Category Archives: Inspiration

Should we follow our hearts?

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I am an emotional creature by nature. I am driven by empathy. I feel things. Deeply. I can be as sensitive to the joys and pains of others as if they were my own. I would say that I make decisions more from my “heart” more than my “head.” So it caught me off guard one day when an acquaintance of mine expressed disgust over the fact that people mention following their hearts. She quoted Jeremiah 17:9 to support her belief that our hearts would only lead us astray.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:9

I was familiar with the verse and it inspired me to ponder use of the word “heart” to convey the source of our feelings and love—but also to express the source of our worldly desires. Yet, in Ezekiel we learn that God gives us a new heart and a new spirit—a soft, open and teachable heart, enabling our spirit to do his will.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” – Ezekiel 36:26-27

It has taken many years to develop what I would consider good discernment. I believe that discernment is an ability to hear and comprehend the leading of the Holy Spirit—an ability that I consider a gift of my heart.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:5

“For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” – Romans 10:10

With our heart, not our mind, we believe. We have a choice. We decide what and who is in our hearts. We must guard our hearts and make certain they are centered on God and not our selfish desires. If we love God with all our hearts, there is nothing safer to follow. Our hearts will be moved by His Spirit.

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” – Matthew 22:37

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Luke 12:34

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45

When seeking God’s will, would you say you act based on your feelings or thoughts? Your head or your heart?


Stress got you down?

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If I asked you to close your eyes and envision yourself in a serene and relaxing environment, where would your thoughts take you? Do your picture yourself nestled in the soft sand at a beach? Are you surrounded by majestic mountains or resting by a serene lake? Most of us imagine ourselves in a scenic natural setting. Stressful environments are man-made—but in nature, we see evidence of our Creator and it fills us with awe and gives us peace.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20

Our Maker formed us from the earth and created a lush garden setting to live in. That was the life we were designed for. It’s who we really are. Only our disobedience or denial of truth takes us away from the beauty of what we were meant to be.

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. Genesis 2:7-8

But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? Job 12:7-9

Playing outdoors takes us back to the innocence of our childhood and from that perspective we can see our beautiful world with all the wonder of a small child. When we grow world-weary, when our faith grows stale and our patience wears thin we have only to seek out the beauty of our natural surroundings to find peace and get in touch with our loving God.

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

You have taught the little children to praise you perfectly. May their example shame and silence your enemies! Psalm 8:2 (TLB)

How can you enjoy the beauty and peace of nature today?

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Change

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The older I get, the more I struggle with change. In my twenties, I craved it. In my thirties, it was still new and exciting. But now, pushing fifty … not so much. And it happens faster than ever these days.

I had a great-aunt who was born in 1880s and lived into the 1980s. The child of pioneers, my Aunt Ora traveled across the prairie in a wagon. She also witnessed the advent of television, computers and space travel. Although from my perspective, she always looked the same—with neatly-coifed silver hair, a pillbox hat, a prim dress and no-nonsense shoes—she had experienced amazing change in her lifetime.

Two generations behind her, I have still seen substantial change. My childhood was spent largely playing outdoors, unencumbered by any electronic devices. My first boyfriend did have an Atari Pong game, but it wasn’t enough to distract him for long. I watched my first VHS video at a high school party. My world was rocked when I got my hands on the brand new Macintosh SE my last year of college. I even managed to finish college without once having a conversation interrupted by a cell phone call.

Now, in a career that has spanned more than 25 years, I’ve owned more computers and software upgrades than I can count. At first, I latched onto each new innovation with anticipation. At any given moment, I could take advantage of a smart phone, my beloved Kindle, my laptop or my desktop computer—or a combination simultaneously. Now, I’m over it. I admit it. I’m tired. I just want to get off the ride. This city girl has moved to the country. We live in a cellular dead zone. And I love it. I crave a simpler life.

