Halfway through the Big Clean I’m ready to give up


It’s about halfway through a “Big Clean” that I feel like giving up,.

That’s because Big Cleans always make things look way worse before they ever get better.

I’ve been pulling out every scrap of trash from every corner cabinet in our home recently, taking every toy out of a toy box, dusting every book on every shelf.

It seems like such a good idea when I begin.  I am energized and enthusiastic.  This is the day I conquer the cabinet under the bathroom sink and I determine to declare victory.

I begin by taking everything out of the cabinet and that’s about when it hits me:  This is a big job.  This is probably a bigger job than I ever anticipated.

Dealing with all the mess is inevitably exhausting and discouraging and a little disheartening.

And maybe I don’t feel like doing it after all.

But at that point, of course, it’s too late.  I’m surrounded by piles of “stuff” and it has to  be dealt with because there is now no path to the door.

Unless I shove all the mess right back in there, making things worse than they ever were, I simply have to dig deep, take some big breaths of courage and just do it.

Throw out the ancient and the dirty.  Donate the never-used.  Reorganize the keeps.

Then at the end of the day, my kids come home from school, open the cabinet to grab something and they give me the victory prize:  “WHOA!  Mom has been cleaning in here!”

This type of roll-up-your-sleeves Big Clean is no easier in our hearts and our minds than it is in our homes.

It’s deeply humbling when the Holy Spirit reveals those hidden, dark corners of sin where trash and refuse have piled up over time.

And this is true, too, sometimes it gets far messier before it ever gets better.

Somewhere in the process, we might want to yell, “Stop!!  Just put everything back in the cabinet because I don’t want to deal!  It is too painful!”

Maybe that’s what happens when we submit our short tempers to Him, or our impatience, or our worrying, or our judging others, or our need to be in control, or any habit, any sin, any distraction that draws us away from God.

It’s easier to leave it be, but oh, it’s so much better when the Holy Spirit has completed the work and we can come to Him with the ancient things trashed, the dirty things cleaned, and the good things reorganized.

The prophet Hosea wrote about returning to the Lord, about giving up our waywardness and following God with all our hearts.

That’s revival, and personal revival is what I want and need.  You too?

Hosea said:

“Come, let us return to the Lord;
    for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
    he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
    on the third day he will raise us up,
    that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
    his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
    as the spring rains that water the earth.”

When I’m knee-deep in a Big Clean in my home and I’m surrounded by books, toys, and the fifty million papers that my children have accumulated, I need these reminders likes Hosea’s.

I keep going because I know it’s worth it.  Because there’s no turning back now.  Because even if it’s exhausting in the moment, at the end of this, I’ll be better off.

I’ll have neatly stocked cabinets, less overflow of “stuff” in my home, and fewer junk drawers!

In the same way, when God calls us to a hard work, we keep going because He assures us of what’s ahead if we don’t give up:

Hosea promised:

He can heal us.
He will revive us.
He will  raise us up.
We may live before Him.
He is as faithful as the rising sun and He will come to us like the spring rains.

But here’s the most beautiful thing about the revival God does in our hearts.

He does the work.

I’m the one wiping cabinets down with Lysol at my house.  I’m the one filling up trash bags and taking boxes of donations to the local thrift store.

But it’s the Holy Spirit who does the work of renewal and revival in us.

We submit.  We grant Him access.  We acknowledge our sin.  We pray for His help when we’re tempted or weary or we want to give up.

We yield and we yield again, but the work does not depend on us.  It is His and I am grateful.

Bible Verses on How God Changes Us and Transforms Us


  • Psalm 51:10 ESV
    Create in me a clean heart, O God,
        and renew a right[a] spirit within me.
  • Psalm 139:23-24 ESV
    Search me, O God, and know my heart!
        Try me and know my thoughts![a]
    24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
        and lead me in the way everlasting!
  • Ezekiel 36:26 ESV
    And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
  • Romans 12:2 ESV
     Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
  • 1 Corinthians  6:11 ESV
    And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
    And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[a] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.[b] For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
  • Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV
    to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
  • Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV
    Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
  • Philippians 1:6 ESV
    And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
  • Colossians 1:10 ESV
    So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
  • Colossians 3:10 ESV
    and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
  • 1 John 3:2-3 ESV
    Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Feeling like you need to do enough or be enough to attain perfection, to be holy, to earn God’s love?  Here’s the truth:

God’s love covers us …and cleanses us. Then, in His compassion, He transforms us.  He’s big enough and gracious enough to tackle our mess until the day He decides that construction is complete and He takes us home. So often, where God is taking us is less about our destination and more about our journey of becoming like Jesus.  God is more interested in our character than our accomplishments anyway (Anywhere Faith).

