A Time to Refrain from Embracing

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Saying goodbye to winter in Mohács, Hungary

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

re·frain1    rəˈfrān/   verb

stop oneself from doing something.  “she refrained from comment”   “the demonstrators have promised to refrain from violent behavior”

synonyms: abstain from, desist from, hold back from, stop oneself from, forbear (from), avoideschewshunrenounce;

informal swear off;
formal forswearabjure
It doesn’t seem that people refrain from much these days! So many families would still be intact if people would refrain from embracing those they have no business embracing…or those who have issues with addiction would abstain from alcohol and other drugs…and, really, the list can go on and on. And on.
Honestly, I struggle with it myself as well. There are things I need to refrain from and the season of Lent is always a good time to really contemplate those things. Each day I should be sontemplating these things. What are those behaviors I need to finally set aside for my own mental, physical, and spiritual health? It doesn’t have to be illegal for it to be unhelpful in my daily walk. What things should I refrain from because others look to me as an example or simply because the behavior is sinful and I know better.
I know better and I choose to do what I want anyway.
I don’t believe knowledge is power. Knowledge may bear some potential for power but nnowledge alone is ineffective. Grafting knowledge with a change in behavior is getting closer to where the real power lies. We are absolutely sinners, each and every one of us. But that doesn’t mean we need to keep on actively sinning.  There are many behaviors that lead to challenging consequences and yet we still participate in those things. We might not do the same things as one another, but we all do things that compromise ourselves and others.
What is one thing that trips you up and has regularly caused problems in your life? Is it time you put more effort into removing it? Sometimes knowing why helps but sometimes the “why” doesn’t much matter — that “seeking” can also be used as a crutch to inaction.
I am comforted when I see God’s Word and I know that others have struggled before me with these ideas, with the sin, with knowing they can be loved and wretched, all at the same time. And I am convicted of not tapping into God’s strength and grace to overcome my evil foes!

 14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. [Romans 7:14-25 NIV]

On the way,



When I am home, I have a few routines. Nothing fancy; they mostly involve how my morning starts and how my day ends. But when I am traveling, most routines are out the window.

Are there special ways you start and end your day?

Routines give birth to habits and can be great. Or not. Do I routinely criticize how someone does something? Do I regularly complain about every little thing? Do I have a tendency to give a harsh response to simple questions?

Have I developed some bad habits that I need to get rid of?

Disrupting routines helps me fall out of habits–both good ones and bad ones. But when I get back to regular life, I find that I easily return to the worn path. Those “ruts in the road” are hard to deny so I need to choose my ruts carefully because those will be the very things that pull at me as I am cruising through life.

When I switch up my routine, it helps reveal my habits. And when I find habits that need to change, it’s best to tackle that head on. First, I pray for the strength to go against my sinful nature. There will be numerous times to practice in any given day! Then I might find a friend and tell them what I am hoping to change. Verbalizing my intentions helps me stay the course because I have spoken them to another human and I really don’t want to report back that I have failed. That is because I have a tendency to be an “obliger” read more about the Four Tendencies here…

I have choices on how I can respond. Unfortunately, when I find myself in a “negative” situation I don’t always choose well and sometimes I try to justify my ugly response. But, with God’s help, a little practice, and outside accountability I can choose the better way.

On the Road,




Yours, Mine, and Theirs


Sometimes I wonder. Sometimes I worry. And sometimes I get anxious!

God’s Word tells us “Do not be anxious…” but there are times I am.

I know the truth of God’s Word but we are sinners living in a sinful world. Your sins, my sins, and their sins all can impact us and cause a lifetime of pain and consequences. Life isn’t all about rainbows and fluffy kittens. Some people are living in very hard situations. There are times I look at what some people are going through day after day and I have no idea how they survive except by putting one foot in front of the other and carrying on and clinging to their faith.

But there is more to this life!

