Monday, September 8, 2014


The Lie of Normalcy

Most of us, it seems, have wondered somewhere deep down inside if we are normal.  We have bought into a lie that says we must look, dress, act, and think a certain way, or we are somehow fatally flawed – “ABNORMAL.” 

It has a pretty scary ring to it doesn’t it?

But here’s the thing, “normal” is simply viewing people from 35,000 feet in the air.

Think about the last time you flew in an airplane. If you looked out the window, you could see trees, houses, lakes, mountains - but they all look pretty much the same. That’s how people look, too, when we don’t get close enough to appreciate the detail.

“Normal” is a pair of glasses that allows us to lump people together based on certain characteristics – because, let’s face it, there is nothing we love better than to sort people into ‘us’ and ‘them’. We will sort people based on race, gender, hair color, fitness level, education level, religion, where they went to school….you name it. We stereotype and discriminate (if only within our own mind) based on what we have in common, or don’t have in common, with everyone we meet.
Somehow we have bought into a lie that if we group people together in some way, it will help us understand them. We think that we know something about them because they are like us in some small way. Or perhaps we think we know something about them because they are like ‘them’ in some small way.

The reality is just the opposite. When we glump people together based on one characteristic, regardless of what the characteristic is, we are removing ourselves to a distance where we can’t possibly understand them at all. We see them as we might see a field of wildflowers – a vast sea of color – rather than as an individual created uniquely in the image of the Creator.

There is more to people than that one characteristic! Each of the millions of characteristics we have, the experiences we’ve lived, the DNA God created us with – all of this combines to form a perfectly unique person unlike any other who has ever lived.  

Like a key in a lock, God created those unique characteristics to achieve a unique purpose. A purpose that no other person who has ever lived could achieve. Imagine a ‘normal’ key – one that is indistinguishable from a million other keys – would it fit the same lock? Of course not.

Enjoy the unique way that God created you. Seek to discover and work to achieve the unique purpose He has for your life. Take the time to get up close and see other people’s uniqueness. Learn to appreciate the unique facets of their character and seek to encourage them in the purpose to which He has called them.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Why are they Beheading Christians?

Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God’s word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years.
Revelation 20:4

The first time I read these words in the Bible, I recall thinking, "Why beheaded?" At that time in history, beheading was an old-fashioned method of execution primarily associated with the French Revolution. Christians who lost their lives might be shot, hung, even consumed by cannibals, but thirty years ago I'd not heard of a Christian being beheaded since John the Baptist. I wondered if it was just an archaic translation, a Biblical anachronism. What future could possibly result in Christians being killed on a massive scale by a method so primitive?

In the last week or two, videos of Christians being beheaded have flooded the news and social media. Why beheading?

Ephesians 4: 14-16 explains: 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

The Bible describes believers as the 'body of Christ' - with Christ as the head of the universal church which includes all those who have given their lives to Jesus. Believers around the world form one unit working toward one purpose - the glory of God through a relationship with His Son. While possessing many diverse gifts, talents and callings - all those in Christ are led and guided by one Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God. So it is entirely appropriate that the enemy might hope to confuse, discourage, embitter, and destroy the body of Christ through beheading believers.

Given this imagery of Christ as our Head, is it any wonder that the enemy desires to use this ancient, barbaric method of execution?

I Peter 4:11-13 encourages us: 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

Romans 8:38-39 reassures us: For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The enemy may be able to kill us, but he cannot separate us from our Head.

[Note: I have purposely not included any links to videos or graphic images. They are readily available.]

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why Driving Nine Hours for One Day at BRMCWC was Absolutely Worth It

After experiencing the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC) three of the past four years, I was disappointed this year when a schedule conflict with my ‘day job’ prevented me from attending the conference. As the date drew near, I prayed for revised schedules, divine intervention, or a return of nasty winter weather to miraculously open the door that God seemed to have closed.

With less than a week before the conference, God cracked a window just wide enough for me to leave Wednesday morning, arrive in time for the awards banquet and return home on Thursday. Some might think spending nine hours in the car to only enjoy twenty-two hours at the conference – and not even a single class – would be a questionable investment. However, they would be mistaken.

Of course, seeing old friends and making new ones is always a delight, but God opened that narrow window of opportunity because He had a message for me and some friends at Blue Ridge to serve as His megaphone.

The first message came early Thursday morning in Alton Gansky’s devotional. (Note to self: Never sleep in and miss the Thursday morning session.) Al said, “You can’t hit a homerun from the dugout.”

And then He got a little personal. Al mentioned that 70% of conferees who are asked to submit a proposal or chapters neglect to send them.

You guessed it; I am one of those 70%.

I left BRMCWC 2013 full of energy and good intentions and several requests for chapters or proposals, but life got in the way. My ‘day job’ with a new boss, two major projects – both of which culminated with events scheduled for the Tuesday of the 2014 conference – and a million other excuses, got in the way. In truth, fear of failure got in the way. After all, if you never send the proposal, they can never reject you, right? If you never swing the bat, you can’t strike out.

But you also can’t hit a homerun.

