Making a Way Through the Impossible

My son wrestles with two large toy trucks on our way into the orthodontist.  He’s determined to carry them both inside himself.

One falls to the ground.  He stoops to pick it up and as he grabs hold of the digging arm on the one truck, the other crashes down next to it.

But oh, Mommy cannot help carry these trucks.  I offer.  I even finally grip onto that yellow bulldozer as a sign that he didn’t need to handle both trucks at once.

Instead of letting go, my son silently holds on tighter and lifts that heavy machine out of my grasp.

These trucks are his treasures.  He is not letting go.

Finally, after several crashes to the pavement, the trucks arrive in the dental office where they make paths through blocks, scale the sides of chairs and roll across railings.

At home later, they do what big trucks should do.  They push tiny objects off the living room table and onto the floor.  They blaze trails through toys and flatten ground.

As an infant, my son learned the names of these vehicles as some of his earliest vocabulary:  “Truck.  Car.  Digger.”  Now, he speaks with infinite more expertise:  “Bulldozer, Dump Truck, Excavator, Crane, Cement Mixer, Delivery Van.”

I don’t know what it is about these trucks that hold this little man’s attention so, but I know why suddenly, after a lifetime of not caring much about them, I find myself newly impressed.

They make ways.

They flatten obstacles.

They clear paths.

What  a reminder for those of us who need some “ways,” some impossibilities cleared and some mountains moved.

We can look at circumstances: at bank accounts and how the numbers don’t add up, at agendas and jam-packed calendars, at job expectations and the number of hours in a day.

We can see that and think ,”There’s just no way.”

No way for hope, for rescue, for there to be enough.  No way for the good and the beautiful to come out of this rotten mess.

But here’s the good news: We serve a God who makes ways.

He parts waters so his people can walk straight across a sea  on dry ground.

He leads the nation through the wilderness and all its enemies.

He strikes down evil kings and raises up righteous ones, He rescues His people from annihilation over and over again.

The prophet Isaiah reminded his people that the Lord

... is the one who made a road through the sea
    and a path through rough waters.
17 He is the one who defeated the chariots and horses
    and the mighty armies.
They fell together and will never rise again.
    They were destroyed as a flame is put out.
18 The Lord says, “Forget what happened before,
    and do not think about the past.
19 Look at the new thing I am going to do.
    It is already happening. Don’t you see it?
I will make a road in the desert
    and rivers in the dry land. (Isaiah 43:16-19 NCV).

No way out of the mess you’re in?

No problem.  Not for our way-making God, the One who makes paths through the desert and springs up rivers from the dust.

Today, I read once again about the biggest impossibility of all.

Romans 3:20 tells us:

no one can be made right with God by following the law. The law only shows us our sin.

There’s the obstacle of our sin, that huge mounding imperfection blocking us from right-standing with God.

We can’t be good enough. Not ever.

So what are we sin-prone folks supposed to do?

Steep ourselves in rules, have-to’s, must-do’s, traditions, and legalism?

Or give up on holiness altogether?  Make excuses, justify, try to skirt the consequences?

These are our own “ways” and they are tangled up paths that lead us away from Jesus.

Paul says in the very next verse:

21 But God has a way to make people right with him without the law, and he has now shown us that way which the law and the prophets told us about. 22 God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-22 NCV).


He bulldozes over the problem of sin.  He plows through the strictures of the law and he lifts into place the weighty foundation of grace in the form of a cross.

And if He can do that, if He can make this astoundingly miraculous path to forgiveness and grace even when I didn’t deserve such rescue, I know I can trust Him in my every impossibility, my every hopeless situation, my every closed door, my every mountain of a problem.

He can make a way.


Originally published June 24, 2016

So you want to hide away?


My daughter tried a stealth move.

I set my cup down on the floor next to the sofa where I was sitting.

She crawled over and paused.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her glance my way without fully turning her head, just flitting her eyes up to see if I was watching.

The she made her move.  She swooped down, sucked on the straw and gulped down my drink.


She grimaced.  Her whole body bounced back as she crawled to the other side of the room with a combination look of utter confusion and a little disgust.

She didn’t know I’ve been drinking green tea instead of Cherry Coke recently.

