This is not a soap box. This is merely a suggestion. Theories of personality can be helpful tools. I confess, the study of types has always been interesting to me. Myers-Briggs was always the best one, in my opinion. Until recently. A good friend recommended these two books about the Enneagram. Having never heard the word “Enneagram” before, I was curious. I read the books two or three times and recommended them to others. Even my “OBX girlfriends” and I agreed to read them before our April trip. Great discussion material…

As I age, I really really want to be characterized by the visible quality that comes from the refining and crushing process of doing God’s will during my lifetime. I want it to be obvious that I have lived for Him. The alternative of living a listless, self-indulgent, and useless life will end without any visible quality. I just don’t want that at all.

I draw much encouragement from Psalm 93:12-15: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.’ ”

The Enneagram books, workshops, podcasts, and conversations have given me plenty to think about along these lines. Mainly, in regard to family dynamics. The 9 types have given me a new appreciation for the various members of my family in a way that nothing else has. I am grateful. If for no other reason than I have developed a level of empathy regarding people who do not see the world the way I do. And I could never figure out why…

More importantly, the study has pointed the finger at my heart. Thankfully, the two books pictured are written from a Christian worldview and suggest the sin problem that particularly besets each type. I found this to be “right on” in my case. This exposure has had the desired effect. I want to address this sin problem and inhabit the true self that God intended me to be. This requires coming face to face with God’s grace and actively rejecting the false self.

I am a “5” out of the 9 types. There are currently no other fives in my family, except possibly one granddaughter. I feel like everything, especially family dynamics, I previously saw in black and white. And now, I am seeing things in vivid color. The Enneagram study is not the “be all, end all” by any means, but it is definitely a path to help me age well and realize that there is so much more that God wants to do in my life…

Romans 14:19 says, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Romans 15:7 says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

In context, these are scriptural instructions for the Christian community, of which I am gratefully a part. Within the community, there are different levels of faith – ranging from weak to strong. But, there are also different levels of type… Typology adds a rich dimension to these instructions that I find very helpful. Maybe you will too.



These Girls: An Inspiration


Photo credit – Kim Clayton Lance (Red Leaves)

These girls… What can I say? Their lives tell a great “God story!” Too much to tell here. But I can say a few things. What I can say is that God has truly set His seal of ownership on them.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 says, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” What I can say is that they live out the mystery of their identity in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Colossians 2:2-3, 8-10 says, “My purpose is that they…may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge…See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, Who is the Head over every power and authority.”

Yesterday, two amazing ladies graduated from Covenant Christian School. They are part of God’s love letter to the world. Along with the sister of one and the teacher of both (pictured top right), there is no doubt that Christ’s fullness is reflected in their young lives. Jesus is their True North. No mistaking this. They will not have an identity crisis as they boldly live out their faith. How refreshing to celebrate a real life fulfillment of 2 Corinthians 3:2-3: “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

In words from their class hymn, BE THOU MY VISION, these girls inspire those around them because they confess these steadfast beliefs, “Thou my great Father, I Thy true son, Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one…” Jesus Christ is “their dignity, their delight, their inheritance, their shelter, their tower…”

As they continue to touch the world by radiating their identity in Christ and His fullness, I am inspired that they dare to be different in the name of Christ.

These girls…

Swept Down

STORM at sea

“When neither the sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.” Acts 27:20

I have experienced at least one season (actually several seasons) in my life where one decision, one unheeded warning, changed the course of history in a monumental way. And ushered in an unbelievable storm. When the storm passed (and it always does), I never forgot the wake of destruction and the marks of what the storm did.

The next warning given, I hope to heed. Be different. Be wise. Praying I will learn from the past.

Acts 27:21 says, “After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: ‘Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss.’ ” The damage and loss can be shocking. You wonder why you didn’t listen to sound and wise advice when it was offered. I know what this is like…

But, I also know what it is like to trust God in the storm and to be sure that He uses even the worst scenarios to further His purposes in my life and the lives of others caught in the storm. Hence, the reason I love Psalm 37. I’ve seen God bring beauty from ashes. Not overnight. But, closer to a lifetime. I’ve seen Him weave the story so that I begin to trust Him more, have more wisdom in my storehouse, have better preparation for the next godly advice I receive.

When you see the storm coming, you have decisions to make. When you later realize that it could have been prevented by one different decision, then you know the power of decisions. You think you have affirmation from God, but all you have is some kind of consensus from those around you. You think you did your research, but it turns out you missed a few important things. One different phone call. One different conversation. One different employment decision. One different family decision. One different leadership decision. Could have averted disaster.

Acts 27:25-26 says, “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”

Running aground can be merciful. It is God’s way of setting you on a new and better course. He doesn’t let you dwell in the “what ifs” but He challenges you with the “what nows.” The “what now” is God’s way of rescuing you and reminding you that He is in charge of the northeasters in your life. He is in charge of the course of history and our part in it. He is not mocked by our bad decisions. He uses every phone call, every conversation, every meeting, every failure, every disaster to move us toward deeper trust in Him and His eternal purposes. Keep up your courage.

God’s eternal purposes trump our temporary purposes, bad or good, disaster or not. And remind us that, when you are God’s child, no ignoring of wise advice, no inviting of unnecessary disaster, can thwart God’s plans. If anything, He uses the disasters to mature us in Him and put godly character in us where it was missing before. Keep up your courage.

Be careful to discern God’s voice. Acts 27:11-15 says, “But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest. When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along.”

Keep up your courage. Prayerfully question the advice of the pilot and the owner of the ship. Ask God for discernment. Decisions are powerful. I thank God for the “Pauls” in my life. I’m a better listener now.