Soul Shame Room  1

Jesus scorned shame. He hated it.

Because it hinders, muffles, binds, squeezes and keeps from truth and growth. It tried to take him but he didn’t let it.


“…Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2


It’s like that annoying parasitic weed I often found in my little garden trying to subtly make it’s choking way

around my plants. Shame bids us away from community, away from acceptance, forgiveness and joy to bow under its power of self-disdain and regret. The path in my soul to the shame room was pretty well worn, visited too many times…though I noticed a few weeks ago as I was making my way there again, that the path had some foliage growing on it; parts of it were becoming overgrown, especially the second part heading into the door. I’m spending less and less time there.

See, I’m learning to catch myself on the way there and make a U turn! I was heading there after I didn’t get a response I thought I should and feeling the inward pull to withdraw into the lies of “I don’t matter” and “They don’t want you” and instead I said, “No, that’s actually not true. I do matter. I’m not going there today.” Shame was wooing me and I called its bluff! Wow. I felt myself do a 180 toward truth


and get right back in the conversation, letting go of the inner pull…and with joy at that! We have power over the imposter of shame. We don’t have to go to the shame room. We can scorn it, just like Jesus did!


Now that’s freeing.


Dr. Thompson in Soul of Shame says “To be human is to be infected with this phenomenon we call shame. …many of us carry shame less publicly often outside the view of even some of our closest friends…common scenarios carry the burden of shame in ways that we work hard to cover up. And our coping strategies have become so automatic that we may be completely unaware of its presence and activity.”

Do you find yourself at times on your way to the shame room?

What keeps you there?

Have you tried a U turn lately?

Soul Trying  2

Guest post by Bradley J. Scott

Trying or Training?

Inspired by John Ortberg’s The Life You’ve Always Wanted


“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.”

1 Cor. 9:25


Lord, I am on the verge of a breakthrough of understanding the difference between a “trying” mentality and a “training” mentality with respect to my spiritual growth. The eye opener came when I looked at my training for the “Ragin Games CrossFit Competition”. Ariana and I have gone all in. We’ve transformed our eating habits: zero processed food, no HFCS, no msg, almost no sugar… the list goes on. And it has taken a lot of research and deliberation to change these things.


But I realized, for the first time in my life, I’m not even tempted to get Oreos and Doritos.I don’t even want to eat the free doughnut at church, and I have a sweet tooth. Why? What changed? I’m training. I have a goal. I’m focusing everything in my control on bettering my performance. Training, eating, sleeping… I want to be the best version of Brad I can be; to see how well I can perform in competition when I’m dedicated to it. Doing a competition halfway is pointless and would just become frustrating again.


First off, I noticed I became more disciplined in my faith at the same time. More consistent devotion times, more victory in taking thoughts captive against temptation, I was developing a desire for discipline. A life unmarked by surrendered discipline is a life without purpose.

What I’ve now realized, after fighting temptation hard again for a few days, trying to confide in some accountability partners, and trying not to sin, is this: I’m still trying. I’m not training. I still want the oreos.


Now, I need to define my terms here or we’ll get confused. With regard to fitness training I would still “like” (taste, yummy…) to eat Oreos; I’ll call this “flesh want”. BUT, I do not desire to eat Oreos because there is so much more cost than gain with respect to my goals (my deepest desires). I’ll call this “soul desire”. It’s far deeper, and is based on a perspective that considers the long-term (eternal) reward/cost instead of the momentary flesh want.


SO, I have a goal for my performance; I change my life habits, eating and training (get it in the schedule, do what it takes) because my soul desire overpowers my flesh want. Mind-set change: I’m not trying any more; I’m training. I’m putting myself under the influence of the Spirit.

“…but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Romans 8:5


I also have a goal spiritually – to glorify God and grow and be conformed into His image until the day I die.

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Phil 2:12, 13


This is a much deeper goal than physical training. A goal that is far more important to me. (To be clear, only the Holy Spirit in us can reorient a flesh want to a soul desire. Otherwise we’re just trading in one flesh want for another!) Yet I have not been able to completely switch into a training mindset spiritually. I don’t feel all in, but I desire/long to be so.