“Didn’t expect that, did ya?” I teased her and she laughs because she knows she deserved that little shock to her palate.

Since then, she’s been asking me, “Mom is that water in your cup or is it the other stuff?

She was surprised by what she found in my tumbler that day, and she doesn’t want it to happen again.

Her little encounter with my green tea has me thinking:

Others might be surprised by what’s within us sometimes.

We might be surprised by what’s within us sometimes, too.

We think we’ll find fresh water, and it’s something gross instead.

We think it’ll be a delight, and instead it’s disgust.

Not God, though.  God is never surprised by what He finds within our hearts and lives.

He knows.

Psalm 139:1 says:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!  (ESV).

Some part of me wants to hide from that.

God, please don’t see the worst in me. 

I don’t want Him to see the mixed motives or the idolatry, the way I fight with perfectionism and feeling not-enough.

I don’t want Him to see me lose my temper or get annoyed or feel like giving up.

I want to bury that jealousy or coveting and hope he doesn’t notice the bump in my backyard.

I want to cover over the mistakes and mess-ups or fatigue or worry, the bad moments and the bad days.

If God sees my worst, surely He’ll give up on me.  He’ll use someone better, call someone purer, bless someone holier, because I’m such a broken vessel.

Then I think of Nathanael.

When Jesus called out to Peter, James, John and Andrew, they were hauling nets along the sea, just another day of work.  He said, “Follow me,” and they dropped the fishing gear and stepped into discipleship.

Jesus called Matthew and immediately the tax collector hopped up from his papers and pencils and followed.

It’s such a beautiful calling.  It’s the calling of the willing and the obedient, the receptive and ready.

Then there’s Nathanael.

When Philip saw Nathanael that day, he told his friend all about how they had found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

Nathaniel mocked the thought.  It was a joke, surely.  He asked:

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46 ESV

It wasn’t a beautiful moment of faith or instant belief.  He didn’t seem receptive or ready.  He was doubtful and disdainful.

Then Jesus came along, saw Nathanael and said:

“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:47-49 ESV).

How do you know me?

That’s what Nathanael asked.

Then, realizing that Jesus did in fact see into his very heart, Nathanael confessed faith.  He worshiped.

He followed Christ and became one of the 12 disciples of Jesus.

Even now, the Armenian church claims Nathanael as their founder.  Church tradition says he preached as far as India and was martyred there.

He became sold out for Jesus.

But here’s what I love.

Jesus knew everything about him right from the beginning, the skeptical side, his mocking jest with Philip, and still called him and commissioned him.

There are days when I’m surprised myself at the sin still clogging up my heart.

But not Jesus.

And then that shame ensnares me.  I think I need to clean myself up and fix myself and get to work on my sin problem before God could bless any offering I bring.

But that’s not what God says.

That’s not what Jesus does.


He loves me now, the imperfect me, the me that wants to be like Jesus but isn’t there yet.

Jesus doesn’t know you and reject you or set you aside.





Originally posted February 24, 2016

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.

This is why I need a Savior

psalm 103.jpg

I was a freshman in college when an older friend took me for a walk and confronted me about the deathly sharpness of my tongue, how I could cut another student to pieces and leave them in shreds on the campus floor.

Since then, there has been grace.

The Holy Spirit dug out mounds of trash and began growing kindness, gentleness, and self-control in me.

I started to think that this new ‘me’ is the real me, the gracious and gentle me who loves others and keeps her tongue in check.  I thought I had learned the lesson:

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
    but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18 ESV).

But it was pride, foolish pride.

Now, the Lord is breaking that self-righteousness right down. It stings and aches, and I’d just like Him to finish the construction project already so I can stop feeling so bruised and laid bare.

I’ve been losing my ‘cool,’ snapping back when I felt challenged, flashing to defend myself.

One time felt like a fluke, just a bad day. But then it happened again. And again.

Every time, I’d think, “What’s wrong with me?  That’s not who I am!”

I’d spend days, weeks even after each incident rehearsing the scenes in my mind, wincing at my words, embarrassed and ashamed.

I resolved to try harder next time. Be calm. Stay in control. Take deep breaths.  Don’t talk when provoked.  Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to get angry.

