Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Are Praise and Worship Simply to Butter-Up?

(photo courtesy of
Jesus Himself said, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is a spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24 (NIV)

Praise and worship is not to be used to “butter up” our Father. It’s given from a pure heart that wants nothing more than to climb up on to His lap and to love on Him and to take in His love. It’s not something we put out there trying to manipulate Him into giving us the things we want. He knows our hearts, our thought and intentions; do we really think we can our smart Him or put together a magic formula to make things go the way we want them to?

There are so many things I don’t understand. There are so many things I’d do differently than God is doing them – but only because I don’t always know why He’s doing them the way He does. I know that He sees the whole of everything, and that I merely catch glimpses of His kingdom as He sees it. Since I don’t see the end from the beginning like He does, I can’t possibly expect to see clearly why He does what He does, when He does it.

How many times have you said, or heard said, “Well, if I was God ____________”?

I’m relieved that none of us is God, with our limited scope of everything, we’d surely mess things up. And how many of us would have thought of grace all by ourselves?

The Psalmist wrote, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4 (NIV) He didn’t give us this instruction as a magic wand to gain entrance to the throne room of God for our own personal venues.

As Christians, we’re told, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…..” Ephesians 2:6 (NIV)

We not only have permission to enter the God’s throne room, spiritually speaking, we’re sitting there already, with Jesus our Savior, as joint heirs with Him. God welcomes our thanks, our praise, our worship, our love, our obedience – and yearns to take us in His arms and love us in ways we still feel so unworthy to receive.

Twice in the gospels Jesus says, “…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matthew 23:27 & Luke 13:34 (NIV)

Let’s let go of our inhibitions, and like David, dance before the Lord, thanking Him, praising Him, honoring Him and worshiping Him with all that’s within us!

Matthew 6:33 tells us that when we seek first the kingdom of God, everything else will be given to us. So why do we seek the things and ignore the kingdom?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

What's a Parent to Do? Part 2

(Photo courtesy of

When we take a look at our behavior, just how objective can we be? Is it possible to see our flaws without kicking into denial? I know it’s tough for me to face my shortcomings. I’ll only point the finger at myself today, but if you fit in the “rotten apple basket” with me, hop on in!

By all means, I do not want to get down on myself or beat myself up – I’ve done far too much of that through the years. But realistically taking stock of who I am, how I behave and how I influence others should be as common and acceptable to me as looking in the mirror to see if I somehow magically got my eyeliner on straight.

This is a gift we can pass on to our children, as well.

It’s not easy to take criticism, even when it’s constructive. And although it comes much too easy for us to be critical, it can be hard to do it constructively.

We never want to be caught playing the flattery game; flattery is insincere. But genuine compliments should be able to comfortably flow through our lips all the time.

Complaining and criticizing are snares we commonly fall into, sometimes not even aware we’re trapped there. They do nothing good for us or anyone else if they’re not constructive and they’re not said in love.

There are times when it’s appropriate to complain, but it’s not a hole we want to dig as a permanent dwelling place. When I order food in a restaurant and it arrives cold, I have a right to speak up, and I should. I’m most likely paying a steep price for that plate and it should come hot and fresh from the kitchen. But – things happen. When I complain, it should be respectfully and with grace.

If my friend swears in normal conversation and it disturbs me, I should be able to bring it up without pushing her away. If my demeanor is as offensive as her vocabulary, I have a problem, too.

All of this to pose the questions: How do we challenge and/or correct those we love? How do we build them up, even when what they’re doing is tearing us down or wearing us out?

And the bigger question: Do we tear down the very ones we love, building into them false beliefs about their own lack of value?

Ephesians 4:14-16 instructs us to speak the truth, but to do it in love.

Love isn’t always perceived. Many people have loved us over the years, but they didn’t display it in a way we recognized as love, and we missed it.

Truth spoken in love will convict, but when we, the listener, miss that ‘in love’ part, we’re not convicted, but embarrassed, shamed and beaten down.

We can’t always predict how those we’re speaking to will react. But respect won’t be extended to us when we don’t extend it to others.

We can make sure that what we say comes from a pure heart and is spoken in love, the best we know how – and we can always ask God to help us to do it better.

“Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31 (KJV)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What's a Parent to Do?

(I apologize, I don't recall where I got this picture.)
Our worth. Where does it come from? How do we build our children’s self-worth and self-esteem? How do they know they’re worth loving? How do we teach them of their tremendous value?

Is it up to us to prevent them from being quitters? Is it up to us to see to it that they become all they can be, instead of settling for whatever comes along? Is it up to us to plant seeds of confidence in them so that they don’t hop from one girlfriend/boyfriend for another in an endless search for completion?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, our value, our worth is intrinsic. That means we were born with it, we were created with unfathomable value already built into us. It isn’t what we accomplish or how great we look that determines our value.

But do we believe that? No, I think not. If we believed it, it would show in how we carry ourselves, how we treat ourselves and others and in how we raise our children.

There’s far too much depression and fear surrounding us. When did we let that creep in? If we let it in so long ago that we don’t even remember, then it’s time we stand our ground and kick it out the front door with purpose and intent! Then we can take measures to insure it doesn’t infiltrate our lives and our homes again.

