Let Go of Control



A curious and continuous pursuit of our good God opens doors for us to experience all possibility beyond what we could imagine for ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m picking what is good for my life, then it’s probably going to feel good, look good, taste good, smell good, and be visibly good to anyone who sees it.

But the truth is, even some of the things that have looked “bad” from the outside have turned out to be good for me.

Because, while the currency of God’s goodness looks different from my own, it is infinitely more valuable.

Hard things make us dig deep within ourselves to find strength we didn’t know we had.

Loss teaches us to appreciate blessings that surround us.

And while I don’t want to minimize the depth of any pain and the years it can take to overcome the brokenness we experience in this life, there is good to be found, even in the hard and even through the bad.

As we embrace a curious faith, we exchange the currency of our control for the wealth of God’s possibility.

Maybe sometimes we do think we can control the way things go. To some extent we have the capacity to define our own paths and make decisions that shape the way we live.

We can direct behaviors and events, but when we allow that thinking to rule the way we live, we also lose the capacity to be curious about things unknown and outside of our own plans, outside of our limited view.

Control robs us of curiosity and puts a ceiling on our allowance of God’s possibility in our lives. Because after all, you can’t be curious about something you control.

I’ve heard it said, “Blessed are the curious … for they shall have adventures.” And, friend, when we try to control our lives, we miss out on the adventure of faith.


Release control…

be curious, and rediscover hope in the God of possibility.

– Logan Wolfram


Anxiety is a funny thing. We hoard up worries the way we hoard money and material goods. In some eras and cultures, people live hand-to-mouth and rely on each growing season to make it another year. I’m grateful not to live in a culture like that, yet I realize we’ve lost a certain perspective it fosters: our eyes no longer look to God to provide for daily needs. Instead, we take bread for granted and borrow trouble ahead of schedule, focusing on the adequacies and inadequacies of our insurance policies and savings accounts. We have so much less to worry about but worry about so much more! We get distracted by the constant barrage of media headlines about random violence, obscure medical anomalies, aberrant weather patterns, and the economic downturn. Suddenly, we’re a mess, worrying about our health and safety and families and careers and possessions. How can we possibly feel secure?

The answer is simple and yet such a hard thing to do: give up control and trust in the Lord with all my heart. God says over and over again to trust Him with fears and anxieties.

– Sharri Bockheim Steen


Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

– 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)


Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

– Philippians 4:5-7 (MSG)


Photo by Susie Stewart


It is good to be present





But it is also good to focus beyond





For when we suffer

when we have trials

when today is heavy



is a comfort


And Jesus will always

give us hope for the beyond


Beyond the suffering

Beyond the trial

Beyond this life


Jesus endured the cross

for the joy beyond


We endure the pain of sinful earth

for the joy of Heaven


Always hope

for the beyond


– Susie Stewart



And so now, we wait.  We wait for our bridegroom.  “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning” (Psalm 130:6).  We lean on the windowsill of eternity, look to the sky, and whisper, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”

Oh when will He come?

And every once in a while, when our heart grows weary of waiting, the Lord revives us with snatches of joy…It is a preview of the joy that will overtake us when, finally, the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

And it will all happen in the twinkling of an eye.

Before we realize it, if we are blessed to be living at the time of His return, we shall find ourselves in the embrace of our Savior at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.  Heaven will have arrived.  The Lord’s overcoming of the world will be a lifting of the curtain of our five senses, and we shall see the whole universe in plain sight.  Life and immortality will no longer be dim thoughts, but vivid and strikingly real.  At first, the shock of joy may burn with the brilliant newness of being glorified, but in the next instant we will be at peace and feel at home, as though it were always this way, that we were born for such a place.  At that moment, earth will seem like a half-forgotten dream, pleasant enough, but only a dream.

– Joni Eareckson Tada


…For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

– Hebrews 12:1,2 (NIV)


So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

– 2 Corinthians 4:17,18 (MSG)


Photo by Susie Stewart

Come Boldly

Reverence, yes

Timidity, no


Because of Jesus,

we can come boldly

before the God of the Universe


Not because we are so good,

but because Jesus was,

when He laid down His life

for us


We approach the glorious throne,

our Abba Father,

with the confidence

of a child loved and forgiven

for everything


If we hesitate,

we have not yet grasped

what love did

for us


– Susie Stewart


Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

– Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)


Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

– Hebrews 4:15,16 (MSG)


Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

– Ephesians 3:12 (NLT)


Because of Your unfailing love, I can enter Your house; I will worship at Your Temple with deepest awe.

– Psalm 5:7 (NLT)


The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.

– Proverbs 28:1 (NLT)


And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.

– Hebrews 10:19 (NLT)


Photo by Becky Cohen

Wait & Hope

Waiting is hard for me.  It’s not my forte.  I like to get things done quickly.  Boom.  Done.  My writing, too, is usually short and to the point.