Not that I’m cursing or yelling, of course.  It’s just that temporary loss of control, speaking now and thinking later (with regret).

That’s not me.   I’m sweet and kind.  I’m patient and slow to speak.

That’s what I kept telling myself.

But the truth is even when I kept control of my tongue, the trash was in my heart–the criticism or judgments, the flashes of self-protective wit and anger.

Now God seems to be letting the trash of my heart come pouring out my mouth so I can’t hide it, not even from myself.

I keep entering the boxing ring and beating at myself with the same commentary.

I can’t believe I said that. 

That’s not me.  That’s not who I am. 

What’s wrong with me?

Why am I so easily provoked?

I am an idiot.

I’m so embarrassed.  

I review my day as a mom and realize I blew it here and I messed up there.  I hear how my tone of voices loses gentleness even with my own kids.

I’ve spent months carrying around a load of shame and embarrassment because I just can’t seem to shake my reactivity.

What’s wrong with me?

Then this weekend, I read Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman and she pinned me to a display board when she said this:

Shock and shame are my most natural and immediate responses when I make a bad choice or have a bad reaction….If I feel shocked and ashamed when I snap…, maybe I’m assuming I can handle life on my own and I don’t really need redemption, not really. And so when my soul has a bad idea, I can’t believe it.

Shock and shame. That’s been me.

Why am I so shocked by my own sinfulness?  Every. Single. Time.

It’s because I’ve been leaning so heavily on my own self-righteousness that I’ve failed to collapse in the arms of grace.

It’s because I’ve been assuming I could be perfect and am angry when I’m not.

I have messages I tell my kids over and over, hoping they’ll ring true in the deepest parts of them.

I love you.

You’re beautiful. 

I believe in you.

And this:

No one is perfect. We all mess up.  We sin.  That’s why we need a Savior.  If we could be perfect on our own, we wouldn’t need Jesus.

Maybe in this season of humility and the breaking down, I find myself learning the lesson I’ve been preaching—

Accept the grace.  Be loved.

Stop being shocked and embarrassed because I need a Savior.

Be humbled and live in awe of the One who Saves.

I don’t receive mercy because I’m perfect; I receive it because I’m imperfect and relying on Christ.

Aren’t we all?

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:8-12 NIV).


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


45 Bible Verses on Pursuing Holiness


  • Leviticus 19:2 ESV
    Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them,You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy
  • Leviticus 20:7 ESV
    Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God.
  • Leviticus 20:26 ESV
    You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.
  • Psalm 51:10-12 ESV
    Create in me a clean heart, O God,
        and renew a right spirit within me.
    11 Cast me not away from your presence,
        and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
    12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
        and uphold me with a willing spirit.
  • Psalm 66:18-19 ESV
    If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
        the Lord would not have listened.
    19 But truly God has listened;
        he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
  • Psalm 97:10 ESV
    O you who love the Lord, hate evil!
        He preserves the lives of his saints;
        he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
  • Psalm 119:1-3 ESV
    Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
        who walk in the law of the Lord!
    Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
        who seek him with their whole heart,
    who also do no wrong,
        but walk in his ways!
  • Psalm 139:23-24 ESV
    Search me, O God, and know my heart!
        Try me and know my thoughts!
    24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
        and lead me in the way everlasting!
  • Proverbs 16:17 ESV
    The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
        whoever guards his way preserves his life.
  • Isaiah 35:8 ESV
    And a highway shall be there,
        and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
    the unclean shall not pass over it.
        It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
        even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
  • Isaiah 52:11 ESV
    Depart, depart, go out from there;
        touch no unclean thing;
    go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves,
        you who bear the vessels of the Lord.
  • Amos 5:14 ESV
    Seek good, and not evil,
        that you may live;
    and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
        as you have said.
  • Romans 7:12 ESV
    So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
  • Romans 12:1 ESV
     I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
  • Romans 13:12-14 ESV
    The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:17 ESV
    If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19 ESV
    Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own
  • 1 Corinthians 15:34 ESV
    Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
  • 2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV
    Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
  • Galatians 5:22-25 ESV
    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
  • Ephesians 1:4 ESV
    even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him…
  • Ephesians 5:3 ESV
    But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
  • Ephesians 5:27 ESV
    so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
  • Philippians 2:12-16 ESV
    Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
  • Colossians 3:5-10 ESV
    Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[c] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:4 ESV
    that each one of you know how to control his own body[a] in holiness and honor
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:7 ESV
    For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:22 ESV
    Abstain from every form of evil.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV
    Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • 1 Timothy 6:11 ESV
    But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
  • 2 Timothy 1:9 ESV
    who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began
  • 2 Timothy 2:21 ESV
    Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
  • Hebrews 12:1 ESV
    Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
  • Hebrews 12:14 ESV
    Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
  • James 1:21 ESV
    Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
  • 1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV
     but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
  • 1 Peter 2:9 ESV
     But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
  • 1 Peter 2:11 ESV
    Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
  • 1 Peter 2:24 ESV
    He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
  • 1 Peter 3:11 ESV
    let him turn away from evil and do good;
        let him seek peace and pursue it.
  • 2 Peter 3:14 ESV
    Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
  • 1 John 1:7 ESV
    But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
  • 1 John 2:1 ESV
    My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
  • 1 John 3:6-10 ESV
    No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you.Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
  • 3 John 1:11 ESV
     Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.