In this fast-paced, ever-changing world, it’s comforting to know that our God never changes. We can count on him no matter what. Amid the swirling sands of change, we have a foothold.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

In this imperfect world, change isn’t always for the better—but Bible scholar, Arthur Pink, nailed it for me when he wrote: “God cannot change for the better, for He is already perfect; and being perfect, He cannot change for the worse.” Unlike the shifting environment our lives are tossed by, there is One we can count on—a constant, soothing source of peace we can rely on.

Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6

Where you do find comfort when constant change starts to wear you down?

I'll admit it. These days, I'd often rather just stay in my safe, little cocoon.

I’ll admit it. These days, I’d often rather just stay in my safe, little cocoon.


No Luck

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Do you believe in coincidence? Life is full of a million variables. At any second our life could launch in countless different directions. Each small decision has the potential to greatly impact the rest of our lives.

There was a time in my life when I did believe in good or bad luck. I thought myself the master (or mistress) of my own destiny. Luck was the superstitious notion or force that could bring good fortune or adversity at random. Now that I am a follower of Christ, I have come to believe that God is in control and there is no such thing as luck. Everything happens for a reason—good and bad.

We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Romans 5:3-4

The ancient practice of casting lots was not unlike flipping a coin. Although it seemed to border on gambling at times, it was often simply used as a means of being impartial. Casting a lot might seem to imply that the outcome was random, left to chance, without design—but even a random act can be used to fulfill God’s purposes. The book of Acts even mentions that the apostles cast lots to replace Judas.

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. Proverbs 16:33

Luck is a worldly concept that does not acknowledge God’s sovereignty, but God, in his providence, does not leave our lives to chance. He guides us along a path of purpose, where every aspect of our lives—good or bad—is used as details of a greater plan.

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. Isaiah 45:7

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

In the end, all things are orchestrated for our good. Even the things that cause suffering build character in us, teach us perseverance and ultimately give us hope. They teach us to let go of the physical world and to embrace the spiritual world.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  Romans 8:5-6

Knowing that our lives are not left to chance, we can find peace even in difficulty. When Joseph finally had a chance to confront the brothers that sold him into slavery, he told them: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)

No good luck—no bad luck—even the most minor events of our lives have greater meaning than that. I am much more than lucky to be a child of God.

Do you believe in luck?

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Fearless

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I’ve been sitting on the sidelines recently. My leadership skills are unused. I’ve back-burnered my spiritual moxie. It’s simmering while I ponder it all. What are the biblical guidelines for women in ministry?

I recently moved from a somewhat progressive church in South Florida to a conservative church in North Carolina—from a church where I served for years as deacon and several other leadership roles to a church where woman may only lead other women or young children. Over the past months as I have struggled to come to terms with how God wants to use women in ministry and, particularly, how he wants to use me. I am going through a time of change and reflection. I have given it prayer and searched scripture for leading.

At precisely the time I was pondering and praying, an invitation to preview a new book arrived in my email. I was immediately intrigued by the title—Fearless Daughters of the Bible: What You Can Learn from 22 Women Who Challenged Tradition, Fought Injustice and Dared to Lead, by J. Lee Grady.

Despite his gender-neutral pen name, J. Lee Grady is not only a man and an ordained minister, but also the father of four daughters. I really liked that this message came through him.

In his book, Grady discussed the controversial Bible verses I was struggling with:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. I Timothy 2:12

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 1 Corinthians 14:34

Some churches interpret this verse to mean that women may not serve in leadership positions, but more likely Paul wrote them to address specific problems in struggling churches. Grady makes the point that the “assume authority” quoted in 1 Timothy 2:12 could be more accurately translated as “usurp authority.” The Greek verb authentein has violent connotations and Paul was commanding the women involved to submit in silence to proper doctrine.

Grady’s view on how these instructions should be interpreted for the churches of today? “We must stop viewing the role of women through the narrow filter of Paul’s words to Timothy or to the Corinthians. Women speak for God freely throughout the Old and New Testaments; why would we restrict all women based in these injunctions to heretical or immature churchgoers? We cannot use these verses as a blanket rule for all churches in all times.”

