Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mastering Mortification One Laugh at a Time

Careful planning culminated in a two-car caravan to Panera Bread for a quick bite after church with an immediate departure to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Those folks who hail from this neck of the woods know without saying what a big deal this annual event is. Trial rides stop traffic throughout the greater-Houston area. Volunteer commitments turn into lifetime traditions. I don’t know how many millions in scholarships have been awarded. I want to say it’s the world’s second largest rodeo. It is a Texas-sized big deal!
This year was extra special because my family was in town. My brother-in-law team ropes for sport, and their family has been involved with livestock of some form or fashion for as long as I can remember. The cousins were excited to be together doing anything, and Boompa and Bug (terms of endearment for my dad and his wife) completed the entourage. Bellies full, we headed for our wagons. Ride full, I back out and turn for the freeway. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of my sister and do a mental check. Everyone is where they’re supposed to be.

“Oh no, mother!” cries a daughter. “I don’t have my allergy medicine. What am I going to do?!?! I can’t be around all those animals. I won’t be able to breathe!”

Knowing she truly wouldn’t make it through the event without some sort of antihistamine, I concede, “Here’s what I’m going to do. I’ll pull off the freeway to the front of the Target that’s just ahead, and you can run…and I mean RUN…in to the store and get what you need.” Pulling to a stop, a unanimous chant rang forth from the peanut gallery: “Go, go, go!”
Waiting out front, the phone rings. “Heeeeyyyy, wus up?” I answer playfully. Music piping, kids chatting, it’s going to be a great afternoon!
“Where are you?” comes the reply.
“Oh, there’s no way this daughter will make it through the rodeo without allergy medicine. She’s allergic to short-haired animals, so I told her I’d stop so she could buy some medicine...yada, yada, yada…” I’m not sure, but I think I continued with quite a long-winded explanation.
“You left me!!!”
Without seeing her face, I could see her face. Thank God she was laughing!
Shock. Disbelief.
“Are you serious?!? Oh my gosh! I am so sorry! Oh, Pam, I can’t believe I did that!!! It’s a good thing we stopped. We’re only a block or so down the road. I’m coming right back to get you!”
Shopper back in her seat, we reverse course for Panera Bread.
The phone rings again. “Hello?”
“I raised you better than to leave your sister behind!” Boompa teases, having a little fun at my expense.
There was nothing I could do but laugh at myself. I started to plead an, “I can’t believe I did that!” But really, I could believe it. I do mindless things like that all the time. Just ask my kids. I’m an endless source of live entertainment, and I’ve found the best antidote for embarrassment is learning to laugh at myself. So that’s what I did. And profusely asked my sister to forgive me!
When our foolishness, absentmindedness, or even simple humanness mortifies, laughter dispels despair. I’m not talking about laughing at other people. I’m talking about learning to laugh at ourselves. And tell on ourselves. It truly is the best way to combat condemnation, steal ammunition from those who might want to use it against us, and most important, mute the devil’s attempts to shame us over our mistakes.

One daughter, who must remain unnamed, came home from school one day absolutely horrified by something she did, which must remain unspoken. It was nothing bad or wrong, just very embarrassing for her. “What am I going to do, mother? You just don’t understand! How am I ever going to go back in there again?!?!” she despaired. Being the tender, loving mother I am, I chuckled as she told her story. She was so cute as she confessed the humiliating event. After consoling her, because she was genuinely upset about what happened, I gave her my best advice: “When things like this happen, the best thing you can do is learn to laugh at yourself!”
Proverbs 15:13 says, “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Likewise, Proverbs 17:22 tells us, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
Embarrassing situations, if blown out of proportion in our own minds or by others, can bring sorrow to our hearts and break our spirits. Laughing and telling on ourselves produces a merry heart, for the bearer and hearer. I can’t tell you how many endorphins my friend Jill has produced in me as she retells her embarrassing moments. It’s the best entertainment ever! And the stories never get old. She is a master at laughing at herself, because like me, she provides herself with ample material.
So she’s the first one I called after making a complete fool of myself at the bank drive thru. Becoming invisible would not have been radical enough at that moment.

