12 Bible Verses on Fresh Starts and New Beginnings

  • verses-new-beginningsIsaiah 43:18-9 ESV
    “Remember not the former things,
        nor consider the things of old.
     Behold, I am doing a new thing;
        now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
    I will make a way in the wilderness
        and rivers in the desert.
  • Isaiah 65:17 NIV
    See, I will create
        new heavens and a new earth.
    The former things will not be remembered,
        nor will they come to mind.
  • Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
  • The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
        his mercies never come to an end;
    23 they are new every morning;
        great is your faithfulness.
  • Ezekiel 11:18-19 ESV
    And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. 19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
  • 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 6:3-4 NIV
    Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
  • 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.
  • Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
    Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
  • Colossians 3:9-10 NIV
    Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
  • 1 Peter 1:3 ESV
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
  • Revelation 21:4-5 ESV
    He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”


What’s This Gonna Cost?

I tell my daughters about the email.

Their teacher at church sent us information about an upcoming missions project.  They’ll be collecting money as a class for a ministry in our area, but she doesn’t want the parents to just give kids money to contribute.

Sure, I could stuff a few dollars and some coins into that empty container and send it in with my  kids.  And sure, they could hand it in and feel like they participated and did the good Christian thing that good Christians are supposed to do.

But giving should cost something.

In fact, giving should be costly.

It should require some effort or sacrifice.   We shouldn’t just give when we have more than enough.

True generosity and true love require giving out of need and giving out of not-enough.

My girls protest the fact that they have empty piggy banks, no allowance and no source of renewable income since birthdays only come once a year.

So we return to our tried-and-true method:  Extra chores allow them to earn money to give to missions or charities or ministries.1peter2

The King girls will be sweeping floors and scrubbing toilets to earn those coins to give away.

On Sunday morning, I hold the cup and bread in my hand and pray before Communion, thinking this is a lesson for me, too.

I think about the cost of giving, the cost of generosity.

Surely God has given generously to us.

Maybe it’s complacency from long-term faith, from hearing those same lessons taught in the same ways.  Maybe it’s selfishness.  Maybe it’s forgetfulness.

Whatever the cause, sometimes I cling selfishly to what I have and forget the abundant generosity of God’s gift to me.

Could anything be more generous than grace?

Yes, I mean the cross, but even before that.

Adam and Eve stood in the aftermath of forbidden fruit and witnessed the ugly truth for the first time:  Grace demands sacrifice.

They sinned.  They felt shame in their nakedness and they tried to fix things on their own, fitting leaves together to form a makeshift outfit.

Genesis 3:21 says it wasn’t enough:

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them (Genesis 3:21 NIV).

I’ve read that verse so often and just ran over the words without thought, but here’s the truth of it.

They sinned.  So God slayed an animal at their feet.  He couldn’t just pick a few animal skins off of a store shelf or drop by the tailor’s so they could be custom-fitted with a faux-leather outfit.

God handcrafted the clothes for His wayward children.

Adam and Eve stood in the garden and watched another creature die for their own offense.  They witnessed the blood running red for the first time ever.

Max Lucado writes:

 “God slays an animal.  For the first time in the history of the earth, dirt is stained with blood.  Innocent blood.  The beast committed no sin.  The creature did not deserve to die……….” (A Love Worth Living).

Then they had to wear the result and remember the high cost of their God-designed outfit.

As Max Lucado puts it: “As a father would zip up the jacket of a preschooler.  God covers them.”  

It’s the act of a dad, helping a little one fit arms into arm-holes and socks onto feet.  It’s tenderness and gentleness and love when they deserved wrath.

And God did this for us, too:

For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness (Isaiah 61:10 NIV).

Right there in the garden it began: Outrageous, undeserved, generous, complete sacrifice of one life for another.isaiah1

I read Leviticus and wonder what it must have been like to watch the whole gory mess of atonement with its blood and guts and death.

It became routine to the Israelites.  How could that be routine?  How could the stench and the bleating of the lambs become routine?

Yet, has the cross become routine to us?

Sin should be shocking.

Grace should shock us all the more.

Maybe if I had to stand and watch God pay the price for my mess with my own two eyes, I’d be less complacent and more overcome.

Maybe if I had to let God silently drape my shoulders with a covering of His own making to hide my nakedness, maybe my heart would break with sorrow at my sin.

