I’m so excited to be joining Evelyn Davison and Kerri Brinkoeter on their show Love Talk this Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 2 pm on KTXW The Bridge!

Lovetalk Faith Pantry

What staples do you need to sustain your soul and nourish your walk with Christ?

Join us as we share 3 simple steps to decluttering and restocking your faith pantry.

If you’re feeling like your schedule has become over-crowded or your spiritual practices have become a little stale, you’ll want to tune in to 1120 AM at 2 pm this Saturday and learn how to make sure your faith pantry provides you with the sustenance you need in this particular season of your life!

Not in the Austin area? No problem. Listen live from anywhere in the world via http://www.ktxw.net/.

If you miss the broadcast, visit www.lovetalknetwork.com to listen to the re-broadcast. Give them a few days to get the recording posted to their site. In the meantime, check out some of their recent episodes.

Need A Coach?

Want some help and further guidance on getting your faith pantry well stocked to meet your current needs? I’d love to coach you through this simple process! Check out my coaching page to book a free consultation!

Date: February 11, 2017
Time: 2:00-03:00 p.m.
Appearance: Join Me on LoveTalk with Evelyn Davison & Kerri Brinkoeter!
Outlet: KTXW 1120 AM The Bridge
Location: Austin Texas (Broadcasting worldwide at http://www.ktxw.net/)
Format: Radio

Need A Coach? Want some help and further guidance on getting your faith pantry well stocked to meet your current needs? I'd love to coach you through this simple process! Check out my coaching page to book a free consultation!

Is your focus on your realm of stewardship?

If I focus on something I can’t change (for example, adding more hours to my day), rather than what I can change, (what I do with those hours), I feel helpless and overwhelmed. String together a few days like that and hopelessness sets in as well.

On the other hand, when I focus my energy on the things I can impact, I feel empowered and hopeful.

God has designed us to live within divinely-appointed boundaries. We are given a great deal of freedom to exercise stewardship within these boundaries.

But if we don’t respect the boundaries God has set, chaos ensues.

We don’t have to understand or acknowledge God’s ways for them to be real and influential in our lives. Whether we believe God or not, whenever we operate in conflict with his revealed truth we will experience stress, pain, conflict and all the effects of sin.

You don’t have to believe in the law of gravity or even understand all the science behind it. But if you step off a cliff, you’re going to fall.

What’s Within the Realm of My Stewardship?

God has placed within my control, and holds me accountable for how I manage the following aspects of MYSELF:

Realm of Stewardship


Mental Realm

I may control my attitudes, desires, feelings, and responses.

Emotional Realm

I determine how I will give and receive love.

Physical Realm

I have dominion over my body and to a certain extent my material possessions.

Spiritual Realm

I may decide what I believe, value, and think about God. What I choose to believe, value, and think may or may not be accurate, but God allows me the free will to decide if I will accept the Truth He reveals of Himself.

Self-induced Stress

Please notice the word MYSELF above. It is MY mental, physical, emotional, physical, and spiritual attributes over which I have stewardship; not yours.

Stress increases whenever I allow my focus to move beyond MY realm of stewardship and try to control any of these areas which are rightfully within the realm of someone else.

Think back over your past day (or week, or month). What stressed you out? When did you feel overwhelmed?

Were you trying to exert control over something or someone outside your realm of stewardship?

Were you tense because of another person’s attitudes, desires, feelings, or responses?

Or maybe someone’s opinion posted on social media or in the news sent your blood pressure rising?

When I find myself in a dither, I often discover it is a mess of my own making. I’m usually trying to handle more than God intended for me to handle (and in the process ignoring and neglecting aspects of my life for which he has given me stewardship).

When I become obsessed with making someone else do, see, feel, think, or value what I want them to do, see, feel, think, or value my stress goes up because I’m trying to operate outside the boundaries God set for me.

Amazingly, when I return my focus to MY OWN responsibilities, I am able to make an impact by having influence rather than control.

Influence versus Control

Each of us has a circle of influence. These are the people, organizations, communities and such with which God has connected us. He blesses us with blessings and expects us to use those blessings to bless those within our circles of influence.

That is very different from seeking to control.

Influence is other-centered. It seeks their best and God’s plan for them, not our best and our plan for them.

When I respect the boundaries of others, I communicate I trust God and respect both Him and the other person. When I manipulate or coerce, I reveal I don’t trust God in the situation. And I show disrespect for Him and the people I seek to control.

Influence occurs where there is trust and a possibility of real relationship. When my friend, child, or spouse feels safe with me, we are able to discuss things we differ on. And as I share my thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and values and seek to understand theirs, we can influence one another and seek out the truth together.

If we are seeking TRUTH, rather than our own way, we need not fear relinquishing control.

When we trust God’s abilities more than our own, we are freed up to exercise the best possible stewardship over our own realms and leave the outcome to God.

Try it out for yourself. Whenever you feel over-extended, worried, anxious, or tense do a quick check of yourself. Are you trying to operate outside your God-given realm of stewardship?

Need a little help? Book a FREE Coaching Session!