Even though I was already running late, I stopped to make a deposit. I truly have the slowest bank in the entire world, and this day was no different. Irritation stirred the longer I waited. The speaker came to life: “Mrs. Wallace, you added your deposit wrong, so I’m going to change the total and send it back for your signature.” Great! I said to myself. A longer delay. “That will be fine, thank you.” I initialed the change, returned the slip, and waited.
And waited. And waited.
The speaker cracked again, “I’m so sorry, Mrs. Wallace, but your first total was correct. I miscalculated. I’ll have your cash out to you right away.” Excellent. A light at the end of the tunnel! Let’s just get this done so I’m not later than I already am. The tube whined, I grabbed the canister, took my cash, and prepared to pull away, first counting the money. A $20 bill was missing. Window rolled back down, patience expired, blood boiling, I pressed the “Call” button, still attempting to keep my cool.
“Yes, Mrs. Wallace?”
“I’m missing $20,” I declared.
“I don’t see how that’s possible, Mrs. Wallace. I counted the money exactly," to which I graciously replied: “Given the fact that you miscalculated my deposit, do you not think it’s possible that you’ve made  a mistake with my cash back?” Remaining firm, he answered, “I don’t see how that’s possible. Just one moment. Let me recount my drawer.”

Are you kidding me???? I thought to myself. Recount his drawer!?!? Settling in, I knew it was going to be a while longer. This time a woman’s voice broke the silence. “Mrs. Wallace, I’m sorry it’s taking so long, but my teller counted his drawer, and I recounted it as well, and it’s correct. The only thing left to do is watch the security tapes after we close this evening.” Past my whit’s end, I huffed, “Fine, do that, and for your information, I will be closing all of my accounts!”
Shoving the gear into drive, foot on the gas, my youngest daughter who witnessed the entire drama from the back seat, asked, “Mommy, what’s that under your leg?” Yep. You got it. The $20 bill!
Deflated, I determined in my mind I would simply slink to my next stop without a word and never set foot in that bank again. To crawl in a hole would not even have begun to make me feel better! However, I would have preferred it to what happened next. The phone rang. “Hello?” I answered. A woman’s voice responded, “Mrs. Wallace, this is so-and-so from the bank. I’m sorry to bother you, but you forgot to sign one of your checks.”
Not only was my slinking plan averted, but I had to IMMEDIATELY show my face again. Head bent, pride bruised, and heart convicted, I proceeded into the lobby, approached the very teller I had accused of ruining my banking experience, and simply asked him to forgive me for acting so inappropriately. Not my proudest moment.
We are not alone. We all have moments that send us diving for cover. Lighten up. Make another person’s day. Tell on yourself, and then laugh.
“All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15). I most certainly do!
Lord, give us discernment for the various twists and turns of life, and give us the ability to laugh off the embarrassing moments that threaten to break our spirit as we learn to be wholly Yours even when we blow it.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Monday, May 28, 2012

Travel Unravel: A Vacation from God or with Him?

The family resemblance becomes more striking every time we travel. Each vacation evokes images of the Grizwold clan with its quarks, disasters, and ensuing escapades. So it is for us, and the beginning of our trip to Lake Tahoe marked the start of yet another Griz-Wallace family adventure! Luggage heaped on people, and people stacked on people, the six of us plus our neighbor piled into our SUV for the trip to the airport. James slowly recovered from the fact that I dumped the coffee before he got his refill for the road. Samantha sat sideways on my lap, seatbelt snuggling both bodies. Elly slightly visible in the very back. A mere 15 minutes behind schedule. A great start! Rolling into the street, all was smooth sailing, until our speed exceeded fifteen miles per hour. A sound like bending metal vibrated the vehicle.