Maybe if I watched someone die in my place, knowing how little I deserved it, I’d learn what true generosity is: giving abundantly and without complaint even when it’s undeserved and even when it costs me dearly.

The truth is that Jesus did just that:  He died for us and then He dressed us in His righteousness.

May we be overcome by grace anew.


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

Am I Asking Jesus to Leave?

She said he was afraid.

A small team from our church took VBS on the go this year, sharing the lessons, songs and games with kids in the community.prayerpresence

One of the ladies shared with us this past Sunday what that mission to area children was like.

She tells how on the last day, those little ones gathered around the teacher for the Bible story about Paul.

He was such a Bad Guy, she told them.

She told all about his past, all those mean things he did to Christians.

But then she told how he met Jesus and she read from the start of his letters to the churches, how he said the same thing over and over and over again:

“I, Paul, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ…..”

This little boy, cuddled next to another leader, winced and sucked in his breath every single time she said it.

The Lord Jesus Christ

He’d only ever heard those words as cursing in anger and bursts of outrage in his home.

My husband puts the hurt into words, how this little boy has a “Pavlovian fear response to the name of the only One who could ever save him.”

Peter shared the truth:

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12 NIV).

We sit in that comfy sanctuary in the middle of a tiny town in rural Virginia and our hearts break because missions starts right here.

There are children who don’t even know what a Bible is or who God is or that the name of Jesus isn’t a cuss word…and they live right here.

But there’s something else….

I read in the Gospels:

 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left (Luke 8:37 NIV).

The people were afraid of Jesus at work.

They weren’t embracing the healing he offered and not the salvation either.  They sent Him away and with it they refused all hope of rescue.

All because they were afraid.

Maybe they didn’t wince at the sound of His name, but they feared Jesus’ presence.

Were they afraid of His power?

Were they afraid of shaking things up?  Afraid of what salvation might cost?  Fearful of what they might lose if they followed Him?

I remember the Israelites crowded around the base of Mt. Sinai, watching the pyrotechnical display of God’s glory, the thunder and lighting, the cloud of smoke, the trumpet blast:

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance  and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”…The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was (Exodus 20:18-19, 21 NIV).

They trembled there at the mountain, slinking back in fear, remaining at a distance even when God invited them to come close.

This holy fear of God has its place, the reminder of His greatness and mighty power and how small we are indeed.

He is God.  I am not.

He is holy.  I am not.

We need the reawakening of awe.

But I wonder if we ever push God away in fear, or hide away in the shadows, remaining at a distance even when He whispers to us, ”Come…..closer….nearer….”

Are we too afraid that He’ll disrupt our lives? Or that drawing close will cost us and it will just be too much to pay?

Do we stand right there at the base of His presence and choose the safety of distance instead?

And maybe we don’t say it as bluntly as the crowd that sent Jesus away, maybe we don’t tell Him, “Can you just go off in your boat and do your work somewhere else?”

Maybe we know just enough…certainly more than a scared little boy listening to a lesson at Vacation at Bible School: yes, God loves us….yes, Jesus is our Savior. Maybe it’s just ‘blah, blah, blah’…just so many words.

Yet, maybe we shut Him out. Maybe we avoid the conviction of Scripture or the passion of all-in of worship. Maybe we want to sing “safe” songs on Sunday morning, hear “safe” messages, leave the Bible reading up to someone else, avoid the accountability of church or the nudge of the Holy Spirit to lay it all down in surrender.

Because we’re afraid.

Lord, help me stop being afraid and start drawing close to You. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than in Your presence.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Learn to Say, ‘No?’

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

We are Staycation Failures

A few years ago, my husband and I realized we had to take a few days off of work.  Both of us.  At the same time.

This probably doesn’t sound exciting, but to us this was revolutionary.

We didn’t go away.  We didn’t take vacations.  We didn’t take time off other than for dental appointments or to have a baby.matthew11, photo from picjumbo

But since a vacation away wasn’t in the budget, we decided to try the wonderful trend of stay-cationing.

We know plenty of friends who staycation successfully.  They have a fabulous time visiting all the places within an hour of home that no one local ever takes the time to visit.

