When Life Trips You Up

I woke up to a few words that the Lord put on my mind. Well, they are paraphrased because quite frankly I admit that I did not write them down right away. I figured I would remember them. You know how that goes.

(Note to self: Always write down your dreams and/or words from the Lord, ASAP.)

The essence of the words were: “Let go of the things that trip you up. The days are growing evil. You have to remain alert to hear my words.”

The verse that came to my mind is Hebrews 12:1.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set for us.” (NLT)

My first thought: “Seriously, the days are GROWING evil? I cannot imagine them getting worse.”

Then I thought about the things that trip me up and ensnare me, things that bring me down with heaviness.

WEIGHT THAT CAN SLOW US DOWN

Personally, I tend to want to take on all the cares and stress factors that involve my family, my future (their future) the heartaches of the world, the brokenness, the loss, the violence and the lies the world spews. Basically, I have a hard time just letting the cares disappear. I think part of that though, is the compassion of Christ. I pray or intercede often for people and circumstances. That could weigh me down, IF I do not give them to the Lord and leave the tears at the cross.

Also, my mind tends to want to relive past moments where I made an incorrect choice. IF I would let that play over and over in my mind it would drive me mad. But I have to take every thought captive and put it under the blood of Christ and remember that none of us are perfect. In fact, it is our very mistakes that create a testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness and grace. God somehow uses those very things to draw us closer to him.

What kind of things weigh YOU down? Is it fear, anxiety, anger, unforgiveness, frustration, hopelessness, despair? We have all gone down these roads. BUT remember these are just things that the enemy would love to put on us so that we CANNOT walk in triumph; so that we CANNOT walk in victory.

They slow us down.

“But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.” Isaiah 40:31 (GNT)

The answer to the things that slow us down is to wait quietly on the Lord and trust him. Let him renew us. How? By getting to know him through the Word of the Lord and prayer and hanging out with those that know him. We have to cast our cares on him because it is not the Lord that is giving us these thoughts of despair. We need to take authority of our thoughts and verbally put them under the blood of Christ so that we can have peace.

Basically think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise. (Phil.4:8) How important it is to have our mind and heart in the right place and practice them. That is how we will discover peace. (Phil 4:9)

There are simple “good” things that slow us down, as well.

Too much entertainment can become distracting, so that our minds are filled with other things constantly. That includes sports, TV, gaming, movies, books etc…Don’t get me wrong, these things are okay, BUT if our lives are not balanced they can take up too much time. Maybe you are a workaholic, or fill your time with so much ministry or volunteering that you don’t have time with Jesus. Maybe it is gluttony. That is a big one for the people in America. It’s just easy and the church doesn’t necessarily consider it bad. But it can bring on health issues that can distract you from your calling. And the list continues…

PLEASE UNDERSTAND: There are occasions that life consumes us with family issues or even emergencies. BUT take a few moments a day to seek the Lord, even in your car.

Think about it, what is weighing YOU down so that you are slowing down in the faith?

THE SIN THAT SO EASILY TRIPS US UP

We are not perfect. Each of us have weak areas that are not totally surrendered in our lives. It is these areas where the enemy will try desperately to get into our lives and wreak havoc. Do you tend to lose your temper or hold onto anger? Do you hold grudges and don’t easily forgive? Do you gossip. complain, are given to substance abuse? Are you easily tripped up by sexual immorality or are you lazy or even complacent?  Yes, even complacency will trip you up because the Lord said that he would rather that you were hot or cold. (Revelation 3:16). Perhaps it’s dabbling in dark magic or lying constantly or lusting things or stealing. Again, the list can go on and on.

We all have to deal with the things (or sins) that easily trip us up and become even MORE cautious in those areas of our lives. That sin will knock at your door, so to speak.  Ephesians 4:27 says “do not give the devil a foothold”.

“Be ALERT and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

Whatever it is that may cause you to stumble, put a stop sign up to the enemy of darkness. And by all means DO NOT hang out with those that dabble in those areas. Be wise who you choose as friends.

“Do not be misled. “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)

The Lord reminds us to be sober and vigilant. We need to make time to listen if we want to hear the voice of the Lord. And how much more important it is as the days are growing evil and confusion is consuming the land.

These words were definitely for me. But I know that they are for someone else today, as well.

Finally, I pray that each of us can run the race with endurance so that we can be found faithful when we meet our Lord, and so that we have the energy and wisdom to encourage those around us.

God bless.

This Little Child I Love- why some live in the darkness of truth.

It is hard to imagine or grasp the belief system that took place in barbaric times when people sacrificed humans in order to appease a god. It is even harder to imagine them thinking that the best humans to sacrifice are those of the innocent; their own children.

I am sure there are still some cultures in third world or fourth world countries (these are the most poverty-stricken places; some that are hidden from society) that still may perform these practices today. These are places where there is no concept of a more advanced society or have any political stand. We, from more civilized countries, may be surprised by their pagan belief systems and traditions.

