A Journey of Faith – Taking off your Shoes

“Take off your shoes!” If you were a player in a game and your coach said that to you, wouldn’t you think it was a crazy request? How could you be expected to play well without shoes? Yet, in Joshua 5:15, God commands Joshua to do just that. Why? Because this is where true faith wins the victory over the enemy.

Here are 3 reasons why I think it important for Joshua, and for each of us, to remove our spiritual shoes once in a while:

1) It is God’s battle and not ours: In vs. 13 Joshua was looking at Jericho and probably saying to himself, “How on earth can an untrained army, with no real weapons, take on one of the strongest walled cities in the region?” Just then God showed up in the form of the “commander of the Lord’s army,” (many think this is the pre-incarnate Jesus).

Notice when Joshua asks “whose side are you on?” The “Commander” with the drawn sword says “neither.” Meaning He was not there to take sides but to take over.

2) God wants you to know His presence and provision is all you need to overcome the enemy. The victory wouldn’t come through great feats of men with all the right weapons, rather the enemy would be defeated by the living presence of God and His heavenly army.

3) Victory starts with reverent submission to the will of the true Savior. When Joshua realized he was in the presence of God “he fell face to the ground” and asked, “What message does my Lord have for His servant?” (vs. 14)

God’s response was “take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did, (vs.15), he took off his sandals AND victory was won. It was won before it happened. It was won with the act of full surrender to the will of God.

Lately, I find myself spending too much time focusing on my Jericho. AND, with that I become just a little bit anxious at the over-sized walls and its laughing enemies that taunt my weakness. How this story brings me back to the truth that it has nothing to do with my shoes. In fact, He wants me to take them off and behold the Holy One declaring that the battle belongs to Him; His presence and provision are all I need. I surrender to His plan for victory.

Will you join me this week in taking off your shoes and looking away from your Jericho, so that you can fix your eyes on the True Commander and Chief, Jesus Christ. (Hebrew 12:2) It is through this act of true faith that our victory over the enemy can be won.

Strengthen Your Shoes – Journey Deeper

In church this past Sunday I was touched by the Father’s tender presence filling my heart with overflowing joy. The pastor beautifully prepared us to come forward to the communion table, and after tasting the body and blood of Jesus we sang of His great faithfulness and love. For a moment my spirit drank from the heavenly realm and His love surrounded me with blessed assurance. My response was tears of praise. What a great way to start the week!

On Tuesday I shared with you that one way to “strengthen your shoes” was being reminded that you belong. You have been adopted into God’s family by the blood of Jesus, symbolized in Joshua’s day by circumcision and in our day by baptism. But another essential element to “strengthen your faith shoes” would be intimacy with your Heavenly Father.

Notice after the children of Israel were circumcised they had communion; “On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover” (Joshua 5:10). Under the nose of their enemy, the Father had them set a table for the Passover. God wanted to remind His children of His intimate love. He wanted them to taste and see that He alone is faithful and good!

Jesus gave us the fullness of the Passover meal displayed in the Lord’s Supper, or Communion. This is an invitation to be spiritually intimate with our Savior. The secret behind the power of the New Testament church was that they knew they belonged to the Father through their baptism and daily intimacy as they ate together at the Lord’s Table (Acts 2:42-47).

Read Joshua 5 again and notice the Israelites gained their strength for the battle by being centered on knowing whom they were and experiencing the presence of God’s overwhelming love.

In baptism and the Lord’s Supper, God has given us two great pictures and seals of our belonging and His intimate love. Don’t neglect these gifts of grace. Let them strengthen your faith. Let them remind you that you belong and are intimately loved.


Abba I confess today I belong to you. I claim my baptism as the seal of this truth. Nothing can separate me from your great love as your precious child. I ask today that you feed me spiritually the gift of your Son Jesus Christ. Let His broken body and blood from the cross cover my sin and present me perfect before your presence, so that I may walk forward in faith knowing that your love is all I need. Amen!