Want to hear more about how God continues to work in us to build our faith and help us follow
Him anywhere?  My new book, Anywhere Faith, releases TODAY!

And, in other big news, I drew the winning number from the giveaway  and the winner is Tina Watkins!!!  Congratulations, Tina!


Change is in the air (and I’m not always happy about it)


Sometimes you come right up to a line and you have to choose:  Choose to change? Or cling to the old, the worn, the ill-fitting but the known and comfortable?

Me?  I usually fight change, ignoring it as long as I can until I’m finally forced into it.

Change is relentless, though, like the arrival of new seasons.

Funny how I can dislike change so much, but still love fall with its consistent reminder that change is necessary and change can be beautiful.

In a way, this has been the topic of much discussion at my house.

For one thing, there’s this unstoppable force at work–this act of growing up–that we can’t pause, hinder,  or slow down.

I took my girls shoe shopping before the new school year began and the sales lady made the grand announcement: My daughter’s feet are bigger than mine.

Not the same size.  Bigger.

She’s been nudging close to me in height for the last year, but I still have maybe 1/8 of an inch on her there.

I never expected, though, to break through some kind of barrier while standing in the middle of the shoe store. That one snuck up on me.

Changing and growing and transforming: That’s what my kids are doing every single day. It’s hard to see up close.  Each morning, they look the same as they did the day before.

But then there’s last year’s school pictures.

Or the snapshots from a few years ago.

That’s where you see the truth of just how much has changed over time.

And yet, even my kids, as proud as they are of new growth chart markings and new shoe sizes, seem to push hard against changes to situation or even changes within.

They begin to “own” their quirks, foibles, and, yes, even sin.  I hear them say, “I’m picky about food.”

And it’s not a confession. It’s not a request to do better or to grow in an area of weakness.

It’s said with pride, like “this is who I am and that’s who I’ll be forever.”

“I can’t help it,” they say, “I’m loud….I like to be in charge….I like to spend all my money”

The message lies just underneath the surface: “This is who I am and I can’t change.”

So one day, I lean in close to my daughter as she makes another declaration about who she is and I say:

There’s only One who cannot change.  That is God and you are not Him.  Not only can we as humans change, but sometimes we should.

I was preaching to myself a little there, too.

It’s true.  God is unchanging.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last.  We can fully rely on His character and faithfulness because Scripture tells us He always has been and always will be faithful.

God does not change.

But He wants to change us.

He loves us as we are; He loves who we are; but He wants to move in our areas of weakness, in our hang-ups, in our sin-tendencies.

Paul tells us:

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a]the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).

The Message paraphrases this passage beautifully:

And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

Maybe all these ways I’m trying to hold back change, are really ways I’m trying to keep God from doing the beautiful work of changing me.

Maybe the circumstances I don’t want to accept, the relationship I don’t want altered, the “new” that I feel pushed upon me are God’s ways of molding me and making me more like Jesus.

And, that’s what I want.  I want to be more like Jesus every single day until eternity makes the process complete.

That means change. I cannot stay the same way and still become more like Christ.

It means cleaning out the closet of old, worn-out, too-small shoes (even if they are my favorite) and stepping into what’s roomier and gives me space to grow.

It means not holding onto sin, the weaknesses I consider “just who I am” or “just how I was made.”

Instead, we can yield to the Holy Spirit and say:

Have thine own way, Lord.  Have thine own way.  Thou art the Potter; I am the clay.  Mold me and make me after thy will while I am waiting, yielded and still (Adelaide Pollard).

Custard Didn’t Have a Last Stand

1 timothy 6

“Custard’s last stand.”

That’s what I hear my daughter say while playing in her room with her sisters.

I thought I probably just misheard.

Then I hear it again.  Nope.  I didn’t get it wrong.  “Custard’s last stand.” That’s what she said.

Goodness knows why in the world this subject has even come up at all, but at this point, I  pop my head in the room and say, “Custer.  Custer’s last stand” and I give them the 30-second history lesson.

My daughter pauses, shrugs and says, “Well, I like to say it my way.”

Now, sometimes this might be cute, funny, or creative, but this time I pipe up with, “But that’s wrong.  Custer is an actual person’s name from an actual historical event with an actual way to pronounce it.  And it is Custer, not Custard.”

She’s not impressed.

