Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Action Word


(picture from kisworldfun.com)
Love is a verb.



Yes, sometimes the actions of love take place on a level where we find it hard to focus. Say, for example, a parent has grounded their child for misbehavior. The child may only see the frustrations of the removed privileges. The parent’s love for their child is hoping to see a correction to said misbehavior. Love is often misunderstood.



Love is also distorted and sometimes actions labeled as love, are really not love at all. If a man, in his drunken stupor, beats his wife senseless, then later, insists through his tears that he really loves her, he clearly doesn’t know how to love. Something has gotten in the way. Whether he was never taught, by example how to love, or perhaps evil entered his life along the way and buried his capacity to love or a myriad of other possibilities; he’s crippled. He may behave in a loving manner sometimes, but he has core issues to deal with.



To truly love, one must know Love. God IS love, so, to know God, is to know love.



But, we all go through things in life that challenge God’s love and our ability to love others. Our pasts are riddled with mysteries, some of which we’ll never solve. Some of those mysteries fade away as explanations make their way to the surface. Some of us fiercely search for answers, others try to brush away the events of our past and count them as unworthy of our time and attention.



Love is never crippled, but our ability to give and receive love can be not only crippled, but completely paralyzed.

(picture from youtube.com)
Fresh encounters with God, daily, can help the crippled parts within us to heal. That’s why spending time in God’s Word is so incredibly important. Through His Word, God can reveal Himself and His never-ending love to us anew every day. God can speak to us through anything, or anyone.



So often in life when I’ve faced difficult circumstances and despair crept in like a subtle fog, I’ve begged God for answers, yet allowed my distractions to keep me from spending quality time with God, reading and pondering His Word. The longer I go without reading and meditating on God’s Word, the more frustrated I become. The more I talk to God yet refuse to take time to listen for what He has to say to me, the deeper the talons of despair pierce my heart.



God didn’t create us all to think like rocket scientists. He created us with one-of-a-kind hearts, with minds that think as individuals. He doesn’t seek to make things difficult for us; He simply wants us to turn to Him, with all our heart, and He will open the doors to understanding for us.



That means spending time with Him, quality time.



But, we’re so b-u-s-y! There’s so much to get done in a day, when do you find time to spend with a God you can’t see or touch?



You don’t.

 
(picture from youtube.com)

You MAKE time. Priorities take us to land us where we are; good priorities take us to good places, scattered or unproductive priorities take us nowhere. We look around and things are still the same way we left them yesterday, sometimes – the same way we left them ten years ago. We wallow in the same pit of despair or poverty we told ourselves we wouldn’t settle for.



With no target, how can we hit it? With no goal, how can we move on from where we are?


Love is the always-moving vehicle that will get us there. But, we have to climb on board.


(picture from bluetimbersign.com)
Time to dump some baggage? Time to move forward? Time to learn (or relearn) how to give and receive love?



Spend some time with God, today. Quality time with God will always be rewarded; sometimes tangibly, sometimes in treasures of the heart, sometimes with exciting displays that everyone around you will see; and sometimes, the rewards will be accompanied with a little frustration or confusion, but pursue the rewards of God. His reward is love, the action kind of love, the kind of love that sets us free.



Jesus said in John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth to me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (KJV)



And in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (KJV)



“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….” – I Corinthians 13:4-8a (KJV)

(picture from forheislove.com)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What's in YOUR Mouth?

(picture from thisisinsider.com)

The other day, our pastor made mention of something John Osteen used to say, “There’s a miracle in your mouth.” I’ve heard variations of this over the years, but yet every time I ponder it, I recognize all over again just what a powerful my mouth I have.



Sure, I make jokes about how much I talk, but, if I pay attention to what I’m saying, I realize I need to slow things down and guard my mouth; I get to be the one in control of what comes out of my mouth. Am I speaking truth? Even when, and perhaps, especially when - I’m the only one there to hear what I have to say, it’s important that I speak the truth, and that I speak it in love.



“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” – Ephesians 4:15 (NIV)



Yes, I want to grow into all that Jesus has for me. I want to bring glory to His Name, and I want to edify the body of Christ. But, I need to be a healthy member of the body of Christ in order to bring that edification to the table. If my thinking is tainted by some flaky wind of doctrine or lies from my past, I’m being deceived and I’m sharing that deception. I need to be renewing my mind with the Word of God all the time.



Sometimes we can be in conversation with someone and think thoughts like, “Does this person even have a clue what they’re talking about?” – or, “This guy’s short a few marbles.” Truth be told, others have had these same thoughts about us.


