Intentional Living

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

Oftentimes, when my husband and I spend a morning working in our garden, I find myself looking at the yards surrounding the lake on which we live.  I’m always struck by the large number of neighbors who have nothing but grass in their backyard….no flower beds, no trees, no shrubs.  Truth be told, sometimes I’m a little envious of their carefree backyards.  But, when I survey the beauty of the blooming flowers and shrubs in our garden and when I stop to pay attention to the bees, hummingbirds and butterflies that thrive in our little sanctuary, I am grateful for the intentional time and energy we have spent to create a place that celebrates the beauty of God’s creation.

While it takes a bit of intentional time and energy to create a garden, it takes a lifetime of intentional time and energy to follow the Lord. Ephesians 5:15-16 instructs us to live carefully in this life.  We don’t have to be intentional to be influenced by the world and the culture around us – we are surrounded by it!  But, if we want to allow Christ to create a life of beauty in us, we must carefully choose how we spend our time and our treasures.  

Praise God for his glorious grace in your life and ask Him to reveal one way you can live intentionally for Him today.

The Praying Through Scripture journal is a great way to encounter God’s word each day.  Filled with Scripture, prayer prompts, journaling space and even a learning device to help you memorize God’s word, it is a tool that will help you deepen your walk with the Lord.

Rooted in Love

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. Ephesians 3:17

My husband and I recently decided to improve the landscape of a small area of our yard that contained a beautiful, 15 year-old oak tree. We were excited to plant various ferns and shade-loving flowers, however our plans were quickly foiled as we tried to dig the holes necessary to put even the smallest potted plant in the ground. You see this oak tree had grown strong and its root was system was pervasive. Its roots had spread deep and wide under the ground and we were unable to break through to plant our shade garden.

God wants us to root ourselves in Him in much the same way. He wants us to experience his love deeply and fully and allow ourselves to grow in it. He wants it to spread through us so that it impacts every bit of who we are and what we do. And, when we allow His love to root deeply in our lives, we are strong in Him and He is glorified in us.

Take a moment today to meditate on the great love of God for you in Christ Jesus and pray that you would root yourself firmly and deeply in His love.

The Praying Through Scripture journal is a great way to encounter God’s word each day.  Filled with Scripture, prayer prompts, journaling space and even a learning device to help you memorize God’s word, it is a tool that will help you deepen your walk with the Lord.

Nuggets of Wisdom

Yesterday was my 50th birthday and I received a new Bible as a gift I had requested, from my husband. 

I feel differently about this Bible than any one I’ve received in the past.  I see this Bible not only as a resource of wisdom for me, but likely a treasure that will be passed on to my children one day when I am gone.  This morning, as I opened it to read for the first time, I decided to transfer the notes I had written on the blank pages of my previous Bible.  These were not notes related to specific passages.  Instead these were little nuggets (most are not direct quotes) that I picked up from various pastors over the years. Now this new bible has fewer blank pages so I had to be a bit choosey about which nuggets actually made it into the new Bible. 

Interestingly, 10 nuggets made the cut so here’s my first ever Top 10 list…

#1. Our greatest need is not words from man, but truth from God.

#2. It is a dangerous thing to know this Word and not let it change you.

#3. Doctrine matters because what we believe determines what we do.

#4. “The more you read the Bible, and the more you meditate on it, the more astonished you will be with it.” Charles Spurgeon

#5. Strive for holiness… in the Gospel!

#6. God’s gracious conversion of us creates a gospel compulsion in us.

#7. Sin includes taking a thing that is good and making it into a god.  Idols are often good things.

#8. Salvation means we are saved from the penalty of our sin; sanctification means we are being saved from the power of our sin and glorification means we will be saved from the presence of sin.

#9. Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of someone else’s sin.

#10. If you are not whole-heartedly following Jesus, you’re not following Jesus at all.

I have chosen not to include commentary on these nuggets.  I believe they each speak for themselves.  But I would be interested to know which ones you love too!

The Praying Through Scripture journal is a great way to encounter God’s word each day.  Filled with Scripture, prayer prompts, journaling space and even a learning device to help you memorize God’s word, it is a tool that will help you deepen your walk with the Lord.

