True North

When navigating a ship to a destination, it is critically important to pay attention to the integrity of the vessel, the charts, the weather, and making sure the crew is capable and able to do their job. It’s a huge responsibility. Going off course due to external forces or internal issues is a serious matter. It happens to

  • Businesses
  • Churches
  • Educational institutions
  • Marriages
  • Families
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • You
  • Me

Have you ever woken up on a particular day and wondered how you got where you were? Sometimes it is by not-so-careful planning. Being off course, even just a little, over a long period of time can really put you in a place you were not intending. How does one stay oriented to True North?

There are so many distractions in life that try to sway me off course. Of course, there are the things of this world that are shiny and fun. Then there are the ugly things of this world that cause me to really wonder about humanity. And then there are the things inside of me that I fight to get out of my life. Or the good things I fight to have in my life like:

  • Prayer
  • Bible Study
  • Gathering with other believers
  • Membership in a healthy congregation
  • Service
  • Confession
  • Forgiveness
  • Accountability
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Holy Communion

God has good gifts for us that draw us closer to Him, strengthen us for the journey, and keep us oriented. The tools are there to help us stay the course but we need to use them.

Heavenly Father ~ Grant us the courage and strength to use the tools You have given us! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

On the Road,



How did I get here?

small self control

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ How did I get here?

There have been many times I have asked myself this question, particularly as I was analyzing a challenging moment in my life like a:

  • bad grade
  • financial problem
  • relationship challenge
  • unhealthy behavior
  • sick feeling in my gut

Can you relate? Are you where you want to be? Do you have any thoughts on why you are where you are? Are there things you want or need to change?

Sometimes I ran to the unfortunate places I have gone. Sometimes it was a little “indiscretion” that was a tiny step by tiny step progression until I landed squarely where I ended up. On occasion it was someone who seemed healthy or trustworthy who influenced my path but I continued the journey as I worked my way through some distorted understanding of myself and the world. Unchecked emotions or behavior has led me to difficult places. And sometimes it took a long while to extricate myself from those spots.

Changing bad habits is difficult and demanding work. I know because I have worked on a few in my day. If you find yourself in a place you wish you were not you might want to incorporate a few of the following ideas:

  • Take an honest look at your situation.
  • Confess your issues to God and ask for His help
  • Find a healthy accountability partner with whom you can be completely honest
  • Visit with your pastor
  • Join a support group

This may sound crazy but there are times when others may not be supportive while you work on your bad behavior. Others close to you might not be happy with efforts and they may actually try to sabotage your progress but keep moving to a healthier place.

We are all in process.  We all have things to work on. Some of it is big stuff and some of it is fine-tuning some little stuff. If you have ever worked on a big thing please have compassion on those who are in the middle of their big project. You likely are able to offer some hope to someone just beginning his/her journey of change. A little encouragement can go a long way for someone who is downtrodden by the weight of his/her sin and the consequences of bad choices.

What is in Your Food?

It’s the talk these days, you know. Pink slime and GMO’s and pesticides. It is overwhelming to watch the videos and read the books but I do what I can. It is important. Not all food is created equal. The healthiest food has the least processing, the fewest additives, and is organic. More fruits and veggies and legumes, please. I like my grains processed as little as possible. Fast food is something to stay away from, even though it’s cheap and puts something in a hungry belly.

And so it is with religious institutions. Even Christian ones. Are you in a place where, as God’s Word is preached, it is infused with man-made additives that distract and pollute? Are you finding the lists of things to stay away from are longer than the lists of things we are called to do? Are you being taught things that might seem reasonable but aren’t actually biblical?

Take a look at your spiritual food supply. Is someone trying to control yours? It is important that you question when things are presented as God’s law but truly are not. Ask questions, seek counsel from others, and do not simply surround yourself with people all taught by the same human authority figure. This isn’t easy, but if you are so involved in a “like-minded” group that no one is in a position to discern a problem, it is important to step out and ask trustworthy others about your concerns.

