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Beautiful Battlefields

Psalm 11 I’ve already run for dear life straight into the arms of God. So why would I run away now when you say, “Run to the mountains; the evil bows are bent, the wicked arrows aimed to shoot under cover of darkness at every heart open to God. The bottom’s dropped out of the country; good people don’t have a chance!” But God hasn’t moved to the mountains; His holy address hasn’t changed. He’s in charge, as always, His eyes taking everything in, His eyelids unblinking…not missing a thing.

This was a tough week. But one morning before sunrise this little scripture showed its face and it was brilliant and beautiful in about a million ways. Here’s a bit from my journal:

In hard times, people will say: Run! Get away from the trouble! Flee and save yourself! The problem with that plan? God hasn’t gone to the mountains. He doesn’t flee. He doesn’t hide from trouble – in fact, He uses trouble as His most wonderful window display. And when I run from the hard thing or the the tough relationship or the difficult situation, I may actually be running from God.

And in related news…

I Samuel 18:30 Whenever the Philistine warlords came out to battle, David was there to meet them – and beat them – upstaging Saul’s men. David’s name was on everyone’s lips.

Saul – in his frantic attempts to kill David – actually keeps unwittingly positioning him for victory, increased strength and wild acclaim. Wow. Saul would have been smarter to just closet David away in a safe, quiet spot in the kingdom, away from the battlefield that would prove his strength and his God.

Many people will say “pick your battles”. I’m learning that as long as I’m hidden in Christ, my battles can pick me and I’m still going to be right where He wants me. And right where He wants me – no matter how dangerous – is always safe.

So, here’s my decision for the coming week and I empower you to hold me accountable: no matter what, no matter who, no matter how hot the battle – I will not run to the mountains or the mall or to Food Network (my favorite place of escape). I will not lose heart or shrink back or let fear nibble away at my faith. I will stand and believe and say “Bring it on, Saul! If God is for me, who can…who possibly would dare…to be against me?”

With beauty in sight,


P.S. Food network? While not a worthy escape is still a remarkable achievement of television genius.

April 21, 2008 - 4:50 am

CI - How similar our experience’s must have been last week. Circumstances perhaps different, but the natural instinct to flee to some place ‘safe’ was/is so real. Thanks for the perspective of seeing that often I am running away from the very thing that I need. I am believeing for a better week and a heart that is deeply rooted and rested in the safety of my Ultimate Shelter, Father God.

April 21, 2008 - 8:40 am

bolovesjoe - Cheryl – I’m believing for a better week for you as well…and I’m so excited to have you here for a bit.

April 21, 2008 - 11:51 am

Jessica Carpenter - The real challenge this week though Bo: Not saying anything to those stinking people who don’t know what starbucks’ drinks are called! The nerve of those people… walking in and saying “medium” instead of “venti”. ๐Ÿ™‚

Nail maintenance was exactly, precisely why the red had to go by the way! It was unfortunate, because I so enjoyed being esteemed and viewed as “put together” or “marketing scheme victim”. I always forget which it was! Thanks for the great post and just the stinking encouragement to chase God that your life is… you got a little anonymous shout out in my latest post! A fact you’ll want to write home about I’m sure ๐Ÿ™‚

April 22, 2008 - 4:05 am

Naomi Larson - Hey Bo!! How have you been? It’s been a while! How’s the fam? Tell everyone “hi” for me. I need to come visit you again sometime! I miss the ol days when I saw you more…well, sorta…the part about seeing you more anyway! :o)

Much love and God bless!

April 22, 2008 - 4:07 am

Naomi Larson - Oh yeah, I don’t know if you can see my email address to reply, so it’s

April 22, 2008 - 11:50 am

Corina Burgess - Bo: I’m with you. I set myself not to run to anything but God. Even when it would be so much more fun to run to Starbucks, but then the coffee gets cold, the lights turn out,they ask me to leave and I’m left to face my giant. So like David, I reach for the smoothness of the stone, place it in my hand and knowing God has been with me before, I throw it…

I love you my friend and wait patiently for a return trip to my favorite place in the world.

April 22, 2008 - 12:22 pm

bolovesjoe - Oh goodness, Corina…you just made me cry and I totally didn’t want to cry today! It was just so wonderful to see your name and read your words…imagine if I could actually see your FACE! If you would make a return trip I would love to share that coffee with you and talk about the giants slain and victories won and battles left to come…much love to you my friend.

