In The Driver's Seat

Knowing that God goes before us and often leads us out of harms way gives me a wonderful sense of security. I hope I never forget that He brings me into the spacious places David talked about in Psalm 18. And it would be easy to continue to cruise along life’s highways and byways, staying safe, and never venturing down some unexplored path. Yet I think in order to experience spiritual growth, we should all look for opportunities to step out of our comfort zones.

While our reliance on God in all aspects of our lives is crucial to an intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe, I don’t believe we are to live our lives isolated from the world. Taking the gospel to all the earth is the impetus for missionaries who carry the truth around the globe. Many are called into that ministry. But what about those of us who aren’t?

Some serve in various ways within the parameters of church. Others serve in well known organizations like the Salvation Army, reaching out and meeting needs, regardless of a person’s faith or beliefs.

But I believe we must go beyond the walls of churches or organizations and actively live our faith. In other words, WE must be in the driver’s seat, leading others who don’t know the way.

It comes first by making our stand as Christians, identifying ourselves as followers of Christ. “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35, NLT

Once we do so, then we have a responsibility to not only be an example to others in word and deed, but be willing to clear the way for them so they too can come into a spacious place.

It can be something as inconsequential as a smile to a stranger or as significant as financially helping someone in need. It could be taking the time to pray WITH someone who is struggling through difficult circumstances or encouraging a neighbor who lives alone. There are a thousand and one ways each of us could touch a person who doesn’t know God’s truth. Too often, I believe we think presenting the plan of salvation is the answer. But if we look at Jesus’ life, we’ll see a man full of compassion for the lost. He met their needs. Can we say the same for ourselves?

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:2-4, NIV

Blessings, Francine

Traffic Patterns

When you’ve lived in a semi-small town for as long as I have, you know the quickest routes, the easy short cuts, and which streets to avoid at certain times of the day. In other words, you know the traffic patterns by heart. And, when you leave for work as early as I do -- 5 a.m. each morning -- you also have few distractions and almost no traffic hassels.

In my town, many of the stop lights are “tripped” when a car approaches them during slow traffic times. I’ve learned that while having this convenience that changes the light almost automatically, I can count on having to come to a dead stop before the light actually turns green. Slightly annoying for an A-type personality like myself.

But today I learned something while following behind another car. As I was traveling up one of the main arteries through town, there was another vehicle ahead of me. We both pretty much stayed within the speed limit but there was enough distance between us that the other vehicle “tripped” the sensor to change the light before I even had to put on my brakes. I can honestly say it was one of the nicer drives to work. And it got me to thinking.

While, we as Christians, strive to follow our leader, I wonder how many times He’s cleared the way ahead of us to give us a smooth ride. Certainly most of us may recognize it when we are manuevering through difficult times or battling some of those mental traffic patterns that have a tendency to clog our thoughts and sometimes bring our peace to a screeching halt.

I have to think that there are more times than we realize when our Creator trips the sensor to allow us to peacefully steer clear of obstacles or other stumbling blocks without us even realizing it.

Maybe we should recognize that some of our unencumbered paths aren’t because of what we do but because Jesus has cleared the way before us, altering our spiritual and personal traffic patterns, and has steered us into more spacious places.

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. Psalm 18:19, NIV

Blessings, Francine

Between You and God

There are many things we keep between ourselves and God. That’s one of the wonderful privileges of having that intimate relationship. How blessed we are to have the Creator of the Universe love us and provide the Comforter to live within us, knowing our most secret thoughts and desires. We can pour out our innermost fears, our endless worries, and our deepest hurts to Him and He hears. Not only that, He knows the exact and perfect way to comfort us.

But what about when there is SOME THING between ourselves and God. What if there is unconfessed sin, a behavior we KNOW is wrong, or a habitual sin we can’t seem to let go of. And if not a sin of commission, it could be one of OMISSION. We so easily slip into routines that don’t include prayer or reading God’s word, thinking it doesn’t have a direct affect on our lives.

When our Father points out something we need to change and we don’t, the space between us and Him begins to grow. It might not be much at first. But the more we allow it to continue, the larger the space becomes. It can grow into something that is deeper than the deepest canyon and wider than the biggest sky.