I can desire and long to be fit all day long… while I eat pizza, but I will never be fit until I get knowledgeable, create a training plan, and make it happen – attack one issue at a time, figure out a solution for each, and execute. True training takes a lot of testing, trial and error, to see what works. Some things that seem good won’t work – scheduling, types of foods, energy levels…etc. But I continue to refine my plan and push through, because it’s not a new year’s resolution; I’m not looking for immediate results, I’m looking for long term transformation through His Spirit working in me and me obeying. (Character change via habit development)


“Longing transforms obedience.” CS Lewis


The parallels from body to soul are plain.

Do I want victory or not? Yes? Then start training.

Create a plan – change one thing at a time.


My current plan:

(We are all in different places and situations in our lives; this is just a sample for where I am right now.)

Start Training: (One thing at a time.)

  • Get a good hour of devotion time with the Lord – (preferably first thing in the morning)
  • Prayer alone with God (should be before bed ideally to cast off all my concerns from the day and refocus on the Lord)
  • Review Bible verses – Eph. 6:17 This is my ammunition for war prayer.


Thank you Jesus for this Breakthrough: “Training” has a goal and a plan and gets after it. “Trying” has an undefined goal and no plan.


“I discipline my body and make it my slave,” 1 Cor 9:27


“… train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things” 1 Tim. 4:7,8

What’s your next step in training for godliness?

Soul Callings  5

My sister-in-law, Roxy Scott, preparing for her first grandchild, planned a baby shower for her daughter-in-law where she passed on some age-old, yet very relevant wisdom that her own life beautifully displays. Here’s a glimpse into what she had to say:

Ephesians 3:14-4:2


14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


Motherhood is not a job and it’s not a hobby –

                            Motherhood is a CALLING.


Our highest calling, of course, is to glorify God in whatever we are doing, including motherhood! A calling for which the Lord is preparing you and for which He will enable you, if you walk humbly with Him daily!


Some days, as you wait for your delivery, you might be thinking, “Come on, I’m tired of waiting, let’s get this going – I’m READY!!”

Other days you’ll be thinking, “What have we gotten ourselves into?  I’m scared!”


And once baby comes, those last thoughts will probably happen more and more often! In fact, one thing I’ve often said is “like marriage,

Motherhood will bring out the worst in you!”


That sounds awfully negative, but we better face the facts now so they don’t surprise us! We are unqualified and inadequate for this calling on our own!


Motherhood is humbling and humiliating because our real [old] selves will be exposed when we’re pushed to the limits of our own capabilities and our own patience and gentleness and love!


Jesus has a way of graciously and mercifully bringing us to our knees by showing us our own inadequacy and yes, sin, – so that we will respond rightly to Him in repentance and submission and a desperate hungering need for Him!


We need HIS grace, forgiveness, mercy and steadfast love for this task, this calling. We need Him living through us! So that HE can accomplish His purposes through us – and one of the greatest purposes of a mother is to disciple her children.


Your children need to learn from you – to see what it looks like to repent, receive forgiveness, grace and mercy, to humbly bow before their Lord and know HE wants to be their sufficiency.


There will be days when we’ll be tempted to wallow in guilt or in the trap of comparisons or in a critical spirit. These will all steal the joy from this blessing of motherhood!!


Be reminded that Jesus is asking you to walk in a manner worthy of your calling – humble yourself before Him and let Him enable you to walk in humility, kindness, gentleness and love – Quickly

go to His Word!

Wake up every day purposely with a song in your heart, anticipating how Jesus will show Himself strong on your behalf! Thank the Lord that His mercies are new every morning – embrace them and enjoy the fresh slate our Savior offers us!


What calling do you need to embrace now to glorify your God?