Fearless Daughters of the Bible will inspire any woman who is either actively involved in ministry or seeking more empowerment in Christian service. Grady illustrates his position through the lives of women God used in powerful ways with points firmly founded in the Bible. When it comes to serving God, we should all be fearless about using the gifts he gave us. I highly recommend this thought-provoking book.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28

FearlessBook

Should woman be in ministry and leadership roles? Are we coming from a place of fear or operating on God’s power? 


An Engraved Heart

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I stumbled upon this recently:

Judah’s sin is engraved with an iron tool, inscribed with a flint point, on the tablets of their heart. Jeremiah 17:1

The visual of sin being engraved on a heart is sobering. It is a powerful illustration of stubbornness in sin. I lived this way for the first few decades of my life. I wanted to control my life and do as I pleased. I thought I could do it all on my own power.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

The world tells us we can be masters of our own fate and captains of our soul—but when we follow our selfish desires, sin becomes our master. We are deceiving ourselves if we think we are in control of anything.

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:13-14

When we submit our lives to God, sin is no longer our master.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:15-16

While slavery to anything doesn’t sound appealing, it is that devotion to obedience that sets us free and results in a happy life. If we freely yield ourselves, we find a joy and peace no self-serving life could ever offer.

It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.  2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT)

Who is your master? How does the world’s view of slavery and freedom differ from the Christian view? Have you been willing to break the bonds of slavery to sin and find joy in obedience?


Life, Death and Supernatural Events

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When my son turned three, my mother-in-law was battling cancer. The doctors had given her all the treatment they could and allowed her to travel back to my in-laws’ home in Florida where we—and more importantly, her grandsons—lived.

Looking back, knowing what I know now, I realize how very brave she was. I can only marvel at her cheerfulness to the end. She cherished her grandsons. On Brendan’s third birthday, she baked him a cake and played on the floor with him, as she had always been known to do. For someone who knew she was dying, she was so very full of life.  Only five weeks later, we lost her.

At only three, Brendan was still new to the world and still possessed much of the purity he came into the world with. Children that young seem to have an innocence of this world that allows them to see a spiritual world we can’t perceive.

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Luke 18:16

At Irene’s memorial service, Brendan was fidgeting and crying. We went to the cry room at the back of the sanctuary and watched the rest of the service from there. The windowed room we watched from connected with the outer sanctuary wall of stained glass windows and Brendan kept pointing to the window next to us and saying “Grandma!” I finally stopped to pay attention to what he was so intently trying to communicate and followed his little finger to the window that featured an angel. It gave me goosebumps, but with the emotions of the day, I couldn’t really process it. Later that week, as he was babbling away in his car seat behind me, he pointed into the sky outside his window and said “Grandma!” with a big smile on his face. Did she linger with us for a while? Were Brendan and his grandmother able to see each other after her life on earth ended? I’ll never know for certain in this life, but it gave me something to ponder.

Just this week, I received a book from Bethany House to review: “Angels, Miracles and Heavenly Encounters: Real-life Stories of Supernatural Events” compiled by James Stuart Bell (a collection of similar stories I recommend as an interesting and thought-provoking read). I pounced on this book the day it arrived and blazed through the stories, many of which I could relate to. It brought many personal memories to life in my mind. Over the past few years my husband and I have lost three of our collective parents. Life, death and the afterlife are on my mind more these days. As this book claims, there’s more going on in the world than meets the eye. There is an unseen spiritual realm, and occasionally God allows us glimpses of it.

Have you had a similar experience? Tell your story in the comments.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.  John 5:24

In loving memory of
Irene Dubicki Lynch

1942-2004


Honoring a Lost Soldier

My Uncle Stan … handsome guy, wasn’t he?

Every Memorial Day, I think first of my Uncle Stanley, who joined the Army at twenty, was sent to Vietnam, and never returned. He entered the U. S. Army on July, 11 1967, and was trained at Fort Lewis in Washington State where he grew up. He started his tour in December of 1967, turned twenty-one while serving, and died exactly seven months later in the Quang Tri Province of South Vietnam.

Uncle Stan served as a Cannon Fire Direction Specialist

He was a younger brother to my mother, an older brother to my aunt an uncle and an oldest son to my grandparents. I was the firstborn and the only niece he ever knew, two more nieces and two nephews came after me that he never had a chance to meet.