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


Saying sorry while blaming the other person isn’t really apologizing

psalm 32

There’s an art to apologizing.

We’re still learning that art here at my house.

There’s this one key ingredient I’m looking for: Honesty.  Genuine repentance.  True sorrow.

I tell my kids, “You have to mean it.”

The battles start young and they surely are battles.  It seems so simple.  I tell the raging toddler, “Say ‘sorry'”

There is screaming and stubborn refusal.  Jaw tightens.  Fists clench.

The truth is, it isn’t simple.  Even a two-year-old knows that it’s never easy to confess, “I was wrong.”

Never easy to fess up, own up, and step up to your own personal responsibility and admit weakness or error.

That’s pride.

It gets the best of us.

Sure, as the kids age, they learn the basics.  No more time outs and threats of punishment and discipline for a lack of apology.

They technically have learned to apologize.

But they’ve also learned how to twist that apology into a sharp-edged weapon.

It’s sneaky, but I’m on to their tactics.

“I’m sorry that you weren’t looking where you were going and tripped on me.”

“I’m sorry that you’re crying drove me so crazy I had to be mean to you.”

“I”m sorry that you never leave me alone when I tell you to.”

“I’m sorry that you always get what you want and that makes me so angry.”

I’m sorry……that this is all really your fault.  You made me do it.  You, you, you.

It breaks this momma’s heart.

Surely it must break God’s heart, too, not just to hear my kids apologize without really apologizing, but to hear me entangle myself in my own bit of guilt-shirking.  He hears how I can twist myself up in knots to justify my own sin.

We can make excuses.  We can point fingers at others.  We can blame circumstances.  We can drown out the Holy Spirit with the noise of our own protests.

But here’s what Paul said:

For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death

Godly sorrow.  That’s what we should have.

Sin breaks the heart of God and it should be breaking our own heart, as well.

Truth is, as a mom, I pray that guilt and godly sorrow eats away at the heart of my kids so that they can’t stand it anymore; they just have to burst out a confession.

I want them to be able to say, “This is what I did wrong….”

I want them to know the freedom of true, genuine, honest, heart-felt repentance like David did:

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.

For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.

I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin (Psalm 32:3-5 NASB).

It sounds cruel, perhaps, but if my kids are clinging to sin, I hope it groans within them all day and night and they feel feverish with guilt and heavy-laden with conviction.

May it be so for me, too.

I’ve been thinking about Peter lately.

Other disciples mourned Jesus’s death.  It’s true.

But Peter grieved all the more, losing His Savior while coming face-to-face with his own sin of betrayal that nailed Christ to that cross.

The Gospels tell us all about it.  They tell how Peter stood at the fire in the courtyard of the High Priest.  They tell all about the three people who identified him as a Jesus-follower and how he blustered out a denial.  They describe the crowing of the rooster and Peter’s desperate tears of deep, deep sorrow for his sin.

How did the Gospel writers know?

How did Luke know?  How did John know all these details so he could write them all down?

How did anyone other than Peter and Jesus know that Peter had totally blown it?