After all, we like the way we do things, don’t we?  We’re not generally jumping with joy and feeling all blissful when we’re corrected and asked to change.

She makes me wonder: how often do I shrug my shoulders at the Holy Spirit when He corrects me?

“Well, I like to do it my way.”

Is that what I say?

Is that what we say?

This remarkable, astonishing grace of God covers over the filth of our sin.  He drenches us with mercy and washes that grime away.

We are clean.  Made new.  Totally beloved children of God.

But in our efforts not fall into the pit of legalism, we’ve wobbled and teetered and sometimes crashed onto the other side.

I see it everywhere, the reveling in grace so fantastic that we avoid the call to holiness and sanctification.

The Holy Spirit corrects us and we shut Him down because we like to do things our way.

And, besides, there’s grace.  He loves us all equally, right?  He can never be disappointed in us, right?  He can never love me more or less than He does now, right?  He loves all of us sinners just the same, right?

That’s what we say.

But there’s some untruth we’ve mixed in there.  Jesus was disappointed with people; He was disappointed in the disciples at times.  God was pretty frequently disappointed in Israel.

I’m sure He’s been disappointed in me.

And, while I know He always loves me completely, I also know He’s more pleased when I obey Him than when I disobey Him, and He loves the humble heart, and He is amazed by great faith.

And there’s this:  

but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'” (1 Peter 1:16 ESV).

There are countless verses telling me to set myself apart for Him, to obey Him, to turn away from the flesh and all ungodliness, and to choose holiness over continual sinning.

I’ll tell you one thing the Bible does not say:  “You’re forgiven and loved by God, so sin all you want without feeling bad about it because God loves you anyway.”

Our conversations about failure have changed in the church.  We’ve learned not to hide it away.  We’ve stopped pretending we don’t all sin and we’re being open, honest, vulnerable about the shocking fact that we are in fact human, are in fact a mess, and are in fact imperfect and in need of a Savior.

We’ve shattered age-old fake holiness and now point with joy to God’s forgiveness and grace.

Amazing, amazing, amazing grace.

But what then?

Have we begun to glorify failure?

I sat around a table of women and one shared her struggle as we all nodded our heads in agreement.  Yes, yes, yes—we do that.  We get it.  We understand.

And then she does it. She shrugs and says, “But that’s just normal, right?”

Yes, it is normal.  But normal isn’t okay. 

God calls us out of normal and into holiness.

Do we pursue righteousness in our own strength?  Can we make it on our own?  If we just try hard enough, do we somehow attain perfection on our own merit?

No.  Way.

We are all of us utterly dependent on the redeeming grace of Jesus and completely incapable of earning salvation on our own.

I’m a mess.  It’s the plain truth of the matter.

And, I’ll tell you I’m a mess because I never want to act like I’ve got all this figured out or gotten my own self together.

But I’ll tell you something else, every single day: I want to be less mess and more Jesus.

I don’t want to stay rooted in sin because that’s just who I am and God will forgive me anyway.

I want to lean into Jesus more.

I want to respond like Christ, react like Christ, love like Christ, live like Christ .

I’ll get it wrong.  We all will.

But sanctification means not giving up the holy pursuit.

It means coming to Christ anew, confessing the sin, starting fresh, trying again….with His help, in His strength, through His grace looking more and more like Jesus every day.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Why I Want to Really Know My Kids

psalm 119

I was about 22 years old, married without kids, teaching other people’s children in the classroom when I started praying this prayer:

Lord, when I have children, please help me know them, not just the great things about them, but their sin and weaknesses, too.  I want to know what’s wrong so I can wade waist-deep into the mess of sin if needed to help them choose repentance and find grace.

As a teacher, you come face to face all of the time with the parenting phenomenon My-Child-Is-Perfectitis.

It’s thinking that your child could never do anything wrong, and evil influences from other less-perfect children or teacher error is to blame for any supposed wrongdoing.

Then I brought my own first tiny bundle of perfect babyhood home from the hospital when I was 24.

Even her doctor declared she was the “most perfect little baby” when I brought her in for the first appointment.

I beamed.

But I knew the truth: She was beautiful and a treasure and a gift, but she wasn’t perfect.

Maybe it’d be easier as a mom to shield my eyes from any of my kids’ mess-ups or mistakes.

It’d feel so much more comfortable focusing on what my kids do right and overlooking anything they do wrong.

(Okay, I’ll admit it, sometimes I just want to pretend I don’t see my kid take the extra cookie so I don’t have to actually roll my sleeves up and deal with it.)