Far from God

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “Far from God?”

You may think of someone living in bold rebellion….someone seemingly unaware of the guilty stain of sin on their life and disinterested in the fact that God cares to save them from it.

Or, perhaps, you think of someone who walked with the Lord for a time but turned away from faith to pursue another lifestyle, denying what they once knew to be true about God

But, if you’ve walked with the Lord for much time at all, you might also have experienced times when, even as a redeemed child of the King, sealed in your salvation, you have felt far from God.

There’s many reasons for the emotions that create this perceived distance from the Lord.  

It might be a particularly difficult season of life and you feel that God has abandoned you and that He can’t possibly care.

It might be an extremely hectic season of life and you choose self-sufficiency over God-dependency because you are too busy to pursue Him.

Or, it simply might be a particularly great season where it’s easy to enjoy the pleasures of life with barely an acknowledgement of His presence or of your great need for Him.

Whatever the reason for this distance between you and God, I can assure you of this one thing:

God has not moved. 

You have.

I know because I’ve been there. I’ve been the one too sad, too busy, too consumed with enjoying the pleasures of this world. And, it was I who had moved.  Every time.

I know this because the Bible promises over and over that God will not leave us.  He will not forsake us. He cares for us and He is with us.  

Regardless of what we feel. 

And, I have found that the way back to closeness, to intimacy with God, is always the same:

His Word.

If I’m not daily encountering His word, it’s so easy to wander.  It’s easy to forget His goodness, to feel hopeless.

It’s easy to become comfortable in my own ways, forgetting that He wants to conform me into the image of Christ.

His word keeps me focused.  It reminds me of who I am.

More importantly, it reminds me of who He is. 

His word is the still, small voice that alerts me when I begin to drift away from Him and His ways.

So, if you are feeling far from God today, I urge you to open His word….  

Read Genesis 1 and stand in awe of the one who spoke the world into existence.

Read Ephesians 2:1-10 and let your heart rejoice that God has made you alive in Christ.

Read Romans 12 and remember how to abide as a living sacrifice. 

Read Psalm 23 and let the Good Shepherd comfort your weary soul. 

Or simply pick a book (maybe a Gospel) and read a few verses each day and ask God to reveal His great wisdom through His word.

His word can do a great work in our souls.  

The Praying Through Scripture journal is a great way to encounter God’s word each day.  Filled with Scripture, prayer prompts, journaling space and even a learning device to help you memorize God’s word, it is a tool that will help you deepen your walk with the Lord.

Finding Joy on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and, along with it, comes many disappointed mamas. While there are mothers experiencing true sadness and grief on this day due to incredibly difficult circumstances, there are also moms whose Mother’s Day disappointment could be eliminated by a new approach to the day.

Now, to be clear, it is right and good for children to honor their mothers. It is also good for fathers to express gratitude to their wives for their role as mother. However, when we, as mothers, set our sights on being treated as queens for the day and when we establish unrealistic expectations of our loved ones, our sinful, rebel hearts are positioned for disappointment.

I know this because my heart has been there. My husband and I have been married for 26 years and I’ve been a mother for 21. I’ve had my share of amazing Mother’s Days and I’ve also experienced the sting of disappointment from unmet expectations. I guess that could be said for other holidays as well. But, Mother’s Day is one of those days that seems to hit us especially hard when it doesn’t go well. Perhaps, it is because we often find our greatest sense of belonging, of identity, in motherhood. But, that issue will need to be addressed in another post….

Over the years, I’ve learned a few lessons about contentment on Mother’s Day. I wish I could say I’ve practiced these perfectly, but that would be a lie. One of them (#4) is new for me this year, but I think it’s the one I’m most excited about….

So, here’s my lessons for defeating disappointment and finding joy on Mother’s Day….

Lesson #1 – Lower Your Expectations
Actually, just throw your expectations (especially your unexpressed ones) out the window. The only expectation you might want to keep is the expectation that the people in your family will be themselves on Mother’s Day. Example: If your toddler is in the middle of the terrible twos, it’s unlikely that he will suddenly become angelic and compliant for your special day. The same logic applies for your sassy 12 year old.

