What Does The Cross Mean To You?

black cross on top of mountain

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Luke 9:23-25

A young lady came into my life recently and we were matched up because she wanted to know God better. To be honest, she had a very convincing testimony and if salvation had a checklist I would argue that she could check every box. I was pleased to see that she already knew a lot of scripture so I assumed my role, as her mentor, would be to show her how she could build daily disciplines into her life, hold her accountable to putting what she read into practice and to encourage her in her walk with the Lord. We both agreed that this would be our goal.

I made her a promise that I would not give her any personal advice, but would point her to scripture that would be useful to teaching rebuking, correcting and training in her righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). With that, I encouraged her to ask questions and to be curious about what she was reading and take time to meditate on how she could apply what she was reading into her life.

Shortly after, her questions started rolling in, I responded with verses that would not only teach her, but affirm her as she would wrestle with the truth. She began to realize that her life wasn’t exactly aligned with what God would want for her and began to open up about her struggles with addition, low self-esteem, anxiety, borderline depression and a complete lack of inner peace.

I kept sharing God’s truth and continued to remind her of who she is in Christ; that she is God’s creation, His handiwork, an heir to the throne and a daughter of the King who is deeply loved. She began rebuking me out of her own disbelief that if that is true about God, why doesn’t she feel that way?

Whoa! There it is… she’s seeking a feeling and desiring after some supernatural, magical, confident state of mind. Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful above all else, who can understand it and when I shared this with her, she had to admit that this is true of herself. She is being tossed around endlessly by her feelings and is guilty focusing on how she feels rather than on what she knows to be true in scripture.

Girlfriends, God made us to be feelers, thinkers and have emotions, which (I can speak from first hand experience), can be one of the biggest barriers to having an intimate, authentic and personal relationship with God.

We can’t wish ourselves into heaven anymore than we can earn it.

We need to throw our whole entire heart (life) into knowing God and trust every single one of the promises that are given to us in His word. We have to believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what Jesus did on the cross was enough to cover our sins today, tomorrow and for eternity. Until we do, we will live on an emotional rollercoaster and be tossed around and tormented by our feelings – exactly what is happening to her.

It has been weeks of watching her come to the end of herself in this battle of wills – her will vs. God’s will. Last night she finally made this statement, “I know suffering has a purpose but it hurts when in it… I’d like to view it from God’s perspective.

Oh, the honesty, defeat and vulnerability in those words.

Poor sweet girl (and all of you reading), we DO have God’s perspective and it is found at and in the cross! The cross that performed the greatest, most selfless act in history. The cross, where God’s grace was freely given to us in the form the most sacrificial gift of all time. Not one of us deserve it! It is the most horrific form of suffering, where Jesus was placed on an altar, the altar called the cross, and where his sinless, flawless life was sacrificed and he willingly took all of humanity’s collective sin onto himself paying the ultimate price… death! Satan thought he won, but on the contrary he was never more defeated. Jesus conquered death and he lives!

It is because of this that we surrender our lives to him – our whole selves. He gave everything up for us and held nothing back and when we realize the magnitude of what he did, we willingly, enthusiastically and wholeheartedly give him our lives. When that happens, the Holy Spirit enters us and begins to change us from the inside out. The process takes a lifetime (here on earth), but the assurance of heaven is guaranteed. The changes we begin to see within ourselves are evidence of his transforming work and we not only love ourselves (which covers low self-esteem, doubt and anxiety), but we love others unconditionally.

Today I am going to ask this young lady if she wants to accept the greatest gift of life that God gave to her, because now I can see that she may know scripture intellectually, but not personally. I pray I get to witness the birth of a new believer who comes to know her Father in heaven on Mother’s Day 2020.

Is today that day for you too? Are you done being tossed around by your feelings and emotions and are you ready to accept the greatest gift of all – eternal life through faith in what Jesus did on the cross for you?

I hope so. My greatest pain comes from watching this young lady, and many like her, struggle. Especially because I know that on the other side of this decision is peace that surpasses all understanding, joy that is not contingent to circumstances and love that abounds beyond my ability to describe it.

“Lord, thank you for sending your son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for MY sins; not just the sins of the world, but for ME! Father please forgive me of all my sins – I admit that I can’t save myself; I need a savior. I surrender my life to you, Lord, and I ask that you fill me with your Holy Spirit. That you will guide me everyday for the rest of my life and I thank you for giving me assurance of eternal life through Jesus Christ. In Jesus Name I pray – Amen!”

If you prayed this prayer, Congratulations! Email me at liveoutlougblog@gmail.com and I will share some ideas on how you can take your new found faith and grow it, mature it.

For you and all who have already surrendered your life, we will see you in heaven, sisters in Christ!




