One = A Difference

Photo by Rob Blair


How easy it can be to see that number in a great many contexts and minimize it or give it too much credit. I wonder if sometimes that relates to what we project from within us.

If we tend to over-emphasize our importance, knowledge, or skill, we may consider “one” to be much bigger than it is. If we tend to feel we have little that is of value or importance, lack skills or knowledge, we may determine we have little to offer. In the latter case we will often remain silent. In the former case we will jump in without considering if that is what we are called to do.

“One” may not be something we want to explore too deeply because it requires self-evaluation and irrespective of whatever group or groups we are in, it results in accountability. Avoidance of it misses a great deal that is important for each of us to be reminded of, I think.

You see, “one” always equals a difference. That difference can be positive or negative, now or later, but it will always mean a difference. That suggests that something will be required of each one of us because for whatever we do or do not know, we each know some things. For those things, we cannot plead ignorance nor shift responsibility on to anyone else.


It might be tempting to bring up all of our connections or groups and how they influence us, and it is true they exert a level of influence or control on each one of us. But it is our choice about how we respond, and that response can make a great deal of difference to/for us as well as to/for others.

One angel chose to esteem himself higher than he was. The difference for him was to be thrown out of heaven and God’s presence. That choice and decision on his part meant that we have had him as an enemy that has shadowed us from the day we first were born.

One shepherd boy keeping watch over his father’s flock went to visit his brothers on the battlefield with some extra food for their nourishment. When he arrived, he discovered the army his brothers were a part of were stymied by a giant who was taunting them. This giant was far bigger and stronger than the men of the army and they trembled when they heard his voice.

The boy knew that the army of his brothers was on God’s side, and he could not believe they were shrinking back from dealing with the giant. He took his sling and a smooth stone and took down the giant in a single attempt. The difference for the boy is that he gained favor from the king of his country. Because he had a heart like God’s, he was later anointed king to replace the king who had favored him. Despite his mistakes, God made a promise to him to honor him forever. That difference resulted in Jesus coming to earth and fulfilling the promise for a perfect king while also taking the consequences for all of us who chose Him as our forever king.

Most of you know those stories well as they speak of Lucifer (the angel) and David (the shepherd boy).

But that story of the difference of one has replayed over and over countless times throughout history.


One British politician observed the dark evils of slavery in the British empire and chose to lobby for the abolition of the slave trade for 18 long years. Time and again he introduced anti-slavery motions into the British parliament. He retired from politics without seeing passage of his motions and then shortly before his death eight years later the act to free the slaves in the British empire passed through the House of Commons. What a difference his choice to persevere made in the lives of uncounted numbers of lives and what an example William Wilberforce left for us all.

Books have been so much a part of many of our lives that it is hard to envision a world without them. Some of us still prefer them to reading on any one of our new electronic devices. Even so there was a great length of time when news of the day and history was passed along orally. Later when an alphabet was devised, a very few began to write on parchments to communicate and record history.

Chinese monks developed block printing as a step to bring books into form, but one German goldsmith in the 15th century (Johannes Gutenberg) invented the printing press enabling the mass production of books and a rapid dissemination of knowledge throughout Europe. That one man, that one invention, made a great difference in the lives of anyone who learned to read. If you are reading this in any format, it made a difference in your life as well since you likely first learned to read with a commercially created book.

A fisherman left his nets one day and followed one who was called a teacher whose name was Jesus. He developed a great passion for his teaching and vowed loyalty, but when crunch time came, and Jesus was being tried this fisherman denied him. His mistake left him in shame until one day on the beach Jesus fed him breakfast and Peter was restored and transformed.

This same “one” after the shaking on Pentecost preached mightily despite growing persecution and laid a foundation for the early church. The difference flowed down to the present day for any and all who will believe his message. The difference for Peter was that it cost him his life at the hands of the Roman empire.

When one babe was born in Bethlehem prophecies of old were fulfilled and his teaching boggled the minds of all who heard Him. When He offered himself in sacrifice for all who would believe in Him, it became the greatest gift. His choice made a difference that has affected every person ever born since that day whether they have chosen Him or not.

What about you?

You are “one” person unlike any other born and living in this time.

What difference will you make?