But the Lord has called on me to wait.  And wait.  And wait some more.  This is often His way.

I find myself wanting to sprint out ahead of God.  To take things into my own hands.  He lovingly grabs ahold of my “suspenders” from the back and places me behind His lead.  He is my teacher.  And on Him, I need to wait.  He sees eternally into the future.  And His wisdom is beyond my comprehension.

Waiting and trusting and hoping –  all wrapped up in the package of obedience. To this, He has called me.

– Susie Stewart


But as for me, I will look expectantly for the Lord and with confidence in Him I will keep watch; I will wait [with confident expectation] for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.

– Micah 7:7 (AMP)


Like the faith diggers do every day. We bury our swollen prayers in Him who’s raised from the tomb.

We lay our hope, full and tender, into the depths of Him and wait in hope for God to resurrect something good.

Good always necessitates long waiting.

Every tulip only blossoms after cold months of winter wait. Every human ever unfurled into existence through nine long months of the womb waiting. And the only kingdom that will last for eternity still waits, this millennia-long, unwavering-hope for return of its King. Instead of chafing, we accept that waiting is a strand in the DNA of the Body of Christ.

That this waiting on God is the very real work of the people of God.

– Ann Voskamp


I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

– Psalm 27:13,14 (NIV)


So the Lord must wait for you to come to him
so he can show you His love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
Blessed are those who wait for his help.

– Isaiah 30:18 (NLT)


The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him,
to the one who seeks Him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

– Lamentations 3:25,26 (NIV)


Photo by Susie Stewart




In short, I didn’t become a Christian because God promised I would have an even happier life than I had as an atheist. He never promised any such thing. Indeed, following him would inevitably bring divine demotions in the eyes of the world. Rather, I became a Christian because the evidence was so compelling that Jesus really is the one-and-only Son of God who proved His divinity by rising from the dead. That meant following Him was the most rational and logical step I could possibly take.

– Lee Stroebel

Many people entertain the idea that Christianity, like almost any other religion, is basically a system of beliefs – you know, a set of doctrines or a code of behavior, a philosophy, an ideology.
But that’s a myth.
Christianity is not at all like Buddhism or Islam or Confucianism. The founders of those religions said (in effect), “Here is what I teach. Believe my teachings. Follow my philosophy.” Jesus said, “Follow me”(Matthew 9:9).
Leaders of the world’s religions said, “What do you think about what I teach?” Jesus said, “Who do you say I am?”(Luke 9:20)
― Josh McDowell


The Old Testament records the preparation for the coming of the Messiah. The Gospels record the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord. The book of Acts records the propagation of the gospel (the good news) concerning Jesus Christ. The Epistles (letters) explain the gospel and its implications for our lives. The book of Revelation anticipates and describes the second coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His eternal kingdom. From beginning to end, the Bible glorifies Jesus Christ and centers on Him. Its Christ-centeredness is one of its wonderful features.

– Josh McDowell


This is what God has done for us: He has said, “I forgive you.” But He paid the price for the forgiveness Himself through the Cross. It’s a payment that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius, or any other religious or ethical leader cannot offer. No one can pay the price by “just living a good life.” I know it sounds exclusive to say it, but we must say it simply because it is true: There is no other way but Jesus.

– Josh McDowell


But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.”

But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”

Eight days later, His disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”

Then He focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”

Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”

Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way He personally revealed it.

– John 20:24-31 (MSG)




Photo by Susie Stewart


In the tomb




Not hearing

not perceiving

not awake


This is the place

for many



to the Way

to the Truth

to the Life


And God’s Spirit

comes into that tomb

and wakes the sleeper


and He provides a way out


a way out


And when the deceased

takes hold

of Him


He walks out



and Alive


with the risen King


– Susie Stewart


Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.  You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much,  that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)  For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.  So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

– Ephesians 2:1-10 (NLT)


Since we have been united with Him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.  We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.  For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.  And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with Him.  We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and He will never die again. Death no longer has any power over Him.  When He died, He died once to break the power of sin. But now that He lives, He lives for the glory of God.  So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

– Romans 6:5-11 (NLT)


Photo by Ferrell Jenkins


You were forsaken

by the people you came to save


Condemned to die

as an innocent man


As God


And You willingly,

through tears and anguish,

torture and mockery


took my sentence


You were forsaken

by the Father You love


Your heart



He had to turn His back to You


For You were dark

with my sin


You were forsaken

by everyone


And I can’t begin to know

how that must have felt


For that act

brought me love

and acceptance


Thank you, my  beautiful Savior,

for being forsaken

for me

– Susie Stewart


From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.  About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.  The rest said, “Now leave Him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save Him.”

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

When the centurion and those with Him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely He was the Son of God!”