Some people are bogged down in difficult life circumstances and others are caught up in the race of acquiring more and achieving more. Sometimes it is easier to hold onto the depths of God’s truths when we struggle because climbing the ladder of success and notoriety takes a lot of time and effort and often some very important stuff can easily be lost in the ascent. Whatever the circumstance,  it is easy to get distracted and disoriented when ugly things happen in life if not grounded in God’s Word and His gifts of grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love.

God’s words go against what we see in our world today. His promises and provisions don’t follow the ways of the world and I am so very glad! Posted below is the first verse of a sweet hymn. I didn’t grow up hearing this one but it is one I love to hear children sing! It is both simple and complex. As I look back over my life, I can see God’s gentle guidance and provision and I know that He will provide for me as the future unfolds before me!

I am Jesus’ little lamb,

Ever glad at heart I am;

For my shepherd gently guides me,

Knows my needs and well provides me,

Loves me every day the same,

Even calls me by my name!

   by Henritta L. von Hayn, 1724-1782


On the Road,


PrayerPoints ~ Friday, March 25th

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 109

“But you, Sovereign Lord,
    help me for your name’s sake;
    out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.” Psalm 109:21

God’s means for our deliverance was put in place since the beginning of time. Here we are to Good Friday where the scriptural accounts and the dramatizations help us understand a little bit more each year as we struggle to comprehend the magnitude of God’s love, His provisions, and Jesus’ sacrifice.

Lord, it is only through Your Name’s sake and only out of Your goodness that I can be delivered from sin and death. A broken and contrite heart you will not despise. Because of my sin, I am beyond broken but I am not too far from Your reach. Thank you, Jesus.

PrayerPoints ~ Sunday, March 20th


Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 16

“Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing. ” Psalm 16:1-2

There are always difficulties. Since the Fall of Man, there have been wars and disease and sin.

Theirs…Yours… and Mine.

And God continues to offer His grace and mercy and forgiveness and love. Along with those good things, He reminds us:

“Finally brothers,

whatever is true,

whatever is honorable, whatever is just,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,

whatever is commendable,

if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise,

think about these things.”   Philippians 4:8

Now, more than ever, I wonder where things are headed in our world. There is so much corruption, pain, illness, and death that I need to reorient my thinking multiple times a day. As Scripture says,

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 1:9

Life is hard. God is good. And God’s goodness is not dependent on my circumstances.

PrayerPoints ~ Saturday, February 27th

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 32

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ — and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”    Psalm 32:5

It is so easy to be so shocked and appalled and caught up in everyone else’s sin yet neglect our own important self-reflection and confession. Confession is so important because it is an acknowledgement of sin in our own lives.

Consider those things in your life you would like to confess because they weigh on you. You can certainly just confess those things to God — I find it helpful if I talk out loud since I am a verbal processor. But if you want some feedback in the way of spoken forgiveness, seek out a healthy pastor or priest for absolution.

Confession so often becomes one of those things we look for in others but, maybe, are not so keen on surrendering ourselves. Sometimes our busy and distracted lifestyle interrupts the time we need to contemplate our sin and confess it as such.

And the peace and healing that comes from confession? Unparalleled. That’s why it is said, “Confession is good for the soul!”

PrayerPoints ~ Wednesday, February 24

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 27

“The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?” Psalm 27:1

Psalm 27 has so much good stuff in it!

And still, even with knowing the truths that are there, at times I am still fearful. I think I dwell on too many “what ifs”. I cannot control the future. Even though there are times I wish I could, it is for the best that I can’t. The best I can do is control my responses to situations. Knowing that the Lord is my shelter, my fortress, my salvation, my light, and the stronghold of my life helps me  put the “what ifs” into a proper perspective.

Recently, to every “what if” I have been trying to say “even if” instead and I recount the promises of God’s presence, perspective, and peace.

Psalm 27:5 says “For in the day of trouble…” and it reminds me that we all have days of trouble. Sometimes there are many days of “trouble” in a row. But “he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

There is no end to hardship in personal relationships, work situations, physical health, or the circumstances found in the world today because we live in a world full of sinners who make selfish choices. I have made quite a few sinful choices myself to the pain and detriment of myself and others. But God works in and through us and, often in spite of us to share His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love to our hurting world!