We, however, had a whopping failure of a week.  By Friday, we had both ended up working.  We had answered the phone and ended up in ministry meetings.  We still went to all the normal activities at church and in the community. We did all the normal chores with all the normal responsibilities and hadn’t even slept in because we had young kids and they don’t know how to do that.

We need to get away, really away.  We need to retreat, to shake off the daily and reconnect with each other and with beauty and rest and with the eternal.

Oswald Chambers wrote:

“Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once, asking Him to re-establish your rest.”

It’s all of the daily life choices and battles that chip away at our faith.  We’re distracted.  We’re annoyed.  We’re confused.  We’re tired.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).   Over time, I feel it, the weariness, the burdens.  They accumulate over days and months.

Daily quiet times help.  I temporarily rest at His feet and toss the bundles I’m carrying to the side.  But, I leap up from the table after time in the Word and it’s back to phone calls and emails, carpooling, activities, planning and laundry.

And the thing about daily life is that it is  . . . daily.

Shocking revelation, I know.  But it’s not just the motion that tires me over time; it’s the perpetual motion.

It’s rising every morning to empty the dishwasher and reload it . . . . again.
Making beds, packing lunches, toasting bread and pouring milk  . . . again.
Tossing clothes into the washer and grabbing towels out of the dryer . . . again.
Cleaning dried-on toothpaste off the bathroom walls . . . again.

Eventually I need more than a temporary refresher.  I need to retreat from it all to re-establish rest. In Mark 6:31, it says,

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
This month, I’m pursuing the presence of God by learning to Retreat and Refresh, and it’s then I re-align my focus.

The thing about being bogged down in the daily is that our definition of crisis begins to distort.

In the past few months, I’ve lain awake for hours in the middle of the night over minor worries that have turned into a crisis of anxiety.

Patsy Clairmont wrote, “At times, trusting God in the minutiae of life is as difficult as trusting him for a walking-on-water miracle.” 

I’m tossing and turning at night because I’ve gripped my hand around each of these issues so tight God can’t pry my fingers off with a crowbar.  My knuckles are white.

So I am removing myself from this close-up perspective of my life where the tiniest anomaly blips onto my radar as if it’s the end of the world.  I’m putting aside the to-do list that runs my life like a drill sergeant.  For this week, I’ll stop staring at my life and lift my head up instead to see Jesus.

In Psalm 3, David wrote, “But you, O Lord, are a shield for me; My glory and the one who lifts up my head.”

Instead of going through life shoulders hunched, head down, eyes staring at circumstances, I’m asking that God lift up my head so I can see His face, see His eyes of love and grace, see the reminder in the palm of His hands that He’s going to do everything imaginable and more to take care of me.

In that same Psalm, David also wrote: “Salvation belongs to the Lord” (verse 8).  This “salvation” means “deliverance from the immediate pressure” he was feeling. 

One of the meanings of this Hebrew word for salvation is “room to breathe.”

Sometimes the daily grind is suffocating and busyness knocks the wind out of me.  I need deliverance from the immediate pressures that monopolize my attention and salvation from the stresses that take my breath away.

I’m leaving so I can find room to breathe.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I Retreat and Refresh?

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


What she said on the mountain….and why I didn’t expect it

She stepped right off that bus and kept on going.

The rest of us shuffled off after the long drive and congregated silently on the sidewalk, awaiting further instructions.  No one really knew each other so we generally avoided awkwardness by pretending to be busy getting our stuff together.

Not her.  She pushed right past and flung her arms open into the cool October air.

She even spun around.  I’m not kidding.  It was just like Maria from Sound of Music only she didn’t break into, “The hills are alive…”psalm19

But she could have.

Instead, I heard her say it and it stopped my self-obsessed heart right there:  “It’s so beautiful!  How could you see all this and not know God?”

That’s what she said.

It’s the first time I really noticed her.  I mean really noticed, more than the passing glance and distant, friendly nod in our college history class.  We’d spent a whole semester together and I think perhaps by the end I’d at least learned her name.

But here she was, declaring the glory of God in the mountains of Western Maryland as we spent a weekend at a leadership retreat for college students.  She was bolder than I had been all year, didn’t care what anyone else thought, just threw herself into a declaration of faith and worship while everyone else looked on.

I didn’t know about her faith, didn’t know her heart at all.

