Category: <span>thoughts by Debbie West</span>

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.1 Corinthians 13:1


One day in the summer of 2003, I stood on a street corner in New York City debating with a young man about why I thought the Bible was real. I was in Manhattan with a group from my church. We were there to promote a new church in the city by passing out subway maps and other literature.

This man who stopped to talk to me proclaimed himself a student of religion. He had studied many holy books and wanted to know my thoughts on the difficulties he saw with the Bible being authentic.

At the end of our conversation, I felt proud that I had intelligently countered his arguments. But looking back now, I am bothered by the realization that my knowledge probably did little to bring him closer to a relationship with Jesus Christ. We parted, both of us still entrenched in our own understandings.

Having background knowledge of our faith is important, but if we don’t love people the way Jesus did, then, as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians, we are just noise.

What if I had asked about his family? What if I had asked to pray for him? What if I had encouraged him to open his heart to a love that is bigger than his understanding?

Second-guessing myself is never helpful. However, in the future I want to focus my attention less on winning a debate and more on showing God’s love to those who need to see it.

Lord, break any fear that You see in me. Holy Spirit, teach me how to love the people around me the way You do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

By Debbie West
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Further Reading

•  I Corinthians 13 ~ What is Love?

•  Love for a Lifetime by Karen Woodard

•  Salvation Explained


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“Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1


I sat in my car in the church parking lot, ready to tell God every angry feeling I had toward him. But how could I? Good Christians don’t get mad at God, right? That is what I had believed all my life.

Since childhood, I had followed the rules. I thought I had done everything right. But God had not given me the things I wanted. The night I sat in my car, I was almost 40 years old and still not married. I was in a job I hated. I didn’t like myself. I was miserable.

But God was working in my heart and mind. He was breaking through the self-righteous attitudes that kept me in bondage. For months, he had been chipping away at the wall of perfectionism I had built to protect myself. In reality, that wall only brought loneliness and fear.

Tears flowed and all of the insecurity, frustration and anger I had stuffed down my entire life would not be stuffed any longer. “Why did you make me this way?!?!” I said out loud, “I’m so mad at you! I’ve tried to do everything the right way and I’m so unhappy!”

I’ve never heard an audible voice from God, but at that moment I felt a voice in my spirit say, “Finally! Let’s move on.”

I was confused. “You haven’t answered my question!”

No,” he said, “But you have finally been honest with me. Now we can get to work.

Though I didn’t get answers that night, I felt a big weight lift off of my shoulders. It started a season of growth that changed my life.

Psalm 10:1 is just one example of King David having an angry conversation with God. By the end of the psalm, David is praising God for his faithfulness. God can handle our anger, disappointment and frustration. Honesty opens the door to true freedom in our relationships and in our journey with God.

Lord, help me always be honest with myself, others and you, even when it’s ugly.

Anger is often a masking emotion. It usually masks fear, disappointment or any number of other emotions. Regardless, it’s never good to stuff your emotions. If you feel angry, find someone who you can talk to. If you don’t know anyone, find a counselor who can help you sort through your emotions

By Debbie West
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Further Reading

•  He Guides Us

 God Knows Everything

•  Salvation Explained


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“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25


Ten months ago I was diagnosed with depression. Stress, over-commitment and lack of sleep sent me into a downward spiral. My body was in a state of constant tension and my mind could not power down. I had a hard time just dealing with daily life. God allowed me to go through a deep valley where I had never been before and the perfectionist inside me had to admit to herself and to Him that she did not know how to get out. I needed help.

Through counselling, I’ve discovered that I have an unhealthy need for others’ approval. I want to be known as the woman who has it all together. Some counselors call it co-dependency. The Bible calls it the “fear of man.” It is an ever-present trap in our world. It keeps us dangerously busy trying to earn our worth.

The motives for our busyness are not wrong. We want to be the best wives, husbands, parents, employees or church members we can be. The problems come when we find our value in all the things we’re involved in, not in who we are in Christ. In many cases, as in mine, our busyness also affects our mental state and physical health.

Through God’s restoring power in my life, I have more peace and less anxiety. I’ve learned that He loves me as I am, imperfections and all. He will guide me if I take the time to be still and listen to His voice.