It would take many more words than a simple blog post to answer all of the above questions. But, maybe by admitting the answer to the first question, the other answers will begin to come to us.

Our value comes from our Creator. The very God that took the time to breathe life into us also placed unspeakable value into our lives. None of us is a mistake; none of us is destined to “settle” in life. Jesus Himself came to give us life and life more abundantly! He even said so! The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10 (KJV)

When we believe there is a God, a God Who loves us – we also have to face the fact there we have an enemy, one which seeks to steal from us, to kill us and to utterly destroy us. And he does so, simply because God loves us. If he can convince us we have little or no worth, what point is there in existing? What point is there in striving to be all we can be?

To be continued…..

Friday, October 18, 2013

I Miss My Time With You

(My own photo.)
Time escapes far too quickly. Where did yesterday go? For that matter, how has today slipped through my fingers already? If feels like it’s been forever since I shared a blog post.

It doesn’t take much to throw us off schedule or out of sync with what we planned on doing with our day.

I heard God whispering this song to me all evening. It’s so easy for a song to speak to me when I used to sing the song myself.

"I Miss My Time With You" - Larnelle Harris

Focusing on one thing so closely can cause everything else to seem to fade away like the snow that delicately covered my yard this morning. There’s no trace of it now. But too often I find myself focusing on the wrong things. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Don’t tell God how big your mountain is (focusing on the obstacles before us), speak to your mountain(s) and declare how big your God is!”

When my husband and I go to dinner in a nicer eating establishment, I expect my meal to arrive before me just as I ordered it. If I focus on how salty the green beans are, I deprive myself of the delight the tilapia is providing as it blankets my tongue before I quickly chew and swallow.

So too, when I focus on what a bad hair day I’m surviving, I may miss the array of blessings God spilled out before me all day long.

We can’t focus on the good (Philippians 4:8) without spending time with the Great!

Sure, your mountains will continue to demand your time and attention. It’s up to you to choose to spend time with God, before turning your eyes to the problems. We’re sure to see those problems in a different light after basking in the Light of the World.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Is God Mean? Part 2

Not settling for less than the best sums up the submitted Christian life. God wants the best for us, and sometimes what’s best is something we can’t see yet or perhaps even something we’ve been running from. But that doesn’t keep God from presenting one opportunity after another, one facet of revelation after another.

It might feel like we’re doing that old dance that takes us one step forward and two steps back, or maybe we’re going through a season where we actually see what we consider to be progress on the road of life.

God’s Word tells us that “the steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.” - Psalm 37:23-24 (KJV)

There’s more to life than what we’ve already gone through and seen, and much more than the plans we’ve created in our own mind, though our dreams may be God-given. There is a divine plan in place. We weren’t abandoned here to flounder around like a fish out of water. We were designed and created with specific purposes. None of our lives are without purpose, whether our purpose is obvious to us, or to others, or not.

Some suggest that life is pointless and we die. Nothing preceded our existence and nothing follows it. I cannot even fathom that being a viable option.

Jeremiah 29:11 is an often quoted verse, because it encourages us. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (KJV)  The New International Version reads: “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.” Clearly a verse to cling to.

Does God do things we don’t understand? Absolutely! Again, His ways are higher than our ways. If God was so puny that I could understand everything about Him, He’d be too tiny to meet my needs, too small to be my God. Our God is a BIG God, He’s everything we’ll ever need. He’s all we need! Once we invite Him into our lives, understanding begins to unfold……

Is He mean? It only appears that way when elements of our understanding are missing.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Is God Mean?

Throughout time, God has been accused of many things.  I’ll attempt to sum them up with this insulting question.

“How can your God force you to do things His way; making you submit to the way He wants your life to be lived? He gave you this life and freedom of choice so you could do things your way, didn’t He?”

I’m taking a step back to see this from a point of view other than what my limited carnal vision can see when I focus on ‘what I want’.

How incredible is it that the God of the universe loves me too much to allow me to live in my own righteousness without extending me the grace He generously provides, freely, so that I can walk in His righteousness?! His mercy is beyond my understanding, as are many of the other facets that make Him Who He is.

How cruel would it be to give someone the opportunity to do anything he wants to do, without providing the option of doing whatever he chose to do – the right way?

Rather than bind us up, submitting ourselves to God and His ways, actually sets us free to live abundantly and in liberty. His ways are not our ways (For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8 KJV), and sometimes seem paradoxical to us.

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6 KJV

I was taught that the phrase “filthy rags” in Isaiah 64:6 was literally translated as soiled menstrual cloths.
("All our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment ..." (Isaiah 64:6). This is inferior to the KJV which has, "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." "The word rendered `garment' or `rags' here has the literal meaning of "vestis menstruis polluta", that is, a soiled cloth of the type used by women in their monthly periods." The reference could not be to "garments," but to "rags." and

In God’s mercy and through His grace, we can rise above our own righteousness (living as if clothed in those filthy rags) and walk in His righteousness; His glory.