Yet in our civilized, prosperous and educated nation, these practices are still performed. It is not known as sacrifice or even murder. We conceal the practice with the word “abortion”.  To abort means to terminate prematurely. While we cry out in the defense of endangered species, sympathize with the heartbreaking commercials regarding mistreatment of animals and protest with those that have been offended or treated unfairly, our youngest suffer quietly. It seems like common sense to speak up for unborn children — common sense, right? And many do just that. Most do it from the kindness of their hearts.

Today, unlike any time in our past, we have the technology to view the inside of a woman’s womb and see a child moving in real-time. When I was pregnant with the first of my children I didn’t get the joy of viewing the child that grew inside of me through an ultrasound. But I was able to view my last child move around even though I was less than 2 months pregnant. Today it is common practice to have an ultrasound. Even 3D and 4D ultrasounds are available.

We can now watch time-lapsed videos from the moment of conception to a full term baby. The creation and development of a human life is breathtaking.

So the argument is not necessarily whether it is a child or not, although some would still argue that statement. To me it just seems obvious and common sense. But the argument is based out of fear. It is the fear of the future for the mother and/or the baby. It is the fear of timing and inconvenience or shame. It is the fear that women will lose their “rights”. We are led to believe that the woman is being dictated what to do with her own body. While it is her body that is hosting the child while it develops, it is another person altogether, growing inside her. It isn’t her body that will be aborted or terminated or “murdered”.  It is another person that will feel the sweep of a painful death.

The reason I am bringing up this extremely debatable subject today is because it has been getting a lot of attention recently.  It has been a hot topic since 1973 with the Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision. But it hadn’t been discussed a whole lot on social media until Kavanaugh became a Justice of the Supreme Court. The fear that Roe vs Wade will be challenged is causing states, such as New York, to push an agenda that legalizes abortion up to full term.

People are so desperate to keep this legal and sear the conscience of this act that it has gone from a quiet private decision to bragging rights and celebration. It has been taken out of the closet, so to speak, and put on the stage for debate. I suppose that is a good thing because now it is getting the attention it deserves.

I wish so desperately that this wasn’t even up for debate. I wish I could simply ignore it and pretend it is not taking place. I hate knowing that unborn children are enduring incredible pain as they are murdered while society applauds.

If you are wondering how our society has taken so many steps backward just read Ephesians 4:18.

“Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their mind and hardened their hearts against him.” (NLT)

It would be good to read all of Romans 1 to understand where this thinking comes from but let me just add a few verses from the New International Version:

21- 22 – For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.

28 – Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

32 –  Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they no only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

You might asked, “What about Abraham? Wasn’t he going to sacrifice his own child?”

The story of Abraham obeying the Lord to sacrifice his son, Isaac, is found in Genesis 22.  Abraham hears the voice of the Lord to sacrifice his son. Isaac was the promise that was given to him (and the promise of many descendants) and he was willing to sacrifice that promise. He was trusting that God knew what he was doing. Abraham begins to obey the Lord, but the angel of the Lord stops him. God sees the obedient heart of Abraham, a man committed to him, and provides a ram instead.

Some say that the event went beyond obedience. It was the Lord’s hand stopping the shedding of child sacrifice altogether as it probably was more common in the cultures of the day to foreign gods.

It was also foreshadowing the steps that our heavenly Father would take to make a way for all sin to be paid for.  You see, blood has always been needed to cover sins. Before Christ, the priest would sacrifice a clean animal for the sins of the people. But God sent his son as a sacrifice for all mankind. His blood represents more than innocent blood being shed. It is the victorious blood of the Son of God which has the power to set us free from eternal death!

The blood of Jesus pays for all our sins, even those of abortion. Yes I do believe that is a sin, either done in ignorance or because of a hardened heart. But God has made a way for each of us to come to the Lord THROUGH HIS GRACE.

This is NOT a “bash you” because you had an abortion.  Instead this is to let you know there is another way. It is coming into agreement with the only true God, pleading that all should come to him. It is letting you know there is a place of forgiveness and peace. Sin brings grief.  James 1:15 states that when sin is completely developed or full-grown it gives birth to death. Hence God made a way to give us eternal life with him, through Jesus.

I understand that life choices can be very difficult and I understand that being pregnant may not have been a choice. I have been there. I was not ready when I was 19 and by 45 I had other plans. But when the nurse started to hand me a pamphlet with information regarding an abortion I KNEW that wasn’t an option. I knew that I could not even touch the paper it was written on. My heart was steadfast that God would make a way. Life is hard, but God can change a difficult situation into joy.

Some of you may not know there can be another way.