But easy isn’t really what I’m looking for as a mom. I don’t want to do what’s comfortable; I want to do what’s best for my kids with the eternal in mind.

I’m thinking about this today in light of new scandals and news bulletins about prominent Christians who have fallen, sometimes repeatedly, into sexual sin.

I’m not one to engage in debates or public bashing here on the blog, but I’m processing Ashley Madison and the Duggars and other Christian leaders stepping down or being ousted from ministry because of adultery, pornography and the like.

What’s a mom to do in a world like this?

I know what’s true:

Even the best Christian parents have adult children who reject the faith and make bad decisions.

Of course, that doesn’t mean tossing my hands up in futility and just letting my kids do whatever they want.  I’m willing to pour myself out in this parenting effort.

But it does mean letting go of the pressure of perfection and realizing that far more depends on prayer than depends on my performance.

And there’s nothing I can pray more powerfully than for God’s mercy. God, in all my imperfections and in all the ways I fail, please draw me children to You anyway.  Mercy, Lord, I need so much mercy.

There’s something else that catches my attention as a mom, though.

Sin isn’t always “out there.”

I read an article on Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s response to the newest reports about their son and it breaks my heart:

‘This wasn’t something they ever imagined was possible,’ the source told People. ‘They so strictly limit their exposure to these sorts of outside influences – from websites to even the sort of television they watch, if they turn on the TV at all – that they were absolutely baffled by how this could have been possible.’

They thought that by keeping the world out, they could keep their kids pure, but their best efforts at that weren’t enough.

I’m a pretty protective mom about what we watch, listen to and read as a family, and that’s right and good.

Yet, if I teach my kids that holiness is the same as avoiding the world, we’re in trouble.

The far harder work is teaching our kids how to overcome temptation from within and temptation from without and choose to obey God no matter what.

Jessie Clemence wrote about this on her blog this week also:

I want this to go farther than just behavior management. I know we could cancel the internet service, destroy the technology, and isolate ourselves in our home. But that’s not what I’m looking for. I want to raise kids who seek God with every aspect of their lives. I want to raise kids who understand that porn and bullying and affairs break God’s heart and fall far short of the love of Jesus.

You cannot protect your kids from sin.

You cannot.

Because sin is in them.

It’s not the world that is sinful.

It’s humanity.

And that means us.

I’d rather make the effort now to know the true state of my kids’ hearts—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and battle right there with the truths about repentance, and holiness, and grace.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1 John 1:8-10 ESV).


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King


Soul-Suffocating: When Good Things Become Bad Things

Most of the children in our town don’t watch the Christmas parade from the sidewalk.  They are proud participants in the parade itself.  Almost every child ends up on a float of some kind, for church or school, daycare, ballet, karate, Scouts, band, or chorus.

It’s the moms, dads and grandparents who wave from the sidelines.

Two years ago, my oldest daughter rode all the way down the Main Street of our town, pulled behind Cinderella’s carriage.  Mostly her view of the parade itself was limited to either the folks lining the street or the few floats before and behind her in the line that she could see.

It was enough.

After we had climbed into the car and turned the heat on full blast to thaw the chill we felt deep in our spines and down through our toes, she asked a question that had apparently been on her mind during the whole parade route.

“Mom, there were Boy Scouts in the parade, right?”


“So….does that mean there are GIRL Scouts.”

I sucked in my breath.  “Yes, absolutely there are Girl Scouts and yes, they are totally wonderful and great and fun.  But you can’t do everything, my love.  Some things we have to let go.”

Even good things can become bad things.  Like when your five-year-old child wants to do ballet, piano, Awana, theater, Girl Scouts, gymnastics, horse-riding and anything and everything else represented by a float in our town’s Christmas parade.

We’re soul-suffocators, too, cramming so much into our lives we don’t have room to breathe.

And it’s not just time.  It’s things, and media, and noise, and friendships and just about everything that’s not necessarily bad, but which ultimately crowds out room for Jesus in the heart that’s supposedly His cozy and welcoming home.

I’ve grown sadly familiar with the phrase, “Everybody else ….” or “My friend has…” and “The other girls at school watch this TV show…”

Sometimes, I’m not just listening to this mantra, I’m the one delivering the whiny sermon to God.

“If others can have this, couldn’t I?”  “If she can do this, it’s okay for me, too, right?”

We’re sold by the advertisers and the infomercials and wooed by the parade of life that incessantly marches past good causes and activities and projects and the latest and greatest in home kitchen gadgetry.