(picture from redeeminggod.com)


In scripture we read, “The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But, we have the mind of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 2:15 (NIV)  


(picture from thoughtco.com)
If we fail to engage our own brain in our conversations, how much less do we tap into the mind of Christ? God has told us we have access to His mind, yet so often we rely on self, or worse, we just allow whatever happens to happen without considering what we can do to impact the situation.



But, what about when I’m talking to myself? How am I impacting my life by speaking out things that are negative and destructive? I’m crippling God’s precious Princess. I’m creating handicap in my own life. I’m also acting in rebellion, denying the very power of God working in me.
(picture from treatingfungus.com)

In Romans 8:11 we read. “…if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (NIV)



How can I deny the truth if the very Spirit of God lives within me? I’ll tell you how. If I’m still living a carnally-minded life. If I’m not renewing my mind with God’s Word – I have nothing else to fall back on except the lies I’ve always believed. By the way, a carnal life doesn’t have to mean a sinful life, it simply means a life perceived by natural means; through our five senses. There are things more reliable than our sense of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. Once we give our lives over to Jesus, He promises that His Spirit will live within us. We can tap into that, we can receive from His Spirit, and we can rely on Him, trusting Him completely. He’ll never leave us, no matter what. His love is unconditional, and His presence is as real as His love.



James 1:26 tells us, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” (NLT)


(picture from wikiHow.com)
I’m a talker and I admit it. Sometimes I allow my words to get ahead of me and I say things I shouldn’t, to myself and to those around me. But, to say I can’t control it, would be a lie. I might be lazy about guarding my mouth, I might be slack in renewing my mind with the Word of God, I might be uneducated about the power I possess, but that’s all on me. God gave me control, I get to make the decisions regarding my life and how I live it. He gave you the very same control; the very same choices.



“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” – Deuteronomy 30:19-20a (NIV)



“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.” – Proverbs 18:21 (AMP)



Are you speaking truth? Are you speaking life? If not, you can choose to change that, through the Word of God.
(picture from youchoose.org.au)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

My Favorite Comforter


(picture from wifeknows.com)
Do you ever catch yourself whining? Do you ever feel yourself panicking? I tend to find my mouth saying things that sound like complaints way more often that I’d like to admit.



Our Father in Heaven has given us the Holy Spirit to us to be, among other things, our Comforter. If you think in pictures, like many of us do, a plethora of imagery comes to mind at the sound of that word. Do you picture the cozy down comforter on your bed, the one that snuggles you as you wrap yourself in it? Do you picture a bereavement card? Do you picture the face of that one special friend who’s always there for you, not matter how much you pout, cry, mourn or throw a pity party? Do you remember the hands of your mother, as she gently smoothed a band-aid over that nasty scrape on your knee? Do you smell the glass of wine you nursed after getting disturbing or sad news?

(picture from friendsquotation.com)
I’m sure you have your own images that pop into place at the mention of most any word.



But, comforters can explore a thousand dimensions, depending on what kind of comfort we find ourselves in need of at any given moment. I can be in one dimension right now and discover myself in another place in just a few minutes, needing a whole new kind of comfort.


(picture from safebee.com)
Sometimes I want sympathy, or to hear that yes – I was right in that last disagreement that ruffled my feathers. I may just need a hug; a smile. I may need someone to simply listen to me rant. I may need to hear a soothing voice in my ears. I may want silence, or I may need a momentary distraction from my own thoughts.



But, our heavenly Comforter always knows just what we need, just who we need it from and just how to get it to us. Yet, sometimes we flat out refuse to be comforted.



“God, I’m feeling a bit scared right now.”

“But, Helen, you love Me, right?”



“Lord, this pain is unbearable.”

“You love Me, don’t you?



“Father, it was totally not fair for her to treat me that way.”

“Do you love Me anyways?”



“Grrrrrr! God, that made me so angry!”

“Yet, you still love Me?”



My heavenly Comforter doesn’t question my love for Him. He challenges my love for Him – bringing me right back to the place of safety I desperately need be whenever I need comforting.



Honestly, that’s the place of safety I seek to dwell in all the time.



Hard times, emotional escapades and every day frustrations come at us to steal our joy, to derail our day, and to cause rifts in relationships. Yet, knowing we’re centered right there in the love of God, protected under the wings of the Almighty, hidden in Christ, brings us to our knees and to a place of complete surrender, submitting ourselves and our circumstance to the King of kings, Himself.


And therein, we are comforted.

(picture from fggam,org)


“Peace, be still my Child, I am with you always. I love you. You are mine.”



“Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always, by all means. The be with you all.” -2 Thessalonians 3:16 (KJV)



“Let your conversations be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” -Hebrews 13:5 (KJV)



“…and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  -Matthew 28:20 (KJV)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Pretty Woman



(Photo from dreamstime.com)

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed from every direction with messages about God’s grace.

Andrew Wommack calls the gospel of God’s grace, the nearly-too-good-to-be-true news. Sometimes I find myself in overload mode, breathing quickly and so shallow, with excitement over how much and how unconditionally God loves me.

Quick story. While at a Thursday morning Bible study learning even more about God’s amazing grace through the book of Romans, God took me back to a distant but beautiful memory.

We lived in Rome, New York at the time. (Is it coincidence that we’re going through the book of Romans?) I’d turned my back on God for a season and was wallowing in pathetic guilt and shame and reasoned that there was no way God could allow me back into His arms. Now, I know that Satan was behind that message, but at the time, I couldn’t imagine God even wanted to look at me.

While driving down a lonely road, I was feeling insanely depressed and afraid that I could never make my way back to the loving God of the universe, because I’d betrayed Him. Tears of fear were quickly replaced by tears of joy as God sang through my radio to me. You may think this sounds crazy or even corny or unbelievable, but, He spoke to me, clearly through lyrics that melted my heart as I realized He was still pursuing me, still reaching out to me – He still wanted me; He still loved me!
(from aol.com)
The song seemed to play for an eternity as I took in the words:

“Pretty woman, walkin’ down the street. Pretty woman, the kind I’d like to meet…..

Pretty woman, stop a while. Pretty woman, talk a while. Pretty woman give your smile to me…..

Pretty woman, look my way. Pretty woman, say you’ll stay with me….. ‘cause I need you, I’ll treat you right, come with me girl, be mine tonight

Pretty woman, don’t walk on by. Pretty woman, don’t make me cry. Pretty woman, don’t walk on by…

I guess I’ll go on home, it’s late, there’ll be tomorrow night – but wait! What do I see? Yeah – you’re walking back to me!”
(photo from videoblocks.com)
Now, I realize the original intent behind the song is a man just trying to pick up a pretty woman. I get that. But, God knew how to reach out and catch my attention. He knows my heart. He knows the words that press buttons in my brain. He knows how much I long to be pretty – and I’m pretty to Him. I don’t care to be beautiful, I long to be pretty. So, He called out to me, Hey – Pretty woman! Stop what you’re doing and come back to me! Talk with me, stay with me, be mine!

Then, as my heart turned whole-heartedly to Him, He chimed in with the line, “What do I see? You’re walking back to me!”

How can that story not reduce you to tears? Well, maybe it doesn’t make you cry – but, I was bawling like crazy. I probably had to pull off to the side of the road.

That was many years ago, but still, God continues to woo me, to pursue me, to teach my heart about His unending grace; His forever love!

He’s continuously calling out to you, too –

Listen for Him.

Respond!

(photo fro videoblocks.com)


Psalm 139:1-18
O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!”
New Living Translation (NLT)

Friday, March 23, 2018

Soaked in Safety

(photo from mercurynews.com)


The other night I was praying for our children and grandchildren. As I lay there in bed, picturing their beautiful faces, they all appeared to be standing on an airport tarmac. Hmmmmm, where are they going? As I prayed over each of them, the white fire suppression foam that’s sometimes sprayed on a tarmac before an emergency landing seemed to flood in around them, protecting them from harm. The foam arose around them like whipped cream, fluffy and expanding. What great peace filled my soul as I watched them play in it. What a great word picture. Peace, protection and play, all wrapped in that foamy prayer.
(photo from citynews.com)
The next night, I saw several prayer requests on Facebook I committed to include with mine. One friend’s brother is going through a rough time, another asked for prayer for their family, because they’d lost a one-year old child/grandchild. As I lay there, praying for peace and understanding in situations most of us find hard to understand, again, I felt God surround them. This time, the word picture was a dry bowl of Frosted Flakes awaiting milk. As I continued to pray, milk began to pour into the bowl. Again, the subjects of my prayers were surrounded, this time, even saturated to the point of sogginess.
(photo from mirror.co.uk)
If the foam and the milk represent the Spirit of God, as I contend, those were some incredibly powerful images, drawing me closer to the heart of God.

I trust that God hears our prayers and answers them. He meets our needs with designs our hearts can’t even fathom until we watch them unfold.

I can look into your beautiful eyes and fall deeper in love with you each time. I can daydream about spending time with you and experiencing your love for me.

