Devotions

Category Archives: Stay in Your Lane

Church • Devotion #4: Example

Albert Schweitzer said, “The three most important ways to lead people are: by example, by example, and by example.” As we talk about church leadership, we know that setting the example is paramount. Jesus even said this after He washed the disciples’ feet. In John 13:14, Jesus said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Jesus, the ultimate leader, lived a life worth copying.

Paul wanted to be a role model. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, he said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” I used to think he was saying that he wanted people to imitate him in the areas where he was doing things right and imitating Christ. Yet, he did not want people to imitate when he was missing the mark. However, there are other passages where he confidently says, “Follow my lead. Do as I say, and as I do.”

“I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” 1 Corinthians 4:16

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” Philippians 3:17

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6

“For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:7

“It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.” 2 Thessalonians 3:9

We need to live lives worth imitating. We are called to “be holy.” God expects us to live a life of thankfulness due to the gift of salvation. Be real. 

“A good example is far better than a good precept.”

Dwight L. Moody

Church • Devotion #3: Martin Luther

I hope everyone who reads this and everyone everywhere can say confidently that their church organization does not have dictatorial or dominating leadership. The Bible provides rules and guidelines for pastors and informs us that they will face stricter judgment from God. Sadly, church organizations have not always held an honorable position in this regard. 

In the early 1500’s, Martin Luther rocked the religious world by challenging the Roman Catholic Church on doctrine and theology. Luther argued that eternal life is the free gift of God and cannot be earned with good behavior. He challenged the authority of the Pope by teaching the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge. Luther translated the Bible from Latin to the German vernacular making it more accessible to the common man. His work influenced Tyndale’s translation to English, the Gutenberg Bible, which is amongst the first mass-produced books.

The Bible paints a picture of the role of church leaders and it has been missed by many. The shepherd and sheep is the analogy the Bible uses many times. Shepherds (pastors) are supposed to let sheep do their own thing – eat, play, sleep. Pastors do not insert themselves into the lives of others unless their sheep are threatened to require them to become aggressive and defend their sheep. When a sheep wanders off they pursue it and lovingly bring it back. 

Church leaders have the important job of teaching the Word of God. A good leader should welcome feedback, constructive criticism, and varying opinions. If you feel a church leader is prideful, hypocritical, or manipulative you should, for the sake of the entire church, lovingly confront them. Pastors have their biblical mandates and everyone else has the mandate to challenge each other to live in godliness (Hebrews 3:12-13), confront one another when necessary (Matthew 18:15-17; Luke 17:3), carry one another’s burdens, and pick each other up when we fall (Galatians 6:1-2).

We are all tasked with supporting and improving each other. We should all strive to make each other better examples of Christ to the world. 

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Church • Devotion #2: Motives Make the Man (or Woman)

Ever hear the saying, “Motives make the man?” That is the impulse behind your actions that ultimately determine if it was honorable or not. Even in our legal system, the intent of a person to harm someone brings about more severe punishment. However, even when something good happens, the motive behind it should be honorable.  

When I was working with students in a school setting, I had someone take another student’s backpack with all their books and devices. When I had eventually tracked it down, I had camera footage of the student taking her bag. He left the building and put the bag in the trunk of his car. So, I called the student into my office and when he arrived, I noticed he had an identical backpack. I went from believing that he stole the backpack to realizing that he may have taken the wrong back-pack. I showed him the footage of him putting the backpack into his trunk. We went out to his car trunk, and there the other backpack was sitting with all the books and devices. So the question was, “Did he steal the backpack?” I did not think so. It was unfortunate, but I did not believe his motive or intent was to steal the backpack.

Romans 12:17 reads, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” Further, 2 Corinthians 8:21 states, “For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.” These verses are a perfect challenge in today’s world, and apparently, they were pretty important words when the Bible was written. Remember, the “motives make the man or woman.” We have been instructed by God to do what is honorable from every perspective. This can be hard. I have worked with a lot of families that really only want obedience from their children, but I would challenge parents that you want obedience with the right motives. We as parents want children to do the right things for the right reasons.God wants the same from His children. He does not just want us to follow the rules, but He wants us to love Him in a way that we want to follow the rules. Our motives are important to accomplishing this goal. In 1 Peter 2:12, we read, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” Doing the right things with the right motives will allow the world to see God through our actions. We need to remember, the world is looking for us to do the right thing for the right reasons!