So with compassion in my heart I pray for those in difficult situations. Join me in this prayer:

Lord I pray that you will open the eyes of those lost in darkness. Give them grace to come to you with hearts of repentance. And give hope to those who honestly feel that this is the only way. Rescue the children that are being sacrificed and rescue the moms who are considering this or have already walked through this heartache. Finally, rescue those that perform these acts and those who have the power to change laws. Open their eyes. Lord have mercy on each of us.– Amen

As always, God Bless.

 

 

 

 

Escaping the grasp of hell

I am forwarding this short message or dream from Jeremiah Johnson Ministries. This is actually from one of  his Facebook sites dated June 23, 2018. I found it extremely enlightening, yet challenging and quit sobering. If you have not had the opportunity to read this, you might want to take a moment out of your time.

I WENT TO HELL AND WAS TOTALLY SHOCKED

Several months ago while I was extensively studying Matthew 7:22-24 and asking God for increased revelation, I had one of the most disturbing prophetic dreams of my life. The Scripture I was studying in Matthew says, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name did we not cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.”

In the prophetic dream, I was taken to hell where I saw all these ministers and individuals who had performed miracles, cast out demons, and prophesied. What I was shown next, I will never forget. The Holy Spirit showed me long lines of people behind all of these ministers and individuals. He immediately revealed to me that these were all the people that had received the miracles, prophecies, and had been at one time delivered. As I gazed at the people in these lines, He said to me, “Did they not RECEIVE miracles, prophecy, and deliverance, yet I never knew them?”

I woke up from the dream alarmed and startled. I said to the Holy Spirit, “So there are not only people that will perform signs, wonders, and miracles that will be sent to hell, but also people who receive all these things that will also be in hell. Why?” Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke again to me and said, “Because those that worked miracles, prophesied, and cast out demons never preached the full gospel of Jesus Christ which is the message of repentance. They were so in love with the gifts that I had given them that people became trophies and souvenirs to them. When My power would manifest in their ministries, they would tell people that I loved them, but never that they needed to repent for their sins. I tell you that a great deception will sweep over the signs and wonders movement in the earth. Beware of the ministries where miracles and prophecies will flow, but the message of repentance is a no go. You have been warned”. Then I woke up.

Will you pray with me today that ministers and individuals who move in God’s power will not only live a lifestyle of repentance but also preach it? What if people getting healed, delivered, and prophesied to, and only told God loves them isn’t the full gospel message? What if repentance and holiness is the full gospel message too?

-Jeremiah Johnson

I have often read the same verses with curiosity. How could God state that he never knew those who walked in the knowledge of him? And how could people who walked in the revelation of the Lord, be deceived into not understanding the importance of repentance?

Was it because they never had a relationship with the Lord in the first place? Did they love the signs of the Lord but never truly love the Lord? Does this message of “love” that is being preached from some pulpits, never explain the need for repentance? According to the dream the “whole” gospel is not being preached. Love without total surrender or commitment is artificial love, at best.

The dream reminded me of the parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25. Ten virgins had all fallen asleep as they were waiting for the bridegroom (Jesus). At the midnight hour the announcement of the coming of the bridegroom was heard and they all woke up. The Bible states that five virgins were wise because they had extra oil for their lamps to stay lit. They were ready. The other five, who were foolish because didn’t have enough oil to keep their fire burning, left to buy more. While they were gone they missed the bridegroom’s return.

“Later, the others also came, ‘Lord, Lord’, they said, ‘open the door for us.!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Matthew 25:11-12

Will people enter hell under the assumption they were in right standing with the Lord only to discover that the Lord never knew them? Of course he knows us each by name, but they never wanted a “real relationship” with God; not enough to repent of their sins, turn from their wicked ways and follow him.

I think about the message Billy Graham preached. It was always one of repentance.  At every meeting the song that was played was, “Just As I Am”. We are invited to come to the Lord as we are. Yet, the blood of Christ was not shed so that we can stay in our sins, and never change. We come in repentance. As we continue having a reverent repentant heart towards the Lord, we will begin to eventually look like our Lord, because we will change from glory to glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Where do you stand? What do you think about this dream? Is it just someone’s dream? Or is it really a warning to make sure that our hearts are in the right place? If you have never had the opportunity or knowledge that you are welcomed to know the savior of the world, this is it.

John 3:16 is a popular verse that explains salvation as it is. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)

Please don’t walk away from the greatest invitation you will ever receive, to be in the presence of the Almighty forever and escape the hell and fire that was created for the demons of darkness. This invitation is not only for the life to come, but for you to enjoy now!

God DOES love you. He desires that you repent and accept his forgiveness and be set free. You will NEVER regret that choice.

God bless.

This is a new day.

I haven’t been blogging for some time. So much change is happening in my life that I have not had a moment to sit down and write. Our family has made a major move and we are still in the realm of this transition — and might be for a while.

I have often written about trust, about faith, about remembering the hand of God in our lives, to bring encouragement. We all need hope.