“What is that noise?!?!” Eyebrows elevated. Nervous smiles spread. Questioning looks exchanged.

The greater the speed, the louder the groan. No warning lights on the dash. No external signs of steel bending or falling apart.

The verdict: The strap holding the golf clubs to the ceiling of the car cut the wind, whining ferociously the faster we drove. No need to stop. No need to assess the security of the strap job. Oh no! Just plow forward, Griz-Wallaces! Load checks through the sunroof every few seconds will do the trick. Raise your voice a bit if you have something to say, and we’re good to go! And pray that nothing goes flying from the roof when we hit the beltway!

Never a dull moment. For that I am thankful, actually. Most of the time. Although, a dull moment every once in a while is a glorious thing. But if it lasts too long, then it’s wrong. Something feels off. The way I feel when a vacation leaves me out of my groove with God. Off.

Morning quiet times filled with extra hours of sleep. Solitary time with God replaced with home-cooked hot breakfast, family banter, and pressure to get to the attraction of the day. God doesn’t go anywhere. It’s me. In taking a week off from life as I know it, I find myself neglecting the very things that make life anywhere worth living. Even life on vacation.

I find myself feeling a bit empty. Agitated. In need of His peace. In need of a return.

He beckons. His grace calls. He opens my eyes to His glory all around me. To His presence always there. To Him. And to the fact that it’s not a designated time of day or amount of time spent with Him that keeps me close. It’s a constant awareness of Him. A constant turning to Him. A constant dialogue. A heart turned to Him no matter where I am or what schedule I keep. And making time, even if it’s just a little, to read His word. To absorb His truth. To sit with Him at the start of my day so the rest of my day can reflect Him.

Snow falls. Flames dance in the fireplace. Elly builds snowmen on the balcony railing. The older girls read Christian novels on their various electronic devices. Ryan details his latest business idea, while James practices his golf swing in the bedroom. It’s a tame Griz-Wallace day. Our last day in Lake Tahoe. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do.

I smile. Inside and out.

God is good. His mercy endures forever. He is slow to anger and quick to forgive. His grace awaits where our pride would hold a grudge. He is ever present when we are quick to jump ship. His arms wide open when ours are crossed in defiance.  

It is an invitation to return. His goodness for my repentance (Romans 2:4). His kindness that I might seek His forgiveness and His face. A reminder that no matter what the intensity of extended togetherness reveals about our family dynamics, no matter how many do-over moments that togetherness demands, I want to extend the same to my Griz-Wallace family. Every quirky one of them.

Lord, please continue Your sanctifying work in me, on vacation and as we settle back into our routine. Make me more wholly Yours every day.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sorry Is Sorry When Only Forgiveness Will Do

Many years ago, many seasons past, bleary eyed and staggering through parenting three kids under the age of twelve, James and I heard a teaching that embedded itself in the fiber of our family: “I’m sorry”  should be reserved for careless but innocent mistakes, like accidentally bumping into or spilling something. But when we’ve done something to someone else because of sin in our hearts, nothing will do but, “Will you forgive me?”

Simple semantics? No. The difference isn’t in the language used. It’s in the attitude of the heart.  

Sorry simply blows it off. No brokenness required. No true sorrow over what’s been done. It appeases. To say, “Will you forgive me?” requires repentance. Humility. Others-mindedness that comes from genuine sorrow for one’s words or behavior. It’s the difference between offenses piling up like water behind a dam, pressurized and volatile, and hurts washing away like water under a bridge. “Will you forgive me?” reaches to the injuries of the heart and cleanses. Just like the blood of Jesus does for us.

Yet, when I’m guilty, it’s a whole lot easier to vent a casual sorry than it is to vulnerably confess my sin and seek forgiveness. There’s something about guilt that invites pride, welcome or not, and exposing ourselves is risky. I can’t tell you how many simple infractions have escalated to full-out explosions because of my unwillingness to come clean. Using deflection to make it about the other person and not me, when a simple, “Will you forgive me?” douses threatening embers before they swell to dangerous flames.