Lesson #2 – Maintain Perspective
Remember that Mother’s Day is one day of the year. Maintain a healthy perspective by remembering how your kids and husband love and appreciate you throughout the year.  Philippians 4:8 is a great verse to memorize…..

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Pray this verse and ask God to transform your mind to focus on the good in those around you. So, maybe your husband didn’t surprise you with a bouquet of your favorite flowers. Instead of focusing on the disappointment, remember how sweetly he put the baby to bed last night or how he filled up your gas tank last week. Or, how he sacrificially supports you and your family every day. There’s always something to be thankful for and, by thinking on on what is good, you are more likely to live a life of contentment.

Lesson #3 – Honor Your Mother (and your mother-in-law)
Find joy in honoring the mothers and grandmothers in your family. For years, I sacrificed what I wanted to do on Mother’s Day to spend the day with my mom. Because of her failing health, my family spent many Mother’s Days at our home, hosting and cooking for extended family members to make the day special for my mom. True confession….I sometimes resented working hard on Mother’s Day. But, my mom passed away almost three years ago. Now, I do what I want on Mother’s day. But, you know, if I had the choice, I’d be serving her that favorite BBQ dinner in our home again. Those Mother’s Day holidays spent serving her provide sweet memories and no regrets.

Lesson #4 – Honor Hurting Women
Consider serving and honoring those women who are facing truly hard struggles this Mother’s Day.

Maybe it’s a family who lost their mother this year. Serve the family in a way that honors her memory.

Or, perhaps, it’s a friend grieving her wayward child. Remind her that she’s a good mama and that she and her prodigal are deeply loved.

Maybe it’s a widow with young children. Fill in as “dad” and take the kids to the Dollar Store to shop for some small gifts to make her day special.

Or maybe it’s a friend struggling with infertility. Reminder her that she is loved and make a plan to spend time encouraging her.

Perhaps it’s a friend who lost a child prematurely. Speak words of remembrance and love to her.

And, in all cases, pray for and with these dear women in your life.

Lesson #5 – Make Some Plans
If you have something very specific (and reasonable) in mind for the day, plan it yourself. Make the lunch reservation. Check the movie time. Plan ahead to enjoy the day instead of wishing someone had surprised you with your unexpressed (or even expressed) desire. If children are involved, plan something everyone will enjoy. It’s been said that “If mama ain’t happy, nobody is happy.” But, I would argue that if nobody is happy, mama’s probably not too happy either. So, plan accordingly.

Lesson #6 – Manage Social Media
If you’re prone to discontentment on Mother’s Day, don’t even log on to Facebook or Instagram. They will only feed your expectation to be idolized by your family on this day. If you have a beautiful day and you want to share it, do so in a way that’s encouraging, uplifting and hope-filled. Perhaps, consider including some of the awkward or unexpected moments of the day. Real-life-truth on Facebook is a valuable thing. And those who struggle with Mother’s Day disappointment will appreciate your honesty…..on Monday when they log back in.

Lesson #7 – Remember Jesus
And, if you end the day feeling like you served your family when you expected them to serve you, remember this: You are never more like Jesus than when you are selflessly serving in love.

“Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” Mark 10:45

Happy Mother’s Day

The Praying Through Scripture  is a great gift for the mothers in your life.  The journal equips women to become prayer warriors as they pray, memorize and journal through God’s words in their prayer time.




From Death to Life

pexels-photo-592667.jpegAnd you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10

Before you read any further, read the italicized words above again. Be amazed. Be astonished. Be grateful.

This passage is one of my favorites in all of Scripture. In fact, I am working right now to commit it to memory because I never want to forget.

“Forget what?” you may ask….

Forget that I was dead. That’s right. Spiritually dead, living by the rules and ways of this world. Disobedient. Enslaved to my own desires and thoughts. Deserving of wrath.


But God….full of mercy and love….even when I was dead in my sin made me alive! He brought me to life through the death of Jesus Christ. And, He has raised me up and has seated me in the heavenly places in Christ. He is showing me every day the immeasurable riches of His grace and kindness.