Recently I have had that trust and faith tested as I walk out my hope of the promises of God. We cannot always see with our eyes all the promises that he has made to each of us. It seems the enemy is always trying to distract us with something else, whether it is poor health, poor decisions or just simple daily chaos.

Do you remember the movie, “Patriot“? In one of the clips it appears that the regiment of Carolina patriots are being defeated by the British military. The regiment feels defeated and is about to retreat when Benjamin Martin, played by Mel Gibson, picks up the flag and screams, “Do not retreat.”  He carries the flag as he runs with the last bit of energy he has left. Instead of retreat, the regiment is revived with hope and strength.

When a person feels defeated sometimes they want to retreat. That is when it is important to remember our position in Christ and that we are ALREADY the victor. When Jesus said, it is finished, he meant it. He defeated the enemy. Like a flag flying in the sky, he was lifted on a cross. How much greater of an encouragement is it to serve our Lord who died for our sins and rose from the dead with the keys of death and hell in his hands. We aren’t suppose to retreat- but run as a victor with trust and faith as our guides.

We are soldiers cloaked in the armor of God with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the word of God.(Ephesians 6:14-17) We are marching in victory with the captain of the hosts by our side. And he isn’t a weak defeated captain.

This warrior that fights with us and for us is found in Revelation:

“He was wearing a robe that reached his feet. He wore a gold belt around his waist. His head and his hair were white as wool — like snow. His eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like glowing bronze refined in a furnace. His voice was like the sound of raging water. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun when it shines in all its brightness.

When I saw him, I feel down like a dead man!  Then he laid his right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the first and the last, the living one. I was dead, but now I am alive forever. I have the keys of death and hell’.” Revelation 1: 13b-17 (GWT)

Sometimes I think we forget who our Lord is. Instead we look at circumstances or the way we use to do things or the way the world would expect us to react and we plan our future with that knowledge, instead of with his wisdom.

I heard an interesting testimony from someone lately which stuck with me. Apparently this individual had a vision. They saw themselves riding on a horse, but instead of facing forward they were sitting on their horse backward. And the Lord asked them why they were riding their horse backward and looking so intently on things in the past?

God does not encourage us to look at our past. He wants us to remember HIS faithfulness in our past but to let go of OUR past, whether it was past mistakes or simply the way things use to be done. Instead he encourages us to look into our future. Though he is the same, yesterday, today and forever, we should not remain the same since he has been working in our lives and taking us from glory to glory.

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it (perfection in the Lord) but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God , through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

So though I have some great memories and it is fun to reminisce about them and share stories of victory, I do not want to dwell in my yesterdays — good or bad. This is a new day. Instead I want to be as Paul and press on to what lies ahead. I trust that my God will walk me through transition. As a caterpillar is hidden in a cocoon before it has changed into a butterfly that soars in beauty and freedom, so I rest in his goodness and grace as He opens these doors of transition.

Then I will fly a bit higher in HIM. Amen

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

Do nice guys finish last?

I used to wake up every morning and ask the Lord to help me to be “nice”. You see I worked in the customer service department and well, if you work with customers you have to put on your “nice” face. And some of the individuals that worked with me were not the easiest to get along with either. So I just wanted to be able to be nice to those around me, and learn to be nice in general.

I thought I was getting one step ahead as I began each day. It was all good until I mentioned it to someone— interchanging the words nice and kind. The individual casually mentioned that being nice and being kind are two different actions. Apparently they weren’t synonyms like I assumed. I was stumped and decided that I would do some of my own research on the subject.

I started in the dictionary and found that a couple of the definitions for the word nice are pleasant and agreeable. Hmm. That seems right. But I cannot be agreeable on all things with all people. A few sites explained nice as being polite with good manners.

If you look at the life of Jesus you would find that he wasn’t pleasant or agreeable all the time. Truth was far more important to him than simply being pleasant or agreeable or even polite. What happened when Jesus found the money changers in the temple?

“So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their table. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”  John 2:14-17 (NIV)

Wow, that wasn’t very nice!

Nor was he nice when he told the Pharisees that they were hypocrites or whitewashed tombs. Nor was he nice when he looked at Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Matthew 16:23 (NLT)  There were many other occasions when he did things that may not have seemed polite, agreeable or pleasant.

Why?

Because he didn’t come to this earth to be pleasant. He is not Santa Claus, trying to spread Christmas cheer.  He came to bring truth. Many people DON’T want to be told truth. They just want to hear wonderful things.

“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. they will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3 (NLV)

There are a lot of NICE Christians and NICE churches. I have heard it said that we should just accept people the way they are PERIOD. Churches are being consumed with fun activities to draw in the lost– all the while sin is  being ignored.

If a baker chooses not to make a cake for an event that bothers his conscience he is considered intolerant or to put is simply — “not nice” and can be sued. We shouldn’t talk about conviction, about sin, about changing our hearts, about sacrifice or eternity. Someone might get offended and that isn’t nice.