Holiday Havoc


If you are ridden with anxiety as Christmas events begin, I want to point you to a convicting story and remind you (and me) of those heart cutting words of Jesus in Luke 10:42, “but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

In this scene Martha, Mary’s sister, is frantically stressing out over the preparations and there’s little Mary, distracted and sitting around at Jesus’ feet. Martha pipes up, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Allow me recite the voices in my head… [Insert whiny voice]… “How come you guys are sitting around watching that dumb football game when I’m stuck with all the cooking, cleaning, serving and garbage removal. How come for the past month I’m the one doing all the shopping, gift wrapping, tree decorating and cookie making?”

Yep, that’s me. Embarrassing isn’t it? I imagine God sitting on His mighty throne shaking His head. “Oh Sarah, when are you going to learn?”

So, just as God is God, he shows up in scripture at just the right time to remind me about what is important and how He wants me to conduct myself today and every day.  Which one of these verses speaks to you?

Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Jeremiah 4:18 ““Your own conduct and actions have brought this on you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!”

Galatians 6:4 “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,”

1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

Titus 1:16 “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”

So if you needed to hear this, as I did today, I hope that you and I will remember that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus, God’s son. God did not send His son to increase our stress, turn us into nagging, selfish, crabby wives and mothers. On the contrary, He wants us to mimic the thoughts, words, actions and deeds of Jesus so we can bring glory to him today and be a blessing. Let’s pass this chaotic Christmas finish-line with joy in our hearts, love in our actions and kindness on our lips.

I Am Free


Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 17

These instructions were not for Moses and Aaron alone, but they were also for the sons of Aaron and for the entire nation of Israel. It is obvious that God is reaching now into the personal and private lives of the people. He not only made a difference between the clean and unclean animals in chapter 11, but now He puts down the regulations by which they were to eat the clean animals. In other words, the lives of His people are to be different from that of non-believers.

What is this saying about our lives? How is our life different from others? I guess that all depends, right? It is one thing to say we are believers, but another to act like we are. The single greatest differentiator is that we believe Jesus died on the cross to cover our sin where His blood was shed for us. We live out that belief in the way we conduct our lives – surrendered to a Holy God who provided that forgiveness to undeserving souls, like ours.

Leviticus 17:14, “Because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, ‘You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.'” Once again, the tie to the New Testament is evident. The life of the flesh is in the blood and Jesus is saying that we are to accept His shed blood for our sins in faith and then we receive life. Jesus shed His blood and gave His life. The life is in the blood. Without it, we are cut off from God, prohibited from ever entering heaven.

This is a great, eternal truth. This explains why Abel’s sacrifice was more excellent than Cain’s. It is the blood that makes an atonement (a covering) for the soul. The blood of Christ is the only thing that can wash away sin. There is nothing offensive about the blood; the offense is in our sin.

Here I sit on an early Saturday morning trying to put this into perspective and make it comprehensible for my own mind to grasp. I conclude that this message is a reminder that God was trying to protect the Isrealites from themselves. If left to ourselves, we are also vulnerable and He wants to protect us too. Another one of the many reasons to honor God with our lives. I value that God’s Word has given me/us this perspective to begin our day. I am free to live!

You’re Sick! Get To The Doctor


Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 13

Before the invention of remote controls, I would fight my way for that television dial every day after school to watch Little House on the Prairie. There was something about Laura Ingalls Wilder (Melissa Gilbert) and those braids that made me nuts – I loved that show. I used to imagine what it would be like to get sick back in those Little House days. Poor Doc would pull up in his fancy carriage and wrap a wet, white cloth over their foreheads and pray. He was limited in what he could do without a modern-day, high tech, super sterilized surgical practice.

Going back hundreds of years to the days of Moses. Reading Leviticus 13 reminded me of Doc, but in this chapter the mighty physician was the Priest. Wow! Talk about wearing many hats. The thing is that the book of Leviticus is a book about sin and God is showing us that Leprosy and running issues of the flesh shows the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the effect of sin in action.

No man ever went wrong overnight. Leprosy did not kill in a day—it is not like a heart attack. The leper’s life was a walking death. Just so, the sinner is also dead even while he lives. It is obvious from these passages that the raw flesh is the old nature which was judged on the cross. When it manifests itself in a believer, God must judge it. The flesh can never please God; only that which the Holy Spirit produces in the life of the believer is acceptable to God.

Two things jump out at me in Levitius 13. The number of times you read the word “Isolation or Isolated” and the phrase, “The priest will pronounce him clean.” This is sin! Sin isolates us from God and is a growing, disease that corrupts our lives. While Christ covers that sin and pronounces us “Clean!”

Oh Friends. What a glorious story of hope buried between the ‘not so obvious’ message hidden in Leviticus chapter 13. It’s a beautiful picture of what Christ has done for us and the gruesome hopeless, loneliness, isolated, withdrawn, lost place we will be without Him. It’s a perfect day to check your spiritual temperature and recognize who your Holy healer is.