Figuring out how to stay in our own lane and focus on relinquishing control over the things outside our God-given realm of stewardship can be challenging! It helps to have someone come alongside you and provide you with:

  • focused encouragement,
  • loving accountability, and
  • a structured process to accomplish your goals and make changes faster, with more confidence, and less frustration than you could on you own or with just your existing support system.

Book a free consultation with me or check out more about the various ways coaching can benefit you! Visiting my Coaching Page now!

Need Inspiration? This Should Do the Trick!

Watercolor magnolias printable set featuring lyrics to a beloved hymn...

I just love the hymn, Come Thou Fount. The words resonate with my wandering heart. I love God but am easily distracted. I know I don’t always demonstrate my profound gratitude for being reconciled to Him by the unimaginable sacrifice of Jesus Christ. However, whenever I sing this hymn, or contemplate its lyrics, I can’t help but worship my Savior and be moved to share God’s love with others.

That’s why I want a beautiful copy of the lyrics in my new office. I’m hoping to move into the new space soon. This will be where I host coaching clients and possibly some small group Bible studies and discipleship groups.

My office will be in an old farmhouse we recently relocated to our property and are fixing up. We still have a ways to go before we’ll be ready to move in, but I’m beginning to daydream about the decor.

I made this set of 8 x 10 watercolor printables using the lyrics of Come Thou Fount. I’m planning to frame these and hang them in my new office.

Come Thou Fount Printable Set

My favorite verse will go in the center and so I surrounded it with a heart-shaped wreath of magnolia branches, leaves, and blossoms. I thought you might enjoy and be inspired by this set of printables as well. So, I’ve made them available to you in either a PDF you can print out on paper and cut to 8 x 10 size to frame. Or request the set of 8 x 10 digital prints if you prefer to print via your favorite photo processor.

Request your printable set!

Inspiring Lyrics

So maybe printables aren’t your thing but you still want to be inspired by the lyrics. No worries. Here are the lyrics to Come Thou Fount. I find they make a wonderful prayer!

Come Thou Fount

by Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

Verse One

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Verse Two

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I’m come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

Verse Three

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

In the printables, I put verse three as the central verse because it is my favorite.

What is an “Ebenezer” and why raise it?

If you just read through those lyrics and got to verse two and said, “What in the world is an Ebenezer?” you’re not alone. That always bugged me when I sang the hymn in church until I looked it up.

The word is the name of a place and it means “stone of help.” The prophet Samuel created a monument and named it Ebenezer on this site of the battle in which the Philistines were finally beaten by Israel  and the land restored to God’s people.(see 1 Samuel 7:10-13)

God’s rescue of his people from the Philistines prefigured the ultimate rescue that would come on the cross. And it is the cross that is our Ebenezer. It is the symbol of God’s means of helping us when we were powerless to help ourselves. By his grace and mercy, we are reconciled to him through Christ.

When we contemplate how helpless and lost we were and how God rescued us, we really remember how we are in debt to God’s grace. His goodness and mercy anchors me to Him. I don’t worship and obey his commands to earn his acceptance. He has sealed me with His Spirit. So when, in my still in-progress state of being conformed to his character, I wander and stumble, I can rejoice that it is not my goodness that assures my status with God, but His.

Question: What hymn, prayer, or song inspires you to remember how wonderful God is and how much he loves you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Gain a new perspective on your problems!

Enter the contest for a free paperback by author Wayne Stiles; plus grab the special freebies!


This is a guest post by Wayne Stiles. You can download his free e-book on how to grow strong in the Christian life. I subscribe to his blog and really enjoy how he connects the Bible and its lands to our everyday real life!

Also, I loved his book, Waiting on God—What do do when God does nothing!
Enter my contest to win a free copy of that book. Just leave a comment below!

Close one eye and look closely at a marble. It seems massive. In fact, the marble is all you see. It dwarfs everything else. But its size is an illusion.

A basketball is bigger. The planet earth is even bigger. Come to think of it, God is infinitely bigger than your marble. Your problems are like that.

Perspective on Problems Guest Post

Life is filled with marbles. When you fixate on your marbles, you can’t see the reality that they are small in comparison to God’s power.

Sure, they’re real. Of course they hurt. But your life is more than your problems, just as the world is more than your marbles. Or it can be. You can stop staring at your marbles. You only need to sit up, blink a few times, and look around.

God is much bigger than your marbles.

Playing Marbles with Jesus

Jesus gave a bag of marbles to His disciples one day. More than 5000 marbles, in fact. They described it this way:

His disciples came up to Him and began saying,

The place is desolate and it is already quite late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.

But He answered and said to them,

You give them something to eat!”

And they said to Him,

Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” —Mark 6:35-37

The disciples did what we do. We ask God to get rid of the problem.

Jesus’ command was as astonishing as it was emphatic:

YOU give them something to eat.

The men leaned in to look closely at the marbles, they did the math, and they saw the impossibility of Jesus’ command.

And that is exactly what we need to learn as well.


(Photo by wjlonien, Own work, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Lord will lead you to do what you cannot do on your own.

God has called us to some impossible tasks. The odds will always be 5000 to 12.

Your education, your money, your planning, your energy, your influence, your personality—everything you have at your disposal will fail to solve the problem.

The disciples focused on their marbles and saw the inadequacy of their resources. Even though they were willing, they were unable to do what Jesus had said.