Fast Forwarding Faith

“When Saul and his troops heard the Philistine’s challenge, they were terrified and lost all hope.” I Samuel 17:11

“God, who delivered me from the teeth of the lion and the claws of the bear, will deliver me from this Philistine.” I Samuel 17:37

Whether we realize it or not, stories are almost always playing out inside our heads and they’re usually about ten minutes ahead of the moment we’re actually living in. We’re cautious with our kids around water, because the story in our mind rolls out to a place where they fall in and can’t get out. We race on our way to work because these mind-pictures move rapidly ahead of real time to the moment we get confronted or fired for being late….and some people would even let that picture keep playing to the point where they lose their house and car because they now have no job and can’t pay the bills. And then they REALLY step on the gas to get to work! It’s not so much the immediate or the absolute that moves us to do what we do, but rather the possibility of what could be as it unfolds in our imagination. And those perceived possibilities are created by fear or by faith…and nothing in between.

Saul & his troops heard the words of the giant and their heads were filled with fast-moving, technicolor pictures of all that could happen in the next ten minutes. Fear poked it’s spiny fingers into the corner of their brains where the future lives and penciled in the possibilities of what-could-be.

Enter David. His picture of the next 10 minutes was FILLED with faith and – dare I say – EAGER anticipation to rumble with that giant! What made the difference? He relied on what he had seen God do in the past and how he had experienced His presence in the heat of battle. I’m sure he rewound and replayed the miraculous moment when he wrestled that bear to the ground as supernatural faith rippled through his memory and into his muscles.

He just knew.

He didn’t know his own strength or his own courage. He just knew his own God, and that gave him everything else he needed. I betcha he could even imagine the feeling of carrying Goliath’s head through the camp and was already planning where he would hang the big guy’s weapons when he took them back to his tent. David let his knowledge of God’s faithfulness fill in all the missing details so that he could clearly envision the exact events of the next few minutes in which a very small rock would to catapult a very large giant into eternity.

When faith paints our picture of the future as it forms in our imagination, anything is possible. When we are able to pull up a fresh awareness of the victories of the past, God becomes bigger than every other giant we’re facing. And that lets us be the size that we are. And that’s just about the best gift ever.

So, how about you? What do the next ten minutes or ten months or ten years look like in your head? Who would you guess is painting that picture?

Believing for the heads of giants,


April 16, 2008 - 12:34 pm

helenw13 - oh my…I shouldn’t have clicked on…because I have to go join Carl to do our reading together before he turns into a pumpkin…I will read this in the morning…I don’t know what you wrote yet but the first scripture grabbed me because in my last week’s reading…I have been batting around similar verses but from chapter 13….especially how the people hid in caves, thickets, among rocks, in pits and cisterns…
So until later…sorry for the ramble…


April 17, 2008 - 3:53 am

Kristin Bryan - Consider yourself LINKED.
I added you.

there you are!

April 17, 2008 - 6:14 am

bolovesjoe - Helen – I hope you got to Carl in time!

Kristin – likewise!

April 17, 2008 - 6:31 am

Taylor - Bo! Thank you for your ever encouraging blog and fresh looks at a great story!!!

April 17, 2008 - 10:42 am

helenw13 - Hey Bo…yes I did get to Carl in time…the very patient one…great post…and it is good that I waited because I read this account this morning…I just marvel at how matter of fact David is when he tells about the bear…the complete awareness of what God empowered him with…

I heard a teaching this mornning by Beth Moore and it was about the Alpha and the Omega…the One who was, who is and is to come…her point was that we need to be living in the “is” but we tend to be distracted by the “was” and the “what is to come”…I do it all the time…my daughter got a radical haircut today…didn’t know until she took her softball helmet off…and immediately my mind when to graduation 30 days away…much farther than 10 minutes…I want to live in the here and now and trust God for the next minute let alone the next month…that’s enough rambling for now…

I love your take on David…thank you!


April 18, 2008 - 11:16 pm

bolovesjoe - Helen – your Beth Moore comments – and a phone call from my mom recently – reminded me of the spot in The Shack where they ask Mac where he lives most – past, present or future. The realization that when we travel to the future, we most often don’t take God with us was really important to me. And it’s interesting because we preach “vision” so much which I think is good as long as it positively effects our now. But if it keeps us living in a faraway land and missing – or even resenting – the potency of the moment, then I think it can be dangerous. I’ve dealt with all kinds of young people who are so focused on their big future that they have disdain for the smaller more “present” things that will actually GET them there. Argh.