Peter must have told them.  Not just a general confession either. “I sinned.”  He told the whole ugly truth.

He didn’t keep it to himself.  He didn’t cover it over and hide it away.  He didn’t pretend it didn’t happen or make excuses for himself.

Peter didn’t compare himself to the others who had run away that night and figure, “Hey, maybe I’m not so bad after all.”

He confessed.

He repented.

He humbled himself enough to say, “I’m sorry.  This is what I did wrong.”

And that moment of sincere, honest, lay-it-all-out-there confession allowed Jesus to make a new Peter, a leader-of-the-church, humble, teachable Peter.

We bring the mess to Him; He brings the mercy.

And He makes us new.

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

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

Epic Failures; Epic Grace

Mom Failures.

I’ve had them, had some doozies actually.

Anyone else?

There was the year my oldest daughter had been pestering me all week with her chattery excitement about an upcoming birthday party for a friend.  The day of the party, I told her it was time to go and double-checked the invitation on the way out the door.  That’s when I found out that the party actually ended at 2:00, not began at 2:00.  She had missed it completely.  We drove anyway just to bring our present and apologize, but everyone was already gone.psalm145

I had one tearful extrovert of a 5-year-old that day.

And it was my  fault.  My own failure that had ruined her super-exciting day.

I apologized a million times and it still didn’t feel like enough.  I took her to one of those play places with a million bouncy inflatables and she had the most fun jumping herself into exhaustion, but I still knew the truth—I had failed.

Bad moments don’t make bad mamas!”  That’s what Lysa TerKeurst says.

She’s right, of course.  One missed birthday party doesn’t define me, doesn’t stuff me into a box of rejection or label me as a Failure-With-a-Capital-F.

But in that moment, it’s so hard to soak in any grace when your soul is rock-hard with shame.

And when you mess it all up, all those other mistakes come crashing right back down on your head from the places you’ve shelved them.  Pretty soon, you’re covered in the trash of remembered failure.

You always….You never…..

We hear the absolute declarations that we simply are not good enough, our own voice of condemnation echoing in our own head and heart.

You always make a mess of things.

You never get it right.

You’re always so stupid, so flaky, so forgetful, so short-tempered….

You’ll never be as good as she is…

God can’t use you.

Chris Tiegreen writes:

We are apt to think that failure disqualifies us from serving God well.  To the contrary, sometimes it is the only thing that does qualify us.  It removes any pretense of self-reliance.  Like a phoenix rising, we ascend from the ashes of our own undoing, testifying to the resurrecting power of God.  From failure to forgiveness, weakness to strength, death to life—it’s God’s way.  Remember that the next time you despair over your failures (365 Pocket Devotions).

We’re mess-ups, all of us.  Somehow, some way, at some time, we’re going to fail.

That’s why we need grace, after all.  That’s why we needed a Savior: because on our own, we’ll never be perfect, never good enough, never all right.

But there’s Jesus, not just ready to pour out forgiveness afterward; He prays for us in advance.

Jesus looked right at Simon Peter sitting at the Passover Meal, that Last Supper, and said:

But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32  NIV).

What grace is this?

Before Peter ever denied Christ, Jesus had been praying for him.

Before Peter’s sin, Jesus already assured him of restoration, promising not just that he would “turn back,” but that Peter could be the one to “strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus promised Peter, “After you’ve failed and you’ve returned to me, I can still use you. More than that, that’s WHEN I can use you.”

Sometimes our own failure makes us most useful to God.

When we receive grace, we learn to give grace.

When we are at our weakest, we learn to rely on His strength and not our own (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Maybe we don’t see the hope right away, not with the mess lying fresh all around us.  It’s hard to see beauty in all those ashes.  Hard to see grace in the hard and mercy in the difficult.

But the Psalmist wrote:

The Lord helps the fallen
and lifts those bent beneath their loads
(Psalm 145:114 NLT).

Have you tripped up?  Have you fallen?  Have you crashed headlong into that dark pit?

Do you feel weighed down by the load of shame and guilt and condemnation?

The Lord is there to help you and to hold you up.

Give what’s broken to Him and let Him bring you to something new, something beautiful, and something for your good.

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