The Lord can enable you to do what you cannot do on your own.

If Christ called them to feed more than 5000 people, and what they had was inadequate, the Lord must have had a source of supply they had overlooked.

Jesus took the few loaves and fish and multiplied them for the more than 5000 people that day (Mark 6:44). The number of people mentioned reveal that the size of the marble is absolutely irrelevant. God is bigger—much, much bigger.

After the disciples saw the true size of this marble—small to God—Jesus immediately tossed them another marble in the form of a storm on the Sea of Galilee. Their response? Yep. They focused on the marble.

life is a bag of marbles

(Photo by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

They had to learn what we have to learn. Our marbles come in all colors and shapes, but none of them are bigger than God. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5), but we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

Get Some Perspective on Your Marbles

I don’t mean to minimize your problems. They’re real. They hurt. They even seem cruel at times. Instead, I’m suggesting you keep them in perspective.

God asks rhetorical questions of Himself that we should ponder:

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? . . . Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. —Isaiah 40:12, 15

Yes, the marble is there. But keep it in perspective.

God is bigger.

A Photo to Help Keep Things in Perspective

perspective on troubles

I’ve made a printable that goes along with Wayne’s excellent post. I adapted the graphic above to fit in a 4 x 6 frame vertically. Just request a copy and I’ll email you a digital version of the photo. You can print it at home or your favorite photo processor and pop it in a frame to remind you where to take your troubles!

Send me the photo!

Will you win the free copy of Wayne’s book I’m giving away?

Next Friday, I’ll randomly select someone to win a copy of Wayne’s amazing book: Waiting on God—What to do when God does nothing. All you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment on this post below.

If you don’t want to share publicly about your problems, just leave a general comment you feel comfortable sharing. Extra entries to anyone who shares this post on social media and tags Making It Real Ministries on Facebook or @LauraNaiser on Twitter!

What's your marble? Share what feels like the weight of the world to you right now. I’ll lift you up to our faithful and mighty God in prayer! And you’ll be entered to win a copy of Wayne’s book Waiting on God! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Loving doesn’t always equate with pleasing. Love anyway!

Let's explore what godly love really means.

Love never fails. It may feel like you’ve fallen flat on your face sometimes, but true, godly love never fails. It perseveres through trials of all sorts. It speaks truth even when it hurts, but it does so with grace and a heart for the best interest of the other person.

Spurgeon-Love your neighbors

The worldly view of loving someone is often equated with pleasing them. Not offending them. Not asking anything of them. Its a love of convenience; of unruffled feathers.

But that is not the way God loves and it isn’t how he calls us to love as his disciples. Godly love involves both truth and grace. And because of that, it won’t always mean the giver or the recipient will experience the act of giving and/or receiving godly loving as pleasant.

The classic words penned by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 are often read sentimentally. But if we will slow down and dig into the Scripture we will see he is calling us to something far more than a warm fuzzy feeling. He is calling us to love in self-sacrificing ways for the benefit of those we love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.1 Corinthians 12:4-8a

1 Corinthians 13_4-8NIV

Love is Patient

Patient in this context means exercising understanding and patience toward people.  It could also be translated as longsuffering or enduring patiently as opposed to hastily getting angry and being quick to punish.  One of my dictionaries also pointed out that it is a quality of a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so.[1]

Love is kind

The word translated as kind carries with it a willingness to help or assist.  To be kind is to serve others and help them.

Love does not envy or boast

Envy means feeling discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, or possessions. In love, we rejoice when others do well.

When we boast, we speak with exaggeration and excessive pride, especially about ourselves. Godly love is humble. 

Love is not proud

The word proud in our language has both a positive and negative connotation.  Here the Greek is more like saying, “Love is not puffed up or arrogant.”

Love does not dishonor others

When we exercise godly agape love, we don’t behave in an ugly, indecent, unseemly or unbecoming manner.[2]

Love is not self-seeking

Worldly love is always striving for what is best for self.  Godly love is always striving for what is best for others.

Love is not easily angered

Now, please notice, this does not say that love never gets angry.  Anger is an appropriate response to a violation, but agape is not easily provoked to anger or indignation over little things.

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

This is a trickier phrase to translate.  In the original it literally means to think no evil, but the words also can mean to take no account of the evil that is done to one.  The gist of this concept is not having one’s mind occupied with counting up the wrong that has been done to you.  That sounds to me like love doesn’t hold a grudge.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.

The word for evil is a Greek word for injustice, what is out of harmony with what is right and true.”[3] Agape rejoices when the appearance of something agrees with the reality of it.  In other words, love has integrity.  It is not happy when there is injustice and unrighteousness but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love Always…

Now the next few are also a little bit tricky, but it helps to recognize Paul grouped the three together for a reason.

All three actions have to do with handling difficult situations or people.  It helps to understand these if we can see the interconnectedness of these qualities. Also, remember the ultimate focus and source of these qualities is God, not necessarily the object of our agape love.

Love always protects.  This phrase can be translated several different ways, each capturing a little of the original meaning.