God, my life is busy. Show me where I need to say “no” in my schedule so that I can say “yes” to spending time with you. Amen.

Thought: Today, schedule 15 minutes to be alone with God. Thank Him for the blessings in your life, and thank Him for the lessons you’ve learned in the valleys as well. Ask Him what He wants to say to you that you may have been too busy to hear.

By Debbie West
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Further Reading

•  Pressing the RESET button on our lives 

•   Keeping Yourself in God’s Love – even during painful times in your life

•  Salvation Explained


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“Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth — everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6-7


I remember talking to one of my ministry leaders at church a few years ago about service. He explained to those of us who had volunteered for the worship team about his belief that we were more than volunteers. We were called to serve in that position.

I squirmed in my seat a little and said, “But to me, serving means sacrifice, and I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing. I don’t have to lead worship on Sunday. I get to lead worship.

He said, “But you make sacrifices of your time to prepare for Sunday morning. You have to memorize lyrics and get your heart ready to lead people in worship. It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice because you are operating in your giftedness and calling.”

Like a piece of art reflects the heart of the person who made it, we reflect the heart of God. We do it best when we serve with joy in an area where we use our unique gifts, talents, and temperaments. Some of us are great teachers. Others are great administrators. Still others understand technical issues and can solve complex problems. Maybe we do that thing for a living, or maybe we simply do it for our neighbors, our coworkers, or those in need. Whatever it is, never consider it unimportant because it doesn’t quite feel like a sacrifice. Thank God that you can glorify Him by fulfilling that for which He created you.

God, thank You for creating me with unique gifts, and show me how I can glorify You through those gifts. Amen.

By Debbie West
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Further Reading

•  Now that I am a Christian, What’s Next? – Printable PDF file

•  God’s Plan – A Study on God’s Destiny for Me?

•  Salvation Explained


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I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.Philippians 4:12-13

“God, when is it going to be my turn?”

I’ve asked that question more times than I can count. I’ve watched over and over as people close to me have gotten married and started their families. I’ve cried and wondered what was wrong with me. My heart has been broken over relationships I thought might be the one for which I was waiting.

I spent many years struggling with being single. My mind and my heart seemed constantly restless. Then, somewhere along the road, it got better. As I pursued and obeyed God, He opened my eyes to the blessings I have right now.

The Apostle Paul knew what it was to live a life he never planned. Paul was educated as a Pharisee (a very learned Jewish leader of the time). He was well respected, even feared. Paul was also a Roman citizen with all the perks that came with that. He was a powerful man in the early days after Jesus’ crucifixion. Acts 7:58, 8:3, 9:13-14

With all that he had going for him, one encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus changed everything. He went from privilege to hardship. He embraced a completely different life and learned how to be content, no matter what. His peace came through the strength Christ gave him.

We all struggle with life’s circumstances. Very few of us have the life we imagined when we were young. But, like Paul, we can find our peace in knowing that God is in control and that His plan for us is perfect.

Lord, I am struggling. I want to be okay with my present circumstances but I can’t get there. I admit I want something else. Show me how to be at peace. Amen.

By Debbie West
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Further Reading

God’s Sufficiency Exceeds Our Need – by Sylvia Gunter

God Provides for His Own

•  Salvation Explained


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‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’” Matthew 8:26

It was St. Patrick’s Day weekend and I was halfway through my second triathlon. Fifty-mile-per-hour winds whipped across North Texas in winter’s final appearance of the season. Throughout the cycling portion of the event, there were times when the best I could do was brace myself against a wind gust that threatened to blow me to the curb. My clothes, still damp from the swim, made the temperatures feel even colder.

As I began the second loop of the course, the wind picked up even more. I gripped my handlebars tighter. I thought about pulling over into the fast food joint on the next block and calling it a day. But I pushed on and kept going.

Through clenched teeth I started to pray, “Lord, you are God of the wind. You calmed the Sea of Galilee in the storm. Have mercy on me and stop this wind!”

And just as I had articulated the last word of that prayer, the wind blew harder. “Not funny, Lord!” I said.

I can look back and smile on that experience now. I believe God showed me something important in that moment. “I’m not going to take it easy on you, Debbie,” He said. “An easy life makes a weak person. Just trust me. I’ll get you through and make you stronger.”