Sometimes we think we know what’s inside the hearts of others.  We think we can tell—-who knows God?  Who doesn’t?  Who is close to salvation?  Who is “hopeless.”

But we can be wrong

God isn’t.  He declares,

But I, the Lord, search all hearts
and examine secret motives (Jeremiah 17:10 NLT).

He knows.

So, when we feel like giving up on someone and think no way will they ever believe in God, remember that only God knows.  Maybe we stop that persevering prayer for their salvation because it just won’t ever happen, but maybe they are just one moment away from faith.

Or we think all this depends on us.  Our words, our prayers, our testimonies make salvation happen.

But really, God is at work.  He grants us this privilege to be part of His love for others, but it’s never all about us.

We just share our heart.  We live out Christ.  We love others like Him.  And we pray.

We obey Him and trust Him with the rest.

And we can get all tangled up in worry over, ‘What about the people who never hear about Christ?  How can a good God deny them heaven?”

But the truth is the same…It’s All About Him….and He is more than capable.  He knows the hearts of every one of us, knows who is close to faith, who needs to hear the message, whose heart is made ready for the Gospel.

Rahab lived in that pagan town Jericho.  No one would have expected her to be a God-follower, not a rescuer of Israelites or the one person in Jericho who was closest to salvation

She was a prostitute.  Hopelessly lost, for sure.

Maybe that’s what any human would judge with all the external evidence we could muster against her.

But God knew her heart.  He knew that of all the people in the city, she was the one person who heard the testimony of the miracles God had done and would think, ‘This is a God who I can trust to save me.”

That’s what she said in a whispered conversation with two Israelite spies she hid on her roof:

For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below (Joshua 2:11 NLT).

She believed.

Who would’ve thought?

God, that’s who.  He sent those spies straight to her door because He knew she would save them…..and He knew that He would save her.

He knocked down a seemingly impenetrable fortress of walls around Jericho, but kept her one lone house standing.

He moved heaven and earth to save a woman whose heart was ready for grace and faith.

This is our God with His heart to save, with His power to do the impossible and to share the Gospel with those who need to hear because He does not want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 NIV).

Lord, forgive us when we’ve given up praying for salvation for others.  Help us to persevere in prayer. 

Give us a heart for others and the boldness and compassion to share our testimony and display Your love and truth.

Remind us that only You can know what is in the heart of another.  No one is ‘hopeless’ or so far from You that salvation is out of reach.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

Heather, Meet Sheep: Part I

She stood in the back, penned in on all sides, standing in the tall grass, watching as we passed, fluffy and off-white, round and full, appearing like a tangled mess of cotton balls with black sticks for legs.

The other animals interested my daughters more.  They hovered around the bunny hutch, chasing the rabbits from side to side, squealing over so much cuteness.

We peered into the dark of the pigs’ hut, spotting amidst the piles of hay tiny piglet ears and little piglet eyes that peeked out and then dodged back down for more napping.

The baby goat, calmer than most goats we’ve met, lingered at the fence edge so we could pet him and coo over his sweet friendliness and gentle ways.

At the pumpkin patch that day, we hunted for clues scattered throughout the farm and then unscrambled the letters to decode the hidden message—all for a prize, of course.

The clue took only a second to find, the marveling over the other farm animals took a bit longer, and then off the girls ran to hop onto the wagon for a hayride out to the fields.

But me, I could linger there for a while because amidst hay and signs teaching the kids that male turkeys are called “Tom” and a hen lays one egg a day, was another sign.

That sheep.  The one in the back.  The one that just stood watching us run around like excited suburbanites out in the country for an outing….

That sheep was named Heather.015

Like me.

I snap a picture of the sign, hoping I’ll remember the truth found here at the pumpkin patch.

Heather, the sheep, that’s who I am: the one in need of a Shepherd, the one who is fearful, the one who needs tending and continual leading, the one who can’t find her way to safe pastures or make decisions on her own.

Heather, the sheep who thinks she’s a farm laborer at times, meant to haul burdensome loads on her back, forgetting that sheep aren’t burden-bearing animals.

God didn’t make them to carry the weight or the responsibility, not like the oxen, the horses, the donkeys even.  We’re not meant for hauling around concerns, cares, or worries.

Sometimes we can’t even stand on our own feet all in our own strength.  Our Shepherd doesn’t load our shoulders down with packs and plows; sometimes He hoists us up onto His own strong shoulders and carries us instead.  He bears the burden when we cannot.

