Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Crippling Love

Sitting at the beach, there's a wheel chair. Empty. Its occupant lies on the beach, sunning. I drape my towel over my chair and settle in with my book.
One eye on my boogie boarding child, I wonder at the woman’s story. Was it an accident? MS? Was she born that way? And she's here, engaged in life with her family. I admire her. I think that takes courage.
She must want to play in the waves. Wrapping an arm under one leg she bends it, positioning it to stand. She repeats the process with the other. Stretching her arms to her husband, he heaves her up. I turn my head, so as not to stare.

I am in awe, though. Inspired.
Next thing I know, she's standing in the surf. The shifting sand and breaking waves throw her off balance. She clings to her husband, but balance eludes. She lands face first in the sand.
My breath catches. I'm anxious for her! Not her, though. She's laughing, drawing a sharp breath and releasing squeals of delight as the cold water laps against her.

Her husband helps her up again. They embrace, two one as he attempts to steady her. The sand is too unstable, though. She resolves to enter the surf on hands and knees. Husband stands in deeper water. Beyond the breaking waves. Safe. He calls her. Coaches her. Encourages her. Stretches her, I think.
I'm nervous for her. How do you swim without the use of your legs? Will he let her drown? Let her have a close call or look foolish trying? My pride imposed on her moment. But she proceeds, face first into the surf. One wave at a time. One carries her, the next places her further up on the sand. I look away.

Next glance, she made it into deeper water. She's doing it! On her own. Husband near, but not doing it for her. Family around, but not doting. Just letting her be normal, a mom playing in the water like everyone else.
What beautiful love. Much like our Heavenly Father has for us. His Spirit there, coaching and encouraging. Pushing us to go beyond our comfort zone. Stretching us, but always within reach to rescue when necessary. He is our anchor in shifting sands. He holds us steady when the waves threaten to wash us away. He stands in the deeper waters calling us to a deeper place with him. Waiting for us to trust enough to come.

Will we go, face first if we have to? Waves in our face, salt water up our nose, but eyes on Him because He has what we want? Freedom. Healing. Peace. Joy. Satisfaction. Will we trust Him and go to Him, crippled on our hands and knees if we must? Are we willing to look foolish to have Him?
As the Lord loves me this way, I pray I will love like this husband. Thick and thin. Sickness and health. Allowing others to stumble to the Lord and find themselves in Him. Sometimes the one to be the anchor. Other times the one holding on for dear life. Giving and receiving, like the Lord desires of us.

This couple has no idea how the Lord used them to encourage me that first sunny morning, six days into our trip. It brought a quick end to the private pity party I was having with the Lord over persistent rain and an ill-timed hormonal uprising that dampened expectations of a perfect tropical vacation. Watching this woman take on the ocean, husband by her side, kids all around her, put things in perspective.

Thank you, Lord, for perspective, as we become more wholly Yours today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

His Priceless Gift

I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be up before my children Christmas morning. Waiting. Mid-morning turns to late, and we wait, the youngest ready to wake the others in a moment's notice, including dad. He still slumbers.
Coffee cake cooling, parade on TV, Jesus' stocking hangs solo on the mantle. It holds our gifts to Him. Each year, following Christmas Eve service, we share communion as a family, remembering what Jesus did for us. The priceless gift of His life in exchange for ours. Then we take down His stocking. Inside are the gifts we've given Him in previous years. A little reality check. How did we do? Blank card ready, we write down our gift for this year.
I had to give Him the same thing this year as I did in 2011. It's the one thing I believe will lead to everything else He desires. It's my love and adoration. If I truly love Him, first and foremost at all times and in all things, everything else will follow. Obedience. Prioritizing my time. Serving and sacrificing for others. Sharing the gospel, no matter the cost.
The quiet is ending. Our agreed-upon deadline of 10:30 a.m. has arrived. The ones awake make the rounds to beds holding slumbering sisters and dad. 
Gifts await.  
So does Jesus. Nothing compares to the priceless gift He offers.
Will you receive all He has for you? Will you offer your best gift to Him today?
I pray this day holds the wonder of Christ's love!
Merry CHRISTmas!
Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Aloha! All good intentions for writing a blog for today went out with the surf! Enjoying a much-needed vacation within my family, truly taking time off from everything.

Mele Kalikimaka!

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Is Christmas Christian?

It’s not available in stores, even though display windows proclaim it. No one can give it to you, even though Christmas greeting cards proclaim it. You can hang it as an ornament on your Christmas tree, but it won’t do anything for you there. Ironically, it can be most elusive this time of year.


Some seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah described the Savior we now celebrate at Christmas: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

A quiet whisper nags my heart as I frantically tackle Christmas preparations: “What are we doing?!?!”

I’m pushing through, hauling a burden rather than resting in His blessing. It’s a spiritual thing, not a physical one. That’s why it’s unbearable. That’s what makes me question: If all this Christmas craziness is a heavy burden, if it is hard not easy, if it creates madness rather than rest, is it of Christ? After all, He says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

I wonder if we’ve got it all wrong. If anyone deserves all we have to give, it’s the Lord. Yet, the way it is now, He often gets the least.