A Journey of Faith – Strengthen Your Shoes

Last week I sat behind the bench during my daughter’s basketball game. I overheard the coach articulating the game plan and giving a pep talk as he encouraged each player and the team as a whole. As Coach D. paced the sidelines and interacted with his players, he united the team and each one knew they played a part, they belonged. “Belonging” is the key not only to a successful, victorious team, but for us as well on our faith walk.

Over the years I have realized in almost any situation when one senses that he or she doesn’t belong or matter, a door is left wide open for the enemy to wreak havoc. Loneliness and insecurity drive us to believe the destructive lies of the enemy. He deceives us into thinking that belonging is found in anything and everything BUT the Father’s loving arms.

In Joshua 5 God had His children do two very important things in order to strengthen their faith and move forward in victory. The first has to do with “belonging” to the Father’s family (we’ll talk about the second thing on Thursday).

In Joshua 5 verse 2 the LORD said, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” Can you say Ouch! For 40 years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness without the need for circumcision, but now a new generation was called to walk in faith and circumcision was a reminder that they belonged to God (see Genesis 17). Their future success would not come from their own strength, but instead from the fact that God the Father loved them – they belonged to Him! His strength would allow them to be victorious in battle.

I know that, today, circumcision points to the work of Christ on the Cross, where his blood was shed to bring us into relationship with the Father. I also know that the water in baptism replaces the former and is the new sign and seal of our adoption into the family of God. So, because I have been baptized, I know I belong to the Father’s family.

I’ll be honest, though, there are still times on this journey of faith I get lonely and the Jericho ahead scares me to death! How I need to be reminded daily of these words, “for you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship (adoption). And by him we cry ‘Abba Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s Children” (Romans 8:15, 16).

This verse strengthens me. It reminds me that I belong, that my Dad is King of the Universe. I have been baptized into His family through Jesus His Son, and He loves me! My victory is found in Him alone.

A prayer I repeat many times a day is “Abba, I belong to you!” Try praying these 5 strengthening words this week on your faith journey and watch how the Holy Spirit will give you all you need to move forward.

A Journey of Faith – Dancing Shoes – Journey Deeper

I wanted to share a Christmas letter with you that blessed me so much as a  “Standing Stone” of God’s  miraculous provision and faithfulness. Thanks so much Nancy Z. for putting on your dancing shoes!

2014 and the Terrible, Horrible, Seemingly Impossible, Very Tough Year…

…our story begins on a wind-whipped California Wednesday, late in Dec of 2013 …my “ford tough” truck, after a brave and extended battle, was pronounced DOA..the life was gone, along with my one and only form of transportation….and before I finished processing my vehicular predicament, I rec’d a letter that knocked my feet out from under me…sent my mind swirling into a dizzying array of panicked thoughts that started with “this is impossible” to “there is no way on earth I can do this”

…see in my efforts to pay off the debts from my closed business of ’08, I had fallen behind on my property taxes…and the letter from my mortgage company stated they had graciously paid off what I owed to the state of California…sounds awesome right? Ah, yes…until you read the fine print and study their mathematical equation for repayment and realize they had taken the amount owed and divide it by 12 months

(one-terrible-horrible year) and then added that amount to my monthly mortgage payment…

…now, this is where some of you are thinking, “well, suck it up…things could be worse…it’s just money” and

you are right…there is so many more horrible things in our world…but for a self-employed- singe mom- helping put her kid through college-working as a photographer in a economy where gas, food, & clothes are a family’s highest priority and selfies on phones are now all the rage …the close to a $1000 extra added to my monthly payment, along with an impending car payment, was a mountain for me who’s heights rivaled that of Mt. Whitney and one that I was not financially in shape enough to climb.

…so I did the only thing I could do…cried…complained…worried…ate ice-cream… called my mortgage company and begged for more creative math, like dividing by 24 or 36 instead of 12…but nothing helped…until I did the only thing I should have done in the first place…I prayed…I called out to God..