In the same way, may embers have been extinguished when any one of us simply stopped and asked for forgiveness.

I don’t even remember the topic of the fight. Stiff necked in the laundry room folding clothes from the dryer, the words, “Why are you being so rude today?” set my emotions in a tailspin and my defenses firmly in place. I was ready to make it all about him, and I was doing a pretty good job, in my opinion. But he wasn’t buying it. The more I tried, the more defenseless I truly was, and a relaxed evening at home hung in the balance. The Holy Spirit would not allow me a moment of peace as I finished the laundry. I slinked into my husband’s office, set aside any legitimate complaint I might have had against him, and simply asked him to forgive me for the way I was acting toward him. No excuses. No justification. Just forgive me.

Restoration was immediate.

Godly sorrow produced repentance that led to salvation. Deliverance, preservation, and safety, just as Paul says it will in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 (KJV):

Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

The recipients of Paul’s letter experienced sadness, uneasiness, regret, and grief, but what made him exceedingly glad was that it produced repentance: a change of mind as it appears in one who heartily amends with abhorrence of one’s past sins (metanoia and its root, donemetanoeō,, 2 Corinthians 7:9). It’s the difference between sorrow because you were caught doing wrong versus sorrow for the sin itself. Not self-contrived sorrow, but the working of the Holy Spirit in us.

And when the Holy Spirit is behind the sorrow, pain, grief, annoyance, affliction, and mourning that leads us to a change of mind with regards to our sin, then comes salvation, sōtēria in the Greek, which encompasses “deliverance, preservation, safety, salvation from the molestation of enemies; in an ethical sense, that which concludes to the soul's safety or salvation; salvation as the present possession of all true Christians; future salvation, the sum of benefits and blessings which the Christians, redeemed from all earthly ills, will enjoy after the visible return of Christ from heaven in the consummated and eternal kingdom of God” (, 2 Corinthians 7:10).

Feeling bad about what we’ve done isn’t enough. All humanity is capable of sorrow, pain, and grief over wrong actions, including those who are hostile to the cause of Christ. But their sorrow only leads to death, thanatos in the Greek, “ the death of the body with the implied idea of future misery in hell; the miserable state of the wicked dead in hell; in the widest sense, death comprising all the miseries arising from sin, as well physical death as the loss of a life consecrated to God and blessed in him on earth, to be followed by wretchedness in hell”; from the word thnēskō, which refers to being spiritually dead (, 2 Corinthians 7:10).

In other words, sorry produces death. It piles on offenses and eventually kills relationships. It blows off that which needs balm, leaving the injured to lick their own wounds. “Will you forgive me?” leads to salvation. It’s seeking forgiveness as evidence of repentance. With Jesus. With each other. Husbands. Children. Parents. Friends. Co-workers.

As imperfect as my family is, we have lots of opportunities to use those four words. As wrapped up as I get in my own world, I have ample opportunity to plead the quartet outside the walls of my home. But that’s what makes our families and friendships indestructible: the work of the Holy Spirit in us to bring us to repentance that leads to salvation.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:22-27).

Sorry is sorry. Don’t give place to the devil, my friend. Forgive and be forgiven as you become wholly His today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Monday, May 21, 2012

Steward Well by Wind, Bit, and Lead

I crave days at home. Cherish them. No running around. No daytime deadlines. No need to preen. PJs until noon (okay, I’ve been caught in my PJs well into the afternoon). Fresh, hot coffee all morning long. The prospect of relaxed productivity, should I choose to tackle something lurking in the pile on my desk. Kids on task with school work. Dinner being handled by someone else. An opportunity at some point for exercise. My ideal day!