In the book, Knowing God by Name: A Girlfriends in God Faith Adventure, I read:

“Sheep don’t come across as stressed-out creatures… Sheep don’t worry about where their next meal is coming from, if they will have a place to sleep each night, when the next enemy or thief will attack, or even what the next day holds.  When sheep are sick or in need, they simply turn to their shepherd, instinctively knowing he or she will take care of and comfort them (p. 125).

They simply turn to the Shepherd, just one swift movement from worry to trust, handing it over to the one who cares for them, never doubting, not for one brief stressful moment, that the Shepherd loves them, cares for them, knows best, and will provide.

We know our Shepherd.

Jesus said:

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11 NASB).

He did this for us, so great a sacrifice for such small creatures, such fearful ones, not the strong or the hardy, but the weak and fearful who are so easily led astray and scattered at the slightest sign of danger.

I read this, too, in Knowing God by Name:

“The needs of sheep, compared to the needs of other animals, are greater because of their instinct to be afraid, and when faced with fearful situations, to run.  Sheep can never be left alone.  They often stray, requiring the shepherd to find and rescue them” (p. 123).

And He does this, too: traipse over wilderness to lead us back, pull us all cowering out of the crevices and corners where we’ve tried to hide away in our terror.  He gives us constant knowinggodbynameattention, eternal love, continual faithfulness.

Yes, He lays down His life for us.  That’s the sacrifice He gave once for all.

But He doesn’t abandon us even now, rescuing us from predators, battling off the enemies that threaten to devour, bringing us back from the places of foolishness we’ve wandered to.

Why should I fear?

Why tug burdens onto shoulders not meant to bear them?

Why plot my own course rather than trust His lead?

Why tremble at enemies when my Shepherd will fight for me?

I’m a sheep, so simple, so weak, so well-cared for.

That’s what a sign on a post at the pumpkin patch reminds me.

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 © 2013 Heather King

Having Faith When I Don’t Get My Way

My one girl gets grumpy.

I arrive to pick her up at the end of an activity and I find her huddled on the floor, back turned to the crowd, face hidden on her knees or maybe she’s hiding under a table or in the back of a bathroom stall.

She’s not screaming or crying, but she’s definitely pouting.

With arms crossed, with feet stomping, with loud harumphs for emphasis at the end of her sentences, she tells me the crisis: Others disagreed, someone else wanted the same thing, another person got to go first, that person got something better.

But this is the bottom line: She didn’t get her way.

And now, she’s grumpy.

I understand.  I can be grumpy when I don’t get my way, too, wanting to sit out and let everybody know that I disagree with the decision and I’m sure not happy about it.

Another of my girls argues her case when she doesn’t get her way.  She argues….and argues….and argues her point until you’re knocked over by the powerful wave of her emotions and opinions.

And I understand this.  When I don’t get my way, I want to form protest marches and fight, fight, fight, too!  Instantly I think of who I can rally to “my side” and how I can convince others that my way is the right way, the best way, the only way.

Maybe if I just give the best speech, argue the best (or loudest, or longest, or most convincingly), use the best evidence and form the largest coalition I’ll win the day after all.

And my youngest girl simply cries over disappointment, not a temperamental tantrum on the scale of the hurricane tantrums we’ve seen in this family.  More like the desperately sad wail of a child who realizes the world doesn’t revolve around her…doesn’t always do what she wants or turn out the way she expects.

That’s a lesson that always stings painful and I’ve mourned myself with frustrated hurt that the world doesn’t bend to my whim or orbit around my convenience or comfort.isaiah30

I don’t always get my way.

And, selfish creature that I am, I sometimes react all ugly.

Yet, while faith allows us to stand up for what is right and to speak truth in love, it demands something else.

Faith means trusting God even when things don’t go our way, when plans don’t work out, when others make decisions we disagree with, when life isn’t perfect or even when life is hard and obstacles loom large and hope doesn’t come easy.

Believing in God’s providential care isn’t faith until we’re blinded by circumstances and still trust.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us this:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith: That’s when we can’t see the end, can’t see how God could possibly work this out for our blessing and benefit, can’t imagine what God could possibly do to make this better much less make this the best.