HE is Prince of Peace, yet we celebrate with chaos. HE is Mighty God, yet the mighty dollar rules and reigns as we buy decorations, teacher gifts, family gifts, groceries and supplies for parties and meals, costumes for pageants, tickets for Christmas performances, gas for road trips, and so on. HE is Wonderful, yet the hustle and bustle, the buying and receiving, the going and doing covertly diverts our attention from marveling Him. HE is Counselor, yet distractions keep us from receiving His counsel. HE is Everlasting Father, yet we long to please those around us, sometimes forgetting He is to be pleased over all.

If we’re honest with ourselves, none of these traditions of men are about Jesus, yet we strive to make Christmas about Christ. We agonize over the tragedy of droves of retailers who welcome the financial windfall of Christmas but forbid use of the word. Why do you think it’s so hard? Perhaps it’s because it was never about Christ in the first place.

Research the true origin of Christmas, and you’ll quickly discover its roots as a celebration of the sun, not the Son. I encourage you to do your own research, if you dare. Proceed with caution, however. What you find might challenge your traditions and participation. Here’s just a scratch of the surface.

The date coincides with a pagan sun festival that precedes Christ’s birth, which according to scriptural evidence could not possibly have been in December and was never celebrated by the early church. Emperor Constantine first established it as an official Roman Catholic holiday in 336 AD because parishioners who converted to Christianity continued to participate in the long-standing pagan feast, giving gifts to children and the poor, decorating with lights and greenery, drinking, eating, and being merry. In order to make it Christian, the emperor established December 25 as the birth date of Christ, and so it continues.

Christmas is clearly a tradition of man, against which Colossians 2:8 warns: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

Traditions that follow the principles of the world cheat us. They lie to us and leave us spent, like Christmas can. But not Christ. He is all Isaiah said He would be: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty, God, Everlasting, Father, Peace. All power, dominion, and control are His. When we follow His principles, we have what He is.

So where does that leave us? Could it be so ingrained in our American culture because it is the devil’s attempt to deceive and cheat us according to the principles of the world rather than living according to Christ? If it is, sadly, it’s effective.

I don’t have the answers. My prayer is that each of us would be so surrendered to the Father that we are willing to give up anything that is not of Him. Even Christmas, if that’s what He asks.

In the meantime, if Christmas is about Jesus, then let’s make it about Jesus. Instead of exhausting ourselves hanging lights, decorating trees, throwing and going to parties, shopping, wrapping, and reveling in holiday cheer, let’s be a light, pursue the lost and hurting, give to the poor, and above all, give all we have to Him. Not just for a day or a season, but every day.

I can hear my girls now: “Great, now mom’s going to take away Christmas! We’ve lost Target, Costco, Starbucks, and now Christmas. When will it end?”

That’s a great question, isn’t it? When will it end? When will we truly separate ourselves from the world in such a way that Jesus stands out? Are we really ready to become wholly His? To cross over the line of belonging only to Him, even if it means looking foolish to the world?

"It’s too much, Lord!!!” I cry in my heart.

“Is it really, Shauna?” He asks. “More than what Jesus did for you on the cross?”

May His peace rule and reign in your heart today as you surrender to become more wholly His this Christmas season.
Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Compelling Love

My life feels crazy out of control right now. Pulled between parties, birthdays, keeping a list, checking it twice, Christmas shopping, wrapping, and preparing to leave for our family’s annual vacation ten days before Christmas, it is taking an extra concentrated effort to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. Several mornings my time with Jesus has simply been talking to Him while I try to get ahead of some of the piles in my office and messes around the house. I miss Him, though. When I lose sight of Him as my sustenance, when I forget that stillness in His presence brings the strength and peace I need to deal with all the chaos around me, I suffer. When doing, even if it’s doing “for Him,” takes the place of simply being with Him, it’s easier to swerve off course. Miss the mark.

How do we get to the place where Jesus is worth it? Worth trusting, worth being still, worth sacrifice, worth doing hard things, worth denying ourselves. Fearing God is the beginning, but there’s more. Here’s the second part of the excerpt from my book, Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His:

In addition to fearing God, another force must be at work in us to live in complete obedience to Him: loving Jesus. Second Corinthians 5:14-15 tells us, “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” If Jesus is just “fire insurance,” and we pray a simple prayer of salvation for the sole purpose of avoiding hell, then we’re going to love Him about as much as an insurance agent who sells us a life insurance policy off the side of the road. In order to fall in love with Jesus, we must KNOW Him by spending time with Him in prayer, by studying His life, His love for us, His words, and His nature through reading the Bible. We fall in love with Him by worshiping Him and experiencing His faithfulness when we cry out, and He answers. When we do this, we will be overwhelmed with His love and won’t be able to help but love Him back. As a result, our affection for Him will compel us to live for Him, which means doing what He tells us to do.

What will that love look like? Above all, our love for Him must be pure and undivided. Jesus can’t just hold a spot on our list of the top ten people we love. He must be our first love. John, Jesus’ beloved apostle, wrote: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17). We clearly must choose one love.

In Mark 4:18-19, Jesus describes what happens when a heart is divided. He is teaching through a parable about a sower whose seed falls on different kinds of ground. The seed represents the truth, or the word of the Lord, and the ground represents us. In explaining what happens to the seed that falls among the thorns, Jesus says, “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word and it becomes unfruitful.”