And sometimes God asks us to lay it down.

These aren’t “Issacs,” we’re talking about, the areas of radical obedience that require us to trust and exercise extreme faith.

As Kelly Minter writes in her book, No Other gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idols, “before Abraham could ever offer up the child born of the miraculous, he first had to offer up the child born of his flesh” (p. 128).

Obedience to God begins with Ishmael.

Long before Abraham’s heart-wrenching journey to the mountain where he lifted his knife over his beloved son Isaac, Abraham had to let his other son go: Ishmael—the baby boy of Abraham and the maidservant Hagar.  For 13 years, Ishmael had been Abraham’s only child and while it turned out that he wasn’t the heir of promise, still he was loved.

And when Sarah demanded that her maidservant Hagar and the teenage boy, Ishmael, be thrown out into the wilderness, Abraham begged God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” (Genesis 17:20).

Our prayers echo his at times.  “If only you’d bless this, God!”  “If only this would be okay with you.  Isn’t this great and good and wonderful and won’t you bless it?”

We ask God to bless or at least tolerate our “Ishmaels,” those good things that aren’t holy things or the extras and objects of our affection that have never been part of God’s plan or design for us, but that we love and hold on to so very tightly.

Or maybe our Ishmael is the way we’ve tried to force God’s promises into being, impatiently rushing ahead of God’s timing and doing things our own way.

Kelly Minter reminds us, “He has grace on our Ishmaels, and yet he is unwilling to allow them to ever take the place of Isaac.  No, what is born of flesh can never substitute for what is born of the Spirit” (p. 127).

That’s no less a step of obedience than the radical sacrifice of Isaac.  It’s the letting go of Ishmael.

It’s submitting to Him our habits, our committees, our involvement, our activities, our parenting, our expectations for our kids, our relationships, our spending, our eating, our five-year-plan for our lives, our ministry, and the way we are pursuing His call.  Even if it’s good or right for others, even if it seems necessary or like it will help us reach his promises faster, even if we love it…we let it go if He asks.

We’re holding out for God’s best here; not missing out on the promise because we’re distracted and satiated, tired out, filled up, and content with everything else–everything less.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

How is a Christian like an Oompa Loompa?

The curtain rose and fell for the last time.  The makeup went on and the makeup came off (mostly–there are still streaks of orange along my daughter’s hairline).  Costumes were handed in and tucked away for future shows. A crew of folks broke down the set and put the pieces into storage.

My kids finished their summer-long project yesterday, an all-youth production of Willy Wonka Jr. sponsored by our local community theater group.  They auditioned the Sunday after school ended, rehearsed every week, and performed this weekend.

Now it’s time to kick back and enjoy a few weeks of rehearsal-free summer before school starts again.

Each night before the show, we arrived two hours early so the kids could climb into costumes and sit still for makeup.  This was a particularly involved process because my middle girl was an Oompa Loompa.

The Oompa Loompas are Willy Wonka’s devoted candy factory workers.  Refugees from a horrible land, they’ve come to live and work in his factory as loyal servants of their eccentric chocolate-making master.

Transforming into an Oompa Loompa is quite a task.  It’s more than just colorful shirts, socks and some overalls with curiously expansive hips.

There’s also a bright green wig covered in curls.

And there’s orange makeup–bright orange.

For these six through nine-year-olds, this was a matter of acting, putting on the outward appearance of another.

In the tradition of Lewis Carroll-like riddles, though, I’ve been wondering: How is a Christian like an Oompa Loompa? (Yes, I know Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland, not Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  What can I say?  I’ve got children’s fantasy on the brain . . . )

Peter wrote this description to the church:

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9 NLT).

The Oompa Loompas are peculiar.  They are “strange creatures,” unmistakably different from the kids and parents who visit Willy Wonka’s factory.

We also are supposed to be “not like that,” not like the world, not able to blend in with the crowd. God has changed us from the inside-out and people should notice the unique qualities of God’s love and righteousness about us.

I never once saw an Oompa Loompa hit the gym for an exercise routine targeted at reducing his hip-size.  They didn’t climb onto stilts to increase their height.  None of them hid in the bathroom for an hour to dye their hair and they didn’t even try to pass their orange skin off as suntan.

They were comfortable being weird.

Sometimes we’re not.  We’re too often trying to hide, transform, pretend, and deny the presence of Christ in us.

There’s freedom, though, in unashamedly being who God called us to be, in raising our hands in worship with abandon, in standing up for what is right with conviction, and not fearing the disapproving looks of those around us.