Al swung for the fence and the ball hit me right between the eyes. When he spoke about the shame of not having tried, I knew God had sent me all the way from Raleigh to Ridgecrest to call me on my “error.”

But God wasn’t finished.

I was still a little bruised from that beating, when I eased into a seat in the back to hear Edie’s message. (Note to self: Never cut out early to beat the traffic and miss the final session.)

Edie spoke explained that a detour is different than a roadblock. We’ve all come up against detours. We’re cruising along with a particular destination in mind, when something forces us to take another route. We wonder if we’ll ever reach our goal; but, as Edie pointed out, the Navigator may have a different objective.

The work schedule conflict appeared to be a roadblock, but it was only detour to get me to God’s destination. I wanted to enjoy the entire conference, and I’m sure that every session would have blessed, inspired, and educated me. But God’s plan for this year was to send me to hear only the two specific messages that I desperately needed to hear.

Some might say it was crazy to spend nine hours on the road in order to spend less than 24 hours at the conference. But we serve a great God; One who is able to communicate the precise message we need at just the moment we need it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What About the Guy on the Island?

We’ve all heard the question from doubting friends: “What about the person on some jungle island who has never heard of Jesus? Would God really send that person to hell?”

I have to admit, the question has sometimes left me stammering for a compassionate, yet biblical answer.

I know that God is just.

I know that He doesn’t desire that any should perish.

And I know that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life – no one comes to the Father but by me.”

How are we to reconcile these truths?

God recently showed me a perspective I’d never seen before.

In Genesis 14, we read the story of Abraham’s nephew, Lot, being carried off following the battle between two groups of kings and their armies. Abraham defeats these kings to rescue his nephew and then receives an interesting visitor in verse 18:
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,19 and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And praise be to God Most High,
    who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

We know very little of Melchizedek, king of Salem (Peace). Psalms tells us “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5-7 reveals that this is a reference to Christ.

Unlike the priestly line of Aaron, we know nothing of the genealogy of Melchizedek.

We know that he existed.

We know that he was a priest of the Most High God.

He was a priest of the Most High God living in the land of the Canaanites. It stands to reason, if he was a priest, that there were people he served as a priest. And those people worshiped the Most High God as well.

Too often we equate the fact that God chose to work through Abraham, and to share the story of how He worked through Abraham, with two ideas not supported by Scripture. First, we assume that because the story of Abraham and his descendants is the central theme of the Bible that God only worked through Abraham.

The reality is that while the Bible tells us all that we need to know about God, it does not tell us everything. In fact, John states in 7:25, “25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” 

God is omnipotent and omnipresent. He is capable of being with each of the 7 billion inhabitants of the earth at the same time, hearing their prayers, answering their prayers, and guiding their circumstances without breaking a sweat.

Our second erroneous assumption is that God worked through Abraham because he alone was uniquely obedient or devoted to God. Joshua 24:2 tells us that Abraham and his family were pagans before God chose him: And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River[a] in old times; and they served other gods.”

God’s choice of a vessel is indicative of God’s power and grace, not the vessel’s worthiness.

If we know that God is not willing that any should perish, which we do, and we know that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone, and it is, we can be confident that God is able and willing to provide even the most remote people on earth with access to the saving knowledge of Christ. In many instances, He does this through the obedience of believers to the call of the mission field. But God is able to work in whatever way He chooses, through Melchizedek, or someone else. God is able to ensure that each person who has ever lived has the option of choosing to follow Him.

Because He is not willing that any should perish.