Soul Suffering  2



I have 4 kids, all of them the age of Joseph (the 11th son of Jacob) in his prison years in Egypt. Now if I were Joseph’s mom, I think I’d feel pretty slighted. I’d probably be gaunt from prayers and worry and yearning. I’d cringe at the unfairness, while trying to reconcile the sovereignty of God with the cruelty of man.


Deep into the narrative we find the word, “kindness…”   Well, it seemed a little late. It would’ve been nice to have some of that kindness at the pit where his brothers were brutally throwing him away, or when they were selling him or when Potifer’s wife dramatically lied about him.


However it appeared to him, Joseph didn’t waste his suffering. It’s hard to believe an abandoned young man in his early 20’s would steward his suffering so well. Maybe out of a survival instinct, or a real sense that those dreams he had, would somehow come true (Gen. 37:7-9). But he neither focused on his traumatic past nor on a hoped-for future in a way that immobilized his present. Surely he had moments of grief, agony and worry about the future. How could he not? And surely he looked for ways out of his present situation.


Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house.Gen. 40:14


But the realities of the past and uncertainty of the future didn’t hold him, or keep him from being “all in” in the present. This wasn’t a natural thing. He had the Divine presence. How that looked, we don’t know, but we do know it made a huge difference in the midst of intense suffering.


There was this underlying partnership:


  1. Whatever Joseph DID,
  2. God MADE to prosper. (Gen. 39:3, 23)

“His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands.”


But it didn’t always end up the way Joseph would have wanted.


After getting his hopes up to get out of prison and asking the cupbearer to mention his skill to Pharaoh, he was again let down and spent 2 more years in the prime of his life, “wasting” his time.


God could’ve kept him from having to go to jail, or from being sold as a slave in a foreign land, or from such cruel rejection from his brothers. God could’ve made it a lot smoother for him. But His ways are deeper, higher, wider and they bring about good in the midst of chaos and other people’s stupidity. So he “prospered” in prison!


“He who has suffered in the flesh is done with sin.” 1 Pet. 4:1


Joseph was in jail for honoring God, for his integrity, for doing right for his boss. This was classic character testing using temptation and injustice. This was God’s intimate orchestration to move him further along in his journey as well as in His greater plan; the little story within the big story.


How easily self-pity, loneliness, complaining, entitlement, or despair could’ve taken over and probably tried to!   But Joseph was lifted above it, and he rose to it. He and God were in it together.   His trust was way beyond his circumstances. I want to be like that!


What circumstantial tests stare you in the face?

What has God intimately orchestrated for you?

We have God’s presence! Are we in the mess with Him or are we just trying to get out of it?

Soul Courage  0


In the midst of travel for meetings, my mother-in-law’s sweet memorial service, family reunions and distance discussions & decisions, my recent journey group managed to finish our sessions.  It was an intimate and moving time together.  Cecile was a delight to get to know.


Guest post by Cecile Sanders


This year marked my 3rd attempt at working through a book by Josh McDowell called ‘See yourself as God sees you’. As I wrestled through the first few chapters, a challenging question he poses, kept bouncing back to my heart: “where in your life are you chained because of a memory from the past?” As much as I desired to explore the question, courage just eluded me. But then God intervened, as so often in my life, by means of His perfect timing and creative acts of love.


I was honoured by an invite to be part of a journey group with three precious ladies from all over the globe. As we shared our lives with each other, literally and painfully walking through our journey lines together, God enabled me to be brave enough to face some of the dark spaces I have been avoiding for years. It was no spectacular event or weird and wonderful visions, just a deep sense of God whispering His unconditional love and acceptance to me that dispelled some lies I have come to believe. He transformed my cycle of fear, frustration, and fury into a new childlike confidence in Him as a good Father, One who is more than willing to help, forgive and just be with me. God gave me the courage deep down in my soul to step out and take on something I believe He has laid on my heart for years. Instead of finding excuses or fearing failure, I am excited to tackle writing my first book.


God provided time away from my life responsibilities, a place where I could truly connect with others who get my life and understand me – even though they didn’t know me – but mostly I discovered a deliberate space in His presence with His truth pouring into my heart and mind.