Look at some various translations and see what I mean:

  • “Love quietly covers all things”[4];
  • “Love bears up under anything and everything that comes;”[5]
  • “love bears all things.”[6]
  • The literal translation is “all things covers quietly.”[7]

Now at first glance that may sound like love covers up wrongdoing, but since earlier in this passage (and elsewhere in Scripture) we are taught love is not happy when there is injustice but rejoices in integrity, we know that a cover-up of evil can’t be the meaning here.  It is more subtle than that.

It is more along the lines of love doesn’t drag someone’s faults out into the open and harp on them.  Agape addresses sin but deals with the sin in a manner which provides dignity and grace to the sinner while the sin is being dealt with.

Love always trusts, a word that can also be translated “has faith” or “believes”.  So you will see this phrase translated variously as:

  • “Love believes all things,”[8] or
  • “love is ever ready to believe the best of every person.”[9]

Obviously Paul is not saying that agape believes anything or is gullible because we’ve already seen how important truth is in the exercise of agape. I think it is more like, agape believes that in God all things are possible (see Matthew 19:26).

There is no situation or person beyond the ability of God to bring about change, healing and wholeness.  We can trust in all situations that our sovereign God is able to accomplish His will and purposes.

Love always hopes, or expects with desire[10].  Agape is living and loving expectantly.  It is expecting the desired outcome regardless of (or even in spite of) the circumstances.

Agape places its hope not in the circumstances but in God’s ability to bring to pass that which He has said He will accomplish and what is best for us and His kingdom purposes.

Love always perseveres.  Earlier, when we covered “love is patient” I pointed out the focus there was the kind of patience one exercises toward people. In this phrase, the concept of persevering has to do with the patience in the face of hard times.

Agape can persevere in the face of extraordinarily difficult circumstances because agape’s source of security and strength is God not the circumstances.

Now, it would be easy for this concept to get twisted with regard to how one exercises agape when the difficult circumstance one faces is an abusive relationship.  I want to clarify this concept by connecting it to something we discovered about agape earlier.

When we say that apape love endures difficult circumstances, I want to be clear I’m not saying that if one finds themselves in an abusive situation, agape calls for you to just take the abuse and endure it.

No! Remember all the other aspects of what agape does and is.  Abuse is out of harmony with the character and will of God.  As someone who has been in an abusive relationship, I know firsthand how much perseverance it takes to get out of that circumstance.

I strongly encourage you, if you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, please seek out the support and counsel of knowledgeable and capable people who can guide you with wisdom about how to handle and resolve that situation.

If someone tells you that this verse (or any other verse) means you should just endure it, seek wiser counsel!

So remember, agape can persevere in the face of extraordinarily difficult circumstances because agape’s source of security and strength is God not the circumstances.

Finally, love never fails.

The word translated as fails means love is never in vain. God’s kind of love never falls away or falls back in the face of opposition.[11]  Love stands its ground and the effort is never in vain or without effect. We may not see or experience the fruit of our loving action, but we can be assured that God will bring about a result.

That is who God is and how he acts out his love for YOU!  It is pretty awesome and amazing isn’t it?

Godly love is not just a sentimental Hallmark concept!

God’s nature and character are fully and completely expressed in this agape love that we’ve just described in detail.  When God acts, He acts out of who He is and that action is expressed through agape love.

And that love has tremendous power to change lives and circumstances! This is the love he commands us to show our neighbors.


[1] (Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, Zodhiates; p. 939)

[2] Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, Zodhiates; p.284

[3] Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, Zodhiates; p.84-85

[4] The Interlinear Bible, Green.

[5] Amplified Bible

[6] NRSV

[7] The Interlinear Bible, Green.

[8] NRSV

[9] Amplified Bible

[10] Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, Zodhiates; p.570

[11] Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, Zodhiates; p.551-552

Discover Hidden Treasures in the Genealogies of the Bible

To be perfectly honest, when I used to come to a passage of Scripture that began with So-and-so was the father of Thus-and-such, my eyes would glaze over and I’d just skip the list of who begat whom. BORING! Or so I thought.

Yet when my Bible study teacher pulled hidden gems of meaning out of these endless lists they didn’t seem like such a snooze. In fact, I sat enthralled by the insights that apparently were hidden from unequipped eyes.

Once you understand a few principles, you will also be equipped to reveal the riches concealed within these long lists of names.

Discover Hidden Treasure - Genealogies

Genealogy has become a popular hobby in the 21st Century. We have websites like ancestory.com which help you trace your lineage back generations. Send in a DNA sample and you’ll get a report mapping your ethnicity going back multiple generations. You’ll have a good idea from which region of the world your ancestors hailed.

According to the Genealogy Products and Services – Global Outlook Report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc, genealogical enthusiasts spent between $1,000 to $18,000 a year to discover their roots.

The Purpose of Genealogies in Biblical Times

Modern researchers place thousands of dollars of value on tracing genealogies when all that depends on the information is satisfying one’s curiosity.

Now, imagine your ability to pursue your calling, live where you desire, determined your taxes, and who you could marry depended on verifying your family lineage. In Biblical times, there was a lot more than curiosity riding on one’s genealogy. [3; p. 1608]

The ancient purpose of one’s genealogy was not to create an exact timeline of who was born when. Rather, the people included in the list and the information given about them was chosen to suit the author’s particular purpose.

