How to Know if it’s Right or Wrong

Is This a Sin – or Not?

Is it Right or Wrong?You’ve heard the questions. You’ve probably asked them yourself. “Is it a sin to drink alcohol?” “How far can I go with my boyfriend (girlfriend) sexually before it becomes sin?” “If I get a divorce, am I sinning?” Our human nature sometimes struggles to know if something is right or wrong.

When I was a tween I went through a period of being overwhelmingly concerned about my standing with God. Every night I’d religiously write down every wrong thing I had done so I wouldn’t forget to ask God or others for forgiveness. I kept a notepad hidden near my bed, and would cross off a “sin” once I had appropriately humbled myself before God or anyone else involved.

I’ve grown up a lot since then. It’s not that I’m any less committed to seeking forgiveness when I do something wrong, but I have a much deeper understanding of what God is after. And frankly, His “list” is a lot longer than mine!

But God’s list has much more to do with matters of the heart than it does with outward behavior.

Sin in the Bible

Religious people and institutions have a tendency to come up with lists of outward behaviors that you’re supposed to do and not do. The Jews in the Old Testament were very good at that, and God did not look kindly on that behavior: “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

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Lonely and Disappointed on Valentine’s Day

2 responses to the unfulfilled need for love

Valentine's DayDo you feel like a member of the Lonely Hearts Club? Were you disappointed on Valentine’s Day? You’re not alone.

So, no secret admirer surprised you with a card or box of chocolates yesterday. Your spouse didn’t overwhelm you with flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries for a romantic evening. Perhaps you’re buried up to your eyeballs in bills, diapers, and dirty dishes and that kind of love seems a distant memory. Or you’ve avoided retail establishments and worked extra-long hours this week just to forget that you don’t have a Valentine this year.

I know what it’s like to be lonely. In medical school a group of us single girls gathered one February 14 at the first and only formal meeting of the LLU chapter of the Lonely Hearts Club. I lived single until I was 48 years old, and I’m single again now that my husband is with Jesus. And pink doesn’t look good on me anyway!

But just because you have a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t mean romance and love are guaranteed. Some of the loneliest people I talk with are married. It’s not your Relationship Status on Facebook that’s at issue; it’s the status of your heart.

The State of Your Heart

We as human beings were made for connection. Deep, secure, long-lasting, intimate connection. We long to be known, to be affirmed, to be cherished, to be desired, to be sought after, to be loved. We want to be Number One to someone, and we often struggle to survive – let alone thrive – when we’re not.

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The Stockdale Paradox and Spiritual Warfare

2 Ingredients You Must Have to Win

Barged WireVice Admiral James B. Stockdale was an officer in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. He became a fighter pilot, and in 1965 he was shot down while returning from his second combat tour over North Vietnam. Held for nearly eight years as a prisoner-of-war in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton”, he suffered repeated torture and years in solitary confinement without any prisoner’s rights, and with no assurance that he would survive the war or live to see his family again.[1]

As the highest ranking officer in the camp, Stockdale shouldered responsibility for the other men also held there. He made it his mission to do everything in his power to help the men survive unbroken, while at the same time leading the American resistance against Vietnamese attempts to use the prisoners for propaganda. He instituted a cohesive set of rules governing prisoner behavior which provided the men with hope and empowerment. He developed an elaborate method of internal communication the men could use even during enforced silence or solitary confinement. Risking further torture or death if discovered, he found ways to forward secret intelligence to the US government through letters he was allowed to write to his wife. Following his release he received a total of 26 medals including the Medal of Honor.

Could you survive that kind of trauma? What kept Admiral Stockdale sane during those years of imprisonment and torture? What allowed him to do so much to help so many other men survive unbroken?

The Stockdale Paradox

Researcher and author Jim Collins writes of an enlightening conversation he had with Stockdale. When asked how he made it through Stockdale responded;

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Expectations at Christmas: Birth, Tragedy, and Purpose

The Birth of a Baby and the Birth of God’s Purpose in You

Baby SLeepingThe media’s depiction of Christmas leaves us expecting it to be the most wonderful time of the year. And I hope your Christmas is awesome!

But sometimes your expectations at Christmas get disappointed.

The Hallmark channel doesn’t always get it right. You don’t always get a boyfriend for Christmas. Your son or daughter doesn’t always come home for the holidays. You don’t always get a box of firewood and food on your front porch. Families don’t always reconcile on December 25.

The first Christmas was about the birth of a Baby. And what can create greater expectations than the birth of a baby?!

Satan tried to turn that first Christmas into a tragedy. And he’s trying to do the same thing to your Christmas this year.

But thank God that’s not the end of the story! Divine intervention kept Satan from accomplishing his plan at the birth of Jesus. And the same Divine intervention can keep him from accomplishing the tragedy he wants to create in your life.

As an OB-Gyn physician, I love to tell new parents as often as I can, “A new baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on!”

And this Christmas is God’s opinion that YOUR world should go on too!


Are unrealistic or failed expectations stirring up the Holiday Blues for you this year? You’re not alone.

If you haven’t signed up to receive our Beating the Holiday Blues series, you’re missing a lot! Today’s video is about dealing with good, bad, and failed expectations, and what God has to say to you at Christmas about that.

And I have some very specific suggestions about how you can Overcome the Holiday Blues this Christmas.

You can access these FREE videos here. I hope you’ll join me!

YES! Help me Beat the Holiday Blues!

Let’s beat the Holiday Blues together!

Tweetables: won’t you help someone else find help to beat the holiday blues?

  • Singing the blues? Get some FREE help to Overcome the Holiday Blues this season.        Tweet that.

Being WITH is Not Enough: What Comes After “God With Us”

The necessity of leadership and growth

Mother and DaughterJesus came to be “God With Us.” He responded to our hopeless situation not by shouting truth at us, but by coming to be With Us. And when we connect with someone who is hurting we too must be with them instead of preaching at them.

Several of you responded to my article about “God With Us” last week.

But being With Us was just the beginning for Jesus. And it should be just the beginning for us.

The people who encountered Jesus could not help but be impacted by Him. His very presence called them to a different kind of life. And when they stopped long enough to hear His words their hearts burned within them. (See Luke 24:32)

Yes, the outcasts, the sick, the poor, those nobody else wanted were drawn to Jesus. He healed them, touched them, loved them, gave them hope. But being with them didn’t mean Jesus became like them and stayed with them in their misery. He called them to something more.

And He had something for those who were not so sick or broken. They too felt the call to something more, something perhaps harder and more dangerous than they ever imagined they could be a part of, something exhilarating and profound and alive.

Once Jesus is with us, He leads us out. He doesn’t simply soothe us in our brokenness, assuring us everything will be OK. Far from it! Instead, He goes before us leading the way to the greater thing He has called us to. (See John 10:4)

First He is With Us. Then He leads us out.

The order is important. We will not, cannot, follow Him until He is With Us.

But once He is With Us, we are called to follow Him. We cannot, dare not, stay the same. He calls us to a life of transformation, character growth, maturity, meaning, purpose, and service.

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