Soul Launch  0


I wrote the poem below to my 91 year old mother-in-law 2 days before she was launched into eternity.  She departed on Mother’s Day.  Perhaps there was a celebration they wanted her there for!  As my husband wrote:

Yes, she is fully alive now with the Lord. 

As I heard Dad whisper to her at the viewing… “I’m coming”.  We’ll be together again… joy and hope in sorrow. In loss we have felt the priceless embrace of the community we have in Christ.


Her laugh, her wit, her honesty

Don’t even come close to what you see

As her ruling passion and lived-out love

That showed in her steadfast serving the Above

Her mind set to please Him with all her energy

She delighted so many with her capacity

To handle with joy her family of nine

So rare does that kind of holy light shine

And it’s shining still from her arrows shot out

Infiltrating our world all about

Finding in their own darkness, that same light

To lift and guide and bring new life

As we stand on her shoulders peering into a new day

May her faithfulness and God-seeking launch us in a thousand ways!


We will miss her sharp wit and joyful way.  Thank you mom for your dedicated life.


“It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind…”  Ecc. 7:2  


We can learn a lot there.  What do you learn from looking at someone else’s life?


Soul Complications  0

God Complicates Things

Guest post by Dan Scott


Jackie and I have been reading in Genesis lately. The stories are well known… Abraham, Isaac, Jacob… but the DRAMA is still unbelievable. And on this latest trip though Genesis an inescapable fact comes home to me: God complicates things ON PURPOSE to reveal Himself better!


For example – Jacob. God could have just made Jacob the older brother to begin with if He wanted him to be the one who received the blessing and inheritance. That would have been so easy. Everybody expects the older brother to receive the blessing. No need to stress over it…


He could have simply put it in Laban’s heart to bless Jacob willingly rather than using Laban to bless Jacob against his will. Laban changed Jacob’s wages 10 times to try NOT to bless Jacob, but God did it anyway. Speckled sheep… stripped sheep… black sheep… it’s unbelievable! (Gen.31:7-9) Etc. etc…


But His ways are displayed BETTER in stark contrast to what we’d normally expect. He doesn’t just act on our behalf, He does it in ways that violate the norm… that defy expectations… that overcome the odds (odds of course that He stacked up to begin with!)… that DISPLAY Him as the “God of the impossible”. Our God. God to be feared. God that even our ungodly acquaintances and godless enemies come to recognize and bow to. (Check out Gen. 21:22-23, 26:28)


He is not interested in simply blessing us and keeping His promises to us in the easiest, most logical way possible. He intentionally DISRUPTS our lives, out of a loving, merciful desire to make Himself known – not only to us, but to the NATIONS – those among whom He sent us to live as strangers and aliens! (Gen.23:4)


Lord, we can’t claim to understand Your ways. They are too wonderful for us. But we choose the only reasonable choice – to humble ourselves under Your mighty hand and worship!



What complications in your life are you fed up with?


Take a new look at it from God’s perspective.


Soul Fear  2

“The fear of God is the beginning…”
Proverbs 1:7

Our little family had just moved to a foreign country that had recently experienced devastating loss. My husband was venturing to start a business to help people learn how to do that honorably in a place where it had been considered immoral. We hired services to help us register the business, later to find out they were corrupt.


Our first clue was when they came to deliver the registration papers at the cold, leftover Soviet apartment that we used for an office. Oleg brought Tajir along with him. He was a Genghis Khan-looking fellow, the power lifter type with close-cropped hair. Oleg sat down and went through the papers then gargled, “I want you to meet Tajir. He’ll be your guard.” Immediately Dan suspected what was going on and said, “I don’t think we’ll need him.”

“Well,” he threatened “bad things can happen…”

Taken aback and scrambling to fathom this new culture Dan asked,

“If we were to hire him what would we pay?”

“We’ll come to an agreement…a percentage.”

