Fan or Follower?

Perhaps some of you have read the book Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman. I have not read the book but I have been watching this video series on Right Now Media. It is very well done and adequately depicts how people become only a fan of Jesus not a follower.

Jesus defined a follower of Jesus in the scriptures. “Then, Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. Matthew 16:24 AMP

Sometimes as Christians we want our relationship with Jesus on our terms. We let Jesus have part of our life but not all of it. We say we give him our hearts but it is conditional. Perhaps you try to bargain with Him and say I will attend church a couple of times a month and give some money from time to time to help the church out. However, all the rest is yours. He is not welcomed to be a part of your marriage, your personal relationships and He is especially not welcome in your business practices. That is off limits!

We all have probably heard the expression, Jesus is not Lord at all if He’s not Lord of all.” Simple but true. I am not saying that we will become crispy critters when we miss an occasional Sunday service because Jesus is going to zap us for doing wrong. That is not the point. It is just that we set the parameters and do not consider what the scriptures say about followers.

Jesus didn’t go part of the way for you and me. He went all the way. He did not consider dying on the cross too great a price to pay for our redemption. He paid the highest price. It cost Him everything! He gave it all for us. So we have to examine do we give our all for Him.

Do we really want Him to have every part of our life? We should. We should be willing to say, Jesus, I give my life completely to You. You are welcome in every room. There is no place you cannot go. We have to be vulnerable enough to allow Him to put his finger on any area of our life that is not surrendered completely to Him.

Remember that when the rich young ruler asked Jesus what did he need to do to be saved he was told sell all you have and then come follow me. That young man walked away sorrowful because he could not release all his worldly possessions because they meant more to him than giving it up to be a follower of Jesus.

You know, I still have Jesus putting His finger on areas of my life that need changing. He pokes something that I am clinging onto and reminds me that I have to release it to Him. I don’t want to be a Christian that is a Church on Sunday fan only. I want to be a follower that says whatever it takes Lord I want you to have all of me.

A disciple or follower becomes like his teacher. We are to be like Jesus in a crazy world that is pushing Him over a cliff daily. The world is looking for answers and that answer is Jesus! They don’t necessarily know that but when they see us living out our Christianity daily on the job, at home, and in the marketplace they are watching and wondering why we are at peace.

Fan or follower? Is it that Jesus is cool on Sundays or someone you give an occasional nod from time to time? He has his place when it’s convenient but not when He gets in your business. I don’t want to only give Jesus access to part of me but all of me. I want to be willing to do whatever it takes to look and act like Jesus until my journey here is over. What about you? Jesus gave His all for your and He wants you to give your all for Him.

Living by the brook,



Peaceful Drive or Anxiety Highway?

Everyone feels stress of some kind. Some stress is normal. It can move us forward because it takes us out of a passive mode into an active mode in order to accomplish a given task that is waiting on us to show up. However, when the stress we experience is overwhelming and it is pushing us to the brink of sanity then it is time to take a look at what we are doing wrong. I think we need some spiritual Xanax!

I was driving the other day down a road I travel almost daily. It is named Pleasant Hill. I choose to take this road most of the time because it is such a peaceful setting with all the beautiful trees and quiet surroundings. It has no retail or commercial buildings at all. Only houses. Some are on large pieces of land and some built too close to one another for my comfort. As I was enjoying my drive recently I began to think about the different types of attitudes people can have about their lives. They can be all stressed out before the day begins or they can have a calm, peaceful demeanor without even having to work on it.

I am not a particularly high anxiety person. I can get stressed out like anyone else but I try to keep myself grounded in peace as much as possible. But when I feel things closing in on me and anxiety tries to creep in I like to turn to the 23rd Psalm.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows, he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” NLT

I don’t think you can read this Psalm and not feel peaceful. It is full of reassurance that the Lord is with us. He has everything under control. We are safe, protected and He even prepares a feast for us in front of our enemies. It’s a win win situation!

In Isaiah 26:3 we read, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”

When we are keeping our focus on Jesus and not our circumstances we can have peace. We do not have to be anxious all the time. We are our own worst enemy. Instead of enjoying the drive we are so full of stress we miss all the good things along the way. We create an environment that is hectic, full of tension mostly because of our own doing. Pull off the side of the road for a bit and rest. Sit in that peaceful meadow and remind yourself of the goodness of God. Allow Him to minister peace to your soul and then leave anxiety on the side of the road.