But we trust Him anyway.

Faith means resting in the knowledge of God’s power over everything we face, even when our senses and circumstances tell us that people are in control, not God.

It seems like we rely on a boss, or a leader, or a committee chairman, or a judge, or someone in human resources ….but faith declares that it’s God, always God, only God who directs our lives.

In The Faith Dare, Debbie Alsdorf reminds me that God is my Good Shepherd, trustworthy, wise, caring, knowing, powerful.  I read the familiar promises:

God, my Shepherd!  I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk by my side (Psalm 23 MSG).

Yes, God my Shepherd leads me to places of rest and sustenance, providing what I need, sending me in the right direction, walking by my side even in the shadowy depths of the valley.

And my response can be fighting or pouting…but all my grumpiness, my protesting, my tears reveal where I’m not trusting God’s ability to control the tiniest detail of my life in His hands.

Isaiah tells me,

In repentance and rest is your salvation
in quietness and trust is your strength…  (Isaiah 30:15)

Enough of the ugly reactions, the crisis, the conflict.  Better to seek my God—-what now, Lord?  What is your will here in this place?  What will you have me do and how would You have me respond?

I choose resting in Him.

I choose a quieted heart.

I choose trust.

I choose Faith.


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 © 2013 Heather King

Putting Your Face in the Water

I told her it could be the perfect birthday present for me.  I cajoled and plead.

Please won’t you put your face in the water at swim lessons? Won’t you blow bubbles in the water when the teacher asks?

She nodded her head yes, but it was that uncertain kind of assent that just means, “I want to please you Mom, but that’s asking so much.”023

I sat on the sidelines of the pool, breathing in the humid air and watching her.

She laughed as she bounced in the water, shivered a bit as she waited for her turn, obeyed the teacher’s every command.

Until the teacher said, “Okay, time to blow bubbles in the water.”

I waited, hoping for success this time.  She’d been at this for six weeks, willing, compliant, cheerful even.  But this one request she just wouldn’t do.

Not that she cried or screamed, threw tantrums or caused problems. No, she just kind of giggled it off, maybe shaking her head with a smile or looking away as if she didn’t hear what the teacher asked.

The results this week were the same as all the other classes.

She kicked her feet and moved her arms and did all the good swimmer things.  But she arched her back as far as it could go and stretched her neck out long like a turtle so that not one bit of her face would touch the water.

Class ended and my little girl inched her way over to me, teeth chattering from the cold.  I snuggled her into the towel and held her close and the teacher walked over and just shook her head “no” with a smile.

Not this week.

I know it as I watch her in the pool and see her so sweetly confident and strong.  She could be a great little swimmer, but this fear or determination or whatever it is stunts her progress.

What we need is for her to dip her face right in that water and stop avoiding it.  Go full in, unafraid and unhindered.

Don’t we all need to do that?  To stop avoiding the fullness of God’s call or the way God asks us to dunk down and be buried over by the Holy Spirit.  To stop holding out or straining our backs and necks in order to avoid the total obedience that comes with letting go.

All disciples have to make that choice.

Jesus said, “Follow me….” and men had to decide.  Drop the nets?  Abandon the family business?  And just go?  Not the controlled kind of obedience, the kind that says, “I’ll do this, but no more.  I’ll go here, but no farther.  I’ll get in the pool, but I don’t want my face wet.  I don’t want to feel out of control.”

There’s Matthew, the ostracized tax collector, known and scorned by religious Jews.  Maybe it even shocked some of the other disciples when Jesus didn’t rush past the tax collector’s booth, but approached it and offered that calling to the man sitting there.oneperfectlife

Jesus “said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ So he left all, rose up, and followed Him” (Luke 5:27-28 NKJV).

In One Perfect Life: The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus, John MacArthur notes, “LEFT ALL: This implies an irreversible action” (p. 117).

Matthew didn’t jump into the pool and yet keep his face out of the water just in case.  No he splashed down so deep that he was hopeless without Jesus.

And he got it, right away, what Jesus was after and who Jesus was. Others might have dipped in a toe and then waded up to the waist in the message and the Gospel before they really understood salvation and grace.

But this tax collector, remarkably and unexpectedly called out by the Messiah, knew it immediately.  This redemption gift wasn’t about who earned it and it wasn’t about being good enough to deserve it or to warrant Jesus’ attention or invitation.