“A percentage of what?! We’re just trying to get off the ground. We’re in the red!” Not given easily to intimidation, Dan continued, “If we need a guard, I’ll let you know and he’ll work for us.”


Some days later, the office door squeaked open and there was Tajir. He began to show up unannounced, making a habit of presumptuously walking into the office without knocking. Dan would greet him, tell him business was slow, practice his Russian, offer him tea, and ask him if he wanted to study the Bible. Tajir had a hard time keeping his smile under wraps. He was really a teddy bear caught in this mafia mix. After a few weeks Oleg showed up and asked Dan why he wasn’t paying Tajir. Dan said, “If we want him, we will hire him.”


He began to threaten. “Well, you have a wife and children…” he retorted. Of course this took it to another level. Dan showed them to the door scarcely able to disguise his anger. In the post Soviet power vacuum these types found ways of dealing with foreigners that clashed with our ideas of how to do ethical business. Dan asked him to leave.


Fear. It came closer to me the day I heard about this! I recognized it, felt its power. I knew I had to make a choice. We had been warned that living here would be difficult and dangerous. As I wrestled, I had to lean on the rock bottom belief that God is over all. I threw this fear like a hot potato to the God who wanted to show himself in this forsaken land. I had been working on taking my fears to Him rather than denying or just bottling them as I had done over the years. I felt its talons wanting to work into my mind and heart and had to deal with it for days. I didn’t want to live in fear and knew the paralysis of it to keep us in ruts. I hated ruts but often found myself in them.


Our local business partner began to worry greatly about not accommodating Oleg and the day she brought it up, Dan happened to be wearing a T-shirt that said ‘Fear Not’! But since it was winter and the city heat hadn’t been turned on yet, he had his winter coat on as he huddled over his desk. As he saw fear grasp *Cvyeta’s face, Dan remembered what he was wearing and yanked off his coat to show her the verse written on his shirt, a take-off of the then popular ‘No Fear’ logo.   Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not for I am with you… “     She was given an ear-full about this God who was over all; much greater than this wanna-be mafia thug, and though she strained to listen, she still felt we needed to appease. Being new in the culture, Dan decided to let her call the shots on this one. She called Oleg’s office and made a plan to meet them to see what needed to be done. A meeting date was set.


The day came for the meeting and two local tour guides, inquiring about our new company, happened to come in for a consultation. Time got away as they discussed business. The phone rang. Sofia, answering the phone, looked worried and mouthed to Dan, “We’re supposed to be at Oleg’s office!” Dan asked her to reschedule, because we had unexpected clients arrive.


After this, Tajir inexplicably stopped showing up and we didn’t hear from Oleg for weeks. Another co-worker came in one day having seen the secretary who worked in Oleg’s office. Remembering that the dreaded meeting hadn’t yet happened, he asked her about Oleg, and she said abruptly, “Oleg’s dead”!

“What?! …what happened?

“He had a heart attack.” She announced. His partner was running a pyramid scheme and fled the country with $25,000 and the police arrested Oleg saying he was responsible for the money. He had a heart attack on the spot and died. Wow.


A year or so later Dan ran into Tajir. He asked him how it was going. Dan said, “Business is still slow…” Tajir smiled and waved.


God deals strongly with those who mess with his own! Sometimes a lot sooner than we expect!


If I grapple with a fear yet realize that there’s something much greater than it, then I can work through small fears that keep me from real life. Sometimes we don’t even know what those fears are, but not identifying them keeps us in ruts and builds walls. So I have to stop and identify the fear that’s grabbing me and admit it and begin taking it to the One we should fear above all.


What do you think you are most afraid of? Why? What are the fears behind those fears?

Think it through, if what you fear happens, then what? Can we go with God to our worst fears and talk them through?


If so, with time, perhaps we can break the inertia they bring and not give in to them or let them control us.

The eye of the Lord is on those who fear him….”

Psalm 33:18


*name changed

Soul Spring  0


“…let us grow in every way into Him who is the head–Christ.”