The good news is that the Father rarely allows us to become comfortable with the sin or the behavior.

A sense of disquiet, distress, or disappointment nags us ... around the edges at first but as time goes by, our discomfort grows into an almost constant state of agitation. Peace and joy all but disappear and we no longer hear the Father.

Sometimes God speaks loudest in silence. If there is a gnawing sense of unrest in your soul, you may want to see if there is SOME THING between you and God and redirect your singular focus on the Creator.

“So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery].” James 4:7-8, Amplified Bible

Blessings, Francine

Not of This World

My previous post quoted Paul’s words from Romans (Romans 1:18-32) where he basically talked about the depravity of this world and how bad it would get. It’s easy to look at all the behaviors he listed and easily agree.

BUT -- we must never forget that sin is sin; whether it’s the seemingly out of control behavior we see today or something as simple as not loving our neighbor. You see, it doesn’t matter. True, Paul’s words resonate with the idea that the more people sin, the more they will sin and the possibility of God giving them over to that sin. But we must not convince ourselves that our sins aren’t as bad as those Paul is talking about.

As I’ve noted before, Jesus gave us two commands to follow: Love God and Love others. I’ve also written that love is an action verb. It means we are to do more than just have “loving thoughts” of others. We must put into action Jesus’ commands.

We can look around our world and agree that it appears it’s out of control. But we are not to look at the world. We are to look at our Creator. He is in control. Nothing happens that He is not aware of. Nothing happens that He couldn’t stop. After all, He spoke this universe into existence.

I do not claim to know God’s intentions in letting things appear to be unraveling. He tells us, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NAS)

Finally, we have God’s word that He will heal us: “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:13-15(Amplified Bible)

Blessings, Francine

A World Gone Mad

I continue to be amazed by God’s truths revealed in His word. It’s interesting that in the chapter immediately following Acts (where we see the birth and growth of the Christian church), we find a chilling prediction of today. There is nothing I can add to these words -- except our hope in Christ.

“But God's angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn't treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

"So God said, in effect, "If that's what you want, that's what you get." It wasn't long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!

"Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn't know how to be human either—women didn't know how to be women, men didn't know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.

"Since they didn't bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it's not as if they don't know better. They know perfectly well they're spitting in God's face. And they don't care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!” Romans 1:18-32, The Message

These words from my heart are heavy, burdened for a world that seems so out of control. But the hope of Christ offers anyone, ANYONE, the gift of forgiveness, a peace that goes beyond human understanding, and eternal life.

My prayer is that these truths will speak to someone today and they will realize just one person can make a difference if they are willing to reach out with the Good News.

There's a song by Casting Crowns called "Until the Whole World Hears." Listen to the lyrics (you can find it on YouTube or visit Casting Crown's web site --, and then do something.

Blessings, Francine

The God of Always

“If I go up to the heavens, you are there, if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:8-10, NIV

While God has always been … and always will be, there is a comfort in knowing He is the God of Always. He is always there … beside us, with us. David talked about that in this Psalm.

In fact, David also said in verse 5, “You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.”

In the darkness when our worst fears become reality, God is there. While it may be hard to understand how a loving God could allow the most horrible of things to happen, we cannot blame Him.

We can try to figure out the why’s and the how’s of all the bad things that happen but we may never truly understand. That’s not the point. The God of Always had a Son. In the midst of heartwrenching pain, He is our comfort – He is our victory.

Jesus was and is there with us. In fact, He was and is there beside us, not only weeping and heartbroken by our suffering but feeling what we feel. He is doubly pained within whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Imagine – Jesus experiencing horrors of our worst nightmares that become the reality of our lives.

Oh, He knows what we experience. Maybe even more than many of us will ever realize. And because of that He can comfort us. The Holy Spirit knows the subconscious turmoil that even we can’t begin to comprehend. And Jesus comforts us in ways we can’t understand or explain.

You see, the God of Always sent His son to not only take on the burden of our sins, but to reclaim us and make us whole. We will never be the same again … yet, is anyone ever the same?

We cannot un-do the pain we’ve suffered. But we can move from victim to victor through the victory Christ won on the cross.

“... and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Blessings, Francine
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