Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Can You Handle the TRUTH?

In recent days we've been told that in order to love others well, we have to be willing to lie. We must, as the new social mores dictate, be willing to affirm whatever truth someone feels is their truth even if it is untrue.

Way back in the early 1990's my husband and I chaperoned a large group of teenagers on a youth trip to Jekyll Island, Georgia, for a TRUTH CONFERENCE. The speaker was concerned that signs were pointing to a disturbing trend-- truth was becoming relative, not absolute. 

He explained the peril associated with such a scenario and warned us all to resist the assault against the existence of absolutes, explaining that we must confront this agenda in a world seemingly bent on "having it our way," even if "our way," was categorically dishonest and intellectually false.  

It occurred to me this morning as I read passages from John where Jesus was being accused and tried, that attacks against truth are nothing new. In John 18: 37-38 we read the following:

 Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. 

So what IS truth? Is it subjective? Is it ethereal? Intangible? Irrelevant?

Jesus said in John 14:6 "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

His words communicate a clear and unmistakable message. There is no other way. There aren't many paths, many options, many opinions, or many truths. There is one truth about eternity and HE is that truth. HE is that way. HE is LIFE...eternal and precious.

At the end of this week we will observe a day called Good Friday. The only "good" about this day is what it accomplished-- at least if we believe the truth of scripture. Otherwise, it's just a historical day when a man who was found to "have no fault" by Pilate endured suffering of the cruelest and most unthinkable degree.

On Sunday, those of us who believe the truth of John 14:6 will gather in humble awe that He found us worthy of saving. And this "saving" was done because the truth of The Word says that every person's sin has the penalty (wages) of death in a place prepared for those who reject God's truth.

But Jesus Christ came into our world to become the final payment for sin and he died in the place of those who would surrender the pride of our flesh, forsake the way of our own truth, and submit to Him as Lord of our lives.

One of the true things about human nature is that we do not like authority, we want to be our own "gods." We love our own truth and we hate God's truth when it intersects and interferes with our preferences, our priorities, and our privileges. But we can't have it both ways. We either accept His truth or we follow our own way that scripture clearly says will end in death. (Proverbs 14:12)

Maybe by God's providential grace what I've written will convince someone that it's time to acknowledge that there is absolute truth and this truth is personified in Jesus the Christ who came as a ransom for sinners like us.

If you've sown to the winds of moral relativism and rejected the existence of absolute truth, understand this, you are refusing to allow the person who loves you most to rescue and save you from lies that are damning. 

Today, He invites you to believe. 

Will you?

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that WHOEVER believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3: 16

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Thursday, January 12, 2023

True Confessions...

I recently saw one of those social media memes that I've been pondering for several days now. 

It read:

Christian Evangelism is NOT inviting someone to your church.

True. This wasn't a newsflash. It's not anything I am unaware of. But it has continued to give me pause for several days.

Why is it easier to invite someone to a church service than it is to tell them the truth of the gospel? 

When I invite someone to come to church with me, what is my motivation?

Do I honestly love God more than I love my church?

Would the people in my life know this to be true of me, if so?

The questions swirl as I think back over my life and the wonderful relationships I enjoy as a result of being involved in a local church. But this little meme's reminder has bugged me because it reveals something about the problem facing those of us who know what we are called to do but prefer a less challenging road to obedience.

Scripture is not vague. We are told to go into the world and make disciples (Matthew 28) and to study the word (2 Timothy 2) the intended result being that we are prepared to give an answer to, or, "make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you..." (1 Peter 3:15)

But this takes effort and diligence and time and preparation. It's so much easier to just extend an invitation to a church service and let the paid people do the heavy lifting, right?

There's a problem with that today beyond the obvious cop out that it is, though. Most people who are unconvinced and unconverted aren't super excited about getting up on a Sunday morning to go to an unfamiliar place where things that are foreign to their "normal" occur. 