We can’t fool ourselves. We either love God, or we love the world. We can’t love both. James 4:4 makes it very clear: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Yes, we are to be in the world, but we are not of it (John 15:19). Our love – our adoration, our desire, the things we long for, the things we think on, the things we give our time, energy, and effort toward – must be for the Lord and desiring the things He desires. If our love is misdirected to the things of this world, the truth of God – His word – will be choked out, and our lives will yield no crop for the Lord.

The last few days during the quiet morning hours, I’ve sat with the Lord, doing nothing else but talking to Him. Reeling my thoughts back every time they scurry to an item on my to do list or a something I’ve forgotten, I have found an extra measure of peace. Nothing in my circumstances has changed, but He has drawn my eyes back to Him. In His presence I find perspective. In following His leading in every moment, He points me to His purpose. I find that my love for Him swells, and setting aside all the petty things of this world becomes easier.

Especially during this Christmas season – perhaps even in spite of it – may the love of Christ compel us to love and good works, that Christ may be glorified as we become more wholly His.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Crossing the Line: Is God to Be Feared?

“You will never deny yourself if you don’t think Christ is worth it.”

Words hastily penned on a torn scrap of paper. I don’t know where I heard or saw them. I just knew I wanted to remember them, to move in the direction of believing in my heart Christ is worth it. To that end, I want to share another excerpt from my book, Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His.

I believe the Lord is drawing a line in the sand right now, and we must choose whether we are entirely for Him or entirely against Him. With every natural disaster, personal disappointment, loss, frightening news report, financial threat to our security, and threat to our health, we must choose: will I believe, trust, and follow the Lord or not? We will either cross the line and determine to love Him and obey His word no matter the cost, or we won’t. There is no in between, and I am convinced that it is on the other side of the line that we become holy as He is holy. The journey across that line begins with the fear of the Lord and a love for Jesus that compels us to do what He says.

As a whole, the American church, and certainly America as a nation, has lost the fear of the Lord. A large majority of preachers have forsaken the fear of God for the fear of man and a message of love, joy, forgiveness, tolerance, and peace. Without the fear of the Lord, evil prevails, and that is what we are experiencing right now. Proverbs 6:27-28 warns, “Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?” Messing with the wrath of God is playing with fire. If we continue in habitual sin, we will get burned. Regardless of how loud others shout a message of tolerance, as if sin is simply neutral, the word of God stands true: “He who despises the word will be destroyed, but he who fears the commandment will be rewarded. The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death” (Prov. 13:13-14). We will either fear the Lord and His commandment, or we will despise Him and His word. Proverbs 14:2 tells us, “He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.” There is no in between.

The answer, then, is to renew our fear of Him. Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10 both tell us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” It is our greatest means for gaining the understanding we need to avoid sin and choose the way of life. If we look at the word fear in Hebrew, it is both a reverence or awe of the Lord and terror of Him. He alone must be the object of our worship, adoration, and amazement, and we must have a healthy fear of His wrath when we sin against Him. God is holy and just. He cannot tolerate sin, and Proverbs 16:6 clearly states it is “by fear of the Lord that one departs from evil” and preserves his soul (Prov. 16:17). When you fear the Lord, “your days will be multiplied and years of life will be added to you” (Prov. 9:10-11); you will have strong confidence, and your children will have a place of refuge (Prov. 14:26-27). Riches, honor, and life also come by way of humility and the fear of the Lord (Prov. 22:4).

So how do we fear the Lord? Proverbs 8:13 gives us the answer: “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” When we fear the Lord, we will hate what He hates and depart from it. We will not tolerate it. We will not even let it be named among us.

In my walk with the Lord, He has peeled me like an onion. He deals with me in layers. Each time He peels away a layer of disobedience or a layer of lies I’ve believed or a layer of worldliness, there’s another layer ready to be peeled away. The same has been true of how He has revealed His truth to me. He has dealt with the “big, obvious stuff,” and then He has continued to give me a deeper understanding of His word, along with a greater responsibility to continue to purify my thoughts and actions. Gently, lovingly, and firmly, He has led me to a few key verses that have opened my eyes to understand in a new way what it means to be holy as He is holy. One of those verses is 2 Corinthians 7:1, which says, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (NIV).[1]

I remember the moment the Holy Spirit revealed the heart of this scripture as it applies to my life. One of the things that stood out was the fact that we are told to purify ourselves. Previously, I thought only the Lord alone could purify me, but this verse makes it clear that I have a part in purifying myself through the choices I make. The word contaminate stood out and really convicted me. To contaminate is to defile, pollute, or stain something. We are not to allow anything into our thoughts, bodies, or spirits that would defile, pollute, stain, or make them filthy before the Lord. That is our part in cleansing or purifying ourselves.

Starting in my teens, I battled bulimia. In the beginning, and for a good eight years, I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually a prisoner in my own body. In college, I reached the point where I knew I was on an irreversible path of destruction. I realized the physical danger I was inflicting on myself, and I stopped physically engaging in the behavior of the disorder. But I remained entrapped in the spiritual and mental bondage of it. The Lord has been faithful to deliver me, slowly and tenderly peeling back the layers of this onion. In my mid-thirties, I lived in freedom like never before, but there were still times when I would fall back into the debilitating cycle of focusing solely on my body for my value and worth. In these times, I became obsessed in my thoughts with what I ate, how much I exercised, whether or not I felt or looked fat, etc. It affected every area of my life and my relationships because I was consumed with the things of this world as it related to my body and how I looked.