But, when God looks into your eyes, He sees your soul; He sees your spirit within you. He cannot stop loving you, because He IS love. He woos you and longs to hold you closer to His heart. He doesn’t have to daydream about spending time with you, He’s always with you, surrounding you with His grace, His mercy, His peace and His joy; His permanent and constant love.

Lift up your voice to our Maker. Allow yourself to feel the tarmac foam of His protection. Allow Him to saturate your dry flakes, soaking into every fiber of your being, becoming one with you. Reach out for Him, He’s right there waiting for you, anticipating your touch. He’s well within your reach, longing for a closer and deeper relationship with you. He’s already built the foundation for that relationship; He created you and provided for your every need, He’s eagerly watching and waiting for your responses to His infinite display of love for you.


 
Psalm91 
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress:
my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold
and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague
come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee,
to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands,
lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.



Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Wrestling With Something?


Child of God,

When outsiders (close to you, or strangers) look into your world and see your hurts and your struggles, it may seem a slight thing to them. They may see that your blessings so much outweigh your complaints that they scoff at how ridiculous you sound; especially in light of all they suffer. They don’t see you, they compare your world to theirs, never stopping to consider that what you wrestle with is the very trying of your faith.


(picture from en.wiktionary.org)
As others grapple with their own faith and get frustrated with their own doubt and unbelief, they may hold you in high esteem and wonder how you could even bring up your struggles in light of theirs, whether you know how much they struggle or not.



But, know this, God sees your heart. When no one else seems to understand what you’re going through or how much you hurt, God sees you and understands. He’s not ignoring you or playing on His cell phone there on the sidelines while you’re getting tackled on the field.

(picture from stack.com)
God sees you. He holds your breath in His hands. He’s continuously pouring His life into you, even when it seems you’re at your weakest.



God hears you. He saves your tears as treasures, because He knows how much they cost you. He knows when it’s a battle to even shed those tears, when they won’t quite breech the surface of your eyes.  (Psalm 56:8)



God feels your heart break. He’s forever joined to your spirit, facing your pain and anguish with you.



No matter how you read Isaiah 59:19 – God is there to rescue you.



“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.”



“When the enemy shall come in, like a flood the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” 


(videoblocks.com)
Moving the comma only accents where the flood is coming from; do you feel the raging flood of your enemy? Or do you allow the flood of God’s raging rescue?



No matter how small your struggles feel when you compare them to the struggles others face – they are the trying of your faith.



Stop comparing battles, don’t be discouraged if others don’t take you seriously.



God is in this with you all the way. ---All. ---The. ---Way.



(picture from thespiritbusiness.com)
“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

The trying of your faith proves the power that’s within you. God already knows how strong you are; He IS the power that’s within you. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead – LIVES IN YOU!  (Romans 8:11)

He’s merely exposing that power, so that you can see it and use it!



“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” – Luke 12:32 (KJV)


(picture from mcsinferno.news)

Monday, January 8, 2018

Steppin' on My Own Toes


(picture from pinterest.com)
As a Christian, you’re God’s messenger. What’s your message? What message does your life convey to the world around you?



Is it fair to judge you by the actions of your children?



Is it fair to judge God by the actions of His?



Is it fair for the world to judge God by my actions? Yours?



Since when is life “fair”?



Clearly, the world doesn’t understand the love of God. Could that be, at least, in part, my fault? Your fault?

(picture from dustoffthebible.com)
I recall a quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”



Ouch! It stings because it’s so true.



What’s one small thing we can do today to begin to turn this around?



What’s one small thing you can do today, to being to turn this around?



(picture from twitter.com)
Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35 (NIV)



January is often thought of as a month for new beginnings, a month for starting over, a month for self-reflection.



God is the God of new beginnings and He’s wildly famous for His grace that supplies endless second chances, and He’s the source of the power that raised Jesus from the dead, so when surveying our lives and habits and shortcomings, we can draw upon that same power to raise us from our slumber, from our negligence, from our lack of sharing His love.


(picture from pinterest.com)
If we call ourselves Christians, the people around us are looking at us for a demonstration of God’s love. Let’s try a little harder not to let them down.



Like the world, we’re often afraid to extend unconditional love to those around us. But, we’re instructed to not be like the world.



John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”



John 15:19 says, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”



2 Corinthians 10:3-6 explains, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they [our weapons] have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

(picture from twitter.com)
This makes it clear, we’re not to operate as the world operates. We are to love as Jesus loves us.



I’ll conclude with the words of Jesus, Himself when asked what is His greatest command.



“Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)