They do recognize hope and joy when they see it, however. And they do appreciate it when someone who doesn't have to listen to them bemoan the woes of this life will take the time to hear what they have to say. And super importantly, they all share the common clear awareness of "God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--(which) have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that (they) are without excuse." (Romans 1: 20)

So this is a very big deal. Apart from hearing that they cannot save themselves and are in dire need of God's forgiveness for their sin, they are destined for a hellish eternity when this life is over. 

Beloved believer, you and I have the answer they desperately need but may not be searching for. Yet. 

How then do we become people who tell them God's glorious, saving truth rather than just inviting them to come to church with us? Here are four suggestions to consider:

1. Pray. Ask God to make you a bold disciple who is willing to risk embarrassment or even ridicule for the sake of a soul. Next, ask him to put people in your path who are open to hearing the most grand of all love stories-- his rescue plan for sinners.  God is faithful and will hear and answer our sincere pleas when we ask him to make us his hands, feet, and mouthpieces.

2. Observe. Watch and listen to family members, co-workers, neighbors, friends as they navigate life apart from the joy, peace, and provision of The LORD. Then, as you watch and listen, pray for opportunities to plant seeds of hope and faith that will yield future opportunities for clarifying gospel centered conversation if this doesn't happen organically the first time you engage with them.

3. Question. Ask them questions rather than supplying or giving all the answers. Let their own need(s) and confusion surface as they come to see that many of their supposed solutions are dead ends or lead to disappointment that leaves them with more questions than answers.

4. Prepare. Know what you believe and why you believe it. There has never been a time in history that affords greater opportunities to learn and grow as a disciple of Christ. Some of my very favorite resources include this one from Truth for Life, this from Grace to You, and this from Living on the Edge. These and so many other wonderful sites make excellent accompaniments to our daily devotional reading, study, and plans. 

We have God's promise to give us the right words at the right time if we simply obey what he has called us to do. We can count on The Holy Spirit to lead us when we initiate or participate in gospel conversations-- and the beauty of it all is that not one single person's eternal destiny is up to us. 

We are conduit, God is the power source. We are vessels, he is living water. We cannot save a single soul, but he is mighty to save! 

To be honest, I wish I could just invite every lost person I know to join me at church. In my dream world they'd say, "sure, I would love to," and once there, they would suspend unbelief, be born again, and enjoy the life changing grace of God through salvation in Christ alone. 

But that's a dream and it's not the plan our LORD laid out for us. For me, church is amazing. I dearly love what happens when I'm able to gather in a room filled with people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, and circumstances who are worshiping with their whole hearts because they've been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. But God's plan is not for the local church gathering on a Sunday morning to serve as the only vehicle for the salvation of individuals, he has charged us (and we ARE the church) with the task of evangelizing the world. 

It is a Herculean task that apart from his Spirit's help we are likely to evade. But by his Spirit and in his power and because of love, we are compelled to go and tell. So let's invite them to church after we tell them of the marvelous love of the Savior who died to rescue them from the power of sin and death! 

Lord help us. Grow us. Make us living, breathing doers of the Word for your glory and our good. Amen.  

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Tuesday, April 19, 2022


There will always be people who are more.
More talented.
More beautiful.
More intelligent.
More successful.
More popular.
More outgoing.
More funny.
More stylish.
More fun.
More adventurous.
More brave.
More influential.
More fit.
More strong.

If we compare ourselves to others we will frequently come up short and often end up discouraged.
May we who know Jesus as Lord compare ourselves only to those who are striving to be the most obedient and faithful of Christ followers if we are looking for a human with whom to compare ourselves.
And by God’s grace and in His strength may we all become more.
More humble.
More servant hearted.
More giving.
More wise.
More faithful.
More gracious.
More peaceful.
More honest.
More patient.
More kind.
More self controlled.
More selfless.
More gentle.
More loving.
In other words may our highest pursuit be to become
more like Jesus.
Thank you to my friends who motivate me to become “more” by your consistent witness and faithful lives of obedience. I am beyond grateful to The Lord for you.
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Monday, March 28, 2022

What Happened When I Agreed to be a Mentor?