During this time, the Lord showed me through 2 Corinthians 7:1 that when there is anything I know to be a trigger, I cannot allow it to contaminate my body and spirit. If straying from habits that keep me close to the Lord, stress, other sin in my life, certain foods, certain circumstances, or certain activities cause me to stumble back into this battle, it is my responsibility to purify myself of those things. As the Holy Spirit reveals and convicts us of the things that contaminate us, we become holy as God is holy when we purify ourselves of those things – when we deliberately choose to no longer allow them in our lives – out of reverence for God. The word reverence in this verse refers to the fear of God. The original Greek meaning of this use of fear is terror or dread.

God is a holy God. He cannot tolerate sin. We will be motivated to perfect holiness in our lives when we are terrified of God’s holy wrath. If we don’t fear Him, what motive do we have?

Actually, there is another motive. Read more Thursday.

Lord, renew our fear of You! By the power of Your Holy Spirit, give us the ability to live our lives fully on the other side of the line. Teach us what it means in our personal lives to be holy as You are holy, and give us wisdom to purify ourselves daily as we become wholly Yours today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

[1].      Blue Letter Bible. "Paul's Epistle - 2 Corinthians 7 - (NIV - New International Version)." Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. Accessed July 14, 2011,

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Help for Holding Fast Our Hope to the End

Reaching a goal is easy at its inception. Enthusiasm fuels our momentum and paints a romantic picture of victory. Decisiveness produces determination, and we’re convinced we can do this thing (whatever this thing is)! We can practically reach out and touch it from right there on the starting line.

Then difficulty derails the dream. Our mental mood music screeches to a stop. The slow-motion prance through the Swiss meadow, hair floating behind like a Pantene commercial, ends with a face plant in an ant pile. Suddenly, our goal and all our good intentions seem a million miles away, and we wonder: Can I really do this? Do I really want this? Is it worth it? What was I thinking?

We look for things to comfort us in the here and now, ways to make ourselves feel better. Countermeasures of compromise. We give up and embark on a new journey of justification.

Does this sound familiar to anyone but me? Because of my frequent failures to stick goals out to their glorious end, I get a little restless and uncomfortable when I read scriptures like Hebrews 3:6, which says we are a part of the house of Christ “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end,” and verse fourteen, which talks about becoming “partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (emphasis mine).

What does it mean to hold my confidence steadfast to the end? What about in the book of Revelation chapters two and three when Jesus repeatedly refers to “he who overcomes” when describing eternal rewards? Will I be one who overcomes? Will I make it to the very end?

Mercifully, God offers us the chance to learn from someone else’s mistakes. When things got tough and didn’t go the way the Israelites wanted, time and again, they grumbled against God, longingly looking back at their slavery as a place of comfort, convenience, and familiarity. They witnessed repeated demonstrations of the mighty power, provision, and faithfulness of God only to stand at the precipice of His promises and reject Him.

“Beware,” Hebrews 3:12 admonishes. We are just like them! We must be on the lookout, eyes open and mind alert, vigilant to carefully weigh and examine the condition of our hearts for any sign of unbelief. “But,” as verse thirteen begins, we can’t depend on ourselves alone to effectively do the job or keep the faith to the end. Second only to the work of the Holy Spirit to convict and empower us to stay the course is the need for other believers to help us.

“Exhort one another daily,” verse thirteen continues. In the Greek, this means “call to one’s side, address, speak to, entreat, comfort, instruct, admonish, console or receive consolation or be comforted, encourage, strengthen; command” (Strong’s G3870

If we expect to hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, we NEED our brothers and sisters who have been adopted into God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ to come to our side when we call for help. How often? Every day that is called today!

When we struggle and waver, we need them to encourage and strengthen us. When we can’t see our shortcomings, our part in our own misery, or our own sin, we need trustworthy, God-fearing, truth-speaking Christian friends who will lovingly confront us. We need them to address what they see and warn us. When tragedy strikes or our faith fails us, we need others who will console and comfort us.

It is a matter of survival.

It’s the reason we are told in Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

As the day of Christ’s return draws nearer, our fellowship needs to grow stronger. God set it up that way for our own well being. Otherwise, we risk getting caught up in the domino effect described in Hebrews 3:7-19, whereby sin deceives us, our hearts grow hard, we draw away from God and His fellowship because of unbelief, and we find ourselves deprived of God’s rest.

The devil would love to isolate you because he wants you to fail. He wants you to turn from your  faith just as you approach the finish line. He wants to keep you too busy, too indifferent, too insecure, too ashamed, too hurt by something a Christian did to hurt you, or too offended by hypocrites in the church.

Churches, like every place on this earth, are full of humans who sin and disappoint. The only one who will never disappoint is Jesus. Look to Him to be perfect, which frees you to live in fellowship with imperfect Christians, offering and receiving forgiveness when we fall short. That’s the difference.

