer requests is for God to expand my gifts.

I continually ask Him to gift me greatly so He can use me deeply. Recently I discovered we have a responsibility in growing our gifts—it’s not all up to God. There are two things we can to do to help grow our gifts.

  1. Use them.
  2. Give them.

While both methods closely related,  they have subtle differences. Using your gifts requires planning and training,  while giving your gifts requires responsiveness and obedience.

Use your gifts.

14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.”
 When the man returned from his travels, he rewarded those who used their gifts, but to the last servant the master said,
” ‘You wicked and lazy servant take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.’ ” Matthew 25

What happened when the two servants used their gifts?

They were doubled. Wow! Who wouldn’t want to double gifts? I know I do. Imagine being twice as good  teacher/speaker/writer/principal/secretary/designer/builder than you are now.  We can grow our gifts by using them. Saving or burying our gifts and talents keeps us small, dark and cold. Only dead things are buried.

Use or lose.

What about the last servant? He lost what he would not give.

As modern Christians we neglect our gifts when we  bury ourselves in fear, busyness, apathy and laziness.  Don’t wait until you feel ready and don’t give up when the going gets tough. God wants us to push through negative emotions. The start of a new project is very exciting! But bumps in the road are bound to come and discouragement can set in. Set backs do not mean God’s calling has been revoked—quite the opposite is true. When passion and motivation dwindle,  disregard the lassitude  and continue working. Take a step of faith and get busy.

People need what you have to give.

Give and gain!

Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip,“Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” Phillip answered, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.” John 6

Feast or Famine.


Compared to the size of the need, how big was the boy’s lunch? Did the size of his gift stop him from using it? What happened when the little guy gave his lunch? Jesus multiplied it—exponentially. Having raised two hungry sons, the fact the boy  gave his lunch is a miracle itself. Giving always requires sacrifice. Like the boy, we have a choice.
  1. Keep gift for self.  Small. Safe. Unfufilled. One person benefits.
  2. Give gift to others. Big. Scary. Amazing. Everyone is filled. Leftovers!

If we keep our gifts, others will go hungry.

Give your gifts large or small, no matter the size and watch them grow. Your gifts may be small, but you Savior is huge. Give what you have and watch your gifts grow! Use and give.

Action Points:

  1. Risk! Admit it. There is something you’ve been waiting to give, but you think it’s too small. Walk by faith and give it today.
  2. Look! See it. Ask God to make you hyper-aware of opportunities to give today. A kind word, $2.00, a single flower, a short note. They are not too small. Do it.
  3. Unbury! Face it. You have some buried gifts, dreams, skills that need exhuming. Take a step today to dig them up and use them for God’s glory.


Father, we give You our talents (Matt. 25),  our widow’s mites (Luke 21), out last drop of oil (1 Kings 17), and our brown-bag lunch (John 6). Please help us to use what You have given us and give what you have entrusted to us so we me greatly impact our world for Christ.



all rights reserved

Copyright 2016





Short & Sweet: 5 Reasons Why Jesus Had to Die

Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mathew 20:28

Why did Jesus have to come to earth, to be born as a man and die?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve known about the crucifixion of Jesus. The church we attended prominently displayed a large crucifix. Jesus on the cross—front and center. The matter of His death was a bedrock issue, but I had never stopped to ask why.

Why did Jesus have to die?

This question had been blowing around the corners of my mind since I became a Christian many years ago, but I never gave it serious consideration until recently. It came to the forefront when one of my students, a new Christian, asked me, “why did Jesus have to die?”. Good question.  Couldn’t God save people without Jesus dying on the cross?  Salvation would so much easier to accept if we could skip the whole crucifixion process.

I do not claim to have deep theological or exhaustive information, but my answer comes straight from Scripture. Please, like the Bereans, search the Bible for further insight.

5 Reasons Jesus had to die:

Reason 1: Jesus had to die because the wages of sin is death. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.  Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, God covered man’s sin with a sacrifice of an innocent life. Jesus came to be our sacrifice—the Lamb of God.

Reason 2: Jesus had to die because God cannot die. “Behold, God is exalted, and we do not know Him; The number of His years is unsearchable.” Job 36:26. God is not flesh and blood; He is Spirit and therefore eternal. Since He cannot die, God had to send Jesus to the cross.

Reason 3: Jesus had to die because redemption requires blood. “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22. Since God is not flesh but spirit, He has no blood. Therefore, God took on flesh, tabernacled among us, walked the road to the cross and shed His blood.

Reason 4: Jesus had to die because prophecy must be fulfilled.  “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death.” Isaiah 53:12. In total, 28 prophecies were fulfilled on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. For more information on prophecies fulfilled by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, please see the following link: Prophecies

Reason 5: Jesus had to die because God needed a perfect sacrifice. “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” … “Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.” Hebrews 10:14, 18.