If anyone had told me that fateful day in 1996 how my entire life would be impacted if I agreed to "mentor" a woman just fourteen years my junior, I wouldn't have believed them.

I met Tiffany Pate when asked by one of her friends to lead a Bible study for a small group of younger women. It's almost funny now to think back on that time because I was still so far from learned in terms of doctrinal knowledge, but apparently being a few years older and willing to study was sufficient in their estimation-- so I took the plunge. 

Tiffany asked complex and thoughtful questions. She had a hunger and thirst for knowledge of God, but more than that, for a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. She wanted to know what she believed and why she believed it and she was never content with superficial or incomplete answers. We had lengthy conversations about subjects that concerned her, and honestly, few things are more motivating in terms of getting you to dig in and study scripture than having someone ask you tough, insightful questions. 

When I shared a post recently on social media about the value of mentoring relationships, it occurred to me that there are a couple of reasons people might have for not pursuing one. Maybe there are more, but I would imagine these are primary:

1. I don't feel equipped (I don't feel I have the time and it might require too much of me.)

2. I don't know anyone who would want to have this sort of relationship with me.

Scripture compels older women to teach younger women (Titus 2). and this isn't something we can dismiss or excuse ourselves from. The chapter prescribes a specific mandate for both young and old:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 

So back to my story about Tiffany. The misconception that the mentor is solely the giver and the mentee is the fortunate recipient of the benefits of the relationship is regrettable. The blessing of walking alongside another younger believer as she explores what being a child of God means for her life cannot be measured, but let me share just a little of our story for example.

There were no text messaging options back in the day. We had real voice conversations about motherhood, being a wife, church attendance, modesty, self control, anger, family dynamics, fears, confusion, doubts, and worries. But in every instance, the conversation came back to trust and faith, belief and confident hope that, "He who began a good work in (us) would be faithful to complete it." (Philippians 1:6 paraphrase)

As our relationship grew, Tiffany got to know my children. Interestingly, she had a beloved sister of her own born on the exact date as my daughter, so she became something of a "big sister" to my child as well. How sweet of The Lord to let me mentor one who would later mentor my own daughter. 

When my "mama" heart was broken over things that broke the heart of my daughter during her college years and beyond, Tiffany cried with me and prayed harder than just about anyone I knew.  Honestly, this "mentee" of mine was a gift from God during many of my own difficult days and I loved having her constant assurance of prayerful understanding, concern, and compassion.

So many times she ministered to me and to Leslie, and one day she called to say that she had met Leslie's husband! You would have to know details that time and space won't allow me to share here, but suffice it to say that she was right. She had a gut feeling that a young man she randomly met would become my son-in-law and six months after she told me about this confident impression, a meeting was arranged and they were engaged shortly thereafter. 

Tiffany hosted a baby shower when our first grandchild was due, and one day around that time she called me with frightening news. She had gotten blood work done at a routine check up that indicated something was wrong. Tests and more tests later, she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer.

Words fail me to describe the roller coaster season that followed, but we had great hope for her and there were prayers offered in faith that she would beat this evil foe. And when she touched Leslie's pregnant belly as she carried her third child, Tiffany smiled a tearful smile and confidently said, "this one is a boy."

My precious mentee. My friend. My daughter from another mother. My treasured and beloved sister in Christ, Tiffany Pate, did not live to see that baby BOY's arrival. But she has seen her Savior face to face and she has left a legacy of love and faith that will impact me until the day I meet Him, too, and see her again. And that boy, his name is Pate. I have five living grandchildren (and one in heaven) thanks to the prompting Tiffany felt when she met Steven and just "knew that he was Leslie's husband."

Since that time, I have been blessed to have many other "daughters" who have special places in my heart and I treasure them. Each is a precious, unique gift from God. These relationships challenge and grow me in ways I cannot quantify and I am deeply grateful for their presence in my life.

So, why should you consider becoming or seeking out a mentor? Because it will change YOUR life.