Instead of expecting perfection, look for pursuit. Is the group of believers assembled in that place seeking the Lord, studying His word, and striving to obey, even though they mess up at times? Are the people gathering together, exhorting one another, and addressing sin in a loving manner? Is there evidence of the Lord at work in them in spite of their weaknesses? Signs of progress toward holiness? If yes, come alongside them, that all of us would be able to hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

Lord, help us to trust You in our relationships with other Christians, shortcomings and all. Help us to focus on your faithfulness while exhorting and being exhorted, that together we might endure to the end. When we are tempted to give up and lose our faith, help us to push on together as we become more wholly Yours.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, November 15, 2012

No Rest for a Hardened Heart

Everywhere I go, talk of the election and the church prevails. As the dust settles and the initial shock subsides, people are somber. Similar sentiments weigh heavy: heartbreak and mourning for America’s glory days and what appears to be the beginning of the end of the principles that made her great; anger and sadness for the millions of self-proclaimed evangelical Christians who simply chose not to make their voices heard November 6; and, a keen awareness that perhaps we got exactly what we’ve asked for in generations of compromising before a holy God.

My pastor happens to be teaching through Hebrews this semester, and Sunday’s passage was Hebrews 3:7-19. As the congregation stood while he read the passage in its entirety, its application for this exact time, not even a week after the election, could not have coincidental on God’s part. Its relevance for the church right now jumped from the pages of my Bible. Attempting to listen with one ear to what my pastor was teaching, I furiously scribbled what God was speaking directly to my heart.

Here’s what Hebrews 3:7-19 says:

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'”

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?

So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Right now, in the aftermath of the election, will we hear God’s voice? This scripture is not talking about our ears actually detecting the audible voice of God. Most of us will never experience that. Hear in this instant refers to what we do with a message once it is received. It is the part of hearing that involves purposefully and eagerly seeking out knowledge and instruction from our Teacher, alertly paying attention with the intention of comprehending and heeding what is said. In the same way, voice is not referring to detectable words from God’s mouth, but instead implies God bringing something to light, making it evident. When His “voice” speaks, it is often through something striking us as true or evident or when He causes something to become clear in our minds.

The question or challenge, then, is this: As God sheds light on what He is doing through current political events and what He wants us to do now, as He causes things to appear to our minds and makes things clear to us, will we seek His “voice,” His teaching and instruction, with the intention of doing what He says?

The author of Hebrews then warns us: “Do not harden your hearts” (verse eight). Picture your child, or remember yourself as a kid. You’re being confronted for something you’ve done wrong, but you don’t want to hear it. You don’t want to admit it, and you don’t want to make it right. You are full of pride, and any attempts to draw you in are met with a stiff back. I know you can visualize the scene: the parent reaches out to hug their child and they might as well be hugging a two-by-four. Obstinate and stubborn, your will, thoughts, character, desires, and passions are for your self-interest alone. You have hardened your heart.

The question or challenge, then, is: What is the Lord revealing that you don’t want to change? Something you know needs to be addressed but you’re reasoning it away? Something you excuse every time the Holy Spirit tugs on your heart? I know exactly where my heart is hardened; the things I reason away so I don’t have to change. The ways I’m trading all God has for me for the temporary yet instant gratifications of this world. He is speaking. Will we hear?

Hardened hearts result from the “deceitfulness of sin” (verse thirteen), when inside or outside forces swindle and entice us to wander from God’s ways. We miss His target for us; our wrongs lead us away from righteousness, and we find ourselves withdrawn from God. Separated. Fellowship is destroyed, and as verse twelve cautions, we risk “an evil heart of unbelief.”

We have a weak faith or lack it altogether and fail to trust God. As in the rebellion, when the Israelites provoked and exasperated God, driving Him to a place of indignation, we risk grieving Him to the point of excluding ourselves from His rest.

Do you see it? His rest is available to us here on this earth as He leads us to a quiet place, causes us to cease from striving, and embraces us in His fellowship and peace. And it is also “the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells, and of which he has promised to make persevering believers in Christ partakers after the toils and trials of life on earth are ended” (Strong’s G2663,

There is a snowball effect at work here. Deceitfulness of sin causes hardness of heart. We are drawn away from God and His fellowship because of an evil heart of unbelief. And because of our unbelief, we cannot enter God’s rest.

In God’s goodness and faithfulness, this same passage contains the solution for holding “the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (verse fourteen). I hope you will read part two next week.

In the meantime, I pray that the Lord will protect us from the deceitfulness of sin. If we are victims of deceit, by its nature, we won’t know it. As the Lord to expose the lies we believe, to forgive our unbelief, help us to overcome it, and keep us from hardening our hearts.

Lord, we are desperate for your rest as we become wholly Yours today.

Shauna Wallace

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Post-Election Action: Ostrich or Outreach?

The day after. Early-morning emails confirmed late-night projections. Not only did Barack Obama win his re-election bid for the White House, same-sex marriage was legalized in two states by popular vote rather than by court action, and marijuana was legalized for all uses, including recreational, in Colorado and Washington state. Not a good news day.

I haven’t turned on the television or radio since Tuesday. (Honestly, I kind of like it!) I have no desire to immerse myself in post-election postulation as some celebrate promises of a rosy future guaranteed by government while others detail the devastation that is sure to come. One event, two diametrically opposite outlooks. Some welcome the pending change. Many cringe. Any attempt on my part to hyper-analyze the national, international, economic, military, and moral ramifications is sure to end with a prescription for anti-depressants. Worse yet, tranquilizers.

I’m not attempting to bury my head in the sand or deny the reality of the ramifications of the results of this election. Rather, I am overwhelmed by a sense of peace and joy that I serve the same God today, a few days after the election, as I did the day before the election. Or four years ago when this administration first took office. Or four years before that, when we elected our last Christian president.

Instead of depression and disgust, I find myself praising God.