Regular food is important. Spiritual food is important. If someone is messing with your food, you need to address it. Don’t blindly trust the USDA, the FDA, or some person in position of authority who does not allow himself or herself be accountable to others. If you know of people caught up in this sort of situation, pray for them. Pray for God and His pure and unadulterated Truth to reach them. And if they come knocking on your door for insight, show them the pure Gospel.

Children, Parenting, and Pride

Do you know or parent a child who is very compliant?

NEWSFLASH: It’s most likely a personality trait. Your awesome parenting did not create a compliant child.

Do you know or parent a child who is strong willed and likes to buck at every turn?

NEWSFLASH: That is also mostly a personality trait. Your parental mistakes (and friends, we ALL make loads of them) did not create a child who insists on blazing their own trail!

Do your remember Adam and Eve? Created by a perfect God, living in a sinless world, and no “good” excuse for their choices. Even they did not follow God’s directions!!!

NEWSFLASH: You will never be a more perfect parent than God!

If your kids are compliant (or obedient) most of the time, don’t take the credit for it. Compliance is most often a God-given personality trait.

Don’t be prideful in your parenting. You can learn all you can and do the best you can but don’t put your kids and their behavior on a pedestal. Whenever you see kids put on a pedestal, it is because the parents want to be on the pedestal but this is a more accepted way of getting the accolades. I think we can all agree though, it is obnoxious and exhausting to be friends with people who always need to talk about the amazing things their children accomplish. By the same token, there is no need to humiliate and shame your children for mistakes. Quite honestly, there are a ton of natural consequences that come with risky behavior, even some that we have to live with. While we would like children to learn these hard lessons sooner rather than later and with as little pain and embarrassment as possible, sometimes it takes a lifetime of learning. They will learn as they grow. We all do.

“Pride attaches undue importance to the superiority of one’s status in the eyes of others; And shame is fear of humiliation at one’s inferior status in the estimation of others. When one sets his heart on being highly esteemed, and achieves such rating, then he is automatically involved in fear of losing his status.” Lao-Tzu

While I am not a big fan of Lao-Tzu, there is some great insight in that quote. Pride and fear are very interconnected. Pride can mess up quite a bit of stuff. I have seen it cripple people, families, congregations, and ministries. Be careful! It can creep up on you. If you consider yourself above accountability, then you have some issues with pride. If you do not ask for accountability and allow people to hold you accountable for what you do and say, then be ready for that ugly day when it all comes crashing down. It is important to take this issue of pride seriously. It is often something we can see in others more quickly than we can see it in ourselves. Ask God to reveal your areas of pride. Take the risk and ask an honest friend too.

Every time I land in Proverbs I am reminded that I need to spend more time there:

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed
than to share plunder with the proud.

[Proverbs 16:18-19]

Lord, You know me inside and out. You created me. You love me. You desire for me to learn and grow. Pride is not a part of what You desire for me. Bring me to a greater place of dependency on You. When You see pride in me, You also see fear. Replace that fear with trust in You. Let me be real, accessible, and accountable. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!


I’ve been thinking about bad habits lately and as I pondered one of my success stories, it was a wee bit creepy to look back at how I used to think about this certain thing.

I saved for you

I searched for you

I panicked when you weren’t available to me

I looked forward to our refreshing time together

I remember your presence at many of my life events – both large and small

I heard you had a negative impact on me but I just closed my ears… I didn’t want to listen

There were many days when I used you as a reward for getting through a negative experience

I often saw you multiple times in a day but towards the end I started limiting how much of my attention you would have.

Now I see you and….

I might give you a second glance but I don’t look for you any more. I am glad to say I hardly miss you though occasionally I do. I certainly am no longer your biggest fan. I don’t devote much thought to you at all. When I see you, I don’t have to have you.