I poured out my heart…my worries…my situation…and He, in his infinite wisdom…smiled…wrapped His arms around me …and said “Trust Me…I am bigger than the mountain…I’ve got this…so get up…work ..serve and obey.” And I did just that…and though I couldn’t “see” how it was going to be possible…I had to rest in knowing that God keeps his promises. So…

…on a chilly, January day, 2014, I clicked “pay now” on the first mountainous mortgage payment…

…by April, with a car payment now added to my list of expenses, mountainous mortgage payment number 4 was paid…

…after the frightfully dry summer months which tested my faith, August brought along a load of work and more payments were made…

…October saw my income slow… and despite the very visible, very faithful provision of the past months, my footing started to slip on this mountainous climb….worry furrowed my brow and “impossible”colored my language…again… and I didn’t know how I’d finish out the year…ah…see what I did? I didn’t know how “I’d” finish the year…so after being denied by a home-modification program for not making enough money to qualify (?? go figure)…God said, “You need to TRUST me…I still have this.”

…so now…as I type this letter on a rainy December morning…one year later…I have a safe & reliable car…I still have a roof over my head….I continue to take pictures for a living …my son-Jacob-is doing well in his third year of college in Texas…I still serve my kids at BSF and the sports teams at OC…and the mountain is but a mole hill as only one payment remains…yes, only ONE!

How? Well glad you ask because it it the point of the story…and here it is…simply said…


The Glory for the Story belongs to God and God alone!

God is the God of the impossible! God is Sovereign! God abounds in love and faithfulness!

Listen…Life is tough, folks! And sometimes the mountains are allowed into our life so GOD can teach us

to Trust Him as HE moves the mountain, in HIS time and in HIS way! GOD is in Control! So with my

faith in THE ONE who is bigger than the mountains of life, GOD provided abundantly…

(Think Fishes & Loaves!) through my photography & my awesome customers, through the monies that “just appeared” in my bible study bag and through the generous hearts of friends & family… 2014 turned into one

Truly Amazing, Perfectly Possible, God-Glorifying, Very Wonderful Year!

Merry Christmas, Nancy

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matt 19:26

A Journey of Faith – Dancing Shoes

A recent highlight for me was standing at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Shabbat, or the Sabbath, was about to begin and the courtyard overflowed with people. The atmosphere was electric as people of all ages danced their hearts out to welcome in the day of rest. As they danced, they held nothing back as they praised God; it was almost as if their shoes were on fire.

I think the same thing happened as the children of Israel safely arrived on the other side of the Jordan! As they firmly placed their feet on the Promised Land, their feet skipped and danced as if on fire with genuine praise for the miracle they just encountered.

Have you ever danced over a miracle that God performed before your very eyes?

This past December I was praying Psalm 23 and got stuck on, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.” Yes, struggling with doubt, I had to claim this truth. About an hour later, after a brisk walk in the snow with my kids, I checked my email and the miracle jumped off the screen and filled my heart with overwhelming joy. The Good Shepherd provided in unexpected ways through one of his beloved sheep to help with Oceans Ministries.

I’m not ashamed to say I danced and cried before my Shepherd, my wife and kids. Immediately I grabbed my journal and wrote down the miracle! I knew I would need to remember this moment, for those days when my faith gets weak; indeed I follow a Rabbi who brings about miracles.

In Joshua 4, God instructs His children to record the miracle they had just experienced. Even thought they were weary from their travels, God instructed them to gather 12 stones from the Jordan (where the Ark was) and bring them to shore. The 12 stones were to stand as a record of the miracle. For generations, the stones would serve as a reminder of God’s love and faithfulness, and the miracles which He performed!

Notice how Joshua 4 ends: “In the future when your descendants ask their parents ‘what do these stones mean?’ tell them that the children of Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground’… He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear (trust) the LORD your God,” (vs. 21-24).

In our faith journey, it is essential to share the miracles we’ve experienced with each other. So, why not pick up the phone, send a text, email a friend, or talk with your family. You will encourage others in their faith journey when you share the miracles in your life AND when those times of struggle come you will have others to help remind you of God’s great faithfulness! The goal of these Standing Stones is that your faith journey will show those around youthat the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear (trust) the LORD your God” (vs. 24).

I challenge you on this journey to slip on your dancing shoes, offer God praise for the miracles He is performing in your life, and share it with someone else! Find your journal, pick up some stones from your Jordan and make a pile. You will be reminded of God’s supernatural surprises!