Okay – stepping down off my soap box now because I’m really hungry, not because I’m out of passion for this subject. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh – also – I totally empathize with you on preparing for graduation in 30 days. Tori finished school in January, but she graduates in June and I just can’t believe it. In this area, I’m definitely dragging my heels to leave the past.

April 19, 2008 - 6:03 am

Kristin Bryan - Bo, sorry to say it.. but you typed in the link wrong.. you can’t actually get to my blog through that link ๐Ÿ™‚
it’s not

April 19, 2008 - 10:35 am

bolovesjoe - Thanks, Kristin – fixed it! Also: com vs. org = the bane of my existence.


Slight temperature inflation. Brave buds break through on the giant lilac trees around my house. Tulips push green stems through the still-resistant earth. Strawberries in the produce section… anemic looking, but still strawberries I think. Winter coats fade, flip flops emerge (woo – flip flops!) Summer movie previews. Bulbs and plants and fertilizer and hoses come out of hiding at Costco. Bikinis huddle together for warmth at Target. Six emails from my husband remind me of summer vacation. The grill sheds it’s winter clothes. CLC students want to date.

Signs of Spring.

Ready, ready, ready,


April 10, 2008 - 12:35 am

cass-a-rooh - and then it snowed.

i love all your observations, i couldn’t help but have two favorites;
“Bikinis huddle together for warmth….”
“CLC students want to date”

April 10, 2008 - 2:00 am

Tracy - My kids just had a snowball fight and I’m still taking Hot baths every night to warm up. I kee hoping and hear rumors of 70’s this weekend!! I see the buds on the trees as well and hope they don’t freeze and die before spring:) I’m with the CLC students I want to date too!! LOL

April 10, 2008 - 6:54 am

Kristin Bryan - oh man, dating is overrating.

April 10, 2008 - 6:55 am

Kristin Bryan - ๐Ÿ˜€

April 10, 2008 - 7:13 am

bolovesjoe - I will take ANYTHING associated with spring at this point. Any hint of weather over 40. Any small blossom. And, yes, any sort of date at any sort of place…especially if that place happens to be SUNSHINEY. We tried to pretend that we were in Cabo today when we were actually in LaRosa and it almost worked until we had to go back to the office.

And Kristin, I think you’re jaded because you dated an actual CLC student (right? Was he still in CLC?) and that’s just a whole other ball game. Maybe you could mention that to our current CLC students. Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚

April 10, 2008 - 8:32 am

Katie - Um, I’m sorry – which city are you living in? Surely not the one that saw 2 inches of snow yesterday! ๐Ÿ™‚

April 10, 2008 - 8:33 am

Katie - And…one could argue:

CLC students want to date. Signs that the year has just started. Haha – I actually made myself laugh out loud while typing that one! ๐Ÿ™‚

April 10, 2008 - 12:38 pm

Tara - haha! I remember CLC and the horrible crushed that I had to get over. Good times, let me tell you.

April 10, 2008 - 8:56 pm

bolovesjoe - Yay, Katie – I laughed out loud reading it so we’re all happy!

Tara – good times, indeed. I totally remember you talking to me about that but I can’t – for ANYTHING – remember who was the object of the crush. That’s either the result of old age or the grace of God. Oh wait! That wasn’t you! Seriously, it was someone else. Okay – I’m gonna go with old age.

April 11, 2008 - 11:13 pm

Kristin Bryan - Yeah, oh man. what a nightmare! My advice, wait until you are long long gone from CLC to date. That’s good advice spiritually AND naturally (if I do say so myself!)
Honestly though, I was talking to a younger CLC student the other day who just wants to get married, and I realize that I got married pretty young by the worlds standards, but I had finished college, and lived on my own for 4.5 years.. and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. But when I tried to talk to them about this, and tried to get them to see that the season that they’re in is priceless.. they pretty much just said “no I want to get married”
I wanted to say.. “BOYS SMELL, AND CLEANING THE TOILETS WHEN YOU LIVE WITH A BOY ISN’T FUN, AND THEY SNORE, AND HAVE A REALLY HARD TIME PUTTING THEIR DISHES IN THE DISHWASHER!! Relish the time that you have to live with girls” (and I even have a husband that does WAY more around the house then most)…
But I didn’t.. I just said “don’t miss out on what God has for you now”.. they’ll figure it out themselves.

Katie, I laughed really hard too.. way too hard considering I’m sitting in my office..