– Matthew 27:45-54 (NIV)


Photo found online at redeeminggod.com


Saved From Empty

To this world:

I’ve been looking at you all wrong.

You stepped up to me when I was young and flung open your coat so I could see what you carried.

You cooed, “I’ve got it all. Anything you want.”

You seemed nice enough. So I took a hit.

First it was popularity, which has taken approximately my whole life to come down from.

Then you let me sample pride, possessions, power. It was all so strong. It was all so intoxicating. You spun me around until I was too dizzy to look straight and you sent me on my way, “I’m all yours, baby. Live it up.”

I guess it could have worked but in my reeling stupor the Savior of this world grabbed me by the shoulders, He called my name. And I was, with great resolve, wholly His. The aroma of His love exposed the aroma of you, which smells mostly like rot.

He set me straight and showed me how truly upside down you are.

You put the best looking first and the least of these last. You pour accolades on the rich and devastate the poor. You invite the popular first. You hide the unwanted in the shadows.

But can I blame it all on you? You convinced me that it’s my life I need to save – and for a time I agreed.

But His call was so inside out. It was so fantastically right. It went something like this, “Let’s lose your life and go save so many others.”

….We must act.

We must allow Him to use our life for something greater than this world has to offer.

– Brianne McKoy


If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.

– Matthew 16:25 (NLT)


We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

– 1 John 3:16 (NLT)


For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.

– Mark 10:45 (NLT)


Photo by Susie Stewart

The Struggle

Struggle is an essential part of the spiritual life.  A profession of faith and performance in service just aren’t enough…It is not enough to superficially say we believe in Christ and then go on our merry way.  It is not enough to mechanically function in one or more church jobs.  Spiritual experiences aren’t enough.  Jesus said that even those casting out demons and performing miracles could be self-deceived.  Since not many can lay claim to such feats, His words should make us pause.

Faith itself is not easy.  Those who think it is have never exercised the real thing.  Faith does not mean a carefree absence of doubt, but it means acting on God’s trustworthiness in spite of the doubts we have.  Do we think it was easy for Abraham to go out from Ur not knowing where he was going (Hebrews 11:8) or to offer his son Isaac as God commanded (Genesis 22:1019)?  If faith is easy, then some of Jesus’ sayings concerning His kingdom become quite difficult to understand:  “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

Entering God’s kingdom by violence or force?  C.S. Lewis said he was dragged into the kingdom kicking and screaming.  Many have become Christians only after the intellectual equivalent of storming the Bastille – leveling the fortresses of ideologies and thought that are much harder to pull down than mortar and brick.

In the services at our church, we give evangelistic invitations.  To Christans who have never done it, let me say that coming down an aisle is a traumatic experience.  Big, strong men come shaking and with tears.  Some have told me they felt the whole world was fastened on their coattails like an anchor.  But still they come to exercise faith, to take hold of Christ, to strain against the gravitational pull of their own deadness with a force that scripture calls violence.

Christian growth almost invariably involves struggle.  Paul says in Galatians 5:24, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  What he means is that, as Christians, we should consider our old lives to be nailed to the cross of Christ, stripping our sin of all power over us as we choose to live by faith in Christ (Romans 6:1-11).

I believe there is an additional reason Paul chose the metaphor of crucifixion to express what our attitude toward the flesh would be.  Crucifixion was a slow, painful death.  It was not the only method of capital punishment in those days.  There were certainly quicker ones.  Quite simply, the flesh dies hard.  Few Christians bypass the feeling of certain conceit or cockiness over a rapid spurt of growth, only to fall in an area of their lives they thought was cleaned up.  Christian growth involves struggle.

All those who set out to seek the kingdom of God must pay the price of a disciplined life.  Discipline is the mark where faith struggles against areas of the flesh that are in disrepair. The writer to the Hebrews said it well:  “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness”  (Hebrews 12:11).

We are continually under construction.  Certain areas of life will provide spiritual workouts as long as we live.  We can mark and engage them and grow.  If we ignore them, our Christian life and pursuit of God’s kingdom will flounder badly.

– David Swartz


“Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.’”

– Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)


Photo by Susie Stewart



If you are beginning this day

with the weight of how you’re not enough

with a forboding

with condemnation accusing


Know that this is not

the voice of your King

your Savior

your Lord


Your life is hidden in Christ

your sins are paid for

your day is new with His possibilities


and you are loved unconditionally


Know it

believe it

soak it in


And when you get to the end of this day

with the weight of how you weren’t enough

with regrets

with condemnation accusing


Choose instead

to hear the voice of God

who loves you

and does not condemn you


Choose to listen to the life-giving voice

of Truth

from beginning to end

and then start again


– Susie Stewart


Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

– Romans 8:1 (NIV)


The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.

– Lamentations 3:22,23 (ESV)


Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.  Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.  For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.  And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory.

– Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)


Photo by Arik Stewart