It was a day just like this. My only commitment an evening double date with a favorite couple. My self-imposed schedule included an hour-long workout timed perfectly to hop directly in the shower to be ready to leave by 5:45 p.m.  My youngest daughter, the only one home that afternoon, happily mixed the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies as I changed clothes. iPad and sweat towel in hand, I headed from my bathroom to the elliptical and encountered my daughter, bowl of cookie dough cradled in one arm. “How does this look?” she asked. It actually had a very interesting sheen. “Did you melt the butter rather than let it soften?” I inquired. “Yes.” That explained the slick appearance of the dough. But the smell? What was that? “It’ll be fine, honey. You’re doing great,” I encouraged as she made her way back to the kitchen.

Flipping off the lights in my bathroom, something subtly nudged. A question quietly posed in my spirit: Why don’t you ask her if she wants to play a game together while her cookies bake? I considered the alternative: My daughter, whose love language is quality time, contentedly baking alone, while I spent my last hour of freedom exercising, totally satisfying my selfish goals. What was I going to do?

“You want me to forget about exercising and play a game with you between batches?” I asked as I rounded the corner to the kitchen. “That would be great,” she answered.


The smell? Maple. Darn if that bottle didn’t look just like the vanilla! The game never happened. Instead, we salvaged our last two cups of chocolate chips from the maple dough in order to reuse them in the new dough. But it was time well spent.

Getting things just right in the kitchen is one thing. What about getting things right in life? Stewarding well by learning to walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, and live in the Spirit?

If you’ve attended church long, you’ve likely heard one of these terms, but is it some esoteric ideal only the super spiritual elite achieve? How in the world do we actually do this?

By wind, lead, and bit.

Baking instead of exercising. Laying in bed with a child chatting about spiritual things instead of relaxing in front of the television at the end of a stressful day. Taking a phone call from a friend in need instead of marking the next item off my list. Gratifying another’s desires at the expense of mine.

To walk in the Spirit, peripateō in the Greek, means to “make one’s way, make due use of opportunities, regulate, conduct, and pass one’s life” in the Holy Spirit, pneuma in the Greek, from the root pneō, which means “breathe, blow, of the wind” (, Galatians 5:16). When we are saved by grace through faith, we are given the Holy Spirit. The third person of the triune God dwells within us. He is spirit, so He is not tangible. Visible. Measurable in the natural. He breathes. He blows. He is wind.

John 3:8 says, "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." Interestingly, wind is the same Greek word as Spirit in Galatians 5:16. The Spirit is wind. He does what the root word for pneuma suggests: He blows.

What does wind do when it blows? It moves objects. Causes them to bend, to veer. You don’t see the wind, only its effects. So it is when we are born of the Spirit. He blows us where He intends or resolves or purposes us to go, causing us to like to do a thing, be fond of it, take delight and pleasure in it (thelō,, John 3:8). We don’t see Him. We just see the bending. Us being steered. Going with the gust.

So, to walk in the Spirit is to make our way and make due use of opportunities as the Holy Spirit propels us to take pleasure in doing what pleases Him. We perceive Him, sensing what He says to us, and then He brings us under His way of life. It’s letting Him blow us where He wants us to go. We can be a tree, stiff and unmoving, and eventually find ourselves flat on the ground, roots exposed and nowhere to go. Or we can be like tall grass, bending and swaying with the direction of the wind. To walk in the Spirit is to be tall grass.

To be led by the Spirit is for the Spirit to lay hold of us in order to bring us to the point of His destination for us, attaching Himself to us, and accompanying us along the way (agō,, Galatians 5:18). Picture an animal following  by lead and bit a loving master whose main concern is its well being. As the master tugs the lead, the animal follows. Where does the owner lead the animal? To shelter and safety. To food and provision. To its place of work and purpose and function. How does the animal view the master? With complete trust. As its caregiver, provider, protector, and security. It is the same with us and the Spirit. Again, we can be tree or grass. We can submit and go willingly where the master leads, or we can dig in our heels, tug against the lead. To be led by the Spirit is to go willingly.