Jesus had to come. He is the only One who could live a perfect life, pay the wages of sin by shedding His blood upon the cross and thereby fulfill the Old Testament prophecies. One question remains then …

Why did Jesus want to die?

Because God so loves us that He would rather die than live without us. Sometimes I have days when I wonder if anyone truly cares. Does anyone see my hurts and my wounds? Then I remember, there is no greater love than this, that a Man should lay down His life for a friend. Jesus died for me. He died for you. He loves us.

He. Loves. You.

 Action Points:

  1. Knowing that Jesus has given His life for you, how can you give your life back to Him? Where can you plug-in?
  2. Who in your life needs to hear about the life, death, resurrection, and love of Jesus? How can you begin to witness to this person?
  3. Look for three different people to bless today. (How about the busy clerk at the store … the person who is going to cut you off in traffic today … the elderly neighbor who is aching for someone to visit.)

Life is sweet because Jesus died for you.


copyright 2016

all rights reserved





Short & Sweet: The Creation Remix

2fbad png

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Genesis 1:1

Creating is a very godlike thing to do.

I like creating many different things such as scarves, hats, home decor, watercolors, blogs, skits and memes. I am also legendary for creating my delicious  secret-recipe Fresh Strawberry Cream Cake—made from scratch. Despite my many creative endeavors, God is the master creator. In fact, we can say, creating is His specialty.

In the first book of the Bible, front and center, we learn of God’s penchant for creatingGod created the heavens and the earth. Bara’, the Hebrew word used for create in verse 1 means “to shape, fashion or create, always with God as the subject.” Only God has the power of creation. 

What does He create?

Planets, galaxies, flowers, mountains, animals and oceans. He also creates relationships, opportunities, legacies, covenants, circumstances, dreams, hope, love, joy, peace and faith … the list is as endless as He is eternal.

From what does God create?

I like to create with the freshest ingredients, the finest fabrics, and the most vibrant watercolors. But God can create from nothing; the Great I AM simply speaks and something is. His Words drip with life and overflow with the breath of the Spirit. At other times God gets His hands dirty and creates beautiful valuable things from common ingredients like dust, dirt and clay … things such as man. This is good news for those of who’ve felt like dirt, or have been treated like dirt or who’ve been the dirt beneath someone’s feet. God creates beautiful things from dirt.

Bara’ also means to create by cutting away.

At first glance creating and cutting seem to be inharmonious. Can these two concepts possibly complement each other? Think for a moment. We can cut away activities from our schedule to create room for God. God creates in us a clean heart by cutting away sin and sickness. God cuts covenant with us and creates a way for us to be with Him forever in eternity.

The Creation Remixcreation

God speaks His Word and scatters seeds of life into the dirt and clay of our hearts and souls. Damaged marriages, broken relationships, forgotten dreams, and tired ambitions receive new life from a fresh sowing of God’s Word. Will we nurture the seeds with Living Water?

God speaks and dead things spring forth with new life.

Nothing becomes something. Ugly becomes beautiful. Useless becomes useful.

Shadows to substance. Death to life …  a Lazarus awakening.

He is the potter and we are the clay. He forms, shapes, smooths, and fires us in the furnace of adversity until we emerge, covered with the fingerprints of God. Pure. Beautiful. Useful.

Action Points:

  1. Speak His Word. God has instilled His Word with life and power and has given us the privilege of speaking His Word into our situations and challenges. What area of your life needs a redo? Your relationships? Your career? Find a Bible verse that applies to your current situation and pray it forward.
  2. Create some margin. OK, you need this one … we ALL do. Stop saying you’ll be there in 10 minutes when you know it’ll take 20. Stop adding more stuff to your already too long to-do list. Everything takes longer than you think. Add ten minutes to every task on your list for today. If you have children add 20 extra minutes — for each child ; ).
  3. Create something. Take some time today to create something. Create a poem, sketch a picture, write a blog post, try a new recipe, or create some time to take a nap, a walk or an afternoon off. And after you have created something, step back and say, “It is very good!”


Life is sweet. Create!


All rights reserved.

Copy right 2016


i hear: 3 things to do when in trouble

i heari hear

short podcasts to bring the sacred into your everyday

Do you only have a few minutes for Bible Study today? Or do you have a few extra minutes and want to feed your soul? Try one of our new i hear podcasts. Three minutes is all you need to receive  a little encouragement and refreshment from God’s word!

What do we do when we are facing trials and hardships? The Bible gives three things to do when we are waiting on the Lord to complete the good work He started in us.