Why can’t we all just be NICE?

The problem with just being nice is that it is a facade. There is no substance in it. So when you are having a bad day niceness can turn into ugliness in a minute flat. I’ve had people be nice to me one minute and the very next want to claw out my eyeballs. On the flip side, I’ve been the nice person, biting my tongue, becoming a push over so I could appear pleasant and yet squirming inside.

I continued my research, this time from the Bible. Of course I didn’t find the actual word nice, but I knew the word kind or kindness was there. Most believers are aware that kindness is one of the attributes of the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Nice on the other hand, not being part of the fruit of the Spirit, has no strength or foundation. It is like building your house on the sand and not on the rock of Christ. (Matthew 7:24-27) When a storm comes, nice will not suffice.

Kindness led by the Holy Spirit is a God-given quality of compassion, generosity and understanding. It is considerate, not expecting anything in return. It far exceeds the act of just being nice.

Jesus showed these qualities. He forgave the adulteress but warned her to sin no more. He wasn’t just being nice, telling her that he accepted her lifestyle. But he was filled with kindness and forgiveness.

He showed kindness to the lost, kindness to the broken, kindness towards the sick and even the lepers (which was unheard of), kindness towards the tax collectors and those that were rejected by the world. He gathered the little children around him and showed them love and acceptance when the disciples were telling them to leave him alone.

Yet people wanted him dead! Why? He had healed the sick and even brought some back to life. But they wanted him dead because he had disrupted their lives. He had offended them by speaking truth. Truth STILL offends people today because sometimes it isn’t NICE.

People want to shut down the voice of truth.

Digging deeper I discovered this on wordcentral.com:

Main Entry: nice
Pronunciation: primarystressnimacrs
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English nice “foolish, stupid,” from early French nice (same meaning), from Latin nescius “ignorant,” from nescire “not to know,” from ne- “not” and scire “to know” –related to SCIENCE
1 : finicky in tastes or habits
2 a : not obvious : SUBTLE <a nice distinction> b : having the ability to notice small differences <a nice ear for music>
3 : PLEASING, AGREEABLE <a nice time> <a nice person>
4 : well behaved : RESPECTABLE <wasn’t a nice thing to do>
nice·ly adverb
nice·ness noun
Word History Five hundred years ago, when nice was first used in English, it meant “foolish or stupid.” This is not as surprising as it may seem, since it came through early French from the Latin nescius, meaning “ignorant.” By the 16th century, the sense of being “very particular” or “finicky” had developed. In the 19th century, nice came to mean “pleasant or agreeable” and then “respectable,” a sense quite unlike its original meaning.

After reading the word history I realized that every morning when I was asking the Lord to make me nice, maybe I was really asking him to make me foolish, stupid, ignorant or perhaps finicky and at best agreeable or pleasant. Blah.

It makes me think about Garth Brook’s song, “Unanswered Prayers”. Anyway God knew my heart. He knew what I really wanted was to learn to be kind.  And he allowed me to go through circumstances that would help me to understand what kindness vs niceness was really all about.

So back to the question from the title: Do nice guys finish last? I would say, yes they do UNLESS they walk in the fruit of the Spirit of kindness, as well. Don’t get me wrong I believe that being polite, having manners and being pleasant are fine qualities and should be part of our lives. But just being nice will not sustain you in this world. It will gobble you up.

“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Romans 2:4 (NLT)

“Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ.” Ephesians 4:32 (TLB)

Lord, teach me to be kind.

Amen and God bless.

 

 

 

How can I love?

LOVE is a strong word yet used so freely in our society. Young girls think they LOVE a pop star, little kids think they LOVE candy, a tired employee thinks he LOVES a vacation. (Well that one might be true to an extent. LOL). Expressions and explanations of  LOVE could fill a book. Even website meanings are slightly different as the word seems to evolve and conform to different circumstances. It is like it is alive and takes on many forms.

When I attended a Sunday school class in my junior high years our teacher read the “love chapter” from the Bible. If you have been a follower of the Lord for any amount of time you have probably read it or at least heard about it. It lists what love is supposed to look like and what it is not. The love message is found in the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. The explanation goes from verse 4 through the first part of 8.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.  (NIV)

After my teacher finished reading the material she asked us to insert our names in the place of love. Well, that was disappointing. I suppose she was trying to prove how far we are from loving others. She did a good job because I fell extremely short.

Eons later and that message has never left my mind. Still whenever I read that chapter I tend to put my name in it and again it seems to have the same effect. I suppose it is similar to the commandments. It shows our humanity and our need for a savior.

The message of love is obviously not contained in that one chapter. It is riddle throughout the Word of God. It is the purpose God created us and sent his son to this earth. (John 3:16) It is the purpose Jesus died for our sins–stole the keys of sin and death from satan– and THEN came back to LIFE. It is the purpose for our lives.