The result? Life in the Spirit! To live in the Spirit is for every breath to be of Him; to be among the living, not lifeless and dead, but rather enjoying true life worthy of the name of Jesus, active, blessed, endless in the kingdom of God; to be in full vigor, fresh, strong, and efficient; living water, having vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul (zaō,, Galatians 5:25).

What does it all mean? Seasonal stewarship  by wind, bit, and lead.

The wind. A nudge. A quiet question or thought whispered to our spirit. We walk. We make our way. We make due use of opportunities. In response to the wind. As it blows us where He wants us to go. Taking delight in what brings Him pleasure.

The pull. The lead. We follow.

The life. Fresh. Strong. Efficient. Vital. Eternal.

The doing? Laying face flat on the floor, prostrate before our God. At the foot of the cross. Surrendered. Adoring, thanking, worshipping, interceding, receiving. Sitting at the feet of Jesus, in His word. Standing. Going. Tirelessly repeating.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:7-9).

Lord, let us steward well as we walk by the Spirit, are led by the Spirit, and live in the Spirit, every day becoming more wholly Yours as we do. Sowing to the Spirit and reaping everlasting life. Thank you, Lord!

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Profound Potty Talk: A Heart's Cry to Steward Well

I now know why women go to the restroom in pairs: profound words. Maybe not every time, but in the mindless repetition of a continuously repeated event, casual conversation often turns intimate, and great things are spoken. One such conversation sticks like another dart in my heart (see ”Yield or Wield: Believers and Politics?”).

I don’t remember where we were or why, but I was in the ladies room with author and speaker Tami Head (God used her recently published Bible study, Duty or Delight? Knowing Where You Stand with God,, to shift my focus from performing for God to simply loving Him). At the time, her younger daughter was in the last years of high school, and her older girl had just left for her first year of college. As we chatted about this new stage of life, she uttered these insightful words: “I just want to steward this season well.”

I have pondered these words in my core. They have become a prayer for my own season. The cry of my heart for my 10-year-old, toes dangling over the precipice of adolescence, caught in the balance of being too young but too old. My 14-year-old, feet firmly planted in the teenage years, discovering a faith and convictions all her own. My 18-year-old, staring down her final teenage year, hands wrapping the reigns of her own life now. My 23-year-old, barreling toward his mid-twenties, living on his own and figuring out what holds most importance to him.    

How do I simultaneously steward all their seasons well when I’m in a season of my own? A season of sanctification as the Lord strips me of self so He can clothe me in Christ. A season of being wife to a husband who runs his own company and needs tenderness, attentiveness, and restoration when he comes home beat up by the demands of his job. A season of mothering four children, all in their own seasons, balancing the tasks of home, schooling, and helping James in the business. A season of becoming an author, responding to the burden God has placed on my heart to share what He is teaching me. A season of friendship, discipling and being discipled. A season of chaos in the world, false teaching in the church. A season of much change, much threat, much uncertainty.

Stewardship is a biblical principle of responsibility and accountability by which each of us will be measured. A scale that weighs what we’ve done with what we’ve been given. The results eternally significant. Jesus taught a parable on stewardship in Matthew 15:14-30. A master traveling to a country far away gives each of three servants a certain number of talents, “each according to his own ability” (verse 15). After a long time, the master returns and settles his accounts. Two servants doubled the master’s money, while the other buried it out of fear. Each received his just reward. The same will be true for us when we stand before Jesus and give an account of himself to God (Romans 14:12).

While Jesus’ parable deals with money, its application exceeds mere monetary relevance. Our Master will settle accounts with us regarding all that He entrusts to us. In a sense, our children are talents: valuable goods with which we are assigned by The Master. We are accountable for how we steward the seasons of their lives. A bit frightening, if you ask me.

So how do we steward well in the midst of their and our seasons when there is no formula? There is only flesh and spirit. Law and Jesus. The answer one that requires giving up everything in order to receive that which matters most. Setting aside self for others. Husband. Children. We see in God’s word how it is in fact possible to do so, and to do it well.