Take a few doses of your spiritual Xanax daily……..Psalm 23! Remember the Lord is your shepherd and He has everything you need. So is it going to be Peaceful Drive for you or Anxiety Highway?

Living by the brook,







It’s Not What You Know But The Jesus You Know

In today’s world there is so much competition to be popular or to become well known among those with influence.  Someone is always wanting to rub elbows with someone of importance. Once in a while someone will name drop hoping that will get them noticed. It is such a shallow way of making oneself feel important.

There is a story in the Acts of the Apostles in chapter 19 that proved to be pretty disastrous when a group of Jews tried name dropping while practicing their exorcisms. Verses 11-16 tells part of the story. “God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were place on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled. A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casing out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” The man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.”

That is quite a story! These Jews were traveling around casting out evil spirits. We have no knowledge of previous successes but we do have evidence that during this encounter they certainly were not. I wonder if they were successful at all because we find that in Philippians chapter 2:9-11 the Word declares something about Jesus and His authority. “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The authority over evil spirits comes from Jesus not from our ability alone.

We cannot be successful  just because we have a particular skill or can drop a name to make ourselves seem important. Our success is from Jesus alone. It is He that equips us, it is He that empowers us, it is He and our intimate relationship with Him that causes people to take note of our lives and makes evil spirits to obey us. If we boast in anything we boast in the Lord!

All of us who know Jesus intimately can make an impact on the world around us. You can touch lives as effectively as Paul. It is not so much what you know but Who you know. God has given each of us as Christians His spirit to touch lives, to minister to those who are sick, oppressed, or brokenhearted. We can pray for healing and deliverance in the powerful name of Jesus. Without it we are only name dropping and we will find ourselves naked and powerless.

Living by the brook,


God Is ________?

Back in 1966 Time Magazine’s cover said Is God Dead? It stirred a lot of debate back then. I would imagine that today many could still have that debate. There will be those who will always be philosophical about such a question. Regardless of the debate we can fill in the blank with a definitive NO! “We are living testimonies as Christians that He indeed is alive and a life-giver.

Let’s fill in just a few blanks about God.

  1. God is LOVE. “But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” I John 4:8.
  2. God is GOOD. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithfulness endures forever.”
  3. God is FAITHFUL. “But you, O Lord , are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
  4. God is UNCHANGING. “I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

The list can go on endlessly. Isn’t it wonderful that the God we serve is ALIVE? He never fails us, He is always GOOD and He is a good, good Father.

On this Father’s Day remember to reflect on the goodness of God. No matter what your relationship was or is with your earthly father your heavenly Father’s love and devotion surpasses any father we could ever have. Be thankful for the memories if they were good and release the memories that perhaps were not so good.  You have a heavenly Father who loves you beyond what you can imagine. You can cry out to ABBA Father and He hears you. Today be thankful that God is not dead and He is your DADDY!

Living by the brook,


Forward Progress

Isn’t it fun to watch a little baby progress in the different stages of mobility? First the learn to sit up without falling over, then they begin to scoot around until they can do a good army crawl, and then whether you like it or not they soon will be walking on their own. That is forward progress. We want to see these stages in a baby’s development.

God wants to see the progress for His kids too. God has actually designed our walk as believers in similar fashion. In the book of Ephesians the Apostle Paul teaches that we sit, walk and stand. In Ephesians 2:6 he writes, “For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” NLT. When we become new babies in Christ we are no longer dead in our spirits but alive in Jesus. We are children of God in our position but we are not yet standing up on two feet all by ourselves. Just like babies do we first have to learn to sit up. We as Christians are in our infancy stage and we learn about all that God has given to us. We understand that we are to grow and mature as we feed on the milk of the Word and though we are not yet strong enough to walk we will soon be able to move on to the next stage of walking.

Ephesians 5:8 says, “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, walk as children of light.” Colossians 2:6 says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.” How do we walk in Christ? The very same way we learned to sit.  We do it by faith. We look back and remember that we learned how to sit on our own so we trust that we will be able to pull ourselves up into a standing position and walk. One step at time we move forward. The muscles have become stronger as we learned to sit and now it is time to test things out. The first few steps are awkward and you will fall down from time to time but before you know it you are walking at break-neck speed. Off you go and there is no looking back. There is actually a scripture that comes to mine in Philipians 3:14, “I’m off and running and I’m not turning back.” MSG. Yes, there is no going back. You are walking out your salvation. You are becoming a force to be reckoned with because you are passionate about living this life God has called you to and you want to make an impact. But watch out! There is someone who wants to trip you up. His name is the devil.