Various purposes of genealogies include:

  1. Show relationships and distinctive traits of Israel and her neighboring nations.
  2. Provide coherent and inclusive genealogical system for Israel.
  3. Bridge narrative gaps.
  4. Provide chronological framework of important biblical events.
  5. Census-like function for military or political purposes.
  6. Provide qualifications for an office/role.
  7. Protect the spiritual purity of Israel.
  8. Affirm continuity of God’s people through the exile.
  9. Highlight the sovereignty of God in His ordering and governing of history.[2]

I’ve made you a cheat sheet that clarifies each of these nine functions and gives examples from the Scriptures. If you’d like a copy, just click the button below and I’ll email a copy to you instantly.

Discover Hidden Treasure - Genealogies Purposes

It was accepted practice to use a combination of high profile historical figures, precise patterns, and specific sets of symbolic numbers to convey the author’s larger message about who a particular person was and how they fit into God’s plan. The telescoping of generations was frequently used to obtain numbers, sequences, and patterns which the author used to his rhetorical advantage.

Each roll provides a narrative thread of God’s overall tapestry of redemption. And the outlines reveal not only information about the people in the list but also their God who orchestrated the events chronicles by the names featured.

You may find it helpful to download the infographic versions of the genealogies of Adam to Abram I made for you. Just click here and I’ll email you a copy right away. It will make it much easier to visually follow the flow and notice the little gems I’ve excavated for you.
Biblical Genealogies Adam to Abram LB

Send me the infographics!

Adam’s Line: Cain versus Seth

For example, compare how the author of Genesis handles the line of Adam as traced through Cain in Genesis 4 and through Seth in Genesis 5. If you pay attention, you’ll discover a few theologically significant little jewels.

Did you notice how there were no ages given in Cain’s account?

Yet, when Seth’s line is given, the author carefully denotes the age of the fathers at the birth of the son, the years lived after the son’s birth, and the age of the father when he died.

Do you see the definitive pattern? In Seth’s line, each man’s life is categorized into two era’s: before the child’s birth and after the child’s delivery. [1]

Hmmm, I wonder if that B.C and A.D. pattern might prefigure the significance of the birth of a particular child (Jesus) in a particular family line of a man after God’s own heart (David)? And if you check out the genealogy of Jesus over in Luke 3:23-38, you’ll see that both Jesus and David trace their line back through Seth to Adam. Cool, huh?

When you read through Cain’s lineage the author emphasizes how Cain’s descendants built cities, developed technologies and made cultural advances. All very valuable contributions from a worldly perspective. Whereas the emphasis made in Seth’s story is how his progeny related faithfully with God.

So is it any surprise that Cain’s line is wiped out in the flood of God’s judgment on humanity’s wickedness, while Noah, a descendant of Seth, is used by God’s grace to provide hope for the renewal of mankind.

{Adam to Noah} Compared with {Shem to Abram}

A great example of the use of numerical patterns is seen when you compare the generations from Adam to Noah (including Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 5) with the generations from Shem to Terah (and his sons Abram, Nahor, and Haran, ) (Genesis 11:10–26).

As discussed above, Noah was the man through whom God chose to redeem humankind during the flood. (Genesis 6 – 9) Abram was the man with whom God chose to cut a covenant through which God would ultimately redeem all mankind. (Genesis 12; 15)

Notice when the author outlines the lines of each man there are ten generations from Adam to Noah and ten from Noah to Terah.

Then, the man representing the tenth generation is the father of three sons. Out of the two sets of three sons, God chose one in each set to be the instrument of his blessing and play a key role in the overall redemption story.

Ten is a number used to signify completeness while three often represents the divine. Thus, the author conveys God is at work in the lives of His chosen ones to bring his plan of redemption to completion. There is a divine order and sovereignty to the way their history unfolds.

The Table of Nations

Want to understand the relationships, animosities, and significance of certain nations and individuals in the remainder of the Old Testament?

Then you’ll want to check out the list of family lines known as the Table of Nations (see Genesis 10). FYI, this is also on the free infographic I made you. Also, consult your Number Symbolism Cheat Sheet I made you in a previous post.

Notice the number of nations is no coincidence. Seventy nations is a multiple of both 7 and 10 so it conveys a sense of completeness as determined by God. This account of the nations reflects the perspective at the time Genesis was authored. Thus there is no discussion of anyone the Israelites were not aware of outside their known world of the ancient Near East. [3; note on p. 24]

So don’t skip over the genealogies!

I hope this post helps you see the hidden gems and layers of meaning conveyed within those long lines of “So-and-so” begat “Thus-and-such”. Take a closer look the next time you come across a genealogy in the Bible and see what treasure awaits!

Question: What’s something interesting you’ve learned from one of the genealogies you’ve studies in the Scriptures? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


  1. Coming to Grips with Genealogies by Robert L. Deffinbaugh, Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary as published on Bible.org.
  2. The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies: With Special Reference to the Setting of the Genealogies of Jesus by Marshall D. Johnson (London : Cambridge University Press, 1989)

  3. NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016)
  4. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2003)

Is it time to declutter and restock your faith pantry?