Not So Sweet and Cute


Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 12

In the preceding chapter we saw the contamination of sin by contact. The external character of sin was emphasized—we live in a world of sin. This chapter places the emphasis on the internal character of sin. We are sinners by birth and this chapter is about the transmission of sin by inheritance.

If you have children, you are able to see some of their behaviors resemble your own. Since infancy I have witnessed thousands of characteristics and qualities in my kids that mimic mine. As much as my children have minds of their own, unquestionably they have picked up attributes (good and bad) from their Dad and I.

I love tomatoes, my husband hates tomatoes. One of our daughters love them and the other despises them. I struggle with math and from a recent blog post you’ll know why I am not an Accountant professionally. One of our daughters gets A’s effortlessly in math and while her sister works in tears as she muscles through her math homework. (Helping her is her Daddy’s job.)

From facial expressions, organizational skills, cooking ability, work-ethic, passions, attitudes, and mannerisms; the list of things I see we have genetically passed on to our children is endless and sin is no exception. We look at the innocence of a child and we think that they are God’s gift from heaven. I will not argue that they are truly gifts, but they are also little sinners who grow up to be big sinners just like me/us.

I read this chapter as a call to action to all parents to raise up our children in scripture and biblical ways. Of course we know from our own sinful hearts that they won’t be perfect, but as parents we have a responsibility to give them every opportunity to learn God’s ways so that they may grow into a loving relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Just like our heavenly Father loves us and extends patience and grace to us, we too can offer our children the same. I believe marriage and parenting are the most sanctifying processes God created.

Having children comes with responsibility far greater than I ever imagined. Couple that with the fact that bringing children into the world means that sin will continue to pass on through the generations, just as it has since Adam and Eve. Let’s pray for parents who are raising these little sinners and let’s pray for the children that they would grow to know the Lord.

His Glory, Glorified!


Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 9

Leviticus verse 6: Then Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded you to do, so that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.”

Does the glory of the Lord still appear to us? We see that the glory of the Lord is everything that makes God, God. All His characteristics, authority, power, wisdom—literally the immeasurable weight and magnitude of God—are contained within God’s glory. Nothing is hidden or held back!

So does the glory of the Lord still appear to us? I say, “Yes!”

What do we have to do to see God’s glory? I think Leviticus 9 gives us a map to how we see God’s glory. I believe it is summarized by these 3 offerings: First, repent of your own sin, then forgive others of their sins, and pray for your relationship to grow in God and with others. Aaron took the first offering, the calf, and sacrificed for his own sin, then the goat offering to cover the people’s sin, and finally the ox and ram for the fellowship offering.

I think this is a really simple equation to what God desires for us to live out our time here on earth. He wants us to be connected to Him, point others to Him, and have a relationship with Him and others. His glory is all around us. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

I recommend we pause for a second and think about what that means for us to day. What do we need to take to God in prayer as our sin offering (confession and repentance)? What can we pray about for others and ask God to help them with their burdens and needs, and what can we do – with God’s help – to deepen our relationship with Him and others that would glorify God?

Picture Perfect


Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 2

Bread. My parents had an eight track tape that I remember listening to called, “The Best of Bread.” My favorite song on that album was the song, “If.” The first line of that song was, “If a picture paints a thousand words, than why can’t I paint you. The words will never show, the you I’ve come to know.”

The offerings in Leviticus speak of the person of Christ and of the work of Christ. The burnt offering in chapter 1 was a picture of Christ in depth as well as in death. The meal offering reveals the humanity of Jesus in all its perfection and loveliness. Somehow, some way, the song lyrics I haven’t heard for decades comes back to me and reminds me of my relationship with Christ, “The words will never show, the you I’ve come to know.”

Perhaps that is what God is doing in this book. He’s trying to take the picture of his son Jesus and describe him, or paint a picture of Him, in a way that we can conceptualize who He is. He’s complex and no one ever walked this planet who what like Him. How do you put that into words. Then to put another twist on it, “It’s prophesy!” This was written thousands of years before Jesus even came to earth.

This is evidence of the trinity – God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I used to get all hung up on this, “How can God be three persons in one?” God created the earth and then Jesus shows up and then the Holy Spirit enters the picture?… NO! They were there all along. God is revealing them to us in the Old Testament and Leviticus 2 is describing it here.

Have you ever imagined trying to explain Christ to someone? Sure there is the Sunday school version, “All you have to do is ask Jesus into your heart and you’ll go to heaven,” but it’s not that simple is it?

God is using a word picture and this chapter happens to be a meal offering that God is describing. There is no shedding of blood, so that alone makes this one different and there are two important aspects of this offering: the ingredients which are included and the ingredients which are excluded. Essentially it is the picture the perfect humanity of Christ.