In the gospels we find one of the teachers of the time wanting to test Jesus and asked him what the greatest commandment was. Again the word LOVE appears.

Jesus answered him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Matt.22:37-39 (GWT)

What struck me was AS you love yourself. Hmm. How much do I love myself? I mean, I take care of myself, right? The question is: do I take GOOD care of myself? Do I want what is best for me–not selfishly– but do I actually feed myself what is healthy, am I careful what I watch, what I agree with, or who I hang out with? I think the thought of loving oneself has been considered selfish at times. But how can we really love others IF we don’t even love ourselves.

In Ephesians we read that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for the church. It continues by stating that husbands are to love their wives as they love THEMSELVES.

A man who loves his wife loves HIMSELF. Eph 5:28b (GWT)

So to love others really we must begin by loving God. Then continue the process by loving ourselves. Out of that will flow love for others. So I regress to the “love chapter”.  Instead of putting my name in place of LOVE, I actually checked to see if I even love myself. I began by stating, “I am patient with myself, I am kind to myself.”  It is obviously important to the Lord to learn to love ourselves so that we can love others.

But back to the greatest commandment: to love God with ALL our heart, soul and mind. That sounds wonderful. And I want to love him. But really even that is a gift from God. We can’t even love without him giving us the ability to do so in the first place.

1 John 4:19 ” We love BECAUSE God loved us first.”

In fact, though we state we love others, things or events those statements are just a show of affection towards something else. Perhaps LOVE is not just a show of affection. Perhaps it just is. Perhaps instead of a verb or even a common noun it is a proper noun.

LOVE = GOD. God isn’t just showing affection. But he IS the affection. It isn’t JUST one of his attributes, but WHO he is. The Word states as much in 1 John 4 :8b and 16b.

“GOD is LOVE.”

So back to “love chapter”. Replace love with GOD.

GOD is patient.
GOD is kind.
GOD is not envious, nor boastful or proud.
GOD does not dishonor others, nor is self-seeking.
GOD is not easily angered, nor keeps record of wrongs.
GOD does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth.
GOD always protects
GOD always trusts.
GOD always hopes.
GOD always perseveres.

GOD NEVER FAILS.

I know I fall short of the above description of LOVE but I also know that when I surrender myself to my heavenly Father he covers the area of my failures and begins a beautiful work in me. We are always being changed into his image as we allow God to work in our lives. It is a process. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Lord,
Thank you for your love. Teach me to love as you do. Teach me to love myself. Teach me to love others. And ultimately teach me to love you with all of my heart, soul and mind. Amen.

God bless.

And, now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

 

The Light

As the holidays approach I am reminded of so many people who have faced tragedy this year. There are several people I know personally who lost loved ones — not to mention the national tragedies that plagued our land.

This poem is for them:

The Christmas season is upon us.
There are gifts tucked safe under a tree.
Little hearts anxiously wait
For what seems like eternity.

People are rushing; excitement is bustling
All is merry and bright.
But someone is mourning this season
Because everything is not cheery or right.

Perhaps you lost a child this year.
Perhaps you lost your dad.
Perhaps you lost your home
Or everything you had.

The world didn’t stop
Because tragedy struck.
It spun in its cycle without care.

And Christmas arrived
Though you are broken inside
With hurt that’s incredibly hard to bear.

It is for you that the Christ child
Came from heaven above.
It is for you that He still opens
His arms with mercy and with love.

It’s okay to weep over heartache.
It’s okay to weep over loss.
That is why God sent his son-
To take your pain upon the cross.

He longs to give you hope
In a world full of fear and despair.
To give you peace unlike the world
That doesn’t remember or care.

And in the midst of your chaos
I pray that God holds your hand.
That you find the comfort you long for.
That you know HE still has a plan.

The merriment of the holidays are blaring
You may want to ignore it all.
But I pray that you feel God’s presence instead.
And He answers your heart when you call.

The Christmas season is upon us
All may not be merry or bright
But He can shine in the midst of your mourning.
Follow the star, He’ll be your LIGHT.

Amen and God bless.

 

 

 

 

 

To those that are broken

Twisted – broken,
Out of control.
Spiraling- falling
Deep in a hole.

Confused – Bewildered
Not sure what to do.
Lost – Alone
Can all this be true?

The life I shared
Is now in the ground.
The joy that we had
Has turned upside down.

I cried to the Lord
In my despair.
Did you not know?
Do you not care?

I cried to the Lord
Did you not see?
There was nowhere to run
To hide or to flee.

Why all the hurt?
Why all the fears?
Why all the sadness?
And constant new tears?

I heard him reply:

Dear Child
What you say is true
I know of your anguish
It hurts through and through.

I know there is hurt.
I know there is fear.
I want to hold you close
I won’t abandon you; I’m still here.

This world is broken
Chaotic and lost.
I know the pain.
I know what it cost.