We’re supposed to be weird, too.

The Oompa Loompas were also refugees.  Willy Wonka had pulled them out of a land of fear and disaster and offered them a place of peace.

We’ve similarly been lifted up out of pits and carried to safety.  We are God’s “chosen people” and His “very own possession,” who no longer inhabit a hopeless world, facing inevitable death without the promise of a future.  He has “called us out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

So, we respond as the Oompa Loompas did; we cheerfully and faithfully serve our Master.

He has saved us!  We are rescued and redeemed!

It’s a little thing, then, to show gratitude and loyalty and to obey Him in every little thing.  We work, we love, we give, we minister, we sacrifice, we share, we worship because we are refugees brought to safety by a Savior who loves us.

The Oompa Loompas are also message-bearers.  As each Golden Ticket winner inevitably fails, falling to the temptations of  immediate satisfaction, selfishness, and greed, the Oompa Loompas take the stage. They clean up the mess.  They solve the problem.

They sing their song.

We also “show others the goodness of God,” sometimes by fixing problems and tending to needs, silently ministering grace.

Sometimes we “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), reminding others that God has a plan, purpose, and design.  We speak truth and wisdom in a world that desperately needs both, but we do it with love, covered over with grace, never out of judgment or pompous self-righteousness.

The Christian life is a call to be different, to be saved, to be devoted, to be messengers of God’s goodness, all without having to wear a green wig or apply orange makeup.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 05/05/2012–Stressing Over Stupid Stuff and an Undivided Heart

Hiding the Word:

It was all stupid stuff and it all stressed me out.

That afternoon, we spent too much time in the school library during the family reading time because my kids wouldn’t stop reading, which normally makes me grateful, but that afternoon made me a bit frustrated.

Then, while changing into her ballet clothes, my oldest daughter asked me to help her untie the knot in her laces.  “Sure,” I said, holding out my hand for one ballet shoe.

Instead, she plopped two ballet shoes into my hand that she actually had tied together last week because “it looked like fun.”  She was still giggling a week later.  I was not.  Now the slender laces of her slippers were pulled together in a knot that would have made any sailor or Boy Scout proud.

Zooming out of the school bathroom, across the school parking lot and into the mini-van, I still picked at the knot on the shoes unsuccessfully.  When we arrived at ballet, I reached into the bag to pull out the bobby pins and hair net and the other jumble of hair accessories we tote around in order to pull my daughter’s mass of princess-like hair into a perfect ballerina’s bun.

They were gone. We had left them all piled on the bathroom sink at the school.  I tugged a ponytail holder out of another daughter’s hair, made the messiest bun of all time on my oldest girl’s head, and ran into the ballet studio.

I asked the lady at the desk for scissors and held up the attached ballet shoes apologetically.  She haplessly searched for scissors—which she couldn’t find because of course most people don’t need to cut the laces of their ballet shoes before class.  Fortunately, a nice man with a pocket knife slashed the laces apart so I could run the shoes into my daughter, already poised at the barre and pointing her toes.

And so it went.  There were bigger stressors that day.  There were other petty annoyances still to come.  The crazy whirlwind of it all left me dizzy and exhausted, but I knew one thing was true:  Nothing that day was worth the frustrated attention I was giving it.

Nothing there was life-threatening or mattered in the eternal way that some things matter.  They were silly and foolish worries, just pests that nipped at my heels and made the simple treading through my day difficult.

Would less stress have made it all better?  Would untied ballet shoe laces or un-lost hair accessories have improved my day? Perhaps.

But what I really needed, what I usually need, isn’t a more smoothly running life with less obstacles and bothers.

I need the eternal perspective that only Christ can give, the reminder of what really matters now, what will still matter 20 years from now, and what God and I will agree matters when I’m hanging out in heaven and worshiping at His throne.

That’s the perspective Paul writes about in Colossians and it’ll be my verse for the week.  I encourage you to copy it down, pray over it, meditate on it, memorize it and ask God to help it change your perspective this week when life gets hard or even slightly tiresome or stressful.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1-2).

Weekend Rerun:

One Heart And Mind
Originally published April 21, 2011

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name”
Psalm 86:11

Multitasking is my spiritual gift.  Somehow the Apostle Paul left that off of his lists in Romans, Corinthians and Ephesians.  Even if it didn’t make the Biblical list, some of you share this gifting with me.  You mop the floor, do laundry, type emails, care for children, talk on the phone and make dinner all at the same time.  What can we say?  It’s a talent.