      ~in loving memory of Tiffany April Smith Pate, April 29, 1973-March 31, 2010. ~

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Tuesday, November 2, 2021

hello beautiful!

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:30
As we age, our physical appearance changes and any external beauty that may have fueled an ego or opened a door of opportunity wanes. But internal beauty of soul that develops from knowing the holy presence of a faithful God “through every high and stormy gale,” is a magnetic, glowing, aura that is almost undefinable— but if you’ve seen it in someone, you just know.
There are women in my life who possess this beauty. Aged, wrinkled, tried, tested, they have weathered life’s raging storms and toughest trials with mountain moving faith, demonstrating transcendent beauty that can only be defined as nearly flawless.
These are the truly beautiful people, the ones with an appeal that the cover model who doesn’t possess their knowledge and experience can only wish for. These are the women who fear God more than man and have come to trust His higher ways and sovereign plans that may not have always aligned with their own dreams or aspirations. And yet…peace.
Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Not fearing Him is folly. We will all bow down before His majesty, the only question is when: before or after we die.
The woman who fears Him on this side of eternity reaps a harvest of heavenly praise that wells up within a soul full of gratitude for having received what this world cannot offer— no matter her charm, appearance, status, or wealth.
What a gift The Father lavishes on those who apprehend by faith His marvelous, matchless BEAUTIFUL grace.
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Thursday, September 23, 2021

You Are Gonna Die. So am I.

You are gonna die.

So am I.

One out of one of us do, but for some crazy reason, we expect not to.  We go to funerals and mourn the dearly departed, but we rarely sit through these somber services thinking we might be next. And yet, this is the reality: it could be you, me, or the person beside us who is next to be eulogized.

For the past several months, death has been a frequent visitor to my social media newsfeed. Some of these deaths have been people with whom I am acquainted and loved. One of them was even a beloved family member.

The increasing prevalence of these reminders almost mandates a dirge for the opening theme of the daily news because honestly, it seems the more dreadful the day's headlines, the higher the reported viewership. One local broadcaster said recently, "if it bleeds, it leads," referring to the stories that make it to the top of the hour. Still, viewers tune in for daily doses of depressing drama in record numbers.

Why? Why this preoccupation with the macabre and morbid? I can only speculate, but I think it has something to do with an attempt to face our greatest fear which is our own demise. Death, after all, is our last enemy. It says so in the Bible, right? 

I am fascinated with not only the current cultural fixation on death, but also on the many demonstrations of fear that seem rooted in sudden awareness that we humans don't possess immortality. 

Covid has cured that, though. People suddenly seem to realize that they could die and they are terrified. I mean literally scared to death (almost) of death. Tragically, some are so afraid they have isolated themselves into depression and scrubbed their skin into shredded flesh.  No longer able to breathe freely in the company of other humans for fear that someone might infect them or that they might infect someone, they no longer enjoy concerts, crowds, or companionship. Fear has gripped them and the fear is this: they might die, or someone they love might die.

If C. S. Lewis was still writing, I think he might add a chapter to The Screwtape Letters because this has to be one of the devil's all time most skillful attacks. I am surely no Lewis, but I can almost hear the dialog in my head-- 

You can make him do anything you wish when he is terrified of the virus. 

He will stop going to the market and order his groceries online. He will voraciously read every article that heralds the viral deadliness growing more fearful and hopeless as he reads. He will stop meeting his friends for dinner and tell his grandchildren not to visit. He will no longer kiss his wife goodnight for fear that she might sicken him, or vice versa. He will watch the daily news for reports on the numbers of those who've succumbed to disease and then cower in terror thinking he could be next. He will ignore reports of recovery rates and become fixated only on the worst case outcomes. He will scold and correct all who do not share his own understanding of the dire straits of society. He will verbally attack former friends and colleagues who do not believe or behave exactly as he does. In his sleep, he will dream of disease. In his waking hours, he will speak of disease. And as he so predictably slips into a state of fear induced mania and paranoia, he will have lost all ability to reason or to be reasoned with, and best of all, he won't fear God, only his own untimely death.