In my battle with depression and anxiety, He has done just that. He has strengthened my mind and my faith. So don’t despise the storm. Let Him make you stronger through it.

Lord, I like things that are easy. But I also know that it’s during difficult experiences when I have the chance to get better, stronger, and closer to the person You want me to be. Help me not to avoid or despise the storms in life, but to hold on to You and learn the things You want to teach me. Amen.

Whether you are in a storm, coming out of a storm, or going into one, consider that part of the purpose may be to make you stronger and to prepare you for something in the future. Stop and thank God for the lessons from the storms.

By Debbie West
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Further Reading

•  How to be fill with the Holy Spirit
•  Elma’s Story – Nothing Left To Give in my Marriage
•  Salvation Explained

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“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure … surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6

I get anxious, really anxious, when I try to make sure I know how to act. I wonder, “What will I say if someone asks me this question?” I plan, “If this person does this, then I need to do this.” I go over dialogue in my mind. I think about the exact tone in my voice I need to use to get my point across. Just like a favorite scene from a movie or TV show, I imagine how smart I will sound.

Please don’t judge me.

Though this internal rehearsal seems like a harmless personality quirk, I’ve learned that for me it is a much bigger issue. In my journey to know God and follow Him, rehearsing the future can be a symptom of pride and distrust. It enforces the lie that I control the future, not God. Not to mention what rehearsing the past can do for my emotional health. Going over past conversations in my head, hoping for a do-over is counter-productive, at the least.

God promises throughout His Word that He has got our future under control and has amazing plans for us. He knows our past and can use it for great things. Our focus needs to be in the present. Here. Right now. This moment.

Today, I can enjoy His presence anxiety-free and experience His blessings, while leaving the future and the past to Him.

God, I ask that Your Spirit in me would guide my thoughts. When I start to rehearse, help me take each thought captive and make it obedient to You by enjoying this present moment and leaving everything else to You.

By Debbie West
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Further Reading

•  Life Can Bring Joy out of Sorrow by Norma Becker
•  Fully Surrender to the Lord
•  Salvation Explained

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His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:10-11

Our culture loves sports. We cheer for those who can run the fastest, jump the longest, or catch a ball with skill. We honor athletes who make difficult feats look easy. We erect statues to them. We have halls of fame to honor their accomplishments. Many pay lots of money each year on merchandise representing their favorite team and player.

What about those of us who are not as skilled in sports? Does that make us less worthy? I dream about crossing the finish line in an Iron man competition. Chances are I’ll never have the time to train or the mental stamina to complete that massive goal.

Athletic goals are wonderful, but God values something more deeply. As great as it is to train, compete, and to honor those who accomplish great goals in the sports realm, I’m comforted that He primarily looks at the heart.

God created our physical bodies to run and play and do the work He has given us to do. I believe God enjoys seeing us use our bodies the way He made them to function. But He delights in a heart that is devoted to Him. He exalts those who humble themselves and yield to His plans. He honors those who spend time with Him in order to just get to know Him. Life is a marathon, but with God we can finish the race (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Lord, help me grasp the truth that your greatest delight is not in what I can do, but in my devotion to you. Amen.

Thought – Our culture is not so different from Biblical times. The people of the Bible were often guilty of overlooking the qualities of a person’s heart and seeing only the physical appearance or abilities. Read 1 Samuel 16 and see how God chose a king based on the heart, not on appearances.

By Debbie West
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FURTHER READING

•  Wisdom and Knowledge of God
•  God Provides Companionship

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“I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13

It’s easy to get discouraged when we look at the world around us. There is so much poverty, violence, immorality and just plain rudeness. The news is filled with discouragement. The streets are filled with angry drivers. Some of our workplaces are filled with impatient customers.

Some days it’s hard to find something good to hold on to. It’s comforting to think that a day will come when we will be in Heaven and away from the troubles we have here on Earth.

As nice as it is to look forward to that day, God also promises to bring us good days now. David expressed his confidence in the fact that he would see God’s goodness while he still walked on Earth. This was the key for David: he knew his hope of seeing “goodness in the land of the living” was being intimately connected with God. He longed to dwell in God’s company and He knew that God would love and protect him.