Usually my multitasking works quite well for me and truthfully I am sometimes bored when I am simply keeping one ball up in the air instead of juggling several.  But there are those moments, I’ll confess, when I open my pantry cabinet to find that I accidentally put the frozen broccoli away there and when I open up the freezer, there are the spaghetti noodles.  It’s a sure sign that I have too much going on and things are starting to fall apart.

Multitasking may work for me (most of the time) as I clean my house or plunge through my to-do list each day and yet its a choking hand of death on my quiet times with God.

This morning I sat at my kitchen table, my place for meeting with God every day.  My Bible was open and ready, my journal and pen set to the side waiting to be used.  My cup of tea was steaming hot, strong and sweet.  Everything I needed to spend some focused time with my Savior was at my fingertips.  Everything was prepared—-except my heart.

I was distracted.  Distracted a little by projects and to-do lists, the phone and the emails left unanswered.  Distracted by my children asking and asking for help.  Distracted a little by frustrations and situations needing to be handled.  My thoughts drifted to all of those things as I read the words on my Bible’s open page.  Words that normally hold power and relevance for me, the living and active Word of God, now made dull by a scattered heart and an unfocused mind.

Not wanting to give up, I prayed over Psalm 86:11.

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (NIV)

and in the Message:

“Train me, God, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true path.  Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear” (MSG).

I prayed, “Lord, create in me an undivided heart.  Put me together, one heart and mind—wholly focused on you.  There are so many things vying for my attention, captivating my heart, stirring up my emotions, and setting my thoughts wild.  Please fill me and focus me so that You alone are my heart’s desire.”

It’s not a magic formula, a mystical incantation that somehow brought clarity out of chaos.  No, it was a confession of desire.  A request for God’s strength in my weakness.

I am a forgetful and distracted creature, and I need the help of my God to cut through the clutter and noise so that I can pay wholehearted attention to Him.  That’s why David writes this verse as a petition to God.  He knew He needed heavenly help also.  He asks for God to “give” Him an undivided heart or, as the message says, to “put him together” so that he can be receptive vessel, prepared to hear and receive God’s teaching and training.  David knew He couldn’t achieve an undivided heart on His own.

And yet, I didn’t just pray this prayer and then sit down to the best quiet time ever, full of revelation and inspiration.  It took effort on my part to reject and discard the jumble of thoughts that kept popping into my mind.  I had to stand guard over my heart and not allow it to take my focus off God’s Word.

When I suddenly remembered an item for my to-do list, I jotted it down on a piece of paper and returned to Scripture.  When I started rehashing what was frustrating and upsetting me, I cut off my thoughts and whispered a quick prayer that God would take care of that situation.  And I returned to Scripture.

It was work, but it was worth it.

Paul prayed for the Thessalonian church, “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).  By asking God to give me an undivided heart, I was making a similar petition.  I was allowing Him to sanctify me (make me holy) through and through—spirit, soul, and body—and this brings me peace straight from the God of peace.


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Devotions From My Garden: It’s Crowded In Here

My daughters and I reached a compromise.

I announced that I didn’t want to grow a vegetable garden this year.  It was too much work for too little result.  It didn’t save money.  It started out fun in April and ended up a horrible, rotten, ugly chore by the middle of July.  Various ravenous insects destroyed and devoured my plants.

Their response was unanimous.  “But Ma—awm.  We like to grow our own food.”

So we narrowed down the lists of vegetables we would grow and planted a container garden on our deck.

On one of the warmest and sunniest days in April, we filled large wooden crates with garden soil, vegetable food and the tiny plants of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers we had chosen.  Then we dropped the carrot seeds into the dirt, following exact directions on how far down to push them and how far apart they needed to be spaced.

Mostly we worked together, but after a while my daughters disappeared to work on their own project. They held out the result to me with pride.  It was a small planter with dirt in it.

“We planted radishes,” they announced, “all by ourselves.”

I shrugged.  The radish seeds were leftovers from last year.  It seemed unlikely they’d grow.  Yet, the girls faithfully watered that pot for days and surprisingly they were rewarded by the first hints of green.

A day later, the pot was crowded by infant radishes.  The girls must have dumped 20 seeds all into the same tiny space in the miniature pot.

It was going to be really crowded in there.

Unfortunately, even though it is hard and a little sad, we now have to make some tough choices.  If all the radish plants remain in that pot, none of them will grow correctly.  Some of them have to come on out of there.