He is the Lord. The one true God. This election doesn’t change who He is. He is good, and mighty, and sovereign. He is the only one who is all places, knows all things, and has all power. He IS the Alpha and Omega. President Obama didn’t sneak up from behind and surprise him with his re-election. He sets all things in order, controls all things, and accomplishes all things according to His will, even in government. Barack Obama is president because the Lord stationed him there. Unquestionably, “there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1).

So what now?

Four years is a long time to wait for another chance to change the leadership of our country. A lot has happened in that time, and now, as the president was overheard saying to Russian President Vladimir Putin, he has a lot more “flexibility” since he doesn’t face re-election. I don’t know about you, but I find myself in the same place as four years ago when President Obama won his first term.

The answer for this nation then and now is for God’s people to become holy as He is holy. It is for us to see our sin as God sees it and place our faith unwaveringly in His word, who He is, and His faithfulness to do what He says He’ll do. It is for us to obey without compromise because of His grace that saves us and keeps us turned toward Him and His ways.

As the Holy Spirit enables our obedience to what seem like impossible standards, God blesses and moves and shows Himself off in such a way that others will know He is God. Because of His love for us, we love Him, and that genuine, life-changing love spreads to those around us. All of a sudden, others have a chance to see a Real Savior and the government is no longer the only tangible solution to the world’s hurts and needs. As we are made righteous by the blood of Jesus and exist in irrevocable covenant with Him, and as our obedience positions us for God’s use, our prayers avail much.

This nation desperately needs God’s church to enter the battlefield armed and ready to fight for souls not morals. Salvation, not economic and national security. When we do, the other naturally follows as God does what He says He’ll do, giving us credibility as we do our part as citizens, bringing us full circle to putting our faith unwaveringly in Him and His word.

Holy His: Hope for Life and a Nation Wholly His (see image/link in above right sidebar) is a scripture-packed how-to for doing just that. I pray this doesn’t come across as shameless self-promotion, but I can’t help but wonder at the timing its release. When the publisher dragged its feet and my Bible study was released six weeks before the election instead of the six months I desired, I was immeasurably disappointed. In my mind and according to my plans, the purpose was to get a message to Christians for this election. Now I see it very well could be for such a time as now.

It’s a line-in-the-sand moment. Time to choose. Time to step completely over and choose faith. Either that, or stay in fear and unbelief, tossed about by every latest news report or dire prediction. Worse yet, remain straddled over the line.

And whatever we do, we cannot share a doomsday outlook as those without hope! No matter what, life is not doomsday for the child of God.

He promises to never leave or forsake us EVEN IF HE LEAVES AND FORSAKES A NATION THAT TURNS ITS BACK ON HIM. Historically, He has shown Himself ever faithful, singling out His people, singling out a remnant, even as judgment and destruction descend on the unrighteous all around. And there’s the key. Righteous or unrighteous. Holy or unholy.

It is even more obvious now.

We must live the message of the gospel. It is the only message of hope for individuals, families, and our nation. In order to be holy His, we must be wholly His, obeying  the word of God out of love for Jesus Christ. When we do, the evidence of His mighty hand upon us will give our words credibility and our lives will become a powerful platform for preaching a believable message of salvation.

It’s a narrow road, but it leads to life!

May we find it today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy HIs

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Discipline of the Pause

I’m on a quest to lose what seems like an eternal five pounds. Actually, it’s more like eight. Five just sounds better. It’s a good round number. I’m not terribly serious about it, or else I would have done something radical by now. I’ve already bought roomier clothes, temporarily, of course, so I could be comfortable while dropping the extra weight. Now that I’m comfortable, what’s the rush? Some days I’m not bothered by them at all; others, they cling like unwanted leeches, creating just enough snugness in just the wrong places that I want to scream! I am determined, however, to lose them without doing anything extreme, like giving up chocolate or bread or exercising like a maniac for an hour or more every day. I just don’t have the discipline to maintain such difficult standards. I’ll find success for a time, the pounds will eventually fall away, and I’ll celebrate with chocolate, bread, and a few days of much deserved respite from rigorous physical activity. And I’ll end up right where I am right now.

Consequently, I’m resolute to take reasonable measures. That mentality in and of itself has to be a work of the Lord in me. I don’t ever do anything reasonable. I’m way too all or nothing for that! So instead of imposing a diet of deprivation upon myself and running until my joints scream with agony, I have decided to work out with weights, because muscle burns fat (so says Chalene of ChaLEAN Extreme, anyways), and think a little harder about my food choices throughout the day. Some days, I think hard about chocolate. Others, I truly consider the nutritional value of my choices. The weight is not falling off. Slowly, though, I think I’m getting a little more lean. The beautiful thing is I’m okay with it either way. The evidence of God’s deliverance is in the absence of the obsessive-compulsive desperation that used to drive me. It feels good. Unfortunately, all this balanced thinking vanishes with hunger!

The other night, about 10:30 p.m., my hollow stomach drove me to the pantry. My body clock was off from a long weekend getaway to Arizona, and dinner was long digested. Standing in the kitchen, cereal box in one hand, bowl in the other, I paused. “People who lose weight are willing to go to bed hungry,” whispered the voice of conscience.  So simple, yet so profound.

