Don’t expect a laptop or an iPad for your birthday

Laptop, iPad, video game, cell phone.

This isn’t my wish list.  This is what my about-to-be-eight-year-old daughter will tell you she wants for her birthday if you ask her.


Her little second grade friends ask her for birthday present suggestions, and this is what she tells them.  Not, “Oh, a Barbie would be nice.  Maybe some new markers and Play-Doh.  I like Legos.”

No, not reasonable requests.

Crazy expensive requests.

So, I tell it to her straight yesterday.  Not even mom and dad will get you a laptop, an iPad or a cell phone for your birthday….so when someone other than your loving parents asks you for birthday ideas, think of something far, far, far, far, far…..less expensive.

To be fair, if I take her to pick out a present for her friends when they have a birthday, she always holds up the most expensive item on the shelf (an $80 Lego set or the $40 complete Disney princess collection or a $50 Xbox game) and declare that this is what her friend would like.

I explain that there are presents parents buy you.  There are presents other family members might buy you.  There are presents friends from school might buy you.

And there are presents so expensive, ain’t nobody gonna buy them for you.psalm66

You have to match the request with the giver.  You have to know whom to ask.

And sometimes, don’t we all get this wrong?  Don’t we carry needs to friends, carry worries to Facebook and Twitter, carry sadness to the phone and bitterness to the coffee shop?

But do we carry it all to Christ?

He’s the only One who can forgive and wash clean.  He’s the only One who can care for our every need, deliver us, redeem us, heal us, and restore us.

Yet, there we go, turning to others first and Jesus last.

Why is it that prayer is so often our final act of desperation instead of our first response to trouble?

Why do we so often try every other possible means of escape besides God?  And only after we realize that we have no hope in this hopeless and impossible situation do we finally give it over to Him?

Judas, that betrayer, collected his 30 silver coins.  Maybe he counted each one, stacking the silver into a pile, planning his financial future.

But Scripture tells us there was regret.  There was the deep conviction of sin.

 When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man”  (Mathew 27:3 NLT).

He took that blood money right back, hoping to be absolved of the heavy guilt.

And he confessed his wrong.  “I have sinned….for I have betrayed an innocent man.”

There, he said it.  He was a sinner.  Jesus didn’t deserve that cross.

Shouldn’t confession have shaken the conviction right off his shoulders?  Hadn’t he tried to take it all back, hand the coins over, and smooth right over that sin-laden path he’d traveled?

But the thing about taking our burdens to anyone but Christ is that no one else can handle them.

Those chief priests and religious elite took one look at Judas’s stack of coins and said,

“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem” (Matthew 27:4 NLT).

He’d rejected, denied, and handed over to death the only One who could have forgiven the very sin he now carried.  No Pharisee or religious leader could cleanse or absolve such guilt.

Only Jesus.

No only that…they didn’t even care.

Do we do this?  Do we expect worldly goods and other people to assuage our guilt, to calm our fears, to satisfy our hearts, instead of taking everything to the only One who can save and redeem and fill us?

The Psalmist gave this testimony:

For I cried out to him for help,
praising him as I spoke.
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
or withdraw his unfailing love from me (Psalm 66:17-20 NLT).

God doesn’t turn us away.  He doesn’t reject our requests or shrug us off like they did for Judas,’ What’s that to Me?  That’s not my problem.”

No, He listens to our prayers and does not withdraw His unfailing love from us.

So, we bring our sin to Him.  We bring our needs to Him.  We bring to Him our worries, fears, messes and mistakes, our everyday struggles, and the stress that keeps us up in the night.

He alone can save.

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 © 2014 Heather King

“The Bad One”

“I’m the bad one in the family.”

She announces that at lunch as she munches on some strawberries.

I lean in close, thinking I misheard.  We were, after all, sharing this deep, meaningful moment in a crowded school cafeteria with the background noise of about 80 other second graders.

“The bad one?”

Who has ever called her this or slammed this ill-fitting and utterly cruel label onto this beautiful and loved daughter of mine?  Like an over-sized dunce cap on a child in the corner, this identity reeks of shame.

I wait for her to identify the name-caller, the bully that’s been filling her head with these lies.  Surely, it’s not me.  I review seven years of my Mom-speeches and Mom-conversations to see if I’m the culprit.

But she claims that role for herself, telling me, “I’m the one who gets the most punishments.  I don’t have self-control.  So, I’m the Bad One.”

It’s little more than a logic exercise for her as she shrugs her shoulders and delivers the explanation all matter-of-fact and void of any emotion.

This is the internal dialogue she’s been having, the way she has accused herself, identified herself, classified and labeled herself, gathered the evidence and declared herself guilty all on her own.

What’s a mom to say?  I feel the pressure of a moment, how to explain love, grace, discipline, and salvation all right then and there as she unwraps her granola bar?romans8

But I can’t.  I can only start the dialogue, open it up right there and begin the surgery, then return to that wound over and over to clean out the infection, the festering pus of lies, until she’s healed and whole.

So I begin.

No more calling yourself “The Bad One.”  You are loved, totally loved, no more or less than any other member of this family.  You sin.  We all sin.  You need to be disciplined sometimes.  We all do.  But Mom and Dad always, always love you.

I consider the self-condemning lies and slander I fill my own head with and I think about the whispered and anguished confessions of my friends struggling with their own self-hatred.

You’re the Flaky One.

You’re the Stupid One.

You’re the Ugly One.

You’re the Fat One.

You’re the Mess-Up.

You’re the Failure.

You’re the Awkward One.

We shackle ourselves in this way even though:

“There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NLT).

Christ offers us the freedom of grace and we choose the imprisonment of self-hatred.  We are, far too often, are harshest critics.

How Satan loves to use that against us, keeping us from obeying God’s call and preventing us from resting easy in grace by preying on our weaknesses.

As Mary Demuth writes in The Wall Around Your Heart:

It’s time to recognize, stark as it may seem that when you abuse yourself, you participate in the same kind of destruction that Satan wants for you (p. 73).

And, just like the conversation with my daughter, this isn’t something fixed in two minutes, five, or an hour or more.  It takes time, this gradual healing and move toward wholeness.

It begins by rejecting the labels we’ve placed on ourselves and the lies Satan has shackled us with, choosing instead to accept that Christ calls us:

Friends…His Children…and Beloved.

We’re not worthy.

Maybe that’s what we think.

Yet, even as Judas trudged into the Garden of Gethsemane and betrayed the Savior with a kiss, still Jesus said:

“My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for”  (Matthew 26:50 NLT).

Even then, He chooses “friend”–not “betrayer,” or  “backstabber” or “The Bad One.”

Later that evening, I scan the aisles at a thrift store and stop periodically to remind this child:

Don’t take your shoes off and try on the 50 pairs of high-heeled shoes.

Do not crawl underneath the clothes and skip from aisle to aisle.

Do not pounce on the couches and jump on the cushions.

Do not touch every ceramic, glass, crystal, porcelain, or other thoroughly breakable item you see on every shelf we pass.

I tell her the truth: This behavior is unacceptable and I will discipline you if it continues.


I love you.  I want to help you learn to make better choices because of that love.

I try to teach this to my daughter, beginning right there at a school cafeteria table.

I try to teach this to myself.

Sometimes we mess up, make mistakes, and sin.  But we are saved, redeemed, transformed and wholly loved by the very God who created us and uniquely designed us for a calling and a purpose.

God doesn’t label us, abuse us, condemn us, shame us, or hate us.

He made us.

He calls us.

He equips us.

Yes, He loves us.  That’s the truth.

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 © 2013 Heather King