A Costly Snare

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It can be so easy to feel that our feet are planted firmly in the truth of the Gospel and our minds are free from the debris of those entanglements we left behind. Our hearts at last can be more at peace. And those things can be true without recognizing a snare we can sometimes miss coming from the lies we have often told ourselves. Too often they have been a part of us for so long, we no longer recognize them as lies, so because of that we accept them and can subtly fall prey to the erosion they create.

We miss those lies because they were sown so skillfully and often not in one large obvious chunk. Instead one fragment was put in place and others added until the lie came into being in all its power to look like the truth to us. We accepted it because we tended to agree with it by that time.

If it happened all at once, we might recognize it for what it is. That is why the enemy of our souls is patient with his work.


The first time we do not succeed at something, doubt begins to creep in about whether or not we have what it takes. (Yes, we have all been there.) We question our ability, our effort, our worth, and more. What we decide to do then will determine how effectively doubt works its evil.

If we are encouraged by others to try again (especially others who believe in us) or if we determine there was something we could have done differently or better, we are less likely to concede to the suggestions that come from the doubts.

If, however, we do not receive encouragement or cannot see a way to have done something differently, better, or more, the suggestions that follow the doubt will begin to take root in us. We may succumb to telling ourselves we are less capable, less able, or not as good as needed. If we accept or keep rehearsing those thoughts long enough, we will begin to believe they are true for us. As a result, we will begin to lie to ourselves.

We might also succumb to denying our own lack of doing our part and how that contributed to the failure. Then? We will have learned nothing. We will lie to ourselves that we were right and everyone or everything else was wrong and we were the victims of injustice.

In Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, the author admonishes: “Above all, don’t lie to yourself.”

Joel Rosenberg in one of recent novels, The Kremlin Conspiracy, followed this quote with sobering reality in these words spoken between two characters in the story:

“The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him or around him. And he loses all respect for himself and for others – and having no respect he ceases to love.”

 Lying to oneself is akin to consuming a little poison each day. It doesn’t kill us immediately so we believe it is safe without recognizing we are caught in a snare that will take our life in one way or another.


It is sad that we can fear the truth and be more comfortable with a lie as a result of so many influences of those who discourage us and those whom the enemy uses to believe that is what we deserve.

I appreciate so much what Maurice Maeterlinck has said:

“A truth that disheartens because it is true is of more value than the most stimulating falsehoods.”

Sometimes it can be hard to forget one of the powerful truths penned by C.S. Lewis as well:

“There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”

We live on the battleground between truth and lies. Truth is God’s domain and lies are that of the enemy who seeks to defeat us.

Truth brings us freedom. Lies imprison us.

Truth leads us to the foot of the cross for grace and mercy. It pushes us to discover what Jesus says about who we are and what we are. It dismantles the pressure to be something we are not or can never be and instead allows us to discover all the possibilities that are a part of God’s design of us.


What Guides Your Choice?

Photo by Pam Ecrement

Every day we make countless choices…many without realizing them. The first is often to simply decide to get out of bed when the alarm goes off, the sun comes streaming through the window, or someone nudges you awake.

Sounds simple, right? Yes, but that choice will impact each choice for the rest of the day (especially if you choose not to get up at all or get up late for work).


Throughout the day each of us will make choices about what and when we eat, whether we exercise, whether we follow through on something we have committed to, how we respond to people who call or speak with us, and what our focus will be.

Choices (when added up) shape the identity that is ours little by little over time even when many of the choices seem inconsequential.

Our choices are influenced by a variety of sources. These include how much the opinions of others matter, how much we want to “fit in”, what we believe about almost everything, who we listen to, what we read, the people we hang out with, what has wounded us, what we feel about ourselves, and what we believe about God. And that list can be even longer.

In many of these categories we are often swayed by opinions and subjective views more than truth. That is not our intent many times, but unless our pursuit of the truth is diligent across the expanse of influences in our lives we may well be deceived.

One of the strong influencers is our culture to one degree or another. Before you dismiss that idea, pause to consider what clothes hang in your closet now and what clothes were there five or ten years ago. What music stations are cued in on your car radio or iPod? It is likely there has been change there as well even if you still groove on the 40’s, 60’s, 80’s, or 90’s channels.

Culture has changed the words we use, what they mean, and how we use them. It has determined the shows on television and the movies in the theaters. Language and topics that were unthinkable even ten years ago are common now.

