Tag Archives: Bible

The Great Wardrobe Purge: Thoughts on Fair Trade and James Chapter 5


I learned something about myself this week. For a long time I have prided myself (and I use the word “pride” intentionally) on the fact that I’m not a “stuff person.” I don’t like clutter. I didn’t keep every art project my kid brought home from school. I clean out my crawl space and shed every year. We go through my son’s wardrobe and his room twice a year. I’m just not about the stuff. But lately I’ve been feeling like my wardrobe was getting a little full, and I decided to do a full clean out.

I literally removed every stitch of clothing and every accessory from my closet, storage bins, and dresser. I washed every piece of laundry, too, so I knew exactly what I was dealing with. As I pulled each item out of its home, I considered if I really wanted it. Does it fit my body? Does it fit my lifestyle? Do I wear it? It was astounding. I filled a huge Amazon Prime Pantry box with rejected clothing and accessories, and my bed was still covered! Hoodies, cardigans, leggings – up and up the piles grew. I had no idea it was that bad.

The reject pile

I came to a realization: I have wardrobe bulimia. I binge shop and then purge, over and over. Stores worth of clothing pass through my hands, and it’s rare that I keep anything long enough to wear it out. I’m a stuff person after all, not a stuff keeper, but definitely a stuff waster. I’m embarrassed and ashamed of my wastefulness. I’ve been so proud of myself when there was nothing to be proud of!

For a while now I have been learning about the importance of fair trade manufacturing, and have been working toward a fair wardrobe based on minimal purchasing, certified fair trade choices, and secondhand shopping. This purge and inventory taking was part of that process. You have to know what you have in order to make good decisions about future purchases! Ironically (though no coincidence to God, I’m sure…), my purge landed on the same day that I read James 5 as part of my time in the word.

James 5:1-6:   Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

Some of the evidence stacked against me

My piles of clothing testify against me; I live in luxury and self-indulgence. And I know that the farmers and workers who created my piles of clothing cry out because of oppression and failed wages. And the Lord hears their cries!

On one level, I feel bad that I have been an active and willing participant in this broken system. But I don’t blame myself for the things I didn’t know. And I’m not blaming you either. Until a few years ago, no one talked about international labor practices. We learned about workplace disasters like the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire (New York City, 1911) as history, and celebrated that American labor laws were fixed last century. Meanwhile, we went on wearing cheap t-shirts and tennis shoes made by children in other countries who were paid pennies to work in dangerous factories where they face abuse every day and don’t have an opportunity for a basic education. We didn’t know. In fact, most of us thought we were being responsible if we bought the cheapest clothes possible!

But now that I know better, I feel responsible to repent for the lives that were hurt for my “stuff” and to do better. In fact, my first instinct was to start replacing the things I own with fair trade replacements. But that’s not the answer! It just adds to the waste, filling our landfills and my credit card balance! Fair trade is expensive; it has to be if everyone along the way is getting a fair wage for their work. The real answer is to use up what I have, that damage is already done.

But if this purge taught me anything, it’s that I do not need more stuff. I probably have something that will fill whatever need I have: from work wear I can paint in to a formal gown – including jewelry, handbags, AND shoes, I have at least one thing in my wardrobe to meet any need possible. I don’t usually shop from need; I shop from boredom, and I’ll bet a lot of you do too.

If I shop from need and not from boredom, I can afford fair trade.
The world can’t afford anything less.

Blessed to be a Blessing

blessed to be a blessing

Food Shelf…Saturday?

I’ve been sidelined by illness this week (my husband went to Europe for work and brought me a terrible head cold as a souvenir. He got well relatively quickly, I’m still fighting…)

Anyway, I haven’t forgotten you. I actually sat down and wrote a book review post on Tuesday, but I want to polish that up a bit before I share it. Then on Thursday I had an experience with the Lord that I would like to share with you.