He did this through His amazing grace, through faith. Because of this, I can never boast. There is nothing I have done, nothing I could do, to deserve this gift. Dead people cannot bring themselves back to life.

How is this even possible?  We do not live in a world that even understands this kind of love.  Unconditional love. Amazing grace.  This is what the God of the universe offers to His people.

The only reasonable response to this glorious grace is overwhelming gratitude. And a life lived walking in the good works that He prepared for us.

Have you received this gift of grace? I would love to hear your story!


The Greatest Gift Ever Bestowed

Once upon a time….well, actually, before time even existed, this true story began. The central character is a King and his dominion is over everything we see and even over what we don’t see.  

This King is God, the good and gracious Creator of all things.  He is unique, one of kind, perfect, glorious, holy and just. And he is sovereign over all things.

In his good plan, he created mankind to represent him on the earth.  But, even from the beginning, mankind failed to represent him well.  They (and we) continually fall short and that shortcoming (also known as sin) has separated us from this good God.  

Without him, although we may physically be alive, we are spiritually dead.  Even worse, we are helpless….completely unable to bring spiritual life to our dead souls. Sure, we may try.  We perform some good deeds, maybe go to church and pray when we feel the need.

We think we can work our way to God, but, if we are honest and because we know ourselves, we know we cannot bridge the great chasm between us and him.

But, God, even from the beginning, had a plan to reconcile us to himself.  He revealed his plan over time and, when the time was just right, he humbled himself and lived as Emmanuel (God with us) amongst the broken people of the earth.  This Emmanuel, more commonly known as Jesus, walked this earth for 33 years and lived a perfect life….the kind we could not live.  He revealed his power over brokenness, over sickness, over sin…. even over death itself!

But, instead of honoring him with the glory he deserved, it was ordained that Jesus would, instead, die on a cross.  It seemed like a cruel ending, but, truth be told, it was a glorious new beginning….the beginning of this gift bestowed upon us.

You see, three days after He was buried, Jesus rose from the dead, just as he had predicted.  He walked this earth in his resurrected body and was seen by many.  He later ascended to heaven where he waits to usher in all who choose to receive His great gift of grace.

This gift of grace promises to reconcile us back to God by removing the record of our sin and covering us in the righteousness of the perfect life that Jesus lived. It includes the promise that God will never leave us or forsake us. This great gift gives us peace, amidst the troubles of this world and hope for an eternity in the glorious presence of God himself. 

So, the question becomes, what are we to do with this great gift of grace?   

We can deny its existence and turn our back on the giver.  And, there’s so many ways to do this….We can see beauty in the gift, but continue to trust in ourselves and work futilely towards a goal we will never reach; we may even do this while giving lip service to the King.  We can pretend we never even heard of his great gift.  We can even refuse to believe that such a gift could possibly exist for us. 

OR, we can turn from our sin and from our self and we can run to the arms of a good and gracious God who is eager to receive us as his own.  We can receive the gift and live the rest of our lives giving all thanks, all praise and all glory to this good and gracious God, the giver of the greatest gift ever bestowed.

Kim Melnick is a prayer warrior wannabe who encourages women to deepen their prayer life by praying Scripture. Her prayer journals can be found on Amazon.



Not Beyond Our Grasp

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.  From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” Acts 17:24-26

It’s easy to think that the God described here, the God of the Bible, might be beyond our reach or out of our grasp.

THIS God, who created the world, who is so vast that He cannot be contained by anything made by man…..

THIS God who needs nothing from us….

THIS God who gives us all that we are and all that we have….

THIS God who reigns over all of time and space….

THIS God is within our reach.

The Bible passage above, written to the people of Thessalonica almost 2000 years ago, goes on to tell us that this God is actually not far from any of us. And, He desires that we seek and find Him.

God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. “For in him we live and move and have our being.” As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.” Acts 17:26-28

THIS God is not far from us. In fact, for a time, he lived in human flesh, among people just like us. Emmanuel (God With Us) came to live right here on earth.