I shared this epiphany with my pastor’s wife as we ran together a few days later, and as I confessed a different area of indulgence I really don’t want to admit because I’m not sure I want to change, it occurred to me in my self psychoanalysis that the forces behind both are the same:  I want what I want when I want it without restriction or consequence so that I can be happy. Not surprisingly (even though it seemed quite remarkable in the moment), the answer to overcoming both is the same: the discipline of the pause.

When I stopped before thoughtlessly consuming that bowl of cereal, it gave me just enough time to think about the consequence of my choices. Whether or not I have a late-night snack may not have spiritual implications, but in how many other areas of my life would the discipline of the pause make all the difference in the world? Stopping long enough in my hectic life to truly consider what I’m doing, why, what God wants, and what course of action is pleasing to Him. Honestly, I don’t think He cares if I eat a bowl of cereal before going to bed. But if doing so sets me on a course of self-loathing that interferes with my intimacy with Him, then all of a sudden the spiritual implications are significant. For me, mindless living results in all manner of self-indulgence, which is essentially selfishness, which is at the root of most sin. To pause is to take enough time to make a right choice. It interrupts the momentum of the flesh and cracks the door for the power of the Holy Spirit.

The discipline of the pause has endless implications. What if I paused before every response to my kids? what if I paused every time James asked me for help? What if I paused before every online purchase I made? What if I paused before every commitment I made, including the ones that result from my own ideas? What if I paused before every television show I watched, every phone call I made, every mindless time waster in which I engaged?

“Consider your ways! ‘You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.’ Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Consider your ways!’” (Haggai 1:5-7). My selfish pursuits will never be enough, just like the Jews to whom Haggai is speaking! Without the pause, I am a hamster spinning my wheels.

In my cereal moment, I’d love to say I was super spiritual. I wasn’t. I simply stopped long enough to make a choice to be hungry and perhaps a step closer to my goal. I missed it. The pause is an opportunity to consider my ways. To pray. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15). In that suspended moment, we can heed the Lord’s counsel. We can be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). Be still and know what it is this God wants of me. Be still and harness the power of the Holy Spirit within to follow His will in that moment. Be still, that God may be glorified.

Will you join me in learning the discipline of the pause? Life is hectic. I think the devil likes it that way. When we’re mindlessly rushing from one commitment to another, one deadline to the next, we often don’t take time to consider the people we could be loving along the way. The lives we could be touching. The gospel we could be sharing. Whirlwind living is great for Satan.

Lord, please work in us to pause. To be still and consider You. To consider our ways. To receive the power we need to know what You want and how You would have us handle people, circumstances, commitments, conversations, and time. Accomplish Your work in us that you may be exalted among the nations as we become more wholly Yours.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, October 25, 2012

All Is Right, So Why Is Life All Wrong?

You may be doing everything right, and something very wrong might happen. How’s that for a dose of encouragement today?!?! It goes against everything we want to believe about life and about God, doesn’t it? It’s not fair. In fact, by our thinking, it’s downright unacceptable. Proper behavior should result in blessings. Wicked, rebellious behavior should result in curses. That’s what it says in Deuteronomy chapter twenty-eight, so that’s what we should be able to take to the bank, right? It leads to the age-old question: Why do bad things happen to good people and vice versa? For the child of God, we can be encouraged!
Reading in Genesis this week, I slowed at the wonder of the story of Joseph. We’ve probably all heard it countless times. Made famous in Sunday school rooms around the world and throughout the ages, the adventurous saga of jealous brothers, a coat of many colors, and a slave who rises to power in a prison cell establishes a core certainty on which we must hang our faith. Our hope. Our ability to move forward when life is dragging us down and there’s no reasonable explanation to “Why me?”
Jealous of daddy’s favorite and made about his dreams, Joseph’s brothers fake his murder and sell him into slavery. Betrayed, abandoned, and now in bondage, Joseph ends up in Egypt where Potipher buys him. Life is not good. But Genesis 39:2-3 tells us, “The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did prosper into his hand.” So Potipher sets Joseph over his house and all he has. Being a handsome fellow, Joseph catches the eye of Potipher’s wife, who proceeds to throw herself at him. When he acts honorably and declines her solicitations, saying it would be a “great wickedness, and sin against God” (verse nine), she puts on the drama and essentially accuses him of attempted rape.
Joseph does the right thing, is wrongly accused, and ends up in prison. Isn’t that breaking the rules for the way it should be? Once again, “the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (verse twenty-one). “Whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper” (verse twenty-three).
Keep in mind, Joseph has no idea why this is happening. We don’t see into the details of his heart or attitude during his many trials, but nothing in scripture indicates heated debates with the Lord about why. We don’t see any evidence of a bitter heart because life’s not fair. All we see is the Lord’s hand upon him. Given the character of God and what the word tells us about blessings for the righteous, I believe it’s safe to assume Joseph kept his heart right before God, his attitude pleasing Him, and his behavior virtuous.
While Joseph is in prison for the crime he didn’t commit, Pharaoh has a dream his magicians can’t interpret and is told about Joseph’s ability to understand and explain dreams. He summons Joseph to interpret, and Joseph clarifies, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (Genesis 41:16).  Joseph describes the meaning of Pharaoh’s dreams, and Pharaoh says to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you” (verses thirty-nine through forty).
In this powerful position, Joseph is able to store up provision during famine and eventually provide for his own family. When he later reveals himself to his bewildered brothers who unknowingly come to him for food, he assures them, “Do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5), “to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God” (verses seven and eight). After his father Jacob dies and his brothers panic that he will turn on them, he again assures them, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).
The thing is, Joseph did not know this BEFORE when everything wrong was happening to him. He had to trust God and continue to do the right thing, even as wrong things happened again and again. By faith, not by sight, he served God, and God gave him favor.
As in Joseph’s case, God may not right our wrongs right away, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t working all things to good, even when wrong things happen. That’s why we walk by faith not by sight.
Perhaps God is allowing, and maybe even causing, certain events that are sad or uncomfortable, trying and difficult for another person’s deliverance or because He wants someone else to know He is God. It’s easy to let God demonstrate Himself in our lives through abundant blessings, provision and deliverance! But what about when He demonstrates Himself by allowing us to go through extremely trying times? Times when we fear for our families or even our very lives? Are we willing then? Will we praise Him by faith and not allow what we see to deter our love and devotion to Him?
Lord, help us to trust You in all things as we become more wholly Yours today.
Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It'll All Be Better in the Morning

