I learned so much about my own life as I did this video. I pray it encourages you to know that God is never done with us. His work continues from season to season, and may even surprise you! Let God re-create you according to His purpose, for His glory.
Some of you may remember back in June 2017 I uploaded a video about God giving me a dream to do a web series. (Here’s a link to that video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9-6pqolUtE&t=2s) I thought I might be crazy…..months passed and I heard nothing more. Then earlier this year, He began to move. I’m astounded by how it all came together.
Here’s the teaser trailer! Synopsis: Shiloh ‘Rikki’ Stevens has a thriving ministry inspiring countless women to cling to God. But as her personal life crumbles, she finds herself holding on to God for dear life . . . and sometimes losing a grip. Created and written by Kim Cash Tate. Directed by Will Thomas.
There are not many Christian web series out there. Please pray with us that this series makes an impact for the glory of God!
I know that a good number of you are not on social media, so I wanted to share a post from yesterday. I’ve gotten questions about what’s next, now that we’re nearing the end of Second Samuel. This post speaks to that. Although I am not moving directly into another Bible study on YouTube, I do plan to do more topical teaching videos. I have not had a chance to do those lately—“When God Doesn’t Seem Faithful” was the last one—so I look forward to that. If you want to join the study of James, you can follow me here:
With the CLING YouTube study in First & Second Samuel winding down, I’d been praying about what’s next. My plan was to take a break from online studies and prepare for the Cling Conference (while writing book #4 in the series). But the Lord is moving me a different way. I’m always studying a book of the Bible regardless. And up next is a fresh in-depth study of James. Probably one of the questions I’m asked most is how do I study. So I’m moved to simply share the process, thoughts, insights, gleanings…..as I move slowly through this book.
If you’ve followed the CLING YouTube study, this will be different. For one, it will be based primarily on Instagram (posting to my Facebook page as well). Also, I won’t be covering a chapter per week. I study daily, so I’ll post more often, in smaller bits. I may spend three days breaking down one verse from different angles. I envision utilizing impromptu video and insta-stories as well.
Why an entire book? For the past eighteen years, I’ve focused on studying one book of the Bible at a time. My heart’s desire is to know God and to know His will as revealed in His word—and to be continually transformed by that. Studying an entire book in context is key. And there’s no “been there, done that” with respect to a book of the Bible. These are living words. No matter how many times I’ve studied a particular book, it blesses, strengthens, changes, convicts, and speaks in a fresh way.
I invite you to #comestudywithme. James is a hard-hitting book, and I don’t have to wonder if I’ll be convicted. But I know blessings will abound as well. And this is a CLING study. So as we study, we will seek to know God better and cling to Him. As James 4:8 says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
When do we start? Now. I will post as led. And this is #comestudyWITHme. So I’ll look forward to your thoughts and insights as well. Let’s dive in!
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free . . .” (Galatians 5:1). As believers, though we’ve been set free in Christ, we can find ourselves in bondage once again in numerous ways. Video #3 in the series speaks to the need to free ourselves so that we can run unhindered.
May the Lord give us grace to run free!
Today’s the day! Though I Stumble is now available! You can download as an e-book or purchase a paperback copy. For paperback, Amazon will be the quickest way to receive the book. Here are a few links to purchase:
The mini-devotional study, In Hot Pursuit, is now available as well! You can click Continue Reading…
The week the grand jury here in St. Louis decided not to indict officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown.
The week businesses and cop cars burned in Ferguson.
The week protests spread from coast to coast and beyond, in the aftermath of the decision.
The week social media erupted with vitriol and spotlighted indifference—within the body of Christ.
It’s no coincidence because God is sovereign, in all things. He gave us a day to pause. To lift our gaze above suspicion and accusation. To settle—maybe even check—our hearts. To remember that we are not all-wise or all-knowing, and would do well to humble ourselves . . . and our opinions. To reflect, seek, pray.
We’ve been given a special day to give thanks. For hope and peace in the midst of a troubled world. For certainty in a sea of chaos. For the gift of power, love, and a sound mind instead of fear. For eyes that see beyond, ears that hear within, and love that holds us close. For the promise that God is faithful, and righteous, and true, and just, and always . . . always . . . sovereign.
There’s no end to the list of reasons to give thanks. And yet, there’s one that says it all . . .
May He fill our gazes, saturate our hearts, uplift our thoughts, and renew our spirits.
“I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Your name forever.” Psalm 86:12
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
What’s the blog family doing today??
We live in an age of public life. We know what many of our friends and family are doing, when they’re doing it, and where—often in real time. Ministry life is no exception. We see posts and pictures about engagement in the community and in the lives of individuals. And we’re “killin’ it” if engagement is from a stage. There’s sure to be much made of that.
But for most of us, much of what we do is practically hidden. When we rise in the night to check a sick kid’s temperature. When we wipe a nose, change a diaper. When we pray for those whom the Lord has put on our hearts. When we know workers by name at the local store and show them kindness. When we show up for our jobs on time and work with excellence and integrity. When we do laundry, mop the floor, or note that our husband is running low on his favorite coffee, and we replenish it. When we read aloud to our little ones or prepare the day’s homeschool lesson.
It can seem as if these things aren’t “big” things. You’ve likely heard someone say, “I’m just a stay-at-home mom” or “I just [do this job or that].” Our kids don’t post, “My mom is “killin’ it” in getting dinner on the table or taking time to listen to their hearts or to teach them what they need to know about life and God. But that’s what many of us do. Every day. Quietly.