To read a  written version of hope, wait and pray, please click on the following link:

Hope, Wait and Pray

Be blessed!


copyright 2016

all rights reserved

To Do-ers List: What He Says

To doers

Princes also sit and speak against me, but your servant meditates on your statutes.

Psalm 119:23

 My mind used to be a battlefield, a theater of war used expertly by the enemy to oppress, control and render me useless for the cause of Christ. Darts of the enemy used to fly unchecked, inflicting damage on my heart and soul. Jagged wounds hemorrhaged confidence and peace as I struggled to stop the flow. I was a victim of my thoughts — at the mercy of whatever drifted into my mind. One nasty comment from  a coworker or supervisor and I would embark on a three-day pity-party, complete with sleepless nights and a churning stomach.

I didn’t want to think about the harsh words echoing around the corners of my mind — I seemed to have no choice. They’d flash in HD, vivid and brutal, as I relived the hurt with each replay.  I needed to learn to control my thoughts and take them captive for Christ and shut off the broken record. I needed to learn Christ had set me free.

I needed to listen to what He says.

As Christians, we decide what to meditate upon.

We have several choices. We can think about:

  1. What we say about ourselves
  2. What others say about us
  3. What the world says about us
  4. What Satan says about us (LIES, LIES, LIES) or
  5. What God says about us (TRUTH, TRUTH, TRUTH)

Satan will always lie and friends will usually only tell us what we want to hear. We can’t trust what the world says or our own words either. Our only trustworthy source is God. If we listen to any other source we’ll miss God’s will and disobey Him in order to “eliminate” fallout from critics. Peace no longer depends on Christ, but on the absence of conflict.

So how do we silence the broken record?

Focus on God and what He says.

Simple — yet, oh so challenging.

Turn off the lies.

Stop cooperating with the enemy.

Start agreeing with God.

Listen to what He says.

The Battle Plan:

  1. Shut down the lies. The second a thought slithers into your mind that does not agree with what God says about you, shut it down. (For example: Say the enemy wants you to believe you are not smart enough to complete a task God has given you. Literally say out loud, “That is not truth. I am not stupid, God has given me the mind of Christ.”)
  2. Praise God. Finish off your verbal power session with a round of praise for our mighty God. “God, I thank You that You are stronger than anything that comes against me. Thank You that You have called me and chosen me for this task.” The enemy will flee at the sound of His great Name.
  3. Re-purpose your thoughts. Remember all the hours you spent replaying some awful scene in your head in slo-mo? A fight with your husband, an attack from coworker, a mistake you made in a very public setting? The next time you are tempted to dwell on the hurt, re-purpose that time for thinking on what God says in His Word.
  4. Repeat the steps above as often as needed.

It works. I know.

Today, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of your self talk. The moment a negative thought pops into your head, replace it. 

Be a doer of the Word. Listen to what He says.


copyright 2016

all rights reserved




Short & Sweet: Anyone


Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Luke 9:23


Anyone is welcome. Anyone can come. Any tribe, any tongue, any religion. No one is excluded. All have sinned, but all are welcome. Anyone can come to the foot of the Cross, take up his cross and follow Jesus.

I used to think only special people were really welcome in the kingdom of God. You know who I’m talking about. The pretty people … the smart people … the popular people. The people who’ve been Christians since they were able to talk. Perfect lives marked by wise choices, good decisions and smart moves.  They were the ones God really used.  A-list people with first-string capabilities. Everything I was not.

I barely made the cut. I flew in under the radar—allowed in heaven, but better seen and not heard. I had already messed up God’s perfect will for life, doomed to live on Plan B (or in my case plan Z) until God called me home.

But God says,

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Forget Plan  A.  God says anyone is welcome.

Anyone. Broken people marked by sin and shame—welcome. Shattered people scarred by hurt and hardship—welcome. Plain people with common lives—welcome. Anyone may come.

But. we must deny ourselves … of what?

The right to live safe.

The right to stay small.

The right to live unforgiven.

The right to excuse ourselves from abundant life by focusing on our wounds instead of our Healing.

But when we deny ourselves, we indulge the Spirit.

With self out of the way, there is room for the Spirit. Blessing, power and energy flow unchecked from the hand of God to the heart of man. Any man, any woman, anyone who will  follow Him.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17

Action Points:

  1. Do you believe anyone is welcome in God’s kingdom? Do you believe you are welcome? How can you better live the truth anyone is welcome?
  2. Is there any people group you avoid witnessing to, or praying for because you believe they don’t deserve God’s grace or love? What can you do to change this attitude?
  3. Is there anyone, anytwo, anythree or four  in your life right now who need to hear they are welcome? How can you share the love of Jesus with them today?

Life is sweet. Anyone may come. Anyone.


All rights reserved.

Copyright 2015