It cost the life
Of my son on the cross
To break all the sin
To heal all the loss.

It wasn’t me
That took the life
It was evil consumed
With hate and with strife

When this world’s sins
Meets its final hour,
The demons that kill
Will flee and will cower.

Until that time comes
My arms will remain open
Its a safe place to heal
A heart that is broken.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

 

.

 

What are your plans?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I love plans. I thrive off plans. They give me peace and a sense of direction.  I am not really a “spur of the moment” type of person. Now my husband is completely the opposite.  He floats through life, catching the wind as it blows, excited for where he might land.

Let me give you an example: on our honeymoon I made “plans” and got us into the bridal suite. We stayed there the first night but my husband thought it would be fun to take a ferry to the nearby islands the next day. It was fun. But since he didn’t get a motel reservation we ended up spending the night in our car on the ferry because there were zero rooms available. A convention was in the area. That went over well.

It is also the same with directions. I use to constantly have to do everything exactly by the book. As the years have slipped by I have realized that not everything has to be done according to some unseen book. Yet, general directions are given for a purpose. Without reading the directions my husband decided to build a swing set in the backyard. After he was done he realized that a couple of pieces were not connected properly and that there were extra parts he wasn’t sure what to do with. He looked at me with a sheepish grin and said, “Perhaps I should have read the directions.”

Throughout the adventures of our lives together we have seen the importance of both aspects. And we have changed some viewpoints that we thought were cemented in our personalities.

When I was a little girl my parents moved many times. I didn’t question their purpose or decisions; I just went for the ride. I never knew that there were occasions when they didn’t have definite plans or that they were not always sure about the future. I was just a happy child and simply trusted that whatever they decided to do would be in my best interest. (Of course I didn’t analyze it at the time.) Later in life I discovered that there were times that their only option was to trust God and not themselves, as they entered into the next chapter of their lives.

Unfortunately we are not given a map for every choice we make in life. We are not told to go here for 2 years, then take this job, marry this person, put your kids in this school and perhaps go on a mission trip during this season…blah, blah, blah…

In fact James 4: 13-15 states, ” Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit. Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you out to say, “If the Lord WILLS we will live and do this or that.” (ESV)

We often ask “Lord what is your will?” God says that HE has a plan for us. HE holds the plans for each of our lives. And he states that HIS plans are for our good. There are times I have mentioned to God that I just wish he would hand over those plans. It would be so much easier to navigate through my life if I could simply look at the plans.

Instead he desires for us to trust him and relax in his goodness just like I trusted my parents. I didn’t have a care in the world, except maybe what my new school would be like or who my new friends would be.

He doesn’t always give us a complete picture regarding our future. Sometimes it might start as a desire that begins to stir in our hearts, a thought that crosses our mind, a dream that we had the night before or a longing that cannot be quenched. As soon as we pray about a decision and take a step in that direction, the stirring becomes more evident and doors of opportunity begin to open to make the desire a reality.

The Psalmist states, ” The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take.” Psalm 37:23 (TLB) 

He delights in OUR steps! It is like parents that watches their toddler take his first step. They watch him with eagerness and anticipation. And when the child falls they pick him back up and encourage him in his next step.

If God gave us everything at once we wouldn’t need his hand of guidance. We would become self-sufficient and may not seek his advise for direction. We would lose communication with the one that loves us more than anyone can. He created us in his image. He desires that we seek him. He desires that we commune with him. He desires that we dig into his Word (the directions for this life) and get to know him, personally.

He doesn’t give us a bunch of dos and don’ts. He gives us relationship and guidance and comfort and peace and direction. And as much as he delights in our steps he asks us to learn to delight in him. Like I mentioned earlier, he created us in his image. He wants a two-way relationship with us.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord: trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37: 4-5 (ESV)

Do you recall the game, Marco Polo? One person closes his eyes and says, “Marco”.  The others say, “Polo”. Even though the person who is “it” cannot see the other players he follows the voices until he is able to tag another player.

Though not completely the same, it is what we are doing. We may have a blindfold on in life, yet we listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit and follow his lead. When we come to the place where the Holy Spirit leads doors begin to open for us. As we fellowship with the Lord we learn the sound of his voice. He may call us down another path as we enter our next chapter in life.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” John 10:27 (NIV)

It is similar to the children of Israel that wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. The spirit of God led them by a pillar of cloud during the day and fire by night. (Exodus 13:21) That same God leads each of us in our lives, as well.

Listen. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you? Is he calling your name? Is he leading you in a new direction? You can trust that what he starts in you he will surely complete. (Philippians 1:6)

One day as we look into our past we will see the many doors we traveled through that led us directly into God’s arms. We will be thankful for the doors the Lord opened and the doors that sometimes felt slammed in our faces. We will be grateful that the Lord in his goodness, ordered our steps and grateful that we obeyed his calling; and extremely grateful that he picked us up when we fell.