I was laying on the couch, watching a movie – a typical sick day activity, and as the credits rolled I was just overwhelmed by all the excess of this world. I felt sickened by all the stuff and all the resources, all the entitlement and all the waste. I just sat there feeling down about my perspective and the war within my flesh. I know that under normal circumstances I would have gotten off the couch and done something “productive” to satiate this overwhelming feeling that I am spoiled. I would have sorted through some things to donate, mended something to make it last, or just about anything to busy my hands and feel less like a slug who watched Die Hard on Thursday afternoon on a beautiful summer day. But this cold. I didn’t have the energy.

Then I heard a familiar voice in my head, “what does the Bible say?” (Yes, God talks to me now and then in my head. He doesn’t reveal the future or anything like that, but he sends me the gentlest reminders, right when I need them.) I grabbed a piece of scratch paper and a pen, and I started to put down what God says about my relationship with this world:

This world is not my home. Is that a scripture or a song lyric, Lord? A sad amount of my theology/biblical knowledge is actually song lyrics that sometimes aren’t even from the Bible. I’d better google that one. 1 Peter 2:11-12: Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Foreigners and exiles: This world is not my home

If this world is not my home, I am not going to fit in or be comfortable here: I know where to find this one: Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This kind of reminds me of Daniel and the exiles in Babylonian captivity. The food of their new world made them sick. A steady diet of what the world has to offer makes me sick. Daniel 1:8-17: But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
I like the “choice food” of this kingdom. I like comfort. I like stuff, especially nice stuff. But it makes me spiritually sick.

This life isn’t about my comfort; I will get no rest here. John 16:33: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

I have too much stuff. I feel like I say this a lot. It may be my personal motto. Too. Much. Stuff. Matthew 6: 19-21: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I am NOT the hero of my own story. Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

We are fully made for heaven while fully living in this world. There will always be a war in each of us between the citizen of heaven’s priorities and the citizen of earth’s priorities. Matthew 16:41: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Keep up the good fight, everyone, we not blessed to be comfortable, we are blessed to be a blessing!

thoughts on blessing and this world


Yes, you can! Strength for the Heavy Burdened

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Yes You Can

I know you. I know that you’re tired, and over-scheduled, and that you have a lot of things pulling for your attention. I know that your family requires a lot of you, that your employers/teachers think they should be the most important thing in your world. I know you get sick, that you have seasons of tight finances, and that sometimes you just feel powerless. I know you have unlimited heart – but limited resources.

I know you because I am the same. I have a family, job, grad school, bills, car trouble, cold and flu season, church obligations – all of it. I get it, I really do. I know you’re not lazy or uncaring, you’re just stretched too thin. So today I just want to encourage you. I want to remind you of your value and your power. So take a deep breath, grab a cup of coffee, and let this truth sink into your weary soul.


God is WITH you and He is FOR you:
– Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

– Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

– Romans 8:31 “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

I remember as a small child not being able to see in a crowd, and my six-foot-four-inch dad picked me up and set me on his shoulders. I couldn’t make myself tall enough to see, but he offered me his height. All I had to do was accept his help. God offers you His strength, His comfort, His peace, His hope. You don’t have to do life on your own. He is more powerful than anything you face, and he is on your side.

You need others, and that’s a good thing:
– Psalm 68:5-6 “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads out the prisoners with singing;”

– Genesis 2:8 “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”

– Exodus 17:10-13 “So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”

God knows we need other people. We need them to share life, and to help each other. Don’t fall for the lie that you can do life on your own and handle everything by yourself. You need people like Aaron and Hur who held up Moses’ arms when he grew too tired to do it himself. Needing others isn’t weakness, it’s humanity. We were designed this way. Even in the perfect Garden of Eden Adam needed the companionship of Eve, and God knew that. He didn’t scoff at Adam for not doing it all on his own, He understood, and He made a companion for Adam. Recognizing that you need the community and support of other people isn’t weakness or failure, it’s honesty and self-awareness. We were created for community.

You are not too old:
The popular verse Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” was written to the elders living in exile. God wanted to remind them that He had not abandoned them. They were not too old or too far away. God still had plans for them, good plans for their future.