Simple 3-Step Process PLUS FREE Guide

I’ve been returning to better eating habits and cooking more at home. But, until recently, our pantry was still crowded with junk food (and old diet food from my last well-intentioned effort to lose weight). Much of what was in the cabinet was expired, and other stuff just wasn’t serving my current purposes. All the clutter of things I no longer needed, used, or derived benefit from hampered my ability to access and use the items which supported my healthier style of cooking. Time to clean out the pantry!

Faith Pantry

It was kind of a pain to set aside a Saturday morning for this cupboard cleaning project, but boy did it feel great once I was done and staring into a well-organized cabinet filled with the ingredients I need to make tasty and healthy meals.

And what a sense of relief to not have to dig past temptations and push aside clutter to find what I was looking for!

Our Faith Pantry May Need a Makeover, too!

Many turning points or transitions in our lives reveal a need to declutter the support structure which feeds our faith.

Ecclesiastes 3_1NIV

Maybe you find yourself in a new season of life:

  • new baby,
  • kids transitioning from elementary to middle school (or middle to high school),
  • a newly empty nest.

Perhaps you’re facing a season of illness or grief.

Or, a move to a new town or a change in your living arrangement has required you to adapt to a “new normal.”

All of these reasons (and many more) may bring about a realization it’s time to let go of some old stuff to make room for the new.

Or, we may discover we’ve had some precious treasure buried under the disarray of an over-crowded schedule.

Just as our closets, pantries, and budgets need to be intentionally tended and pruned back, so too does our faith pantry.

By faith pantry I mean the soul-sustaining infrastructure we use to nurture and grow our walk with Christ.

Our faith pantry can become a source of discouragement and stress if it contains habits, worship styles, Bible studies, small groups, service and outreach ministries, and other means of living out our relationship with God that just don’t fit as well as they used to.

We may realize the strategies that served us well in the past are no longer meeting our current needs for communing with and serving God in our new situation.

3 Steps to Declutter & Restock Your Faith Pantry

1. Assess Current Needs & Resources

Make an assessment of your current needs and resources. Consider changes to your schedule, environment, and interests.

What needs do you have (relationally, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and so forth)? What needs are being met (or not)?

What resources are available to you in your current season or situation? Do you need to fill in some gaps? What is lacking? What is no longer serving you well?

For example, let’s consider the resources of time and energy. A new mom with a tiny infant will have fewer hours and less energy to devote to an intensive Bible study than she did prior to becoming a parent of a newborn. Whereas, a newly retired person may have more free time than they previously enjoyed.

If you moved, for instance, you may have lost your support system of friendships, church family, and other relationships and activities you used to rely on. How can you fill in those missing pieces in your new scenario?

2. Provide or Prune

After having assessed your current needs and the resources you have available to meet those needs, you are likely to discover there are activities, habits, and such that are in need of pruning and others in need of propping up with extra provisions.

That evening Bible study that suited your schedule perfectly when you worked full-time no longer is the best fit for your new schedule, as a stay-at-home mom.

Or, perhaps you went from spending a lot of time with people to being more isolated. So, whereas studying the Scriptures on your own was fine before, now you long for the opportunity to discuss and share your studies with other people.

What unmet needs need new resources to nurture what has been withering? Where do these resources exist and how can you access them? Who could you ask for input, advice, or counsel?

What needs trimming back to accommodate new needs or to make the most of new resources? Do you need to make a change to the groups, volunteer positions, and such you have been participating in? What can you delegate, delete, or re-purpose?

3. Refine Your Results

Once I had cleaned out the pantry in our kitchen it became easier to cook the healthy food that supports the lifestyle I want to develop. However, I know if I don’t periodically do little spot checks and regularly add items to or remove items from those shelves, I will not have what I need to properly feed my family.

The same is true of our spiritual cupboard. Try the new Bible study, small group, or volunteer opportunity. Then assess how well it met those needs you identified. Make alterations and refinements as needed to keep your faith pantry well stocked!

FREE Step-By-Step Detailed Guide

I’ve written about this concept before and used the analogy of cleaning out one’s faith closet and figuring out one’s unique style of walking with God.

For that article, I created a guide to walk you step-by-step through discovering your needs and resources to create a custom-made walk with God that is biblically sound and tailored to your current season of life.

It’s essentially the same process I covered in this post, only at a much more detailed level. So if you need some more guidance to get your faith pantry (or closet) restocked and decluttered, click the image or button below and I’ll email you the free guide.

()ptimized_Custom v Off the rack

Send me the FREE GUIDE!

How's your faith pantry these days? When was the last time you put some thought into providing for or pruning back the items in your spiritual storehouse? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The best bible study I’ve done in a long time…

Seamless by Angie Smith is a study well worth your time!

If you’ve ever felt like the Bible was a bit overwhelming or confusing, you’re not alone. Even those of us who grew up in the church hearing all the various stories are likely to think of the sixty-six books as separate books in a library rather than one seamless story of truth and grace. But that is exactly what the Word of God is: it’s a beautiful story whose plot runs from the first word of Genesis to the last words in Revelation.

Seamless Study Review

Last fall I had the pleasure of participating in a study of Angie Smith’s Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story. In seven weeks and with a delightfully transparent and fun style, Angie guides her readers through the adventure that is the Scriptures.