Little-by-little culture has cleverly led us to accept the norms that govern the society in which we live. Culture has sometimes been so subtle that it has invaded some of our churches as well before we have recognized that it is backwards…the church is to be influencing the culture not vice versa.

Why is it important to be clear on what informs and shapes our identity?

 A simple answer: it matters to God.

Jesus Christ Quotes -Brennan Manning Quote ?Our identity rests in God s relentless

Kenny Luck clarifies it this way:

“The question of identity is issue number one to God because whatever commands your identity will, by default, command your energy – either toward or away from God’s dangerous good agenda for your life.”

My lived experience confirms the truth of that statement, and it also sobers me.

Is my identity in Christ and the truth of His Word holding a steady course in the waves of the culture buffeting against me?

Do I stand steadily for the principles I want to guide my life or do they waver under pressure from the culture of everyone and everything that I am exposed to each day?

My answers to these questions will help me understand what guides my choices and how those choices reveal the truth of my identity to those around me and to the Lord.

It also draws me back to Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:1 (NIV):

“As a prisoner of the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

What would we look like if that were our choice daily?

What would the world look like?


Have You Noticed?

Photo from Walland, TN by Pam Ecrement

Have you noticed a butterfly gracefully perched atop a flower or the sound of a bird’s song singing? Have you noticed the depth of the color of the sky, the gentle touch of the breeze on your cheek, or the feel of dew on your feet in the morning? Have you noted how much your eyes and ears take in of the areas around you and what incredible sensory design God has created in each of our five senses, how they serve us throughout each moment of our existence?

I am not sure of what your answer might be and if these are things you observe often or only on vacation or here and there. I miss these things at times as well and it’s not surprising that our attention gets drawn toward a hundred different things. Much of the things that grab our attention come to us on one of the devices we hold in our hand, hang on our walls, or sit on our lap or on a desk. They pull us into work, entertainment, study, and dozens of things that we need to know or want to enjoy, but they also keep our eyes focused on places that can result in us missing the beauty that surrounds us in all its many forms.

Photo of violets by Pam Ecrement

Our senses were created and designed by our Creator for so many reasons and we rely on them every moment, but one of the things I wonder if we miss is how God hopes each sensory design will cause us to pause and see beauty, see his creation, and remember Him. Beauty is something we enjoy and yet don’t often recognize how much we need to see beauty in the world around us to refresh us and strengthen us, give us hope and trust in a tomorrow and the earth reborn as it was in Eden before the fall of man. Can we even imagine what the earth was like then?

If we get caught up in the news of the day whether it is over the fence in our yard, on our smart phone, or anywhere else we will forget (if we ever knew) that we are a part of a bigger story and be weakened in hope, resilience, and a capacity to endure what the world, the flesh, and the enemy throws at us.

“The story of God should get more of your ‘attention time’ than any other media.”

John Eldredge

That statement of Eldredge’s is one we need to not just read and keep going. What does the expenditure of time look like? Most of us can see reminders on our phones and some other devices about how much screen time we have in any given week and sometimes if we look, we are shocked to see how it adds up. It’s easy to do because we use it for so many things – news, directions with maps, information we need, shopping, games to entertain us, even Bible study plans and so on. If you add up all that along with movies, phone calls, podcasts, and music programs, it adds up quicker than we might expect.

Photo by Pam Ecrement

Even if we spend specific time with God each day reminding ourselves of the God story, how much does that add up to compared to everything else? Do we recognize we are living out the God story every single day? And how easily we can forget we are not just physical creatures living in a physical world.

“Christians are designed to live in and enjoy the benefits of two ecosystems, two realities – the physical and the spiritual, the earth and the heavens.

Each world offers graces for human flourishing. The natural world is saturated with beauty, and beauty nourishes the human soul. That’s why we vacation in lovely places – when we’re looking to be renewed, we choose walks in the woods, swimming in the ocean, biking through the vineyards, music, and dinner on the patio under the stars. There are many natural graces that nourish and strengthen the heart and soul – beauty is one, stillness is another, and so are nature and disentangling from technology…”

John Eldredge

How on point that observation and since the lockdowns of the pandemic we have craved such beauty in the natural world more than ever. Highways and airport terminals are busier than ever this summer despite the high cost of traveling because we are all seeking these places to regain what we lost over months and months of separation from places and people that mean the most to us.