I don’t know what it is about the night. If ever I am going to feel incurably overwhelmed, I guarantee it will be at night. Inevitably, James will notice the extra wrinkles in my brow, the concentrated effort to breathe steady, the uneasiness in my spirit. He’ll listen as I tick through all the things that seem insurmountable in that moment, and then he’ll simply say, “Get some sleep, honey. It’ll all be better in the morning.”

And it is! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lain my head down in total defeat at night only to awaken in the morning with a fresh outlook. I have come to love James’ words of comfort and encouragement. I find myself telling my kids the same thing when late night chats expose emotions, occurrences, obstacles, and ordinary relationships and responsibilities that have them feeling they just may not make it. I can totally relate, so I tell them what James tells me, “Get some sleep. It will all be better in the morning.”

Once again my self-proclaimed simple guy has encapsulated profound truth in a simple statement, and guess what? It’s biblical! It occurred to me the other day that the Bible speaks to this specifically at least twice.

In Lamentations 3:22-24, the prophet Jeremiah comforts himself, saying, “Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’”

We will not come to our end because His deep love, mercy, and tender affection will not come to an end. They are fresh at the break of each new day. The kind of renewable that truly sustains. And because His compassions fail not, the end of our rope is not the end of our hope!

In Psalm 30:5, David declares, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” We may pass the night distraught, deeply grieving, or crying out in desperation, but when day breaks, it’s time to be overcome with rejoicing. It’s time to break out in a shout for joy!

What if we don’t feel like it the next morning? Do it anyways! We can’t let feelings regulate our faith or our obedience. As Paul exhorts in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Then in verses six and seven, he instructs us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Praise brings peace. Do you see it? And as we rejoice in Him with each new day, His provision, presence, and peace are enough for that day.

God’s provision comes every morning, just as it did for the Israelites in Exodus. They have just embarked on their wilderness journey and complain against Moses because of their hunger. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. and the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day’” (Exodus 16:4). When the dew lifted, God’s provision was there, and the Israelites were to gather each according to their need for THAT DAY. No more, and no less. And that’s just what God gives us for our days, too.

Notice, God sent the manna, but the Israelites had to gather it before it could satisfy their hunger. He gave them the ingredient. They had to make it into food. As He provides for our every day, we have to do our part in applying His provision to our responsibilities. Here are some of the things I do when anxiety overwhelms me:

1.       I pray, telling God every little thing that’s churning in my mind and heart. We are told to cast our cares on Him (I Peter 5:7). Literally, throw our anxieties – those things that make us feel divided and disjointed – upon God, “for He cares for you.”

2.       When anxiety threatens to split my head, I will write my prayers in a journal to God. Transferring them to paper helps me place them securely in the hands of God.

3.       At night, I’ll read my Bible until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer, training my thoughts on Him and not on my troubles.

4.       If I’m overwhelmed with things I have to do, before I go to bed, I’ll write out a schedule for the next day and prioritize my tasks. I note my commitments first, which reveals windows of time in which I can tackle a few tasks. This system helps me to be realistic about what I can accomplish with the time I have. Next, I choose the most important jobs and assign them to my day first. Another trick I learned when I was in direct sales is to do the thing you dread the most first. Get that monkey off your back. You’ll be amazed at the stress that will relieve!

5.       If my stress is due to feeling backed up on things in my office or around the house, I sometimes get up extra early the next day and use the quiet early morning hours when I’m the only one crazy enough to be awake to first spend time with the Lord and in His word, and second to have uninterrupted time to take care of some of the things that require my attention. It’s amazing what this does to lift anxiety and my spirits. I find the relief outweighs the sacrifice of a few hours of sleep.

Above all, stay in the day, as Matthew 6:34 insists, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Perhaps that’s why God’s compassions renew every morning. His joy comes in the morning. We rejoice and praise Him every morning because we absolutely have to remember and remind and restate who He is and what He says He’ll do for us in order to make it! And He’ll give us exactly what we need for that day – nothing more and nothing less. And we can lay our heads down at night knowing He’ll give us exactly what we need the next day too.

“My son, let them not depart from your eyes – keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:21-24).

Lord, help us to roll our cares on You, for You care about us. As we do, may we be more fully able to become wholly Yours and do what You have for us to do.

Shauna Wallace

Holy His