Writing to the church in Galatia, Paul reveals how to steward our seasons well. His letter confronts a false gospel of salvation by Jesus plus works and establishes salvation through grace by faith alone. This eternal truth not only is the key to the kingdom of God, it is the formula for seasonal stewardship, the “how to” contained in Galatians 5:16-20, 24-26, and 6:1-10:

5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

5:24 Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load. 6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Seasonal stewardship in ten easy steps!

1.       Walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, live in the Spirit.

2.       Crucify the flesh with its passions and desires.

3.       Remain humble, focused on others, and thankful, no matter what.

4.       Exude gentleness, remembering it could just as easily be me.

5.       Bear each other’s burdens.

6.       Take responsibility for my own choices and behaviors.

7.       Remain in God’s truth.

8.       Respond to God’s truth.

9.       Never give up.

10.   Do good to all.

In reality, the list isn’t so easy, and the whole thing hinges on number one. In fact, two through ten are impossible without one. Once we are saved by grace through faith, the only way we will steward the seasons God gives us well is to walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, and live in the Spirit.

What does that actually mean? How do we actually do life by the Spirit? By lead and bit.

More Monday.

Until then, I pray God’s word penetrates deep in our hearts and understanding as the Holy Spirit prepares us to steward our seasons well as we become more wholly His today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Glory Games

One weekend. $155 million. Hunger Games. A phenomenon that swept the nation, or at least the corner of the Houston area where we live, among the teens and families we know. A power-intoxicated capitol chooses teenage tributes from each of twelve districts to participate in its annual Hunger Games. It’s the government’s cruel response to a failed revolution. A way of reminding its citizens to remain subject. Only one tribute wins, and the arena where the games are held becomes a bloody tomb. The tributes ruthless killers. Some are trained mercenaries. Others morph out of necessity. In order to survive. To be the one who wins, securing increased food rations for the people in their district for a year. The entire country follows the games. The people in the districts by force; the people in the capitol for pure pleasure and entertainment. The purpose for the games is to send a message to its audience: rebellion will not be tolerated.

I bring you the Glory Games, based on an all-time, best-selling book: the Bible. In it, an all-powerful, all-present, all-knowing, loving, and just God creates humans to reign and rule over the works of His hands and to bring Him glory. The arena, so to speak, the earth. The fall, a single man’s decision to rebel against his God. The consequence for all mankind, eternal separation from God. The game? Well, it’s not a game, really. Not at all, in fact. It’s an offer. A free gift. A love story with one single message delivered to all: Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man comes to the Father except through Him, through grace, by faith. For those who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord, eternal life. 

The audience?

Here is where you might hear a drum roll. Here is where we learn why earth. The reason the arena isn’t heaven. The reason we have to do this earth thing, as my daughter calls it, with its pain, loss, and suffering.

It’s the climax. The moment I’ve eagerly anticipated. I feel like the person behind the podium with the envelope. A hushed room waiting to hear the winner of the Oscar for best picture of the year.

And the answer is…

A pin drops.

Ephesians 3:1-12:

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles – if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him (emphasis mine).

That’s why earth!!! Do you see it? I can barely contain myself as I type!

Grace was given Paul to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ so that the principalities and powers in the heavenly places would know the manifold wisdom of God by the church! It had to be earth because the audience is in the heavenly places!!!

In the words of Albert Barnes, “The design of this was to illustrate, in view of all worlds, the great wisdom of God in the plan of salvation, Ephesians 3:10-12. It was intended to show to other intelligent beings the glory of the Divine perfections, and to make manifestations of the Divine character which could be perceived nowhere else” (, Ephesians 3 commentary).