And because He is just.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

50 Valentine Ideas for Women

50 Valentine Ideas for Women
(Inspired by my friend John Nichols list for Men -  )

1.     Help him with his latest project by fetching tools as he asks for them (and knowing the difference between a screwdriver and a hammer).
2.     Buy his favorite munchies for the big game or make the Superbowl dip he loves, even when it isn’t the Superbowl, just because.
3.     Dust and vacuum his office when needed.
4.     Help with the yardwork.
5.     Write him love letters.
6.     Post love notes in places where he will find them. Ok, so this means putting them pretty much in plain sight or where he would have to move them to, for example, open his laptop.
7.     Sit next to him on the sofa.
8.     Clean up the mess he leaves in the bathroom sink without complaining about it.
9.     Hold his hand in public.
10.   Allow him to be your protector; don’t play the ‘feminist’ card when he is opening the door for you.
11.   Stash his favorite snacks somewhere the kids can’t find it, so they are on hand when he wants them.
12.   Fill a jar with notes of all the things you love about him or verses that you are praying over him.
13.   Read a book he recommended, and (try to) discuss it with him.
14.   Watch the game – and really pay attention and try to follow the action (without asking a bunch of questions like “Did the Cowboys just score a home run?”)
15.   Greet him with a kiss and hug many times daily, especially when leaving or arriving home.
16.   Say something complementary every day. Mean it.
17.   Get tickets to a game you know he’d love to see but would never splurge on himself. Send his buddy with him.
18.   Keep the debris from piling up in your car – take care of the things that you both have invested in.
19.   Be thoughtful and deliberate in your spending and stay on budget – do not waste money on frivolous things, especially if he is the sole provider.
20.   Listen to what is stressing him out at work – or accept if he doesn’t want to talk about it and don’t push for more information.
21.   Never give him a reason to doubt your faithfulness. Flirt ONLY with him.
22.   Support his hobbies and interests. Don’t insist on being with him every moment.
23.   Change the sheets on the bed.
24.   Make sure you don’t bash him in front of your friends – even jokingly – brag on how wonderful he is.
25.   Make breakfast. On a weekday.
26.   Dream together.
27.   Jump in to help shovel snow.
28.   Run to the store for that one item instead of sending him.
29.   Keep him company while he watches a golf tournament.
30.   Pray together.
31.   Step up to assist with his ministry at the church.
32.   Encourage his bro time. Set a tee time for him and a friend.
33.   Resist the urge to play the role of Holy Spirit. God can show him if he’s wrong.
34.   Think about how your behavior or words reflect on him. Do not do things that embarrass him.
35.   Exercise together.
36.   Take him away for a romantic weekend.
37.   Be nice to his family. Especially his mother. She is the first woman he ever loved.
38.   Show your children, by word and deed that their father has your love and respect. Honor him even when he isn’t present.
39.   Display his picture in your work space. Wear your wedding ring.
40.   Play his favorite board game.
41.   Keep your legs shaved. Even in the winter.
42.   Even when you’re making a basic meal, do your best. Make his favorites.
43.   Answer his call at work if possible. Call him back as soon as possible if it is not.
44.   Be there in the moment when you are with him. Turn off the cell phone or close the laptop when he’s talking to you.
45.   Watch your humor. If your friends are joking about men’s shortcomings, refuse to join in.
46.   Page through the photo albums together and remember the journey.
47.   Discuss the future. Plan and set joint goals.
48.   Offer your opinion when a decision is being made, present your reasoning completely and passionately, but once the decision has been made, support it whether you agree or not.
49.   Don’t ever remind him that you told him so.
50.   Live every day with the awareness that God has joined the two of you.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Hello, my name is Felicia and I'm a sin-aholic...

Have you heard the expression, “Sin will take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you are willing to pay?” Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” but we delude ourselves if we think it’s simply a matter of ‘occasionally I slip up.’

Like an alcoholic, unable to stop at “just one drink,” we are addicted to sin. With each little white lie, angry response, or lustful thought that passes without confession or repentance, the gravitational pull of sin grows within us. It drags us downward into behavior that once would have seemed unthinkable.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (a book written to a group of people who definitely understood the progressively destructive nature of sin) provides wise counsel to the sin-aholic:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

There is no sin so minor that we can shrug it off. No offense to God so petty that we need not see it for what it is: a stripe on Christ’s back, a thorn in his brow, Judas’s kiss (Sidewalk Prophets, He Loves Me Anyway).

Because it is not about that one sin alone. We must recognize that one sin, if not dealt with, will lead to another and another. As believers in Christ, we are not immune from the pull of sin. We haven’t arrived. We aren’t cured. And we won’t be cured until we see Jesus face to face.

Fortunately, the pull of God is far greater than the pull of sin. As we confront each sin, repent and turn toward God, we experience greater and greater freedom from the deadly draw of temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit in us as believers in Jesus Christ. Our victory comes not in a single battle, but in a million daily choices to turn away from sin.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking for True Love in 2014?

My study in God’s Word today focused on God’s unfailing love. The one desire all humans share is to experience unfailing love, as Proverbs 19:22 says, “What a man desires is unfailing love, better to be poor than a liar.” It only takes a glance at our culture to see the need all around us – people are looking for love. They are desperately seeking a love that will last, a love that will be faithful and true. Unfailing love. The Bible uses the expression “unfailing love” thirty-two times. But not once is this referring to human love. In each instance, “unfailing love” refers to the love God has shown to us – a love that meets every need of our hearts.

We often hear I Corinthians 13:4-8 quoted at weddings and in greeting cards referring to what true love ought to be – and yet, a quick review of the qualifications would prove that no human has ever loved perfectly in this way. We strive to. We seek it as a goal and some may express love well, but just as there is “none righteous, no not one,” there is also no one on Earth able to meet this lofty goal of perfection. But perhaps the intent in this Scripture is not to condemn us for failing to meet the perfect standard, but to reveal the One who does. The only One who can meet the need of every human being.

God’s love is patient. 2 Peter 3:15  “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.”

God’s love is kind. Luke 6:35  “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

God’s love doesn’t envy or boast. James 3:14 ” But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.

God’s love is not proud. Philippians 2:8  “And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

God’s love is not self-seeking. Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

God is not easily angered. Exodus 34:6-7 “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’

God keeps no record of wrongs. Psalm 130:3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?

God’s love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Psalm 5:4 “For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome,” Psalm 31:5 5” Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

God’s love always protects. Psalm 40:11 “Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me.

God’s love always hopes. Jeremiah 29:11 “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

God’s love always trusts. Jeremiah 17:5-8 “This is what the Lord says:
‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
    they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
    in a salt land where no one lives.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.’

God’s love always perseveres. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God’s love never fails. Exodus 15:13 “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.