I love these verses:
“Whatever you do in word and deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
Whatever you do . . .
If you think that what you do is small or inconsequential, know that God thinks differently. How can it be inconsequential, if it’s done in the name of the Lord Jesus? God values the hidden work of the heart and home. He delights in that which brings Him glory, even if we’re the only ones who know we’re doing it. In fact, in this social media age, we should check our hearts before posting about good works. The public accolades might be the reward, rather than an eternal reward from “your Father who sees what is done in secret” (Matthew 6:6).
I’m so glad He sees. And I’m thankful He gives us the grace to press on, living unto Him and Him alone . . . for His glory . . . whether or not anyone else sees.
Have you felt that “whatever you do” is small or inconsequential? Are you tempted to compare your “whatever” to others? Does it encourage you that God sees?
Sunday morning before church I was reading a few Psalms. I came upon Psalm 51 and noticed it was bare—that is, no colored pencil marks. I got a new Bible some months ago, and part of me wishes I could somehow transfer all the markings I made in my other Bibles. But I also love reading it “fresh” and marking words/phrases that may not have struck me before.
So I got out my pencils and marked what stood out. “Sin” seemed to be everywhere in the first few verses, along with “iniquity” and “transgressions.” Then I saw “cleanse,” “clean” (2x) and “whiter than snow” . . . and marked those.
But what struck me next were the imperatives.
Be gracious to me . . .
Wash me . . .
Cleanse me . . .
Purify me . . .
I made a list and was moved by the beauty of the prayer—and the ever-present need for the prayer. King David wrote this psalm in godly sorrow over his affair with Bathsheba. But these words extend beyond those circumstances. Always, I desire the Lord to be gracious to me, to sustain me, to deliver me (from worry, doubt, fear, or whatever might take hold), to renew and restore, and so on.
So, it was going to simply be a handy list in the margin of my Bible. Until I was moved to transfer it to a picture graphic . . . and then moved to share it on the blog. I love praying Scripture. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. There’s so much in just two words like, “Sustain me . . .” And oh, His sustaining power!
What words from the Psalm 51 prayer stand out to you?
I finished writing Hidden Blessings a year ago. Yet, maybe more than any other book I’ve written, themes from this one have stayed with me. This may be the biggest—that time is short.
“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” –James 4:14
In various ways, this truth has motivated me these past months. It has burdened me. And this past week, it grabbed me even tighter.
I received a text message about a friend named Carissa. I met Carissa and her husband on our trip to Israel in February. In fact, we were on the same plane out of Newark, though we didn’t meet until we landed in Tel Aviv. We hit it off right there in the airport, found out we were both married twenty years, both homeschoolers. Over the course of the trip, Carissa’s smile was ever present, her laughter infectious. And I loved that she took my finicky-eating son under her wing. When lunch one day consisted of pizza, and she learned he hadn’t eaten because he doesn’t like cheese, she dug into her bag, produced a chocolate Kind bar, and made him eat it. With a smile, of course.
We saw Carissa three weeks ago in Houston, when a few of us from the Israel trip attended a wedding. Afterward, our “Israel family” gathered at a Cracker Barrel, ate, and lingered in rocking chairs on the porch. Carissa was her usual bubbly self, full of smiles and laughter.
Then I got this text last week. It said Carissa had been diagnosed with cancer in her lungs, rib, and hip bones, and that it was inoperable—Stage IV. I stared at my phone. Surely it didn’t say what it said. I contacted Carissa directly, and tears welled when she confirmed. In her early forties with seven children (college-age down to preschool), she’d only gone to the doctor for chest pains. She was given a devastating diagnosis. (By the way, she has never smoked.)
Carissa and her husband love the Lord, and their faith is strong. Her husband posted this on Facebook when they got the news: “Our hope has always been in the Lord and remains securely there. He has always been faithful and will continue to be – it is His very nature – as is His mercy. His Name is worthy to be praised as the sun rises this morning.”
Carissa’s family and friends (including her Israel family) are praying, believing, asking God for mercy, healing, strength, grace, peace, and beyond. We know that no one has the final say but God, who numbers our days.
And in the midst of this, I am burdened all the more with that same thought . . .
Time is short. For us all.
If God Himself told me I only had a few months to live, what would I do with that time? How many conversations would I have with people about the Lord? How many would I tell that God so loved the world, He sent His only Son, so that we would not perish but have everlasting life? Would I fear rejection or persecution over sharing the truth of God’s Word, if I knew I didn’t have long? Would I people-please? Tarry in sin? Would I be more diligent about obeying the promptings of the Spirit?
How much small stuff would I sweat? How much would I worry? Would I be slow to forgive an offense? How many more “little” moments would I pause to enjoy? Or sunsets. Or gentle breezes. What kindnesses might I show a stranger?
Would I spend more time with the Lord, if I knew I would soon be in His very presence? Would His Word mean more? Would I feel an urgent sense of purpose?
However my focus would change if I knew my time on earth was short . . . that’s the focus I pray to have now. Because my time is short. Soon I will be in the presence of my Savior and Lord, in a glorious place that does not compare with this world. And I want to live accordingly, making the most of the days I’m given here.
How about you? How would your focus change if you knew you didn’t have long on this earth? Does James 4:14 motivate you to make any of those changes now?
P.S. Here is a picture of Carissa and her sixteen-year-old daughter from earlier this month at the wedding, before her diagnosis. I asked Carissa if I could post her story. She said, “Absolutely! Give God all the glory!” Would you please say a prayer for my dear friend and her family?