In down-to-earth, everyday language, Angie helps you see the people, places, and promises of God’s Word as one graceful thread woven throughout the Bible. Seeing the “satellite” view, as it were, helps you get your bearings when you later zoom in and study a particular section of the sacred text.

The seven weeks you spend with Angie will dramatically change how you understand the Bible.

Angie’s tour will bring fresh perspective and a breadth and depth of understanding to the entirety of Scripture.

Simple but Not Simplistic Approach

I found her book to be approachable without being simplistic. She tackles complex theological topics in a style that feels like good friends chatting over a latte rather than a professor in a classroom. Her ability to connect Scripture with messy, real-life circumstances is a true gift!

This study would be ideal for an individual or small group. It lends itself to an intimate discussion and personal reflection. Yet, it also worked wonderfully for our large women’s Bible study group at church.

Teen Version Available As Well

And Angie offers a version specifically for teen girls. What a fabulous way to introduce the young ladies in your life to the the story of God’s truth and grace! You and Angie will equip them with a solid biblical foundation and set them out on a life-long love of studying the Word. The entire Student edition complete with member book and DVDs is on $60 via amazon.

Affordable Video Bundle

There are video lessons available for download from www.lifeway.com/seamless. Lifeway has a bundle price of only $24 if you download all seven sessions at once. Or you can download each session individually. If you’d rather get the DVDs you can buy the leader kit for $70 from Lifeway.

Here is a little sample overview video:

Just wanted to share this wonderful resource with you.

FYI, if you purchase through the amazon.com links, you’ll be helping support my ministry because I’ll receive a tiny referral fee—and by tiny I mean 4% so obviously that ain’t why I’m recommending this study;)  Any referral fees will be put towards covering my costs of running the website. There is no affiliate connection via Lifeway.

If you try Seamless (or if you’ve done the study already) I’d love to hear your thoughts on this study. 

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Surprisingly Simple Strategy for Lowering Your Stress

Be intentional about building margin into your schedule!

We’ve all got those pesky margin munchers. The limiting beliefs, the bad habits, and fears that eat into the margins of our lives until our schedule is over-run with commitments, tasks, and responsibilities. When we take on more than we are designed to handle, something’s gotta give and it shouldn’t be our health, sanity, and most vital relationships. Unfortunately, when the load is too heavy, those three things are typically the first to go overboard. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Try the simple strategy outlined in this post and I think you’ll find you will regularly have more margin in which to really LIVE!

Compare the two pages in the graphic below.

Margin With and Without

The one on the left has no white space around the edges or between paragraphs. The monotonous text is never broken up with images or space. With text crammed from top to bottom and side to side, just looking at the packed page is a strain, I can’t imagine trying to read a book with that layout. It would be arduous to focus on the content, particularly if it was complex in nature or emotionally taxing.

Yet many of us live our lives like that. Never breaking up the monotony with some space for reflection, relating, and resting. No wonder we’re stressed out and exhausted. Does a life more like the page on the right look more enjoyable to live? Of course!

The margins are not superfluous. They are crucial.

We all know we need to be intentional when we say yes to something or someone.

However, faced with a multitude of requests from good people to do good things, our intentions will quickly become swamped by feelings of guilt and misplaced responsibility. And (let’s be honest) there is usually some element of stroking our ego and maintaining an illusion of control which causes yes to fly out when a no is actually more appropriate.

Simple Steps to a Saner Schedule

Get Clear On Your Priorities

There are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, 365 days in a year. You’re not going to get more time. If everything is important, nothing is. So let’s be sure we have clarity when it comes to how we want to spend our time.

Knowing what is important is the first step. Get honest with yourself about your priorities.

Actually write your most important areas of your life down on a sheet of paper. For example, mine are:

  • Relationship with God
  • Marriage
  • Parenting
  • Health (physical, emotional)
  • Personal Growth
  • Service to Others

Now, use your list of priorities as a compass to navigate the rest of the process.

Ecc 4_6 NIV

Click the image to see the Scripture passage at BibleGateway.com.

Compare Your Reality With Your Ideal

Do a quick brain dump of your project list and calendar for the next 90 days. Be sure and include your day-to-day responsibilities (I tend to overlook those things like laundry, grocery shopping, and so forth that take real time on a regular basis). So take a second look at your list and be sure you have not only the glamorous but the mundane covered.

Now step back and evaluate whether your list reflects your priorities. Are all of your most important areas of life represented on your project/to do list? Are they getting the necessary quality and quantity of focus or are you short-changing these important domains because you’re spending too much time on urgent but less important commitments?

Is it realistic to think you can get to all of those things given the time you have available (without robbing time from sleep, exercise, and such to squeeze in a few more items?).

Ask yourself WHY each item is on the list/calendar. Is the reason in alignment with your priorities, values, and beliefs? Or, as most of us discover, are there tasks listed from one of those less noble motivators, such as:

  • If I don’t do it, it won’t get done (also translated as “it won’t get done like I’d do it).
  • If I say no it will cause a problem/inconvenience for someone else.
  • There’s no one else who is capable of doing X.
  • What will people think if I don’t help out with Y?