Can you believe all of that was over diet coke? Crazy but true. I didn’t grow up with pop in my house. I really don’t remember when it became so important to me but it probably has to do with when I worked at McDonald’s. It was free so what the heck? How quickly something that is free can become something that is binding. There is no freedom in that. I look back at my “affair” with diet coke and I can see the big picture of it now and it encourages me to tackle some of those other bad habits I’ve adopted. It has probably been at least 2 years since I have been enamored with diet coke but I know my personality….something else has moved into that top spot. But my success with this issue gives me hope!

Is there something you suspect you have an unhealthy attachment to? Unfortunately, these days there are so many options! Is there something you have convinced yourself that you deserve or you find sneaky ways to get access to it? Find an accountability partner and talk about it. Ask for prayer to change your behavior. Ask God to change your perspective and give you the strength to overtake the stronghold in your life. Practice saying adiós to this “bad friend” until they are so out of the picture your heart doesn’t race when you are in the same room. You can do it!

Adiósdiet coke, you have been a bad friend!


PrayerPoint ~ The Warning ~ March 2

Since the tornado of 2005, the Evansville area has had a lot of weather warnings. It isn’t always easy to distinguish between the thunderstorm siren and the tornado warning siren but since we are generally home, I don’t stress about it. I can check the tv, radio, or weather tweets on my Twitter account. 

I don’t mind these warnings because they are important. They cause me to stop whatever I think is so important to do and pay attention. The community warning is general and it is up to me to heed it and respond appropriately.

Why is it so much harder to take a behavior warning from a friend? Would you really want to hear it from a stranger? 

Have you ever been in a position when your course of action was not in line with what you professed to believe and someone noticed and actually risked your relationship to mention it? Oh boy–not very fun at all. I have been on the receiving end of that type of conversation. It is so tempting to excuse and explain and justify the behavior. I think the best course of action is to listen to why your friend is concerned and possibly just receive the info and consider it without defending it immediately. Mull it over. Is the concern justified from their point of view? Just listen.

And what about when you are noticing someone sliding down a slippery slope? Oh what a difficult and risky conversation to have. Prayer, pray, pray about the conversation you think you might want to have. When someone is bound and determined to sin, they are often not willing to listen to a concern. Remember to examine yourself first. How have you been behaving lately? What are your motives? Do you have the type of close relationship with this person that you each are agreeable to being help accountable? 

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15 NIV

Where are you likely to be enticed? Take stock of your friendships today and consider inviting someone to be your accountability partner in an area that might be an easy temptation for sin. Be vulnerable but use discernment.  Invite someone you trust to pray for you in your areas of concern. It is much easier to set up these types of close relationships now when things are going well. And think ahead about how you might receive a warning. Sometimes they are the difference between life and death.


“Sin will take you farther than you ever intended to stray, It will keep you longer than you ever intended to stay and cost you more than you ever intended to pay.” Author unknown

Have you ever found yourself in a frustrating place of sin and thought back to when that particular stronghold may have started? Definitely a sobering thought. Recently we had a local school principal arrested for shoplifting at Kohl’s. She was in her early 50’s. There was a lot of newspaper television coverage and she no longer works as a principal. Wow. Who knows when that all started for her.  This sin took her on an ugly journey.

Sin is just like that. We justify and rationalize our behavior and get defensive when it is brought to our attention. But later we find ourselves repeating that same stinkin’ scenario over and over again and trying to get free from the grip of sin. What can we do? Here are some actions that can help:

  • Confess
  • Seek Forgiveness
  • Have an accountability partner
  • Surround yourself with Scripture
  • Pray
  • Change your scenery or routine
  • Forgive yourself

Be open to insight from more seasoned Christians who may have the ability to see you are headed down a dangerous path. Sometimes those rebukes come from someone who has walked a similar road and desires to save you from the pain and consequences they experienced. Sometimes we are so blind to current or future consequences of our sin that we are shocked when a concerned friend brings forth a warning. Be approachable.

As long as we are human we will have setbacks. Will you allow a setback to give you an excuse to go further down a dangerous path or will you allow it to help you see your vulnerabilities and give you the chutzpah to forge through temptation the next time?