God Bless.

 

 

 

 

Water and Fire

The howl of the wind, the rush of the water, the urgency in the air causing anxiety in the south. Or the roar of the fire, the sunless sky, the smell of smoke in the backyard, causing panic in the north. Our nation has seen so much anger, violence and hostility and now it seems mother-nature is as angry as the political unrest. There seems to be a shaking in our country; a shaking in our world.

Are these incidences just coincidences? Is it “climate change”? Is it just life in a planet that is forever changing? Or is it a compassionate wake-up call to a nation from an Almighty God, reminding people that he is ultimately in control? Or perhaps an “end time” announcement?

We have seen horrific earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides and famines in other countries from a safe place. In fact we have experienced our own earthquakes that rocked the land plus horrific hurricanes and tornadoes and even volcanos that have affected personal lives. Life on this earth, inclusive of weather anomalies and change have occurred since the beginning of time. Yet it seems, from my perspective and others I have spoken with, that our nation is being bombarded by mother nature.

Was the solar eclipse that was nicknamed  “The Great American Eclipse” that crossed the contiguous United States a sign of things to come for America? You might ask why one would think this?  The Bible mentions signs in the heavens. Jesus warned of the days before his return.

Luke 21: 25-26 states: “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the seas and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (NASV)

Also in Acts 2:20 “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.” ( NIV)

If you have grown up in church you may have heard it preached that we are living in the “last days”.  In fact you might remember the “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye that became popular videos in the Christian communities in the early 2000s.  Before that there were many street prophets. Some stood with signs on the street corners that stated that the end was near.  Often you see these type of people portrayed in movies labeled as crazy or mentally unstable.

But calling out to masses about coming events is not a new concept. John the Baptist could have been considered one of those crazy people. He wore garments of camel-hair with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locust and honey. He often was heard saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2 (ESV) Yet he was actually sent by God to announce the coming of Jesus and was humbled that he was allowed to baptize Jesus before he started his ministry.

Science fiction thriller movies have taken end time theories and made millions at the box office. In these movies the entire world is almost destroyed by some kind of climate change or world war 3 or a massive nuclear bomb or aliens that attack. But just at the last moment a hero saves the day or the world  People leave the theater thankful that it was just a movie.  And they carry on with their lives.

The concept of “end times” is old and perhaps heard so many times that it is portrayed as ridiculous. That message can get to the point of being overdone. Eventually people get tired of hearing it and roll their eyes. It took so long for Noah to build the Ark that people became weary of the sight of the ark or his lunatic racings, as well, and simply mocked him. They lived as they had always done, eating, drinking and getting married. Suddenly destruction came upon them.

Today people have become immune to the possibility of any truth those words may hold. “Seriously? We have been hearing those “end times” warnings for so long.” And then they will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:4 (ESV)

Some people have gone as far as try to predict the return of the Lord. I remember a book in the 80s that was titled “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988” by Edgar Whisenant.  When it didn’t occur the way he assumed, the author continued writing more books that expanded on his explanation. He died without seeing the “rapture” take place in his lifetime.

But Jesus warned, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son but only the Father.” Mark 13:32 (ESV)

Still Jesus forewarns that though we do not know the hour, there will be events that occur before that time. His message was to always be prepared. He even told a parable (or story) that has since been titled “The Parable of the 10 Virgins”. Five people were ready for the coming of the bridegroom, while five others had not been prepared. (Matthew  25:1-13)

Today we have many scoffers, even in the Christian community. In fact the Christian community is divided in many areas. I viewed some testimonies online from individuals that have shared dreams regarding what is taking place in America. Some said that they had already seen these events taking place in those dreams. One that really caught my attention was the proclamation that someone made regarding these two hurricanes. Afterwards they state that there will be a huge earthquake that will rock our nation. All these catastrophic events will devestate the American economy.

Regardless if these events are from the hand of God for judgement or if we are in the “last days” these events can transform each of our lives to help us to grow, if we allow them. They can cause us to trust God in the midst of chaos, create a greater prayer life, grow in our faith and relationship with our Savior and teach us compassion for those around us. Remember 9-11? It drew our nation together. Of course in the midst of positive transformation there will always be the scoffers and those who continue to harden their hearts, becoming bitter. And there will always be those that are bent on the destruction of others and themselves.

Yet heartaches can be used for good. The verse “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB) becomes even more clear. It is the through the hardest times in our lives that God’s grace and the glory can shine.

Still I join with the disciples who waited earnestly for Jesus’ return in their days and know that the day of his ultimate return grows closer. And I pray for those who have been affected by the latest hurricanes, those who have lost their property and lost loved ones. And I pray for those who are being affected by the fires that still rage. So many hurts and so many loses in this world. God have mercy on each of us.

To each of you I leave this verse:

“When you pass through the water, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)