He will be exactly where you want him to be then, nephew. Incapable of making wise or discerning judgments and perfectly suited for a long life of hell on earth. Just the preparation that is needed for his future eternal state. This, my dear boy, is brilliant!

Your affectionate uncle,


When young children witness a grown woman in a state of absolute panic-induced hysteria on an elevator because she is breathing the same air as they are, you know we are living in a fear filled world. 

When a stranger verbally assaults someone who is not wearing a mask in a very large public place where no mask mandate exists and where it is more than possible to maintain great social distance, you know we are living in a fear filled world. 

When someone expects you to do exactly what they think is right regardless of their lack of knowledge of your situation, health, or beliefs and then berates you for not complying or agreeing or capitulating, you know we are living in a fear filled world.

The saddest thing about all of this is not that the virus itself exists, but that fear of the virus has turned us into people who have lost the ability (or willingness) to behave rationally, maturely, and properly in far too many instances. 

So, what is the solution? There's only one. It is found in the verse I mentioned earlier and actually in a broader sense it is found in the truth of the whole of scripture. 1 Corinthians 15:26 tells us that "the last enemy to be destroyed is death." And there is one who destroyed its sting and puts to rest all the fears that cripple and blind and stifle and grip. Jesus Christ conquered death-- and for those who have surrendered their earthly, mortal life to His Lordship, we can face whatever comes tomorrow, be it corona virus, heart disease, cancer, or tragedy, without the fear that suffocates and renders hopeless those who do not have The LORD's "peace that passes understanding."

As I write, I am praying for the woman on the elevator, the man in the store, and the person who so hostilely responds on social media (and all those who are in the clutches of the devil's big scary scheme) to be delivered from the terror of death by the mercy of Christ. The Scripture says:
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers be steadfast, immovable..." I Corinthians 15: 54-58

We will die. You will. I will. But by God's amazing grace, may we NOT die while we are still alive. Fear does that to a person-- it creates living dead people. In Christ, we are free to live fearlessly-- even the fear of death. 

soli Deo gloria~


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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Ways to Be THAT Woman!

Follow up-
Practical application...
I recently shared my heart for older Christian women to teach the younger (as we are instructed in the book of Titus) but what does that look like in practical terms.
To put it simply- relationship!
How though? We are all busy and life gets crazy and days turn into weeks, etc...
Here are a few ideas that have served my own daughter when some amazing women have come alongside her as “extra” moms, mentors, and friends. Additionally, I’ll share some thoughts that have helped me with establishing these types of friendship/mentorship relationships.
1. Ask a young woman how you can pray for her. You might be amazed at the door this opens for further opportunities to invest in her life.
2. If she has young children, she is tired. Ask if you can come to her house for one hour to play with her kids while she rests or reads a book or does something for herself. One of my friends frequently asked Leslie if she could just come and make homemade playdoh with her girls (to their delight) when they were little. This offered Leslie a “personal time out.” It was a beautiful gift.
3. Offer to take a younger woman to lunch and if she has children, pay for the sitter. So many young women/moms wouldn’t (or couldn’t) treat themselves to a nice lunch out, but this is a great chance to connect and converse and build a relationship.
4. Send a card or care gift that includes a note of encouragement and a prayer of blessing. How many of us are delighted to find kindness in the mailbox?
Over the past several years it has become evident that in our transient, fast paced world, MANY young women do not have moms living close by. Some have moms who are not believers leaving these women to navigate life without the benefit of an older, godly woman to come alongside her for advice, help, and prayer support.
Most of us won’t change the world but we can make one woman’s life better, and it doesn’t cost very much to be that person. Just a little time and a lotta love.
I can promise you this— the greater reward in the end will be the enrichment to your own life. The young women I’ve had the joy of walking beside bless me far more than I could ever bless them, so it really is true: we cannot out give God. His way is wonderful!
Blessings y'all! <3
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