You are not too young:
1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

In the Bible, we see story after story of God using men AND women, teenagers like Daniel, David, and Mary, older people like Moses, and Abraham and Sarah. There is no peak point where you are useful to God. If you’re breathing, you can play a part. “Let EVERYTHING that has breath praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6, emphasis mine)

You have the power you need:
2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Timothy 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Matthew 16:19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

You have the power and the authority you need in this life. Not because you’re super special, but because God lets you use His name and His authority to do His work.
I hope you can hear my heart today. I want so badly for you to get this. You are enough because God is more than enough. He offers you His strength, and His power. He puts you in relationships with people who can support you and whom you can support. He has plans for you no matter your age, gender, or financial status. All you need to do is let go and let God – John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Good Friday – It Is Finished

good friday

Today is Good Friday, and I would be remiss if I didn’t remark on the incredible weight of this day. On Good Friday we remember the sacrifice that Jesus made when he died by crucifixion to pay the required blood sacrifice for the sins of the world. We’ve heard that message so many times that maybe we forget to appreciate the enormity. Here are some of the key elements of Easter weekend to ponder and appreciate.


1.Jesus was fully God, and he gave up the majesty of heaven to lead a normal human life: Jesus Christ, the son of God, firstborn of heaven, willingly left his throne on the right hand of his father, put on human form, and left heaven. Heaven! I don’t know about you, but when I get there I’m sure not leaving to come back here if I can help it! He came in the form of a baby, the weakest state of human existence, at a time when the infant mortality rate made adulthood anything but certain. Jesus had physical illnesses in his life, we can safely assume. He went through growth spurts and puberty. He worked with his hands beside his carpenter-step father, Joseph. He loved his friends and endured losses.

Hebrews 2:14-18
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.


2. Jesus’s perfect sinless life is an example for us of how to live: From his birth in the stable of Bethlehem until his crucifixion some thirty years later, Jesus never sinned. As a parent and former childcare worker, this is stunning to me. Jesus made it through the terrible twos without lying? Went through his teenage years without stealing or lusting? It’s too late for me and you to achieve perfection, but we can rest easy knowing our high priest, Jesus, knows the temptations of human life and resisted them. He can empathize with us – not mere sympathy but full-on, me too empathy, and he knows how to fight temptation.

Hebrews 4:15-16
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.


3.Jesus’s undeserved death was a sacrifice he was willing to make for us: As he spent his earthly life in occupied Israel, Jesus was certainly familiar with the slow, torturous death of crucifixion. They didn’t make up this punishment just for him; he and his followers knew Rome’s power and brutality all their lives. By accepting God’s will and his fate, Jesus allowed himself to go through agony because he knew that a blood sacrifice was the only way to pay the penalty for sin and create a bridge between God and mankind.

Matthew 27, Luke 23, and John 19 all tell the story of Jesus’s crucifixion

Isaiah 53:5 (a prophetic statement of who Jesus would be):
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.


4.When Jesus’s earthly body died, death did not bring relief from his suffering: Jesus bore the weight of the sins of the world when he died. The deepest pain that Jesus felt during his crucifixion was the separation between himself and God. “Father, why have you forsaken me?” he cried out (Matthew 27:46). Our sins separated Father and son.

The Bible doesn’t say a lot about what happened to Jesus during the three days he was dead, but considering that he was carrying the weight of our sins, and looking at hints left throughout the New Testament, it is generally believed that he went to hell, the logical penalty for sin. So, torture brought death, but death brought no peace. Jesus battled three days and defeated the power of death and hell.

(No single verse really explains this specifically, so I’ll refer you to an article from Christianity Today that sorts through it.)