We, like David, can walk with God daily and experience His goodness in our lives. Meditation on His word, time spent in prayer, desiring to do things His way and a confidence that He wants to bless us, are the keys to experiencing His goodness now. God is still incredibly good when the world feels ugly, and He wants us to taste and see His goodness daily.

Lord, I wait confidently for Your goodness in my life. Even if I can’t see it now, I believe it is coming. Amen.

Change your focus. Decide to believe that good things are on their way. Say this out loud: “I will see the goodness of the Lord“.

By Debbie West
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“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

There are a lot of angry people out there these days. I see it all over the media. People are upset over perceived betrayal, injustice, and prejudice.

I think some of the anger is justified. We are, after all, a world made up of imperfect people. But I have learned that anger is a masking emotion. Anger covers over other issues brewing deeper within us. Probably the most common feeling that anger attempts to disguise is fear. When our confidence in the things we trust is shaken, we get scared, and we get angry.

When we trust the doctor to make a correct diagnosis, but our loved one doesn’t get better, fear sets in. When the job we were counting on falls through, we panic. When the spouse on whom we put our trust walks out, it shakes us to our core. Where there is fear, there can be no peace. It is difficult to look past the things we see around us and trust that everything is going to be okay.

God, however, never defaults on His promises. He never walks away. He never gets it wrong. God’s Word tells us that He is a rock when everything else we may put our trust in is sand. He is able to move the mountains and part the waters ? for our protection and safety. When we make up our minds to depend on God and His provision for our lives, despite our circumstances, He sets our minds at perfect peace.

Lord, if I am depending too much on my ability and circumstances to bring me peace, help me train my mind to put my trust and dependence on you. Amen.

By Debbie West
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“God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

How many of you would jump out of an airplane, or bungee-jump over a mile-high canyon, or race a car over one hundred miles an hour? Risky? You bet! But many people love to take these risks, even when it means putting their lives in someone else’s hands. The thrill and rush of adrenaline drives out their fear.

What about loving somebody? Really, deeply, openly loving another person? Now that can be scary. Riding a zip-line is one thing, but giving someone your heart is a completely different kind of risk. Loving means letting another person really know you. It also gives them the power to really hurt you.

God is that kind of vulnerable love. He understands what it means to be rejected by those whom He loves. Since the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, people have turned against God. Yet, when it came to giving up His Son, Jesus, to die for those who broke His heart, He did it willingly. He knew the risks and still chose to love us at the ultimate cost.

Thousands of years later, He still offers that unwavering love. He offers hope, purpose and belonging to all and knows that some will love Him back and others will continue to reject Him. Could you do the same?

As God’s people, we are called to this hundred-mile-an-hour, jump-from-the-plane kind of love.

You know the risk. Will you take it?

Lord, thank You for taking the risk to love me. Give me the courage and strength to love others the way You love me. Amen.

Thought: Ask Jesus to help you in loving that difficult person in your life.

By Debbie West
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FURTHER READING

Feelings, Forgiveness and Peace | by Dr. Muriel Larson

The Power of Forgiveness | by Dr. Henry Brandt

Love Your Neighbour

Love is Patient and Kind – a story of a man on a bus

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“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b

Power is sexy. We live in a world that admires strength and pities weakness. Fortune 500 companies, movie stars, and politicians all have some level of power over our lives. Some athletes have the physical power to dominate their opponents. We often celebrate and admire the power they all have.

But have you heard anyone brag about being weak lately? The Apostle Paul did. He had been through many life-threatening situations. Yet, he didn’t brag that he made it through in his own strength. He knew that it was only God’s strength that carried him.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, his attitude is one of gratefulness for weakness. The man who once possessed the power to order the imprisonment and execution of Christ-followers, speaks of how glad he is to lack power because his weakness served to magnify how big his God is.

Paul understood that in his own limited power, he could not do the work for which God had called him—to spread the gospel to the world. But, by admitting his own limitations, he opened the door for God to work powerfully.

We should have the same attitude as Paul. Instead of relying on our own strength or resourcefulness, we should trust in God to supply the power. Then we can say along with Paul, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Lord, help me see my weaknesses as opportunities for You to show Your power. I offer me limitations to You today. I’m trusting You to do what I cannot. Amen.