Put an X by any item that is out of alignment with your core values and priorities.

Put a M by those things motivated by ego or a desire for control.

Now, highlight those things that ONLY YOU can do. These are things for which God has given you unique stewardship (for example, only you can be your kiddos mom/dad. Only you can be a spouse to your spouse.) Highlight only those things that no one else could do—be honest with yourself!

Get Real About Your Stewardship of Time and Talents

Putting too much on our plate shows a lack of faith in God to provide. And it reveals we have too much faith in our own ability to provide.

We are guilty of pride if we think we are the only ones He has gifted and equipped to accomplish all those tasks/projects on our list. And, we’ll be so busy doing things He never called us to that we can’t exercise proper stewardship over our own calling.

In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey used the illustration of filling a container with various sized rocks. If you put the big ones in first, the little ones will fit in around them. However, if you put the gravel and sand in before placing the large rocks, you’ll never get it all in the container. What would you rather leave out? The grit and gravel or your most important priorities.

Let’s put our big rocks in first…

Put the tasks, appointments, and commitments you’ve highlight on your calendar/to do list system. Block out a little extra time around each one to allow for the unforeseen (but seemingly inevitable) hiccups.

Now, before you put anything else on your calendar / to do list block off some margin in your calendar. Yes, margin is a big rock! If you don’t plan it, your calendar will end up like that page on the left without white space around and within the text. You need to leave room for rest, reflection, and restoration. Think of those as the images on the page that break up the monotony and help you interpret the text around them.

Now, if you have space, energy, and focus left to allocate, you may add in additional items. Do it intentionally!

Free Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

Need a little more detailed step-by-step process? Try the tips and method I’ve outlined in the free cheat sheet, What To Do When There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day.

()ptimized_Get The Right Things Done - no slug

Send me the free guide!

Need Some One-on-One Guidance?

I’d be happy to coach you through the process. We can meet in person if you’re in the Georgetown/Austin area of Texas. Or I can coach you via the phone or Skype. Check out my coaching page for more details and to book a free consultation session.

Why you need to stop listening to yourself and what to do instead.

“You’ll never be able to do this.” “What were you thinking, you idiot?” “You will always get it wrong.”  Ever hear those words in your head? Sometimes that little voice in our head can be a real jerk. And if given free reign, it will keep on speaking lies and we’ll keep on listening to them. It’s time to tell that naysayer to zip it! But do you know how to silence the negative self-talk and get it to stay quiet, even when you come up against obstacles?

Silence the negative voice

You’d probably never dream of speaking to someone else the way you spout off to yourself. And if you heard someone browbeating your friends or loved ones the way you regularly slice yourself up, you’d come unglued and rush to their defense, right?

So why don’t we silence the inner bully?

At some level, we do this because we don’t see ourselves as God does. We allow ourselves to believe what the world tells us.

We get our identity wrapped up in what we do, accomplish, look like, and so forth. We lose sight of the fact that in Christ, we are precious children of God.

How to Muffle the Meany

Remember Who You Are

If we are going to mute the muttering going on in our heads, we need to start by reminding ourselves of our true identity.

As believers, we are forgiven, redeemed, loved.

We are equipped, empowered, and enough because we stand in the the righteousness of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

Identify Whose Voice We’re Hearing

When the voice in our head is belittling us we can know it is not the voice of the Holy Spirit.

In John 14:25-27, Jesus explained how they would guard themselves against the persecution they would face from without and the doubts they would experience within. Listen to what he says,

 All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Does that sound like the Holy Spirit is someone who would slam and scorn you? I don’t think so. He is our Advocate. He is for us, not against us.

While the Holy Spirit can speak truth into our hearts and minds that can be painful to hear, He speaks truth to build us up not tear us down. He reminds us of God’s teaching, character, and promises. He reminds us of who we truly are in Christ. If we follow His voice, the outcome will be peace.

All of that is so different from they way I tend to talk to myself. While the Holy Spirit teaches me, my negative self-talk rips me to shreds. The result is anything but peace.

Replace Your Words with God’s Words

In many ways, beating ourselves up or filling our mind with self-doubt is a bad habit.

We habitually default to the old messages that drew blood the first time we heard them. Maybe the words originated in the mouths of a parent, sibling, classmate, teacher, or some stranger. But now, they are self-inflicted.

I’ve discovered something important about eliminating a bad habit: It is so much easier and more effective to replace the bad with something good.

So, fill your mind with God’s Word. Spend time reading the Scriptures. Use an app on your phone to listen to the Bible while you exercise, clean, cook, or commute. Saturate your mind with Truth.

Instead of listening to yourself and those old scripts, listen to God. Let him write new scripts on your heart and mind.

Then, the next time you rev up the self-ridicule, silence it with some of God’s truth and grace.

Grab this Scripture Cheat Sheet

I’ve pulled together some of my favorite verses for various situations that tend to trigger my negative self-talk. I’d be happy to send you a copy via email. Just click the button or image below to request your copy and I’ll send it right away! Then you’ll be ready to silence your inner critic with some of God’s truth and grace.

Silence Negative Self Talk LM FI

Get your FREE Scripture cheat sheet!

Question: What situations trigger your inner critic? You can leave a comment by clicking here.