Barnes continues, “The sense is, that it was with this design, or that this was the purpose for which all things were made. One grand purpose in the creation of the universe was, that the wisdom of God might be clearly shown by the church. It was not enough to evince it by the formation of the sun, the stars, the earth, the seas, the mountains, the floods. It was not enough to show it by the creation of intelligent beings, the formation of immortal minds on earth, and the various ranks of the angelic world. There were views of the Divine character which could be obtained only in connection with the redemption of the world. Hence the universe was created, and man was made upon the earth, not merely to illustrate the Divine perfections in the work of creation, but in a still more illustrious manner in the work of redemption. And hence the deep interest which the angelic hosts have ever evinced in the salvation of man.”

Another commentator, Ron Daniel, says, “Another thing he points out in these verses is incredible: for ages, the gospel was largely hidden from angels and demons in the spiritual realm. But now it is being made known to them by the church!” (, Ephesians 3:1-13 commentary).

First Peter 1:10-12 explains, “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven; things which angels desire to look into.”

Daniel exclaims, “Angels longed to look into these things, and now they watch the church on earth to learn them. That is so profoundly amazing!”

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).

His wisdom, ordained before the ages for our glory, and hidden until the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (I Corinthians 2:7).


“God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7).

To god be the glory as we become more wholly His today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, May 10, 2012

For His Glory, but Who's Watching?

Solving the mystery of why God created man isn’t so difficult. Just start at the beginning.


There is water.

There is darkness.

There is not light.

There is not firmament. He creates heaven.

There is not dry land. He creates earth.

As He creates each thing, He sees it’s good and creates something more. He sees it’s good, and creates something more, continuing this pattern until He ends up with light and darkness, day and night, heaven, Earth and sea, grass, herbs that yield seeds, fruit trees from which the fruit’s seed is in itself, the sun, moon, and stars as sources of light to rule the day and night and give light on earth, sea creatures, every living thing that moves in the water, and the winged birds of the sky, beasts of the earth, cattle, and everything that creeps on the earth.

So He’s got this earth, with dry land, with seas gathered in their place, with living things everywhere, and it’s all pleasing to him – agreeable and excellent. “For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other’” (Isaiah 45:18). God did not create the world to be formless, empty, and in a state of constant confusion, nor for vanity’s sake. He formed the earth to be inhabited. But He had no one to tend to it, so He made man to have dominion, setting him over the works of His hands (Hebrews 2:7) to rule and to reign (Psalm 8:6).

There it is. Case closed.

But a deeper question nags: Why did God even create earth in the first place? He knew Adam and Eve would eat fruit from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He knew man would reject Him, and sin would eternally separate creation from Creator without a Savior. He knew He would send His beloved Son, Jesus, to live a sinless life, die a dreadful death, and then raise Him from the dead and seat Him at His right hand in heaven, where He came from in the first place. And He predestined us, before the foundations of the earth, “ to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself” (Ephesians 1:5). Why not just keep everything the way it was, perfectly perfect in heaven in the first place?

I turn more dirt. Dig for clues. Evidence.

The trail leads to glory. His glory, as seen in Isaiah 43:7: “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him."

Glory in the face of Jesus, as 2 Corinthians 4:6-5:5 explains:

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

We are in these earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us; that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body; that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

So it’s really all about Jesus.

“For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever” (Romans 11:36) All things – including man – are of Jesus, through Jesus, and to Jesus, for His glory. Colossians 1:16-22 expounds:

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.

And it’s about family.

Isaiah 64:8 says, “O LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” We are called sons:

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness (Hebrews 12:5-10).

Partakers of His holiness and His inheritance. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17).

So it all goes back to His glory.

"You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created" (Revelation 4:11).

So here we are on earth. One big happy family (or we should be), bringing glory to God.

But why earth? Why create man in the first place? Not to beat a dead horse, but couldn’t we glorify Him just as much in heaven? Why can’t we be one big happy family in heaven?

That’s when I see it. And it amazes me. The answer is in the audience.

More Thursday.

Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you as you become more wholly His.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His