Monday, March 20, 2017

Your Ways--Not Everyone's

Regardless, each one should lead the life that the Lord has assigned him and to which God has called him. This is what I prescribe in all the churches. 1 Cor. 7:17


By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Neil and I sat in a little Italian restaurant in Spain. The waiter brought out a complimentary aperitif.
Drunkenness is sin; drinking is not. 

Early in my salvation, God directed me to not drink. I come from a family of alcoholics, and if you judged my inability to abstain by my coffee and chocolate consumption, you would understand why alcohol is a big no-no for me.

However, God never told my (mostly) tea-totaling husband to refrain. He got my drink. One free drink wasn't enough at this restaurant. During dinner, the waiter brought two glasses of wine. Guess who got mine?

I leaned forward and watched my husband sip. Vicariously, I enjoyed the beverages.

It is biblically inaccurate to say everyone must refrain from drinking, if not done to excess. It's a gray area where each individual must hear from God.

Unfortunately, not every Christian believes in personal conviction.

Try telling an avid home-schooler you believe your child belongs in a public school (or vice verse). Do you enjoy rock music? Personally, I love the sound of Queen and the looks of Adam Levine. To some friends of mine, this love makes me a reprobate, and they let me know it.

How about TV and movies? I'll watch an R rated movie because often the depth of the story--such as found in Rain Man--mitigates the foul language and racy scene where PG13 comedies are far too raunchy for my tastes.

Our God is a personal God.

Sin is indeed black and white (read Gal. 5:19-21). However, too many Christians are held in bondage to other believers and their values. We have to remember all of scripture, and 2 Cor. 3:17 is part of the canon. "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Four Ways We Hear God's Voice

And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19:11

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Do you hear God's small, still voice?
As most of you know, I'm an author. And anyone who has spent enough time with me has discovered I threaten to quit writing at least twice a year.

Okay. Twice a day.

Yet, God won't let me.

I know. This statement sounds cliche, but it's a fact, and here's one example.

My most recent book deals with a paramedic who needs to drop his Pharisaic attitude. The amount I know about medicine wouldn't enable me to pass a high school biology final. 

On top of that, the critique group I belonged to was falling apart. Along came Randy--a former paramedic. 

We worked together throughout this book. Once I finished The Poison We Drink (and my sister who is my beta reader claims it's the best one I've written), Randy stepped away from writing. We do entertain angels unawares--could Randy...?

More than likely, not. 

But it seems God works this way. He brings others into our lives to confirm what he's already been saying to us.

As we pursue God's purposes in our lives, how do we hear from God?

Four Ways We Hear God's Voice

  1. God's word--This is the most obvious. In scripture, we read His desires. We learn God's precepts. Then, in the stillness of our dreams, like the young prophet Samuel, we hear him speak.
  2. Desire--I've always been a dreamer, and have always dabbled in writing. Every time I "quit," within twenty-four hours, I'm back at the keyboard. It's not work. It's play.
  3. Circumstances--Like my relationship with Randy, odd bits of serendipity happen. We "just happen" to meet people who know someone who leads us where we need to be.
  4. Confirmation--We walk in the direction we believe God's leading us, and someone comes along with encouragement. During one of my recent periods of doubt, an acquaintance who never texts me did so. She said about Poison, "...Could identify on so many levels. Love how u bring emotion out of me..." Her few unexpected lines of praise renewed my spirit.
Live your dream--if it's wholesome, it's probably from God. Listen to his small, still voice and your footsteps will be established.

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Conquer Perfectionism: Move Forward

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man 1 Cor. 10:13a

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Only one test with God--do our best and trust in Him.
In New York State education, we test our students at the end of the year with the regents. All students take the same test.

One common question for our English regents asked students to write the body of a letter. Throughout the year we told our kids the question only wanted the essence of the letter--not the addresses, the direct address the signature.

Every year while taking the test, the students would not remember.

One year during the exam, a girl raised her hand and asked me, "What am I supposed to write? What's the address?" In frustration, I told her to just write the body of the letter. Introduction. Body. Close. Then I slapped my hand over my  mouth. TMI.

Of course, our department head saw my boo-boo and turned me in for offering aid during the exam. The end result was that I was written up.

I made an honest mistake. However, because of my perfectionism, this error haunted me for years. I cried over having a letter in my file. I strove to be a better teacher. 

Worse of all, I harbored bitterness toward our department head. She had plenty of her own shortcomings, but the only real issue between God and me was my reaction to her.

What do you do when you sin?

You repent.

The case is closed.

However if you're a perfectionist, you obsess. You lose sleep. You try harder.

Only one thing is necessary--confess your wrong. Move forward. In an honest walk with Christ, you will fall into temptation. You will make mistakes.

YOU WILL BE FORGIVEN.

You must move forward.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

If you accept Jesus, you are complete.

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and [b]through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. Acts 13:38-39

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

I was raised in a church tradition that never offered complete eradication of sin. Always a stain remained and sacrifices had to be made to cleanse myself.

Then I found Jesus. Unfortunately the church I joined enjoyed its own set of rules in its quest for holiness.

Did you have a gift of teaching? In order to utilize it, you first had to prove yourself. Try scrubbing bathrooms.

Were you a faithful member? Prove it. Sell what you have and give to the body.

Believe in healing but didn't receive it? Check your faith. The healer, prophet, preacher wasn't wrong, you were lacking.

Silly me followed this dictate. It bled into my perfectionist tendencies. And I lost sight of the truth of the gospel.

If you accept Jesus Christ, you are complete. 