Ephesians 4:15


After a full-on week, I sat outside to enjoy the fresh spring air and gaze on the new. The new raspberry bush growth; new, bright colors

taking the place of the grey and worn; new leaves on the chestnut tree that was so barren and begging a few weeks ago. These sturdy leaves will shade, supply and delight us all the way through the heat and storms to next fall.


When I took a little time for my soul to catch up with life, I noticed a niggling disdain for a brother trying to hide in my heart. As I let it come to the surface, I realized my contempt, then recognized God’s kindness leading me to repentance. I’m so thankful He does that to clean us out. Spring-cleaning of the soul, like weeding and preparing soil for new growth. How unknowingly the soil of our hearts gets hard!


How’s the condition of the soil of your heart? What growth is springing new in you? In your spirit and soul? As I journey with those interested in exploring their inner beings and replacing old with new, I find delight in fresh insights and discoveries as though new worlds are opening up. New growth from places of brokenness and shame, growth that will shade, supply and delight the soul through heat and storms, because of newfound freedom and strength.


One fellow journeyer said:


“…life is such a paradox: full of joy and pain, laughter and tears, freedom and strain. The mix reminds us that this is not our home… we are just passing through. At the same time we want to reach our full potential as we travel – all for His glory!”


New life, ideas, and dreams often come from connection and growth; growth into the unique you he has created; becoming the you that is free to love and give. We’re finding that as we share our journeys.


“When a person tells his story and is truly heard and understood, he undergoes actual changes in his brain circuitry that correspond to a greater sense of emotional and relational connection, decreased anxiety, and greater awareness of and compassion for others’ suffering.”

Curt Thompson, M.D., Anatomy of the Soul


What are some ways you are cultivating new growth in your life?

Soul Abiding  0

Jesus – right before the horror.


Guest post by Rachel P. Scott


In “the Passion Week story right after the last supper, Jesus and his disciples are likely on their way to the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus knows he will be betrayed by one friend and abandoned by the rest. Into this heavy context, He speaks final commands, final wisdom to his disciples.


What will He say?


Our hearts and ears are open, Lord.

“Abide in me… Abide in my love.”


That’s the message? He’s about to die!


And yet His charge to His disciples, to us, is to abide in His love. To abide; to make one’s home in. He speaks of fruit too, but only to say that we are powerless to produce it without Him. He also speaks of obedience to commands that He knows will result in our fullness of joy.

Both of these things, producing fruit and obeying commands, tend to bring out the part in each of us that wants to earn love.


And yet these two are immersed in, surrounded by, the much stronger thrust of the whole passage – to remain in His love.  If we don’t want to be like branches that are  “thrown away and burned”, the answer is NOT working harder to produce more!


We hear Him speaking to our hearts, “Let your heart feel at home in my love. Let my love be your security; let my love be your resting place. This is the work you must do. Yes, there will be fruit, much fruit, abiding fruit! But the fruit is my responsibility. You cannot do it. You remain connected to my love; I will produce the fruit.”  As Jesus was the True Servant that Israel could not be, He is the True Vine, producing the fruit that we cannot. And yet He still wants us to be a part! We cannot do it, but He made a way. Connected to Him, branches to the vine, we get to be fruitful participants in His Garden.


Incredible love. Jesus is taking steps, passing buildings and trees, each of which brings him closer to the greatest pain a human has ever borne – the full weight of eternity’s suffering, sorrow, ugliness, evil – and all of this faced alone. He could have sought comfort, or rebuked the disciples for their upcoming abandonment, or frantically explained his Messiah-ship again, hoping the disciples would finally get it.


He didn’t.


Instead, He urged them to remain, abide, not WITH Him as they had been doing for the last 3 years, but IN Him. He urges us to do the same. We have no insecurity in His love – He chose us, we didn’t choose Him! As we walk through this Holy Week, may our hearts be broken and overjoyed by the love of Christ, that His greatest pain and His greatest sacrifice offer a home and a hope for us.”


How are you learning to abide in this Love?