Church • Devotion #1: Elders

“I don’t envy you guys.” It is a statement I have made to most of the elders of The River Church more than once over the last year. From navigating both dramatic and traumatic changes in the leadership of the church, to dealing with the financial fallout of those events, it has been no picnic. As I write this, we are facing a disease, COVID-19 that presents a whole new set of challenges that current generations have never had to encounter.

There was a time in my life I did not love authority. When we are young or immature, we do not want anybody telling us what to do or how to live. Come to think of it, I still do not all the time. That being said, I am thankful that the Lord showed me the need for such authority. 

One of the things I am forever teaching my students is the importance of learning not only from their experiences but the experiences of others. History gives us a clear picture of what leadership and what role our elders play in the church in both good and bad ways. 

The Lord has placed the leaders and elders of the church in their roles for very specific reasons. Like much of God’s plan, I wish I could figure out exactly why and what that meant for me, but then I guess it would not be much to do with having faith. 

When I learned to trust that those who are placed in authority over me were there for a reason, whether I liked it or not, things started to become a little clearer for me. Falling into submission and recognizing that we all have a part to play in this big thing God has laid out brought peace.

The book of 1 Timothy starts off by telling us that those who are leaders in the church aspire to a noble task. Not all of us are in, or will ever be in, that place. What we are called to do is trust that the Lord has led us to a place where the leaders in the church are constantly seeking God’s wisdom and guidance the same way that we are called to do in our own lives.If you find that place where God is moving, the church is moving in the same direction, and the leaders are seeking and trusting the Lord, put down those roots and buckle up as you are in for quite a ride because you will begin to see God move in some pretty incredible ways.

Home • Devotion #6: Crazy Cat Lady

Psalm 24:1 (NLT) tells us, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” In this series, we have been studying God’s order of authority. We know that at the very top of that authority umbrella is God Himself. He is the creator of everything and lines up all authority down the chain. There are many different authorities the Lord has given to people, and I was asked to handle the topic of animals in this devotion. 

If you know of me and my “situation” you probably are not surprised that this topic was given to me. There is a chance that it was randomly assigned to me, which would be comical. In my current state of life, most people (especially those who follow me on Instagram) would call me a “crazy cat lady.” I am not exactly sure when and why I turned into a crazy cat lady, but the term is accurate. While I only have two cats who live inside my house, we recently moved to some property that was slightly overrun by partially wild cats. I say partially wild because while they are feral, they had come to expect somewhat regular meals fed to them by the previous owners. We moved in shortly before winter, and the cat situation was getting out of control. There were at least twelve adult cats, several teen cats, a few grade school age, and 3 brand new little babies. I have always loved cats so this was both a dream and a nightmare. 

At first, I tried just not feeding them, figuring they would eventually get the hint and leave my back deck for the forests full of mice. I would make it a few days and then just feel really bad for them so I would sneak some of our indoor cat food and put it outside when my husband was not looking. Funny thing is that he was doing the same thing. Do not ever let him tell you that he does not like cats because he babies them just as much as me. While several of the kittens did not make it through the winter, when spring rolled around I found myself the owner of ten outdoor cats, all of whom now have names, all of whom are now fat from being fed three square meals a day, some of whom I may actually like more than my two indoor cats. When I say crazy cat lady I am not just using an expression. I fully admit that I have become crazy. I once actually made bowls of chicken soup for them because it was cold and damp outside and I just love them so much. Turns out my favorite cat, Alice, is currently pregnant and I am once again reminded of the dream/nightmare situation I am experiencing. By the time this book goes to print, I will likely have 135 cats on my back deck and will have to get another job just to feed them.

Craziness aside, God created animals and put them under human authority. Genesis 1:26 (NLT) tells us that after God created the animals, He created Adam and gave him dominion over them, “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.’” Genesis 2:19-20 goes on to tell us that “out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.” I give a lot of credit to Adam for creativity. Naming ten cats (plus three possums and the occasional stray visitor) is challenging enough, I cannot imagine being responsible for naming every type of creature! 

The man was given the task to be the steward of the Earth, bringing all the other created creatures and elements into the service of God. Things changed a bit once sin entered the world. After the Flood, mankind was once again given authority over the animals, and God even widened their usual plant-filled diet and gave them permission to eat the animals as food. It was then that the human/animal relationship shifted and animals started to fear humans. Even though God changed the way we interact with animals, we are still responsible for treating them humanely.One day, after the Lord returns, things will once again look like they did originally in the Garden. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). Until then, we get the honor and blessing of being caretakers to His creation. As for me, that includes all of my crazy cats.



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