We are reminded in Ephesians 6:10 about this. “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Now that you are stronger and able to walk out your salvation the devil does not want to see you succeed. He will make many attempts to knock you down. It is your responsibility to learn how to stand your ground.  A few verses down in verse 13 Paul writes, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing.” I like the part of you will still be standing!

We have to have our spiritual armor on and our spiritual muscles strong and ready for a fight. There will be a fight. Maybe several fights and we want to be able to come out on top.

Contrary to what some have said living a Christian life is not a piece of cake! It is not without challenges. Once you learned that you were seated in Christ as his child you move on to walking out the truths you learned as a baby Christian. You mature as you keep going forward and you prepare yourself for the inevitable event of learning to stand strong when things get tough. Don’t get knocked down and sit there until Jesus comes. Get up! Run the race and don’t look back.

Living by the brook,




I would assume that many of you have been to a basketball game or a football game. Usually when a player is at the free throw line in basketball or preparing to kick the ball for the extra point in football there are people in the stands that are making a lot of noise or waiving their arms wildly to distract him from focusing. Those people are hoping that the distraction will cause them to miss their mark.

How many times have you been distracted from the task at hand because something drew your attention away from the goal you were currently focused on? Too many to count right? Ladies many of us proudly wear the badge of being able to multi-task. And I would agree we are pretty good at it most of the time. But beware distractions are waiting to pull you off course.

This is true of us in our daily walk as Christians. We usually are not even aware that there is someone standing on the sidelines trying to trip us up and get us distracted. Sometimes we have spiritual ADD. Maybe you began to entertain frustration as you are walking through your day.  Oops, distraction has arrived. Or could it be discouragement calls your name and you sit down and entertain that for a while. Could it be financial struggles that pull you off course….oops, another distraction is robbing you again.

The enemy of our success is eager to see us get off course. If he can get us to take our eyes off Jesus and focus on the problems then he has done his job. Proverbs 4:25-27 says, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

I am not saying that we are going to do everything perfectly but if we will remember to ignore that distraction that is waving at us on the sidelines and stay focused on the goal we will get there a lot sooner. Remember that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

In Hebrews 12:1-2 we read this: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witness to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

We live in a time that is very challenging. As Christians we face situations like everyone else but we are to be an example to others that because of Jesus we are victorious. We are living, breathing testimonies of how Jesus sustains us, keeps us and gives us peace. We can finish the race if we keep looking at Jesus and not all the junk on the sidelines waiting to trip us up. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”

So, get on your mark, ready, set, go! Run that race and aim for the prize!

Living by the brook,






Today is my favorite anniversary. June 10, 1970 was the day God captured my heart. If you will indulge me I will share my story.

I came from a home of tremendous dysfunction. My mother was an alcoholic from my age of six until I was sixteen. My dad was an absentee dad in many ways. My mother was the abuser not my father. My mother desperately needed my dad to love her but he did not know how. My parents did not have a happy marriage and they separated when I was fifteen and divorced when I was sixteen.

I was my mother’s enabler. As the oldest of three all the responsibility fell on me during the years my mother was an alcoholic. I had no choice! You do what you are told no matter what. I learned to mix her orange juice and vodka together for her screwdrivers around age eleven. I soon began to take a sip or two to see what it tasted like. I liked it. However, I did not begin drinking regularly until I was fifteen.

By the age of fifteen I was getting into a bar in downtown Memphis called The Thunderbird Lounge. I don’t remember how but I do remember I drank a drink called a Harvey Wallbanger. I say they named it so because after you had one or two you would feel like banging your head against a wall. At that same age I was found by Memphis’s Vice Squad drinking with some friends in a 1965 Mustang in Green Trees subdivision in Memphis before it had been developed. I was not embarrassed but I was mad that they would take me home to a mom who was drunk in bed. I told them that she was a drunk and they were wasting their time trying to talk to her.

When I was fifteen I also made a feeble attempt at overdosing when I was in the ninth grade while I was at school. Some of my classmates told my Home Economics teacher what I had done. I did not need medical care I was only drowsy. It is always a good day when you are unsuccessful at overdosing. This precious teacher stayed with me until I felt better and then drove me home. This event was when the very first seed was sown for my future salvation. This teacher and a dear friend today wrote a prayer on an index card and gave it to me. It read as follows: “Everyday in every way by the grace of God I am getting better and better.” I read that little prayer for two and one half years daily before Jesus changed my life.