5.Jesus understood our weak faith and lovingly helps us understand: Jesus defeated death and came back to earth before ascending to heaven so he could tell mankind about his victory. The job was done: sin was paid off, and death was defeated. Jesus could have risen right up to heaven and gone back to his throne, but in his great wisdom, he knew that the disciples and his other followers needed to see with their own eyes. Their faith was shaken by the crucifixion – they had just watched their friend and leader die. It seemed like the dream was over, and they were foundering. Jesus knew that humans are weak like that. When he rose he went to his followers, showed them his scars, hugged their necks, and shared a meal. Then he stuck around for forty days (remember the Lent post? 40 days is significant – he was preparing them for the next part of their journey). He taught and he encouraged, and he prepared the disciples to lead without him before he ascended to heaven.

John 20:19-20:
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.


As we end the Lenten season and the festivities of Holy Week, meditate on these truths:

  1. Jesus was born for the human experience.
  2. Jesus lived without sin to be our example.
  3. Jesus was willing to suffer for us.
  4. Jesus defeated sin, hell, and death.
  5. Jesus rose and appeared so that we could be part of his victory.


What parts of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection speak to you today? What truths of Holy Week leave you in awe? Share your thoughts in the comments. Happy Easter!

Anything it Takes – Permissible vs. Beneficial

permissible.jpgThis post has been on my heart for a long time now, but it has taken me a while to get my thoughts together. You see, for a long time I have felt like the day will come when we stand before the Lord at the judgment, and he will say, “I love you, you accepted Jesus and so you can come in to heaven, but you didn’t get it. You didn’t get my heart.” Not that I think God is a disapproving parent sitting up there shaking his head at us, but I just think we get caught up looking at life based on what is permissible rather than what is beneficial.

Permissible is when you focus on what is allowed or required, like the rich young ruler of Mark chapter 10. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The question at its heart is, “what is the bare minimum I can do to qualify?” It’s the same question we ask teachers when we want an A, or personal trainers when we want to take off a few pounds. Behind looking at life through the lens of what is allowed is an attitude that is self-centered and inward-focused. When I worry about what I HAVE TO do I’m expressing a selfish desire to do what I have to do for my own good and not a bit more.

Beneficial is a broader outlook. It considers the wider effect my actions will have on others around me and says, “How can I help?” It is an outward-focused desire for not just my own comfort, but for the comfort of others around me. Not just my salvation from hell, but how I can bring as many people as possible with me. Not my rights, but the greater good.

Permissible says, “What do I have to do.” Beneficial says, “What more can I do?”

Jesus’ answer to the rich young ruler in Mark 10 shows us that the beneficial is what Jesus values. “You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ “Teacher,” he declared, “all these things I have kept since I was a boy.” – Stop here for a quick minute. This young man knew the law and kept it, but he knew in his heart that there was more than shall and shall not, and he sought out Jesus to find the answer. Jesus knew this man was obedient to the law, and He also knew the young man’s heart was concerned about what was permissible. In verse 21, Jesus drops the bomb on him and tells him that his selfish heart is the thing keeping him back. Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” I don’t think Jesus requires us to sell everything we have in order to receive His free gift of salvation. This is a statement of priorities. The rich young ruler followed the law, obeying the shalls and shall nots, but the rest of his life was spent gaining and managing his own wealth and comfort. His priority was his own salvation and earthly comfort, not the earth-shattering truth of Jesus.

Likewise, in Matthew 5, Jesus addresses some questions about the law. “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” The point here, and in the rest of this chapter where He makes the same type of statements against lust, lying, etc. is that Jesus is concerned with our hearts as much as our actions. In other words, He cares as much about our priorities and attitudes as He does our actions.

“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” Matthew 15:18

Where are your priorities? Are you living out your faith with the mindset of “what do I HAVE TO do?” or “What CAN I do?” Are you willing to give up your rights?
-Your right to be angry with someone who hurt you?
-Your right to engage in activities not directly prohibited in scripture regardless of the trouble it creates for others?
-Your right to be comfortable and spend your time and money in whatever way makes you happy?

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:11-14

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

It’s not about me. It’s not about my salvation, Jesus paid that price. My life on this earth is about reflecting that grace and loving, serving, and sacrificing anything and everything, even if it’s my right to have it. Anything it takes to tell people that Jesus loves them. Anything it takes.