Photo by Pam Ecrement

During these last several years our spiritual lives have been upended as well. For quite some time churches were closed and we tried to adapt to watching pastors teach on a screen and if we are honest, some of us didn’t go back even when we were allowed to do so. Technology allowed us to have that “connection” and yet it wasn’t the same as sitting in a community of believers singing, praying, and listening together. That impacted us and our churches in ways that are still trying to be overcome.

“We are also created to live comfortably in the spiritual world, to draw upon the supernatural graces available to us through the rest of God’s wonderful kingdom.

If you’ve ever experienced the comfort of God, or the love of God, that was heaven coming to you here on earth. You tapped into the rest of God’s kingdom for the help, strength, and sustenance you needed.”

John Eldredge

But here is something we must not miss about all we have experienced and are still experiencing – we can’t delay nourishment until we get that idyllic vacation that only happens once a year for most of us. We can’t wait until we have another mountaintop experience at a retreat or a conference we once attended.

There is beauty and nourishment around us right now wherever we are if we look for it, notice it, take it in and allow it to do what God designed it to do – to remind us of the bigger story, the God story. For whatever happens in the next moment, the next hour, week, or year, we cannot wait to replenish what has been eroded. It means we need to pull our eyes away from what so easily can discourage us and notice what God is providing right in this moment.

What have YOU noticed?

Photo by Pam Ecrement

Clogged Pipes

Photo by jiawei cui from Pexels

Few things can compare to how a plumbing issue with clogged pipes can upend our day. Usually there is mess involved and often it happens at the worst possible time − when company has just arrived, we’re packing to leave on vacation, there’s a new baby in the house, or someone is ill − and costs more than we had in the budget.

All of a sudden the flow of fresh clean water that we barely think about stops. And who knows who the best plumber is who can be at our home within the hour?

In recent years many of us have heard about the word “flow” relating to a state of mind.  A flow state happens when a person is ‘in the zone’ and fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus while performing some activity. It’s become a popular topic in positive psychology, but I wonder if the experience has been around for a long time and we just didn’t label it as ‘flow.’

Have you ever experienced it in your spiritual life or your daily quiet time with the Lord?

It can feel as if your prayers and the Word fit like a glove with whatever is going on in your life and before you even know it, a worship song is running through your mind as well. You feel righted and refreshed. Even though you didn’t plan to take a lot of time for this daily discipline, you find yourself lingering there.

Photo by Pam Ecrement

Perhaps that is when we get most fully immersed in the gospel.

Eventually we start to recognize the gospel is not about us establishing a relationship with Jesus, but about Him establishing a relationship with us.

We see that relationship is not just a consequence of our believing information about Him and accumulating more and more of it as a means to the maturity we hear about and hope for. A dawning revelation points to the truth that Jesus is entrusting himself to us and revealing himself to us in a relationship like no other.

In the letter to the church at Galatia, Paul writes that we know God first because He knows us!  He made us and knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. If we know Him, it is because He has revealed himself to us through Jesus.

Our part is to make a choice about what we believe about Him after that.

Once we make that decision, the whole of our life with Him consists of getting to know Jesus better and better.

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It’s no wonder that our relationship with Him is sometimes compared to marriage. Once I made the decision that I loved my husband and wanted to marry him, the rest of my life with him has been about getting to know him more and more. (That still happens after 57 years!)

It’s that ‘getting to know you’ that little by little transforms us from who we were before. Until that happens we cannot fully understand that knowing Jesus ultimately changes everything about us.

The gospel is a unique and personal experience, but it is not private. His handiwork becomes increasingly evident in our life to those around us by how we live it (or don’t).

If we fail to give place to developing that unique intimate relationship, the information we have gained will never be actualized. It will be data and as we accumulate more of it, pride may develop about what we have acquired while we may not sense his presence or joy within us. Clogs will develop instead of flow.

What He longs for us to experience is the essence of the gospel in the depth of our being.

The gospel comes to us in order that it might run through us (flow through us).

“ Believe in me so that rivers of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your innermost being, just like the Scripture says!”

John 7:38 (TPT)
Photo of river flowing near Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada by Pam Ecrement