April 11, 2008 - 11:13 pm

Kristin Bryan - oh and Tara, I can’t relate.. I NEVER had to get over any crushes ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jesus, Love Songs and Antipasti

Over the weekend, Steve and I went to hear Corey and Whitney play at Makahna’s and something remakable happened. Truth be told, we were just going to do what good parents do: support our kids at their gig. But when we got there we found the restaurant was filled with friends from Whit’s work, people from our church and from the young adults group that Corey leads. Throughout the evening, everyone moved from table to table, hugging and talking and trying each other’s food. I caught little audio scraps of conversations going on all around me…people talking about life and work and friends and the God that holds all of it together. I shared an incredible antipasti plate with the person I love the most in the whole world while we listened to music about love and loss, sung by people we adore.

And then this moment happened. This miraculous moment. I sat there in the swirling goodness of it all, fighting tears, as I realized: “This is God. I can feel His heart beat, His love of relationship, His longing to be with us as we are with each other.” I kept hearing the beautiful words “where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Why is He there? Not out of obligation to the verse, but because – just like me at that moment – He wouldn’t want to miss it for the world. I’m discovering that Jesus really loves to have dinner with friends.

For too long, I have kept God framed inside the halls and walls of a building and haven’t accurately recognized His presence moving through the moments outside of the meeting we traditionally call “church”. Church absolutely is gathering to worship at a specified location…because there we find Him and love Him and grow in Him. But church is more. More real and more simple and more messy than that.

And it’s also less.

Less defined, less intimidating, less linear than that.

I don’t think we should worship or fear the dichotomy in it all, I think we should just go ahead and let God leak out of our meetings and into our restaurants and houses and streets. I suspect that it’s exactly this kind of pervasive and powerful force that will overrun the gates of hell.

Believing for more and less,


Being Jael

Judges 4:21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to Sisera while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the tent peg through his temple and into the ground, and he died.

Um, wow. Jael’s a little bit passionate here. She doesn’t just kill him, she totally pins him to the ground with a tent peg. The powerful, evil Sisera doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving his encounter with this little Hebrew woman. Do you ever wonder how she pulled it off?

I think she knows she’s only got one shot at this. She knows she can’t take him in a fight, so she’s got to get him while he’s sleeping and then she has to make her one move count. Brilliant.

If women would treat their enemies like this more often, they would be unstoppable. Honestly, I think that women are often slaves to their own mercy gift and need-to-nurture tendencies, when sometimes they just need to stinkin’ throw a spear or a rock or a fist at the face of the thing that keeps trying to hold them back, shut them down, and take their purity, passion and hope.

God, may an army of Jael’s rise up and demolish the plans of darkness in their lives and – by consequence – save another, or a nation, or a generation. May they understand the strategy of the enemy towards women and refuse to bend or bow or shrink back.

Hoping to be like Jael when I grow up,


April 6, 2008 - 12:55 am

Tracy - Beautiful Saturday morning, slippers, starbucks, butterfly kisses from sweet children, husband hugs…then TENT PEG!!!
Good morning! I love it! I even love the thought of some need-to-nurture women nurturing some broken, beat-down women to pick up their tent pegs and go to town. Wouldn’t that be something…I beleive it is our time as women to take our place as women, to ‘Fight like a girl'(by Lisa Bevere). Being a woman isn’t just about nurture and knitting, it is about taking up the sword and fighting like a girl should!!

April 6, 2008 - 3:07 am

Jess Carpenter - AMEN.

April 6, 2008 - 3:35 am

helenw13 - Love this Bo…I just read this, this week while doing cover to cover…and I had to pause and think about how she accomplished this as well…and you know muscles whether physical,intellectual, emotional and spirituals look good on any women!

April 6, 2008 - 4:45 am

CI - OK, as you know, passion has really never been my problem. I just need to get it directed in the proper areas. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am so impressed with any woman who can see the bigger picture…to see purpose and hope beyond her immediate emotions or circumstances. In me, fear yells the loudest and clouds my sight and hearing and the result is that I can sometimes shoot the wrong thing or walk away when I was chosen to drive the tent peg. Like you, I too want to be like Jael when I grow up. I will always remember this post. Thanks.

April 7, 2008 - 11:57 am

Bob and Louise - I’m with you ladies. Tired of being pushed around, down, and away! We have been given the keys to the Kingdom and the power to use them! For ourselves and for those the Lord has put in our lives. We can be powerful or pitiful, but not both. Thank you, Lord, for Jael, her courage and fortitude to do the hard, scary thing and make a mark in History. May we rise to our calling as Mighty Women of God and take territory for our King!