  1. You do not have to volunteer to work in a church. 
  2. You do not have to crawl up steps on your knees. 
  3. You do not have to run around making all things right. 
  4. You do not have to fast for days on end.

If you accept Jesus Christ, you are complete.

Of course, we cannot ignore the book of James. Christ will transform us. We will serve others. We will make things right. We will demonstrate our faith by our works. However, working doesn't make us whole because it's grace that saved us.

If we fall back on the laws of Moses and man and find our justification there, then the whole of the law becomes ours to carry out. Blood sacrifices and all.

I'll choose grace.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

God's Love--True Love: 7 Attributes

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. I John 4:16

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

My husband loved me before I loved him.


God's love is greater than man's.
Don't get me wrong, from our first date, I knew Neil was a man I could marry. We shared core (and not so core) values.

  1. We loved God.
  2. We loved art.
  3. We were low-keyed and enjoyed home and nature and quiet things.
  4. He was a good-looking man with beautiful straight teeth and this head of silver hair that begged for fingers to run through it.
Guess which of the above weren't enduring values?

He wanted to spend time with me. Flowers regularly showed up at my house. Gifts were purchased as he wooed me.

When he proposed, I was shocked. It wasn't that I didn't want to spend my life with him. I needed a little more time, a little more faith, a little more courage to make that leap. 

If a human can love like Neil when someone's love wavers, then God's love is MUCH greater.

God loved us before we loved Him.

Seven Characteristics of God's Love

  1. Has no limits. There's nothing we can do or have done that will limit God's love. (Rom. 8:31-39)
  2. Has no expectations. (Rom. 5:8)
  3. Is not dependent on us.  (Jer. 1:5)
  4. Has our ultimate good in mind. It's life changing. (Rom. 8:38)
  5. Can't be earned. (Eph. 2:8-9)
  6. It's sacrificial. (Phil. 2-7)
  7. It's eternal. Nothing's ever going to separate us from his love. (Ps. 1360
Neil expected nothing from me. He loved me as I was. I never earned his love. For more than a dozen years, he's loved me through my foibles and strengths.

If a man can love so well but imperfectly, how much greater is God's perfect love? Quit trying to be perfect. Perfection will come on its own--through natural responses to God's love.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Love--Not Perfection: What God Expects

 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain


A young friend was expecting her first baby. Family prepared a baby shower on a Sunday afternoon and, of course, all those she loved were invited. This included her church family from the small congregation she attended.

The shower began, but no one from said church arrived. Someone explained they might not be able to make it because they were holding a meeting. 

Stamp, Rejected, Document, RejectA woman from the congregation had left her husband, and was going to marry her former boyfriend. On this Sunday afternoon, this church met to disfellowship her. Blacklisting a former member of their body proved more important than the celebration of life for a vibrant, dedicated believer.

Sadly, this was not the first time I'd seen the church do this--once, they "excommunicated" a man who spoke out against what he saw as wrong with the body. He was no longer a member, having left several months prior. His wife still attended faithfully. (I couldn't figure out how she, as a member, could have no fellowship with the husband she lived with). 

At least one other time, this church blacklisted a former member.

This body of believers loved to brag about how it was on the "cutting edge" of God's will. In order to keep this status it would:

  • fast regularly
  • expect perfect attendance of all members to all functions
  • expect members to adhere to every facet of its beliefs
  • strive for excellence in all things
On the surface, these are good things. However, God only expects on thing--love. 
  1. First, to love Him. After all, He created us because He wanted us. He loved us. 
  2. Next, we are to love others.
Aren't these the two greatest commandments? (Matt. 22: 36-40).


Love never fails.

Humans are sinful. They hurt us and betray their Creator.

However, God restored us through love and His bloody, torturous sacrifice of becoming human and dying on the cross. Only through love can we restore the people in our lives.



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Monday, February 6, 2017

7 Reasons To Not Compare Ourselves

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ" Gal. 1:10.

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

My latest glass:
My best--but can't compare to
God's glory
My sister Marianne recently resumed her stained glass construction. This doesn't bode well for my ego because everything she does is exquisite. You can guarantee her solder seams will be as straight as a computer generated line. Her cuttings and piecing, her foiling and patinas will rival Tiffany's. Color selection and design will create a work of art.

And there'll be no stupid white flux lines like the ones plaguing my finished pieces.

And that has thrown me into the comparison game once more. My work does not match hers--and only non-stop practice on my part and quitting stained glass on her end will every bring my talent up to her level.

This whirligig of comparisons destroys my joy and knocks me off the path God has chosen for me to walk. No good thing can come from it. It's stupid--see 2 Cor. 10:12).

Do you do this?

Comparisons destroy our joy. They cause us to forget that God loves us just as we are. It's not our works that bring us salvation or divine love or a coveted spot in heaven.

Instead, we must remember, God has given us enough to be pleasing to Him. Isn't that ample?

Reasons we shouldn't compare ourselves with others:

  1. Egotists do this. Do you want to be in the same category as a narcissist? (Phil. 2:3)
  2. Whose approval are you seeking--God's or man's? (Gal. 1:10)
  3. Is your calling the same as everyone else's? (Rom. 12:2)
  4. Our talents are given by God. Do we rebuke Him because we're not on the same level as Mozart or Einstein? (1 Cor. 4:7)
  5. Our jealousy causes divisions. (Jude 1:19)
  6. What are our motives? Do we wish to lord it over others as the greatest? Jesus didn't, and He is God. (Luke 22: 24-27)
  7. Our arrogance will treat others with contempt. (Luke 18: 9-14)
I have to remember--I may never rival Marianne. She'll never equal Tiffany. He can't compete with the Creator of the universe.

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