Thought: Take the opportunity to thank God for your weaknesses. If there is a specific area of service you are struggling in, ask Him to give you the power to serve Him to the best of your ability.

By Debbie West
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FURTHER READING

  1. A Bible on How God Demonstrates His Love
  2. A Bible Study on Waiting on God
  3. A Bible Study on Thanksgiving
  4. God’s Plan – A Study on God’s Destiny for Me?

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“…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

I grew up in a time when we dressed up to go to church on Sunday. Everyone at my church looked pretty much the same. The men wore ties. The women wore dresses. The children were all clean-faced and well-behaved. The church building was big and spotless and everyone wore a smile. I grew up thinking that that was what Christians looked like.

As I got older, my understanding of Christianity began to change as I met Christians who didn’t look or act like me. Some were rougher around the edges. Some didn’t go to church as often as I did. They had different views of life and faith. My image of what a Christian looked like changed as my life experiences became more varied.

I began to realize that I was judging others’ relationship to God by the way they looked and acted. I was even taking comfort in knowing I fit the holy image in my own mind.

But God has shown me that this kind of self-righteousness is full of flaws.

The prophet Samuel knew that it was not the outward appearance of a person that determined his or her destiny. It was the heart.

Our God is so creative that He made people from all cultures, backgrounds, and life issues to worship Him. Followers of Christ may all look different to each other, but our hearts carry the very same love of God.

God, forgive me for judging others’ faith by their outward appearance. Help me see people the way You do. Amen.

Thought: Do you tend to judge people based on their appearance? Ask God to show you where you can begin to shift your thinking.

By Debbie West
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FURTHER READING

Love Your Neighbour

Love is Patient and Kind – a story of a man on a bus

Extending Grace to Others

Be Patient

More Than Helpful

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“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” Isaiah 41:10

I am a “worst-case scenario” thinker. No matter what the situation, I can always jump to a horrible conclusion. A little cold could turn into a life-threatening disease. A vacation could end in disaster. One small risk might be the worst decision I’ve ever made.

It’s sad really. It would be so embarrassing to talk about some of the places my mind goes to. But beyond the embarrassment, my fear is like handcuffs around my wrists keeping me from serving freely.

Fear keeps me from taking a meal to a neighbor because I don’t want to be taken advantage of. It prevents me from speaking the truth to a fellow believer because I worry about what they might think of me.

We have been invited to enjoy a blessed life, full of joy, love, and contentment. It means we have to step out to do the things God has called us to do. He invites us to participate in what He is doing around us, to connect with and serve people. Sometimes caution is wise. We must act with our eyes wide open. But if we don’t do things because we are afraid of what might happen, we have said, “No” to the blessings of God in our lives.

The invitation is simple. It’s time to trust His leading. We need to serve our neighbors without fear.

Lord, help me discern caution from fear. Help me act wisely, but boldly to your invitation. Amen.

By Debbie West
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FURTHER READING

Dealing with Despair

Overwhelmed by Negative Feelings?

Suffering – Spiritual principles to meditate on during hard times


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“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” Psalm 77:11

A few years ago in my journey toward healthy living, I came to a game-changing realization. Despite my efforts to the contrary, I was a very unstable person. I was highly susceptible to feelings of inadequacy. Perceived rejection or loneliness led me down a road toward anxiety and depression. On the other hand, words of encouragement sent my spirits through the roof.

I lived on a roller coaster controlled by my emotions and other people’s opinions. If you’ve ever been on a roller coaster, you know they are great fun. But nobody wants to live on one.

My breakthrough came when I understood that I could choose. I could ride along with the emotions or I could step out of the car and choose to act on the truth of God’s Word.
The writer of Psalm 77 understood the same principle. His mind was troubled. He could not be comforted. God seemed far away.

Then he thought about the times when God had been there. He remembered God’s power and His miracles of the past. The writer decided to focus on the goodness of his God rather than on his current troubles.

We don’t know if the writer got an answer from God about his problems. But he ended the psalm focused on stories of God’s might and His faithfulness to His people. No matter what our feelings tell us, we can choose to live in peace and confidence of God’s goodness and His love for us.

God, Your Word records Your faithfulness toward Your people. Remind me of those things when I’m discouraged and can’t feel You near. Amen.

By Debbie West
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