The next person who was instrumental in my life changing was someone in high school who invited me to come to a Young Life meeting. Young Life was and still is a Christian ministry to reach teenagers and introduce them to Christ. I went to these meetings at my high school weekly and never stopped going. How thankful I am for that.

Now the entire time I attended these off campus meetings at a host home I still did not know the Lord. But I felt accepted there and so I stayed. Then opportunity came to go to camp in June of 1970. I wanted to go. I assure you it was not for any spiritual reason. It was a chance to get away from the craziness that was going on in my life. I had no relationship then with my mom. My dad had suffered a stroke the year before and was still in a hospital and I was living with my aunt and uncle. I guess they felt sorry for me. But for whatever reason it was a good, safe place for me.

While I lived there my uncle shared with me that my mother had been going to Alcoholics Anonymous and was sober. Hmm, a mom that was not drunk anymore communicated to me that maybe she wouldn’t be cruel to me and maybe would love me. So I went back home to live with her. The storybook ending did not happen with my mom but my life was weeks away from a miracle!

It is camp time! I heard that other schools from Young Life in Waco, Texas would be with us and the boys were HOT so I was really ready to go. We loaded up the Greyhound and away we went for our two-day trip to Colorado. I had my radar ready to find the cute guys and my cigarettes in my purse. I have no memory of what happened to those either.

We finally arrived in beautiful Colorado at Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista. Let me say it was a divine set-up indeed. I cannot remember everything that happened that week. I remember mountain climbing, a dance night where we drew names for our partner and I had a guy shorter than me….really? There were activities each day. Every night led up to the final night….Friday night. They had been baiting the hooks all week in hopes of catching some young people for Jesus.

We are all sitting around in such a nice rustic looking mountain lodge waiting for our evening message. I actually do not remember any of the previous ones but this one changed my life. Carl Nelson the regional director of Young Life for the Memphis is bringing the message. For the first time in my entire life I heard the message of the Cross. I never knew this story. How? How can you be living in the belt buckle of the Bible belt and never know? But I didn’t. I heard what it cost Jesus. I heard of His agony. I heard of His passion. But most of all I heard of His love. His love for me….ME! I had never had that feeling before. The message is over and our instructions are for silence. Do not speak while you are leaving or when you return to your cabin. You are to ponder the words you heard. Like Mary pondered words spoken to her that were life changing I was pondering words that were life changing.

I entered the cabin and dove head first into my bunk bed and cried. Only Jesus heard my prayer…..”Jesus, come into my heart and make me clean.” See, I felt dirty. I had done dirty things, said dirty things, thought dirty things. The very moment I whispered those words I knew I was different inside. No doubt about it!

After our time of silence was over we gathered with our counselor and piled up on all our bunks and the question was posed….”Does anyone have anything they would like to share?” Like a bullet out of a gun chamber I said “Yes! I got saved tonight.” Oh yes, I did and I have never been the same.

I purchased a Phillips paraphrase Bible from the little gift shop and read it all the way home on the bus. I could not get enough. It was so much fun to read that Good News.

Now the past forty-seven years have not been a cake walk. Not everything has turned out the way I had expected. Not every prayer has been answered the way I wanted. Not everything in my life is perfect nor am I but my spirit is. It is filled up with Jesus. I am still overwhelmed by His great love for me and I am heaven bound.

I hope you have discovered there is no life outside of Jesus. He is the only answer for our problems. The song Andre Crouch sang said…”Jesus is the answer, for the world today, above Him there’s no other, Jesus is the way.” You can trust Him with your heart so give it to Him.

Living by the brook,


Be Alert

Did you know that the devil was waiting on you this morning? If you are a dedicated follower of Jesus then you are someone the devil wants to take out. He is just waiting for his open door.

Last Wednesday night I attended a training class on how to respond to an active shooter event.  It was called CRASE-Civilian Response to Active Shooter Event.  It was extremely enlightening. I have been thinking about so many of the things I learned.  The one acronym we learned was ADD-Avoid, Deny and Defend.  The world we live in is much more scary than it use to be. We are a world society and we can move from country to country quite easily. The terrorists do that as well and them some of them are right in our community.  We need to be alert!

I Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  He is a schemer and he is always working on a plan.  I think we need to be a part of a group called DAZE-Devil Assessment Zapping Event. You like that? So do I.

We should be armed and ready for him at all times. We should use the arsenal of weapons in our “God” bag. See military people have a “Go” bag filled with a hand gun, pepper spray, knives and any other item they deem valuable to add to it.  We need to have all our weapons ready too.

We need to the Word in our hearts so that at any moment needed we can speak those words out so the devil can hear them. See he runs when we speak the truth of God’s Word. We need to be prayed up at all times. Ephesian says we should pray in the spirit. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” I John 3:8 says, “The devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appearing was to destroy the works of the devil.”

As Christians we should be alert and prepared at all times. We should have our spiritual radar working at all times and be ready to ZAP the devil at any given time. Let’s not be a casualty but a conqueror. Let’s be a part of a Devil Assessment Zapping Event everyday. Go packed and ready everyday to respond in the power of the Spirit and crush the enemy under your feet. You are equipped so get up and get going!

Living by the brook,


Posture Not Position

We live in such a society today that many people in the secular world are elbowing their way to the top and many times not too concerned who gets knocked down as they push their way up the ladder. It is not wrong to want success or position but to run over someone else in order to get it is wrong.

Many times this same spirit can creep into our lives too. It was actually an issue Jesus dealt with a couple of times in the scriptures. In Matthew the mother of the sons of Zebedee made a request of Jesus to allow her sons to sit at a place of honor in His kingdom, one at the right and one at the left. He basically rebuked her and said that He does not make those choices but His Father does. Wow, how embarrassing to ask such a question in front of everyone! She got her answer and we never heard what her response was.

Even in the Gospel of Luke 6:46-48 the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest among them.  It says Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.” He was basically saying for them to be simple and innocent as these children and do not worry about such things.

The scriptures repeatedly refer to being humble. Here are a few. James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” I Peter 5:6 “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will life you up in honor.” “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

We must remember when we are tempted to seek recognition it is time to hit the floor! It is our posture before the Lord that matters not our position. We need to seek the Lord and remember we have more power on our knees than in our elbows. Psalm 75:6-7 says, ” For not from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert comes exaltation. But God is the Judge; He puts down one and lifts up another.”

God will be faithful to hear the cries of His kids. He knows what is best. In His time He will lift you up.

Living by the brook,



He Knows Your Name

Today’s estimated world population is 7.2 billion. I have trouble wrapping my head around big numbers like this. But the amazing thing in the midst of this enormous number is if you are a Christian, a Christ follower, a called out one…..God knows your name!

As I was having my morning quiet time I was reading from a devotional that focused on Exodus 33:1-17 while Moses and the people of Israel were in the wilderness. The account was one of the times Moses went into the tent of meeting to meet with God. This meeting was just before the Lord would let His goodness pass before Moses and reveal His name Yahweh to him.

But what arrested my heart this morning was the personal, intimate time they had together while Moses went before God to speak with Him. Moses did not want to move forward while leading these people without God presence. Moses knew that it was God’s extraordinary presence that set them apart as a people and he wanted assurance He would not continue this journey alone. He was in a faith walk but he needed confirmation he was not doing this alone.

When Moses inquired of God about this the reply is recorded in Exodus 33:17, The LORD replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know your name.” He knew his name! Even with a crowd of at least a million people Moses was leading God knew his name. God was intimately aware of who he was. And much more that just knowing Moses’s name God would show him His glory. He would give him a glimpse of His goodness and call out His name Yahweh to Moses to confirm everything Moses’s heart was yearning to know.

God was with Moses. God knew Moses. If you are a child of the King He knows your name too! You are not just another face in the crowd. You are known by the Great I AM. Just as He did for Moses He will do greater for us.

The cry of my heart and your heart should be that we don’t want to walk another step unless God is with us. In a devotional by Beth Moore she used the phrase, “The land of promise is the land of His Presence.” Wow, we need His presence more than the land of milk and honey. Everything else should seem absolutely insignificant without His presence. I know I am not always there. What good is all the stuff without that. I am reminded once again that in this life I need the awareness of God’s presence more than anything and as I continue on this journey when I feel lost in a crowd He KNOWS my name. He said good morning to me….Marilyn as He wrapped me in His presence this morning reminding me how much He loves me and that we are on this journey together.

May you also be reminded that God knows your name and He wants to overwhelm you with His presence today and everyday.

Living by the brook,