It was for sinners and outcasts.

So, Matthew didn’t hesitate to share the news.  He threw a party and there Jesus sat with: “a large crowd of tax collectors and others who were guests with them”  And Jesus declared it right there at the dinner table: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:29-32).

That unhindered Gospel truth couldn’t be missed because Matthew left a tax collector’s booth to follow Jesus and then brought the Messiah to a dinner party full of sinners who needed a Savior.

Jesus isn’t pleading perhaps, not bribing or threatening or asking for “the best birthday present ever.”  But He’ll ask this—-Put your face in the water.  Trust me.  Don’t hold back.

And the message He wants to share through us depends on our answer.

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 November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Loving with Kisses, Band-Aids, and so much more

I fought the good fight.

I lost.

Every one of my daughters went through the Band-Aid stage and maybe still haven’t outgrown it.006

They fall for the magic of the Band-Aid for all bumps, bruises, minor aches, pains, and scratches.

I gave speeches and endured the tantrums.

You don’t need a Band-Aid for any casualty that doesn’t involve an open wound and significant blood loss.  That’s what I tell them in my all-knowing Mom-voice.

But still they cried and screamed about the unendurable pain and suffering with all the logic and reasoning of a thoroughly traumatized two-year-old.  Finally, in exasperation I handed them what was essentially a sticker to pop over a bruise.

They were miraculously cured.  No more pain or sobbing.  In fact, the impact of the Band-Aid was immediate.  It didn’t even need to contact their skin; the simple sight of me snatching the box down from the cabinet calmed them down instantly.

Maybe it wasn’t the Band-Aid they needed; I know this.  Perhaps it was the acknowledgement: I see you hurting.  I’m tending to this need.  I’m not going to leave you here aching alone, wounds sore, pain throbbing. 

This is, after all, why Mom-kisses on the tiniest of boo-boos are where the miracle cures begin.  Because the love and attention and the simply doing something–anything– says, “I love you,” louder than any three words can.

And this is the Mom-life, the life of nurses, care providers, teachers,  grandmas, and true friends.  It’s saying, “I care about you,” and meaning it at night when it costs you sleep and during the day when it costs you patience.

It means never pouring a cup of tea or a soda and drinking it all down yourself.  It means spending all day putting other people first and scheduling every moment of your life around the schedules of other people.

“Motherhood is the big-leagues of self-sacrifice.” That’s what Rachel Jankovic wrote recently.

And this is the sacrifice, she tells me, that God finds such a sweet-smelling aroma.  It’s when we’re laying ourselves down and offering that life to others, burning up selfishness on the altar as our worship to Him.

Really, in the end, shouldn’t I rejoice over those moments when a kiss and a Band-Aid are all it took to comfort and assuage?  This world pesters and pounds, and wounds aren’t always so superficial and easy-to-heal.  Sometimes they dig deep.  Sometimes they fester and infect; they spread and ache long after we’ve bandaged over them.

So our calling becomes this: loving others enough to care about the depth of the pain and not just covering over with a Band-Aid when they need so much more.

Sure, we could snatch that trusty and true box down from the cabinet shelf and toss a sticky bandage over a hurt.  We could rush this and move on.  All better.  Stop your crying.  No need to fuss.  Don’t you see the Band-Aid I’ve slapped on your skin?

This is what Queen Esther did, unknowingly, of course.  She heard of her cousin Mordecai’s distress.  How he had torn apart his clothes and now sat at the city gate, covered over with burlap and ashes, wailing with loud bitterness.

She responded with concern, but without listening and understanding.  Yes, she essentially snatched down the box of Band-Aids and sent one his way:  “She sent clothes for Mordecai to wear so he could take off his sackcloth, but he did not accept them” (Esther 4:4 HCSB).

That’s what she thought would help, just superficial care.  Change your clothes.  Stop that mourning, Mordecai, and everything will be well.

But he needed so much more.  He needed her to put her life on the line for her entire people by interceding with the king.  Mordecai needed self-sacrifice, unselfishness, and humility.  A change of clothes simply wasn’t enough.

When we love, we’re willing to tend with care also: to take the time, to make the time, to thrust our hands into a hemorrhaging wound, if necessary, and become a right bloody mess in order to stop the bleeding out.