Sometimes our lives are just as crowded as that tiny radish pot.  Every single seedling may have potential for beauty, growth, and produce, but nothing can grow when they are all shoved into the small space of one simple life and the restriction of 24-hour days.

Even though it’s hard and a little sad, there are times when some things have got to go so that other areas of your life can grow to their full potential.

It’s not always a mystery when choosing what to toss.

When Jesus walked into the temple and saw the vendors hocking their wares–doves for sacrifices and loans for people needing money for their offering–He responded immediately.  It didn’t take a second’s thought for Jesus to overturn their tables and chase the mercenaries out of the holy space of the temple courtyard.

He threw out sin, contaminated worship, and the profanation of the holy.

As soon as Jesus cleared the place, the blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them” (Matthew 21:14).

The only reason they could seek healing in the temple, the only reason there was room for the blind and lame to worship, was because Jesus had thrown out the tainted and unholy.

The Message emphasizes this when it says, “Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in.”

Until Jesus cleaned house, there hadn’t even been room in the temple for those who needed God the most.

Will we allow Jesus to overturn the tables in our heart where sin and the unholy have set up shop?  Will we clear out the trash and the disgusting, so that we have room to come to Jesus—and to bring others along who need Him the most?

Of course, it’s not always so easy to tell what has to go in our lives.  We have a million choices of how to invest our time, energy, talents, and money, and all of them could be good.  We could lead hundreds of crusades against a world of evil.

But if we crowd out our lives with too much that is good, nothing will grow as it should.

Jesus Himself exhibited the kind of focus we need, to hone in on our purpose and refuse to be distracted by every demand and need.

During His ministry, mobs of people sought out Jesus for healing.  He lived in a world of need, need, and more need, and He frequently healed those who sought out His help.

But He didn’t heal everyone.

In fact, when the crowds grew too large and people sought Him out for healing alone, He moved onto another town or He escaped the crowds in order to pray alone on a mountain or by the sea.

Healing was fine.  Miracles were part of His ministry.  But it was not His main purpose for coming and He never wanted that to be the focus of His presence.  Instead, He had come to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10) and “to save the world” (John 3:17).

Maybe it’s time for you to pull out some of the extra radishes from your pot.  The first ones to go are easy—yank out the sprouts of sin, the unholy habits and the remnants of the flesh life.

Then prayerfully ask God to help you focus.  What seedlings should you tend and invest in until you harvest their potential?  What seedlings need to be set aside so that other areas of your life can grow?

Determine to live an uncrowded life, a flourishing, growing, fruitful life of produce and harvest, made possible by intentional focus and the pursuit of purity in your life and worship.

More Devotions From My Garden:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

One Minute Devotional – Devotions From My Garden: Whatever It Takes

A few summers ago, I tried my gardening hand at tomatoes for the very first time.  I was pushed into it by my tomato-loving daughters who wanted to grow their own food.  Loving mom that I am, I trekked to the store and returned home with soil, two tiny plantlings, and some plant food.

Through the summer months, my tomato plants grew full with abundant leaves.  You couldn’t see any space between the branches, just all green and all beautiful.  I was pretty proud of my gardening prowess.

But my mother-in-law showed me that some leaves weren’t producing any fruit.  They just looked beautiful and diverted nutrients from the shoots that actually had baby tomatoes on them.  So, she encouraged me to trim the plant.

This was hard.  And sad.  I sucked in my breath one day and finally started snipping away with my scissors.  The leaves fell to the ground.  My tomato plant that was once so full and beautiful now looked spindly and bare.

Yet, just as promised, within a week or two it grew bigger and more green.  More flowers appeared to produce fruit.

Drastic measures that seemed so harmful at the time produced a greater harvest.

When I read through the Lord’s Prayer, it strikes me that we are petitioning God for some drastic measures at times.  Do we really mean it?

When we pray, “Hallowed be Thy name,” are we willing to let God trim away the dead, the diseased, the unfruitful, and the wasteful so that He can really be holy in our lives?

“Thy will be done.”  Are we ready for His will to be done–regardless of our desires or expectations?

Max Lucado wrote, “The phrase is a petition, not a proclamation. A request, not an announcement. Hallowed be your name. Do whatever it takes to be holy in my life. Take your rightful place on the throne. Exalt yourself …. You be Lord, and I’ll be quiet.”

We can look beautiful and full, untrimmed by God, allowed to grow as we see fit.

Yet, if we let God cut and prune, painful as it is, as harmful as it first appears, the end result is His holiness, His glory, His lordship in our lives.

More Devotions From My Garden:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King