I mourn the man he would have grown to be, the uncle I never grew to know, the family man he never had a chance to be—but I am proud of his bravery and his sacrifice.

He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

Each day is precious. Take time to remember our friends who have laid down their lives for us. We honor the many soldiers who have served.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

In loving memory of
Stanley Lloyd Grunstad
1947-1968

Who do you honor on this day? Leave a memorial note in the comments.


For The Love of An Only Son

My sweet baby boy on a “benture” in the woods in 2005. (Photo: © Lauren Lynch)

In my last post, I shared that my son had played a role in saving me, and promised to elaborate on that claim …

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. 1 Timothy 2:15 ESV

Like Eve, I was deceived in the past (1 Timothy 2:13-14), was lost in a life of sin, and discovered redemption through the process of bringing a life into the world. Women are uniquely cursed and uniquely blessed. Bringing a child into the world is a painful and exhausting process, yet if we continue to invest in our children, there is no greater reward.

May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful! Proverbs 23:25

As women, our unique blessing—the opportunity to experience life growing in our bodies—to serve as a vessel of creation—brings immense joy. There is no greater way to learn of putting the needs of another first than to have a child. The single act of bringing a child into the world stripped away so much of the selfishness that was holding me back. I still need to endure in faith to finish strong (2 Timothy 4:6-7), but God used my son to teach me of sacrificial love, denying my self, of pouring myself into another.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Nothing could truly help me understand God’s sacrifice of his own son than to experience the kind of intense love I have for my son.  There aren’t many parents who wouldn’t sacrifice their own life to save their child, much less sacrifice the life of their child. The giving of a beloved only son is a gift beyond measure. I know how precious my own son is to me.

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

Children are a valuable inheritance from the Lord and our legacy after our life in this world ends. In childbearing, I was savedyet againfrom myself. And because of this, I will do everything in my power to encourage my son in his faith.

A sacrifice has been made for you. Do you know how precious a gift that is? Have you acknowledged it today?


The Hour Has Come: The Story of Brendan

Brendan and I meet face to face for the first time. (Photo: © Patrick Lynch)

Before I brought a child into the world, I lived a very self-centered life. Although I was raised in a Christian home, I didn’t have a saving faith until I married and had a child well into my thirties. The process of bringing my son into the world was a difficult path for me, but I would not trade it for anything. It opened my eyes to a whole new realm of truth.

During my pregnancy, I had gestational diabetes. I was also old enough and had enough other health issues that it was considered a complicated pregnancy. I followed the hospital’s suggestion of writing out a birth plan that included my desire for natural childbirth. After all, it was what women in my family did and they all seemed to have pretty simple childbirth experiences. I was so confident in this eventuality that when we missed the Lamaze class on caesarean births, I didn’t even bother to read up on it in my books.

That must have been some sort of insanely stubborn denial because I was completely surprised when that was what played out for me. My obstetrician had scheduled an induction date for me because of the gestational diabetes and for four days of varying levels of pitocin-induced labor, I labored in vain. I had strong “camel back” contractions without a single centimeter of dilation. No one had warned me that induced labor might not work.

I had entered some sort of zone of pain management in my mind. I fixated on my hands gripping the railing of my bed and the hours slipped by, but no amount of visualizing my cervix opening made it so. Still, I had my mind set on natural childbirth, so it actually surprised me when my doctor told me in the middle of the fourth day of unproductive labor that she had already assembled a surgical team and prepped the room for a c-section.

When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. John 16:21

After the decision had been made, it all went relatively quickly. Within an hour, my baby boy met me on my head side of the blue curtain and I knew without a doubt that it had all been worth every moment of difficulty.

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. 1 Timothy 2:15 ESV

This much-debated verse certainly has a personal meaning for me. I know that I received my salvation through God’s son alone, and yet God used my son to draw me to him as well. (More on that in my next blog entry)

How has (or would) bringing a child into the world changed you?

(Photo: © Patrick Lynch)