Jesus didn’t leave us desperately sick and dying.  If he had only healed some physical hurts, if he had simply taught some important truths, if he had solely righted a few social injustices, he would have given Band-Aid care for a terminal disease.

Yet, Jesus did more, sacrificing His life for ours, because he knew we needed radical intervention to save our dying selves.

And then He asks us to live this life of love:  

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34 NIV).

Loving with Band-Aids some days.  Loving with time and attention on others.  Loving with messy healing and laying ourselves down at times.

But loving like Jesus always.

Happy Mother’s Day, National Nurses Week, and Teacher Appreciation Week to all of you!!!
Thank you for all your care and sacrifice for others.

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 © 2013 Heather King

Unsweetened Iced Tea

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2  Corinthians 5:17

Unsweetened iced tea.

That’s what the quiz said my personality resembled.  Not sweet tea or peach tea or even a little wild raspberry tea or health-conscious green tea.

Unsweetened iced tea, as in bitter, plain, strong, and unfriendly.054

During our family trip to Pennsylvania, we spent a morning at the Turkey Hill Experience where my kids learned how to make ice cream, created their own flavors, starred in their own ice cram commercials, sampled some of the delicious treats, and more.  It was a great family day.

Before we left, though, my oldest daughter discovered a touch screen display with a little personality quiz.

What flavor of tea are you?

So, I gave it a little try, just for fun.  After a few questions about what I liked to do in my free time, how I handled conflict and what I was like around my friends, it made its deep psychological assessment of my character:

Unsweetened iced tea.

Underneath that was a paragraph about how I’m blunt and can hurt people’s feelings, but I get the job done no matter what the cost.  I sounded a little like Donald Trump.

I turned to my husband with a questioning look and he shrugged it off.  “Nah, that’s not you.”

Silly machine, I thought.  It’s just a foolish test that probably isn’t ever right about anybody.

So, of course I made my daughter take it just to prove my point.

She read through the questions and gave her own answers, and then it popped up with her flavor personality.

Peach Tea.

The read-out said she is smart, creative and a kind and compassionate friend.  They even recommended she pursue a career in making greeting cards.

That is so her.

If I had to write up my own assessment of this child, that is exactly what I would say about her, and this machine figured her out with only about five questions.

Silly machine?

It seems like it should be so much easier to ignore the accusations and judgments of just-for-fun personality games or even those of other people.

So what if they think we’re unsweetened iced tea?  Does it really matter what they think?  Should I care about what a machine says based on my answers to a few multiple choice questions?

It’s not rational or logical, but it did matter to me a little.  Unsweetened iced tea….that’s who I used to be.

Sixteen years ago, I was bitter and hurtful, strong, unrelenting, and essentially unconcerned about who got knocked over or bruised when I focused on accomplishing tasks and reaching goals.

Maybe I was a miniature Donald Trump without the hair-do or bank account.

But God.

God took that teenage mess of a girl, who seemed so in control and together, and broke her in ways she needed to be broken.  He shattered pride and the hardness I had built in my relationships with people.  He reached in and kneaded my heart until it became soft and pliable in His hands.

He taught me how to receive grace…and then how to give it.

Yes,  He re-formed me.

Maybe in seasons of pressure or stress, I still have that capacity to revert to who I used to be.  Maybe my tongue can still slash through people like the sharpest of weapons.

But today I am thinking as I cut through the butter with the tines of the fork and smash it to the bottom of the bowl, crack open the eggs, and watch the sugar pour in grain upon grain.  I mix with the spoon at first and then finally reach in with my hands to do the work needed.

And as the dough pulls together, I realize—hadn’t God done this to me?

Paul wrote:

 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you (Romans 12:3 NIV).

That means seeing the truth about me—not who I was, not who others say I am, or how I measure up on personality quizzes.  It means looking deep and seeing “this is how God has made me and this is who I am in Christ”—no better or worse than that.

If God’s grace did this, smashing and breaking me until I could be pulled together again into something He could use, then why still think of myself in that old way?  Why hold myself to labels from the past and an identity formed oh-so-long-ago before grace bruised me and healed me in the way that grace does?

Some machine still saw me as unsweetened iced tea.

But God’s sweet grace had poured into my soul and I’m not the same.

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 © 2013 Heather King