THIS GOD, Emmanuel (aka Jesus) lived a perfect life. He died a painful and humiliating death. Worse than that, he experienced the wrath of God (the wrath that we deserved) as he hung on a cross. But, just when all hope seemed lost, this Jesus overcame the grave and rose from death to life. In the resurrection, he conquered death and sin. His victory opened the door for us to be called children of God if only we will turn from our sin and from ourselves and turn to Him.  Then, and only then, we can rest peacefully in the grasp of THIS God.

Captivating Love

The Bible speaks of a captivating love.

A love that is perfect.

A love we cannot generate on our own.

A love that is beyond our comprehension, yet fully in our grasp if we are willing to receive it.

This love is a gift from a good and gracious heavenly Father. It is a gift to be received. And it is a gift we are privileged to give.

This gift is possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

“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 13: 4-8

Who among us does not want to experience this love? Who doesn’t want to give and receive this love?

Every day we are surrounded by failed attempts to give and receive love. But, on this day, I urge you to contemplate this perfect love and let your hearts ponder how your life might be changed by captivating love.


Heaven On Earth

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. Revelation 7:9

It’s a beautiful picture, right? This is one of those verses that I can see so vividly when I read it. And when I read it, I love to imagine all those people….red and yellow, black and white….all precious in His sight, standing before the throne, all eyes on Him.

The passage continues by telling us that the crowd is shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb.”

Now, in my imagination, I add the sound of those voices roaring together in praise. What would that be like? Countless voices in every language ever spoken. We might think that the sound would be chaotic, but I imagine it as a beautiful symphony of praise to our God.

It is incredible to envision that scene. And, the truth is, if we open our eyes, we can see that scene as a reality unfolding in our midst. Globally speaking, the church is multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-linguistic. The body of Christ is the ultimate reality of unity among diversity.

But, most Sundays, we don’t experience that reality. We tend to worship with those who look like us, sound like us and live like us. And, when we gather around our tables for food and fellowship or in our small groups for prayer and study, we tend to draw in those who look like us as well.

But, I am reminded of the Lord’s Prayer….“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

And I wonder….how can we be a part of bringing this heavenly reality to the little part of earth that we occupy?

I wish I had THE answer. I don’t, but I do know that it starts with prayer. I’ve been overwhelmed with the diversity of women who have expressed interest in our Praying through Scripture prayer journal. It’s incredibly encouraging and inspiring to know that women of diverse races, backgrounds and cultures are praying to our God. I want to pray for them and with them. I want to see God do a unifying work in my little corner of the world and I want to see it branch out far beyond me.

So, how can prayer be a part of this in our lives?

Genuine prayer levels the playing field among us. Genuine Christian prayer begins with knowing God is God and we are not. In spite of our vast differences, we, in our humanity, are all much more like each other than we are like Christ. So, let’s pray for each other. For those who are like us AND for those who are not.

And, prayer, especially prayer saturated in God’s word, changes our desires. The Bible says when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He gives us the desires of our heart. How is that possible? Simply put, when we delight in Him, our desires change. His will becomes our wants. We will long for His ways….for His Kingdom to come in our own lives. So, let’s pray that the diversity of His church will be a reality in our little parts of the world.

With these new desires, we can begin to ask God to open our eyes for the opportunities around us. And this is where it gets exciting. In my personal experience, I can tell you that God has answered this prayer every time. So ask, in faith, that God would show you how to be a part of spreading and sharing His kingdom, especially to those around you who look nothing like you.

I like to pray Psalm 46:10 which says, “Be still, and know that I am God!  I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” It’s a short little Scripture (and easy to memorize) but it gives you the opportunity to ask God how you can be a part of His global purpose of drawing all kinds of people to Himself.

He may open your eyes to an opportunity in another country or He might simply ask you to walk across the street or drive across town. We live in an exciting time. The nations are among us. Many of us live in or near communities that are very diverse….this is especially true if you live near a large college or university. So, ask Him to open your eyes. You may be surprised by what you see!

Finally, be ready to obey. This is always the part when it gets scary. But, you can choose faith over fear. You can choose the glory of Christ over the comfort of self. And, you can choose to see His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. And, the prize is literally a glimpse of heaven….





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